Military Collector Group Post

          Backmail #42,


(22 pages) INDEX: MEMBERS WRITE; Delco 5300 modules, MEMBERS WRITE; Authenticating a Spy Radio, From Dave Stinson & Dennis Starks GRA-71 CODE BURST RECORDING; From Pete McCollum ODDBALL RS-1 TRANSMITTER; By Pete McCollum ANOTHER RS-1 TRANSMITTER VARIANT; by Pete McCollum RS-1/RT-3 MWO IDENTIFIED; Pete McCollum MORE RS-1/RT-3 MWO DATA; Pete McCollum MOTOROLA/CIA FIELD RADIOS; from Pete McCollum, with Forward & Comments by Dennis Starks INTERROGATION OF A RETIRED CIA COMMO VETERAN; by Pete McCollum THE "JOAN-ELEANOR" SYSTEM; by Pete McCollum

   MEMBERS WRITE; Delco 5300 modules: While looking through Keith Melton's book "CIA Special Weapons and Equipment", I noticed that the "Miniature Radio Station" on page 50 is made up of Delco 5300 modules. Look at the style and layout of the knobs, and the specs - just like a 5300 (but with some added options). Along the same line, the "Attache Case Radio" is made of RS-6A modules. More trivia: The RR/D-11 (page 49) has a nomenclature style that matches that "oddball RT-3" that I got recently: RT-3 --> RT/A-3 RR-11 --> RR/D-11 Here's a guess on this numbering system: - For improving the existing functionality (bug fixes), add a letter on the end of the name (example: RR-2 vs RR-2B). - For *changing* the functionality in some way, add a slash-letter in the middle of the name (example: RT-3 vs RT/A-3). This implies that there is an "RR-11" receiver out there somewhere... Pete *******************************************
    MEMBERS WRITE; Authenticating a Spy Radio, I need some help from you experts in "spy" radios. A friend wants me to look at a set he has that he believes was a "spy" radio from the 30s or 40s. I haven't seen it yet, but this is his description: The set is an 8-inch-square cube. It is painted black wrinkle. All controls and connections come out the front panel. The power cable comes out the lower left corner and is a cloth-covered cable. The case is missing. The chassis and front panel seem to be spot-welded to each other and then machined. There is no name plate and no maker's-name on any part, including the tubes. The markings inside are a red stamped "12" next to the receive-transmit switch and next to both tube sockets. There is also a red "11" stamped next to the terminal points for the power cable. Front panel controls are : "W. L." using a thumb wheel (wavelength?). "A. T." looks like a varicopler (aerial tune?). "R." and "S." which is a big lever switch (receive and send?). Large unmarked toggle switch which looks "on-off"-ish. Two pin jacks marked "TEL." Two pin jacks marked "KEY" Two binding posts marked "A and G" The set uses two tubes (30, 33). He wants to determine if this is a covert-operation radio or just a standard military or "ham-job." It doesn't sound like any military set I know, nor do I think hams put inspection marks on their homebrew sets. I need to know some "tips and tricks" to look for to determine if this is an authentic "spy" set or if it's something else. Does anyone have any clues, like wire type or something? He's supposed to send it to me next month, so I'll try to get the time to take some photos then. 73 DE Dave Stinson AB5S ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     Dave, it doesn't sound like a "SPY radio to me. Tubes are too early, and power output would have been too low. The first sets used were commercial types, and then only as an expediant(circa early 1942). The British supplied us with our first radios in very short order. These to both use, and get ideas from for the production of our own. All such sets will be operable from about any AC source 90-250v. And often 6vdc. They will not always be sterile, often they will have some type of model number, and tubes often will be marked. They will tune just about anything consceivable by way of antenna. Only one such radio is known to have been black crinkle, and that was the PRC-5. All others were simi gloss black with one exception, the PRC-1 which was OD. All will be xtal control on trans and produce a minimum of 10-15 watts TX/CW. Front panel controls will always be well marked as to their function(mainly due to the very limited instruction the operative might have received). I'd sooner think this set is an early QRP Ham rig. The design suggest mid thirties(tubes, and variometer) Terminology used indicates it's of US origin I/E Europeans would have place and "E" for earth, rather than "G" for ground. As this is most surely a US set, of 30's design, and the US had no clandestine, or special operational groups until early 1942(we were totally inept at such things at the beginning of the war, and required considerable tutoring from the British). I think it's being a SPY radio can be safely ruled out. Dennis Starks; MILITARY RADIO COLLECTOR/HISTORIAN ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Dennis: Thanks very much for the info. I have great respect for your knowledge in this