World War II Motor Vehicles: Wheeled Vehicles--Motorcycles


Figure 1.--The Germans during World War II made a greater use of motocycles than any other countries, eving adopting them for combast assault purposes. BMW made some of the best. One reason that the Wehrmscht made a greater use of the motorcycle was that German industry could not produce needed quantities of the jeep-like four wheel VW Kübelsitzwagen. We are not sure what the WL means on the fender. It may mean Wehrmacht Luftwaffe, note that the boy also has a Luftwaffe helmet. We do not yet know know what units it was assigned to based on the number.

The motorcycle was important during World War I, but less so during World War II. They served for dispatch riders and scouts and wuth a side car to transport inddividuals and particularly valuable supplies. Most of the combatant countries prepared to use the motorcycle as they had in World War I. The French were knocked out of the War after the German victory in the West (1940). This left the British with active infantry operations only in the Western Desert. The Germand did use the motorcycle widely in its offensive campaigns, including the massive Barbarossa campaign. For the Wehrmascht, the motorcycle had the advantage that it was easier to build and required a smaller motor than cars and jeep-like vehicles. The United States planned to use motorcycles and some were deployed in North Africa. American commanders soon decided that the jeep was a much more useful light vehiche and American industry had the capacity to buld them in large numbers. The Americans did use some, particularly the military police, but they were not widely used. It found its greatest with the Germans, in part because they lacked the industrial capacity to build utilitarian four-wheeled vehicles as the United States did.

World War I

The motorcycle was important during World War I, They served for dispatch riders and scouts and wuth a side car to transport individuals and particularly valuable supplies. The U.S. Army began using motorcycles even before the War broke out in Europe. General John J. Pershing was ordered to arrest Pancho Villa who staged attacks across the border (1913). As part of that operation, American firces used Harley-Davidson motorcycles. One third of the company's production was sols to the military (1917). European armies also begun using the fast and agile motorcycles as reconnaissance, communication, and transport vehicles as well as ambulances. The European armies began the war with horse calvalry and transport, but this rapidly changed as the War progressed. Sidecars were developed which could be fitted on the cycles. These could carry individuals and could be used for weapons like machine guns. Thus when the United States finally entered the War (1917). the motorcycle was being widely used by the major combatant countries. The U.S. Army used an estimated 20,000 motorcycles during the War. The first American to enter Germany after the armistice is believed to have been motorcycle dispatch rider Cpl. Roy Holtz.

Country Trends

Motorcycles were contrary to expectations used less in World War II. Most of the combatant countries prepared to use the motorcycle as they had in World War I. The French were prepared to use them extensively for communucations. French tanks, unlike the German tanks, were not equipped with radios. France for this and other reasons were knocked out of the War after the German victory in the West (1940). This left the British with active infantry operations only in the Western Desert. The Germand did use the motorcycle widely in its offensive campaigns, including the massive Barbarossa campaign. For the Wehrmascht, the motorcycle had the advantage that it was easier to build and required a smaller motor than cars and jeep-like vehicles. The United States planned to use motorcycles and some were deployed in North Africa. American commanders soon decided that the jeep was a much more useful light vehiche and American industry had the capacity to buld them in large numbers. The Americans did use some, particularly the military police, but they were not widely used. It found its greatest with the Germans, in part because they lacked the industrial capacity to build utilitarian four-wheeled vehicles as the United States did.

America

The United States planned to again use motorcycles extensively in World War II as it had in World war I. Harley Davidson produced a motorcycle to withstand the harsh African deserts where American forces were first deployed in the European theater (November 1942). and some were deployed in North Africa. American commanders soon decided that the jeep was a much more useful light vehiche and American industry had the capacity to buld them in large numbers. The Americans did use motorcycles. Harley Davidson produced some 90,000 military motorcycles during the War.

Britain

The German victory in the West left the British with active infantry operations only in the Western Desert.

France

The French were prepared to use them extensively for communucations. French tanks, unlike the German tanks, were not equipped with radios. France for this and other reasons were knocked out of the War after the German victory in the West (1940).

Germany

The Germans did use the motorcycle widely in its offensive campaigns, including the massive Barbarossa campaign. For the Wehrmascht, the motorcycle had the advantage that it was easier to build and required a smaller motor than cars and jeep-like vehicles. The motiorcycle found its greatest with the Germans, in part because they lacked the industrial capacity to build utilitarian four-wheeled vehicles as the United States did. German commanders continued to use the motorcycle as they had in World war I. The Germans used the motorcycle for tactical assault, at least in the early campaigns, including Barbarossa, This mission declined as the tide of battle turned and the Germans were forced to adopt a defensive posture.

Soviet Union


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Created: 11:27 PM 10/25/2010
Last updated: 4:05 PM 12/31/2011