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    OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART I, PRC-21>33 by Dennis Starks OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART II, PRC-39>61 by Dennis Starks OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART III, PRC-73>91 by Dennis Starks OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART IV, PRC-94 by Dennis Starks OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART V, PRC-97 & 101 by Dennis Starks OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART VI, PRC-127,& 129 by Dennis Starks OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART VII, Maybe's? by Dennis Starks OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART VIII, Conclusion By Dennis Starks MEMBERS WRITE; ****************************************** OFF THE SHELF PRICKs; PART I, PRC-21>33 by Dennis Starks FORWARD, In this multi part series we will investigate the many items of PRC designated equipment that have been for the most part, adopted "off the shelf". These would be commercial type radios, already available on the open market, and adopted by the military either as-is, or with very superficial modifications. All without the normal extremely lengthy time and money consuming process of development and testing usually associated with any item of military equipment. Though this topic has been touched on before, never in the detail that will be presented here. We will describe, and document in detail both the commercial variant, and it's military equivalent, along with as much historical information as is currently available. Also we will describe many of the commercial sets that were used, which may, or may not have received a military designation, or have been officially adoption. While it is true that there are many examples of vehicular, ground based, and aircraft types that have also seen use in the same manner, beginning before, and extensively during WW-II, we will relegate their stories to another time. Readers should keep in mind that all those early commercial sets manufactured between 1948 and 1960 are every bit the desired collectors items that their military cousins are. And to a lesser extent, those made between 1960 and 1970, continuing on today. All the technical descriptions of the PRC designated equipment come from one source, (Ref.#1). This text was compiled over a period in excess of 20 years, from dozens of reference materials and sources. Thus regretfully the length of these references is too lengthy to include here, though they are included in the original text, and have been posted via this group several times. It may be again posted at the conclusion of this series. It is hoped that whenever possible, readers will contribute to the information given, or correct any errors that might exist. Thanks, Dennis ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ PRC-21/RT-209; Hand-carried portable VHF/FM transceiver. Noted as a tactical radio, it's most probable use was by Military Police & other security forces. Set can be either shoulder or backback carried using standard carry straps. All examples encountered have been built by Motorola. Ops on one xtal control frequency between 152-174mc with an RF power output of 150mw. Requires: 67.5v/11ma, 45v/10ma, 1.5v/420ma,-6v/10-125ma (rec). 135v/28ma, 67.5v/4ma, 45v/11ma, -6v/11ma(trans), supplied by BA-358. Accessories include H-33 handset & AT-486 antenna, 2ea standard carry straps. Size 12 x 8 1/8 x 5 3/4",13.5lbs. Original cost circa 1955 $484.00-$512. Ref.#3,#23,#28,#30 Peculiar to the PRC-21 is the fact that the radio itself is not marked PRC-21. Instead, it's data plate reads only RT-209/PRC, while the manual does include the complete radio number. This is normally true only of basic components that could be included as parts in various other system configurations. Like the RT-70 being part of the PRC-16, and the VRC-7. But we do not know if any other such variants ever existed. It did have companion equipment used as mobiles, bases, repeaters, and discrete receivers, etc. These included the VRC-19 series of equipment, which do not however share any family resemblance, other than they too were built by Motorola, and are of the same vintage. Basically the PRC-21 can be considered a re-packaged commercial Motorola FHTR-3B*. But there is a little more to it than that. The only real commonality with the PRC-21 and it's commercial cousin is in the receiver and transmitter strips it uses. Besides the obviously military cabinet, provisions for an internal loud speaker it's associated audio amplifier, and a squelch circuit have been added that do not exist in the commercial version. Ref.#3 list the PRC-21 as a Standard Item used by the U.S. Army, and is one of the few radios in this series that will be seen with this classification. The Motorola FHTR-3B* can be considered a 2nd generation Motorola portable, or "Dragie Talkie". It saw very wide spread use with the railroads, and most examples found today will show this distinction. The two basic parts of the radio set are the transceiver(upper half) and the battery box(lower half). They are held together by knurled knobs on either end of the set. These when rotated about a half turn, cam the two set halves together. The transceiver portion is only about 1.5" wide. The only control is for volume, there is no squelch, nor internal speaker. Instead the set uses a handset very much like a WW-II vintage military type. Recently one of our group has discovered a till now unknown variant that uses a speakermic. This set model number H13-4AL, serial number 7, has an internally stamped date of Aug 6 1957. We do not know whether this was a regular production set, or one specially modified by Motorola for a customers particular application. All these early Motorola sets were dark gray in color having a crinkle finish, with the early "Motorola" in silver script on the side of the radio. Unlike later radios in the Motorola line which would have series names like "Research Line", "Dispatcher", "Motrac", etc. This line of portables was simply called "Handie-Talkie" as this was a Motorola registered trademark beginning shortly after WW-II. Other radio types are also known to have been built that utilized the same basic internal receiver, and transmitter strips. The later can be found in a belt worn transmitter that uses a conventional external mic with PTT, and a telescoping antenna. Though it is reported to have had a companion receiver, none have ever been encountered. It is not known wheither this Motorola Handie was ever adopted and granted a military designation or not, we do know that it did see service in it's commercial configuration, perhaps as a cheeper alternate to the PRC-21. It also had a couple twin brothers that were adopted as the PRC-23, and PRC-24, the only difference between them being that the PRC-23/24 are both lowband(see below). Today, while the PRC-21 is fairly common, it's commercial counterpart ranks among the rarest of early commercial gear. It is sad that we know relatively nothing of the service either of these sets performed for their country. But as will be seen in the following pages, this is true of most of these type radios. (Ref.#3,23,30) ---------------------------------------------------------- PRC-23/RT-235, and PRC-24/RT-236; Hand-carried portable VHF/FM transceiver. Adoption of the commercial Motorola FHTR-1BLL, and FHTR-1BH respective. Ops on one xtal control frequency between 25-30mc(PRC-23), or 40-50mc(PRC-24) with an RF output power of 500mw. Requires 6ea BA-30 1.5v batteries, 3ea BA-51 67.5v batteries, & AT-348 antenna. Size 12 5/8 x 3 1/8 x 12 1/2", 14.9lbs. Circa approx 1953 Ref.#3 In this case the commercial equivalent is virtually identical to it's military counterpart. For a physical disruptions of these radios, see PRC-21's commercial equivalent. Ref.#3 indicates that the PRC's-23 and 24 where both used by the U.S. Army, and were classified as Limited Standards. At the time, the U.S. Army classification for Limited Standard was used to designate an item of equipment that was "Less Satisfactory than the Standard, or Substitute Standard type but is acceptable." Would the comparable Standard type have been a PRC-6, 9, or 10? At the same time, the SCR-300/BC-1000 also had a classification of Limited Standard, but the definition goes on to read, "can be substituted until existing supplies are exhausted". It's interesting to note, that this classification is the only one where cannibalization of equipment is authorized. Ya right! (Ref.