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Harley-Davidson
WLA Motorcycle

The Harley-Davidson WLA was an American motorcycle made for the US Army during World War II. It was based on a civilian design with certain features added to meet Army specifications. Production started as the US was gearing up for war in 1940 and ramped up significantly after Pearl Harbor. More than 88,000 were made during the war years and a large number ended up with the Soviets under the Lend-Lease program. The US Army used them for police work, scouting, courier and escort duty, rarely using them in combat. The WLA sported a 45 cubic-inch Harley-Davidson 45-degree V-twin engine that could push the bike to speeds up to 70 mph. The militarized features of the WLA included olive drab paint, blued or parkerized metal parts, blackout lights, ammo boxes, a substantial luggage rack, a scabbard for a Thompson submachine gun on the front fork, modified fenders to prevent mud buildup, saddlebags, metal leg shields, an oil bath air cleaner and a modified crankcase air breather to allow the bike to ford up to 16 inches of water.


Sources: Doyle, David. U.S. Military Vehicles Field Guide. Iola, WI: KP Books, 2005.
"Harley Davidson WLA Military Motorcyle." Olive-Drab.com. January 4, 2010. Oct. 6, 2012. http://www.olive-drab.com/idphoto/id_photos_harleywla.php3