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US Army Jeep with mobile comms

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  • Member since
    March, 2019
US Army Jeep with mobile comms
Posted by BDelph on Tuesday, March 05, 2019 1:33 PM

My father was in the US Army OSS during WWII, stationed in Belgium. He was a code guy. I have photos of him in the back seat of a Jeep with a big black box next to him. I'm pretty sure that is communications gear, maybe with a generator, but I don't know much else.

I'm planning on building Tamiya's Jeep kit and outfititing it like his was. I'm probably going to end up doing some scratch building. Can anyone point me in the direction for more information on what that gear might be? I've found a little on the 'net, but nothing very specific.

Thanks for any help.

  • Member since
    September, 2005
  • From: North Pole, Alaska
Posted by richs26 on Thursday, March 07, 2019 12:57 AM

Read Sergeant's post, The Road to Bastogne, for the info you need.

WIP:  Monogram 1/72 B-26 (Snaptite) as 73rd BS B-26, 40-1408, torpedo bomber attempt on Ryujo

Monogram 1/72 B-26 (Snaptite) as 22nd BG B-26, 7-Mile Drome, New Guinea

Minicraft 1/72 B-24D as LB-30, AL-613, "Tough Boy", 28th Composite Group

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Thursday, March 07, 2019 4:05 AM

richs26

Read Sergeant's post, The Road to Bastogne, for the info you need.

 

BDelph if you don’t see an answer for your questions on ‘The Road to Bastogne’ just ask for help, there are plenty of members in the Armor Group who have a lot more knowledge than me.

Harold

 

  • Member since
    March, 2019
Posted by BDelph on Thursday, March 07, 2019 8:50 AM

Thanks, interesting discussion.

The gear on my father's Jeep is bigger than the unit in the photo. My father said he copied encrypted messages in Morse code. I believe it was a WWII version of Krypto communications. He is also wearing a small headset;  not the big clunky things you usually see on WWII radio operators.

I found a kit from Minor, a 1/35 SCR-508 radio set for WWII Jeep that looks like what I see in the photos. 

  • Member since
    March, 2019
Posted by BDelph on Thursday, March 07, 2019 8:53 AM

Also, there doesn't seem to be any kind of tall whip antenna on his Jeep. The Minor kit seems to show a short antenna.

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Thursday, March 07, 2019 12:42 PM

BDelph

Also, there doesn't seem to be any kind of tall whip antenna on his Jeep. The Minor kit seems to show a short antenna.

 

BDelph, if the radio your father was using looks like SCR-508 or SCR-510 (BC-620) that is an FM radio. The one I used in my Jeep is a BC-1306 (SCR-694) AM radio. Both were used in World War II, neither were for encryption. However, Morse Code could be easily encrypted, all that was required is an encryption chart, or script i.g. ”a” meant something other than Alpha.

 

                                                Pros and Cons

 

AM has poorer sound quality compared with FM, but is less expensive and can be transmitted over longer distances. It has a lower bandwidth so it can have more stations available in any frequency range.

FM is less prone to interference than AM. However, FM signals are impacted by physical barriers. FM has better sound quality due to higher bandwidth.

 

The AM radio had a range of 15 miles line-of-sight (LOS) on voice and 30 miles LOS on Morse Code. FM radio had a range of 5 miles LOS with the pros and cons mentioned above. The FM radios were much heavier and therefore not as portable. AM radios could easily be carried on a mans back or buckled into a Jeep. Both were equally valuable in different circumstances.

The short antenna you mentioned is only the base or mast of the antenna, sections were added up to 15 feet for mobile operation and 30 feet for stationary operation depending on what the operator needed.

The phonetic alphabet radio operators used was created because of problems with the quality of communications. So  “A” became Alpha and “B” was Bravo etc. Over the last 70-years the military has maintained the phonetic alphabet although the quality of communications quipment has greatly improved. It’s now refered to as NATO phonetic alphabet and used for communications, code words and names of companies and units like Charlie Company and Delta Force.

Harold

  • Member since
    March, 2019
Posted by BDelph on Thursday, March 07, 2019 1:54 PM

I have two b&w photos. Both only show the rear of the unit, so I don't know what the front looks like. The basic size and proportions looks like the Minor unit I saw. In both photos he has a pad of paper on his lap and a small headset on and a pencil in his hand. It looks like what he always described as he copied Morse code and decoded it by hand. He actually never mentioned doing that work in a Jeep. I always pictured him in a radio room somewhere. 