area, especially as concerns ground-type equipment, but I do have to interject one thing for us aircraft fellas. The Navy was spying on German radio comms back in 1937-1941. The RAT system, the true operational ancestor of the so-called "ARC-5s," was designed specifically to listen-in on German manuvers. That intelligence was shared with the Brits. It was all very top-secret in its day. I can say this with pretty good confidence as I worked with a now-deceased gentleman at the Nevada Test Site who was a Navy equipment operator on several of these flights. He was very closed-mouth about it even at this late date (mid-1980s) and only talked with me about it because I had mentioned the RAT to him. I can't say how effective the operators and intelligence people were in using the equipment, as all he did was keep it working. The 1939 RAT system, however, was years ahead of anything else at the time. The 1940 RAV system was an expansion of the RAT's operating specs. Feel free to post this to the mil list as it's very unlikely this little bit of pre-WW-II cloak-n-dagger is still classified. 73 DE Dave Stinson AB5S That's a most interesting story, why don't you write is all up for us? I'm fully aware, I've read all the noted novels, and historic references. However the limit of our secret operations were just listening, and trying to break codes. These activities were left over after WW-I, this was put to a very abrupt stop in about 1929 as " Gentlemen don't Spy on Gentlemen", as our new secretary of state put it when he found out. This resulted in the publishing of "the Black Chamber" by the now disgruntled and out of work ex-official Herbert Yardley former head of the Army's cryptographic service. 30,000 copies of the Japanese translation sold in it's first month in print. The repercussions would hinder US intelligence efforts until the end of WW-II. Also remember that these were the Depression years, there were no funds available for such activities, we had been reduced to a 150,000 man Army(hardly enough to keep the Heads clean). See U.S. Army Signals Intelligence in WW-II: A Documentary History, CMH Pub 70-43. Military Intellligence, a Picture History. Both available from the Library of Congress. Also War Report of the OSS, by Kermit Roosevelt. Dennis Starks; MILITARY RADIO COLLECTOR/HISTORIAN ***********************************************
    GRA-71 CODE BURST RECORDING; From Pete McCollum Recently I got the attached note from Jeffrey W., regarding the question: "What equipment might have been used to record burst messages from the GRA-71?". Pete McCollum ----------------------------------------------------
    At least one of the pieces of equipment that was used to record and play back the burst message was the AN/GSH-17 Recorder-Reproducer Set, Sound (NSN 5835-00-901-4924). Except for the name and NSN I am working from memory, but I believe the following description is fairly accurate. The "gish 17" is basically a 4 Track Tape recorder/player with two tape decks and two inputs to record from two recievers at once. This was so that traffic could be copied from two teams in the field at once if neccesary. It would work with basically any radio set from the same period (R-390, GRC-106, GRC-19, etc) as long as the appropriate connecting cables were used. This was not a piece of equipment that would have been used in the man-pack mode as it is quite large and heavy (approx 30"x24"x24", 100 lbs) and operates from 115 volts 60 Hz. It only has the capability to record and play back burst messages, it does not send them. As far as I know there never was any device suitable for man-pack operation that would record the burst messages transmitted from the base station to the teams in the field until the appearance of the OA/8990 Digital Message Device Group (nicknamed "dee-meg") made by RACAL in the 1980's which could both send and receive burst messages. It was part of the Special Forces Burst Communication System. An interesting note on this device (the OA/8890) which was designed to be used with the PRC-70 and PSC-3 generation of equipment. Even though this piece was designed some 30 years or so after the GRC-109, I have seen some references that suggest that it may have been used to send burst transmissions with the GRC-109 transmitter through the use of a locally manufactured connecting cable, but would not receive them. *******************************************
