Monday, January 01, 2007

Harley Davidson 45 cubic inch WLA

It's pretty interesting to know that H-D delivered over 88,000 of the WLA 45's to the war effort. During WWII, the war was already raging when H-D was called up for duty overseas. While the 88,000 motorcycles were sent for combat duty, enough parts for an additional 30,000 was also supplied. The 1937 WL, a civilian model, was the basis for the WLA as these had proven to be rugged dependable machines on the home front. The WLA varied from the civilian model in five ways. The military model had a scabbard for a Thompson machine gun or a standard rifle, blackout lights, a heavy duty luggage rack, a heavy duty skid plate under the engine and, a metal plate attached to the gas tank between the instrument panel and seat. Soldiers abused these motorcycles over rough terrain and harsh conditions without significant breakdowns. Most all breakdowns that did occur were easily fixed in the field. The military had chosen the WLA because of it's ease of maintenance in the field.
The Flatheads that powered these machines were first produced in a 74ci confiquiration but by 1936 had grown to 80ci.

In 1942, H-D had been playing around with a new model called 42 XA-solo. This machine was basically a copy of the German BMW motorcycles already running around at the hands of the Axis powers. The XA was slated for use in the deserts of North Africa as conventional chain drives were quickly destroyed by the sand. The XA was a shaft driven machine with a horizontal engine; the engine being much smoother than a V-Twin. Several of Another model, the XS, was made with armored side cars. Though 1,000 of the XA machines had been produced, not a single one made it into combat; that part of the war was over before they could be put into combat.


Mr. Althouse said...

I've seen a couple of those opposed "beemer" looking rides at Sac Harley. I just posted a story and some pics of our New Years ride. Check it out!


WooleyBugger said...

Hey Mike,
I sure will and if you get a cahnce maybe get some pics next time of the XA.