Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bersaglieri Motociclisti, Part 1

I've been working on East Germans for a few weeks now, so I felt like a change. Back to WWII Italians for North Africa. In my opinion, one of the most interesting units in the Italian Army was (and indeed still is) the Bersaglieri and without a doubt, their most colorful troops were the Motociclisti. The motorcycle troops used for reconnaissance: 
What could possibly be more dashing than soldiers, with black capercaillie feathers waving, racing across the desert on powerful motorcycles? Well, I think so anyway. Almost Indiana Jonesish!!

Their motorcycles were big, powerful Moto Guzzi 500's, called Alce ("Elk") capable of a top speed of 56mph, which if you've ever been on a large bike going off-road, is very fast indeed. The Alce wasn't designed for racing or to be lightning fast. It was designed to be a heavy, durable, military scouting motorcycle that could take a lot of abuse and keep on going:
Oddly, it also had a mounting between the handlebars for a Breda model 30 light machine gun, a weapon renoun for it's fragility and incessant jamming:
At least two in every squad were equipped this way. Bouncing around on a motorcycle must've made it virtually unuseable. In addition, trying to deal with a finicky weapon while driving must've had a heavy impact on road safety. 

But in spite of any weaknesses, the Italians were undaunted and so shall I be! We HAVE to have a Motociclisti unit!! However, there is one problem. Oddzial Osmy makes only two types of motorcycle models. A German BMW R75 motorcycle/sidecar combination:
And a British despatch rider that's only available as part of the 8th Army HQ pack:
In other words, nothing that looks even vaguely like a Moto Guzzi. Having done some online research on appropriate TO&E's, the Moto Guzzis equipping any given Bersaglieri Motociclisti unit were about 1/3 with sidecars and 2/3 without sidecars (if there was a passenger, they usually rode pillion and not in a sidecar); a problem, given the available O8 models. So, like all great military commanders in history who were faced with a serious and insoluble problem, I will totally ignore it and forge blindly ahead!! We use the BMWs. 

I'd like to make a Motociclisti company and in time I will, but for now I'll probably leave it at one platoon, as I have just enough BMWs to accomplish that. Some research has shown me that I will need a platoon HQ stand, and 2 motorcycle squads, and from a company level, I'll do a platoon of 4 heavy machine guns and an anti-tank rifle squad. The MG platoon should have its own command stand, but I'll just include that on the platoon stand. 

Ok, we will continue this after I mount some BMWs on stands and prime them. More next time!

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