    ODDBALL RS-1 TRANSMITTER; By Pete McCollum ed) A realy oddball RS-1 transmitter has survaced thats got us stumped. It's been government modifiad to operate on a single band, 1.5-1.8mc, read on & see what you think. RT/A-3, part of BN-2 -------------------- Two examples of this unit are known to exist. It is an RT-3 transmitter with the following modifications: - The tuning chart plate has been replaced by a plate that reads "RT/A-3 PART OF BN-2 TUNING RANGE 1500-1800 KC". The original RT-3 ID label is still there. - The band switch has been removed, and replaced with a screw that plugs the hole (to keep the unit watertight). Inside, all of the bandswitch components are gone. - A fixture has been added to the FT-243 crystal socket: it allows a crystal to be installed in the horizontal position, laying across the BN-2 label plate. The original crystal socket is still usable, and the second socket (for crystals with wider-spaced pins) is still there, also. - The antenna tuning cap has been replaced by a dual-section 365 pf unit, with both sections wired in parallel for a total of 730 pf. The cap looks like a commercial broadcast radio type, with a compression trimmer on each section. To mount the cap, three holes were drilled and countersunk in the front panel. The original watertight shaft bushing has been mounted upside-down on the top of the panel, and there is a rubber washer under it. This allows everything to remain watertight, but allows the new cap to mount close to the panel. However, the ant. tuning knob is now higher above the panel than the original. - There is a schematic (marked "RT/A-3 TRANSMITTER") glued to the inside of the case. Many points in the schematic have a small hand-drawn check-mark next to them - it's as if the technician was checking off the mods as he did them, then he glued the schematic in the box when he was finished. - According to the schematic, the ant. current indicator is a #43 lamp, instead of a #47. Also, the parallel resistors are a much smaller value. Most of the rest of the circuit is the same - although the plate-tank is a toroid transformer (two separate windings), and the oscillator tank is also a toroid (single winding). These new toroids are about 1" diameter, and are mounted on plastic studs with nylon (?) screws. - The outside of the case and lid has a 2"-wide yellow stripe painted on it. - The original code-key is there, and works normally, although the unit was adjusted so that the contacts were closed all the time. So, the unit would transmit a carrier as soon as it was powered up. One important question is: what is a "BN-2"? Since the RS-1 and RS-6 sets use a very 'obvious' system in their nomenclature, I'm assuming that the letters BN stand for something. Dennis Starks suggested that it might be "BeacoN", or "Beacon, Navigation". To support this theory, consider the following: Many types of aircraft in the 1950's were equipped with navigation equipment that tuned the area of the broadcast band; such as the ARN-59 which tunes 190-1750 KC. So, the RT/A-3 could have been used by clandestine teams in remote areas as a way of providing a navigation beacon for supply air-drops, or to mark a temporary airstrip. The RT/A-3 would have been very familiar to the agents who were already trained in the RS-1. Because of the crystal-socket modification, it could have been delivered to the field with a crystal already installed (a wide variety of frequencies may not have been needed for a beacon that was used only occasionally, and the signal could be 'hidden' in the AM BC band). With the key 'locked down', it would be easy for a single person to set up and operate the transmitter with a GN-58 generator. The January 1998 issue of "Air & Space" magazine has an article about the CIA's air operation in Tibet in the late '50's. The author mentions a case where a C-130 was returning, low on fuel, and the pilot needed to find an emergency airstrip in Thailand that had "only a non-directional radio beacon". The RT/A-3 could fit a situation like this. Pete McCollum *******************************************
    ANOTHER RS-1 TRANSMITTER VARIANT; by Pete McCollum A few months ago I described the RT/A-3 variant of the RT-3 transmitter. Recently I learned about two more variations: RT/D-3 It seems to be a standard late-production RT-3, but with the burst-coder connector added. This makes it functionally the same as a T-784/GRC-109. On the ID label, a small foil sticker has been added, covering up the word "RT-3" - the sticker says "RT/D-3". The case has a 2"-wide yellow stripe painted on it, just like the "A" model. The lid does NOT have the stripe, but it is marked "RT-D-3" in yellow stenciled letters. Two "D" units have been seen so far. RT/E-3 This variant is another late-production RT-3 that has been modified to cover 3-30 MC in four bands, instead of the standard 3-22 MC. The original tuning chart has been covered with a new chart. The original "RT-3" marking has been painted over in black, and "RT/E-3" was painted over it. It is in like-new condition, and the 6AC7 has a 1962 date code. The "E" model does NOT have the burst-coder connector. Only one example of the "E" model has been seen. Any ideas about what would be the advantage of adding the 22-30 MC band?? One thought is that it would be used when only short-range communications was required - it would then be less likely that your signal would propagate to enemy listening posts. Many standard RT-3's, plus these two new variants, all have an "MWO 39" marking on the front panel. All of the known units were acquired through Army surplus channels, but I've never been able to identify any hardware change that would explain the MWO. Is it possible that re-painting or MFP treatment would be an "MWO" ? If anyone has further info, please contact me. Anyone seen a "B" or "C" model?? Pete McCollum *******************************************
