M54 (truck)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Truck, Cargo, 5 Ton, 6×6, M54
REFORGER 1991, M54 Truck unloading.jpg
M54 cargo truck during Exercise Reforger, 1991
Type Heavy Truck
Place of origin United States United States
Production history
Manufacturer International Harvester
Diamond T, Mack
Produced 1951-1964
Variants M54A1, M54A2
Weight 19,231 lb (8,723 kg)[a][b]
29,581 lb (13,418 kg)[a][c]
Length 297 in (754 cm)[a]
Width 97 in (246 cm)
Height up to 127 in (323 cm)

Engine Continental R6602 I6 gasoline
and others see text
224 hp (167 kW)
504 lbf·ft (683 N·m)
214 mi (344 km)
Speed 53 mph (85 km/h)

The M54 Truck, officially designated Truck, Cargo, 5 Ton 6×6 M54, is a heavy cargo truck developed by, and deployed primarily with, the United States Armed Forces. The vehicle is a member of the M39 series of trucks. It is rated for five-ton (4536 kg) cargo loads, cross-country, and ten-ton (9718 kg) cargo loads, highway, making it a heavy truck. The basic M54 is fitted with a Continental gasoline engine, whereas variants had different engines (see below).

The M54 was the primary heavy truck of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine[1] forces during the Vietnam War. It was used to haul cargo, and was also modified to serve as a gun truck by adding armor and various weapons, including double, or Quadmount .50 caliber machine gun. The truck was also used by the U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force, and was deployed by ARVN forces in Vietnam as well.

Although most noted for its extensive use in Vietnam, due to its reliability, the M54 continues to serve in armed forces around the world to the present day.

Design and development[edit]

The M39 (G744) series was designed as a 5 ton (4536 kg) three axle all wheel drive off road truck to replace World War II era trucks such as 4 and 6 ton 6x6’s built by Brockway, Diamond T, Mack, and White. Rushed into production by International Harvester in 1951, soon Kaiser (renamed Kaiser-Jeep in 1963) also became a major manufacturer[d], with Diamond T and Mack building smaller numbers. The M39 series evolved into the M809 (G908) series[e] in 1969, which followed, but did not replace, it. The M809 Series was then improved into the M939 Series[f] in 1983. Although individual components and dimensions may vary, all three series are mechanically very similar. [2][3][4][5]



The M39 series were originally powered by a Continental R6602 gasoline engine, a 602 cu in (9.9 L) inline 6 developing 224 hp (167 kW) at 2800 rpm. The -A1 upgrade had a Mack ENDT-673 turbocharged diesel engine with 210 hp (160 kW) at 2100rpm. The -A2 had a Continental LDS-465-1A Turbo multifuel engine, with 205 hp (153 kW) at 2600rpm.[g].[5] [6]

The M809 series’ main difference from the M39 is the use of a Cummins NH250 engine. This 855 cu in (14.0 L) inline 6 naturally aspirated diesel developed 240 hp (180 kW) at 2100 rpm. All models of the M809 series used this engine throughout their service life.[5]

The M939 series remanufactured M809s continued to use their original NH 250s. The –A1 and A2 new built models use new Cummins 6CTA8.3s. This 505 cu in (8.3 L) inline turbocharged inline 6, developing 240 hp (180 kW) at 2100 rpm, is a modern commercial engine.[5]


All M39s (excluding M139C/D/F) and all M809s as built had a Spicer 5-speed manual transmission, 2-speed (plus forward and reverse) transfer case, and Timken axles with the same gear ratio. All M939s, with either engine, use an automatic transmission. This makes driving easier and cures engine-transmission mismatched gearing problems.[5][6][7][8][9][10]


The M39, M809, and M939 series were built on three wheelbases. The short, used for tractors and dumps, is 167 in (4,200 mm) / 194 in (4,900 mm), the long, used for cargo and wreckers, is 179 in (4,500 mm) / 206 in (5,200 mm), and the extra long, used for long cargo and expansible vans, is 215 in (5,500 mm) / 242 in (6,100 mm). (Measurements are from the centerline of the front axle to the centerline of rear bogie / rear axle). There was also an extra heavy duty extra long chassis for extreme service.[5][6]

