M54 POL Tanker in MASSTER

While I’m waiting for the decals for my previous build of the M35 Maintenance Truck from my first unit, 1st Bn, 2nd Field Artillery in MASSTER, from the period of about 1973-1975, I’m moving on to the next vehicle combo for my collection.

This will be one of the two M54 POL tankers that we had in Service Battery. I’ll be using the AFV M54 kit which is a new one for me. My previous M54 was a conversion of several kits and an aftermarket cab which was all that was available at that time. This kit should be much easier to build. I’ll be adding the Perfect Scale Model set of two POL pods for the truck, and also the PSM M105 POL trailer, along with the Eduard M35 PE set which should work fine for the M54.

As with my build of the M35 Maintenance Truck, I’ll be doing this in sort of “reverse” order. I’ll build the POL Trailer first, and the do the prime mover last.

As I said, there were two of these units in SVC Battery, and as one of these had a winch and the other didn’t, I’m just going to build this vehicle with the winch installed. Also since I know at least ONE of the two units had MOGAS in the trailer (I cannot remember if they both did or just one), the trailer pod will be for MOGAS.

After some discussion and research on another site, despite the fact that the trailer kit comes with Dual Wheels, (actually a better idea given the weight of a full fuel pod), these were NOT a standard feature at this time period, so I’ll build it as a Single Wheel version.

The first shots are of the kits I’m going to use:

I’m starting with the wheels which need to be slightly modified as in the kit the inner wheel does not have the lug nuts for the outside. Also the PSM kit comes with a solid axle which doesn’t allow the wheels to rotate, so it’s replaced with a styrene tube and a rod which fits inside the tube.

Holes are drilled in the wheel and then styrene rod inserted from the rear to protrude outboard for the lug nuts. Also a small disc with a hole the size of the axle shaft is inserted on the inside so that the axle shaft can be glued to the wheel.

Next the wheel ends need to be modified. First a hole is drilled through to allow the axle shaft to go through and the the small knob on the end is removed because this would have been inserted into the wheel, but now the axle shaft is going to go in the disc which was previously glued to the inside of the wheel.

And finally the wheel ends are glued to the axle tube and the axle shaft glued to one of the wheels. Now all that remains will be to insert the shaft through the tube and glue it into the disc inside the other wheel.

Next I added the details and skids to the pod. Since there are three of them and they’re all exactly alike, it’s just easier to do all three at the same time.

And then finally the trailer bed and tailgate are cleaned up and 0.020" holes are drilled in the hinges of the gate for later installation of the hinge pin. The pieces which will be used on the trailer bed will be scratch built.

Jeez Tom, more “Masstery” (Geddit?)

Seriously, this whole series has been a tutorial for me and of course I love that it’s so personal, but also that it covers the MASSTER scheme which many are either unaware of, or it’s sort of been overlooked.

Just love it.

Thanks, Brian. I have now completed all the vehicles I plan to do for Bravo Battery, and this will add a truck and trailer to the M578 I had already done for Service Battery. And like the man said, “But wait. There’s more.”

I have already gotten everything I need (except for the M101 Trailer which should be en route as we speak,) to do one more unique vehicle, this one from HHB. I plan to do an M561 Gama Goad with an S-250 Shelter on the back set up as a RATT rig.

I really do like the MASSTER scheme for a number of reasons, one of which is that because it was chalked on, hand apply, paint by the numbers, to a drawing, by “Joe” (or Mr. Atkins if you prefer tea to coffee), in the Motor Pool by literally thousands of different people. There is no absolute standard from which there can be no deviation, and it really allows a lot of freedom when building. I wonder how it would fare with judges in a competition!!!

I remember those “we need to repaint the vehicles evolutions”. In HHC 1/68 it wasn’t up the the individual crewmembers to do the repaints, each platoon contributed to a working party. You can imagine the cast of characters on that working party, every single one of them was someone who had ticked off their platoon daddy recently or was just a completed dud. I spent a day and a half in the upper motor pool supervising them when they repainted the medical platoon vehicles - with brushes which they cleaned with MOGAS. One kid is opening a can while he’s puffing a butt…and the detail’s NCOIC is watching him puffing away, too. I chewed them both out for being idiots, and they looked at me like I had two heads. These were the guys doing the paint jobs competition judges and rivet counters think have to be replicated perfectly. If brains were dynamite some of those guys doing the repaints wouldn’t have had enough to blow their nose!


Ha! I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere (albeit some time ago) my astonishment when I arrived at HQ 1st (British) Corps and espied members of the Mixed Services Organisation (basically Displaced Persons “saved” by the British and formed into a uniformed labour force) painting the HQ Box Bodies using mops - yes - mops!

The gloss bronze green had merely been painted over (no rubbing down or prep) by the then new matt green, roughly chalked patterns marked out, then Hey ho! Away we go with mops sloshing on the matt black patches.

The recruiting literature at the time was something like “Join the Professionals”.

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John, that is SOOO true! Especially with the MASSTER scheme which was intended to be locally applied. There is simply no way a judge should mark down any MASSTER painted vehicle because the pattern isn’t “perfect” or “looks sloppy”. THAT my friend IS accurate. If that ever happened to me (it won’t because I simply do not do competitions or contests), I’d ask the judge, “So what unit were YOU in during this period in Germany?”


