Because I have so many Fight Comics already listed, this “top 10 motorcycle cover” earns the rights to its very own special post. The cover even has its own title, “Angels of Vengeance” featuring the character Rip Carson and drawn by Dan Zolnerowich (published way back in January 1943).
Dan Zolnerowich (Dan Zolne) started out as an comic artist during the Golden Age clear back in 1939, working at the time for the Eisner-Iger Studio. By 1944 he had moved on to Fiction House working on characters such as Super American, The Hawk, and Suicide Smith (shown here).
The motorcycle shown may well have been a “Type 97.” These motorcycles were built in Japan and were derived directly from the Harley-Davidson Road King. During the height of the Great Depression in 1932, Sankyo Company purchased both a licence for the design, along with the equipment for manufacturing it, from Harley-Davidson. Production began in 1933 at a factory near Tokyo, Japan with Harley-Davidson employees on-site as consultants. Japan’s increasingly militaristic government soon forced the Harley-Davidson employees to leave the country.
These bikes proved popular and Sankyo Company named its motorcycle producing subsidiary “Rikuo,” translating roughly into “Road King.” The 4-cycle, 1200 cc, side-valve V-twin engine generated 28 horsepower with a top speed of 97 km per hour.
Rikuo built approximately 18,000 motorcycles between 1937 and 1942. Sidecar versions were made for military work and saw active duty in China as soon as they were introduced in 1933. They also saw combat in the Philippines. Solo machines were supplied to civilian police forces. Production would continue right up to the end of the WWII. After a two-year pause, the Rikuo company resumed production of motorcycles in 1947, but the Type 97 design was not among those built. In 1951, under the new ownership of Showa Corporation, Rikuo resumed production of the “Type 97” Road King design for the civilian market.