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WW2 RAF bikes

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does any one have any photos of motorbikes in RAF service, i'm interested in the serial numbers and how they are denoted as RAF.

 

Thanks

 

Jules

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Unfortunately records for RAF motorcycle serial numbers are non existent. I have a few shots of wartime Ariel W/NG's in service with the RAF. I used these pictures and artistic licence to mark my own RAF Enfield. Ron

mil2.jpg

mil3.jpg

raf ariel.jpg

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There is more evidence of the RAF using Ariel's with the Second Tactical Air force in Normandy in he IWM archive. In fact from the archive it seems to be the only type of machine they took over with them!

They have 15 folders on the second TAF, well worth a look!

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I think you are probably quite right Carruthers. All the Norton shots seem to be on home ground. Although they did take Indian 741's overseas in 1945. Clearly the serial number was added to the rear guard on these.

 

Photographs prove it is in order to paint a roundel on the forward part of the petrol tank, and RAF 12345. Ron

Scan-120211-0001.jpg

CO final 005.jpg

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There is more evidence of the RAF using Ariel's with the Second Tactical Air force in Normandy in he IWM archive. In fact from the archive it seems to be the only type of machine they took over with them!

They have 15 folders on the second TAF, well worth a look!

 

Harley's were also popular with the 2nd TAF........

 

The Ariel MoS contract books of which I have a copy go into massive detail about many contracts, including spare engines, forks, frames, etc......and they give serial numbers for Royal Navy Ariel's......but frustratingly, NOT the RAF ones !!!!

 

Just a tip for anyone restoring RAF bikes dating from between 1940 and 1945......they came from the factory in standard Army camouflage colours (eg- khaki green No.3, SCC No.2 brown or the later olive drab (from April 44 onwards).....RAF serial numbers were applied plus, in many cases, a RAF roundel too......

 

Evidence suggests that many RAF bikes lacked pannier equipment for some reason......

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Hi Steve. As you can see I've just started posting on here. I'm not sure if the Harley's were popular with the RAF.....Or just forced on them Ha Ha!..... Like the 741's, I don't think they were well liked by the front line boys and therefore issued to the RAF and lower echelon units. Mind you, they are fun when you get used to them. As I always tell myself, when I go for a wobble on my 741. Ron

741B 005.jpg

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Thanks for the photos guys, my 1940 Norton still has its front number plate, so presumably, i could paint the 'RAF' then a number on this ?

 

More photo's always welcome....................................

 

 

Cheers

 

Jules

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Absolutely! Is your Norton from an RAF contract?

 

Ron

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Seems this thread has just surfaced at the right moment. I recently e-mailed the RAF Museum for a bit of information regarding RAF paint schemes during the war. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a lot of photocopied information in the mail a week later. They went to a lot of trouble and spent an amount of time doing this for me, for which i was very greatful. Therefore with information in hand i will pass on the relevant info that may be of interest.

 

From a book called Wheels of the RAF, Wartime vehicles: their colouring, markings and type numbers.....

To facilitate the ordering of the correct spares for vehicles, when such a diversity of types with varying designations existed, it was decided in early 1944 to type number the various types of vehicles. Numbers were allotted in blocks according to the class of the vehicle ..... The type number was to be painted in white 3ins characters in the style 'TYPE 1000', or with the number placed beneath 'TYPE'.

Number 2900 Motorcycles and 2901 Motorcycle Combinations.

 

AMO A.617 Identification of RAF Mechanical Transport (dated 7.8.41)

1. In order that the military traffic control companies and the civil, military and RAF Police can easily identify RAF Vehicles and so facilitate movement control, it has been decided that all RAF cehicles, Works Directorate vehicles, and contractors' and Petroleum Board vehicles wholly employed on duties with the RAF in the UK, are to be marked with a RAF Roundal, nine inches in diameter, and a code letter or number, five inches in height (3 1/2 inches in the case of motorcycles), painted in white, indicating the command or other formation, etc., to which they belong.

 

3. Code letters and numbers (i)(a) Code letters have been allocated as follows.

Bomber Command B, Fighter Command F, Coastal Command C, Army Co-operation Command A, FLying Training Command T, Maintenance Command M, Balloon Command K, Technical Training Command H, Works Directorate W, Contractors X, Petroleum Board P, Ministry of Aircraft Production Z, No 60 Group R, Air Support Auxillary L.

(iii) The letter is to be displayed on the back of the vehicle in one of the following ways:

(d) On motorcycles, the letter is to be painted on the rear mudguard and on sidecars (passenger and box carrier) the letter is to be painted on the centre of the back panel.

 

Obviously there were different paint schemes and regulations regarding markings in different theatres of conflict and some carried the roundel and others didn't. I would suggest you get in contact with Gordon Leith, who is the curator at the RAF Museum and maybe he can supply you with the same documents. It did include a lot of copies from AMO's (Air Ministry Orders) which dealt with colour schemes and other very useful information. And as always there were numerous ammendments throughout the war period with new orders replacing old ones. As a rule of thumb nothing is incorrect as rules were 'ignored', 'modified' and some changes were not required until major service. ie the repainting of vehicles to new schemes and colours was not required until the vehicle in question actually needed painting. The old stocks of paint were to be used before the new stock.. So many variations.

 

Best of luck and hope this helps..

Edited by The Garrison
wasn't long enough

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I see that no records of RAF motorcycles in WW2 seem to exist so these few that were sold by auction in the late 1940s might be of interest -

 

RAF 5329 Ariel Combination 350cc

RAF 14541 Norton Solo 500cc

RAF 25383 B.S.A. Solo 500cc

RAF 26431 B.S.A. Solo 500cc

RAF 26453 B.S.A. Solo 350cc

RAF 31035 Ariel Solo 350cc

RAF 45776 Matchless Solo 350cc

RAF 69263 Norton Combination 633cc

RAF 94332 Norton Combination 500cc

RAF 95312 Ariel Solo 350cc

RAF 166196 Ariel Solo 350cc

RAF 166572 Ariel Solo 350cc

RAF 167631 Norton Combination 500cc

RAF 186303 Ariel Solo 350cc

 

No photographs I'm afraid.

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HELLO  i bought a bsa j12 500cc (vee twin engine ) from begium it had been left there when the lads had to come home in a hurry.  normally all bsa have a bsa engine and frame number which are all recorded but those bought ona air ministry contract had special numbers . Mine for example has frame number H15.26.26 engine number H15.2696  bsa club comfirm that it was despatched from the factory as a 500cc special war office twin ,part of a 200 machine supplied to the air ministry under contract 559903/36c10(b)and 632331/37 between january 1936 and july 1937. if you find out where this was stationed in begium please let me know i am in doncaster 07714 229201   regards malcolm barlow

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O&M quote only 30 WO Twins under contract 559903 for the RAF. Frame numbers H15 101- H15 130 engs H15 106- H15 135.  The next contract 632331 has 170 bikes so 200 in total but only with a highest frame number of H15 319.........Steve M. ??

Ron

Edited by Ron

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