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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Military Bicycles of World War II


Gustaaf Desmet's very original and desirable Westfield Columbia Serial N° MG99828. Note the USAAF sign attached to the upper frame tubes....

US Army Bicycles

Genuine WW2 US Army bicycles are amongst the rarest of vintage military vehicles around. Sure, you will see a lot of them at shows but when you have a closer look, hardly any of those are real, complete military production bikes. So few of them are left, especially in Europe, that a bicycle with provable World War 2 US Army use and in any condition is truly a very rare and expensive vehicle.

Although the US Army had used bicycles for many years before WW2, none were standardized for procurement before 1942. The Army's official use for these bicycles was: 'To provide Transportation for Personnel engaged in Dispatch or Messenger Service'. Of course they were used for many other purposes. They proved a fast and economical way to get around Depots, Camps and Airfields.

The 'Bicycle, Military, Universal' was adopted in October 1942 by the Ordnance Department. It was a military version of the Westfield 'Columbia' and was equipped with heavy duty rims and spokes. It came with a D-Cell powered headlight on the front fender and basic tools were carried in a tool bag attached to the Persons saddle. A tire pump was clamped to the frame.

These bikes were manufactured by both Westfield Columbia and Huffman with only minor differences in parts. Huffman fenders were rounded as opposed to gothic ones on the Columbia, chain guards varied and Huffman front sprockets had a unique whirlwind design.... All parts were interchangeable. Early rubber pedal blocks were replaced with wooden ones later in the war. Early frames had a curved front tube but these were replaced with straight tubes on later models...



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