Forces TV

Forget Street Hawk - Meet the RAF's 'Super' Powered Bike

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a paratrooper's 98cc motorbike

To celebrate Street Hawk premiering tonight at 10pm on Forces TV, we’ve dug out on favourite military motorbike, the Welbike.

Footage from WJHJ. Images from Imperial War Museum.

Developed in Station IX alongside the Welrod and Sleeve Gun, it was deployed with British paratroopers from 1942 and saw use in Operation Market Garden.

Built by Excelsior Motor Company of Birmingham, it was used in WWII from 1942-1945 by the UK’s airborne forces. They were designed to fit into a standard parachute airdrop container (51”-15”-12”) and assembled by troops on the ground.

It had a 98cc engine which could make roughly 30mph and a range of 90 miles from its 3.7 litre fuel tank.

While it sounds great, it did suffer from a number of problems and ended up being fairly insignificant to the war effort.

Because it was so much lighter than the troops, it would very rarely land in the same place. If it was anywhere near you, you’d have to get it out of whichever tree it ended up in and then build it, without getting killed.

Additionally, the small tires and ground clearance meant getting it through a war zone was nigh on impossible.

By the time the improvements came in on the mark 2 chutes had developed to the point where normal bikes could be put into conflict zones and the Welbike was retired, to go on and become the 2 Speed Corgi Scooter.

Make sure you check out WHJH for events, vehicles and restoration of WW2 vehicles.

Street Hawk starts at 10pm tonight on Forces TV. Available on Sky 264, Virgin 277, Freesat 165 & Freeview 96