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Army Wheels in Detail AW12, British Motorcycles of WWII

All text in book is in English and Czech

From the introduction: The Second World War meant a disaster and stop of production for many motorcycle companies in Great Britain. For a handful of “selected few“ WWII presented an opportunity to continue development and production of their motorcycle models, especially for the British Army. Prior to Britain engaging in the war, the War Office had very clear picture of how many and what model motorcycles will be needed. Apart from the proven suppliers like Norton, trials and tests were conducted with other manufacturers of special military applications. Prior to the war, several limited series motorcycle models were delivered to the British Army. After the evacuation of Dunkirk, where a large number of British Army equipment remained at the beaches, it was necessary to compensate for these losses. The War Office therefore purchased and confiscated many civilian motorcycles, placed orders to the USA and reached out to the previously unapproved local manufacturers.

As the war progressed, the Army was able to standardize the production of individual components and accessories only to a certain extent. Apart from various light models for airborne units and Special Forces, the focus was shifted towards 350cc and 500cc models. In 1944 the domestic production was able to fulfill the needs and the non-standard types were reassigned to Homeguard units and civilian sector. The primary suppliers for the British Army and subsequently to the states of Commonwealth were the following companies with their motorcycles: Ariel 350 W/NG, BSA M20, Matchless G3/G3/L, Norton WD16H, Norton WD Big 4, Royal Enfield WD/CO, Triumph 3HW, and the Velocette MAF.

The book is packed full with colour and black and white photographs of these motorbikes (many being close up shots of various parts of the bikes themselves), and their are explanatory captions to each of the photo's - with all text in both English and Czech. There are the usual line drawings but, unusually for the series, no 1/35 scale plans and no paint details. Not too big a problem as nearly all British motorbikes were painted Olive Drab. Those used in the African Campaigns were painted in whatever shade of “sand“ paint was available, with variations from primrose yellow to dark khaki!
Amazon product
Capricorn Publications. ISBN: 9788087578001 52 pages soft cover

While being a very useful information source, I feel the heavy leaning towards Czech units takes away the great work done by the Despatch riders, both male and female; and the reconnaissance work done by forward-thrusting scouts. This was an opportunity to show the versatility of the motorcycle in warfare, unfortunately, it was missed.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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