British BSA M20 Motorcycle
w/Military Police

Tamiya 1:35 Scale Kit No. 35316
Review by Terry Ashley

The BSA (Birmingham Small Arms Company) M20 was a British wartime development of the civilian K-M20 (W-M20) models with the same 500cc (469cc) single cylinder side valve 4 stroke engine developing 13bhp @ 4,200 rpm. The M20 was built between 1937 and 1955 with a number of small developments incorporated throughout the production models.

The M20 was used by all arms of the British Military used mainly as a general purpose motorcycle for convoy escort and dispatch messaging and saw service in most theatres the British were involved in and continued in production long after the war until discontinued in 1955.

The Kit:
This new kit of the BSA M20 from Tamiya appears to represent the 1942 model with the removal of the number plates and fork dampeners added to the front forks and the inclusion of the black-out headlight.

The kit consists of just 49 parts on olive drab plastic on two sprues to provide the motorcycle with two Military Police figures along with some personal gear and two Sten Mk.II submachine guns. There is also a small decal sheet and some printed road signs on the box ends to use as depicted on the box art.

The standard of moulding is very good with virtually no flash or pin marks apparent and cleanly done detail on the parts and the figures with just the usual mould seam lines to contend with but the level of detail on the motorcycle is very basic to say the least. The motorcycle itself is made up of 20 parts and has just three parts for the main engine/frame/wheel assemblies which results in a distinct lack of detail definition. This is most noticeable are the wheels that have the mud guards moulded with the wheels with no gap between them and the spokes also in moulded plastic.

The result is grossly over scale spokes and way too few spokes to boot and the tyre tread is almost non-existent with the wheels being very poorly done compared to recent Allied motorcycle wheels in kits from Bronco Models and Miniart and German Motorcycles from Great Wall Hobby and Vulcan all of which include etched spokes and separate mud guards for improved detail.

Added to this the surface details are also very basic with a distinct lack of rivets, screw heads and other detail on the parts as well as all the pedals other than the starter pedal being moulded with the frame again resulting in a lack of definition and will require considerable work to bring the detail un to contemporary motorcycle kits.

After fitting together the 3 main parts there are four one piece frame parts added to the front forks and rear body to complete the main motorcycle assembly and again the level of detail is quite basic due to everything being moulded as single parts, you do get a decal for the instrument dial to add a bit of detail but the raised lip around the dial is missing. Added to this assembly are the separate handle bars and head light, the fuel exchange pipe, top tank and the two seats again lacking smaller details? There is the stater pedal and single exhaust pipe will need to be drilled out for a better appearance and the rear mounted light/plate assembly and side pannier frames are considerably over scale in appearance.

While this all in one approach results in a lack of detail the assembly is very quick and easy with the whole bike going together in about 30 minutes after part clean-up and has all the basics of the M20 included for additional detailing or a quick build if the lack of detail isn’t of concern.

The two Military Police figures sees one rider figure and one standing figure with both broken down in the conventional manner with separate legs, torso, head and arms with additional helmets and sand goggles. The standing figure has two sets of arms so you have a choice of four poses if you mix and match the arms while the seated figure conforms to the seat contours but his right foot doesn’t actually meet the ground with the bike in the normal upright position.

Detail on the uniforms is nicely done with good definition although the mould seams are a little prominent and care will be needed when cleaning up, the fit is good overall but some minor trimming of the arm joins may be needed?

Included with the figures are two nicely done Sten Mk.II SMGs and a map case for the rider, the strap for the Sten is moulded with the rider figure but not on the standing figure as depicted on the box top so would have t0o add this yourself if using the gun with the figure. The decal sheet has a selection of arm and helmet MP bands to use as required.

Also included is a plastic sign post with printed French road signs on the box flaps for you to cut out and use as required for a ready made vignette in the box.

The small decal sheets has Divisional and Unit markings for three M20s although only one is identified in the instructions, that being  for the 5th Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment, 43rd, (Wessex) Infantry Division, 1944.


The level of detail on the motorcycle is very basic indeed by contemporary standards with a distinct lack of definition due to the main engine/frame and wheel/fenders being moulded as single pieces, the treatment of the wheel spokes is from last century and considerable work will be needed to bring the model up to current standards of detail presentation.

But having said all that assembly is very quick and easy and it’s a lot better than the plastic BSA M20 we didn’t have last week and provides plenty of scope for modellers to -  well model.

The inclusion of the figures and road signs is a nice bonus and can be used with the bike or elsewhere as you see fit.

Rating 7/10

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
Sprue detail images
Close new window to return to review
Build Detail Images

Various Internet image reference pages

Thanks to my credit card and Rainbow Tenfor the review Kit.

Page created November 9, 2011

Back to Top