by: Todd Michalak [ ]
Severely restricted as a result of the Treaty of Versailles the German army, infantry specifically, was more limited as they were forced to mobilize on foot that made non-motorized means of transport more commonplace. Other than horses, the Truppenfahrrad or Troops Bike was one largely use means of travel for the military and as of 1943, the German High Command required the military to incorporate these bicycles into all infantry divisions and even the motorized divisions as well.
These were very simple bikes manufactured by several different companies and quite literally produced in the millions and distributed throughout all the forces. They incorporated a simple front braking system with a small lever on the handlebars leading to a piece of rubber that was pressed directly into the pneumatic tire. The rear braking was controlled through backpedalling. The seat was constructed from coil springs and was made of leather, cloth, rubber or felt. There were several different configurations to these bikes depending on their use at the time; anything from holders for a variety of machineguns, mines, anti-tank weapons and tools not to mention a rack mounted over the rear tire for stowage.
German Military Bicycle, WWII Era kit from Master Box Ltd. supplies the builder with parts to construct one German military bicycle with several variant options. The kit is made up of injection molded styrene and photo etch parts. The frame is nicely molded and appears to be what was typical for Truppenfahrrad (troop’s bike) for the time period. The detailing of the frame is well done and the fenders and even the small triangular shaped leather tool pouch which is located behind the seat post section of the frame are cleanly molded.
There are two minor items I did notice with this kit; either of them is acceptable as is or can easily be corrected. First being the location of the small hand pump which is molded to the bottom of the front edge of the frame. In most cases that I have seen, the pump is attached to the top bar of the frame. This is not a big issue at all and if you wanted to move the location, a simple removal of the part and cleaning of the frame after with a reattachment of the pump or a scratch built part to the top frame. The second item I noticed is the lack of detailing under the bike’s seat. There is typically on front spring and two rear springs that hold up the saddle. The rear springs a configured in a blockish shape. This can easily be corrected by removing the two blockish shaped spring and replacing them with some coil springs fashioned from small gauge wire wound into the simple coil shape.
The photo etch supplied for this kit helps make the bike into sever different configurations. The photo etch spokes provided add a great deal of detailing to the bike and are much more scale representative of the spokes. There is the fine added detail of the front braking system with the lever and cable leading to the brake itself. Provided with the kit is the option of a stick grenade box which was, in some cases, attached to the lower side of the top cross bar of the frame. There is an option to add a teller mine and holder which also was attached to the lower side of the top crossbar of the frame.
The kit also gives options to add the MG34 or handlebar and front forks mounted Panzerfaust. The rear wheel mounted rack has a styrene supplied part as well as the option to construct this piece from photo etch parts with or without straps.
The construction is fairly straightforward; however, some care is needed in working with the delicate photo etching provided. There is little cleanup needed with the styrene parts as they are molded very clean. There is a small seam line that needs to be cleaned up on each of the crank shafts where the peddles are attached to. The hardest part of building this kit is deciding which variant you would like to make. You may want to consider adding a small gauge piece of wire to the tiny generator attached to the front wheel forks. Although the light on the bike was often powered by a battery, the use of generator was used and would of course need a wire to supply the light with power.
I feel that the German Military Bicycle, WWII Era from Master Box Ltd. would make a fine addition to any diorama or vignette. The detailing is excellent and the parts are represented very well for the scale intended.
While I do find the cost verse the quality of this kit acceptable some may consider even the lower online pricing, which is about $4.00US lower than the MSRP, a bit high for the one piece. With all the added options of the kit, it might have been a better choice to add a second bike which would also allow the use of the alternate variants a bit more.
I will recommend this kit as it is a great way to add some fine details to any diorama with the parts being quality and with a little patience and some photo etch experience the German Military Bicycle, WWII Era kit will build up into a really nice accessory piece.