War Scooter — The Excelsior Welbike
Looking more like a mini motorcycle for a child than a piece of military equipment, the Excelsior Welbike was a scooter designed to give British paratroopers extra mobility during World War II. Originally the Welbike was intended for use by Special Operations Executive, the secret British agency founded to help resistance groups under German occupation. However the SOE found little use for the scooters, so the were issued to the British 1st and 6th airborne divisions as well a the Royal Marines and other commando units.
With its small size, the Welbike was perfect for airborne operations. In fact it was so small that one could fit in a standard British parachute airdrop container. It featured a 98 cc (6 cu inch) two stroke engine with a one gallon gas tank, which gave it a range of 90 miles. Fully fueled, it only weighed 71 pounds. 3,641 were produced from 1942 until 1945. After the war most were sold to civilians or exported to the United States.
The development and use of the Welbike inspired the Americans and Germans to create their own airborne scooters as well. In 1947, the inventor of the Welbike, Lt. Colonel John Dolphin, retired from the military and founded Corgi Motorcycle Co LTD and continued production for the civilian market. Another 27,050 were produced by Corgi Motorcycle Co. between 1947 and 1954.