Times were tough, and both Harley-Davidson and Indian designed machines in hopes of securing the military contract.
Indian followed the military specs perfectly, producing the 500cc Model 741 that was based on its civilian Junior Scout. William Harley at the Motor Company, however, balked at producing a 500cc machine, to the point of confrontation. He was adamant that the military needed a 750cc (45 cubic inch) motorcycle for war.
In the end, with war imminent, the Army approved purchase orders for both the Harley and the Indian. In practice, though, the Harley was the preferred machine, and more than 90,000 were produced before war’s end.
Though eventually overshadowed by the multi-use Jeep, military motorcycles found a niche in reconnaissance, traffic control and dispatch duties throughout WW-II.