Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Motorcycle Throwback - The 1943 Moto Guzzi Superalce
A very large part of WWII was fought from the seat of a motorcycle. The United States took to the back of the 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA while the German army overtook BMW's production line. And while motorcycles were one of the better ways for soldiers and troops to quickly and easily maneuver through the mayhem, they did have their downfalls. Once the soldiers made it to the fighting, they were forced to dismount in order to use their guns. But it was the Italians who took to solving this inconvenient problem.
Moto Guzzi stepped onto the war scene with their Alce in 1938 but suffered from the same setbacks of motorcycle warfare. Having to dismount and remount in order to use weapons made the soldiers slower and more vulnerable. So in 1943, Moto Guzzi started producing the Superalce. With a very similar 500cc single cylinder, four-stroke engine as the Alce that the Italian army had been using since 1938, the most noticeable alteration was the addition of a handlebar mounted Breda M30 machine gun. Though the gun could only be fired while the motorcycle was idle, it allowed soldiers to fight without having to dismount their bikes. It is said that there were attempts to mount a 9mm Beretta M38A sub machine gun that could be fired while moving, however this never saw mass production.
Other motorcycle companies such as Harley-Davidson combated the dismounting issue by adding a side car to their motorcycles that a second soldier could fire from while in motion. But these additions only made the motorcycles slower and harder to maneuver.
Of course, this motorcycle wasn't made available to the public though some are still in existence sans machine gun. Moto Guzzi continued to produce the Superalce until it was replaced by the Moto Guzzi Falcone in 1955. If there is ever a zombie apocalypse, we'll definitely be hunting down one of these motorcycles.