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George R Blair Jr
64 articles

Italeri 1/9 BMW R75 Military Motorcycle with Sidecar


This was my first motorcycle model, and it was a fun and challenging build. I also have never been on a motorcycle. So why build a motorcycle? Spiros (@fiveten) asked me to join his Motorcycle Group, which I was glad to join (Thanks, Spiros). I enjoy joining groups, even if I know absolutely nothing about the group's topic. It is fun to build something out of my comfort zone, meet modelers who don't build airplanes (in this case), and learn new techniques. I have new appreciation for modelers who build something other than airplanes, because this kit was easily as complex as any airplane I have ever built.

Background:
Early in WW2, the German Army approached BMW and Zundap to produce motorcycles that could be used by the army. Both versions were based on existing 750cc motorcycles. When the versions were put into production, it soon led to supply problems producing and shipping parts for both motorcycles. In 1942, BMW and Zundap agreed to create a BMW/Zundap hybrid that would use interchangeable parts. After BMW had produced 20,200 motorcycles, they would then shift production to the hybrid. In 1944, the BMW factory was destroyed in a bombing raid before the 20,200 mark was reached, so the hybrid was never produced. When production ceased, 70% of the parts in the BMW and Zundap machines were interchangeable.

The Model:
This is an elderly kit. It was first released by ESCI in 1973. Since then, it has been reboxed and released by 9 other manufacturers. I found the version, which was released in 2016, on Ebay for a really good price. This kit produced a number of challenges:

  1. The molds are really old, so there is a lot of flash, molding lines, and other issues that all need to be cleaned up.

  2. I am totally unfamiliar with motorcycles. I was very reliant on the instructions and photos I found on the internet.

3.There are no part numbers on the sprues, which makes the parts map in the instructions very important. Being a motorcycle novice sometimes made it difficult to find the parts I needed.

  1. This model is large and heavy when complete. The four tires are solid rubber, which contributes a lot of the weight to the model. It became difficult near the end of the build to pick up and maneuver the model without breaking something.

There were challenges, but it was also really fun. The kit is build straight out-of-the-box with the exception of electric wires to the lights. I thought the missing wires were fairly noticeable, so I added them with 1/24 scale distributor wire for model cars. There were decals for 4 versions, but I wanted to build something in desert tan. I used the kit decals, which were really nice, to build a motorcycle used in Italy in 1944. Tamiya just released some new paint colors, including DAK (prior to 1942) and DAK (after 1942). The color looked correct and sprayed nicely. I used Humbrol metal paints in a spray can to paint all of the metallic colors, and I added light weathering using artist oils, artist pastels, and Vallejo weathering products. I didn't add a bunch of weathering, but I can see you could really go crazy on something like this. I really enjoyed building this motorcycle, but I think it will be a while before I consider doing another one. Back to a nice 1/48 scale airplane. If you would like more info on the build, please stop by my WIP in the Motorcycle Group. Cheers.

17 additional images. Click to enlarge.


21 responses

  1. George R Blair Jr (@gblair)
    This looks incredible in the headlines section. It was a lot of fun to watch this one come to life in front of our eyes.

    Two thumbs up and a definite click on the "like" button too.

  2. For your first bike I would state you mastered that bad boy. Well done George

  3. Thanks, Louis (@lgardner) and Tom (@tom-bebout). It was fun stepping out of my comfort zone and building something I knew nothing about. It is a reminder of how a new modeler would feel building an airplane model if they knew nothing about airplanes. I think I take building model planes for granted, but this was a good attitude adjustment.

  4. George, that's a fantastic looking build! The weathering is spot-on for the subject, and I'd not have guessed this was your first bike. Congrats on a job well done!

  5. It was great joining you in the motorcycles group, George, you’ve overcome all the difficulties you experienced and built a motorbike combination to be proud of. I hope it’s not your last.

