BSA Airborne Bicycle Photos

This page has photos of the BSA Airborne Bicycle in the factory, in service etc.

IN THE FACTORY

1943 Pathe news film showing the manufacture of BSA Airborne Bicycles (Second Model) and Excelsior Welbikes Mark II. 

BSA Airborne Bicycle being assembled at the factory by a woman worker.
BSA Airborne Bicycle being assembled at the factory by a woman worker. (BSA photo from a post-war brochure in my collection)

 

IN MANUALS

Solider tightening, or loosening, the upper butterfly nut that holds the bike open for riding. (from RAF Airborne Forces manual)
Solider tightening, or loosening, the upper butterfly nut that holds the bike open for riding. (from RAF Airborne Forces manual)
BSA Airborne Bicycle folded, with wheels lashed together with a bedroll strap, and with a parachute attached.
BSA Airborne Bicycle folded, with wheels lashed together with a bedroll strap, and with a parachute attached. (Royal Air Force Manual)

 

Bicycle rigged for parachuting on its own, with a 12′ diameter parachute.

 
british paratrooper standing with a folding bicycle in the position for jumping out of the aircraft.
BSA Airborne Bicycle in the folded position for parachuting with a man. After his parachute opens, he will lower the bicycle about 20 feet below him. (Royal Air Force Manual)
 
BSA Airborne Bicycle in the folded position for parachuting with a man. After his parachute opens, he will lower the bicycle about 20 feet below him. (Royal Air Force Manual)
BSA Airborne Bicycle in the folded position for parachuting with a man. After his parachute opens, he will lower the bicycle about 20 feet below him. (Royal Air Force Manual)
BSA Airborne Bicycle in the folded position for parachuting with a man. After his parachute opens, he will lower the bicycle about 20 feet below him. (Royal Air Force Manual)
BSA Airborne Bicycle in the folded position for parachuting with a man. After his parachute opens, he will lower the bicycle about 20 feet below him. (Royal Air Force Manual)
 

IN TRAINING

BSA Airborne Bicycle in a display of British Airborne Equipment done by the Royal Ordnance Corps in 1943 in England. (detail)
BSA Airborne Bicycle in a display of British Airborne Equipment done by the Royal Ordnance Corps in 1943 in England. It is shown folded in half. (detail)
Army bicycle on display in a stand.
BSA Airborne Bicycle in a display of British Airborne Equipment done by the Royal Ordnance Corps in 1943 in England. (detail)

 

The Queen examining a BSA Airborne Bicycle, probably in May 1944.
The Queen examining a BSA Airborne Bicycle, probably in May 1944.
British airborne soldier riding a BSA airborne bicycle. There are no clips for the rfle, he is just using the sling looped over the handlebar and seat post.
British airborne soldier riding a BSA airborne bicycle. There are no clips for the rfle, he is just using the sling looped over the handlebar and seat post.
British Airborne troops training in England 1942-1944. Here they are crossing over a fence.
British Airborne troops training in England 1942-1944. Here they are crossing over a fence. A BSA bicycle is on the left.

Canadian paratrooper on a BSA airborne bicycle 1944, in England.

Canadian paratrooper on a BSA airborne bicycle 1944, in England.
Private Tom Phelan, 1 Canadian Parachute battalion posed on a BSA airborne bicycle at their reinforcement camp in England. Pte. Phelan had been wounded at Le Mesnil, in Normandy on June 16. The photo looks dramatic, but he would have great trouble riding the bicycle this way, especially across country with one hand. Library and Archives Canada photo PA 204971. 

INTO ACTION IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

BSA Airborne Bicycle on the back of a Sherman tank of the Canadian 3 Rivers Regiment at Regalbuto, Sicily in 1943. It is obviously being carried for running errands etc. once that tank is in a hide.
BSA Airborne Bicycle on the back of a Sherman tank of the Canadian 3 Rivers Regiment at Regalbuto, Sicily in 1943. It is obviously being carried for running errands etc. once that tank is in a hide.

 

No.9 Commando with some BSA Airborne Bicycles on board a small motor vessel, Cherso_raid, August 1944. The bicycles are folded for compactness.
No.9 Commando with some BSA Airborne Bicycles on board a small motor vessel, Cherso_raid, August 1944. The bicycles are folded for compactness.Note the torch (electric lamp) on their belts. These are the type that could be used on these bikes and do NOT have the drop down blackout shade. those with the shade have the wrong fastener and are belt and hand-held lamps.

PREPARING FOR D-DAY

Royal Marine Commandos in Southern England immediately before D-Day, June 1944. They have BSA Airborne Bicycles with the Everest Carrier fitted to the front. They are having a kit inspection, so the loaded rucksack, rope etc. is not loaded onto the bicycles.
Royal Marine Commandos in Southern England immediately before D-Day, June 1944. They have BSA Airborne Bicycles with the Everest Carrier fitted to the front. They are having a kit inspection, so the loaded rucksack, rope etc. is not loaded onto the bicycles.
Royal Marine Commandos in Southern England immediately before D-Day, June 1944. They have BSA Airborne Bicycles with the Everest Carrier fitted to the front. They have finished their kit inspection, so the loaded rucksacks, rope, ammunition etc. are now loaded onto the bicycles as they head off to be loaded onto landing craft/ships.
Royal Marine Commandos in Southern England immediately before D-Day, June 1944. They have BSA Airborne Bicycles with the Everest Carrier fitted to the front. They have finished their kit inspection, so the loaded rucksacks, rope, ammunition etc. are now loaded onto the bicycles as they head off to be loaded onto landing craft/ships.
Highland Light Infantry Regiment loading onto landing ships with their BSA Airborne Bicycles (Canadian Army Photo - Library and Archives Canada PA132812)
Highland Light Infantry Regiment loading onto landing ships with their BSA Airborne Bicycles (Canadian Army Photo –
Library and Archives Canada PA132812)
3 Canadian Infantry Division embarking for the D-Day invasion of France, about June 4, 1944.
3 Canadian Infantry Division embarking for the D-Day invasion of France, about June 4, 1944.