#3,23) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-29; Hand carried VHF,FM portable transceiver.Adoption of the commercial Motorola model X-11-1A. Intended for use by guards,& security police for internal security or industrial control operations. Could also be used for various tactical situations. Can be hand carried with its top mounted handle, or worn on either the shoulder or back using standard canvas straps. Ops 30-42mc on one xtal control channel with an RF output power of 750mw.Requires three 45v(Burgess M-30) B batteries,& two 1.5v standard 4F batteries. Accessories include P-8653-A(antenna),P-9096(battery power supply), K-9098(carry case),TA-124(carry strap kit),& P-9094A(microphone).Size 5 x 12 1/8 x 15 1/8" 23.7lbs. US Navy order date 20 Sept.1954. Ref.#3 Again we find that the commercial equivalent is virtually identical to it's military counterpart. We sometimes refer to this set as Motorola's 1st generation Dragie, because it was the first ever built by either Motorola or any other company we know of. It was introduced in 1949 along with it's highband twin the P13-1AL. It's quite distinctive in it's appearance, being a little shorter than a BC-1000, and having a long chrome plated handle that spans the top of the radio. It's speaker is contained in a square box mounted external to the radio, and under the carry handle. Though it is hinged to allow access to it's connecting wires, it is not detachable. It uses a hand held mic which is of the familiar round, heavy metal type, that would be seen on many Motorola Dragie Talkies for years to come. The battery box is located at the bottom of the radio in the conventional manner, but it's method of attachment is unique. A large knurled, and slotted screw goes in the top of the radio on either end. These go completely through the radio to screw into ears on the inside lip of the battery box. The model series designation, as with the PRC-23, and 24 is again simply "Handie Talkie". Like the PRC-21, 23, and 24. The PRC-29 used common transmitter, and receiver strips. Each contained a series of plug-in module/boards for each stage in the system. This bigger brother of the series, do to it's larger size, had far more versatility, options, and controls. At least the commercial versions could be had with two channel capacity, varied power supply, and audio options. The method of obtaining multiple channel capacity was most strange. Rather than the normal, and simple method of switching between a pair of crystals, these radios, if they had dual channel capabilities, switched between two completely separate transmitter, and receiver strips. So Basically, if you had a two channel radio, it contained two complete transceivers in the same box. Of the early portables, this radio, and it's highband twin are the rarest of all. You might search a lifetime and only find one, in the case of the Military model, maybe never. As noted above, Ref.#3 states,"However, it may be employed in various tactical situations", it is very doubtful though, that this was ever done. But who knows? (Ref.#3,23) --------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-33/RT-339; Hand carried VHF,FM portable transceiver.Adoption of a militarized commercial radio set Type PS-40 Model HC by Industrial Radio. System designed as a complete portable station. It can be used as a hand carried or pack set, & as a semi fixed ground station. Provided with a weatherproof canvas bag for protection under extreme weather conditions. It was widely sold for Civil Defense use and even military examples may display the CD emblem. Ops on any one xtal control channel between 30-42mc, with an RF output power of 750mw.Requires 1.5v(Burgess 8F), 45v, & 135v(both B voltages supplied by multiple Burgess M-39 batteries), a 110vac and various DC vibrator supplies are also known to have been made. Accessories include AT-673(antenna), CY-1916(case), & microphone.Size 4.5 x 10 x 11.5", 15lbs. US Navy order date 14 Sept.1955. Ref.#3 Unlike many of the radios that will be described in this series, the PRC-33 does have some wartime history. Where in the early-mid 1960's it was used aboard Navy rescue boats, and small search aircraft. (See: Military Collector Group Post, Backmail #42; TONKIN HEATHKIT? PRC-33! from Ed Zeranski, & Dennis Starks, and MORE TONKIN HEATHKIT? from Ed Zeranski) Like most radios of this type, the PRC-33 and it's commercial equivalents are often referred to as "Lunch Box Radios". Derived mainly from their primary method of carry and to a lesser extent, their physical appearance. Of all the radios available at the time, this one to my mind, would have been the least desirable for the applications it is known to have served in. Though Ref.#3 states that "It's normally resistant to dust and rain", it's very hard to see how this was possible. This because the cabinet is fabricated from at least four separated panels which are screwed together. And unlike most radios of this type, the controls are all arranged on the side of the radio, even the antenna connector, rather than on the top, which is the more conventional manner. Like the PRC-29, the PRC-33 has a very distinctive appearance, and similar size. The PRC-33 had a large carry handle atop the radio that would remind you of those found on any refrigerator door of the time. My heart goes out to those poor soles taxed with it's use in the field, and later repair. Dennis Starks; MILITARY RADIO COLLECTOR/HISTORIAN References: #1) MILITARY RADIO DATA, VOLUME I, PRC Designated Radio Equipment, by Dennis Starks #3) TM11-487A,1958,MIL-HDBK-161,Military Handbook Electronic Communication Equipment. #23) The authors personal collection #30) Associated equipments technical manual. ****************************************** OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART II, PRC-39>61 by Dennis Starks As we progress up through this class of PRC designated equipment, you well begin to notice a few things. First is a progression from tubes to highbred, then solid state, the radios are also getting smaller, lighter and more expensive. In the case of the later, the government cost of this equipment is without exception extremely high. Often times higher than radios that would have been used in a more tactical role. While the civilian variants of these radios were also expensive, it was nothing like the governments cost for the same radio. Typical! You will also notice that the frequency range of these radios begin to concentrate more on highband VHF, I/E 130-170mc. I should note here that while some of these radios are rated for that entire range in print, in reality none will work that much of a frequency spread, not for another 20 years anyway. Both the lowband, and highband were dissected into sub bands, for lowband it went something like 25-30, 30-40, 40-50mc, and for highband, 130-150, 150-160, and 160-170mc. Each radio was in turn only capable of operation in it's sub-band. This is the reason that there was a PRC-23, and a PRC-24, both identical, and working in the same band, but only capable of operation in their respective sub-bands. So if you have a PRC-59 on 161mc, it will not work without considerable modification on 146mc, even though the set might be rated for that in print. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-37; Handheld VHF, FM transceiver. Intended for use by Air Police & with Air Rescue teams as a replacement for the PRC-21 in the US Air Force. Ops 144-174mc,with an RF power output of 1 watt. Power could be provided by either 6 or 12v rechargeable batteries. No other information is available. Reportedly the set could use any of the following accessories, Antenna, case, carry strap, loudspeaker, microphone, & power supply. Ref.