Tough Trike: 1960 FN AS 24 Paratrooper Trike

042516 Barn Finds - 1960 FN AS24 airborne folding trike - 1

This is a bit of history here, although I guess all of the things shown on Barn Finds are a bit of history. This unusual vehicle is a 1960 Fabrique Nationale AS 24, a paratrooper’s trike that was used by the Belgian Army. No, really! It’s located in Peer, Belgium and is listed on eBay with a current bid of, can this be right? $2.25?! Of course, the reserve is not even close to being met. It’ll be a high reserve because the seller will include the cost of crating and shipping to the US or Canada!

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This is a four-seater, believe it or not. These were designed to be dropped from an airplane and were for carrying up to four riders, including the driver. They weighed 374 pounds (170kg) so they weren’t light and they don’t look particularly rugged to me. But, judging from a couple of photos in the eBay link, they were tough, and since they were used by the Belgian Army they had to be tough.

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This trike folds up to make it easier to drop from several thousand feet from a moving plane; not exactly something that your average vehicle designer thinks about on a daily basis: “Get coffee, check emails, make army trike that folds up and can be dropped from a moving plane, pick up milk and bread on the way home…”  The trailer was made for carrying anti-tank rockets or radio equipment or other field needs. It would be a tight squeeze in today’s army to have four paratroopers crammed onto this seat.

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Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal (National Factory of Herstal) is the largest exporter of military small arms in Europe. FN made 460 of these AS 24 trikes with most of them being used by paratroopers in the Belgian Army. The most famous use of these was during “Operation Dragon Rouge” where Belgian and US troops went into the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1964 for a hostage rescue operation and Belgian paratroopers used these trikes.

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Here is a YouTube video of one in action on a country road. I doubt if this would be street legal in the US or Canada, or maybe anywhere, but I would love to have one anyway! Supposedly these trikes would do 60 mph! Let’s hope that you’ve put it together correctly after it’s dropped from the airplane. The seller says that this is a rare one since it isn’t olive drab in color, being a desert sand color. Apparently this one has only been used a couple of times and has been in controlled and covered storage for many decades. I’m guessing that the controls could be figured out without an owner’s manual, which there wouldn’t be for this. It looks like a regular three-pedal setup with a pipe as a shift lever just to the right of the steering wheel.

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This is a 245cc, 15 hp, two-cylinder, two-stroke engine good for the 60 mph that I mentioned earlier. With those big, bouncy tires I would have to have a member of an opposing army chasing me before I’d drive this thing at 60 mph. The seller says that the engine was treated “back then” with preserving oil so hopefully it’ll fire up with new fuel and a couple of new spark plugs. This is something that is squarely in my interest area: it’s highly-unusual, you’re not going to see another one, maybe ever, it shouldn’t break the bank to buy it and get it here, and it’s small enough to not take up an entire garage stall. Am I the only one who thinks that this little piece of history would be super fun to own?

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Comments

  1. Van

    I can see my father in law when I show up with this.
    “Stop laughing and look, it will carry hay through the pasture and if the bull starts charging you can out run him.”
    Still laughing.

  2. hhaleblian

    Get a lot of high fives on the Silver Lake Dunes.

  3. CHRIS WEICHLER

    Looks like a great platform to build a Parade Float on…

  4. richard aufderheide

    that would be the ultimate vehicle for a beach house.. or key west. etc. certainly everyone would no it was you. Thebad part of that is yopu better not stop at the local ‘gin mill’ whist picking up milk for the wifey… EVERYONE in town would know who it belongs to.

    p.s HOW EXACTLY would one get a ‘vintage’ vehicle imported. I know there are tons of export companies ( i see them all at Hershey….. The Scandinavians LOVE mustangs.. and now torinos)….. but are their ANY IMPORT companies that do all the work for you… ( set up transportation..do all the paperwork, etc)?
    if so.. does anyone have any recommendations?

    thanks
    Rick

    • Dave Wright

      Import is no problem with a vehicle like this, call it a farm implement and it will sail through, otherwise an auto needs to be over 25 years old to avoid onerous restrictions.

