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In 1941, the U.S. Government has requested Harley-Davidson and Indian to design a special bike for military applications in the North Africa. Harley-Davidson designed XA model. John Nowak, the creator of XA, almost completely copied a German BMW R71. BMW’s design features perfectly suited all needs for desert wars. Shaft drive provided better off-road capabilities, an opposed-piston engine had better cooling properties in hot climate.

Indian 841 during the tests

XA’s opposed-piston engine was a close copy of a BMW’s. Indian also decided not to reinvent the wheel. Only a little variation was made – the original German engine was set across the frame. As Harley-Davidson, Indian installed a shaft drive and equipped the bike with suspension for both wheels.

In the end, Indian 841 shared the same destiny as Harley-Davidson XA. When the first 1056 units jumped off the conveyor, the war was over.

But the bike was a very successful model. Despite of its size and weight (about 256 kgs), it was a responsive machine. So, it was planned to launch the manufacturing of a civil model. However, these plans have not been realized. Bikes unwanted by the military were sold to civilians.

The bike hosted by the Motoworld of Vyacheslav Sheyanov has been gathering dust at the American war museum for a long time.

Indian 841

For a renewal, we went to Saint Petersburg, Russia. Yuri Kotelnikov, a restorer, turned grey during restoration of Indian 841. One of the cylinders was 0.5 mm longer than the other. Several metal parts turned into powder. In the end, Yuri decided to find out who has done this with the bike. During the search for information, he found some interesting info on the former owner who donated the machine to a museum.

It was Robert McClean (1923-2008), a former president of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, a WWII veteran, one of the heroes who fought in Battle of Iwo Jima.

In 1942, 19-years old Bob McClean joined the Marine Corps. In 1945, he was sent to the Pacific where he managed to get through one of the most challenging battles in the history of the US Marines. Bob fought as a member of the 4th Marine Division.

Americans used flamethrowers to burn bunkers and shelters

The Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February – 26 March 1945) was a major battle in which the United States Marine Corps landed on and eventually captured the island of Iwo Jima (aka Ioto) from the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. The Imperial Japanese Army built a heavy fortification, which dealt with American attacks over a period of a month. The battle was a successive breaks of fortifications defended by a strong & stubborn enemy. Casualties and losses (USA): about 7,000 killed & missed in action, about 16,000 wounded. Casualties and losses (Japan): over 21,000. 111 men from the Japanese Army were taken prisoner, but only 67 were the Japanese, the others were the Koreans who were tunnel digging workers.

Joe Rosenthal. Flag voyage over Iwo Jima. In addition, the names and titles of six soldiers raising the flag are indicated.

Robert had been suffering from nightmares even decades later after the battle. In his nightmares, he saw the eyes of the brave Japanese jumping off cliffs but never surrender. Fear, honor and glow of his flamethrower reflected in their eyes.

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, an autographed copy of the iconic photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal, is on the wall of McClean’s office. Three of six soldiers who raised the flag died on Iwo Jima, the other three returned home and became people of name. Robert was there, witnessed the raising and could be one of those six men. But the fate didn’t give him a chance.

Upon returning home, Robert got married, had children and fell for antique motorcycles. McClean became a member of Iowan division of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America in 1970. Motorcycles were a point of strong affection for Robert. He came halfway round the world participating rallies & motorcycle rides, travelled a lot on his own and got his own motorcycle collection after a while. In 1983, Robert McClean got elected as the president of the Club and hold an appointment until 2002.

Robert McClean with one of his motorcycles

In 2008, Robert passed away. He had a remarkable life and made an invaluable contribution to the movement of retro bike enthusiasts. And he has never forgotten the war. As a tribute to the courage of the former enemy, there’re a Japanese battle flag and an Order of the Rising Sun adjacent to the Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photo.


Manufacturer Indian Motorcycle Co., Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
Years of manufacture 1941
Quantity produced, units 1 056
Price N/A
Today’s value N/A
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
Type V-twin
Engine capacity, cc 744
Bore and stroke, mm 73 x 88,9
Engine rating 24 hp at 4000 rpm
Sparking Battery
Carburetor Schebler
Battery 6 V
Clutch Single, dry
Transmission 4-speed
FRAME AND WHEELBASE
Frame type Tubular
Front suspension Parallelogram with friction damper
Rear suspension Candle-type
Brakes Drum type
Wheel size 4,50 x 18
DIMENSIONS
Length, mm
2 305
Width, mm
   934
Height, mm
1 029
Wheelbase, mm
1 499
Ground clearance, mm
Seat height, mm
Mass, kgг
   256*
Gas tank size, l
N/A
Maximum speed, km/h
    96
Range, km
N/A