1st Battalion 2nd Field Artillery in MASSTER

Just caught up with this build! Truly amazing stuff!
Now you just need a big dio base for everything… :wink:

More great stuff. Was the M54 a conversion you did yourself following Dave “Animal” Willet’s method of hood and fender extensions, or a resin one? I am assuming it was before the AFV Club one based on what looks like Italeri’s M925 wheels on it.

Tom, each “reveal” gets better and better - and the explanations sets everything in context.

Over what timespan did you build all these?

Gino, you guessed it. It was a combination of Dave’s method of converting combined with a Resin Cab, so sort of a hybrid conversion, pre AFV release. My plan for building AFTER I finish my current plan of the M35 Battery Maintenance vehicle, is to do a SVC Battery 5 Ton Fuel vehicle with 1 1/2 ton trailer w/pod, and I’ll order the AFV for that build. It’ll be interesting to see how the two compare.

Brian, I think I probably started the initial work with the M577 track, and I seem to remember having that and working on it in my old house before I moved into this one. If that’s correct, it’s been off and on a bit over 30 years, if you can believe that. It’s one of the reasons for differences in technique etc. from one build to the next.

We’ve finished with the “Firing Battery” vehicles, which consist of 6 M109A1 howitzers, and 6 M548 ammo carriers, and the three truck Ammo section.

The total number of personnel allotted to each of the 6 gun sections was 11 per the TO&E, with an E-6 Chief of Section, an E-5 Gunner, an E-4 Assistant Gunner, 4 “numbered” cannoneers, each with a specific task in readying the gun to fire and a driver with the howitzer, and the remaining two cannoneers and a driver assigned to the M548 to keep the ready ammo outside the gun supplied.

The Chief supervised the crew, the Gunner was responsible for the elevation of the gun, and the AG for the deflection, and the Number 1 cannoneer, who loaded the ammo and actually fired the gun, all located inside the cab of the howitzer. The remaining 3 cannoneers were outside readying the projectiles, and fuzes for firing, based on the commands from the FDC. The driver’s job was supposed to be to take care of the maintenance of the howitzer.

The guys in the M548 were constantly moving ammo from off the truck and either into the M548, or spotting it on the ground outside the gun, where the trick was to try to only set out as much ammo on the ground as you’d expect to fire from one position. Too much and it all had to be re-loaded when the command to “March Order” was given.

The ammo section of the Firing Battery, the 3 M54s, consisted of 6 men total, one of them an E-5, with 2 per vehicle.

During the early 1970’s as I said earlier we were chronically under-staffed. Most of the sections ran with about 8 personnel rather than 11, and usually only 4 of the 6 sections actually had an E-6 as Chief of Section. And while most of the E-6s we did have had served a tour in Vietnam, most of the E-5s were very junior and had not served in combat. With no real strong NCO corps to provide leadership to soldiers, many of whom at that time were still draftees, it was a challenge to say the least.

Because of this inexperience, unlike today when the Chief of Section is responsible for the safety of the firing of the guns, to ensure that no rounds were fired out of safe, a Safety Officer, always one of the few LTs that we DID have, and NOT from the same battery, was required to determine the “safe firing data” (to land the round only in the impact area) for EVERY position we fired from, AND to PHYSICALLY inspect EVERY howitzer for fuze setting, powder charge, elevation and deflection, for EVERY round.

Back when TWO guns fired all of the initial adjustment rounds, and THEY were 50 meters apart, that meant running between those guns every volley (and you can bet there was always a lot of MUD to run through!) and when the whole battery fired, you’d have to run from one end of the battery to the other (250 meters), and check every gun.

While everybody waited for you to finish so they could fire. And all the while knowing you were “betting your bar” on EVERY round landing in the box! Yeah, I miss that!

So today we move on to the headquarters “platoon” of the battery. First up is B-22 the battery Mess truck, and M105 1 1/2 Ton Trailer B-23. This was an M35 onto which a canvas covered plywood shelter had been constructed to house our sections stoves and from where meals could not only be prepared, but served out of a window, cut into the side which opened on the a walk up PSP platform. We’d usually have a hot “A” ration meal for breakfast at which a “C” ration meal for lunch was also distributed. And then in the evening another hot “A” ration meal for supper. Hot soup and coffee were pretty much available most of the day and well into the evening, especially if we were doing night firing. Our mess section was just outstanding and no doubt the hardest working section in the battery, and we always had simply great food!


