World War II Harley-Davidson Models

Harley_Davdison_WLA_1942Harley Davdison WLA 1942Being one of only two motorcycle manufacturers in the United States to survive the Great Depression, Harley-Davidson produced bikes in large numbers for the US Army in World War II.

The most popular bike produced during this time was the WLA, part of the Harley-Davidson WL Line. Production of this specific model came to a halt at WWWII’s end, and resumed some production during Harley_Davidson_WLA_1944Harley Davidson WLA 1944the Korean War.

Harley-Davidson WLA Line 1942-1944

  • Flat-head, side-valve engine
  • 737 cm3 displacement
  • Carburetor fuel  system
  • 3-speed
  • Drum brakes
  • 562 lbs
  • 3.3 gallon tank
  • “A” Stands for Army
  • Won Army-Navy “E” Awards in 1943 & 1944

Competition Accessories’ tells us an interesting fact in their blog entry, stating  “The long rumored tale of a warehouse full of unused WWII Harley-Davidsons is demonstrated to be a myth.” Read more about Motorcycling in America – 1990 here.

Harley_Davdison_XA_1941Harley Davidson XA 1941The United States Army also had a need for another bike similar to the features of a BMW R71. In 1942 Harley produced the shaft-driven Harley-Davidson XA which closely replicated the R71’s engine and drive train. This bike was entirely different from any other Harley model, and remains the only shaft-driven Harley ever put into production.

“Born To Ride

There are a variety of biker films produced over the years, but only one that truly showcases the usage of bikes in the World War II era. Take a look at this film, Born To Ride, with John Stamos as a young rebel Harley rider who also happened to ride a WWII Harley-Davidson model.

Harley Davidson XA Line 1941-1942

  • Twin cylinder
  • 729 cm3
  • Carburetor fuel system
  • Shaft-Driven
  • Drum Brakes

Today, Harley is still heavily involved with the United States Military. Besides motorcycle production, you can find a number of ways that Harley honors our troops on their website. Harley’s HeroesHarley_Davidson_XA_1942Harley Davidson XA 1942 supports Disabled American Veterans, providing their Mobile Service Office to those who need help to show their appreciation and support for those that have fought for our country. Stories from the Soldiers is also featured in this section of their website, which allows the reader to connect with troops who are Harley Riders as well as Heroes. There are also sections involving Harley’s tour with Bikes Over Baghdad, an Overseas Military Sales Program, and Harley-Davidson’s history with the military.

Courtesy of

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