  • Member since
    March, 2013
Posted by LonCray on Thursday, March 07, 2019 2:16 PM

Your father did the same Army job I did, albeit 40 years earlier.  In fact, it was a picture in the MOS guide of a truck with a hut on the back, filled with radio receivers and collection equipment that made me choose to become an 05H Morse Intercept Operator.  Of course, the real job ended up being in a very large building on a very secure site in Germany, but at least I had the hope of copying code in a truck!  

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Thursday, March 07, 2019 2:31 PM

BDelph, I may have introduced unnecessary confusion when all you’re looking for is a model of the radio your father was using. The SCR-508 FM radio has its transmitter and receiver side-by-side. The SCR-510 transmitter and receiver are stacked, so they look very different, both are FM radios. However, an SCR-506 looks similar in size and shape to a SCR-508, but the 506 is an AM radio not FM. So it’s possible your father was using an FM or AM radio in which case either SCR- 506 or 508 models would serve the purpose.

Harold

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Friday, March 08, 2019 2:06 AM

Sergeant
BDelph, the SCR-508 that you indicated your father may have used could be mounted in a tank or the back of a Jeep. The photograph below is an SCR-508 mounted in a track vehicle like a tank.
 


 

 

This is Minor's 1/35 scale photo-etched SCR-508 mounted in the back of a Jeep.
 
 
The SCR-510 shown below had the same function only the transmitter and receiver were stacked making it more compact for smaller vehicles like the Willys MB Jeep.
 
 
Minor also made a very nice photo-etched model of the SCR-510/620 in 1/35 scale, but I believe it is out of production. http://www.minor-web.com/10.html
 
 
The antenna base or mast for these radios was MP-48 which I used on my Jeep and was the most common in World War II. To get longer range the operator would add 3-foot sections, there were a total of five sections for vehicle application.
 
Harold
  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Friday, March 08, 2019 11:05 PM

Sergeant
The phonetic alphabet radio operators used was created because of problems with the quality of communications. So “A” became Alpha and “B” was Bravo etc. Over the last 70-years the military has maintained the phonetic alphabet although the quality of communications quipment has greatly improved. It’s now refered to as NATO phonetic alphabet and used for communications, code words and names of companies and units like Charlie Company and Delta Force.

It has evolved over tha last 75 years or so.

The original A-N (Army-Navy) phonetics used Able, Baker, Charlie and so on.

The Brits had a similar, but different, system, as did the Canadians and Anzac.  Interaction with all these groups created the first NATO "standard" phonentics, which also covered numerals.  Hence "Fiver" (so that five was not misrecognised as "fire").  A later iteration included "niner" so that the numeral could not be confused with "nein," German for "no."

Some of the letters had several iterations.  "I" was Item, & Inca, before settling on India.  "P" was Peter, than Paul, before becoming PaPa.

A-N Phnetics, 1941-56
Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog. Easy, Fox, George, How, Item, Jig, King, Love, Mike, Nan, Oboe, Peter, Queen, Roger, Sugar, Tare, Uncle, Victor, William, X-Ray, Yoke, Zebra.

Current NATO:
Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, George, otel, India, Juliet, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, PaPa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, XRAY, Yankee, Zulu.

Aside:  Quebbe is pronounced "keh BECK" in the same was as the Quebeçois say it.

As above, the phonetics lent themselves to lots of things.  That's why Co E, 506PIR, is called "Easy," that was the phonetic for "E."  The fifth Company in a Regiment would today be known as Echo.  The Higgins and Elco motor torpedo boats were known as Peter Tares, which sounds a bit odd to those trained in the modern system.

 

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Saturday, March 09, 2019 1:35 AM

CapnMac82

 

 
Sergeant
The phonetic alphabet radio operators used was created because of problems with the quality of communications. So “A” became Alpha and “B” was Bravo etc. Over the last 70-years the military has maintained the phonetic alphabet although the quality of communications quipment has greatly improved. It’s now refered to as NATO phonetic alphabet and used for communications, code words and names of companies and units like Charlie Company and Delta Force.

 

It has evolved over tha last 75 years or so.

The original A-N (Army-Navy) phonetics used Able, Baker, Charlie and so on.

The Brits had a similar, but different, system, as did the Canadians and Anzac.  Interaction with all these groups created the first NATO "standard" phonentics, which also covered numerals.  Hence "Fiver" (so that five was not misrecognised as "fire").  A later iteration included "niner" so that the numeral could not be confused with "nein," German for "no."

Some of the letters had several iterations.  "I" was Item, & Inca, before settling on India.  "P" was Peter, than Paul, before becoming PaPa.

A-N Phnetics, 1941-56
Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog. Easy, Fox, George, How, Item, Jig, King, Love, Mike, Nan, Oboe, Peter, Queen, Roger, Sugar, Tare, Uncle, Victor, William, X-Ray, Yoke, Zebra.

