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Veteran Riders

World War II Military Airborne Scooters

Cushman Military Scooter Recently, I went to Branson, Missouri and was lucky enough to stumble across a new military museum, appropriately titled, the Veterans Memorial Museum. Another retired army buddy of mine from Florida, Bob Hodges, joined me on the tour. One of the items that caught my eye at the museum was a perfectly restored, Military Airborne Model 53, Cushman scooter. It was an authentic airborne scooter, right down to the oil leak! Little is written about these scooters, so I thought it would be fun to assemble what I could find, publish it and ask you, our readers, to provide more information and photos for a future article.

First, I think it is best to provide a little history on the Cushman scooter. Everett Cushman and his cousin, Clinton, began their first business together producing farm engines, thus the founding of Cushman Motor Works around 1901-1902 in Lincoln, Nebraska. In order to sell more engines, Cushman installed one of the motors on a scooter, which began the scooter era for Cushman. They built two-wheel and three-wheel scooters from 1936 through 1965 for the public and the military. This lasted until the Japanese motorcycle imports began. They sold under additional names, such as Sears and Allstate and had slight modifications as in the step-thru models, which can be found today in many modern-named scooters. Probably the most famous Cushman was the Eagle, which started production around 1950-1951 and lasted until 1965. Many different models were manufactured, including three-wheel and four-wheel vehicles. Cushman is still in production in Lincoln, Nebraska, but they now produce industrial-type vehicles.

While fighting for freedom in World War II, a need for small, but quick transportation, which could be airdropped, was identified. This need was to fulfill a gap for quick and immediate exchange of communications between frontline airborne units and their rear headquarters organization, which was usually located behind the combat units by a few miles. Since the U.S. Army was already using Cushman scooters with the Cushman Husky engine at military facilities during WW II, they already had a good idea what they wanted for the airborne units. So, the U.S. Army Ordinance Corps put out a request to the automotive industry to design and produce a foldable, lightweight paratrooper transport scooter that was simple to operate, easy to maintain and could survive the impact of being airdropped.

A couple of military scooter models were quickly introduced - the United States Cushman with a channel iron frame and the United Kingdom Welbike. The Cushman civilian version pre-dated the war, and the Welbike was redesigned after the war and sold for civilian use as the popular Brockhouse Corgi. Even though they were cheap to buy, they were unpopular with the paratroopers, as the scooters were very unreliable, quite slow, and had a history of failing to start or breaking down within yards of the airborne unit’s drop zone. The paratroopers saw the motor scooters as a novelty gimmick and not worth the effort to unpack, once they hit the ground. However, if you have ever hit the ground using a parachute from WWII, I’m surprised they even started, let alone ran!

Today, Cushman is among the most revered brand names in the industry. Since the last ones were made in 1965, these scooters are not widely available, with the newest model being over thirty-nine years old. Their following is so faithful, that there are still a number of organizations devoted to the history and preservation of these scooters. A few lucky collectors even have some original models on display.

If you have any additional photographs or historical information on these scooters being used by the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions during WWII, please e-mail the information to me.


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Airborne Scooter Drop Bad drop for 101s AB WWII Cushman Military Ad
Cushman 1949 Civilian Model Ad Cushman Airborne Scooter Cushman Military Scooter 101st AB
Soldier and Military Scooter 101st AB Soldier and Military Scooter 101st AB Cushman Rifle Pak
Military Airborne Scooter Trailer E Celebration Program  
Veteran Riders

1/1/2014 - 16th Annual Veterans Ride - Grandview, Missouri

11/1/2013 - Vietnam Traveling Wall Escort – Tulare, California

7/1/2012 - 7th Annual Walk to Remember - Weston Missouri

2/1/2012 - 2011 Wreaths Across America - Milledgeville, Georgia

10/1/2011 - 4th Annual Thank a Vet Ride - Birmingham, Alabama

7/1/2011 - 6th Annual Walk to Remember - Weston Missouri

1/1/2011 - 5th Annual Walk to Remember - Weston, Missouri

1/1/2010 - National Veterans POW WOW & Indian Festival - Canton, Georgia

8/1/2009 - Gary Lemonds Ride for America Memorial Ride – Monroe, Georgia

7/1/2009 - 3rd Annual Georgia War Veterans Home Poker Run - Milledgeville, Georgia

6/1/2009 - Walk to Remember - Weston, Missouri

4/1/2009 - Snake Saturday Parade with the Patriot Guard Riders - North Kansas City, Missouri

1/1/2009 - Wreaths Across America

12/1/2008 - Roaring Thunder 2008 - Gordon, Georgia

10/1/2008 - CVMA Missouri Chapter 4-2 Support Our Veterans Run - Camdenton, Missouri

9/1/2008 - All Patriots Poker Run – Cameron, Missouri

8/1/2008 - All Patriots Poker Run – Springfield, Missouri

7/1/2008 - 10th Annual Ride for America - Monroe, GA

6/1/2008 - Ride to the Walk to Remember-Weston, Missouri

3/1/2008 - The Three Amigas - Bikers Serving in Iraq

1/1/2008 - Patriot Guard Riders Welcome Home Mission Spc Dalton Howard

1/1/2008 - Wreaths Across America Ceremony – Milledgeville, Georgia

12/1/2007 - A Soldier's Christmas

12/1/2007 - The Patriot Guard Riders Honor Spc. Michael Brown - A True, Real American Hero

11/30/2007 - Michael Dean Brown Obituary

11/30/2007 - Mission Report

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2/1/2007 - Motorcycling Reunites Former Crewmates

11/1/2006 - Patriot Guard Riders Honor Pfc. Shane Austin

9/1/2006 - Patriot Guard Riders Celebrate Their One-Year Anniversary

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12/1/2005 - Lest They Be Forgotten – Memorial Ceremony

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9/1/2005 - Veteran's Day Letter to Mary, Laura & Sarah

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6/1/2005 - POW – MIA Veteran Riders Motorcycle Club

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9/1/2003 - Individualism and Imagination: Part III

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