    • Emmet

      All of the cars that Japanese Classics LLC sells have already been acquired, paperworked, titled and tagged. They’re located in Richmond, Virginia.

      Don’t let the name fool you either. Even though they mostly import jdm, they’ve imported a couple cars from Spain and Germany. I assume Belgium would be doable as well.

      http://japaneseclassics.com/

  5. jim s

    on the subject of dropping a vehicle by parachute out of an airplane there is a MGB advertisement on youtube doing just that. i think it took two tries to get it right, but am not sure.

  6. jim s

    i hope this ends up in the hands of a museum of military history. great find.

  7. Rob

    Would love to have it. Very cool!

  8. George

    They drop ship it directly to your house. The plane flies over and…

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty G Staff

      HAA! Boom! That, sir, is comedy gold!
      A very rare LOL issued on that one.

  9. Dave Wright

    The US Army in Germany just lost 3 Humvees while being dropped from C130’s, the parachutes detached soon after launch, having some experiance in that activity, some nucklehead forgot the safety pin on the pelican hook I would bet. These could be dropped with common personel chutes making it a much simpler affair. I remember seeing photos of these being used in Africa during various bush wars.

  10. skloon

    I was looking for something to complement my FN C1 but this may not be it

    • Dave Wright

      My SCAR 17 would be right at home on it…………

  11. Matt Tritt

    Look closely (or not even that closely) and you’ll see that there is absolutely NO suspension on this giant go-cart, other than the air in the tires. Be good on a beach, but forget the pasture idea!

    • Dave Wright

      Matt, My John Deere Gators have no suspension and they work quite well, I was in the pasture this morning with one of my 5 wheelers. They also have low pressure pneumatic tires.

  12. Matt Tritt

    The magic of pneumatics!

  13. DrinkinGasoline

    We’ve got a 2 seater go-kart for the grandchildren that has no suspension, big tires, and it will beat you to death on level grass.
    I would use this trike puttering around the land, trash to the road,etc.
    Though I do believe the grandchildren would get more enjoyment out of it….maybe they could take the trash to the road? HMMM

  14. Rob

    Ahhh yes, fold ups.. the British & Canadians used BSA folding bicycles during WW1 & WW2, of course the Paratroopers had the bikes strapped to them, rather then being dropped by themselves. This is is a 1942 and a ’15, I’ve a ’43 in my Collection..

    • Rob

      This is how they were folded, when in ‘jumping’ position during D-Day..

  15. Matt Tritt

    Wowee! As If all the other stuff they had to jump with wasn’t enough!

  16. Doug Towsley

    THAT is very cool! Would love to have it, Would be great for Swap meets, and car and motorcycle events. (The Steel Stampede is this weekend in central Oregon, Vintage motox and trials and bike show and swap meet at Crooked River Ranch)

    This is MY FN FAL, Some were inch guns, some were metric and some are a combo. This one also has the demilled optical sight. Originally they used uranium? to power the sights but it has been modified and now uses a much more sensible watch battery. .308 cal., This was the main battle rifle for all of NATO forces.

    • Matt Tritt

      Nice! BTW, not ALL NATO troops were issued the FN. As a US Army NATO troop myself in the 60’s, I can testify that we carried the M-14 chambered in the NATO 7.62 round. Our rifle was missing the cool pistol grip and weighed a ton, but was a great rifle, none the less.

