The very word ‘Vespa’ generates gleeful reveries of an adorable scooter scooting through those sun-kissed boulevards, while you and your lady-friend are wearing casuals with a bohemian flair. However, the above pictured Vespa 150 TAP (or Troupes Aéro Portées) certainly derails your peaceful thought train, with its bad-ass bearing that boasts of a three-inch recoil-less rifle, along with a paraphernalia of propellant gas vents. And, the glorious part is – this ain’t no mere showpiece; the Vespa 150 TAPs were actually crafted for French paratroopers back in 1956.
Commercial assembled by Ateliers de Construction de Motocycles et Automobiles (ACMA), these ‘Bazooka Vespas’ were basically modified versions of the civilian variants. The robust modification entailed a completely reinforced frame, the incorporation of the aforementioned US-made M20 75 mm anti-armor rifle (which had the capacity to penetrate 100 mm of armor via its HEAT warhead) and the arrangement of vents for the propellant gases that physically counteracted the gun’s reeling action.
As we can make out from our layman’s grasp of French, the Troupes Aéro Portées alludes to the fact that these Vespa 150 TAPs were actually dropped in parachutes in the conflict zones. The para-dropping occurred in pairs along with a two-man soldier team; with one scooter being mounted with the gun and another carrying the ammunition load. And, as for the enemy’s reaction to a cannon-totting Vespa – we will leave that to your imagination.
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons