Big Bang Ricochet 028: Russia's Ural IMZ-8.103 Gear Up

Reference - Military Vehicles
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Designer(s): Dana Jorgensen

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So... when exactly did the world finally give up on armed motorcycles as viable military vehicles? Ah. Back in World War II! The Germans had all those motorcycle sidecars fitted with machine guns. After the war, they just faded away. But wait... back in issue 23, we covered the Airborne Trooper Transporter, a Vespa armed with a 75mm recoilless rifle and that was in the 50's, so there were nations used armed bikes after the end of WW2! So when did the world stop arming motorcycles?

The world didn't. Don't worry, I thought the same thing. It was the Russians who proved me wrong. Back in WW2, they copied those German bikes, and they never really stopped using them. What happened is they were relegated to support status by the Cold War. The entire Cold War in Europe was engineered as an organized replay of WW2 with new toys for the big boys. Armed bikes really don't fit well with battle plans meant to pit thousands of main battle tanks against one another.

After the end of the Cold War, the newly reformed Russian Army realized that the world would never see another highly structured and organized war like WW2 again. From here on out, wars would be highly mobile, without front lines, skirmishing tactics utilizing small units and focusing on stongpoints in a region. They also realized they already had the perfect tool for the job, even if it was a bit dusty.

That's where the Ural IMX-8.103 Gear Up comes into play. A direct descendent of those German sidecar bikes of WW2, the Ural made its mark in Kosovo and today has become an important tool for recon, patrol and rescue missions, as well as airborne raids. They even use it as a tank killer in Chechnya!


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