1st Battalion 2nd Field Artillery in MASSTER

1st Battalion 2nd Field Artillery was stationed in Baumholder, Germany as part of 8th Infantry Division Artillery. I arrived in October, 1972 and all our vehicles were painted in solid OD. In the summer of 1973 USAREUR directed that all tactical vehicles be painted in what is commonly known as the MASSTER paint scheme. Drawings with patterns marked were issued with a larger variety of vehicles included and we were instructed to go to the motor pool, chalk off those patterns on our vehicles, put a number from 1 to 4 in the correct area, and apply the correct color to each area by hand.

Over the years I’ve built replicas of most of the types of vehicles we had in the unit, depicting them in MASSTER. In this thread I’ll be posting a series of shots of each of these vehicles. I’m planning to build two more, and I’ve already started a separate thread for the build of our Battery Maintenance Truck.

My plan is to group these vehicles 2 or so to a base with some landscaping in a mini diorama which can either be displayed alone, or set next to another on to make a larger display. But for now, I’m just going to post each individual vehicle and some of the accessories that will go with them.

I’m starting out with our Battery Commanders Jeep. You’ll notice that this vehicle is numbered B-1 and NOT B-6 which many units would use to designate the commander’s vehicle. In our Battalion, the Battery Commanders’ (HHB, A,B,C and SVC) Jeeps were -1. The more typical designation for commander of “6” was only on HHB-6 which was the Battalion Commander’s vehicle. (The is practice of referring to a commander as “6” dates back to the old Battalion Switchboard system where 1-4 were for the S-1, S-2, S-3, and S-4 phones, “5” was for the Battalion XO and “6” was for the Battalion Commander.)

So here’s the first vehicle.


Very nice to see Tom; looking very forward to this.

Wow I remember the trailers we had in our company in 85 in Germany had those drop side doors . They were wood I think

You got it! We called it a “dog house” and it was made out of plywood and 2x4s and covered with a canvas tarp.

I’ve seen some units that would number their trailers with a “-T”, and sometimes with the number being that of the vehicle which towed that particular trailer. Our unit SOP assigned every vehicle in the battalion including trailers, its own unique bumper number, and usually it was the next number in the bumper number sequence from the prime mover.

So why is the BC’s trailer B-39 and not B-2? Because per the TO&E, the BC didn’t HAVE a trailer.

Now at that time period, per the TO&E we were authorized three Forward Observer sections, and THEY each had an M151 and a trailer authorized. During the early 70’s post Vietnam period we were chronically under staffed and during my time in the battalion we NEVER had but one or very rarely two FO’s in a battery. So there was always at least one FO team’s vehicle which wasn’t going anywhere, so the BC’s “adopted” one of the spare trailers, because NO self-respecting 1SG was going to share that back seat with the gear that had to be carried.

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This next vehicle is B-2, an M577 which was the Battery FDC vehicle. I’ve depicted it the way we ran things during the time I was Assistant Executive Officer/Fire Direction Officer which was June '73-June '74. During this period we usually ran with the FADAC and one chart. The RTO sat inside manning the radios, the Chief Computer sat at the desk on the ramp, and the two chart operators ran the FADAC and chart. The Artillery Recorder kept up the maps, and the ammo board, and the driver kept the generators running, both the 4.2 KW for the track, as well as the 3KW for the FADAC. Depending on how long we expected to stay in one location, we would either keep the generators on board or if we expected to stay put for a while we’d dismount them and move them a short distance from the track as they were pretty loud. And again depending on the situation, we might erect the RC-292 which was a long pole mounted antenna which increased radio range. And as with the generators, we might set it up away from the track or just use the boom/davit mount as I’ve shown it here.

And what did I do while this was going on? Wandered around and let my team do their thing. The FDC was the one section, due to the importance of making sure the rounds went where they were SUPPOSED to, that pretty much always was fully manned with good troops, and mine was the best in the Battalion. And there was always a friendly rivalry among the three battery and Battalion sections.

You’ll notice the nickname “Bedlam” on the side of the track. Alpha’s track was nicknamed “Anarchy” and Charlie’s “Chaos”.


WOW!! really nice!!

very awesome details, I really love it :heart_eyes:

Awesome work there bro

Wow! Just wow… that is outstanding. And the fact that it’s an 8th ID vehicle, that makes it even better. Warms the cockles of this former impaled snowman patch wearer’s heart, although the camo does predate my tenure there by a bit.

'Love this Tom - very instructive. Map boards and a 1:35 typewriter - now we’re talking!

Warms the cockles of this former impaled snowman patch wearer’s heart,

I once heard it said that the patch design stood for the 8 hours it took you to get from Rhein-Main to Baumholder, and the shaft was what you got when you got there!!