    RS-1/RT-3 MWO IDENTIFIED/ CLANDESTINE RADIO RESEARCH PAPER ON LINE; Pete McCollum Hi guys, I think I figured out what the MWO 39 is: It adds a pair of back-to-back Ge diodes to the Rcvr Ant. connection, just like the T-784 has "standard". I looked at several RT-3's, and sure enough, the ones that say "MWO 39" have the diodes, the others don't. But, it's unclear to me what the diodes are really needed for. In the GRC-109 manual, it says to the effect of: "the diodes will bleed off any residual charge left on C4 when the key opens". Why would it matter? I can't see there being enough energy there to harm the R-1004's front end. The Agency didn't seem to worry about it with the RR-2...One idea: maybe the Army wanted to use the xmtr with a different rcvr that had a solid-state front end, so the diodes would give some added protection ??? Through the kind efforts of Mark Blair, my research paper on "clandestine radio" is now online, including the pictures. Mark went to a lot of trouble to convert it to HTML, and format it into sections, and create a clickable Table of Contents. The location is: The document continues to evolve - I'm in the middle of adding info about some other equipment; such as RT-2 (?), RT-1B, and RS-8. Also, I'll be replacing most of the pictures eventually, since I just got a flatbed scanner. The new pictures will be sharper, and in color. Pete McCollum *******************************************
    MORE RS-1/RT-3 MWO DATA; Pete McCollum Here's some more tedious details related to "MWO 39": I remembered that a couple of my RT-3's came with a wire jumper installed between the 'Rcvr Ant' post and ground (the jumper is a piece of tinned #14 wire, bent into a "U" shape so that it will go through both binding posts). It occurred to me that this must have the same effect as the diodes. So, I re-read the RS-1 manual, and sure enough, it says that the jumper must be there when you don't have the rcvr connected: "Failure to do this, reduces the effectiveness of the key click filter". The next paragraph goes on to say that you should NOT use an external key if the rcvr is connected to the Rcvr Ant post on the xmtr, because: "The loop impedance of the leads to the key may allow enough RF voltage into the receiver to cause damage to the first tube and antenna coil. An external key is not recommended if maximum freedom from key clicks is important." So, adding the diodes (MWO 39) would have two purposes: - Avoid a key-click problem when a rcvr is NOT connected (and no need for the external wire jumper); - Avoid damaging the rcvr when an external key is used. For us collector-types that worry about making everything look "correct": If your RT-3 does not have the "MWO 39" marking, then it should have the jumper installed. BTW, the difference between a PRC-64 and PRC-64A is to add about 5 components (including two diodes, I think), to improve the keying. Pete *******************************************
    MOTOROLA/CIA FIELD RADIOS; from Pete McCollum FORWARD, Ever since Pete's excellent interview with ex-CIA instructor Bob Olsen, myself and others have been prodding him for more. The following is from his father who was also a CIA instructor. A couple years ago when Pete mentioned his fathers use of the old Motorola "Dragies Talkies" in training, it began a personal quest for me to learn more of tactical radios that might have been used by the CIA, especially as we already know of most of their logistic, and strategic communications. Of the two radios described here, the first set completely eludes me as to what it was, even with my extensive knowledge of early commercial equipment (that is my business). The radios it could most likely have been derived from became available too late to have been the one used here. It could however have been, and sounds very much like the GE Voice Command. This was a very small set even by todays standards, and the first solid state radio of it's type. It featured 1 watt RF output, two channel capacity, used thumb wheel controls, and most important, had provisions for use of external audio accessories and control. The later would not be included in most radios for many years to come, even in radios twice it's size. The possibility is good enough that this was the radio used, I plan to dig one out of my junk box, clean it up, and put it on display. I'll also send a picture to Pete to see if a visual confirmation can be made. True, Motorola claims credit for the introduction of the first solid state hand held(HT-200) in the mid 1960's, this, as with many other Motorola claims, is bull shit. The