Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Machinegun motorcycles a fanciful idea

The Royal Enfield Military model inspires many owners to add wartime accessories to their motorcycles. Not many will be adding a Thompson submachine gun, but you have to admit, it would make an awesome accessory.

My brother Phil recently shared some World War II era photos of the real gun mounted to U.S. and British army motorcycles. He found them on MachineGunBoards, a site devoted to the Thompson.

The Thompson submachine gun was widely used by British forces, including motorcyclists, making it appropriate on a British-style bike like the Royal Enfield. The mount shown in use here was tested, but, according to Gavin Birch's book Motorcycles at War, was never used in combat.

It is difficult to imagine it actually being used. Riding the motorcycle while aiming the gun and pulling the trigger would be akin to scratching your head while rubbing your stomach.

A wartime newsreel I once viewed showed British Army motorcyclists riding to a point, then parking their bikes out of sight and moving on foot into ambush position. A moving motorcycle would have made a tricky and unstable mount for any weapon.

The cartoon like image of the British Army motorcyclist aiming his Thompson is one of my favorites. My brother points out that it was obviously directly inspired by the (nearly identical) magazine cover photograph.

The picture below is from Motorcycles at War. Note that, unlike the cartoon, the actual rider does not have the gun sights at eye level.


  1. glad you've gotten so much milage out of that book!

  2. Anonymous6/09/2009

    I do tast some sarcasm here ;-)

  3. That's OK. It's true, I enjoyed the book. Has anyone else noticed the unusual Google ads the blog has been served with, since this item went up? You'd think I had written about gun control.

  4. Anonymous6/09/2009

    Always good to know that "Powder and pressed parts Nuclear and Ceramic applications" exists... ;-)


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