German Motorcycle and Sidecar
Tamiya, 1/48 scale
The BMW R75 was a WWII era motorcycle used in large numbers by the German armed forces.
The R75 could be fitted with a sidecar. The third side-car wheel was driven with an axle connected to the rear wheel of the motorcycle. These were fitted with a locking differential and selectable road and off-road gear ratios through which all four and reverse gears worked. This made the R75 highly manoeuvrable and capable of negotiating most surfaces.
The BMW R75 and its rival the Zündapp KS 750 were both widely used by the Wehrmacht in Russia and North Africa, though after a period of evaluation it became clear that the Zündapp was the superior machine. In August 1942 Zündapp and BMW, on the urging of the OKW, agreed upon standardisation of parts for both machines with a view to eventually creating a Zündapp-BMW hybrid (designated the BW 43), in which a BMW 286/1 side-car would be grafted onto a Zündapp KS 750 motorcycle.
The standardisation program meant that machines that were produced by BMW and Zündapp used 70% of the same components. This simplifies the supply of spare parts for these vehicles, many of which are still in the hands of historic motorcycle enthusiasts. These vehicles are still highly desirable as collector's items because of their complex and durable technology, and are correspondingly expensive. A well-restored R75 can be still used for everyday purposes, on or off-road without problems.*
Tamiya released a 1:35 scale BMW R75 with Sidecar in 1972. This was a very nice kit in its day, featuring a rider, a sidecar passenger and two walking figures.
Tamiya has now offered a subtle nod to this classic kit with their 1:48 scale German Motorcycle and Sidecar. Despite the lack of brand name, this is in fact a BMW R75 motorcycle, and the rider and sidecar passenger mirror the poses of the 42-year-old 1:35 scale offering. Despite this sentimental tribute, however, you may rest assured that this is not a scaled-down version of that ancient kit.
The kit comprises 46 parts in tan coloured plastic plus marings for three bikes.
As you would expect from the current Tamiya 1:48 Military Miniature Series, this new motorcycle features very crisp moulding and a high level of detail yet simple parts breakdown. The wheels are moulded with the spokes and mudguards in place, but the overall effect is impressive.
The nicely sculpted figures are broken down with separate arms and helmets. The sidecar passenger has optional arms to allow him to hold either a machine gun or a pair of binoculars.
Three saddle bags are included, as are two packs.
Markings are supplied for three bikes – one from the Eastern Front 1942 finished in overall Panzer Grey; the second from the 5th Parachute Regiment, Tunisia, in overall Desert Yellow; and a third set of Luftwaffe number plates not mentioned in the marking guide.
The decals are typical of Tamiya – semi-gloss in finish and in good register. Although they sometimes look a bit thick on the backing paper, I have always had good results with Tamiya decals.
This is another welcome addition to Tamiya’s 1:48 scale Military Miniatures family. It is clearly superior in detail to its larger ancestor, and will offer some interesting possibilities for 1:48 scale dioramas.
* Historical information courtesy of Wikipedia
Text and Images by Brett Green