R/75 Historical Information:
It was September of 1939 when the Germans invaded
Poland at the very beginning of World War II.
Polish cavalry soldiers of 11 brigades rushed
at German tank forces with lances about 3m long
and sabers nearly 90cm in length overhead, and
suffered a sad crushing defeat. This unbelievable
story of valor hinted that the day of battle fought
mainly by infantry and cavalry was over and mobility
with fighting vehicles as the most important factor
would decide battle there after. The Treaty of
Versailles concluded after Germany 's defeat in
World War I stipulated that the German Army should
not consist of more than 100,000 officers and
men nor possess even tanks or armored cars. Under
these circumstances, the Reichswehr paid its attention
to motorcycles (kraftrad or krad)as a successor
to cavalry orderly and bicycle orderly, and started
to concentrate its energies upon production of
cars, transport lorries and motorcycles for mechanization
of fighting troops. Motorcycles among others were
first used as the main body of mechanized troops
since they had such advantages that they were
relatively inexpensive and those developed for
non-military use could be used as they were.
Heinz Guderian, who was called the father of German
tank troops and vigorously promoted the mechanization
of the German Army, looked back upon the summer
of 1930 saying, "The third Prussian motorized
battalion under my command consisted of four companies.
The first company was of armored reconnaissance
cars, the second was of armored cars, and the
third was of armored cars with wooden dummy guns.
On account of financial retrenchment and the limitation
of the Treaty of Vessailles, each of these armored
cars was a sham one. Among my four companies,
it was only the motorcycle company that had
regular equipment and machine guns:' Motorcycle
units were not merely used for an orderly purpose.
Just like tank troops in early years, they grew
into the main body of ground troops in place of
cavalry in 1934 to 1935. After the outbreak of
the war, motorcycle units ran across all battlefields
as elite ones . They always led the van of .mobile
troops and fully displayed their superiority.
About 1942, they were provided with the Schwimmivagen,
armored cars and even tanks, and became the main
body of reconnaissance battalions. In 1943, they
further grew into an essential part of tank grenadier
divisions. In the latter half of the war, however,
their leading place was gradually taken by half-track
motorcycles (kettenkrad) which were better suited
to bad roads.
German Army grouped motorcycles into three classes
according to their displacement: small class....
under 350 cc; middle class... 350cc-500cc, and
large class.... over 500cc. The large class contained
motorcycles with the standard sidecar. Among quite
a number of motorcycles of the German Army including
the Zundapp, the NSU and DKW, those manufactured
by BMW Bavarian Motor Works were most widely used.
Especially the R12 of 750 cc class with excellent
acceleration was appreciated by motorcycle soldiers.
As warfare spread to Poland and France after the
outbreak of World War Il ,a question arise
if motorcycles were serviceable in actual fighting.
On the Eastern Front, it was proved they were
unsatisfactory in durability. Motorcycles of the
small class under 350 cc were rendered almost
unusable in a few days' battle. The large class
which was manufactured before the beginning of
the war lasted only several weeks. The country
of Russia was too vast for motorcycles to
run across. It was the BMW Model R75 having tough
body and reverse gear that appeared at this point
of time and displayed excellent ability. BMW's
traditional 2-cylinder flat engine of 746cc had
a maximum output of 26 hp and gave the 400
kg motorcycle with a sidecar a maximum speed of
95 km/h. Carrying a MG34 or sometimes even a trench
mortar on its side car, the R75 served as the
spearhead of attacks and showed activity. It was
also used by the Waffen S.S. which guarded Hitler.
A large number of the R75 were employed by the
Afrika Korps under the command of General Rommel
and stood battles in severe, hot deserts, which
raised its reputation further. The production
of the BMW Model R75 was started in the autumn
of 1940, and about 16,500 were sent to battlefields
until the end of the war. The K-M72 motorcycle
which is being used by the Russian Army is a slavish
copy of the German R75 captured during the war.
This directly slavish may safely say, how excellent
was the BMW Model R75.
A tank division had motorcycle infantry units.
Two or three motorcycle companies and a HQ company
formed a motorcycle battalion. A motorcycle company
had 18 motorcycles some of which were equipped
with a sidecar. After the wars against Poland
and France , however, the motorcycle infantrymen
were incorporated into the Tank Grenadier and
the Tank Reconnaissance Battalion. An average
infantry division on the Eastern Front in the
early stage of the war used 452 motorcycles including
those with a sidecar, made up as follows: 17 (HQ
company), 45 (reconnaissance unit), 32 (signal
battalion), 141 (infantry regiment), 40 (artillery
regiment), 45 (antitank gun battalion), 44 (engineer
battalion) and 88 (supply unit). An average infantry
division in 1943 to 1944 came to use an increasing
number of KubeIwaKens and Kettenkrad which hed
excellent durability and various uses in place
of motorcycles. Thus, the number of motorcycles
it used was reduced to 168.
and their units played an unimaginably important
role in German troops during Word War H. Each
of the motorcycle soldiers ran himself across
muddy ground, snowy and frozen battlefields or
the sands where he had no place to hide himself
to carry orders, necessaries or wounded, soldiers.
Motorcycle soldiers were unforgettable and reliable
"comrades" for German officers and men.
and their sidecar which showed activity in Europe
especially on the western front were painted field
grey or panzer grey, while those used by the Afrika
Korpe were dark yellow. At the time there were
no camouflaged motorcycles, but after 1943 German
military vehicles came to be painted mainly in
dark yellow and a small number of motorcycles
wore camouflage painting, eg dark yellow spotted
with red brown and dark green/ dark yellow with
red brown only and unicolor colored camouflage
of dark green.