German BMW military motorcycles are surely one of the symbols of World War 2. Today it is an object of desire for many collectors and bikers, but 70 year ago it was simply one of the tools of war. With a few model kits of this motorcycle available on the market this is also a popular object on many dioramas or vignettes. Now, we have been given another reference for building our scale replicas, this time from Kagero Publishing.
The book has 60 pages and can be divided into four separate parts (I intentionally do not use the word "chapter").
The first 17 pages is a historical description of the BMW company roots and history, development of their first motorcycles and successful contracts resulting with new constructions. The text is very brief and comprehensive, it could be easily published as an article and surely does not completely cover the topic. On the other hand it provides the necessary information and background of most popular models. Filled with detailed end notes, bibliography and a lot of good quality archive photographs this should provide solid basic knowledge for the beginners.
The second part is just 6 pages long. These pages contain 14 large colour photographs of the beautifully restored BMW R12 Gespann produced in 1938 and owned today by Mr. Grzegorz and Mr. Michał Buczek – members of the reenactment group. These are mostly general views of the motorcycle and its sidecar. Four close-ups show: left side of the engine, painted emblem of motorcycle messenger platoon, some number and two waffenamts punched on the engine block and a plate from the sidecar. Of these 14 photos 3 show the back of the motorcycle and sidecar on a different background.
Part three fills pages 25 to 43 and consists of really beautiful 3D drawings. On these pictures you can find a few general views of the R75 with sidecar, as seen from different profiles and angles. What is more there are also nice close-ups of the engine, transmissions, sidecar frame, front wheel and four pictures only of the engine and transmission. On a few pictures the illustrator has removed the sidecar gondola leaving only its frame and wheel, this way creating a view on the parts which are normally obscured. I think that this section, together with archive photographs, will be the most informative for the modeller.
The last section also consists of 3D drawings but this time presenting the R75 motorcycle in, let's say, “field configurations”. This means the motorbike is dressed with armament, additional jerry cans, field applied camouflages, mud and other tactical symbols. On these pictures we can find four machines representing:
• 15th Armoured Div motorcycle battalion, North Africa 1942/43
• Unknown Wehrmacht unit from Normandy, August 1944
• Unknown Luftwaffe unit from Normandy, July 1944
• Unknown Wehrmacht unit from the Eastern Front, December 1943 (winter camouflage)
Together we get 14 pages of inspiration for possible finishes of our scale replicas.
I find it a bit difficult to judge this book. Final judgment strongly depends on what you are looking for. Historians and engineers may be strongly disappointed as you cannot find any technical drawings, plans, schemes or descriptions of modifications introduced in particular production batches. On the other hand, modellers who are not always interested in all this historical and technical mumbling but just want to build a cool motorbike and want to know how things looked from outside will find a lot of answers for their possible dilemmas.
Highs: Great 3D drawings, good quality archive photographs.Lows: Some drawings are unnecessarily multiplied.Verdict: Very usefull for scale modellers, but the historical and technical part could be more detailed. A few drawings seems to be just artificial extenders of content.
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