M818 5-ton Tractor Conversion

Here is my latest build. Yes, I am back to trucks. This one is an M818 5-ton tractor used from the early '70s up until the early 2000s in some reserve units.

The actual truck.

I am starting with the AFV Club M51A2 kit since the dump truck had the same length frame as the tractor. I will be using the dump bed on the I :heart: kit M925 to make an M930 dump truck, but that is for a later date.

To convert it into an M818, I will be adding @MikeyBugs M800 conversion set, which includes the longer hood, hood side pieces, brush guard, battery box, and air cleaner.

I will also be adding the Hobby Link M52 tractor conversion.

I started by building the basic frame and cab parts from the kit. Then I added the side pieces for the hood. I then cut the wing pieces with the lights off the radiator and moved them to the back edge. I did this since the M800 series 5 tons had a larger engine which was about six inches longer to the front. This is the reason for the extended hood. The radiator was also moved forward to accommodate the longer engine.

Here is also the battery box.

Mikey’s parts look great. The only issues I had were that the hood was a bit long so I had to sand down the rear end a bit. Also, the hole for the air intake was a little too far forward. I filled it and drilled a new hole where it belongs.

I cut off the hinges on the AFV Club hood and added them to the M800 hood. I also added the T clips on the front and on top for the windshield hold-down. Lastly, I added the PE mesh to the brush guard.

I also added the gun ring mount up top. All the gun mount parts, minus the ring itself, are in the M54 kit on the cab parts sprue (D) and the sprues (H x2) for the seats in the bed. I added the ring from an M35 kit.

The last parts I added were the Hobby Link M52 tractor conversion parts. They are very nicely 3D printed as well and clean up easily. I had no issues with them.

A few more pieces to add here and there and it will be ready for paint. I think it will be in MERDC, but not sure. I have also been working on a trailer to go with it, but more on it later.


Nice work Gino. I’m probably doing the M813 next with Mikey’s conversion and HL’s 5-ton dump box and M52 sets.

I’m pleased to see the truck/force is still strong on this site!

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Glad you all like it. Show more truck builds.

Thanks Denis. I do like my trucks. I find I am leaning more and more towards them with all the new truck kits and conversion sets coming out too.


You do great builds Gino but I like your trucks the best.

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Very nice job so far Gino.

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Looking great, I can barely get my M915 done! :weary:

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Thank you, gentlemen. It is coming along.

Don’t worry James, your M915 will come out great. I look forward to seeing it in due time.


A small update tonight. I assume that the earlier M54s had issues with their front fenders drooping. On the M809 series, 2 extra supports were added under the front fenders.

I have replicated them on my model.

Also, another note on the AFV Club M39 series (M54, M51, etc…) kits. Hopefully these are another hint that they may come out w/an M809 series truck. On the E sprue in green, and on the clear sprue (N), there are the NATO turn signals for the front and NATO stop/taillights for the rear. Also, on the C sprue are the mounts for the NATO taillights.

Fingers crossed for AFV Club to do an M809 series truck as well.


Hi Gino,
Good catch on the fender support system for the M800 series. I believe the upgraded fender supports were incorporated during the Vietnam War. I have found several photos of Vietnam guntrucks that used these fender supports. To name a few of the guntrucks such as Maverick, Cold Sweat, King Cobra, The Big Kahuna and others. There is reference in the M39 series TMs that illustrate the exact placement and shapes. It was a bit more complicated than I anticipated.
V0962 (Big Kahuna)


Gino what are you talking about here. I then cut the wing pieces with the lights off the radiator and moved them to the back edge. I did this since the M800 series 5 tons had a larger engine which was about six inches longer to the front. This is the reason for the extended hood. The radiator was also moved forward to accommodate the longer engine.

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I am talking about making the more pointy nose of the M809 series truck. On m54s, the nose is flat and if you look at the kit radiator, it too is basically flat. It has the main central radiator part and two side pieces (wings) with lights on them. If you cut these wings off and reattach them at the rear of the radiator, you get a radiator that sticks out further than the wings. These wings are how the radiator attaches to the fenders. By moving them back and attaching them in their original slots, you get the extended radiator and pointy nose of an M809 series truck.

You can see the extended radiator in this pic.


Nice work Gino. Im enjoying this build and I can certainly confirm that getting the radiator in the right spot before the hood goes on is MUCH easier than the method I had to employ to correct my build!:smirk:

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Ok I got you. The grills that come with the M54 truck is strait and you had to bend it. I got the sets from Real Models that are already formed…Just checking if I missing something. Thanks Gino

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I think Gino is using Mikey Bugs’ excellent M813 conversion set, not modifying the M54 grille.

Might be wrong here but……

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Denimo is right, the grill came in the M800 conversion set already formed to shape. It also has a round bar profile as opposed to the flat ones in the M54 kits. The M800s also used the flat profile grills too.


Hey Gino, Mikey is making both types of grille. The first one I used was the flat bar type, haven’t checked the others out yet.

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That’s looking great Gino.


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Excellent build Gino! Nothing wrong with focusing on Trucks. As a professional, you know the importance of logistics!

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Thanks gents. Oh yes, I do know the importance of logistics. I should have another update soon. I was able to get some paint on it this weekend.

Yup, I specifically asked for the round profile grill. I like it better on the M809 series trucks. It sets them apart.

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As promised, here is the latest on it.

Over the weekend, I got the wheels on and laid down the MERDC paint. The wheels are resin ones from Real Model. I like them better than the kit tires since they have more rounded shoulders, like actual 5-ton tires. The kit tires have square shoulders and look too new to me, I do like to use them for a new spare though.

For the MERDC, I went with Winter Verdant, which appears to be the most common. I first sprayed the green using Tamiya OD #2, then hand painted the dark tan, sand, and black. It has a few brush strokes and stray bristle marks here and there, just as I imagine it would when hand painted by a couple privates on extra duty in the motorpool.

Here it is so far.

Next up is adding/working on the smaller details.