WWII British Military Bicycle
Diopark 1:35 Scale Kit # DP35010
Review by Terry Ashley

BSA produced a range of motor cycles and bicycles for the British Army during WWII with one designed specifically for Airborne forces as the BSA Airborne Folding Paratroopers Bicycle (often incorrectly referred to as the ‘parabike’). Its greatest use was by British and Canadian infantry during the invasion of Normandy after D-Day in 1944 as well as in operations such as at Arnhem.

The bike was produced in two patterns, the 1st pattern in 1942 and the 2nd pattern from 1942 to 1945 with the differences between the two is very minor.  The notable feature of the bike was it could be folded in half for a paratrooper to jump with them, fold out and use as a normal bicycle after landing.

The kit:
This new kit from Diopark represents the 1942-1945 BSA Airborne Folding Paratroopers Bicycle 2nd Pattern and you get two complete bicycles in the kit which consists of 48 parts in light grey plastic and 26 etched parts for the wheel spokes and other smaller details. That's 24 plastic and 13 etched parts per bicycle.
There is also what appears to be a small scooter on the sprue but no mentioned in the instructions? Note the etched fret is shared with the Diopark Asian Classis Bicycle Kit#DP35009 and so there are few parts not used with this kit.

The standard of moulding is excellent with no flash or other blemishes on the parts and just the usual fine moulding seems and small moulding nodes to be removed before assembly. The etched parts are also well done with numerous very fine parts than need care removing from the frets.

The bike frames are moulded commendably thin for a good scale appearance as is the chain that while in plastic has very good detail definition; there are alternate frames to build the bike in the folded or normal position. All that is needed is the addition of the brake cables to finish off the model. There is one small detail with the pedal sprocket, on the real bike this had the letters B S A included in the sprocket spokes but would be very difficult to replicate in plastic given the small size of the kit sprocket.

Image: Online Bicycle Museum

The notable feature of the kit is the wheels which are moulded with plastic spokes but you also get etched spokes to use for greater detail. To use the etched spokes you need to cut away the moulded plastic spokes from the rims and replace with the etched spokes. To aid with the etched spokes is a two part jib to get the correct dome bend for the spokes, you also need to take care when gluing the etched spokes to stagger the spokes on each side for the correct appearance.
The tyre tread is nicely textured but removing the central mould line can also remove some of the texturing so care is needed, this does though give the impression of a slightly worn tyre.

The small four page A5 sized instruction sheet has exploded view drawings and is quite easy to follow given there isn't a lot to assemble, the most time consuming will be adding the wheel spokes but the end result will be worth the effort.

The main assembly in the kit is the wheels if you decide to use the etched spoke option and not the moulded plastic spoke wheels which are woefully over scale and inaccurate, to get the most out of the fine frame mouldings in the kit the spokes are really not a choice.

See link to Etched Wheel Spoke Assembly below.

With the wheels assembled the remainder of the kit is quite straightforward although care is needed due to the very fine mouldings for the frame, handlebars and smaller parts.

The rear frame has the lower right frame fed through the chain so the large pedal sprocket in on the outside and the smaller drive sprocket on the inside of the frame and then the left frame is attached trapping the rear wheel in place, just make sure the wheel is parallel to the frame as the glue dries.

Added to the rear frame are the small brake calliper, the hand pump, seat and tool bag plus the pedals which can be set at any angle, if building the bike in the folded position the right side pedal must be facing forward.

The front frame is just as simply with the front wheel trapped between the font forks, the wheel is fixed in the straight forward position and can’t be altered as the kit comes, if you wanted to alter the angle of the front wheel the forks would need to be cut from the frame and repositioned along with the handle bars.

The small front brake calliper is attached along with the separate handle bars that have the two brake levers as fine etched parts, these are just butt glued to the underside of the handlebars so thicker cyanoacrylate is best to give added strength to the join. There is also a separate bell and this very small and round making it quite slippery to handle when removed from the sprue do take care.

The front and rear frame sub-assemblies can be joined together either in the folded position or extended in the riding position, the two are designed to simply glue together so you need to make a choice of final configuration with two small wing nuts added to the central frame join. There were no fit issues at all once the wheels had been assembled.

All that is needed to finish the model is add the brake cables from thin sprue, wire or whatever is preferred but remember the brake lines are not that flexible so only have sweeping bends and using wire makes it difficult to achieve this so a thin plastic of solder may make a better medium for the brake cables.

This is an excellent rendition of the BSA folding bike with the finesse of the frame mouldings and etched spoke wheels being a standout feature. The assembly once the wheels are done is quick and easy and you are ready use in any diorama setting preferable with the detail on bike being one of, if not the best I have seen for a bicycle kit with the fine frame mouldings and etched spokes giving a very good scale appearance.

This small kit should be welcomed by Allied modellers as it offers many possibilities for dioramas and not just for airborne as it was quite widely used. The inclusion of the two bicycles in the kit is a good bonus to double the fun.

Highly recommended 8/10

Guide to assembling the etched wheel spokes
and Build Detail Images
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The Sprues:

Sprue detail images
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Thanks to Hobbyeasy for the review kit.

Page created May 31, 2013

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