INTO ACTION

The BSA airborne bicycle could be landed in enemy territory in various ways.

  1. By its own parachute. Note that it should land handlebars and seat first as the wheels are very susceptible to damage – as per the photograph from an airborne manual. The BSA drawing for the post-war parabike brochure shows it very dramatically, but it is the wrong way up. 

  2. By being carried by a paratrooper. After his parachute had opened, he would lower the bike on about a 20 foot rope. Ideally it would hit the ground first, and he would drift a little bit and land beside it. 

  3. By glider.

  4. By sea. Sometimes folded, usually opened.

ENROUTE TO D-DAY LANDING IN NORMANDY

Soliders and bicycles on a landing ship enroute to the D-Day invasion beaches.
BSA Airborne Bicycles and Highland Light Inftantry (HLI) on Landing Craft Large Inftantry LCI(L) of the 2nd Canadian Flotilla enroute to the D-Day invasion of Normandy June 6, 1944. They were part of the second wave and were intended to sweep inland on their bicycles. (L&AC MIKAN 3191666)
Canadian troops on the way to Normandy with BSA Airborne Bicycles for D-Day (Library and Archives Canada PA132930)
Canadian troops on the way to Normandy with BSA Airborne Bicycles for D-Day (Library and Archives Canada PA132930)

Canadian troops with BSA Airborne Bicycles on board their Landing Ship, enroute to Normandy, June 5-6 1944.
Canadian troops with BSA Airborne Bicycles on board their Landing Ship, enroute to Normandy, June 5-6 1944.
 
 
 
TO BE ADDED – British Commando soldiers or marines lounge on rear deck of what appears to be a Landing Ship, Infantry (large). There are BSA airborne bicycles leaning against the railings at the stern. The one on the far left has an Everest Carrier mounted, but not the load of the rucksack, rope, mortar bombs etc.
 

COMMANDOS LANDING

BSA Airborne Bicycle in the surf being dragged ashore on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The thoughts of this soldier or Marine are certainly not fit for young ears!
BSA Airborne Bicycle in the surf being dragged ashore on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The thoughts of this soldier or Marine are certainly not fit for young ears!
British Commando troops with BSA airborne bicycles passing a Universal Carrier on the beach in Normandy.
British Commando troops with BSA airborne bicycles passing a Universal Carrier on the beach in Normandy.
ritish Commando troops with some BSA Airborne Bicycles on shore awaiting the word to move inland.
British Commando troops with some BSA Airborne Bicycles on shore awaiting the word to move inland.
Commando troops waiting on the beach before moving inland.

BRITISH INFANTRY LANDING

BSA Airborne Bicycles in being walked by 2nd Battalion East Yorkshire_to Collevlle-sur-Mer in Normandy. D-Day, June 6, 1944.
BSA Airborne Bicycles in being walked by 2nd Battalion East Yorkshire_to Collevlle-sur-Mer in Normandy. D-Day, June 6, 1944.

CANADIANS LANDING

BSA Canadians_Landing Craft Infantry, Large LCIL299 soldiers disembarking carrying BSA Airborne Bicycles.(detail)
BSA Canadians_Landing Craft Infantry, Large LCIL299 soldiers disembarking carrying BSA Airborne Bicycles.(detail)

 

BSA Canadians Landing Craft Infantry, Large LCIL soldiers. These are troops of the Noprth Nova Scotia Highlanders and Highland Light Infantry. D-Day, June 6, 1944 in Normandy.
BSA Canadians Landing Craft Infantry, Large LCIL soldiers. These are troops of the Noprth Nova Scotia Highlanders and Highland Light Infantry. D-Day, June 6, 1944 in Normandy.
D-Day BSA AB Bicycles landing 9 CIB from LCIL299 2nd Cdn Flotilla at Nan beach MIKAN 3191670
D-Day BSA AB Bicycles landing 9 CIB from LCIL299 2nd Cdn Flotilla at Nan beach MIKAN 3191670

PUSHING INLAND

BSA_Commandos_D-Day (2)
BSA_Commandos_D-Day (2)
BSA Airborne Bicycle next to a 50mm Anti-Tank Pillbox at Asnelles, Normandy. June 7. 1944.
BSA Airborne Bicycle next to a 50mm Anti-Tank Pillbox at Asnelles, Normandy. June 7. 1944.
 
BSA Airborne Bicycle being ridden in Normandy, as part of the D-Day landing in June 6, 1944. This picture was taken an Hermanville. (Imperial War Museum photo)
BSA Airborne Bicycle being ridden in Normandy, as part of the D-Day landing in June 6, 1944. This picture was taken an Hermanville. (Imperial War Museum photo)
BSA_Commando_4 Bde_St_Aubin
BSA_Commando_4 Bde_St_Aubin
4 Commando Brigade under fire on road near St. Aubin. BSA bicycle in centre. 
 
BSA_Commando_1 Bde_France_horse (2)
BSA_Commando_1 Bde_France_horse (2)
BSA_maybe_POWs_soldier_standing_para05
BSA_maybe_POWs_soldier_standing_para05
 

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