second radio is the common Motorola, VHF Highband Dragie that was also adopted by the military as the PRC-61, and in a slightly different configuration by the Coast Guard as the PRC-59. It had a tube type transmitter capable of one watt RF output, and an optional two channel capacity. The receiver in earlier models was highbred, with a tube in the front end, and the rest being solid state. Later model examples have a 100% solid state receiver with operation from 6 volts. Numerous options were available including battery type and size, power supplies and sources, carry or mounting equipment and configurations, etc. Two basic outwardly different physical variants exist, the first uses an internal loud speaker, and external mic, as with that used by Pete's dad, and on the PRC-61. The second, as used on the PRC-59, uses a handset, and has a different stile carry handle, with no built in loud speaker. Oh how I love it when we learn more about these neat old radios, and how they were used. Oh how I hate it when this new knowledge just prompts more questions! Dennis Starks; MILITARY RADIO COLLECTOR/HISTORIAN -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    My parents are visiting this week, so I quizzed my Dad about radio- related stuff: The equipment was used by the CIA's OTR (Office of Training) in the Washington D.C. and northern Virginia area. OTR had facilities in that area that were separate from Langley - they were basically all covert sites. In about 1962 or 1963, they had a small portable radio set as follows: (some of the details are a little fuzzy - Dad was not a commo guy) - A small transceiver, about the size of a pack of cigarettes, with two thumbwheel controls on top - volume and squelch. - Battery pack was separate - worn on the belt. - Mic was worn under the shirt, with a cord around the neck. - PTT button was in your hand, with a cord running up the sleeve. - Hearing-aid style earphone. - Short range - 1/4 mile or less. - Probably made by Motorola. Definitely not military, probably not GE. - Used generally by people on foot (not in cars). In about 1963 or 1964, OTR evaluated and accepted a Motorola Handie- Talkie. The one that I have, which Dad recognized, is an H23-11 hi-band with NU105C2 transmitter. There's a handle on top, and the mic mounts in a fixture at one end of the top, while volume and squelch controls are on the other end next to the SO-239 connector. The mic is about the size and shape of an RS-38, but made of metal. Inside are submini tubes, and a few early transistors. Mine has two channels, selected by a toggle switch, but Dad thought that maybe theirs was single channel. He didn't know if they used hi-band or lo-band, but he thinks the antenna was about 18" long. These HT's were used mostly in cars during training exercises, etc. Range could be up to several miles, but there were problems when they got in the shadow of a building, etc. They had a "base station" at a permanent OTR site (in Rosslyn, for example). When the HT's were out of range of each other, then they would relay messages through the base station (not a repeater, a manual voice relay). They used "government frequencies" that were separate from the ones used by the FBI. Some of the training sessions involved running movie films for the trainees. This required the trainees to use headphones, so that people out in the hallway wouldn't hear things. Plugging in several headsets to the same projector resulted in poor audio, and no individual control over the volume. So, in about 1971 or 72 (I was in about 8th grade then), Dad asked me if I could build some kind of headphone amplifier that could be used by 4 people (at that time, I didn't know where he really worked). I built a prototype using two transistors with 4 output jacks and a volume control for each. The first unit was apparently successful, as Dad later asked me to build 3 more units. Later, OTR got a bunch more units, but they were commercially made. I still have my original pencil-drawn schematic, so I plan to build another one for nostalgia's sake... Not radio-related, but a couple of memories that Dad related last night: Part of Dad's job with OTR was that he was manager of several Agency safehouses that were used as training sites for recruited agents (recruits could not be taken to any of the permanent sites). Dad managed up to 11 safehouses. Most were rented apartments that were used for 6 months or less. One time there was a racial demonstration planned for a certain location, and the FBI asked CIA if they had a safehouse nearby that they could "borrow" for the weekend. The Agency did indeed have an apartment that overlooked the area, but it was against Agency policy to let *anyone* else in. But, Dad told his boss that the safehouse was scheduled to be terminated in a couple of months anyway, so they could just shut it down early. This required approval at the highest levels - the Director of Central Intelligence signed off on it. Dad removed