The BMW R-75 with Sidecar (Schweres Kraftrad 750 cc mit Seitenwagen BMW R 75) possessed excellent cross-country performance due to the sidecar wheel being powered along with the rear cycle wheel. The vehicle could also run in reverse. More than 18,000 BMW motorcycles were used by the Wehrmacht in WW2. They served in all branches and in almost all functions: rifle units, an officer chauffeur, dispatches, reconnaissance, food transport, even specially equipped tank destroyers! Faster than trucks and panzers, noisy as the panzers but without the armor, the motorcyclists were, as today, a tightly-knit group and within this camaraderie the motorcycle troops knew each other as "Kradmelder." Famed SS commander "Panzer Meyer" taught, "The motor is a weapon!" Indeed, the Kradschutzen often pulled off coup de mains against fortified or superior forces. The September 1939 composition of a Kradschutzenkompanie (Motorcycle Rifle Company) was ten motorcycles, forty-six motorcycles with sidecars, and fifteen trucks and cars to transport four officers and twenty-three NCOs commanding one hundred forty-eight enlisted troops, armed with one hundred thrity-five rifles, nine MG 34s machine guns, two MG 34s with tripod mounts, and three 5cm mortars. A Reconnaissance Battalion (Aufklaerungs Abteilung or A-A) would include a motorcycle machine gun squadron with sidecar mounts, a squadron headquarters, three rifle troops (three sections armed with two MG 34s and one light mortar), and one heavy troop equipped with four MG 34s.
Released in the early 1970's, Bandai's BMW R 75 was built with sixty-three parts of beige styrene. Each sprue was sealed in a plastic bag, these being boxed in a sturdy two-piece carton with a dynamic illustration of two fierce looking SS men riding along in uniforms not represented on the included figures.
Look carefully at the pieces – crisply molded with no mold or ejector marks, nor sink holes. There is flash but most is minor except on the figures.
The BMW Boxer OHV 746cc 2-cylinder, 26 hp engine in reasonably represented. Rigging it with stretched sprue or wire for the ignition should be little problem. Nor should the adding of brake lines to the wheels.
The small parts are all slightly oversized. Squawks include:
• The oversize spokes on the wheels, fender supports, and handlebar.
• The MG 34 is acceptable (if you ignore the barrel without its cooling holes) but better ones are available now.
• The Seitenwagen (sidecar) had wooden slats in the bottom; these are omitted but easily made.
• Cooling vents on the muffler shield are molded as raised lines instead of open slots.
The three figures are the driver, passenger, and a “Stubbelhopper” foot soldier. The Kradmelderen are wearing the Rubberized Motorcycle Coat (Kradmantel) and gloves. The belts and ammo pouches are molded soft. The Kradmantel was very roomy to fit over gear, and photos usually show the belts synched up deep within the folds of it. Their personal gear are three helmets, three gas mask canisters, a Zeltbahn, a breadbag, a mess kit, a horribly molded bayonet-entrenching tool rig, and a water bottle. Two Kar 98 rifles are provided.
The courier satchels are molded apparently as leather. I know many of them were sheet-metal boxes with hinged tops.
Instructions, decals and painting
Bandai’s instruction sheets are a feast, featuring photos of the prototype, the model, the model in dioramas, drawings, cartoons, and ideas for detailing; they even experimented with multi-color printing. The translations leave plenty to be desired.
Decals for a Heers and an SS registered vehicle are provided. Remarkably, there are none for a Luftwaffe BMW. Afrika Korps, Grosse Deutschland and SS-Totenkopf are amongst the seven units provided, as well as two tactical symbols, a medical marking and a Swastika marking, and three BMW logos.
Painting instructions are poor. While they got Field Gray correct, “Emerald green” is subjective. No paint manufacturer is referenced.
As far as I know, this is the only quarterscale BMW available. Like the 1/48 Tamiya German 3 Ton Truck
, it should be a hugely popular accessory for Luftwaffe vignettes and dioramas. This BMW R 75 is out-of-production but they can be found. The molding is good but the small parts are oversized. The crew is not very lifelike. The kit does build up to display nicely. Minor detailing can greatly enhance the detail. Available newly released figures and equipment will improve it, too. Until a new modern model is produced, quarterscalers can have a reasonable model of this seen-everywhere, do-everything WW2 German vehicle.
Photos of built Bandai / FROG / Fumans: