Base vehicle- Coastal Defender

Platform- balsa wood

Seats- handmade from tongue depressor and foam pad.

Steering wheel- handmade from packaging wire and random plastic parts

Storage area- balsa wood, twist tie and 20 gauge wire

Foot rest- part from Air Defense station

Gas and break controls- part of Ripper backpack and random plastic

Shifter- random plastic and M2 tripod leg

Engine- Ripper's backpack

The M274 Military Mule was the workhorse of the U.S. army up until the Vietnam War. This little 4wd vehicle was designed to carry up to 1000 pounds of equipment. Built for durability, the Mule could be dropped from a helicopter and land either on the wheels or the back and still be able to drive. The Mule had no suspension system and the only comfort for the driver came from low-air pressure tires. The Mule's top speed was only 25 mph, which allowed troops to keep up with it. The Mule was used to carry extra gear, wounded soldiers and some units were equipped with a Browning M2 50 caliber machine gun.

I first saw one of these in the film Maximum Overdrive. At the time, I had no idea what it was. The next time I saw this little G.I. ATV was on Mail Call, hosted by R. Lee Ermey. This looked like the coolest vehicle and I wanted to make one.

I had an old Coastal Defender that I wanted to modify for a long time. After seeing the M274 Mule, I knew what the Coastal Defender could become.

The hardest part was the front wheels. On the Coastal Defender all wheel are static and only rotate. I needed to create away to make the front wheels turn left and right. I accomplished this by modifying a PTE grenade launcher tripod leg (2). The wheel pegs were removed from the Coastal Defender and attached them to the tripod leg bases. Then the shafts were shortened. The leg pivot sections were widened to fit the tripod shaft. I inserted a pin into the plastic between the two pieces to keep the wheel shaft from sliding out.

The vehicle was painted with Tamiya's Drab Khaki and Folk Arts black.

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