The Pre-1941 Triumph Motor Cycle Pages


From Peter Cornelius - Triumph Specialist for the VMCC - of Britain.


Military Models


1938 Model 3SW

Model 3HW


The Army and Royal Flying Corps (pre-RAF) first seriously used motor cycles in 1914 and Triumph's Models H became the backbone of such two-wheeled mechanised transport.
Following The Great War the military continued with such vehicles, and in the following years Triumph Models P, NP, N de Luxe and ND were purchased under War Department contracts. Notice that these were all steady reliable side-valve machines.

With the coming of the Second World War such current Triumph machines were militarised and the Model 3S became the Model 3SW (War Department). A few Models 5SW were also ordered.
With roads somewhat better in 1939 than they had been in 1914 (!) a slightly faster over-head model was also ordered in lesser numbers, and the Model 3H became the Model 3HW.

A new lightweight 350cc over-head valve twin-cylinder model was developed and three had been made prior to the destruction of the Triumph Works in November 1940. This was the Model 3TW. Production of the 3TW was not continued in the restricted premises used following the loss of the Works. Further production concentrated on the models for which machinery was able to be rescued from the remnants of the Works. These were the 3HW and 3SW models.

Brief Specifications and Variations

Model 3SW. 349cc s/v. 70mm bore X 89mm stroke. 12 bhp at 4,800 rpm.
Model 5SW. 493cc s/v. 84mm bore X 89mm stroke. 23 bhp at 5,000 rpm.
Model 3HW. 343cc ohv. 70mm bore X 89mm stroke. 17 bhp at 5,200 rpm.

Militarisation of a machine designed for the civilian market mainly meant not fitting such 'nicities' as tank instrument panels, and keeping the cost at the absolute minimum. Such basic tanks had already been manufactured for the 'Export' models.

I do not currently have enough details from surviving machines to be able to give an approximate figure for the production of individual models. Codes indicating month and year of assembly had been discontinued, and while the 'model year' was indicated with an engine number that does not indicate when it was assembled, for 1940 'models', for example, were starting to be assembled from around August or September 1939.
Therefore at this time the approximate figures which I have need to be 'refined' before I can release any figures.

Prior to the loss of the Works the 1940 production had included 5,440 Models 3SW and 1,488 Models 5SW for the home market, with a further 518 Models 5SW for export. Some of these may well have been still awaiting despatch when the bomb landed on the Works.

I currently have knowledge of ex-Military Models surviving in Britain, Canada, Greece, Holland, Poland and Indonesia.

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