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Triple C
23 Jan 08,, 17:31
This is something that has bugged me for a long time. I can't concieve how, riding a road-bound vehicle on the look out for concealed enemy, highly visible and totally vulnerable to every weapon on the battlefield,would be a good idea. Why did the Germans do it so much?

omon
23 Jan 08,, 18:08
they did it 60 years ago, back than things weren.t like they are now.

Cactus
23 Jan 08,, 18:44
This is something that has bugged me for a long time. I can't concieve how, riding a road-bound vehicle on the look out for concealed enemy, highly visible and totally vulnerable to every weapon on the battlefield,would be a good idea. Why did the Germans do it so much?

For the major part the motorbike troops were and are generally dispatch riders - operating between the front-lines and rear HQs. As such they were and are cheaper to operate by unit-price, maintainence and fuel costs than jeeps or something similar. In the recon (or recce, if you prefer) role, motorbikes have the virtue of being able to pass through narrow paths in mountains and deserts, light bridges in forests that four-wheeled vehicles cannot manage... but can give significantly longer range than a foot patrol deployed there.

S2
23 Jan 08,, 18:55
German Army used motorcycle battalions in at least some of their divisions up through 1942. S.S. Das Reich did until disbanded upon return to France in early summer 1942.

Very vulnerable.

BadKharma
23 Jan 08,, 19:33
they did it 60 years ago, back than things weren.t like they are now.
Thats for sure

For the major part the motorbike troops were and are generally dispatch riders - operating between the front-lines and rear HQs. As such they were and are cheaper to operate by unit-price, maintainence and fuel costs than jeeps or something similar. In the recon (or recce, if you prefer) role, motorbikes have the virtue of being able to pass through narrow paths in mountains and deserts, light bridges in forests that four-wheeled vehicles cannot manage... but can give significantly longer range than a foot patrol deployed there.
That is the heart of the matter I believe. The US also used Harley's in WWII.

Triple C
24 Jan 08,, 05:00
No doubt the rider was faster than he would be on foot. But he was also on the back of a tiny open vehicle that was terribly loud. Sepp Dietrich or some other SS General started out as a recon battalion commander in Russia and used his motorcycle company as infantry; in the Desert War Rommel apparently used them to spot for his artillery.To me this seems like wearing a "Shoot Me" tag. How were motorcycle units used in the recon role? I guess they had to be spread out to make smaller targets, or they would be dropped like flies by machine gun and artillery fire... just imagine seeing a squad of those moving down a road covered by crew-served weapon.

Big K
04 Feb 08,, 07:43
very fast moving infantry...low cost...more payload for additional ammo and other equipment...not more vulnerable than regular infantry...it does not sounds bad to me?

instead of paratroopers we may use them?

am i wrong?

dave lukins
04 Feb 08,, 20:45
"Unveiled in May 2001, the M1030M1 is claimed to be the world's first diesel-powered motorcycle designed specifically for military use. It is derived from a stock Kawasaki KLR650, and has been developed jointly by Californian firm Hayes Diversified Technologies and Britain's Royal Military College of Science. It is intended for the British and US military and for NATO. The 580cc diesel engine boasts a 50% improvement in fuel consumption over petrol-engined equivalents, lower emissions, and better cross-country utility. It gets 120 miles per gallon, the engine develops 33ft/lb of torque and the bike has a top speed of 85 mph."

RustyBattleship
05 Feb 08,, 00:47
"Unveiled in May 2001, the M1030M1 is claimed to be the world's first diesel-powered motorcycle designed specifically for military use. It is derived from a stock Kawasaki KLR650, and has been developed jointly by Californian firm Hayes Diversified Technologies and Britain's Royal Military College of Science. It is intended for the British and US military and for NATO. The 580cc diesel engine boasts a 50% improvement in fuel consumption over petrol-engined equivalents, lower emissions, and better cross-country utility. It gets 120 miles per gallon, the engine develops 33ft/lb of torque and the bike has a top speed of 85 mph."

All well and good. BUT, they have to be as quiet as Police motorcycles at the speed traps. Otherwise mortars could triangulate on the rap of the "mufflers" without even seeing them.