Tom, simply outstanding and a great tribute to those “who also serve” (and certainly are hardly ever acknowledged in model form). Fantastic attention to detail and superb modelling.

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Wow! You’ve done a wonderful job of capturing all of the little scratch built details and accessories. I’ve eaten many a meal from chow trucks like this.


The mess truck looks awesome. Great job.

Brian, Rick and Gino, thanks! Hopefully these bring back as many memories for you guys as they have for me!

OK, a couple of questions. In the M548, is that a working winch?
In the Gama Goat, you actually put the radio in the rear section? was somebody back there to operate it?
In the mess truck, did they have the plastic drink dispensers back in the '70s?

For the Winch on the M548, if you mean on the model, the answer is I think that I set it up so that the drum turns and I think I remember wrapping a line of thread around the drum, but it’s been a while since I built the model. I generally try to do that when I do a winch, because it’s not really hard and I think it looks much better.
So for the three Firing Battery XO’s Gama Goats, three of the only 4 Gama Goats out of the 27 in the battalion that had a MOUNTED radio, as I recall it was mounted in the back as there really isn’t any room in the cab. I remember that the cabling somehow connected forward into the cab, where there was a microphone as well as a speaker installed in the cab. I did my XO tour in HHB, so I never had to use this set up, but I understand that it was really unsuitable because the noise level in the cab made it pretty much impossible to listen and talk while moving. I recall having to have the drivers being required to wear ear muffs. As early as 1975 there was a study made by the Army concerning whether or not to replace or improve the Goat. I suspect given the HUGE development and fielding time the Army requires, the answer eventually was the Humvee.

The only other Goat in the Battalion which had a radio installed (per the TO&E) was the M792 Ambulance in HHB. And given the requirement for the litters, I have no idea how they managed it!

And I think I recall the brown plastic drink dispensers back then, along with the metal ones. But those could be memories from later units.

I don’t recall seeing the plastic drink containers until the mid '80s, but they may have been issued to some units earlier. The Gama Goat and the Goer were weird vehicles. Are you going to build that next?

At this point I have no plans to build any GOERs. They started to show up in about July of 1975 or so as I remember, and I left the battalion in August, so they weren’t really a part of my time in the unit. And they also weren’t on the TO&E I have (06-365H) although they could have been a part of an MTO&E.

I do recall one interesting conversation I had with one of my buddies who was the Service Battery XO/Battalion Ammo Officer. His section originally had 9 M54 5Ton ammo trucks. Now I know that the GOER was rated at 8 tons, but the PROBLEM was that while it had the extra PAYLOAD capacity, it didn’t have the same VOLUME capacity as the 5 Ton it replaced. I don’t remember whether when the batteries lost their three 5 ton trucks (15 Ton capacity) they got three GOERS (I was in HHB by that time), OR in their infinity the logistical planners said, HEY, you’re getting an EXTRA TON of payload, so you only need TWO GOERS for every three M54s! But either way, even with a 1 for 1 swap, when the GOERS came in, we no longer had the ability to carry our required basic load of ammo from the ASP, and that did NOT make the ammo officer a good buddy of the Battalion Commander.

Like it was his fault!

Bravo!!! The chow truck is another home run! I love all the associated items and fixtures inside. Memories of KP in the field… I presume that you had to scratch build all of that stuff? Looks like you guys lived pretty well in the field with a set up like that.

Thanks Carlos! Compared with the Infantry and Armor guys, yeah we lived pretty well. At least I did when I moved from being the FO, to the AXO. As an FO, our job was to meet up with the maneuver units and go where they went. It was difficult trying to keep up with M60s and M113s in a Jeep pulling a trailer. Luckily one of the two radios in the FO jeep was a VRC-160 which was a vehicle mounted PRC-77. I’d invariably get “requested” to join the Inf Company Commander in his command track to keep up so I could at least dismount one radio and lug it with me. We all complained about the mobility issue and it must have worked, because eventually FOs got their own tracked vehicles.