Current NATO:
Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, George, otel, India, Juliet, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, PaPa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, XRAY, Yankee, Zulu.

Aside:  Quebbe is pronounced "keh BECK" in the same was as the Quebeçois say it.

As above, the phonetics lent themselves to lots of things.  That's why Co E, 506PIR, is called "Easy," that was the phonetic for "E."  The fifth Company in a Regiment would today be known as Echo.  The Higgins and Elco motor torpedo boats were known as Peter Tares, which sounds a bit odd to those trained in the modern system.

 

 

I totally agree, except H is Hotel.

Harold

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Saturday, March 09, 2019 10:44 AM

Sergeant

BDelph, I may have introduced unnecessary confusion when all you’re looking for is a model of the radio your father was using. The SCR-508 FM radio has its transmitter and receiver side-by-side. The SCR-510 transmitter and receiver are stacked, so they look very different, both are FM radios. However, an SCR-506 looks similar in size and shape to a SCR-508, but the 506 is an AM radio not FM. So it’s possible your father was using an FM or AM radio in which case either SCR- 506 or 508 models would serve the purpose.

Harold

 

Just an educated guess, but if he was OSS, they are going to be using HF/AM radios most likely due to unit and mission profile. OSS would be operating far from their next higher element for comms, so would have to rely on sky wave signal. FM radio waves cannot bounce off the ionosphere for sky wave long distance comms due to their physical properties. The higher the frequency, the smaller the physical size of the radio wave. Those go straight thru the ionosphere and keep on going.

I did that sort of commo with a LRS unit for many years. No Morse, but lots of encoding and encrypting as well.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Saturday, March 09, 2019 11:07 AM

stikpusher

 

 
Sergeant

BDelph, I may have introduced unnecessary confusion when all you’re looking for is a model of the radio your father was using. The SCR-508 FM radio has its transmitter and receiver side-by-side. The SCR-510 transmitter and receiver are stacked, so they look very different, both are FM radios. However, an SCR-506 looks similar in size and shape to a SCR-508, but the 506 is an AM radio not FM. So it’s possible your father was using an FM or AM radio in which case either SCR- 506 or 508 models would serve the purpose.

Harold

 

 

 

Just an educated guess, but if he was OSS, they are going to be using HF/AM radios most likely due to unit and mission profile. OSS would be operating far from their next higher element for comms, so would have to rely on sky wave signal. FM radio waves cannot bounce off the ionosphere for sky wave long distance comms due to their physical properties. The higher the frequency, the smaller the physical size of the radio wave. Those go straight thru the ionosphere and keep on going.

I did that sort of commo with a LRS unit for many years. No Morse, but lots of encoding and encrypting as well.

 

BDelph, Stikpusher is U.S. Army trained in radio and what he said about OSS would indicate to me the model you need to represent what your father was using is SCR-506, not 508, but they look similar in size and shape. LZ Models makes a 1/35 scale resin model of the SCR-506 radio. http://www.lzmodels.com/135-US-Army-radio-sets.html

  • Member since
    July, 2016
  • From: Malvern, PA
Posted by WillysMB on Saturday, March 09, 2019 11:42 AM

I believe the generator on the dedicated radio jeeps was positioned between the seats and was belt driven off a power takeoff. If you go on the G503 forum, there is a whole subforum dedicated to radios.

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Saturday, March 09, 2019 12:16 PM

WillysMB

I believe the generator on the dedicated radio jeeps was positioned between the seats and was belt driven off a power takeoff. If you go on the G503 forum, there is a whole subforum dedicated to radios.

 

WillysMB, how do you navigate to the G503 forum?

Harold

  • Member since
    March, 2019
Posted by BDelph on Sunday, March 10, 2019 8:36 AM

All good helpful information! 

Thank you! 

  • Member since
    July, 2016
  • From: Malvern, PA
Posted by WillysMB on Sunday, March 10, 2019 11:35 AM

G503.com

in the picture with all the photo etch above, I think the generator seems to be included in the set.

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Sunday, March 10, 2019 4:55 PM

WillysMB

G503.com

in the picture with all the photo etch above, I think the generator seems to be included in the set.

 

WillysMB, that is a cool website, just the place for old vets like me.

Thanks

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Monday, March 11, 2019 2:22 PM

BDelph, I opened the LZ Models kit I have which included SCR-506 AM, 508 FM and 510 FM radio sets and was not please with the detail. The Tamiya Willys MB Jeep has very nice detail, that would not be enhanced in my opinion with the quality of the LZ Models product. However, the LZ Models product would be fine in an application were only the front of the radio set is shown.