Big K
05 Feb 08,, 07:45
i bet the "M1030M1" will be Arnold's next choice :) and another Hummer case :)

dave lukins
05 Feb 08,, 09:01
i bet the "M1030M1" will be Arnold's next choice :) and another Hummer case :)

At least Arnie can fit into a Hummer, not to sure about the M10 ..he'd squash it. Best he stick to his Harley, provided he passes his test and manages to stay on it this time;)

tankie
05 Feb 08,, 09:42
It gets 120 miles per gallon, the engine develops 33ft/lb of torque and the bike has a top speed of 85 mph."

It is not gonna outrun any ordnance that i know of tho . :eek: What will be its role , ??????????? We have perfectly good recce veh equipped with excellent sights in the scimitar ?

Wraith601
20 Feb 08,, 04:24
I know that the 101st had motorcylse recon troops up until the 80s. I tried to read (tryied the operative word) an old book I found in used book store about a mech battaltion's NTC rotation back in the early 80s and the authoer, who was battalion ops officer, mentioned having the motorcycle troops attached for the rotation.

dave lukins
20 Feb 08,, 10:49
I know that the 101st had motorcylse recon troops up until the 80s. I tried to read (tryied the operative word) an old book I found in used book store about a mech battaltion's NTC rotation back in the early 80s and the authoer, who was battalion ops officer, mentioned having the motorcycle troops attached for the rotation.

just found this little snippet which may explain the lack of enthusiasm for Military use:

"One of the other problems with military motorcycles is the fact that they are one of the few military vehicles in most modern armies which do not run on diesel fuel. This has been a supply inconvenience for a long time and has limited the acceptability and role of motorcycles in many armies. This fuel type problem has been studied for many years, (there was a diesel Norton ES2 in the 1950s) but I understand that the Canadian army has been looking at a diesel version of their current bike. I wouldn't doubt that the British Army and NATO have been doing the same".

Amazing how fuel can hold back development for the armies of the World:rolleyes:

glyn
20 Feb 08,, 12:43
I remember a senior medical consultant say that he was overjoyed the British forces ceased to use motorcycles as he no longer had to spend so much time on spinal injury cases. The injuries were because the personal arm for the riders was the rifle slung over their shoulders and this caused many backs to be broken.

VarSity
20 Feb 08,, 14:26
very fast moving infantry...low cost...more payload for additional ammo and other equipment...not more vulnerable than regular infantry...it does not sounds bad to me?

instead of paratroopers we may use them?

am i wrong?


Para's dropped with motobikes...

For some reason I like the sound of that. Means they can get places quicker and cause far more havoc (looking at a D Day style thing).

Think it would work better in a movie than real life though.

ranoncles
22 Apr 08,, 10:36
The reason is twofold.

When the German army decided to raise motorized/mechanized divisions in the 1930s, it found it simply could not afford to provide sufficient trucks to meet its needs. Motorcycles provided a cheap ‘quick fix’ solution and each panzer division received a motorcycle mounted infantry battalion in addition to its truck mounted infantry regiment to provide its organic infantry component.

The motorcycle battalion offered another albeit unexpected advantage; it could bolster the divisional reconnaissance battalion. These motorcycles did not swan about until they found the enemy (‘reconnaissance by blood’ so to speak as is popularly imagined) but moved forward until they found likely enemy positions and then dismounted and continued on foot, as per standard German recon procedure. It should be noted here that the Germans did not rely on armoured cars and standard observation techniques like other nations did but rather on dismounted foot patrols, with the armoured cars generally restricted to providing supporting fire. This allowed the motorcycle units to be rather effective at this additional task despite their vulnerability to small arms fire.

The reason they eventually disappeared from the order of battle after 1942 was that the German army moved beyond Northern Europe with its excellent road network (for the period) into North Africa and Russia. The motorcycle units simply had great difficulty coping with the poor terrain. Coupled with the heavy casualties most German units had suffered and the increasing inability to provide sufficient replacements, the decision was made in early 1942 to amalgamate the motorcycle battalions with divisional reconnaissance battalions and in general mount them in armoured half tracks which had superior off road performance.