You know, I had someone try to tell me that the whole using MOGAS to thin the paint and clean the brushes thing was a World War II myth. When asked about his service, he was Air National Guard; no Regular Army in Germany :thinking: somebody who really knows how we did things when they told us get it done and nobody gets the long weekend until it is. My response was that I guessed that all the stuff that went on in Germany was all a World War II myth if it doesn’t fit your idea of how things are supposed to be done.

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I don’t know about ALL paint, but I can tell you that I do know that in a pinch you CAN use gasoline (MOGAS) as a solvent for some stuff. I occasionally get some nasty pine sap dripping on the my car from the trees over head in our drive. Just a little bit of gasoline (from the lawn mower can) REALLY removes it from the surface, but DOESN’T bother the dried finish of the paint. I can absolutely bet that in the motor pool there was probably a better chance of finding MOGAS than “mineral spirits” for clean up!!

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Very cool new project!

I will be following this build, I really loved the other MASSTER builds… :+1:

U.S. Army SOP is to use strait diesel fuel to clean parts (barrels etc.). We used about 75% MoGas and a little diesel fuel (enough to make it smell like crap). The Navy was big on some kinda white rust preventative that diesel wouldn’t begin to touch. We tried a few things and ended up with gasoline. Everybody knew what we were using except for the ROTC officers, and they were too stupid to figure it out

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I look forward seeing the next MASSTER master :wink:
Your M35 maintenance truck is outstanding great work and now the next one. Unfortunately I was too young when the US Army had the MASSTER vehicles here in Germany, so I can’t remember this.
Just one “stupid” question: what is the abbr. "POL " for?

Petroleum, Oil, Lubricants.

Thanks for the explanation Lee! As he said it’s the abbreviation for those items. Together, they comprise one of the “types” of supply items that the Army uses as a way of organizing re-supplying units with the basic things they need. POL is a catch all term used to describe pretty much anything which the army has which can be considered a fuel or lubricant and even things like coolant (anti-freeze) and de-icer. Together all these items are what is known as “Class III” items of supply. The rest are explained in this article, but suffice to say that some of the most important classes of supply for soldiers are “Class I” (food and water) and “Class V”, ammunition.

Here’s the link if you are interested…

And Gary, let’s not lump ALL ROTC Officers into the dumb bucket. As a graduate from VMI, my commission is ROTC. Was I a “SECOND LIEUTENANT”? Sure. But I more than knew my way around the block.

I was an MI soldier in Germany at a Field Station that had very few vehicles; our most important class of supply (and for which we had retail outlets) was always Class VI, or alcoholic beverages.

I was wondering who’d jump in with Class VI. ACTUALLY alcoholic beverages are only a tiny (but important!) part of Class VI. And a part which gets really reduced in wartime. The actual category is " Personal demand items (such as health and hygiene products, soaps and toothpaste, writing material, snack food, beverages, cigarettes, batteries, alcohol,and cameras—nonmilitary sales items)."

These are items which would usually be sold in a Post Exchange. It’s only because the alcoholic beverages wind up in a separate store, that everybody knows the “Class VI Store” as the same thing as the liquor store.

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Ah the Class VI store. Just a short walk away from our old Company Orderly Room after final formation on Friday… :thinking:

Maybe it was at one time, but by the early ‘80s (and probably before), it was to use solvent for cleaning stuff. There were 55 gallon drums cut in half for soaking weapons parts in, or small barrels of the solvent to use in the motor pool with scrub brushes to clean vehicles at the birdbath while in garrison. The solvent itself was pretty potent stuff. Within a few days of using it, the skin on your hands would usually peel off a bit.

we used the same 55 gallon barrel idea as well, but had no access to any solvents. Probably existed, but we were near the bottom of the food chain. When we changed barrels on one our howitzers, they left all the cosmoline on it and inside it as well. Diesel would cut it, but it also took a long while to get it done. So we started using gasoline / diesel fuel mix. Then we got the bore clean in about thirty to forty minutes. A new breech took hours to get it clean.

I often soaked the machine guns for several ours in the gasoline mixture. Then wiped it all down with an old tee shirt. After that it was LSA and oil from another rag. The solvent your using acts like some stuff we tried at work. They soon got rid of it. Yet there was even worse stuff than that! What's really interesting is that the folks back in Ordenance (major repair facility) were using Carbon Tet (I know that smell too well) to clean up parts. I now wonder how many died from liver cancer. I started with Tri-Cloretholene and that was called the best and safest solvent to use, and we now know that beast! 


I was the one guy issued the unlimited ration card in my unit. I noticed one day that mine was green and everybody else had a salmon colored one. I would go to the main PX in Chu Lai with a five ton truck and get three or four pallets of beer (80 cases on each pallet). Then add two pallets of soda pop. Once they were loaded I would tell the kid with me to set in the back of the truck while I went inside with two duffle bags. I get at least one case of Canadian Club (usually two), some Jim Beam or Jack Daniels, rum , and scotch. Then if they had it I take one case of Jonnie Walker. Then signed my name on the dotted line and left. No idea who got the bills. After that I would roll into the front door with a third duffle, and fill it with everything from salt & pepper to Hienze 57 sauce. If there were pretzels or chips, I’d take one hand and fill the bag till it was full. I paid cash for that stuff. From there I dropped by the Sea Bees and handed over one bottle of CC to their boss (often two bottles). All told I spent about fifty to seventy dollars for all that loot! Then we’d load them in a landing net and sent it out with a Chinook I carried the hard stuff as it would be gone by the time I got back to the field. When the chopper arrived, Top would be there to over see the load and make sure there was a pallet of Budwiser. If there wasn’t I already knew things were going bad that day.