Photos Military bikes


MI.Net Member
Feb 20, 2020

The Indian Model 340 B.png

The Indian Model 340 B was a air-cooled v-twin sidecar outfit manufactured between 1940 and 1942. 1206cc 30 hp at 4,000 rpm. Originally, the machines were fitted with a sidecar on the right hand side.

While Indian Motorcycles made bikes for the USA, they also manufactured 5,000 of these for the French military too. In total, there were 9,374 of these models made.
British bikes.

The Norton Big Four 633.png

The Norton Big Four 633
The Norton Model 1 “Big Four” was in constant production in one guise or another between the years 1907 to 1954, and for the most part is was used as a full on motorcycle sidecar rig. Powered by a 633cc side valve, air-cooled, single cylinder lump, the Big Four was one of Great Britain’s most famous sidecar machines. During World War II, the sidecar was often reinforced for passenger protection and equipped with a Bren gun or a more devastating 3 inch mortar arrangement.

In any case, this 14.5 hp machine might not have the highest power output but it was certainly more than capable of transporting up to three soldiers and a good load of equipment and munitions too. During the war, over 4,700 models were produced and were worked to death around the battlefields of Europe. Since the Norton Big Four was one of the most effective sidecar outfits in use, very few survived the end of the war – making genuine models a bit of rarity these days.

The BSA G14.png

The BSA G14
While the BSA G-designated motorcycles had been in production in one form or another since 1924, it’s the post-1936 G14 series that saw the most action in World War II. The BSA G14 was essentially a 986cc v-twin powered motorcycle that came in a solo or motorcycle sidecar configuration. While it was a popular solo choice, it was actually designed as a working motorcycle sidecar arrangement for transporting loads and human personnel. With its powerful engine, smooth ride experience, and off-road prowess, the G14 sidecar became a popular military vehicle.

In fact, the Dutch were rather taken with it, and after abandoning supply deal from BMW in 1937, the country turned to BSA to meet their military motorcycle sidecar needs. Germany obviously invaded Holland in 1939, but before the occupation BSA provided Holland with 1,750 models. Holland weren’t the only country who were impressed with the G14, since India, South Africa, Sweden, and Ireland, were supplied with them in the years preceding World War II. However, the G14 sidecar model was discontinued in 1940.
German bikes.

The BMW R75.png

The BMW R75 is arguably one of the most iconic motorcycle sidecar outfits from the Second World War. Originally commissioned by the German Army, BMW got to work developing the R75 in 1938, producing their first units in 1940, producing over 16,000 of them before the model was discontinued in 1944. The BMW R75 was powered by an impressive 750cc boxer engine which would go on to be a major engine configuration for BMW Motorrad’s post-war range. The R75 was also a shaft-driven model, with a locking differential, selectable on and off-road gear ratios, and reverse gears.
The R75 was one of the most celebrated sidecar combinations of the war thanks to its maneuverability and off-road abilities, as well as its practical versatility – as you can see here, it was capable of being both an armored attack vehicle and a transport machine at the same time, complete with a motorcycle trailer! Interestingly, the successful nature of this sidecar machine was noted by the US Army who appreciated the shaft-drive, and it was subsequently copied on the XA Harley Davidson motorcycle model. The Russian’s also copied the R75 and borrowed many of its best parts.

The Zündapp KS 750.png

Zündapp, a manufacturer that was equal to, if not more important than BMW in terms of the Axis war effort. The model we’re looking at here is the Zündapp KS 750 which was manufactured between the years 1940 and 1944. Powered by a beastly 751cc four-stroke boxer twin engine with a maximum power output of 26 hp at 4,000 rpm that could hit top speeds of around 57 mph, the Zündapp KS 750 was quite a formidable machine.
It also came equipped with a useful front and rear wheel suspension control system that could be adjusted to compensate for differing road conditions, a cool feature that allowed it to continue being ridden with a punctured fuel tank, a clever fuel saving system that kept the engine from overheating, and it could also water with the engine submerged. This impressive motorcycle sidecar rig also came equipped with ammunition pouches and a forward facing machine gun.
Over 18,600 models were produced during the war years. Unfortunately it was discontinued in 1944, because the Zündapp KS 750 was such an advanced motorcycle sidecar combination, it wasn’t cost effective to manufacture.
The MMZ/IMZ/GAZ/Dnepr M-72

The M-72 was the Soviet Union’s reaction to the BMW R-71. With Germany’s power rising in the pre-war years, Russia took notice and began developing weapons for the Red Army. Noting the superiority of Germany’s heavy motorcycles, the Soviet Union literally stole the BMW R-71 concept and built their own version, adapting an already successful idea to save time. While the M-72 sidecar was built by numerous manufacturers under orders from the Red army, the IMZ Irbit factory is probably the manufacturer best associated with the model.
Featuring a 746cc boxer engine capable of 22 hp, this motorcycle side car rig was one of the most heavily produced motorcycles of the time, with over 330,000 units produced between 1941 and 1956. During the war, it was capable of transporting soldiers and munitions over tough terrain. M-72s were often equipped with Degtyaryov machine guns with revolving mounts too, for easy combat maneuvers.
The Gillet Herstal 720 AF
The Gillet Herstal 720 AF.png

Early on in the war, it was clear that the French military needed more sidecar machines than their existing factories could produce. The Societe des Moteurs Gnome motorcycle factory that normally built France’s military motorcycles was stretched to maximum output and couldn’t fill the amount of orders coming in. In response to this, the French top brass decided to look outside of their own borders for help.
After extensive testing, the Belgian manufacturer Ateliers Gillet was tasked with building sidecar rigs, with sidecars supplied by France’s Bernadet Porte Dragon. In total, 1,500 of these Gillet Herstal 720 AF motorcycles were ordered, powered by a 728cc twin-cylinder two stroke engine capable of 22 hp at 4,000 rpm, mated to a six speed gearbox, with an all-important reverse gear. Despite the 1,500 ordered, only 784 were ever completed thanks to a small component manufactured by Bosch…and with Germany declaring war on France in 1940, it made further production impossible.
Japanese bikes.

The Kurogane Type 95
The Kurogane Type 95.png

These 1260cc v-twin sidecar units were dubbed the “Kurogane” or Black Iron in English. Only producing 12 hp, these motorcycles were actually quite big for what they were, and required some muscle to ride. Although this one pictured is equipped with a weapon, the Kurogane Type 95 was more commonly used to move officers from place to place. Manufactured only for a period between 1937 and 1945.

The Rikuo Type 97.png

The Rikuo Type 97 is actually the product of a Harley-Davidson factory being transported to Japan for the purposes of producing licensed Harley machines for the Japanese. Thanks to the success of the civilian Rikuo models, the company would go on to produce an approximate 16,000 Type 97 models built purely for war – particularly to help the Japanese Imperial Army tackle rough terrain during their invasion of China.
Each model was capable of transporting up to three soldiers, could be equipped with a mounted machine gun, and these highly maneuverable were critical to Japan’s war effort.
Powered by a 1274cc v-twin engine capable of 22 hp, this sidecar rig was one of the most iconic of the Second World War. Despite the large production volume, very few still exist today.
Rikuo would go on to produce motorcycles after the war, before eventually being bought by a brand named Showa.

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