The military has produced thousands of manuals to document the operation and maintenance of vehicles as well as many more manuals on related topics such as tires, batteries, electronics and much, much more. This page will help you understand how U.S. military manuals are numbered and organized.
TM 9-2610-200-20 / Technical Manual, Organizational Care, Maintenance and Repair of / Pneumatic Tires / Inner Tubes / and / Radial Tires / Headquarters, Department of the Army / February 1977
U.S. Army Technical Manuals (TMs) are defined as follows:
Manuals that contain instructions for the installation, operation, maintenance, and support of weapon systems, weapon system components, and support equipment. TM information may be presented, according to prior agreement between the contractor and the Government, in any form or characteristic, including hard printed copy, audio and visual displays, electronic imbedded media, disks, other electronic devices, or other media. They normally include operational and maintenance instructions, parts lists, and related technical information or procedures exclusive of administrative procedures.
From MIL-STD 40051B, dated 30 November 2003
An Army Technical Manual may refer to specific equipment (e.g. M-998 HMMWV) or a general subject (e.g. Pneumatic Tires). U.S. Army technical manuals are numbered according to a definite format which evolved over the years. In the modern system, used since the 1960s, the number of the manual contains information that specifies what equipment it describes and what sort of manual it is. The other services who use the same equipment (primarily Air Force or Marine Corps) will use the Army publication but with their own number. Often the cover will have several numbers pertaining to the different services.
The Army format (e.g. TM 9-2610-200-20 in top photo) is the one usually used to identify the manual and consists of these parts:
Type of manual. Examples:
TM Technical Manual
LO Lubrication Order
TB Technical Bulletin
Branch number. Examples:
Federal Supply Class (FSC). Examples:
1005 Guns, through 30mm
2320 Trucks and Truck Tractors, Wheeled
2610 Tires and Tubes, Pneumatic, Except Aircraft
Serial number assigned to the documentation series.
Maintenance level. Examples:
10 Operator/crew maintenance
12 Operator and unit maintenance
13 Operator through direct support maintenance
14 Operator through intermediate general support maintenance
20 Unit maintenance
23 Unit and intermediate general support maintenance
24 Unit through intermediate general support maintenance
30 Intermediate direct support maintenance
34 Intermediate direct support and intermediate general support maintenance
40 Intermediate general support maintenance
Suffix lettering. Examples:
P repair parts and special tools list (RPSTL)
&P maintenance manual that includes a repair parts and special tools list
TM 9-2320-218-20P Organizational Maintenance Repair Parts and Special Tools Lists
TM 9-2320-218-34 Direct Support and General Support Maintenance Manual
TB 9-2320-218-10-1 Safe Operation of M151 Series
LO 9-2320-218-12 Lubrication Order
Prior to the introduction of this system, manuals had shorter numbers using the type of manual (TM etc.) and branch numbers followed by a serial number identifying the manual. Some examples:
TM 9-803 1/4-ton 4x4 truck (Willys-Overland Model MB and Ford Model GPW)
TM 9-1276 Cal. .30 Carbines M1, M1A1, M2 and M3
Modification Work Order (MWO)
Illustration from MWO-9-2320-218-34
A Modification Work Order (MWO) will contain detailed instructions for making changes or improvements to a particular system in order to bring the system up to date and/or to improve its overall efficiency. The changes may be mandatory or may be optional depending on operational requirements. The manual may be a few pages or a thick document with photos and drawings, parts lists and lengthly instructions.
For MV collectors, the MWO may be needed to document changes to your vehicle that do not conform to the basic manuals but may be legitimate military modifications.
For example, the M-151 jeep was not factory equipped with the Roll-Over Protection System (ROPS). The required changes to an M-151A2 and installation procedure were described in MWO-9-2320-218-34 (illustration, left).
Field Manuals and Others
There are many, many other types of manuals and publications issued by the U.S. Department of Defense (and the former War Department). A very large number of field manuals (FMs) document doctrine and training in specialized topics like Army Aviation Operations (FM 1-100), NBC Decontamination (FM 3-5) or Counterguerrilla Operations (FM 90-8). But FMs, TMs, LOs and MWOs, the pubs of most interest regarding military vehicles, are just the tip of the publications iceberg.
The full range of types of Department of the Army publications are listed in DA PAM 25-40 "Army Publishing: Action Officers Guide". Section 19: Authorized Publishing Media lists dozens of publication types, for example Army Regulations (ARs), Graphic Training Aids (GTAs), Supply Catalogs (SCs) and Tables of Organization and Equipment (TOEs), along with many others.
Find More Information on the Internet
There are many fine websites that have additional information on this
topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go.
Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.
For good results, try entering this: manuals army or military. Then click the Search button.