Many M39 and M809 series were equipped with a front mounted 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) winch, intended for self-recovery. A winch weighed 665 lb (302 kg) and added 15 12 in (39 cm) inches to the length of the truck. M939 series had a new hydraulic winch, and separate numbers for with/without winch models.[5][6]

The M939 series had major changes to update the chassis. The basic vehicle, designed in 1950, was obsolete and dangerous by the late 1970s. The brakes were changed to a modern air system, and later were equipped with an anti-lock system. Newly designed radial tires also improved handling, but problems remained and the trucks were put under a 40 mph speed restrictions.[5][11]


The M39 series had both single and dual rear tire models, very few single rear tire trucks were built. Most used 11.00x20 duals, some had larger 12.00x20s. All M809 series had dual rear tires.

The M939 series first used 11:00Rx20 tires with dual rear tires. The M939A1 and M939A2 use oversized 14:00 R20 tires and rear tandem singles. M939A2 series vehicles use a centralized tire inflation system (CTIS).[5][6]


Cargo variants[edit]

A USMC M54 (dropside) truck in Lebanon, 1983.

There were two main variants of the cargo truck, the standard M54 with a 14 ft (4.3 m) long flatbed cargo body and the M55 model on an extra long wheelbase with a 20 ft (6.1 m) body. The M54 was modified to serve as a dropside cargo vehicle as well, these being designated M54A1C and M54A2C. Service variations existed as well, notable was the tall intake on the air cleaner of M54s deployed by the U.S. Marine Corps.[5][6][12][13]

Tractor and Wrecker variants[edit]

M543A2 Wrecker

Only one semi tractor model was developed, the M52. The first model wrecker was the M62, succeeded by the M543, with a different boom. The M246, with a XL wheelbase, was a Tractor-wrecker, with a fifth wheel mounted behind the boom, for towing semi trailers. All wreckers of all series had a front winch.[5][6][13][14]

Construction variants[edit]

M51 Dump Truck

M39 series trucks were used widely in construction, often for river bridging, and a number of specialized construction variants were developed. The M51 dump truck was developed for general construction work, while the M139[h], M328[i], and M748[j] were used to deliver large sections of bridging material.[5][6][13][15]

Expansible vans[edit]

The M291 Expansible van, on an XL wheelbase with a slide out section on each side, had a large working floor area and was used in communication roles. Some had hydraulic lift gates. None had a front mounted winch.[5][16][17]

Chassis cabs[edit]

In addition to standardized models, bare chassis cabs were produced for specialty bodies. An extra heavy duty model, with 14.00x20 dual rear tires on a reinforced extra long chassis, was often used for bridging trucks, and the M139C, with lower ratio axles, was an Honest John rocket launcher.[5][6]

Model number by Series[edit]

Type wheelbase M39 series[18] M809 series[19] M939 series[20][k]
Chassis, long long M39[l], M40 M809 M944
Chassis, short short M61 M810
Chassis, extra long extra long M63 M811 M942
Chassis, Heavy duty[m] extra long M139 M812 M927/928
Cargo, 14 ft (4.3 m) bed long M41[l], M54 M813 M923-926
Cargo, 20 ft (6.1 m) bed extra long M55 M814 M927/928
Dump short M51 M817 M929/930
Semi Tractor short M52, M818 M931/932
Wrecker long M62, M543 M816 M936
Tractor-wrecker extra long M246 M819
Van, Expansible extra long M291 M820 M934
Bolster Truck w/Trailer[j] long M328 M821 [n]
Bridge [h][i] extra long M328 M821 [n]

M39 series dimensions[edit]

Model[6] Length Width Height Weight
M51 Dump 282 in (7,200 mm) 92 in (2,300 mm) 111 in (2,800 mm) 22,665 lb (10,281 kg)[b]
32,663 lb (14,816 kg)[c]
M52 Tractor 273 in (6,900 mm) 97 in (2,500 mm) 102 in (2,600 mm)

18,996 lb (8,616 kg)[b]
33,996 lb (15,420 kg)[c]

M54 Cargo 312 in (7,900 mm) 97 in (2,500 mm) 116 in (2,900 mm) 19,945 lb (9,047 kg)[b]
29,581 lb (13,418 kg)[c]
M62 Wrecker 348 in (8,800 mm) 96 in (2,400 mm) 110 in (2,800 mm) 33,325 lb (15,116 kg)[b]
40,325 lb (18,291 kg)[c]
M139 chassis 368 in (9,300 mm) 114 in (2,900 mm) 110 in (2,800 mm) 20,360 lb (9,240 kg)[o]
31,720 lb (14,390 kg)[p]

All trucks are equipped with a winch.