Living with the Battery meant you almost always got two hot meals a day unless we had to move. Lots of times the section kept cooking in the trucks while we were on the road! But for the maneuver guys, I can recall being out with them and around 2am, the Company XO would finally show up to the forward positions where the platoons were with chow in mermite cans. And it would be BREAKFAST from the previous morning!!!

I was able to find a mobile kitchen set a number of years ago and the three stoves came from that, but they’re actually the WW II model, which is slightly different than the ones we actually had. Other stuff like the mermite cans, coffee and drink dispensers, water and gas cans and the boom box, came from various accessory kits. The C-Ration cartons were cut out from one of the various sheets that are available. The table and chairs are from the Tamiya command set, but I modified them so they can be folded. And the garbage cans came from some accessory kit someplace, but I had to hollow them out because originally they were solid and that wasn’t going to work.

The pallets that the C-Rations are on are scratch from bass wood, with paper straps. And the boxes that the gas cans, etc are in so that several can be carried at one time and they don’t rattle around in the trailer were scratched. But the most fun was doing the immersion heaters and boxes!!

The boxes are no doubt actually intended to be for SHIPPING new equipment and I’m pretty sure that ours had LONG ago lost theirs, but I just liked the fact that you could break the set down, store everything in a container and again, not have stuff rolling around loose, so I scratched those too.



Very nice collection. I love that you’ve done the less commonly seen vehicles of the battery. And great attention to detail. They would look great in a big diorama of the battery position in a woods. I put together all the vehicles of my gun battery in 1/87th Roco when I was in Wiesbaden. Except for the Goers. It’s interesting to see your battalion in MASSTER, I had thought MASSTER was more of a VII Corps thing. Thanks for posting.

Thanks Kevin! I’ve thought about an entire battery in Roco myself, but I really love the challenge of doing all the detail work and those Roco vehicles are so small. I know for our whole battery, including the single M35 “special weapons” truck, it would require 40 vehicles & trailers, although given that three FO jeeps and trailers probably wouldn’t be there, and you might be able to leave out the three ammo 5 Tons and Trailers, you could get away with less. If you still have those Rocos you should a picture of them.

My plan for these is to group them, about 2-3 vehicles each, on boards about 18"x18". I’ve figured out a pattern that would allow them to be displayed with each board as a stand alone scene, or put the 4 squares together as one complete scene. The obvious problem with that size, is space.

No, MASSTER was a USAREUR/7A thing. USAREUR published a regulation in June or so of 1973, and both V Corps and VII Corps, as was common practice, each issued their own Corps Supplement to the regulation. All three had the attachment which had been created back in 1966 at USAREUR HQ with the patterns, and the Supplements directed all units to use that, chalk off the patterns and paint.

I have a ton of the original documentation from 1966-1967, and I KNOW because we used it, that there was a V Corps directive in 1973 to do this, but so far I have searched everywhere and so far I have not found ANYBODY who actually has a copy of the USAREUR Reg from 1973, nor either Corps supplement. Still looking!!

I hadn’t even heard of Roco until I got to Germany in '78. With limited space living in the barracks, they were the ticket. I found a hardware store of all places in Wiesbaden that carried the complete line of Roco. It was hard to control myself! Good to hear MASSTER was USAREUR wide as it opens up marking possibilities. Enjoying the thread. Went to Baumholder a couple times for live fire exercises. Look foward to seeing your kits on the bases.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an immersion heater in 1/35 - Bravo! That mess truck is gorgeous; all that gear is really well done.

Tom I could give you a hug for the pics of the canopy frame! I’ve been trying to find a schematic or picture of this for years, none of my www searches or any of the books I have show how it’s supposed to look sans canvas, I have tinkered with the pieces from the Tamiya M577 trying to figure it out and got nowhere. Awesome! Your whole build for the FDC track is perfect for illustrating the daily function of the track! Thank you brother! :hugs:

Cajun :crocodile: