In 1949, the Italian Vespa Company first came out with prototypes for a scooter to have a bazooka cannon mounted to it. In 1952, the Vespa 150 TAP (Troupes Aéro Portées) scooters were modified for use for paratroopers. The “150” part of the model name was used because the Vespas used a 150cc engine. With this upgraded engine and lowered gearing, the Vespa’s could go 40mph.
The Vespas were also modified by the French company, Ateliers de Construction de Motocycles et Automobiles (ACMA). This was the assembly company for Vespas in France during this time.
Some of the modifications made were a reinforced frame and a three-inch M20 75mm recoilless rifle mounted to the Vespa. The rifle, or at this size more of a cannon or a bazooka, used High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead. The bazooka Vespas were cheap, being sold at only $500.
The TAP Vespas were dropped with two-man parachute teams. To avoid damage to the scooters when dropped from planes, they were protected by hay bales. On one Vespa, there would be the gun, and on another Vespa there would be a tripod. Although the preferred way to shoot the cannon was on the tripod, it could be shot directly from a moving Vespa if there was an emergency situation.
The M20 was originally designed as an armor-piercing, anti-tank weapon using the HEAT warhead. Manufacturers said that the M20s could penetrate 100mm of armor and that it had a range of 7,000 yds. Although this didn’t prove to be the case, it was capable of fortifying positions in wars.
In 1959, because there were a lot of new vehicles, weapons and ways to get things quickly and easily into battle areas, the production of Vespa 150 TAP scooter ceased.
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