Velocette MAC (WD)
||1940 to 1945
||349cc, OHV air cooled single
||15bhp @ 6300rpm
||Four speed chain final drive
||Front 7-inch sls drum, Rear 6-inch sls drum
||(Front)3.25 x 19, (Rear) 3.50 x 19
||355 pounds (161 kg) (dry)
Velocette MAC (WD) was a British military motorcycle made by Velocette. A single cylinder, the MDD could cope well with battlefield conditions but Velocette's limited production facilities meant it was a difficult to keep up production and by September 1942 the MDD order was cancelled and the factory turned over to other War work.
The Velocette MAC was launched in 1933 and had a 350 cc single cylinder engine which could reach 75 mph (121 km/h). In October 1939 a Velocette MAC was purchased by the British War Office Army Mechanisation Experimental Establishment (MEE) at Cove in Hampshire for testing its suitability for military use. As well as British observers there were also representatives of the French Army present. The tests were successful but a number of modifications were suggested and in 1940 the Velocette MAC was modified into a military specification. Velocette's first order for military version the was from the French Government but the contract for 1,200 motorcycles was cancelled and only a few were delivered before the French were over run by the advancing German Army. The British War Department asked for some further modifications and took over the French order in June 1940. The Velocette was designated the MAC (WD), the WD coming from "War Department", although it was often referred to as the MDD as this was the prefix for the serial numbers..
The MAC (WD) had an upgraded clutch and the pressed-steel front brake drum was replaced by cast iron fittings which became standard for the later MAC models, due to the shortage of aluminium which was needed for aircraft manufacture. Other modifications included a protective shield bolted to the frame over the crankcase. A strong carrying rack replaced the rear pillion seat and the headlamp was masked to comply with blackout regulations.
The Velocette MAF had the foot gear change mechanism reversed to make it the same as the other military motorcycles in use at the time. An order for 2,000 was placed in June 1941 but problems with Velocette's supplies and the limited production facilities meant that it was a difficult order to fulfil. By September 1942 they had only delivered 947 motorcycles and the order was cancelled. As there were a fairly small number in service both the Velocette MAC (WD) and the improved MAF were largely used by British-based forces, including the Fire Service and Civil Defence organisations, as well as the Royal Air Force.
The 'missing' motorcycles
A myth persists that a large consignment of Velocette MAC (WD) intended for use in France was lost in the English Channel while being delivered. An order for 200 MAC (WD)'s was placed in July 1940 for delivery to the Central Ordnance Department at Chilwell but the order was never fulfilled, probably due to lack of capacity at the Velocette factory.
After the war when MAC (WD)'s were returned to civilian use they often had the MDD engine and serial numbers ground off and replaced with later numbers, reinforcing the idea that they had been mysteriously lost without trace. Velocette MAC production restarted and continued in production until 1960.
Notes and references
Click Link to go to a review of the Military Velocette..by RealClassic.co.
Click Link to go to a Review of the MAC.
Click Link to go to a review of a MAC.