My 42WLA Registration Plate
Type III WLA’s were manufactured from May 8th 1942- through April 1943. This adds up to 11 months of 42wla type III production or roughly 1,846 motorcycles per month.
Type III WLA engine numbers would fall between 42WLA16001 to 42WLA39229 .
Registration numbers would fall between
U.S.A.-W-616923 to U.S.A.-637235, making a total of 20,313 type III 42WLA’s produced.
Marking. (1)U.S. registration symbols and numbers.
(a) When marked. -- Motor vehicles will be marked with the U.S. registration symbols and numbers prescribed in AR 850-10.
(b) How marked. -- The marking will be conspicuously done on the vehicle with white paint by means of a stencil and on U.S. registration plates by a metal stamping device and white painted figures as indicated in (c) below.
(c) Height of letters.-- The height of the letters and figures will be two inches on trailers, and on U.S. registration plates, and four inches on all other types of motor vehicles."
My engine case line bore numbers are 42-17666 .
My engine serial number is 42WLA18269 .
Both the line bore and engine boss serial numbers places my 42WLA Type III right at the transition period in production when early Type III advanced to late Type III. In other words, some later parts may have already been added to my bike but not all of the later type parts would have been added to it.
Both the line bore and engine boss serial numbers also puts my Army registration number at 620102 .
Why ? Because engine serial numbers, according to Bruce Palmer III, would have approximately ranged from 42WLA16000 to 42WLA39228, but and could be under an the actual range by no more than 50 numbers, making the engine case serial number range from 42WLA16050 to 42WLA39278. The engine case serial numbers would have been stamped consecutively as they were produced. Using the engine case serial numbers in math form, they subtract to equal 20,313 42WLA Type III’s produced in an 11 month period of time. Using the close estimate of 1,846 motorcycles produced monthly, and starting with the low engine case serial number noted earlier, we see where my 42WLA Type III falls into the calendar as produced.
Engine case serial number 42WLA16000 May-Jun 1942
42WLA17846 Jun-July 1942
42WLA19692 July-Aug 1942
42WLA21538 Aug-Sept 1942
Using the average daily production of 1,846 motorcycles and dividing it by an average 30 day per month production we have a production of motorcycles at an average of 61.5 motorcycles per day produced. Why is this important regarding my 42WLA Type III motorcycle ? Here is why. In a 7 day period of motorcycle production, we see [ 61.5 bikes per day X 7 days } = 430.5 motorcycles produced.
42WLA17846 Jun-July 1942 production
+ 430.5 production for 7 days
This means my 42WLA Type III was manufactured no earlier than the last week of June 1942 and no later than the first week of Aug 1942.
Now why is the month my motorcycle was produced important ? The answer is two fold. First, Army Regulations on vehicle markings etc [ AR 850-5 ]., was printed in three different editions, 1936, 1942, and 1945 editions. The 1942 edition was already re-written in very late April of 1942 but did not reach print until late September of 1942, meaning the Army divisions followed the earlier 1936 edition of AR 850-5 until they received the new 1942 edition. In other words, my bike would have been marked according to the earlier 1936 AR 850-5 edition of Army Regulations. Secondly….the month of 1942 my bike was produced would have provided it with plenty of time to be sent to North Africa.