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Model 18

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A fairly unusual addition to the "military" range of Norton motorcycles was the 490cc OHV Norton Model 18.

During the Spanish civil war (1936 to 1939) the Spanish Republican Forces fighting against Nationalist Forces of general Franco bought a number of Norton Model 18's, both solo and sidecar machines. Because of the arms embargo to supply military goods to the fighting factions in Spain they were not bought directly from the Norton factory but illegally acquired through the Paris based, French Norton dealer Psalty. In total, the Spanish Republicans received around 268 solo machines and 40 sidecar combinations in a period between Jan 1937 thru January 1939, according to Spanish army records. Norton Assembly books corroborate this number but show that the machines were actually built between January and December 1937.
They were delivered in the standard civilian colour scheme. The machines were basically civilian models but additionally provided with a centre stand and a wide (8 1/16") crankcase shield as also seen on the India Office WD16H's of the period.  Some of the machines are provided with what appear to be Dunlop saddle covers.


 

In September 1939, with the start of the "Phoney war", tensions in Europe were rising and the various British motorcycle factories were asked to supply whatever they had to boost the complement of motorcycles required to fit out the expanding British Army and the British Expeditionary Forces on the continent.  
Norton apparently responded by supplying 89 Model 18 machines, built between September 4th and September 12th,  which based on the frame numbers appear to have been built, at least partly, using military WD16H frames.  55 of the machines have a frame number designated for WD16H contract C3655. One of these frames has surfaced in recent years and was proven to be a standard WD16H frame.
It is not clear whether these 89 machines were aquired as "impressed machines" or made to order, especially because they were using designated WD16H frames. It is also not known whether the original number of 1601 machines for C3655 were actually delivered on the contract as being WD16H. Proof has been found for delivery for just over 1000 machines but the remaining are missing from the presently available wartime administration.
One of the 89 machines had a frame number in the range used in 1938. All others were between 100720 and 107591.

All engine numbers were from 1939 between 94816 and 98121.

Pictorial evidence shows that the Model 18's specifically made for the military were a mix of military and civilian parts as can be seen on picture below. The frame is military WD16H based on side stand and vertical saddle studs. The rear chain guard shows a tyre pump which was a typical 1939 civilian modification. The handlebar appears to have the rubber mounting and may be the civilian 7/8th inch version. NiFe battery fairly common for military MC's of the period.

Burnt out 3rd Div.  Model 18 in "de Panne" a seaside resort in Belgium after Operation Dynamo (The Dunkirk retreat).
 

The most well known pictures of model 18 machines are a sequence showing a 1st battalion Grenadier Guardsman, 7th Guards Brigade, with a Model 18 clearly of 1938 civilian provenance, shown by the "cows udder" silencer and side mounted saddle springs as well as the rubber mounted handlebars. The bike also lacks any side stand bracketry typical for military MC's. The only modification has been the use of military style front forks (without the shock absorber hand wheel and including the bump stops). Unfortunately there is no registration number on it.
It is completely painted over including nuts and bolts making a civil built MC/impressed MC very likely.
 

 publicity picture, a Guardsman of 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards, 7th Guards Brigade, 3rd Division, 1941

I reconstructed a possible military specification for the military Mod 18 MC's
 

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