WWII Paratrooper: 1942 Excelsior Welbike
There are few things more terrifying than the idea of parachuting into a Nazi infested European mainland equipped only with a small folding motorcycle. However, an enemy that is doubled over in laughter at seeing you ride a clown-cycle is perhaps an easier target. Find this 1942 Excelsior Welbike here on eBay with starting bid of $7,500 reserve-not-met located in Santa Rosa, CA with 3 days to go.
The Welbike was designed to descend alongside the paratrooper in a small tube with a separate chute. Upon touchdown, the design goal was that the trooper could get his Welbike out of the container and push-start the 98cc 2-stroke within 11 seconds. Not sure what step 2 of the minibike invasion looked like, but I can only imagine it involved lots of wheelies, whooping, and one-armed-machine gun action. Range with the stock 3.7 liter fuel tank was limited to around 90 miles at 30 mph.
See a better piece of WWII history that you could ride to work? email@example.com
Maybe this was an offshoot of the British military program to weaponize the Funniest Joke in the World:
One thing I can think of that is thematically consistent and more terrifying is the U-Boat Autogyro-Kite
These things were launched from the decks of u-boats, and towed along, held aloft by the u-boat's forward motion, for reconnaissance purposes. If the pilot was unlucky enough to see a threatening warship he would radio it down. There wasn't enough time to then pull him in and fold up the Gyro before the u-boat would dive, so instead he was just cut loose.
Thanks BTW. I was not aware of this story. I suppose getting cut loose was the lesser of two evils. No doubt this was the origin of the German term "den Kürzeren ziehen".
Wonder who signed off on the chrome parts, and how long the stay was at Leavenworth?
There is a Groucho joke hanging there for the taking.