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In the Field with the Signal Corps
December 1942 QST

December 1942 QST

December 1972 QST  Cover - RF CafeTable of Contents

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from QST, published December 1915 - present (visit ARRL for info). All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

December 1942 was just a year into America's "official" involvement in World War II. Already, both wired and wireless communications had made major advances and were indisputably vital in both the logistical and strategic aspects of troop movement, supply chains, fighting battles, and evacuation of wounded personnel. It also played a large part in propaganda campaigns. This was all true for both Axis and Allied forces. Ham radio operators provided a huge boost to the Signal Corps because they came at least partially trained for the jobs. These dozen and a half photos from the field exhibit the state of the art at the time. Maybe you'll recognize a father, grandfather, or uncle in one of them. For that matter, you might even recognize a mother, grandmother, or aunt.

In the Field with the Signal Corps

A Picture-Story of U. S. Army Field Radio Equipment

On these pages are pictured some of the types of field radio equipment now employed by the U. S. Army, ranging from the paratrooper's "handie-talkie" to powerful motorized trailer-truck base sets. This is Signal Corps equipment - highly developed, each type especially perfected for its own individual job by intensive field trials and the acid test of actual military operation.

It is this equipment which the hams (and the thousands of will-be hams who are now their buddies) in the Signal Corps are learning to use in training camps around the nation. It is the equipment some of them have already set up on foreign soil and operated in actual combat with the enemy.

Thousands of these units are now in operation. Thousands more are pouring from the production lines weekly. On these units, and the men who operate them, rest a vital responsibility. For the performance of the army in the field can be no better than the equipment it possesses. And in modern warfare communications constitutes the nerve system indispensable for coordination and control of successful operations.

This, then, is the equipment with which the Signal-Corps will do its part to win the war.

Portable field equipment for all branches of the service.

The "handle-talkie" fits its name in every sense of the word - RF Cafe

The "handle-talkie" fits its name in every sense of the word. Smallest field unit of the Signal Corps, it is not much larger or heavier than a conventional handset.

Cavalry" guidon radio - RF Cafe

Cavalry" guidon radio." Although designed - for mounting in a stirrup-boot, it can also be used by a soldier on foot or mounted on a vehicle. Official U. S. Signal Corps Photos.

Compact 'phone-c.w. field unit with transmitter and receiver - RF Cafe

Compact 'phone-c.w. field unit with transmitter and receiver in the same cabinet, using dynamotor power supply (underneath).

Small 'phone-c.w. medium-frequency hand-generator-powered combined transmitter-receiver - RF Cafe

Next step above the hand portables is this small 'phone-c.w. medium-frequency hand-generator-powered combined transmitter-receiver. Readily transported by a two-man crew, one to operate and one to crank.

SCR 197 field-base unit - RF Cafe

SCR 197 field-base unit. The high-power rack-mounted transmitter installed in the truck, complete with power source, may be remotely-controlled from trailer at message center.

SCR 299, latest field-base unit - RF Cafe

SCR 299, latest field-base unit. Transmitter and receiving position in truck, gas-driven generator in trailer. The flexible "trolley" - style vertical antenna can be pulled down horizontal from the interior in transit, or the station can be operated in motion at high speed.

Spring-mounted whip-type vertical with its husky base support - RF Cafe

Talking hack from a tank, Note the spring-mounted whip-type vertical with its husky base support.

 - RF Cafe

Another girl mechanic running a field test on a mobile unit. There's a close-up of the spring-type vertical antenna base mounting, too, in case you didn't notice.

Field telephone lines to combat units - RF Cafe

The wire men play a vital part, too. Field telephone lines to combat units terminate at this portable command-post switchboard, its operator in full battle dress.

Official U. S. Signal Corps Photos.

A jeep and a handie-talkie on reconnaissance duty - RF Cafe

Two midgets - and both tops in their class. A jeep and a handie-talkie on reconnaissance duty. Operator is strapped in by safety belt for travel over rough terrain.

Workhorse of the Signal Corps is this BC-191-type transmitter - RF Cafe

Workhorse of the Signal Corps is this BC-191-type transmitter, seen here in typical operation at a field post. Remotely controlled from central receiving point (shown at center left).

Remote-control operating and receiving position with two complete channels - RF Cafe

Remote-control operating and receiving position with two complete channels. Transmitters (see photo at upper left) are remotely controlled for break-in.

Signal Corps men in combat operate a portable field transmitter - RF Cafe

On the alert. Fully armed and carrying complete packs, Signal Corps men in combat operate a portable field transmitter under protective cover. Official U. S. Signal Corps Photos.

Antenna adjustment on the SCR 197's massive vertical - RF Cafe

Antenna adjustment on the SCR 197's massive vertical, supported by husky ceramic mounting insulators.

Radio-equipped half-track for attack communication - RF Cafe

Radio-equipped half-track for attack communication in the armored forces.

 - RF Cafe

 Civilian radio mechanics from the Signal Corps General Development Labs making a radio installation in an M-3 tank. This is some of the latest f.m. equipment for the armored forces. Yes, there are women in the Signal Corps, too!

 - RF Cafe

It's not all radio in the Signal Corps. Here is a soldier cutting a transcription in a Signal Corps sound truck.

They can lay 30 miles of telephone cable a day - RF Cafe

A wire-laying crew in action. They can lay 30 miles of telephone cable a day.



Posted December 18, 2020
(updated from original post on 1/28/2016)

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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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