      • Dave Wright

        FAL’s are good rifles, I have a couple as well. I have an orignal FN non parts gun I bought before they became expensive. However, they were never a NATO standard…..the caliber was, but many countries had there own rifles, Holland had the Stoner AR10, Germany had there H&K’s, we off course had the M14 as did several other smaller countries. The Britts had there inch pattern FAL’s and the Argintines had there own factory building Metric FAL’s that have showed up in brush wars all over the world. Most on the market today are guns built from parts kits imported without receivers to get around import laws. Right now my preferred battle rifle is a FN SCAR 17 I bought last fall. It is also being used by US Special Ops forces. It’s roots are in in the FAL and shares many design traits but has a quick replacement barrel feature and a special gas regulator that adjusts to use with my suppressor. It is as accurate as my M24 Sniper rifle and totally ambidextrous allowing it to work better with my south paw proclivities.

      • Doug Towsley

        Oh Im aware not all the NATO troops used them. Its actually a very interesting story about the politics and things that went on over weapons and equipment choices.
        The FN products were pretty good stuff, So the 3 wheeler on here is a very cool discovery, But if you research how decisions were made on equipment and weapons it can be either fascinating or frustrating depending on many things. While I have grown to like our AR15. (Windham weaponry, one of the best versions made) when i was in the military we did not like the M-16. I carried a CAR-16 and a 9mm for a while. If the Spetznaz crossed the border I would have been looking to commandeer a AK47 ASAP.
        My FN FAL puts some serious rounds down range, but will kick the crap out of you. I have have a lot of friends from overseas and the first thing they all want to do is go shoot guns. Most are whimpering after firing this beast for any length of time.
        But if the zombie apocolypse happens anytime soon, we are ready with a full armoury. My wife is a better shot than I am.

        remember the following:
        Look unimportant, the other side might be low on ammo
        Dont draw fire, this annoys the folks around you.
        If you find yourself in a evenly matched fight,. Your tactics suck.
        and my favorite. “It is generally inadvisable to bail out of an acft over an area you just bombed”

      • Dave Wright

        Great observations. My military units had a broad choice of weapons available. We usually used our GAU 5’s. Lightweight and high velocity down range. My SCAR has very low recoil for a full power caliber. Even on full auto they are very manageable without the weight of an M14. I have AK47 variants as well but never really warmed up to them, the 7.62X39 is a nice caliber with the exact ballistics of a 30-30. Not a bad comprise but is not as effective at distance as the 5.56 particularly on soft targets and the guns are terribly inaccurate. That is why the Russians still keep there old 7.62X 54 sniper rifles and have upgraded the AK47 to a 5.56 carteridge similar to ours. My favorite gun in the military was made by General Electric……..the 7.62 mini gun. The only trouble with it was carrying enough ammo. The other really impressive gun was the Army’s Vulcan cannon, a 20mm version. We mounted one high behind the main gate of my base in Germany during the Bader Meinhoff rampage……never had any trouble from anyone………..

      • Dave Wright

        As far as off brand AR’s, my boys have several and off course, I have many friends with various brands. None compare with my factory Colt’s. They have tens of thousands of rounds through them and no detectable wear in the frames or uppers. The fit and finish are also superior. I think FN also builds a good AR product and is used interchangeably by the military today. We stayed in Leige for a couple of weeks last fall while visiting several firearms manufacturers, I used to be able to tour FN in Herstal (a suburb of Leige) but these days it is locked up like a drum. Too many threats I am sure. It takes a sophisticated company to do state of the art heat treating on modern forgings and many aftermarket parts aren’t even forged but cast. They may work good for a while but fail in the long run.

      • Doug Towsley

        Dave, Matt et al, I have some other stuff from Europe that I have a long family history with, and a very rare gun made by C.G Haenel in Austria. My great grandfather owned it, and some really interesting history. So, I have been researching this stuff for years. This led me to some really interesting discoveries about European manufacturing and Im sure you guys would enjoy some of this as well. FN is one of many companies I have been researching which is why this posting was so cool.
        Spend some time looking at this guys website and some of the links he provides. Very cool guy and has been very helpful to me and others.