all the Agency stuff, then called the Agency Security guys to come and sweep it for bugs, then they invited the FBI guys to set up. Two guys showed up with suitcases full of radio and surveillance gear. Another time, there was an OTR staff guy called "Pinky" that had come to town for a training operation. In this case, he was spending the night in a safehouse, and other personnel would be arriving the next day. When Bob (the trainer) arrived in the morning, he found Pinky dead on the floor, an apparent heart attack. Bob did *not* put the "OK" signal in the window, thus indicating to the trainee that it was *not* safe to come inside. Bob called Dad, who then called OTR Security, who then called Agency Security. Two security guys came over with a body bag, and one them threw Pinky over his shoulder and carried him down to the parking garage... No coroners, no death reports, etc. Pete ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On the CIA's web page, I found a list of declassified articles from "Studies in Intelligence". The journal used to be all classified, and available only internal to CIA. Now, they are making certain new articles available on the Web, and they have declassified about 770 articles from past issues. Copies can be ordered from the National Archives for 25 cents a page. I plan to order at least a couple. Searching the list for radio-related stuff, this is what I found!: Adversary Agent Radios : Fauth, James J. : Winter 1966 Agent Radio Operations During World War II : Georgia, Scudder : Winter 1959 U.S. Hunt for Axis Agent Radios, The : Sterling, George E. : Spring 1960 Non-Electronic Agent Communications : D'Echauffour, Gabriel M. : Fall 1969 Yo-Yo Story: An Electronics Analysis Case History, The : Ahern, Charles R. : : Winter 1961 Communications Intelligence and Tsarist Russia : Hammant, Thomas R. : Summer 1978 Early Development of Communications Intelligence, The : Flicke, Wilhelm F. : Winter 1959 Reminiscences of a Communications Agent : Expatriate : Fall 1958 Anatomy of PRM-8 : Goodman, Allen E. : Winter 1977 I have the complete list in text format if anyone would like me to e-mail a copy. Pete ***********************************************
     INTERROGATION OF A RETIRED CIA COMMO VETERAN; by Pete McCollum Forward: The following is a collection of anecdotes was collected from a retired CIA commo veteran by Pete McCollum. The source, who wishes to remain anonymous, sent him this info in a series of e-mails sent/received over a several week interrogation period. Pete has compiled these in an assemblage of order for our benefit. Pete has also bombarded his source with several volleys of questions for which he is still searching for some answers. Readers should note that very much of the early information presented here has been apparently gleaned directly from early publications such as "The War Report of the OSS" by Kermit Roosevelt(and co authored by many others) which is the official account ordered to be written by Donovan himself just after WW-II, for which some passages are repeated here almost word for word. Other original source material seems to include those accounts of the R & D team members who designed the SSTR-1. Their stories have been posted here in their entirety, along with additional data, and can be found in Backmail #39 (SSTR-1; From the Horses Mouth, parts I, II, & III). Readers should consult these original sources before forming any permanent opinions. Collaborating material can also be found in Backmail #43 "GRC-109/RS-1; What, Why, When, Where" originally published here in six parts and co-authored by Pete & myself. A great deal of additional data on the GRC-109, RS-1 and it's variants have also been compiled by Pete and presented here via our group post. This data has not yet been transferred to our Backmail files and can yet be found in our Back Issues. Lastly, Pete has spent many years in a fanatical search for every possible detail on the RS-1, GRC-109, RS-6 and Delco 5300/PRC-64 and all their variants. Much of this data we have been made privy to by him via this post, and the balance has been included in a lengthy paper written by him which is available in hard copy or via his new Web Site(more on that later). That material where Pete's source recounts his personal experiences are very accurate, and should provide us with a greatly enhanced understanding of the equipment that was used, how, where, and when. Even a few here-to-for unknown types will be presented along with some detail of data that before we could only speculate on. My sincere thanks to Pete for his diligence in researching this material, and sharing it with us. Dennis Starks, editor Military Collector Group Post. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- These anecdotes are Copyright 1999 by Peter McCollum. Permission is given to reproduce this material for non-commercial purposes, as long as credit is given.

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