BSA AIRBORNE 1st PATTERN:
ORIGINAL MANUFACTURER’S DRAWINGS
The overwhelming majority of the 70,000 Airborne bicycles manufactured were the later model with a single seat tube.
This is the first design, a lightweight version with a twin seat tube. Few were made. It was built in a hurry, to strict weight criteria. Like many innovations introduced during the war, in reality it was a prototype, and it proved to be too weak to withstand rough use. So the 2nd Pattern did not feature the unique duplex seat tube, which meant that it weighed more but was stronger.
1942 WW2 BSA Airborne Bicycle, 1st Pattern:
Early Twin Tube Model
Frame Number R4154
BSA Model 40 Saddle
This example comes from the collection of a longtime collector, and is one of the best original, unrestored 1st Pattern Airbornes to have survived. Days after it arrived, it was already earning its keep, being filmed for a TV programme to be aired in spring 2016. It can be seen here inside a bomber ready to be dropped over France…
THE FIRST PATTERN BSA AIRBORNE
The duplex seat tubes are too narrow to mount a BSA transfer (decal) as on the 2nd Pattern BSA Airborne. So the only transfer on this model is the Broad Arrow and patent detail on the headstock (below)
SEAT TUBE MOUNT
The early model’s double seat tube can not be easily discerned in a side profile picture. But shape of the top of the seat tube (above) can be easily seen. The seat tube mount is markedly different. The saddle actually fits into an extra tube fitted behind the twin seat tube, a radical departure from conventional bicycle design of the time.
BSA ‘MODEL 40’ SADDLE
ORIGINAL HANDLEBAR GRIPS
BSA AIRBORNE BRAKES
WAR GRADE TYRES:
DUNLOP WAR GRADE FRONT
CRUISER WAR GRADE REAR
POSTWAR: BSA AIRBORNE ARMY SURPLUS SALES
ORIGINAL TOOLBAG & BSA TOOLS
FILMING: THE HISTORY OF FOLDING MILITARY BICYCLES
LOCATION: WINGS MUSEUM
Near Balcombe, West Sussex