BMW R75 Military Motorcycle

147 posts · Last reply 9 minutes ago · BMW, German, Italeri, motorcycle, R75, Sidecar, Tamiya, WW2
Viewing 1 - 15 of 147 posts
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    George R Blair Jr said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    Let me start by saying I know exactly zero about motorcycles. When Spiros asked if I wanted to join the build, I thought it might be fun to do. All of my other models are military in nature, so I thought I could continue the theme with a military motorcycle. I found a 1/9 Italeri BMW R75 with Sidecar for a really good price on Ebay which looked like it would be fun to build. When it finally came in the mail, I discovered that it is probably a lot more complex than I really want to tackle right now.

    I wanted to find an alternative, and discovered I had a Tamiya 1/48 BMW R75, also with a sidecar. This is a much simpler kit and opens some cool possibilities for a diorama.

    I will figure out which kit I want to do first and launch the build in this thread. Cheers.

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    Spiros Pendedekas said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    The magnificent two...

    ...my friend @gblair! Both are great, each in its own manner. Maybe starting from the Tamiya is a safer choice, as it is your first motorcycle kit: kind of a "g warm-up" and you may then step up to the bigger sister.
    Looking forward to them!

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    John vd Biggelaar said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    Both are beautiful bikes, George @gblair
    A difficult choice but likely the Tamiya is giving you less 'issues'.

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    George R Blair Jr said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    Thanks, Spiros (@fiveten) and John (@johnb). I have a really cool diorama in mind for the 1/48 bike, so I am leaning that way. The 1/9 very large motorcycle just screams for detailing that I don't think I know enough to do right now. I have a 1/48 Miles Magister that I want to build first, so I have a little time to think about it. Cheers.

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    George Williams said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    Good morning, George @gblair, I’m so pleased that you have joined the group, and have a choice of bike kits. The 1/9 model will be quite big, especially with a sidecar, so maybe the 1/48 kit will be the wisest choice. Looking forward to seeing your progress, happy modelling.

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    George R Blair Jr said 1 month, 1 week ago:

    Hi George (@chinesegeorge)
    My thoughts are the same. I am worried about the size of the larger bike, as well as not having any aftermarket available. If I wanted to add additional details or add equipment I would be scratchbuilding. I also have a train layout, so doing a diorama that will use some scenery skills would be fun.

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    George R Blair Jr said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    OK, I decided to jump in with both feet and build the 1/9 scale version of the BMW R75. I must admit two things: First, I know nothing about motorcycles, and second, the size of this kit is intimidating.

    First, I cranked up Wikipedia to get some info on what I was building. Here is the background:

    In 1938, the Germany Army sent design requests to BMW and Zundapp for a motorcycle that could serve various functions on the battlefield. Both designs were very similar, and both the BMW R75 and the Zundapp KS750 entered production. The BMW machine was powered by an OHV 750cc engine, which powered both the front and rear wheels. A drive shaft powered the rear wheel, as well as the third wheel on the sidecar through a locking differential and a transfer case which had both road and off-road gear ratios available. The BMW had 4 forward gears and a reverse gear, all of which were available in both road and off-road configurations. After both the BMW and the Zundapp had entered service, it became clear that the Zundapp was a better machine. In 1942, the German Army requested that BMW and Zundapp look a standardizing parts that could be shared between the machines, with the eventual goal of creating a BMW/Zundapp hybrid machine. Using common parts between the two motorcycles would greatly simplify and streamline maintenance and parts supply for the motorcycles, especially those on the battlefield. BMW agreed that when the production of the R75 reached 20,200 machines that they would begin to produce only the hybrid motorcycle. Eventually 70% of the parts were shared between the R75 and the KS750. The 20,200 target was never reached, however, because the plant that was making the BMW machine was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944. Production ceased at that time.

    An interesting side note is that several BMW R75s fell into the hands of the American Army during the war. They were found to be an excellent machine that was highly reliable. The US Army approached Harley-Davidson and asked them to produce a similar shaft-driven motorcycle for the Americans. Harley-Davidson began producing the Harley-Davidson XA, their first ever shaft-driven motorcycle, that was almost identical to the R75.

    The Model:
    I found the Italeri version of the BMW on Ebay for about $40, which seemed like a reasonable price. The box is labeled "German Military Motorcycle with Sidecar", but the instructions make it clear that this is a BMW R75. This is a massive kit with a ton of parts, including vinyl seats, rubber tires, rubber hoses, and a million plastic parts. The parts are fairly flash-free, but there are several large sinkholes in the plastic that will require some work to get them fixed. The parts and molding did not strike me as being old, but I seem to remember seeing this kits on store shelves for a lot of years. I went to my source for the history of a model, Scalemates, and discovered a long and well-known production lineage:
    -esci 1973
    -Revell 1974
    -Hasegawa 1975
    -ESCI (again) 1976
    -Aurora/ESCI 1977
    -ertl 1982
    -ESCI (again) 1983
    -Dragon 1998
    -Revell (again) 2002
    -Italeri 2016
    There were a couple more stops at Revell and a couple of others that I left out, mainly because my fingers were getting tired typing them all into the list.

    The build starts with the sidecar. I am trying to build as much as I can in sub-assemblies, so my goal is to paint and assemble as much as I can before I start adding it to the basic motorcycle. The kit provides decals for several different machines in either German Gray or German Desert Tan. I want to do one in the desert scheme rather than an overall gray machine. I have to admit I have wanted to build one of these since I saw Harrison Ford and Sean Connery driving around in a motorcycle with a sidecar in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. So, off we go. That's about it for today. More tomorrow. Cheers.

    5 attached images. Click to enlarge.

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    George R Blair Jr said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    I got a little bit more done today. I painted the interior walls and floor of the sidecar, as well as some wooden slats for the floor. I painted the vinyl seats, but I'm not sure how well the paint will stick to them. In the past, I have found that paint won't stick well to flexible vinyl parts. Cheers

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

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    George Williams said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Great start George @gblair, and good choice, it’s fairly obvious that this is the one you really wanted to build. Taking it in stages will surely result in a great model, especially in the desert colours.

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    George R Blair Jr said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    You're right, George (@chinesegeorge), this is the one that kept calling my name. I was concerned about the size and complexity, but I don't think it is any worse than some of the planes I have built. Just different. :o)

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    Spiros Pendedekas said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Great that you went for the big one, my friend @gblair! Superb progress so far! Looking forward to it!

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    John vd Biggelaar said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    This will be a great build, George @gblair
    BMW's were very reliable and even the new ones still are. Unfortunately that goes with a price,
    What you paid on Ebay is indeed a nice price for this kit.
    Start looks very promising.

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    George R Blair Jr said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Thanks, Spiros (@fiveten) and John (@johnb). My biggest problem so far is my unfamiliarity with motorcycles makes it difficult to figure out what color to paint things. In airplanes I have a good idea what color things are. So, I depend on the instructions (which don't have much color into) and the Internet. I found a really good site with a detailed walkaround for an R75. It is in a museum, so I hope they did a good job choosing colors during the restoration. :o)

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    John vd Biggelaar said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    @gblair, restoring a bike is easier than an airplane, so I think the walkaround can defintely be trusted.
    From experience I can say that my own bike looks equally mud colored after a ride in rain.

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    George Williams said 3 weeks, 2 days ago:

    Hi George @gblair, like John says above, I expect the walk around can be trusted. Also, although I know the bike you’re building isn’t contemporary, it doesn’t do any harm to look at motorbikes on the street to see what things look like, some things haven’t changed that much over the years, hope this helps.

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