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R75 Kit

ESCI 1/9 BMW R75 Motorcycle Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review July 2006 Manufacturer ESCI
Subject BMW R75 Motorcycle Scale 1/9
Kit Number 7008 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Great scale for the bifocal modeler! Cons  
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

R75 Kit
R75 Kit
R75 Kit
R75 Kit
R75 Kit
R75 Kit
R75 Kit
R75 Kit

In 1916, two of Germany’s premier aircraft companies merged, and the new company was renamed Bavarian Motor Works, or more commonly referred to as BMW. Their logo was meant to resemble a white airplane propeller against a blue sky. However, the new company would soon be grounded with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

Although deeply committed to aircraft engineering, Max Fritz reluctantly looked to motorcycle productions to help cure the company’s economic woes. Within just four short weeks this engineering skill had produced the blueprints of what would become the “flat-twin” or Boxer engine, first produced in 1921.

Improvements over the next two years included a driveshaft an the characteristic transversely mounted engine. This was a design that gave greater airflow over the cooling fins, not to mention that it had a lower center of gravity. Finally, released in 1923, the R32 became the foundation for nearly all future BMW motorcycle designs.

During this era, BMW also began to excel in racing, winning its first national championship after only one year in the racing business. In 1928, BMW’s Ernst Henne began a streak of world-renowned record-breaking sessions, hitting 134 mph in 1929. In the short span of eight more years, Henne would again break the land-speed record with the astounding speed of 173 mph! Finally, by 1941 the company began to meet the demands of Germany’s military effort by creating the R75, the quintessential WWII motorcycle. This bike traveled on small wheels and knobby tires, and could even pull a sidecar at 60 mph! These motorcycles were found to be able to navigate hastily built corduroy roads in Russia. In the vanguard of the Blitzkrieg, such cycles roared ahead of Panzer columns and motorized infantry outfits to check out roads, locate enemy troop dispositions and relay the information back to the main units. Before Rommel went to Africa, his motorcycle troops practiced with their bikes in Poland on arid sandy roads. However, they found Africa’s terrain to be much tougher to drive in. BMW R/75’s were also paired to sidecars on which was usually mounted a machine gun.

By 1945, the war had turned against Germany. Max Fitz left BMW and due to post-war manufacturing restrictions the company was forced to survive by repairing Allied Army vehicles. However, by 1948 BMW was back in the motorcycle business. During the next few decades, BMW made significant technical strides in the production of motorcycles. This included new suspensions, more fuel efficient engines, and using rubber engine mounts in order to cut down vibrations.

The kit comes in a large tray and lid type box. The box art shows a BMW R/75 A/1 in overall Panzer gray with Wehrmacht license plates and bedecked with a steel helmet, MP-40 machine pistol and pioneer gear. One side panel shows four other 1/9th scale military motorcycle kits marketed by ESCI: a BMW R/75 with sidecar, a Harley-Davidson WLA-45 solo, a Zundapp KS-750 with sidecar and a Triumph 3HW solo.

A second side panel shows three other 1/9th scale offerings: a NSU K-101 Kettenkrad, a Zundapp KS-750 solo and a VW Type 82 Kubelwagen.

Inside the box are seven trees of parts in two cello bags. One bag holds three large trees of dark Panzer gray styrene parts. The second bag holds one large tree of silver styrene parts, one tree of black vinyl parts, another tree of dark Panzer gray parts and a tree of clear parts.

There are two vinyl tires, a bag of metal springs and lengths of wire, the decal sheet and the instructions that complete the kit’s contents.

The instructions consist of a large sheet that accordion-folds out into eight pages.

Page one begins with written description of various types of camouflage used on BMW R/75’s. This is followed by a black and white repeat of the box art and general cautions for us to carefully follow and study the instructions as you build. Good advice, because this kit is quite complex.

Page two is the parts tree drawings. These will have to be constantly referred to, as there are NO numbers molded next to the parts.

Pages three though seven give us a total of 22 assembly steps.

Page eight gives the painting and markings drawings.

The decal sheet gives markings for the BMW logo and stencil marks, speedometer face, Wehrmacht, SS and Luftwaffe license plate numbers, steel helmet decals for these three outfits – plus ones for Field police. With individual numbers provided, you can even create your own license plate numbers. Tactical marks are included and divisional markings for:

  • The 73rd Infantry Division
  • The 376th Infantry Division
  • The 20th Panzer Grenadier Division
  • The 4th Falshirmjager Division

A noticed omission is any division markings for the SS, other than SS license plates.

The parts trees on the instruction drawings are numbered sequentially. The first Panzer gray tree to use holds: fenders, frame members, gas tank, front fork parts etc. (39 parts). This tree is numbered on the parts tree drawings as one through 36 (with some parts being duplicates).

The second tree to use is the silver one. It holds all the parts for the engine, exhaust, muffler, and some tools (67 parts) Shown numbered as 37 to 98 on the drawings.

The third tree to use is the largest Panzer gray one. It holds: saddle bag, rolled tarp, seat supports, front fender side pieces, some frame members, gas mask canister, canteen, Steel helmet with leather insert, shovel, MP-40 machine pistol etc. (50 parts) Shown numbered as 99 to 138.

The fourth tree to use is Panzer gray. It holds: siren face plate, fender supports, muffler perforated shield, license plates, shift levers, luggage rack parts, head-light lens black-out cover etc. (45 parts) Numbered as 139-179.

The fifth tree to use is the clear parts. These are the headlight and tail-light lenses and the speedometer lens (5 parts) Numbered as 180-184.

The sixth tree to use is the black vinyl parts. This tree holds: some plumbing, bicycle seats and equipment straps with buckles (28 parts) Numbered 185-203.

The seventh tree to use is a small Panzer gray one that just holds the spoked wheels. (4 parts) Numbered 204-206.

The metal springs are provided to be used inside the front forks and under the seats. The wire provided is to be cut into various lengths for electrical lines and any fluid lines. You get lengths of wire with black or white sleeving.

There is an option of two different air filters in the kit. One is as was used in the dusty climate of North Africa and the other for the European front. However, as far as I can see, there is NO division markings for an outfit that was in North Africa. I may be wrong there though.

This kit, and the others shown on the box’s side panels are no longer offered by ESCI. The company went out of business and all of the 1/9th scale molds were sold. However,
DML Dragon sells the BMW R/75 solo with a vinyl Falschimjager figure (the figure is vinyl and a new Dragon mold). Revell of Germany has the Kubelwagen Type 82 for sale.
Revell of Germany also has the Zundapp KS-750 with side car. Finally, Italeri has the British Triumph. These are currently available again. Some of the other offerings fo appear in re-release by one or the other of these firms. ERTL had the molds for a short period before these others, but no longer does.

ESCI had a 1/9th scale styrene figure of a Wehrmacht soldier. He is posed quite stiffly at almost an ATTENTION stance. This kit has never appeared in re-release since ESCI folded by anyone. The BMW R/75 with side car also was sold by ESCI, at one time, in civilian markings. This was over-all, high-gloss, jet black with silver pin stripe decals. I had the kit, but sold it.

This kit is very detailed. I built one of these years ago. I won a few IPMS contest trophies for it and then sold it to a fellow club member who offered me a price I could not refuse. I later lamented the fact that I had sold it and recently bought this second kit from a private vendor at a IPMS contest. He only wanted $10.00 for it. So, how could I refuse?

The kit is very highly recommended. Especially, if you have eyes like mine and wear tri-focals like me. Nice BIG parts. However, these 1/9th scale kits are not for the beginning modeler, due to their complexity.