The BMW R12 was a civilian design but became one of the most widely used motorcycles by the German forces of WWII with 36,000 produced between 1935 and 1942 in both single and twin Carburettor form.
The R12 had a 745cc four stroke two cylinder flat twin engine with a maximum power output of 18hp and was capable of 85km/h on good roads. The R12 was well liked being reliable, fast and easily maintained and was used as a solo cycle or fitted with a sidecar which was not powered like those on the later R75 Military Motorcycle.
When in military use an MG34 could be mounted at the front of the sidecar as with other military motorcycles but not all R12/sidecar combinations had the MG fitted. Also more lightweight fenders were later fitted to reduce the mud build up of the larger civilian fenders.
This new kit from IBG Models represents a civilian BMW R12 with the larger front fenders fitted and has the standard sidecar although not the initial stylish civilian design seen in early R12 photos
The kit has just 105 parts in light gray plastic as well as a small decal and instruction sheet for a fairly basic kit by today’s multimedia standards.
I don’t have any reliable plans or other dimensional info on the R12 so won’t make any comments on this during the review, just on the contents and hopefully this info will become available later.
The standard of moulding is unfortunately not up to current standards with overly thick parts and substantial sprue attachment points that leads to a lack of some detail as well as dimensional issues where parts have been resized to fit, the most notable being the wheels and fenders, more on this below. There is some flash and a few sink marks to contend with but mostly the chunky nature of the parts leaves an overall feeling of heaviness.
The fit of the parts is not the best as there are no actual locating pins/holes, just some small raised marks for butt joining the parts while others have no indication at all where they should go making things a little difficult and using the painting guide drawings or other references is the only way of aligning these correctly.
Alternate parts in the kit give you the single or twin carburettor setup as well as being able to build the solo R12 or add the sidecar for a bit of variety, but no crew figures are included.
This has the main engine block in seven parts with each cylinder in three parts; the two sides and rocker cover with finely done cooling ribs. The fit of the cylinder parts is good provided you ensure the mating surfaces are smooth leaving just a very fine join which doesn’t mar the appearance of the ribs very much at all.
As mentioned you are provided with alternate single or twin carburettors and you should choose which is to be used and add the appropriate parts as per the instructions, these fit without any problems.
If using the single carburettor there is additional piping that has to be added but not included in the kit, this piping is not used for the twin carburettor setup.
The assembled engine is trapped between the main chassis frames along with three small cross members but it’s a little tricky to get all these lined up between the frames at the same time. I found it easier to glue the cross members and the three part fuel tank to one frame beforehand for easier fitting. You are provided with a gear change cable for between the moulded on gear lever on the frame and gear box but this was too short on my kit and replacing this with wire would be better.
You have to make a choice here if you are building a solo bike or using the sidecar as there are alternate differential covers for each. For the solo bike use part A14 or part A15 for the sidecar as this has a locating hole for the sidecar mounting frame.
There is an issue if building the solo bike as the retractable stand is not provided and you will need to make this from wire or plastic rod and fit to the underframe just in front of the rear wheel.
The assembled rear wheel also has to be fitted between the frames along with the rear fender and drive shaft. The two small knee pads on the upper edge of the frame has the letters BMW included which are not too oversized but light sanding could give a more subtle appearance? A decal is provided for the BMW badge is on the side of the frame.
The foot plates added to the frame are again rather thick and thinning these will improve the appearance.
Care is needed when cleaning the small mould seam from the rider’s seat mounting springs to not damage the detail and you could improve the look by replacing these with thin coiled wire or even real springs of the appropriate size.
The rider’s and pillion seats are added along with the two exhaust pipes but take care of the part numbers as they are different either side due to the offset cylinder banks, there is also the small battery to add on the left side and the rear luggage pouch should you wish to add this.
The rear wheel mud guard is in two halves and you should eliminate the join seam before fitting to the bike frame with the luggage rack and supports added at the back but these are again rather chunky and basic in appearance.
Added to the rear of the fender is the licence plate and small light but there is no locating marks and you must determine the correct position yourself
All that is needed on the assembled engine and frame is the addition of the spare plug wires and other smaller wiring to finish off the engine.
