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German BMW R75 Motorcycle

In 1916, two premier German aircraft companies merged to become Bavarian Motor Works, or BMW. Their logo symbolized a white airplane propeller against a blue sky. But the company would soon be grounded by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Although deeply committed to aircraft engineering, chief designer Max Friz reluctantly turned to motorcycle production to help cure the company’s economic woes. Within four short weeks he had produced the blueprints for what would become the “flattwin” or boxer engine, first produced in 1921. During the war it powered the R75 motorcycle and performed exceptionally in North Africa’s heat and sand.

Lion Roar, a modeling company best known for producing brass photo etch products, recently introduced a new line of styrene plastic kits under the Great Wall Hobby label. I’ve been a fan of the company’s photo etch, and looked forward to seeing how they handled the plastic with this 1/35 scale kit.

My first impression was that there were a lot of parts for such a small vehicle. Construction began in earnest on the engine, wheels, and frame. One standout feature is that the wheels are made from five separate tire sections into which discs of preformed etched spoke wheels are secured. The result is an excellently defined tread pattern with perfect spoke wheels. The kit supplies a bit of photo etch for the some spark plug cables; for the others I used very thin gauge electrical wire. The sidecar is a quicker and easier assembly due to the larger-sized parts.

Some areas are tricky. The front fork, wheel, and fender area require that several small parts be aligned and glued simultaneously, and the attachment of the sidecar to the bike, lacking any real fastening points and with very tight spacing, made that assembly difficult.

But overall, Lion Roar has made a wonderful transition into the world of styrene models.


Originally published in the April 2011 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.