Dreadnought
22 Apr 08,, 14:19
When my pop came home from WWII he brough home a souvenier, outside of his uniform,sidearm,rifle and the like he also purchased a surplus 1945 HD (thinking FL perhaps EL with the Cats eye glass in the console) Olive drab complete with shield,leather rifle sleeve Military Police bike from a supply seargent who was having a clearence sale on them. Kept and rode it for years until his first born and then sold it. The man he sold it to restored it and it is now museumed in a private collection. I actually have a black and white picture of him and my mother on it sitting on New Jerseys boardwalk.:)

Since then I have been riding motorcycles for the last ummm 25 years or so.

leib10
22 Apr 08,, 17:11
No doubt the rider was faster than he would be on foot. But he was also on the back of a tiny open vehicle that was terribly loud. Sepp Dietrich or some other SS General started out as a recon battalion commander in Russia and used his motorcycle company as infantry; in the Desert War Rommel apparently used them to spot for his artillery.To me this seems like wearing a "Shoot Me" tag. How were motorcycle units used in the recon role? I guess they had to be spread out to make smaller targets, or they would be dropped like flies by machine gun and artillery fire... just imagine seeing a squad of those moving down a road covered by crew-served weapon.

That would be Kurt "Panzer" Meyer.

Triple C
26 Apr 08,, 17:05
Yes... one of the reasons for my interest in the subject. Riding motor bikes to act as the spearhead of a panzer division is one hell of a way to earn your keep.

lastdingo
01 May 08,, 12:58
Motorcycle troops were used by the German army in World War 2, and were very important in the 39-41 campaigns.

The basic idea was that a motorcycle is a more efficient, faster transport than a horse, so motorcycle troops appeared to be vastly more mobile and easier-to-supply cavalrymen of the future.
But one man per motorcycle as obviously inefficient, so they used sidecars.
That's where they stopped the optimization thinking for a while.

Motorcycle troops were survivable enough to do their job in 1939/40 simply because they were no front-line troops. They were beyond-front-line troops. They were part of the recon units ahead of armor columns and they accompanied the armor columns - which didn't do the breakthrough. German armor exploited breakthroughs that the infantry achieved in co-operation with artillery.
So these motorcycle troops (chosen elite personnel as in mountain, armor and paratrooper units) encountered rarely an organized defense or ambushes; they encountered more often than that marching columns, retreating troops and support troops. They also had very often the advantage of surprise; the French didn't expect them 50-100km behind yesterday's front line.
Motorcycle troops had very little firepower other than 7.92mm machine guns MG34 (belt-fed and best rifle-caliber ground combat MG at that time) and carbines (we would call that bolt-action rifles today).

The Poland campaign showed that many motorcycle types were not enduring enough, but broke down. That was amplified by the poor Polish road network.
In France 1940 the concept worked satisfactorily, good streets and long periods of combat without intact front line were acceptable conditions.

But motorcycles with sidecars were not efficient enough - there was a huge optimization potential untapped by '39.
A Kübelwagen Typ 82 or other was either cheaper or not much more expensive than a heavy motorcycle with sidecar - but it carried four or five troops. That reduced costs, logistical requirements, maintenance requirements and column length. Despite its 4x2 drive a Kübelwagen was about as off-road mobile as a Jeep (due to its light weight), that's better agility on the battlefield than motorcycles with sidecars had.
A light truck was even more efficient; it carried an entire squad plus a driver and could be used for cargo transport if necessary.
Heavier tucks than 2 tons were not more efficient for personnel transport; their strengths were in cargo transport and towing.

Light trucks became more important to tank-accompanying infantry, and armored half-tracks became more available after 1940. Infantry of recon units eventually rode in armored half-tracks with a half-squad as dismount strength by 1943 (if such equipment was available).

Operation Barbarossa overburdened many trucks, cars and motorcycles; the degree of motorization fell even before the first mud and snow periods. Motorcycles with sidecars became almost worthless as they were too vulnerable in such a long campaign and broke own all the time.
The two new heavy motorcycle types that were available by that time did better than others, but not well enough. They were more expensive than a Kübelwagen anyway, for less performance.

Bicycle troops were often used as ski troops during the winters of the Eastern campaign, I'm not sure if whether the same happened to the motorcycle troops in during the 41/42 and 42/43 winters.

