Military Vehicle Spotlight: M54A2 Five-Ton Cargo Truck

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M54A2 Five-Ton Cargo Truck

 Photo by Jeff Symanski

Photo by Jeff Symanski

SPECS:

  • Weight: 19,800 pounds
  • Size (LxWxH): 299" x 97.8" x 117.5"
  • Max Speed: 54 mph
  • Range: 300 miles

The genesis for the postwar five-ton 6x6 can be found in the June 1945 Cook Board Report and was affirmed by the November 1945 Stillwell Board Report, chaired by Gen. Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stillwell. Both of these boards intended a design to have a five-year life span and the 1950 Army Equipment Board anticipated that the design would be replaced by cross-country carriers based on the T-51 design. Ultimately, however, the basic design continued production by various manufacturers until the 1980s.

International Harvester’s design was selected for the “interim” vehicle, with one of the deciding factors being IH’s engine choice: the Continental R6602. Continental Engines had previously tooled for a production of 3,000 units per month, an important consideration during the tense times of the Korean conflict.

However, in early 1959 OTAC (Ordnance Tank Automotive Command) ordered that the Mack ENDT-673 diesel engine be tested in the M54 truck. The ENDT-673 was a basically commercial engine of 211 gross brake horsepower at 2,100 revolutions per minute. It was a turbosupercharged six-cylinder valve-in-head water-cooled compression-ignition (diesel) engine.

In June 1962, the new generation of trucks powered with this engine was classified Standard A as the M54A1.

The installation of the ENDT-673 was short-lived, for after only a year it was decided to use Multifuel engines wherever possible in the tactical vehicle fleet. For the five-ton, the engine chosen was the LDS-465-1A. With the Multifuel engines installed, the model suffixes changed to A2.

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