#3 As there is no photograph or contractor data in the source reference material, I cannot identify the commercial variant of this radio. However by the description and date(1958) of the source info, we can guess that this was a Lunch Box type radio, possibly with a solid state receiver, and tube type transmitter(especially as it uses an apparently separate power supply). Also the source material list the receiver and transmitter as separate items on the major components list. Of coarse all these items were most likely housed in a common cabinet. It is also possible that the only solid state feature of this radio was it's power supply. As it was common at that time to over stress the fact that a solid state device existed in a particular item of equipment. For example, the General Electric Progress Line equipment of the time was all tube type, with the introduction of transistors into their power supplies in the mid 1960's, their names were changed to TPL, "Transistorized Progress Lines", yet the basic radio remained the same. BTW the Progress Line mobile was adopted as the VRC-32 circa 1955. I could make a guess, and I do have an idea, what the PRC-37 was, but with the risk of being wrong, I best not to. I hate being wrong, and make it a practice never to be. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ PRC-39; Portable VHF,FM transceiver. Built by Industrial Radio, suspect this is a commercial type radio similar to the PRC-40, and of tube type or highbred circuitry. Ops 28-44mc FM with an output power of 1.5watts. Requires 1.5v,15v,& 150v.Original cost $439.00. No further information avail. Ref.#28 Sense I originally wrote this description, a manual has been located, and my original suspicions were confirmed. It is identical to the PRC-40 except for it's frequency range. In it's original form, it has a solid state receiver, and a tube type transmitter, as did the early version of the PRC-40. It is unknown whether this set received the 100% solid state treatment later in life like the PRC-40 did. For further details about this radio, see the PRC-40 below. Ref.#30 (NAVSHIPS 93351, 20 May, 1959) ----------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-40/RT-507; Hand carried VHF, FM portable transceiver. Built by Industrial Radio, its a non-tactical radio built for police & security forces. Early models(circa 1959)were of highbred construction using mostly solid state circuitry. The PRC-40(AX) as redesigned & modified by Dixon Industries(circa 1963)is 100% solid state. Features a built in loud speaker, carrier squelch. Multiple carry options I/E, as a backpack set with it's canvas bag & straps, over the shoulder with common carry strap, or hand carried with it's top mounted carry handle. Ops 132-152mc,on one xtal control channel,with an output power of 1.5 watts(PRC-40) or 1 watt(PRC-40AX), has built in loud speaker & uses external hand mic. Requires 15v supplied by 6ea Everready 707 7.5 volt batteries(PRC-40AX)or 1.5v,15v & 150v(PRC-40). Accessories include 1/4 wave whip type antenna & CY-2625 canvas carry bag with associated straps for over the shoulder or backpack carry. Original cost $1350.00. Ref.#23,#28,#30 Of all the Off the Shelf PRC's, the PRC-40AX is probably the most common, though none have ever been found in their original highbred form. It also looks more like a child's "Lunch Box", than any of the others among this family of PRC's, being only slightly larger. One strange thing about it, and it's lowband twin is that none of it's commercial equivalents have ever been found. This contrary to the norm in all the other examples that will be presented, where the commercial variant is far more common than the military. This possibly do to it's extremely high cost, which was no doubt for the Government's benefit alone. You will notice this extremely high, and unfounded government cost repeatedly as this series progresses. As supplied from the factory, they had a tube type transmitter, and a solid state receiver. As all the original PRC-40 manuals are for the hybrid version, it is doubtful it was ever supplied by Industrial Radio in it's AX form, especially as the PRC-40AX manual is simply a supplement to the original manual printed by the contractor, Dixon Industries. All the later conversions of the PRC-40(hybrid), to PRC-40AX(solid state), appear to have been conducted by an independent contractor, and not the original manufacturer. Whether this was at the Navy's direction or that of Industrial Radio is unknown. For the Ham wanting something representative of a military radio to use at hamfest etc. on 2 meters, this is a good one, and the oldest radio practical for this application. It has been reported that a variant of this radio built by General Electric existed, but this has not yet been confirmed. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-46; General purpose VHF, FM portable transceiver. Ops 144-174mc on one xtal control channel with an output power of 1 watt. Requires 10.5v(rec), 1.5v & 150v (trans). No further information. Ref.#29 Again, as the original source material did not provide a picture, we don't know what the commercial equivalent, or who the contractor was. But we can see by the voltages that it used, it was also a highbred design, having a solid state receiver and a tube type transmitter. As it shows up in an Airforce manual we can also assume that it was for their use. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-55; Receiver transmitter, VHF, FM. Built by Allied Signal with an original Navy cost of $1810.00. Ops on one channel, 132-150.8mc, A3, size 4 x 12 x 16", 8.4vdc operating voltage, NSN 5820-00-757-3010. No further information. Ref.#28 Again, we don't have a picture, but from the description, this was luchbox type radio, and probably all solid state. Dating this one too could be shaky, but I would guess the late 60's. Allied Signal depending on the date in question could have been Bendix, Wilcox, Northrop, even Hallicrafters, or Radio Industries. Of these, the last four were all contractors that built the OPS series radios of Vietnam Village & Hamlet Radio System fame. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ PRC-56; Built by Allied Signal with an original US Navy cost of $2610.00. NSN 5820-00-757-3011, no further information. Ref.#28 There's not even enough available info on this one to guess what it was. But note the consecutive stock numbers, could this radio have been the same as a PRC-55 except for the frequency split, or band? ------------------------------------------------------------------------ PRC-58/RT-772; Body worn VHF,FM transceiver. Built by Repco for general purpose use. The PRC-58 is constructed in three major components, RT unit, battery box, & external handset. The handset houses a loudspeaker, mic, power on/off switch, PTT, volume & squelch controls. The battery box & RT unit are carried in a rubberized canvas bag with provisions for wearing in several ways about the users body. Ops 144-174mc on any one xtal control frequency. RF power output is 1 watt. Requires 12vdc. Original US Air Force cost $450.00. Ref.#23,#28,#29 Of all the radios we will feature in this series, this one is the most peculiar. For lack of a better definition I referred to it as body worn, though I have never figured out how this was done. It's rubberized canvas bag has straps sewn to it, coming out at all angles, with buckles everywhere. I've yet to understand how this thing was strapped to the body. It was arranged much like the RBZ of WW-II fame, and the component parts are similar in size, I/E the transceiver, and battery box. Most peculiar about the set was it's handset(for lack of a better word), it's more like a tiny control head, and indeed looks very much like an early yet very small, combination speaker/control head as used on the old Comco trunk-mount mobiles of the early 50's. By the way, Comco, and Repco are the same company. The construction of the set is most rudimentary, the cabinets for it's component parts look like a cross between something I would make, or buy from BUD. It's control head/handset/speaker-mic indeed looks home brew. Regardless of what the outside looks like, the inside is full blown quality as would be seen in all those built by Repco. It is all solid state, using sealed plug-in modules throughout, as all the successive examples from Repco would be, and this radio marks the first use of this technique in a non tactical radio. It would appear that the next generation of this set would be the PRC-91 series which we will visit later. ------------------------------------------------------------------ PRC-59; Hand-carried, portable, VHF, FM transceiver. Adoption of the commercial Motorola model Z23BAC1001AR, by the US Treasury Department. These sets saw extensive service with the US Coast Guard. Note, this radio is identical except for color, frequency split, & the use of a microphone vice handset, to the US Navy's PRC-61. Circuit design includes a 100% solid state receiver, & a highbred transmitter. Provisions exist for use of a handset or internal loudspeaker. Features include built in loud speaker, multiple carry & power supply options. Vehicular operation with associated mounts, supplies & cables. The PRC-59,& 61 could be hand-carried with it's top mounted handle, shoulder carried with common carry straps, & used as a back-pack set with common carry straps or in a canvas bag. Additionally a canvas bag was provided, to contain the RT unit & power supply for use as a portable station. Ops 152-174mc,on any one(two channels optional)xtal controlled frequency.RF power output 1 watt.Requires -6v/26ma(rec) provided by Burgess F4P1 battery, 1.5v/875ma(Burgess 4D cell), 67.5v & 130v/55ma(2ea Burgess XX45)trans. Optionally power could be supplied via internal 6 volt nicads or any external 12vdc source using a solid state inverter, a 110vac power supply was also available. Accessories include 1/4 wave whip antenna 2AD6021A, Handset ZMN6003A, carry strap ZLN6024A, carry case ZLN6025A. Size 12 1/8 x 3 1/8 x 10 1/8" ,7lbs(less batteries). Circa 1961. Ref.