The recon units with wheeled armored vehicles and motorcycle troops which operated ahead of the armor columns in France and Poland failed due to road conditions and numerous defenses plus their high attrition rates (close to a quarter in France 1940 within few weeks already) were unbearable in the long Russian campaign.

The Bundeswehr used and uses many motorcycles even despite an increased radio density. The Wehrmacht despised motorcycles with less than 500 ccm engine volume as they broke down, but the Bundeswehr preferred 250ccm models. Conditions had changed; combat in Central Europa was expected, the Eastern Europe road network was improving and WW3 was expected to be a quick one anyway (especially for the main front country Germany).
Sometime by 1980 new motorcycles of the Sport Enduro pattern were introduced to replace 60's models.

The equipment of couriers on motorcycles was less than optimal for most of the time. They had no combined ballistic and accident protective helmets in Germany till sometime in the 90's. The Wehrmacht used only steel helmets which provided as much protection during crashes as they added wounding potential. The Bundeswehr had civilian-like helmets for traffic and Steel helmets for fragments protection for its drivers most of the time. It should have been easy to give them a well-protecting all-round helmet, but somehow the bureaucracy failed to do so till few years ago.

In hindsight the motorcycle troops should have had trucks with bulletproof armor, machineguns and a full squad dismount strength plus machine gunner and driver in 1939-40.
They should have had either half-tracked or tracked light armored vehicles in 1941-44.
Mid-1944 to end of the war the fuel shortage and the fighting in Central Europe made wheeled, armored and unarmored trucks most desirable.
Motorcycles should have been used for and limited to courier purposes since their invention.

Gun Grape
02 May 08,, 03:01
"Unveiled in May 2001, the M1030M1 is claimed to be the world's first diesel-powered motorcycle designed specifically for military use. It is derived from a stock Kawasaki KLR650, and has been developed jointly by Californian firm Hayes Diversified Technologies and Britain's Royal Military College of Science. It is intended for the British and US military and for NATO. The 580cc diesel engine boasts a 50% improvement in fuel consumption over petrol-engined equivalents, lower emissions, and better cross-country utility. It gets 120 miles per gallon, the engine develops 33ft/lb of torque and the bike has a top speed of 85 mph."

The USMC has used motorcycles since the mid-late 80s . General Grey brought them in.

They are in the Comm battalions and act as couriers way back in the rear.

GraniteForge
02 May 08,, 06:17
This is something that has bugged me for a long time. I can't concieve how, riding a road-bound vehicle on the look out for concealed enemy, highly visible and totally vulnerable to every weapon on the battlefield,would be a good idea. Why did the Germans do it so much?

Remember that the Germans had a principally infantry army, and the bulk of their transport was horse-drawn. Their percentage of motor vehicles dropped sharply as the war went on.

But the motorcyles of the period were hardly "road-bound." I owned a Zundapp 750 for a while, and I also owned a BSA M20 for over 20 years (my bike was used in the movie 'The Eagle Has Landed'), and I assure you that both of those machines were happy to strike out across country at will. I broke trails and even forded rivers with the BSA, shot at targets while in the saddle, etc. Given both the suspension systems and roadbeds of the time, staying off the roads was often more pleasant.

lastdingo
02 May 08,, 09:41
Remember that the Germans had a principally infantry army, and the bulk of their transport was horse-drawn. Their percentage of motor vehicles dropped sharply as the war went on.

But the motorcyles of the period were hardly "road-bound." I owned a Zundapp 750 for a while, and I also owned a BSA M20 for over 20 years (my bike was used in the movie 'The Eagle Has Landed'), and I assure you that both of those machines were happy to strike out across country at will. I broke trails and even forded rivers with the BSA, shot at targets while in the saddle, etc. Given both the suspension systems and roadbeds of the time, staying off the roads was often more pleasant.

Several wartime photos show that as well, but primarily to show the difficulties.
The challenge isn't so much to drive off-road for an afternoon - it's the availability of the bike after weeks of combat operations and often inadequate time for maintenance.
Furthermore, cross-country mobility is only relevant if the officers can expect that all their vehicles pass the march without any stragglers. Even if only one bike per company fails, it adds friction to the military action and that means that after a while the officers would avoid difficult terrain completely to keep their unit cohesive and ready.