During the 1950s, the French army developed the Vespa anti-tank vehicle with the main purpose of being deployed via parachutes onto battlefields in order to neutralize armored vehicles.
In 1946, Piaggio manufactured the initial Vespa, which swiftly gained recognition as the “national motorbike” of Italy by 1950. Within a decade, it skyrocketed to become a worldwide sensation.
Because of high demand, Piaggio has granted licenses to several independent manufacturers, such as Ateliers de Construction de Motocycles et Automobiles (ACMA) from France.
ACMA has developed a customized military edition of the Vespa, taking inspiration from the civilian model, to fulfill the requirements of the French army. This specialized version serves as a lightweight and cost-effective gun carrier capable of being deployed via parachute alongside personnel.
The military variant of the Vespa, known as the 150 TAP, is equipped with an M20. The M20 is a 75mm recoilless gun with an anti-tank warhead, capable of penetrating 100mm steel casings from a distance of approximately 7,000 meters. Designed to minimize recoil, this gun releases gas and explosive smoke to the rear, allowing it to be mounted on the Vespa chassis. Despite the combined weight of the vehicle and the gun being relatively light, it can still be parachuted if necessary.
The Vespas were flown in pairs, with one Vespa equipped with a rifle rack and the other carrying ammunition. Accompanying them were two individuals forming a 2-man team. During that time, the M20 lacked a sighting device, making it challenging to accurately shoot at targets while in a moving vehicle. For this reason, soldiers frequently opted to remove the gun from the Vespa and utilize a tripod on the ground for more stability when shooting.
The Vespa 150 TAP closely resembles the civilian version, with the main distinction being a reinforced frame and a slightly modified engine. This variant is equipped with extra cannons and compartments to store artillery shells. Approximately 600 units of the Vespa vehicles, fitted with anti-tank cannons, were produced in two batches, with the second batch receiving slight upgrades.
The Vespa 150 TAP holds the distinction of being the most unique scooter ever to receive official production.