I searched the internet over the weekend for an alternative to the Minor SCR-508 and could not find anything better. In fact if I decide to use an SCR-508 radio in one of my models I will probably use the Minor product. 

Based on the information provided by Stikpusher I think it’s very likely your father was using an AM radio rather than an FM which you indicated from your father’s picture looks like an SCR-508. Since I could not find an SCR-506 AM set other than LZ Models I really think you only have one option and that is to use the Minor SCR-508 FM radio.

Harold

 

  • Member since
    March, 2013
Posted by LonCray on Monday, March 11, 2019 3:27 PM

On the AM/FM issue, I can't speak for sure to WWII, but all the Morse Code I listened to was on Continuous Wave radio (CW, also called Country & Western).  

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Monday, March 11, 2019 3:49 PM

LonCray

On the AM/FM issue, I can't speak for sure to WWII, but all the Morse Code I listened to was on Continuous Wave radio (CW, also called Country & Western).  

 

LonCray, I agree CW is commonly used for Morse code in wireless RF transmission. I believe AM radios were used for Morse code instead of FM during WWII because of their distance capability.

Harold

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Monday, March 11, 2019 9:39 PM

CW is not the frequency range, but the radio setting. Certain military radios have a CW setting in addition to a voice setting. Radios like the PRC-90, the pilots survival radio carried in their vest in the case of downing has a setting for each, while they only have a couple of set frequency ranges to transmit in.

AM, aka HF radios have propagation characteristics that allow them to do long range comms that FM, aka UHF radios cannot do. Sky wave for long range comms being the primary attribute. A signal is bounced off the ionosphere and then the ocean for intercontinental communication. Multiple hops/bounces can be needed to do this. Saltwater is an excellent reflector of radio waves, HF or FM. Surface wave rolls along the ocean surface for far more distance than thye do over dry land. I’ve done FM and HF comms over saltwater that were theoretically outside the range of the manpack  that I was using at the time (low wattage and whip antenna). Positioning on high ground and the ocean reflectiveness to allow the signal to travel to the receiving station were the main factors for good comms.

 

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Monday, March 11, 2019 10:31 PM

stikpusher

CW is not the frequency range, but the radio setting. Certain military radios have a CW setting in addition to a voice setting. Radios like the PRC-90, the pilots survival radio carried in their vest in the case of downing has a setting for each, while they only have a couple of set frequency ranges to transmit in.

AM, aka HF radios have propagation characteristics that allow them to do long range comms that FM, aka UHF radios cannot do. Sky wave for long range comms being the primary attribute. A signal is bounced off the ionosphere and then the ocean for intercontinental communication. Multiple hops/bounces can be needed to do this. Saltwater is an excellent reflector of radio waves, HF or FM. Surface wave rolls along the ocean surface for far more distance than thye do over dry land. I’ve done FM and HF comms over saltwater that were theoretically outside the range of the manpack  that I was using at the time (low wattage and whip antenna). Positioning on high ground and the ocean reflectiveness to allow the signal to travel to the receiving station were the main factors for good comms.

 

 

BDelph, in other words, CW can be used for Mores code on radios that have a CW setting, or switch. Continues Wave is a signal that can be turned on and off with a J-45 telegraph key to create the dot and dash units of Morse code.

After reading the Technical Manual (TM) for SCR-508 FM radio I don't see a switch for CW on the transmitter or receiver, or any reference to using the radio with a J-45 key necessary for Morse code which indicates to me it’s not designed for that purpose.

http://www.radiomanual.info/schemi/Surplus_NATO/AN-VRC-5_SCR-508_SCR-528_serv_user_TM11-600_1947.pdf 

On the other hand, SCR-506 AM radio does have a CW setting on the transmitter and receiver, see photograph below. Plus, there is a few references in the TM regarding a J-45 key. BDelph, I am more confident your father was using an SCR-506 radio for his OSS operation. However, I could not recommend LZ Models SCR-506 and could not find anything else on the Internet. The Minor photo-etched SCR-508 still appears to be the best option because of it’s physical similarity to SCR-506.

http://radionerds.com/images/3/31/TM-11-310-SCHEM.PDF

 

  • Member since
    March, 2013
Posted by LonCray on Thursday, March 14, 2019 12:51 PM

My receivers were R-390's - too big for jeeps but we had them in trailers too.  Replaced by Racal receivers in the mid-80's but rumor is that the military still has a few.  Their vacuum tubes survived EMP a lot better than newer machinery.  Of course, mine were hooked up to a Wullenweber AN/FLR-9 antenna - I'd love to see THAT in 1/35!  

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