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Motorcycles

 

 

 

 

 

As early as the 1920s, motorcycles were procured fort he Reichswehr and later also for the Wehrmacht. The advantages were low acquisition and maintenance costs. Nearly all important German manufacturers of motorcycles were taken into consideration. Motorcycles of BMW covered the largest part of the contingent because of their quality and the availability of larger manufacturing capacities. Light, middle and heavy motorcycles with or without sidecar were used. In 1939, the administration of the army required the development of a heavy and cross country mobile sidecar combination. These were developed by BMW and Zündapp and entered production in 1941. With the beginning of war, thousands of civilian motorcycles were drawn in. Because motorcycles were widespread in the German Reich, one could draw on large quantities. During war, vast numbers of motorcycles of all kinds and brands were captured and used. This led to an immense type variety with all the problems which arose from that. Sidecar combinations were mainly used by motorcycle battalions. Dispatch riders used mainly solo machines.
Kradschützen were soldiers of the Kradschützen (motorcycle) battalions which used their heavy sidecar combinations as fighting vehicles. Motorcyclists of the Kradschützen battalions which drove on solo machines were dispatch riders and not Kradschützen. Motorized reconnaissance battalions had a company of Kradschützen, too.
Kradschützen battalions and reconnaissance battalions were the recon components of the motorized infantry divisions, the armoured divisions and the light divisions. The tactics of the Kradschützen proved well under military exercise conditions. During the first actions by the annexation of Austria, the Sudetenland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia as well as the campaign against France the Kradschützen proved well again. Bad road conditions during the Poland campaign led to first problems but the effects were marginal due to the shortness of this campaign.
Totally new challenges were faced during the campaign against the Soviet Union. The commercial motorcycles - which were mainly used up to this time - were not up to these strains. The new heavy sidecar combinations BMW R 75 and Zündapp KS 750 met the demands much better but they were too complicated and expensive. In 1942, the time of the motorcycles was over. The Kradschützen were more and more equipped with VW-Kübelwagen and VW-Schwimmwagen. The production of these was cheaper and they were versatile and had much better weather protection. In this time, the Kradschützen were equipped with their first real fighting vehicle – the small armoured personnel carrier Sd. Kfz. 250. Due to heavy casualties in 1941, the reconnaissance and Kradschützen battalions were combined in most motorized divisions. In most cases, the rest of the motorized reconnaissance battalions were integrated into the Kradschützen battalions. The end of the Kradschützen occurred in 1943. They were integrated or converted to armoured reconnaissance battalions. But motorcycles remained indispensable for different purposed up to the end of war.
Motorcycles will be covered only marginally within this side because there are many good sides dealing with the used motorcycles on the net.

 

 

 

 

 

Motorcycles of German and foreign manufacturers

 

 

 

 

 

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