        See: http://www.littlegun.be/ He is in Belgium and yes, you can read it in Englaise. Besides his own collection he is a wealth of knowledge on this material. Consider supporting his work and ordering some of his books.

        As to AK variants I have some as well, plenty is written about them but as I said, If the Spetznaz were over running my base, I didnt have a lot of faith in our M16 variants we were issued, The AK variants fire and are effective in most any situation and especially in dirty conditions.

        As to AR15 variants I have opertated a fair number. Some are pretty good. But I am impressed and a big fan of the Windham weaponry products. When Bushmaster sold out and left some talented folks high and dry they started anew with Windham weaponry. They are getting a very good reputation and I know some procurement people for OGA and LE and are gaining ground as a preferred vendor. (I have no ties to the company other than happy customer)
        See: https://www.windhamweaponry.com/content_meet_our_team.asp

        My wife works in manufacturing and they have sales reps who attend SHOT show in Las Vegas, We get a pretty good amount of insight into the whole industry and some really great products out there. BTW, Im always available for BETA testing and reviews so open to any offers!!! I have a degree in Mechanical Science, Lic FAA tech, Multi certs in NDT and experience in process engineering so willing and able to offer indepth reviews and reports on any weaponry or machinery someone is willing to hand over.!

      • Dave Wright

        We visited most of the firearms producing regions while in Europe for 90 days last fall including Suhl Germany where most of the fine gunmakers worked and continue to. I ordered a combination gun from Gebruder Adamy, a 10th generation gunmaker. that may be delivered in the next couple of years, also visited Merkel and the Ex-East German Olympic shooting complex that is still the training site for many countries Olympic shooters. I also bought another Merkel and Blasser while in Europe. When I lived in Bitburg, I took one of my Browning Superopsed shotguns to the master engraver for the FN/Browning factory. He did what they call “Swartz arbite” or black work that is done in the evening for themselves. He turned my standard grade into a pidgeon grade at a great price. In those days we could wander through the factory (more or less) and see the entire process. Off course FN built great real motorcycles as well. They are a large manufacturing company with fingers in many pots. We also went to Steyr, Anchutz and Blasser. I do love the classic hand made masterpieces from the area and own many. My new (old) Merkel is a drilling, 20 gauge over 7X65R with heavy deep game scene engraving.

  17. rangeroger

    Dave Wright, the 3 Humvees that fell in the air drop actually rolled off the pallets. The parachutes drifted slowly to earth and deposited the pallets intact. I know there are some load masters who are going to have lot of explaining to do.
    Apparently so is the guy who videoed the action. It really is entertaining to watch, and boy do those Hummers smack hard.

    • Dave Wright

      I read the initial report, it said that they “detached” I am still waiting to read the final report. Off course, most of the cargo and vehicles made it down intact during the exercise but that doesn’t make as good a story. We used to “air drop” Chenowith military sand rails. They worked well both in the air and on the ground.

  18. Jubjub

    For those that feel a Halflinger or MULE is just to posh.

    I’d like to drive it. I’d like to see someone else drive it wide open!

  19. Matt Tritt

    Excellent advice, Doug. Especially about bailing out after – – – –

    Strangely enough, the M-14 also kicked the crap out of me! After any extended period of firing one I would develop a nasty bruise on my right cheek and and aching shoulder to boot. I was made the Hq Co official M-60 operator (maybe they didn’t like me?) and I really enjoyed the way it didn’t wreck me when firing; just the stuff down-range. I fired a WWII German assault rifle – real Buck Rogers looking thing with a plastic stock and forestock – that was an actual dream to shoot, and extremely accurate. We would have been in big trouble if they’d made more of em!

    • Doug Towsley

      I would like to have a Ruger Mini 14 stainless ranch rifle with a number of Accy, Would add one of those to my collection. The M14 in military trim I would consider as well. Some features on it appeal to me.

      I made a deal with one of my buddys and got a M1 Garand. Came with some extras and he treated me right on it. I wanted one for years but then they got crazy expensive.