#26,#30 This radio is of only two known that were expressly adopted for use by the Coast Guard, of the PRC types anyway. And as such they usually have a large Coast Guard crossed anchor crest on each side in place of the usual Motorola logo. In the last couple years, quantities of these radios have been trickling through the surplus system, those that I watched sell had the highly desirable 110vac power supply clipped in place of it's battery box, and the heavy canvas transit bag. Regretfully though, that person who was awarded the bid thought they were quite valuable. It's commercial version is the most familiar of the older Motorola Handie Talkie types. Being the last Motorola Draggie to use tubes anywhere in it's design. We often referred to as being of their fourth generation. The third was externally identical but had a hybrid receiver. This family also marked the change of the Motorola logo from silver script to black block letters, and the addition of the now familiar large capital M. The colors changed on this variant too, it would now be two tone, vice the old dark gray. By the late 1960's this series would be replaced by the PT-300, which was simply a re-packaged handheld HT-200. The options and accessories available for this radio, and it's PRC-61 cousin, would fill a book, and it's impossible to even begin to try and list them. It should be noted that the PRC-59 was of high split VHF, I/E 160-170mc, and most of the radios found will be on whats now the VHF marine emergency channel 16. It was most likely replaced in service by the PRC-91, or one of it's commercial variants, or later by the PRC-94. The PRC-94 has been found in abundance as Coast Guard surplus in it's commercial form. -------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-61/RT-693;Hand-carried VHF,FM portable transceiver. Identical to PRC-59 except frequency range of 130-152mc, use of microphone and internal loudspeaker vice a handset. Adopted at least for use by the US Navy, color is haze gray. Uses battery box CY-3870. Original US Navy cost $1770.00. For more information see PRC-59. Ref.#23,#28 The PRC-61 is possibly the second most common PRC designated radio of this type you'll encounter, just after the PRC-40. And like the PRC-40, it is a viable one for operation on 2 meters, particularly if you have it's optional nicad power supply. This supply was basically a 6 volt nicad battery for the receiver, with a solid state inverter for the transmitter. This inverter also allowed operation from an external 6 or 12 volt source. The PRC-61 also used the heavy round metal mic distinctive of Motorola Handie Talkies, dating back to it's first, and the PRC-29, it would be the last radio to use it. Unlike the PRC-59 which was dark gray with the Coast Guard crest, the PRC-61 is Navy haze gray. It is strange that none of the lowband versions of this or the third generation Motorola's are known to have been adopted, but then maybe they were and we just don't know it. Dennis Starks; MILITARY RADIO COLLECTOR/HISTORIAN References: #1) MILITARY RADIO DATA, VOLUME I, PRC Designated Radio Equipment, by Dennis Starks (copies available from the author) #3) TM11-487A,1958,MIL-HDBK-161,Military Handbook Electronic Communication Equipment. #23) The authors personal collection #28) Federal Logistics Data on Compac Disc(Fed Log).1995 #29) AFP 100-14,May 1980. #30) Associated equipments technical manual. ****************************************** OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART III, PRC-73>91 by Dennis Starks We've now progressed into the age of all solid state radios, and with this is born some design innovations that will be seen in all hand helds today. Yes, true hand held "walkie talkies", not hand carried, or lunch box radios. The years represented here are ruffly 1967 through 1972, though the radios themselves would live on in service for some years to come. You should notice a trend of the military to use the lower powered variant of a particular model radio, even though a more powerful commercial version was available. This only makes since, as believe me, a 5 watt radio does not work any better over a one or two mile path, given the same terrain, than does a 2 watt radio. Yet the battery life/operation time, are greatly increased with the later. This holds true, even to this day were the recent PRC-127 was available in a 5 watt version, the military used a 2 watt model, even for tactical purposes. Did you ever wonder, that during the over 20 year life span of the PRC-77, and with that, greatly advanced technology, that it's output power was never increased? There were other reasons that the military adopted a low power doctrine, but this is not our topic of discussion today. Along with a preference for lower power, the military also would opt for the higher capacity batteries, again showing a desire for extended operational time. Also, though a particular model radio could have boasted a number of optional "Bells & Whistles", the military will always take the Plain Jane version, and you can bet it was not in an attempt to save money! Lastly, and sometimes confusing, very few of these radios will be found with a government data tag, especially the later model ones. Not because they've been removed either. While on the other hand, the radios retirement from service in complete civilian dress was/is very common. PRC-73; Hand held VHF, FM transceiver. Built by Repco for the US Navy with a unit cost of $753.00. The PRC-73 & others, was to be replace by the PRC-94V1. Ops 132-174mc, with 1.5 watts RF output. Requires 25vdc. NSN 5820-00-989-4705, no further information. Ref.#28 I have no idea what this thing was. But the operating voltage, combined with the manufacturer is very strange. As it was to be replaced by the PRC-94, it's vintage could have been anywhere between 1965 and about 1972, I'd lean toward 1967. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-91;Handheld VHF, FM transceiver. Resembles small narrow BC-611. Haze gray in color, & is constructed of high impact plastic. Known US Navy use. No further information. Ref.#27 As will be seen shortly, there were several variants of the PRC-91 and that their basic design lived on in their successor, the PRC-94. But this radio was completely different. I acquired an example of one of these while serving in the Med aboard USS John F, Kennedy(CV-67), by purely innocent means! It had been cast off by the ET's for some reason, anyway, they gave it to me. It was completely different than other PRC-91's or 94's in physical design, internally and externally. Externally it was only about 1.5 inches thick, 3 inches wide, and 11 inches long. It had a separated mic, and earphone sticking out the narrow edge similar to a BC-611. And was made of a haze gray, high impact, ribbed plastic. Internally, it was designed using a single board, and discrete solid state devices. The later Motorola would use two boards sandwiched together, while the Repco was all modular. Anyway while returning the States for separation from the Navy in 1980, I was accosted by Customs in Palma Spain whereupon they relieved me of it. Along with my Honer harmonica's I'd had sense high school, and a bunch of my other booty, err trinkets. I've not seen or heard of one sense that time, nor has it shown up in any publications. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ PRC-91A/RT-291A; Handheld VHF, FM transceiver. Adoption of a commercial Repco model series 10-8(810-009-010) for general purpose non-tactical communications. It was this radio that while in service with the US Navy, alerted the world to the splashdown of Apollo 13. The PRC-91A is completely different physically than the PRC-91, & is only functionally equivalent to the RT-918, having similar size & operational parameters. Very similar to the PRC-94, most accessories & modules are interchangeable. Ops 132-150.8mc, on one(optionally two) xtal control frequencies,with an RF power output of 2 watts(optionally 4 watts). Requires 12-15v provided by a variety of optional battery combinations that could be slid onto the bottom of the RT unit. As issued, the radio has a combination battery box/charger that uses a nicad battery similar to that of a Motorola HT-200. Size 5 1/2"H x 3 1/4"W x 1 3/4"T(less battery box), 10 1/2"tall(with battery) Accessories include, telescoping 1/4 wave antenna, CY-6502 leather carry case. The PRC-91A as with other equipment of this type & vintage,were to be replaced by the PRC-94V1. Original US Navy cost $1060.00. NSN 5820-922-2858, circa 1968. Ref.#23,#28 This was the first radio in military inventory to utilized the now familiar hand held, or "walkie talkie" ergonomic stile common today, or the first one with a PRC designation anyway. It was also innovative in several other areas as will be seen. Like tactical radios of then and now, it used sealed plug in modules as did it's predecessor the PRC-58. This method greatly simplified both service and logistics in the field, and must have been most attractive to the military as the technique would live on, unchanged in it's successor, the PRC-94. And the PRC-94 would replace ALL others in this class of radios. Also, of the early "Off the Self" radios, this one was the first to be rugged enough for use in a tactical role should the need arise. And it's very possible that it did. Another first for this radio was the method by which the battery was secured to the radio. It slid onto the bottom via rails, then locked in place. It would be another ten years before Motorola adopted such a system on their MX series. Today this method is used on all but very few UHF and VHF HT's, Ham or commercial. The only real difference between the Repco and it's Military counterpart, was it's battery. The military model used a hollow version of the standard Repco battery, that could be opened up, and a Motorola battery inserted(same battery as used on the HT-200 among others). Also a built in 110vac charger was included, with it's cord stored rapped around the lowest extreme of the radio set. This made for a very tall radio. It is very difficult to determine which of these last two PRC-91's came first. The Motorola version has a higher RT number which usually is the best indication of vintage, and as such would tend to indicate it came after the Repco. But it was in commercial production before the Repco. The Repco on the other hand has the PRC-91(A) designation which would make us think it came after the Motorola, also the fact that it uses a Motorola battery. But this battery was very common at the time, and was used on several commercial radios. I think it might go like this, the original PRC-91(BC-611 lookin thing) came first. Then the Repco, and it was affixed with the (A) suffix to differentiate it from it's predecessor. The Motorola then was adopted to augment supplies of the Repco. Though it's PRC-91 designation stayed the same, it was given the appropriately higher RT number. One thing is for sure, the Repco was far better suited for military service, and this may account for it's adoption before the Motorola even though the later had been around longer. 1969 saw the apex of the Vietnam war, and with that an increased need for equipment, we can surmise that it was then that the Motorola came on the seen. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-91/RT-918; Hand held VHF, FM transceiver. Adoption of the commercial Motorola model HT-200(Z23DEN1100A) Handie Talkie. Ops 132-150mc on one(optionally two) xtal control channels. RF power output is rated at 1.4 watts. Requires 14vdc as supplied by a special internal dry or nicad battery. Accessories include ZAD6060A,ZNK6009A,ZLN6116A,ZSN6002A.To be replaced by the PRC-94V1, the original US Navy cost was $2840.00. NSN 5820-00-889-7556. Circa 1965. Ref.#28 As the description indicates, other that physical size, operational parameters, and intended purpose, there is no similarity between the PRC-91/RT-918(Motorola HT-200), and the PRC-91A/RT-291(Repco). While I have never seen the military version, one of our members has. It differs from it's commercial counterpart in that it, like the Repco, has a built in 110vac battery charger. But unlike the Repco who's power cord is rapped around the base of the radio, and permanently attached, the Motorala's is plugged into a connector at the top of the radio. Another major difference is the method their batteries are attached, the Motorola's battery is housed inside the radio's case, access being gained via a detachable trap door on the lower back of the radio, and as has already been described, the Repco's battery was external, a affixed to the bottom of the radio. The last major difference was the design of the circuit board. The Motorola has two boards sandwiched together, using discrete components. This requiring the most skilled of service technicians to maintain the set, also making it less desirable for military service. On the other hand, the Repco was all modular. The Motorola HT-200 is one of the oldest solid state HT's in existence, having interred the market around 1965. Though Motorola claims that it was the first fully solid state radio to inter the field, this is not true, there were several others first, including the GE Carry Comm series. But it was a very tuff radio, and survived in the hands of many users, including the military until the early 1980's, even though no longer in production, and being severely outclassed by it's successor the HT-220 in around 1970. The later would also see military service in both it's military and commercial forms. ****************************************** OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART IV, PRC-94 by Dennis Starks PRC-94V; Handheld VHF, FM transceiver. Adoption of the commercial Comco model series 802(Repco 10-8). It has very similar cosmetics & electronics to the PRC-91A, with the added provision for an external speaker/mic. Intended as a general purpose radio, it is known to have been used by security personnel(Airforce & Navy), flight deck control operations (Navy), & for VHF Marine Band(US Coast Guard). Ops 150-174mc, xtal control, with an optional capacity of up to 5 channels. RF power output is 2.2 watts(standard), 4 watts(optional). Coast Guard Sets are 2.2 watt with provisions for low power operation (1 watt). Requires 12-15v normally supplied by a detachable nicad battery, a "AA"battery box can also be used. Accessories include telescoping 1/4 wave or 6" rubber antennas, speakermic, leather carry case, desk top or vehicular chargers. Circa 1975-1985. Special note, the PRC-94 series of radios has been marketed by numerous commercial firms including EF Johnson (Comco mod series 802), Repco(model series 10-8), RCA, & others. Most of these firms have been used as sources for PRC-94 variants. All of these radios were actually built by Repco, & are cosmetically identical. Ref.#11,#23,#28 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-94V1; The commercial equivalents for this PRC-94 variant are COMCO 810-156-01, & RCA 8TNIH11R. Ops 132-150.8mc, with one Xtal control channel, & an output power of 2.2 watts. It was factory supplied with rechargeable nicad batteries. For other possible variants see PRC-94. Original US Navy & Marine Corps cost $1210.00. NSN 5820-01-012-2770. Ref.#28,#30 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-94V2; The commercial equivalent for this PRC-94 variant is the RCA 8TN2H44SMF or 8TN2H44SMZ. Ops 150.8-162mc, with four xtal control channels,& an output power of 2.2 watts. For other possible parameters see PRC-94. Original US Navy & Marine Corps cost $935-$1240.00. NSN 5820-00-110-5722. Ref.