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Yes the details are incredible really

In fact thinking about it, I think it’s only me and Tom who’ve ever depicted a 1:35 typewriter(!)

Thanks for all the great comments. I hope you guys are enjoying the series.

Next up is the “business end” of the unit, the howitzer section. Here I’ve depicted B-3 which was one of six howitzers in the battery. Unlike some later doctrine where a battery might have 8 guns and sometimes operate in two platoons of 4, we always operated as a single battery of 6. On occasion, a single “hot gun” might be deployed separately for a mission, but that was not usual. FA doctrine is different than Infantry and Armor units, where the Company CO “fights” the unit forward, and the XO is usually with the trains in the rear.

In FA practice, the XO is the “Firing Battery Commander” (like a platoon leader) and stays with the guns pretty much the whole time along with the AXO (assistant who runs the FDC). The howitzer sections, FDC and ammo section belong to the XO. His “platoon sergeant” is the “Chief of Firing Battery” universally known as the Chief of Smoke.

The Mess/Maint/Supply sections were part of the battery HQ and while the junior Forward observer wound up being the SLJO for all those on an admin basis in garrison, he was never in the battery area in the field, so the Battery Commander handled the “trains”, which for the most part stayed co-located with the guns.

During my time in the battery, there were two changes made. When I arrived we were still equipped with the M109 short tube, and all the vehicles were painted in solid OD. In June of 73 we were ordered to paint all our vehicles in MASSTER. A few months after that we were re-equipped with the long tube M109A1. I still have a picture somewhere of our gunline in the motor pool with half of the guns as short and half as long tube, all in MASSTER.

One of the most noticeable differences between the A1 and the A2 is where the panoramic telescope (pantel which is the “sight” the assistant gunner uses to properly aim the gun for direction) comes out from the top of the turret. The A2 introduced a closed housing which had a clear plate in the front which covered the pantel when it was mounted. The A1 still had a simple metal hatch which was raised to allow the sight to extend outside, but this allowed the sight to get wet and dirty in bad weather, so the A2 was a big improvement.

And finally, the 155mm uses “separate loading” ammunition, which means exactly how it sounds. The projectile is selected based on the mission requirements (High Explosive, Smoke, Illumination) and also fitted the desired fuze, either a contact or point detonating fuze, or a time fuze designed to cause the round to go off PRIOR to impact at some calculated time of flight designed to achieve a burst a desired height above the ground. Then comes the powder charge (which comes in a separate canister and has a number of “bags”, the more bags the greater the muzzle velocity and thus range). After the projectile was loaded, the correct number of bags of powder (or the charge) of powder were loaded “separately” and then after the primer (similar to a blank) was inserted into the breech and then the gun was fired.

The projectiles were kept outside of the gun on one side and the powder on the other, and it was the cannoneers’ job to listen to the fire commands and select and prepare the rounds per the orders.

During this time the way the whole process worked was the FO calls the battery with the mission (voice on the radio), the FDC determines the ammunition to use and the firing data, and then notifies which guns are to fire, what ammo to use and how many rounds. The external communication between the FO and the FDC was by voice radio, and the internal communication between the FDC and the guns was done by sound powered field telephones on a wire network that was set up and taken down each time we moved.
Lots of moving parts!


Great work there Tom and also the explanation; fills all those gaps that those who were not artillerymen might just want to know. Outstanding attention to detail too.

Looking great. Nice job on the howitzer interior.

Very nice looking MASSTER trio! I love all of the added details that you have put into each build. The additional explanations of what all the other items are is icing on the cake!

Where is the M548? :wink:

Carlos, you are reading my mind!!! That’s the next vehicle up!

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Very nice job on the details of the FDC and the M109. There is a lot of attention to detail in these builds. Your time spent on the guns and in the FDC really tell. It would be almost impossible for a non redleg to nail these tiny details.


Thanks, Gino! Quite a bit different than the Paladin or the PIM. I’m sure you noticed the difference in the loader rammer. Ours were completely attached to the tube,instead of folding in half and being attached to the back of the cab. To use it, you’d “roll” it the rammer and tray up from the left side of the tube and then with the tray in place you’d roll the rammer back down to the side. After placing the round on the tray and moving it into the breach once it cleared the face of the rammer, you’d roll that back up, and it would extend forward and seat the round into the breech. And as you’d know, you’d NEVER do that prior to the quadrant (the elevation of the gun to be used to fire) was announced! Ramming the projo into the breech sealed it in, and after that you REALLY didn’t want that round to leave the tube except by firing. Having to punch out a round from the muzzle end was a HUGE PITA! And LEAVING it in the chmber, especially if it was hot due to having fired a lot of rounds already was something ELSE you didn’t want to do!!
Announcing quadrant was the “permission to load” indicating that it was NOW on the FDC to give the command to fire. Any delay was on THEM and not the Howitzer section.