Sometimes you find the odd photo or blurb of something really unique from World War 2, that gets your creative juices flowing, only to find further information not as forth-coming. Despite how well documented parts of WW2 are, it was a destructive conflict that happened over 70 years ago and some information is lost to the ages. That is the problem I faced after stumbling across a few tantalising photos when researching my Hungarians.
The photo below is the first one I found, that started the quest for information. It shows a Hungarian motorcycle platoon and clearly visible is a motorcycle with sidecar that has a mounted Solothurn S-18/1000 anti-tank rifle. Some of these motorcycle units were used in the initial force (the Gyorshadtest or 'Rapid Corps') sent to help the Germans invade the Soviet Union is 1941. These motorised infantry had integrated Solothurns as their anti-tank assets and it is one of these guns that I believe is seen here mounted on the sidecar.
These motorcycle units used civilian motorcycles that were pressed into service, because the Royal Hungarian Army did not have enough for it's requirements. They often wore the leather jackets and vests used by Hungarian tank crews and other motorised elements, along with M37 or M39 helmets, modelled on the Italian M35 helmet and mainly used for tank crews. The Solothurn is a 20mm anti-tank rifle of Swiss design that was used by a few countries during WW2.
Here is another photograph of a Hungarian motorcycle with a Solothurn ATR. It is labelled as pre-WW2 and it goes to show that this was no a new idea or one that was exclusive to the Hungarians. I have also seen photos or accounts of Soviet motorcycles with anti-tank rifles attached, as well as pre-war Danish versions to name but a few other examples.
To represent these units in Bolt Action, I used the German MMG Motorcycle as a template and we included it in the Unofficial Additional Hungarian Units PDF on our download page here. We left the cost as the same as the MMG Motorcycle, as often on softskin vehicles in Bolt Action, an ATR and a MMG are the same costs. This changes the unit's role quite a bit, from an infantry support platform, to a cheap, fast, light vehicle hunter.
From the Unofficial Additional Hungarian Units PDF,
Motorcycle with Solothurn 20mm Anti-tank Rifle Sidecar
The Hungarian army used motorcycles taken from civilian use to move troops into the wide expanses of Russia during the invasion in 1941. Some of these motorcycles used sidecars and mounted a Solothurn 20mm anti-tank rifle to help provide some firepower to these forward elements. Principle service: 1939-42.
Cost: 32pts (Inexperienced), 40pts (Regular), 48pts (Veteran)
Weapons: 1 forward-facing anti-tank rifle covering the front arc
Damage Value: 6+ (soft-skin)
• Turn on the spot: These motorbikes are so small and agile that they can turn on the spot enabling them to execute a full speed run rate ‘reverse’, finishing the move facing in the direction of travel.
I recently used this bike at Australia's largest wargaming convention, Cancon, at the start of the year, in the 2-day Bolt Action tournament. The ATR bike did pretty well for itself. While it was never a massive game-changer, it was cheap and provided a good nuisance to my opponent's battle plans. If they left it to scoot around getting side shots, it's anti-tank rifle could do some damage. If they directed fire to removing it, it could either recce away or it was at least attracting firepower away from my more expensive infantry or the more deadly Nimrod, which being open-topped is vulnerable to enemy fire.
I converted mine out of a Black Tree Designs Kradschutzen motorcycle, which the MG34 removed and a Warlord Games Italian Solothurn mounted in it's place, minus it's wheeled carriage. I removed the crew's heads and replaced them with heads from the Warlord Games Italian tank crew blister, to get the authentic looking tanker helmets that the Hungarian motorised infantry often used.
While these might not have been the most common sight in the Hungarian army during WW2, I felt like it was a cool and unique enough unit that I had to include it and it is further flavour for a Hungarian force to help distinguish it from it's peers.
If you have your own quirky unit you'd like to see in Bolt Action or an opinion on the Hungarian Motorcycle with Solothurn, why not leave a comment or come join the discussion on the forums or the Bolt Action Alliance facebook page.
"Anf" is a long-time gamer from Down Under, who currently focuses his hobby time on Bolt Action. With an equal love of rockets and Ice Hockey, he constantly explores weird and wonderful army lists in his never-ending quest to collect them all.