#28,#30 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-94V3; The commercial equivalents for this PRC-94 variant are COMCO 810-156-01,& RCA 8TN1H44S. Ops 132-150.6mc, with four xtal control channels, & an output power of 2.2 watts. For other possible parameters see PRC-94. Original US Navy & Dep.of Defence cost $1790.00. NSN 5820-01-012-2771. Ref.#28,#30 Note the many versions of this radio, they differ mainly in channel capacity, and frequency split. And that even though a higher power option was then available(4 watts) the military still opted for the lower powered 2 watt version. The PRC-94 is basicaly the PRC-91A with some updated options, these include extended channel capacity, optional switchable low power(even with the low power radios), tone squelch, and a jack for a speaker/mic. In addition, the battery adapter/built in charger has been done away with, making for a much smaller radio set, and allowing for far more versatility in battery, and charger combinations. Case parts, battery, antennas, and most if not all internal modules are still compatable with the earlier version. The PRC-94 is extremely common, and has seen very wide spread use with just about all government agencies. Saddly though, I have never seen one with a military data plate. Even though I own several, and have seen hundreds of these radios come from military service. The one I use has ingraved on the front panel,"PROPERTY OF THE U.S. COAST GUARD", in large block letters just under the speaker. This is a five channel, two watt version, with high and low power option, and speaker/mic jack. All five channels where on the VHF Marine band(I still have a BUNCH of extra xtals for these). They used as standard a 1/4 wave telescoping antenna, but a 6" rubber type is also known to have been used. Their method of low power operation deserves some comment, those radios with this option, have two PTT switches. One for low power(one watt in this case), the other for high(2.2 watts). The low power PTT switch is a small round one just under the regular PTT bar. All the PRC-91, and 94's were extremely rugged, and water tight provided the case gaskeys were all in place and not damaged. They remained in military service at least until the mid 1980's. And though they are found in civilian life, this is not very common as they were a very expensive radio. They also built a lowband, and a portable/mobile/base version capable of 8 or 20 watts output, but these have not been found in military service, yet! ****************************************** OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART V, PRC-97 & 101 by Dennis Starks You might by now be noticing another trend. This that by far, the biggest user of these type radios, with a PRC designation, is the Navy. And at a distant second comes the Army. Dead last is the Air Force, but they are by far the largest consumer of the commercial variants. It would seem, that ever since the WW-II inception of the joint designation system, that the Navy has taken great delight in grabbing up just about anything that sparkled, and slapping a military designation on it. I would think that this would tend to cause those with the responsibility of assigning these numbers, great emotional distress. Indeed, in the case of the PRC numbers, had the Navy not used up so many, I'd venture to say, we'd only be up to about PRC-100 buy now. I believe this is also the reason we find so many radios in Naval service with the URC designation, which seems to be a catch all. It might go something like this, two persons charged with the responsibility of assigning new equipment designations, see the Navy coming, the first say's "Ooooh Shit!", "here comes the Navy again", the second say's "That's OK", "No need to try and figger out which numbers next", "We'll just give them another URC". Thus we have URC designated equipment that ranges from shirt pocket portables, to simi-tractor/trailer mounted communications systems. But that's another story, and I've again strayed from the subject matter. The Air Force too has been guilty of using up numbers on limited standard/production radios, but not these "Off the Shelf" types, nor to the general extent the Navy has. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-97;Handheld VHF, FM transceiver. Adoption of the commercial Motorola model H21DCN1100ASPO2(SPS1B11648). Ops 30-42mc, 1 channel, with an output power of 1.4 watts, from 14vdc internal battery. NSN 5820-00-179-8433. Original US Navy cost $819.90. No further information. Ref.#28 Again we see the vulnerable old Motorola HT-200, except this time in VHF, Low Band. A military version of this radio has never been encountered, and even it's civilian counterpart is extremely rare. But this is true of just about all Low Band VHF handies, which today are highly sought after by commercial industry, public service, and hams alike. Today, the commercial, and public service organizations are scrounging the surplus market for these type radios for several reasons. The first is that industry has all but dropped Low Band equipment from their production lines. Neglecting old systems that have been in place for many years, preferring instead to open up new markets on the higher bands. Thus users of these old systems are left no choice but to desperately search the surplus market for equipment to either augment or maintain what they have in service. Second, Low Band hand helds were never very common to begin with. By the time technology had advanced enough to downsize equipment to where it could be carried in one hand, there were no new markets opening up. Instead, old users had at lease partially migrated to the upper bands, and new users had little interest in the lower. The few that remained on lowband, did so because of the longer ranges possible, where a hand held radio was of little use. The Ham interest in these radios is simple, they want a handie talkie that can be used on ten, and six meters FM. And as there wasn't until very recently, any other equipment that could be used for this purpose. And what little there is now, is extremely expensive. To illustrate the above point, last year I required in my commercial business, about 50 Repco lowband HT's. Remember these? And the similarities between it and the HT-200? (see PRC-91's) They are a grossly large, and outdated radio. I sold out of them in two weeks! A year before that, it was GE Portamobiles. Had 60 of them, sold out in less than a month. My customers were all those listed above. I did manage to keep a couple for my own use. An interesting tale about the GE's, they had been in service with the Missouri State Army National Guard, and as they were on compatible frequencies with the PRC-25, and 77, it's apparent they had been used in conjunction with these radios. Strange though, they did not have tone squelch. One last point, the antennas used on these early Low Band HT's were very inefficient. Basically, they used the standard High Band telescoping antenna combined with an internal load coil. As a result, a two watt radio, or even a five watt radio, had extremely limited range. It would not be until the late 70's or early 80's that more efficient helical rubber types would be developed, and used. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-101; Hand held VHF, FM transceiver. Adoption of the commercial Motorola HT-220 (H23FFN1102ASP2), for general purpose communications. The HT-220 series were available with an optional 2 or 4 watts RF output, and up to 4 xtal control channels. Other optional features included detachable or hard wired speaker mics, tone or carrier squelch , telescoping or 6" rubber helical antennas & frequency ranges of 130-175mc. It appears the PRC-101 was supplied with 2 watts output, one channel, & carrier squelch. Original US Navy cost $2150.00, NSN 5820-00-409-4213. Ref.