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Build Article

1/35 M-54 Vietnam Era 5-Ton APC Gun Truck



By James Lyles - Florida USA



I used the 1/35 Italeri M925 kit # 284 for the chassis, suspension, drive train and bed as they are very similar to a Vietnam era M54. The frame was shortened 1/8” to narrow the gap between the M925 bed and the new M54 cab. The bed was modified slightly by removing all the round internal tie-down cups, t-shaped external tie-downs and reflectors and replacing them with correct molded and cast reflectors and tie downs from the AFV M35A2 kit. The two M925 running lights and C-hooks were also removed, then one C-hook was relocated to the middle.


The M113 shell is from the cheaper Tamiya kit. I cut out the non-opening rear door and scratch-built a new one that opens. I also scratch-built a rarely used Okinawan commander’s cupola and front turnbuckles. The .50 caliber machine guns are by Verlinden but the flash suppressors are all cast.


The cab assembly, including the canvas top, doors, running board boxes, hood/cowl assembly, side panels, dashboard, fenders, radiator and M54 grille are all molded and cast from modified AFV M35A2 kit parts. The turbo canister and air cleaner assembly were scratch built, molded and cast. Realistic headlights are from MV Products (#LS 197) and the front wheel/tire assemblies are cast.


The following parts were also scratch-built, including rear tail light assemblies, rolled-up canvas top window, front shock mounts, steering sector shaft w/brackets, under the fender exhaust pipe, fuel filter, hood grab handles, fuel tank straps, cap, lines and fittings and air line connections. All the lettering and numbering are dry transfers but the King Kong graphics are hand painted. Weathering was done simply by dry brushing with Testors Flat Dark Tan and spraying with a can of American Accent Nutmeg Satin spray paint #7942.  No airbrushing was done to replicate the finish.

Copyright: James Lyles - October 1, 2007