Today in Motorcycle History


Ariel W/NG 350

With the outbreak of WWII, Ariel developed the W/NG 350 (348cc) OHV single specifically for military use. Based on the Val Page designed Red Hunter model on which Fred Povey won the 1938 Scottish Six-Day-Trials, the W/NG entered production in 1940.

The French military immediately placed orders for the W/NG, but the British War Office only rated it as "fair – for use only in emergency purposes". Following the equipment losses suffered during the evacuation of Dunkirk in May 1940 the "emergency purposes" became necessary, and Ariel turned over as many motorcycles as possible to the war effort, including converting civilian machines – many of which still carried Ariel tank badges painted over in green or desert colours.

Ariel models VH & VG (500cc OHV single), NH & NG (350cc OHV single), and VB (598cc single) models were put into military service, although most were used for training and Civil Defense. The British Army, RAF, Ministry of Agriculture and Women's Land Army all used Ariel W/NG 350's

Ariel supplied W/NG 350cc motorcycles from 1940 to 1945 which featured dual triangular tool boxes, pannier frames for bags, rear carrying racks and headlight masks. At the time due to the shortage of rubber the handgrips were made from canvas and footrests from steel. As the war progressed, aluminium also became scarce and pressed steel was used for the primary and timing covers.

The engine was derived from the civilian NG OHV 350cc with a lower compression ratio and with softer valve timing. Cast-iron cylinder head and barrel were employed, as was a magdyno. Power was transmitted via a dry clutch to a Burman four speed gearbox.

Ariel are believed to have built approximately 47,500 examples of the WD/NG between 1940 and the end of hostilities making them the fourth largest supplier of motorcycles to the British and Empire armed forces during the Second World War.

Sources: todayinmotorcyclehistory; H&H Classic Auctions.