#28,#30 Again, a military, PRC marked HT-220 has never been found. But the commercial HT-220 is one of the most common radios of this type to come from military service. They were used by every branch of service, in every conceivable application, in dozens of it's various physical forms. We've just never found one that said PRC-101 on it! Note the price of this radio! At a time when the cost of a PRC-77 had dropped to around $1200.00. The Motorola HT-220 is possibly the most prolific model ever produced by that company. Introduced around 1969, it would be the mid 80's before production ceased. The different variations and options can fill a book, and it's history, several volumes. It was the standard for comparison, by all other manufacturers, and still today, enjoys extreme popularity. It had most empressive specs in it's day, and no slouch by today's standards either. Less than .1 microvolt sensitivity, and less than 10ma of current drain in standby. It could be had with up to five or more channels, at up to 4 watts output, there was absolutely nothing on the market to compare with it. Like ARC-5 command sets of post war years, the HT-220's boards and parts would be used as the heart of numerous other commercial, and Ham radio sets. Even a synthesized Ham version would be produced, though not by Motorola. But all things must pass, the HT-220 was eventually replaced by the MT-500 in both civilian, and government use. And though this radio tried to emulate all the finer points of the HT-220, it never received the same fond admiration. Dennis Starks; MILITARY RADIO COLLECTOR/HISTORIAN References: #28) Federal Logistics Data on Compac Disc(Fed Log).1995 #30) Associated equipments technical manual ****************************************** OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART VI, PRC-127,& 129 by Dennis Starks PRC-127/RT-1594; Handheld VHF, FM transceiver. This equipment is a slightly modified Bendix King commercial business band radio. These modifications include a 2.5 watt RF output vice 5 watts, and the omission of the scan switch. Though it was most likely intended for various security uses, it is known to have been used in a tactical role in recent Desert Storm activities. Features include, 14 preset channels, front panel key pad for entry of channel frequencies, LCD display(a sliding/removeable door protects the key pad & LCD display when not in use), optional scan & call guard tone squelch, & clone capabilities(some PRC-127's are provided without the key pad). Ops on any of 14 preset channels 136-160mc. RF power output is rated 2.5 watts. Requires 12vdc as supplied by either rechargeable nicad battery packs(two ea provided), or a battery box containing 8ea "AA" alkaline batteries. Size 7.8 x 2.5 x 1.52", 1.5lbs(with battery). Accessories include AS-3960 helical rubber antenna, speaker/mic & nylon case/cover, nylon carry holster, dual rate automatic drop-in battery charger, 2ea nicad battery packs & 1ea alkaline battery pack. The PRC-127 interred service in approx 1990. The commercial 5 watt/ scanning, & UHF versions are also known to be in use. Original cost $910.00, NSN 5820-01-266-5964. Ref.#26,#28,#30,#31 One of the last "Off the Shelf" radios to be adopted is the PRC-127. It has several distinctions that set it apart from most of it's predecessors, first, it is always found with it's military data tag(unless it's been removed), second, it is known to have been used in a tactical combat role during Desert Storm. Last, it's manuals are full blown government publications, unlike others which can best be described as Re-covered manuals, printed by the original manufacturer. It is currently the most common of all those radios featured in this series. Both via legitimate surplus channels, and by way of the returning soldiers duffel bag. The below is from Sheldon Wheaton, a former employee of Bendix King: I can probably ask around and get lots of info on this subject for you, but my memory of these things has faded quite a bit. I never had much to do with them in the first place. Here's what I can tell you: - I don't believe the PRC-127 was an exact copy of any commercial unit, but it is almost the exact same as the model LPH. - There were lots of variations of it, including power level, band (VHF or UHF, and I believe a couple of other options. - Forrest Service was a big customer of the commercial unit. - I DON"T HAVE A COMMERCIAL UNIT! only a PRC-127. I've only had a chance to "buy" one, as opposed to picking one up at a "discount". - There was an aviation band version (KX99) which was AM VHF aircraft band, plus it had a VOR receiver built-in. It was a spin-off of the land-mobile band unit. - The unit was designed and built at the Lawrence, KS facility, mostly independent of the Main facility at Olathe (where I worked). - The whole crew of engineers that did land-mobile product design for King (in Lawrence) was hired by Garmin (my current employeer) a couple of years ago. They developed a small handheld combination GPS/radio about the size of a typical current Japanese HT, but the project was canned, perhaps due to an expected shift toward digital and trunked radio systems by the land-mobile customer base (my speculation, only). Surely one of the guys here that worked on this stuff, can provide me with lots of add'l info. Would be good if you had a list of specific questions. I'll try to get some kind of table that shows the different version of the commercial unit, and their respective features. My wife was one of two "inside salespersons" at King during the height of activity for the PRC-127. She only sold to government agencies (US and foriegn). She claims she can't remember shit about it, so not sure how much help she will be. Sheldon The transfer of workers from Bendix King to Garmin was prompted by the recent buyout of this Bendix King division by Relm(the old Regency company). It is currently unknown what effect this buyout will have on the continued military use of the PRC-127. But we do know that the commercial variants used by the military did see a sharp rise in surplus availability. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PRC-129;Hand held VHF, FM transceiver. Adoption of the commercial Repco model RPX-150. Most likely intended for general purpose communications. Original cost $1946.00,NSN 5820-01-225. Ref. #23,#28,#30 I've not yet found sufficient information to elaborate on this radio, though I'm pretty sure I know what it is, and even had one. Basically it's a highly updated version of the PRC-94. Retaining all the basic features, but reduced in size by about on half, and adding a few more options. The radio still retains the old Repco family resemblance. Dennis Starks; MILITARY RADIO COLLECTOR/HISTORIAN References: #1) MILITARY RADIO DATA, VOLUME I, PRC Designated Radio Equipment, by Dennis Starks (copies available from the author) #23) The authors personal collection #28) Federal Logistics Data on Compac Disc(Fed Log).1995 #30) Associated equipments technical manual. ****************************************** OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART VII, Maybe's? by Dennis Starks Below is a list of PRC type radios that the presently available information is just too limited to allow speculation. Could these too have been Off the Shelf types? PRC-67;Personal portable VHF, FM transceiver. Lightweight self contained radio set for personal communication within a half mile of a central base station. Ops 40-44mc on one xtal control channel. RF output power is 160mw. Requires 10vdc. No further information. Ref.#29. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ PRC-76; Portable radio set that provides two-way communications with any other FM radio sets operating between 70-80mc. With 1w RF output. No further information. A few years back, a medium sized quantity of Motorola HT-220 Slim Lines were repatriated from surplus Nato stocks in Germany. They operated in this frequency range, and had the same output power. Could these have been PRC-76's? I have several of them, and know where the rest can be found, but most, if not all, their data plates are missing. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ PRC-81; Original US Navy cost $1150.00, NSN 5820-00-6157. No further information. Ref.#28 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ PRC-136; No description of this equipment has been found. It is known to have been built by Motorola, & purchased by the US Marine Corps at a cost of $2,347.00. NSN 5820-01-340-9438, no further information. Ref.