Book Review
German Military Motorcycles
Krafträder - German Military Motorcycles
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


The following introduction is as provided by Tankograd:
The role of the Kraftrad (motorcycle) in the German military at the time of World War One was primarily as a dispatch vehicle as it could go on small roads, bypass traffic jams and they were also faster than most other means of transport at that time. Motorcycles could also be used for scouting road conditions in front of truck columns, and serve as emergency transport.
As with passenger cars, there were no military-type Krafträder in the German Army at the outbreak of war. All came from impressed civilian stocks. Heeresmodelle (army models) of motorcycles began to appear from 1915-16.

This publication, for the very first time, grants an extensive written and pictorial overview on the impressed civilian motorcycles as well as the later army models of the Imperial German Armed Forces in 1914-18. Covered entirely with hitherto unpublished photographs are the types of the two main manufacturers, Wanderer and NSU, as well as impressed German types and confiscated foreign makes. Additional chapters describe the use of military motorcycle sidecar combinations, machine gun armed motorcycles, field repair workshops and the uniforms of the military dispatch riders.


This offering from Tankograd is one of the Special offerings which offer a higher page count and in this case is restricted to 700 copies. This book is a soft backed offering of 96 pages, the card cover does a fair job of protecting the contents against damage with the exception of liquids. The paper used is a good quality heavy gloss stock that displays the provided images at their best. The author of this one is no less than Jochen Vollert himself.

The contents are presented as follows:
Introduction by the author

Imperial German army motorization
Army motorization facts and figures
Army motorization motorcycles
Pre-war motorcycles
Wanderer motorcycles
Wanderer 1 cylinder impressed motorcycles
Wanderer 2 cylinder impressed motorcycles
Wanderer army model 1916
Wanderer army model 1917
NSU Motorcycles
NSU 1 cylinder impressed motorcycles
NSU 2 cylinder impressed motorcycles
NSU army model 1915
NSU army model 1916
NSU army model 1917
Motorcycle-sidecar combinations and motorcycles with machine gun armament
Foreign makes Indian USA
Foreign Makes FN Belgium
Foreign Makes miscellaneous
Field railway motorcycles
Motorcycle repair workshop
Military motorcycle papers
Dispatch rider uniforms

The written information provided in this title is in English only and well written. The presentation has been well considered and so is presented in a logical manner. The only complaint I can make is that as I get older the eyeballs are not what they used to be and I found the text a little on the small side; I suppose you could say I am complaining about getting old. What I do like is how the text has been broken down at the start of the title and start of the bike types which makes hunting down specific parts an easier task than it might have been.

With this being a Tankograd offering I am sure you will be surprised to learn that the lions share of the content is provided by period photographs. I have to say that I would never have believed that so many images of motorcycles from this period existed of such a high quality and that Tankograd have managed to get a hold of. The pictures in this title of the motorcycles serve a second purpose and that is the uniform of the period which is presented in great detail due to motorcycles being small vehicles. It also covers a huge number of moustache styles which it would seem were very popular, but I would have thought that they made protecting yourself from gas attacks a harder task.

The photographs are plentiful and in many cases of a good size, but their value is greatly increased due to the well written captions provided with each and everyone of them. The author has done a very good job of collating the photographs and then adding the relevant information which when possible also covers where and when. If motorcycles of this period are an area of interest or even motorcycles generally I promise this title will have content of interest for you.


This offering is another really nice title from their range and if you are into motorcycles then it is a great title. The presentation is typical Tankograd and so no complaints from me on that score. This is an area I know very about and so found the book of particular interest. I knew a little about the Indian brand name and have heard of FN, but I knew nothing about motorcycle manufacture in Germany during the Great War and this filled a hole.
Darren Baker takes a look at a new offering from Tankograd this time covering German Military Motorcycles from the Great War of 1914 - 1918.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 1009
  Suggested Retail: €25.00
  PUBLISHED: Dec 08, 2020

Our Thanks to Tankograd Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.


A fascinating subject from a period in time where motorcyclists were considered the brave innovators on the edge of innovation and tactics for their use still in its infancy. Few had licenses and fewer yet could afford a car but a bike in Europe was the ultimate answer to the call of the open road during the very infancy of highways.
DEC 18, 2020 - 01:18 PM

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