These are moulded with the spokes and rims in two halves and the separate tyre is in three segments sandwiched together to form the tyre as we have seen in other kits recently to give good tread pattern definition. Unfortunately the spokes are very thick giving a very chunky appearance, added this is the thickness of the fender mouldings resulting in the tyres themselves being too narrow.
You also have to shave off the raised rib around the outer rim to fit the tyre as the tyre segments won't fit properly with the rib intact.
But we are left with narrow tyres and overly thick spokes resulting in a poor appearance for the wheels. Due to the rim and tyre being separate it is possible with a little extra work to re-spoke the rims with thin wire to improve the appearance.
You could also thin down the plastic spokes with a sharp #11 blade and extreme care but this is quite time consuming and I found a re-spoke took less time if you wanted to go this path? When joining the two rim/spoke halves together the spokes must be offset from each other for the correct appearance.
You must also take note of the different numbered rim halves for each wheel to not mix these up as the rims/hubs are different for each of the four wheels but the final wheels as mentioned are compromised by being too thin as well as the overly thick spokes as they come.
This sub-assembly can be assembled separate from the main cycle and fitted at final assembly and goes together fairly easily although the fit of the two mounting plates (parts A34, A35) was quite vague and ensuring the lower plate (A35) was securely glued to one fork before assembly will make things easier.
The thickness of the fenders is most apparent at the front as is the corresponding narrow tyre to fit inside the fender but there is little you can do other that thin the fender and replace the wheel/tyre.
Location of the headlight is again rather vague but there is a small decal provided for the instrument dial face. There are no locating points for the front number plate or the front wheel itself. The forks are meant to just butt join to the left side axle and against the brake drum on the right side which is rather vague.
The handle bars are moulded quite thin but have substantial mould seams to be removed and these just attach to the top attachment plate (A34),
Fitting the assembled front section to the bike frame required some trimming as the gap between the two mounting plates (parts A34, A35) was less that the height of the pivot point on the front of the frame. This meant I had to trim down the pivot point and glue the forks into position negating the ability to reposition the forks.
The control cables could be added to the handle bars for a better appearance.
The sidecar frame is moulded in one piece ensuring it is nice and square with the springs, mounting posts and wheel guard added and apart from the moulding seams everything went together without problems.
There are again quite substantial mould seams to be removed, especially on the spring units and no locating points for the lights on the fender which again is rather thick along with the others.
The sidecar gondola is in two halves with separate rear top panel along with moulded on inner duckboards but the fit of the seat was not good and had to be reduced in width to fit properly. Also the join between the two gondola halves may need a little filler here and there.
There is also the spare wheel mounting and spare wheel added to the back of the sidecar and two support arms when attaching the sidecar to the bike. When fitting to the bike the rear frame is located into the hole in the diff cover and the front frame and two supports attached to the bike frame.
You should ensure to support the sidecar and bike while the glue dries to get the correct alignment to finish off the assembly.
The small decal sheet has number plates for 2 civilian and 2 Wehrmacht R12s as well as unit insignia and the speedometer dial for the head light plus the BMW emblems for the frame or sidecar to add the final touch.
This is a fairly basic model of the BMW R12 motor cycle by today’s standards with quite thick mouldings throughout, a fair bit of cleanup needed and not very precise location on the parts.
As mentioned the thickness of the wheel spokes and the narrow tyres due to the thickness of the fenders is the most obvious shortcoming with the overall feeling being of a model with very heavy detail.
The choice of single or twin carburettors and the ability to build a solo or sidecar bike does give some appeal and the final model does look like a BMW R12 but unfortunately there is not a lot more to recommend.
|Heavy Sidecar Motorcycles of the Wehrmacht 1935-1945
Tank Power Vol.LXVIII
Wydawnictwo Militaria No.300
|German Military Motorcycles in the Reichswehr and Wehrmacht 1934-1945 Schiffer Publications
|Motorcycles of the Wehrmacht
Thanks to for the review kit.