      I would also like to get some BSA rifles, havent had any real opportunities for the right deals but i suppose if i went looking hard enough something would turn up. I own a LOT of BSA motorcycles so, (Birmingham Small Arms) and while 2 distinctly different divisions of the same company, the BSA motorcycles use the rifles in their logos and the moniker “Built like a gun!” My earliest BSA is a 1932 Blue Star 500cc single, I have a 48-49 Gold star, a variety of 1950s Goldstars and twins and a whole bunch of 1960s to early 70s Singles and twins. So I probably SHOULD have some BSA rifles too dont you think?

      I never got to fire any big machine guns while in the AF, I worked on some A10s and in my opinion best damn acft the AF had. Especially for ground support. The cannons on that thing are amazing and best friend you can have supporting you. I also worked helping support the Para rescue guys and they had 50 cals on their helicopters. They used our shop at one duty location to service and clean the 50s. I always wanted to fly with them. Never got the chance.

      • Dave Wright

        I spent most of my 13 years in Combat Rescue (Para Rescue) in the Air Force, among other additional duties, I was the arms custodian. I worked mostly in light lift helicopters and the 50’s were too large for us. We would use them occasionally with the heavy lift helicopters. We did shoot some of the first Barrett 50 caliber rifles built. Great fun stuff. We also worked closely with the A10’s. We picked up a pilot from one after he punched out on the range. They were experimenting with different powder loads in the cannon and created so much smoke the pilot had to “leave” he was happy to see us show up. I have always liked the design of the Mini 14 but it is very difficult to make them shoot straight. It takes a lot of tweeking by someone that knows what he is doing. It is too bad, nice design but Ruger is the king of castings and I prefer forged metal parts. A10’s are wonderful aircraft. They are just now starting a fly off between them and the new F35. It will be interesting to see how that comes out. During an air show at Bitburg (we had to stand alert for all air Shows) I saw a show put on by an F15 vs an A10. It was one of the most remarkable shows I have ever seen. Off course, the A10 would not have a chance in a real duel but the 2 birds flying at each other was an incredible sight. Your best chance for a BSA firearm would be a Martini or possibly a Webly pistol. They build good stuff but most of there post war stuff is class lll and nearly impossible to get. So, we were in at the same time……I watched the early trials of the A10 before it was adopted.

  20. Matt Tritt

    I have only one thing to say about the Mini-14: WEAR HEARING PROTECTION. The standard rounds seem to have way more powder than can be burned while still in the barrel and, like the Mannlicher-Carcano cabine, will about blow your eardrums to smithereens. The last ime I fired anything more advanced than my Marlin 30-30 was in 67, except for 10 minutes with that Mini-14 in 84. I actually haven’t shot anything but a 22 in years, except for my 1849 plains rifle. My wife is all thumbs-down on shooting these days since that would take time away from working in the yard and/or making OTHER proper use of my time. Heh heh. Hope she doesn’t read this.

  21. Matt Tritt

    Dave – Nice! My dad had a Belgian made drilling from the 1890’s that was pretty-much beyond description. I wish I could recall the various cartridges it was chambered for, but I do remember that the Big one was Really big – perhaps some kind of Nitro-Express elephant round. I doubt I could shoot an elephant if it was about to run me down. He had a number of fine examples, including a German wheel lock from 1508 with amazing gold “jewelry”, including Atlas holding up the world, covering the lock mechanism. It worked more positively than any of his 30-some flintlocks, but what a scene to wind it up!

  22. Dave Wright

    That is all great stuff. I have a many times great grandfather that was an officer with Oliver Cromwell. Both in the British Civil war and his Irish campaigns He was an lmfamous character, so much so the IRA burned and destroyed his house in the 1960’s. I am on the hunt for a British dog lock musket from that time…the 1540’s. They were the first common post match lock muskets.

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