Friday, April 12, 2013

Behold - The BSA Airborne Bicycle !!

We visited the Darwin Military Museum on the last day of our trip to Darwin and discovered this unique bicycle used by glider pilots in WWII.

The BSA Aiborne Bicycle is often called a "parabike" by collectors, but it seems that this is an erroneous term. This appears to be a post-war nickname applied to a commercial variant. The only war time manual references found so far clearly call it the "airborne bicycle".

The bike was designed to be folded in half and carried on board an aircraft. It could be landed by glider, thrown out of the aircraft with its own small parachute, or carried by a paratrooper as he jumped out of his aircraft.

It was NOT carried on his back as some authors have suggested, as he had his parachute there.

By the time of the big invasion of June 1944, larger gliders were available and other larger vehicles were available, so the folding bicycle was already obsolescent.

The paratroopers disliked them and the main combat use was by infantry in the second wave on the British (2 beaches) and Canadian (1 beach) on D-Day, 1944 June 06. The other two beaches were American and they did not use them apparently. The soldiers disliked the bikes intensely and most were discarded within a few miles of the beach.

The complete bike

Text to go with the exhibit

Front view of the bike

Detail showing the double top bar and wingnut connector

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