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BrowningBAR 09-22-2008 02:39 PM

Happy birthday you dirty S.O.B.!


mscuddy 09-22-2008 02:40 PM

The Cushman Airborne WWII Scooter
In the waining months of WWII, after the D Day invasion US Airborne troops needed something less than the standard Jeep to get themselves around on, while dodging German bullets and hiding in hedgerows waiting for supplies and replacements. The answer came from Cushman motor company, in the form of a motor-scooter that could be parachuted in along with the troops. The Cushman Airborne was designed to fill this gap, and help our Airborne troops get moving to the next battle.

Oops, bad drop...there's a Cushman under there somewhere...

The Army parachute folks made a serious miscalculation on how much the Cushman weighed (255 lbs) and as a result the scooter hit the ground with enough force to bend it in half, and render the machine useless.

Army intelligence being what it was, instead of correcting the mistake with a bigger parachute, the Army contracted Cushman to modify the Airborne with a large spring-loaded bumper that wrapped around the frame section of the scooter, adding another 50 lbs. in the process. So now when the Airborne hit the ground again, it not only bent the scooter in half, but the bumper too.

Cushman Airborne, circa 1944

Because of that the whole program was scrapped, and after the war the Airborne was modified with swing-arm rear suspension, sprung trailing link forks, and sold to the civilian community as "The Airborne". Many were bought by aircraft manufacturers and police forces to patrol airports and write parking tickets after the war ended.

Civilian Airbornes were sold on the pretense of being a "War Winner". Note the swingarm rear suspension & sprung front forks.

And yes, I had one, equipped with a side car. If you could get
traction, the bike would climb a brick wall. The Airborne had the ability to tow full sized automobikes and trucks, along with aircraft, from the extrame low gearing of the two speed sliding gear box.
Big baloon tires made up for any suspension.

The Airborne had the standard 4.5 hp "Husky" motor that employed a roller bearing crankshaft, oil pump, piston cooler and non-syncromesh 2 speed sliding gear transmission, with a foot clutch and hand operated shift rod. Top speed was 45 mph, fast enough to get you into big trouble with the rigid forks and frame.

Cushman produced the civilian model up until 1954, when demand for a newer design made the Airborne obsolete. Gone but not forgotten.

mscuddy 09-22-2008 02:56 PM

Thanks BAR, I'll have to scan a pic of my civi airborne, complete with sidecar and rifle scabbards.

sfcdjevans 09-22-2008 03:33 PM

You've done it again. Hey how did you get a pic of me on Sicily DZ? j/k

If you've ever had a chance to see stuff rigged for heavy drop or LAPES you'll just shake your head. It's even better when it makes contact with the ground. Ah to be young again.

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