  6. An amazing result, George! You don't see many of them built and the fact that it is your first ever motorcycle only adds up to the superlative result (which, of course, is easilly explained by your superlative skills).
    I loved your build thread, clearly stating each step, so the potential builder can easily go through.
    Thank you so much for joining our Motorcycles GB and coming up with such a wonderful model!

  7. You performed an outstanding job, George @gblair
    Building your first ever motorocycle and coming up with this high quality result reveals your great modelling skills.
    It was a real pleasure to follow your thread which became a great reference for others building motorcycles.
    Even though it challenged you a lot, you clearly won the battle on all fronts.
    Well done.

  8. Great job, George. Especially being the first bike and in a large scale to boot. Well done!

  9. Thanks everyone for your kind words, Andrew (@pb_legend) and Gary (@gwskat)

    George (@chinesegeorge): Thanks for following along on the build. Looking forward to seeing more of your motorcycles.

    Spiros (@fiveten): Thanks for inviting me to join the group. It was a fun build and learned a lot by building the bike. Looking forward to your Heller motorcycle.

    John (@johnb): Thanks for following along. Looking forward to watching your motorcycle take shape.

  10. Amazing build. I must get one too !
    I had a friend in Amsterdam that had one, a real one.
    Amazing technology.
    -Hydraulic brakes , oil cooler next to gas tank that doubled as a hand warmer. drive shaft to side car with differential lock , reverse gear and a few more I forgot about. A real marvel of Engineering.
    Only things was. No original Carburators are or were anywhere to be found.

  11. A guy named George building a motorcycle - sounds familiar.
    Impressive work all around with your first bike build, George.
    So many components hanging off that bike, looks amazing.

  12. What a great model...details, paint, chipping, shading, and weathering all look amazing. One of these days I hope to step outside my modern jet aircraft zone and try something different, so I really appreciate you posting this. Well done, George!

  13. Thanks, Bernard (@bernardbedeur): I did a little research on this BMW. It was cool that the sidecard wheel was connected through a differential to the rear motorcycle wheel. Both rear wheels were powered, along with a gear selector that would optimize the gearing for either off-road or on-road driving. Very cool. Most of the color photos I found online were of motorcycles that have been restored.

    Thanks, George (@georgeswork): You would probably not be surprised that many of the things hanging off the bike were broken and repaired more than once. And I thought protecting a pitot tube from breakage was hard.

    Thanks, Joe (@jroamer): I really had to resist the temptation to really go crazy with the weathering products. It was fun to build something other than my normal plane model, but I think I will go back to things with wings for a while.

  14. I like this build George, @gblair, I am not much of a motorcycle guy either, I have built one Bandi in 1/48 and one Tamiya 1/35. They are different than aircraft that is for sure. You did a great job with this kit though, it really looks great and in that scale builds up to a nice big impressive kit. Nice paint work, and I like the amount of weathering you did.

  15. Thanks, Walt (@luftwaffe-birdman). When I first opened the box, I was a little overwhelmed with the complexity and size of the parts. I was tempted to build a 1/48 Tamiya BMW I had, which only had about 15 parts. I was thinking I could make up for the lack of parts by building a diorama, but in the end, the big kit won out. I'm glad I built the big one.

  16. Wow George @gblair. You say this is your first motorcycle build but you could have fooled me. Terrific. Good thing it has a sidecar. Imagine what it would be like if it didn’t and you dumped it in real life. Just try and lift this beast upright!

    By the way, you mentioned somewhere using Windex to remove acrylic paint. When that doesn’t work I upgrade to straight ammonia.

  17. Thanks, Eric (@eb801). It was hard enough to lift this bike as it was. I can't imagine the real motorcycle. I have always secretly suspected that it was the ammonia in Windex that did the work, but now you have confirmed it. Alcohol, especially 90+, will also strip paint fairly quickly.

  18. Looks great. I built this one when I was a teenager - still have part of the machine gun in my screw/bolt file. It was the only motorcycle kit I ever built. Yours looks much better than mine did.

  19. Thanks, Greg (@gwfabian). I bet if you built it now you would have a much different outcome. The biggest problem now is just finding one of these old kits to build.

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