Gallery of M809 and M939 series trucks[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Without winch, with winch add 665 lb (302 kg) to weight and 15 12 in (39 cm) to length.
  2. ^ a b c d e Empty weight.
  3. ^ a b c d e Loaded off road weight.
  4. ^ Successor AM General built all M809s.
  5. ^ With a longer hood and Cummins NH250 engine.
  6. ^ Early M939s were rebuilds of M809 vehicles, suffix –A2 are new production with later model Cummins engine. All have a larger cab and hood.
  7. ^ The same engine used in some M35 series 2 1/2 ton trucks.
  8. ^ a b Extra heavy duty chassis were often used for non-standard bridge bodies.
  9. ^ a b Standard bridge bodies were large stake sided with a rear roller to help unloading.
  10. ^ a b Bolster truck were used to transport long poles, pipes, and bridge parts. Truck carries trailer when not in use.
  11. ^ M939 series may have without/with winch model numbers.
  12. ^ a b Single rear wheel M39 and M41 may not have built in series.
  13. ^ Primarially used for non-standard engineer bodies, M139 also used as Honest John rocket launchers.
  14. ^ a b With the US leaving Europe river bridging became far less important.
  15. ^ Empty weight without body.
  16. ^ Loaded weight including body.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gilbert, E.; Gilbert, O.; Anderson, D. (2006). The US Marine Corps in the Vietnam War: III Marine Amphibious Force, 1965–75. Osprey Publishing. p. 35. ISBN 1-84176-987-8. 
  2. ^ Crismon, Fred W. (1998). Modern U.S. Military Vehicles. MBI Publishing. pp. 91–97. ISBN 0-7603-0526-9. 
  3. ^ Department of the Army (1985). Operators Manual FM-9-2320-260-10. Government Printing Office. pp. 1–11. 
  4. ^ Department of the Army (2004). Operators Manual FM-9-2320-272-10. Government Printing Office. pp. 1–9. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Doyle, David (2003). Standard catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles. Kraus Publications. pp. 178–188, 200–204. ISBN 0-87349-508-X. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Army Tank-Automotive Command (1958). "Standard military vehicle: characteristic data sheets.". www.GlobalSecurity.org. US General Accounting Office. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Crismon (1998), p. 91-97.
  8. ^ Department of the Army (1989). Operator’s Manual FM-9-2320-211-10. Government Printing Office. pp. 1–6. 
  9. ^ Department of the Army (1982). Technical Manual FM-9-2320-211-20. Government Printing Office. p. 1-4, 1-5. 
  10. ^ Department of the Army (2004), p. 1-9.
  11. ^ "Military Safety: Army M939 5-Ton Truck Accident History and Planned Modifications". www.GlobalSecurity.org. US General Accounting Office. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Department of the Army (1989), p. ii, iv, 1-2.
  13. ^ a b c Department of the Army (1982), p. 1-1.
  14. ^ Department of the Army (1989), p. ii, iii, 1v, v, 1-2, 1-3.
  15. ^ Department of the Army (1989), p. ii, iii, iv, 1-2, 1-3.
  16. ^ Department of the Army (1989), p. 1-3.
  17. ^ Department of the Army (1982), p. ii, v, 1-1.
  18. ^ Department of the Army (1989), p. 1-2, 1-3.
  19. ^ Department of the Army (1985), p. 1-1.
  20. ^ Department of the Army (2004), p. 1-1.
  21. ^ "Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC)". Embassy of the U.S. Phnom Pehn Cambodia. U.S. Dept of State. Retrieved 24 Apr 2014. 
  22. ^ "Military Assistance Program 1000 System Delivery Master File, FY 2002". Records About Military Goods and Services Provided to Foreign Countries. U.S. National Archives and Records Admin. 2002. Retrieved 24 Apr 2014. 

US Army TM-2320-211-10

External links[edit]