Harley-Davidson 42WLA Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson 42WLA
Widely unknown, the Soviet Union received some 34,000 motorcycles thru Lend-Lease. Of these, no less than 26,000 were »Harley-Davidson 42WLA« chain-driven solo motorcycles, the others »Indian« 741, 340 and 344, as well as several British types.
Found in large numbers (over 60,000) throughout all theaters in World War II, the Harley-Davidson Model WLA was an extremely reliable vehicle. Weighing 512 pounds and capable of carrying a 200 pound payloud. It was chain-driven by a V-2 cylinder 45.1 cubic inch engine which produced 23 horsepower. It mounted 4.00 x 18 tires, and was built on a 57.5 inch wheelbase.
Except for special military equipment, the standard solo motorcycle was similar to the familiar 2-cyIinder motorcycles used by police and civilians. It was used by the U.S. Army for reconnaissance, messenger service, and police operations, and can be supplied to all arms and services.
In addition to conventional equipment, it has a box for submachine gun ammunition, a. bracket for carrying a submachine gun, and combat zone safety lighting.
On 1942-45 production the headlamp sat low, with the horn above, rather than the other way round and the air cleaner became rectangular shape.
Most of the WLA's delivered to the USSR were equipped with the M72 side car and a passenger/pillion seat on the luggage rack, upon arrival in Russia and many were used to transport a field mortar and crew, although the WLA's 750cc engine wasn't really up to the task.
With over 26.000 WLA's issued to the Red Army, the Ministry of the Armed Forces of the USSR even printed their own technical manuals.

Source : Lend-Lease Liberators.

Official Army photo incl. Leatherette Windshield Apron and left mirror
Harley-Davidson 42WLA with Russian M-72 Sidecar
Passing a ZiS-5B 3-ton and several SU-57 SPG halftracks on a dusty summer 1944 highway
Above : Degtyarev 7.62mm DP machine gun installed to sidecar
Serving with the Polish LWP
Ford GPA seen while ferrying motorcycles over southern Ukrainian water,
Harley-Davidson with Leatherette Windshield Apron at bottom left
Harley-Davidson 42WLA with Russian M-72 Sidecar and 82mm Model 1937 Mortar
Belorussia, summer 1944
Note : Mortar permanently attached to sidecar rear, no sparewheel


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Last Updated: May 09, 2008