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While researching the pre- and post-WW2 history of the R 35, I came across the question of where did the Russians get the M72? Was it back-engineered from a BMW R 71 that they acquired or was the R 71 part of a secret deal to swap raw materials for technology?
I found a bit of information on the UK Ural website. Peter Ballard had either done some research in the Russian archives or someone else had and he had some documents which he sent me. One of them, a 28-page pdf, is in Russian with plenty of photos and may shed some light on how they came across the R 71.
I tried optical recognition and conversion to text but, first the doc. is old and the print not very good and secondly, perhaps the language is old-fashioned and too technical for Dr Google. In any case, the result was useless.
Anyway, if someone fancies their chances, I'll send them the pdf. Peter Ballard is happy for it to be shared.
I hope I can attach a print screen here :
As a part of the infamous nonaggression pact signed by German foreign minister von Ribbentrop and Soviet foreign minister Molotov in 1939, was a section that we would today call a technology transfer, which included offering BMW's R71.
The Wehrmacht didn't actually like the R71, and had BMW keep producing the previous generation R12 until a purpose-built war motorcycle, the R75WH, came out in 1941 (along with the Zündapp KS750). The Wehrmacht felt that the R71 overheated too easily and the light-looking welded frame didn't seem like it would hold up to the rigors of war the way the pressed steel and rivetted frame of the R12 had already demonstrated.
Even so, the Soviets had already surreptitiously bought 5 R71s in Sweden, and were busy reverse engineering them. It's not clear which route led to the M72, or if both of them contributed.
It seems that the Soviets didn't have the ability or the desire to build the M72 to the same standards that BMW built the R71. Whenever you see a duded up M72 that someone is trying to sell as an R71, it's clear from the rough edges and castings what it is. But the M72 was clearly functional; they continued to make them until 1956, when they sold the production tooling to the Chinese.
The history of the R 35 is interesting at that period: manufactured first in Munich, moved to Eisenach, then stopped. Eisenach bombed and partially destroyed, captured by the Americans, transferred to the Soviets, who valued the BMW brand and allowed manufacture to continue in Eisenach, unusually, where it became EMW. All part of BMW's long history.