#28 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ I have documented all the known PRC designated radio equipment of all the countries of the world. They range from PRC-1 to PRC-6608, but this includes only about 230 radios. So it can be easily seen, there are yet many gaps in their numbers. Could these gaps represent other Off the Shelf types we don't know about? I think so. Especialy when we consider the dozens of commercial model radios, and their hundreds of variations, that were used by the military. Yes, there are several reasons for the present gaps in the PRC numbering system, and I have documented those too, the above is just one of several. The lack of a military data plate on most the radios in this family might lead us to wonder if they were ever supplied with one. Could all those thousands of commercial radios surplused by the military have been the Military/PRC radio all along? Dennis Starks; MILITARY RADIO COLLECTOR/HISTORIAN References: #1) MILITARY RADIO DATA, VOLUME I, PRC Designated Radio Equipment, by Dennis Starks (copies available from the author) #28) Federal Logistics Data on Compac Disc(Fed Log).1995 #29) AFP 100-14,May 1980. ****************************************** OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART VIII, Conclusion By Dennis Starks Throughout this series I've made comments to the fact that numerous commercial radios saw extensive use buy the military, even in their unchanged civilian form. Here we will take a closer look at these, and ponder over the question, were they adopted too? As has also been noted, even though an official military designation was granted to many of these radios, in most cases, no examples have ever been found with the appropriate markings, thus it is entirely possible that these too were adopted, and we just don't know it, and in fact, they may well be some of the missing pieces to our puzzle. The Motorola HT-200. Yes this one was adopted in both it's highband(PRC-91/RT-918), and lowband(PRC-97) versions. But there was also a UHF version that saw extensive use by the military. Could this variant have been a PRC-98, or 89? It is possible, as we have absolutely no info on these two missing numbers. The Repco model series 10-8. This one two was adopted in it's VHF/highband version as the PRC-91, and later as the PRC-97. But there were both UHF, and lowband versions of this radio. Both these too have been encountered in military service. Could these have been adopted as the PRC-89,92,95, or 98? We saw in the case of the PRC-91, that the Motorola HT-200 was adopted to augment stocks of the Repco version. We see also that the HT-200 lowband was adopted as the PRC-97, could it be that the Repco lowband existed as the PRC-97(A) as took place with it's highband twin(PRC-91A)? It would seem that if the highband version of this radio was more desirable to the military than it's Motorola equivalent, then the same would be true in the lowband model. The Motorola HT-220, and HT-210. The HT-210 variant is identical to the HT-220 except that it's color is black. Both these radios were used in great quantities by the military in both their VHF, and UHF models. And of course the HT-220 VHF was adopted as the PRC-101. But no documentation exist that might show the adoption of the UHF versions. Could they have been the PRC-98, 100, or 102? Neither do these numbers as yet exist in our PRC genealogy. The Motorola MH-70 line. By all accounts, even those of Motorola affectionates, this was a horrible radio. It was hugh even by late 1970's standards, fragile, hard to service, or maintain, and had an internally housed battery that could not be replaced in the field. But the military did use them, in both their high, and lowband models. The later being the most common. It was the first known radio to use a shortened helical rubber antenna(though still about 2ft long) as standard on the lowband version, greatly improving antenna performance. Motorola MT-500. As mentioned before, this radio was developed to improve on, and replace the HT-220 series. Today it's VHF, and UHF versions are the most common radios of this type to come from military service, many thousands are still in use. They have enjoyed the longest running history in military use of all the radios in this series. Yet not one version of it's hundreds of variants are known to have been adopted as a standard military item. The Motorola MX series. Built in lowband, highband, and UHF models, this radio was Motorola's top of the line from approx 1978 till 1990. It saw extremely wide spread use in every branch of the Government, both military and civil. It was the first Motorola design to use plug in modules, allowing simple field repair. The variants of this radio, like others from Motorola, could fill a book. During it's life span, it was surpassed only by the MT-500 in the numbers used by the government. And like the MT-500, there is no record of it being adopted. MX-S series. Externally these radios are identical to standard MX's right down to there model numbers. The only outward indication of it's uniqueness is a small red "S" close to it's antenna mount. Internally the difference is hard to see by the untrained eye, but these are programmable radios, vice crystal control, and the first ever to be built by Motorola. It was this radio, specially built by Motorola, that accompanied the first HAM in space aboard the Space Shuttle in the late 70's. An article to this effect can be found in the archives of QST were the radio and it's operator were the cover story. Unlike other radios in this series, very, VERY few saw service in civilian life. This due to it's extreme cost, approaching $3000 dollars or more dependant on the options included in the radio. The most impressive of these options was Motorola's DES voice encryption system. Still the standard today, most MX-S series radios, either had this option in place, or could easily be fitted with it. While it's true that Motorola did allow for use of it's DES system in other radios of it's manufacture, including the MT-500, the MX-S series was by far the most common radio found with this capability until the introduction of their Saber series of radios, which are the current top of the line. MX-R series. These radios are internally the same radio as the MX-S line. Externally however, they are completely different. The "R" designation standing for Ruggedized, the cabinet is larger than the "S" versions and constructed of a rubberized plastic, being a solid black in color. They were used extensively by U.S. Air force missile launch crews, and their elite security forces. Some of these units are often referred to as "The Down Under's", in this area of the country. The term coined from their responsibilities involving the security of missile silos, and underground complexes. A special converticom(mobile console) was designed by Motorola for these radios that basically converted it for use as a mobile, or simi-fixed station. It was constructed of cast magnesium, and mounted to a bulk head. These converticoms have never been found in civilian use, and appear to have been strictly a military item. Both the MX-R and S series suffered from one major ailment, they were extremely power hungry. Even a large capacity battery that rivaled it's radio in size, would not allow dependable operation through a 8 or 9 hour period. This problem was so acute that Motorola made available to the military, a special holster to carry a second battery. Both the MX-R, and S radios are now being replaced by Motorola's newest top of the line radios, the Sabre series. This radio does not appear to have been adopted as a standard type either, though it is now in extremely widespread use by every branch of the Government, both Military, and civilian. To compound our frustration, each of the above radios was available in a portable/lunchbox type configuration. The Motorola's included the PT series, PT-300, PT-500 etc. The Repco's, a Portacom. All are known to have been used by the military with great regularity, but none known to have been adopted. And too, since the early 60's, General Electric has always manufactured a rival radio to counter that of their major competitor, Motorola. In nearly every case, the GE version was more advanced, and militarily desirable than it's Motorola counterpart. And though each of these GE built models, even to the present day, saw widespread use by the military. Not one was ever adopted, in any form, unlike Motorola's. Hmmm? To close this series, here are some completely unaccounted for PRC numbers. There is no reason they can't be accounted for, one way or another. See how many of them fit in nicely with those that have been discussed in this series. PRC-11, PRC-12, PRC-13, PRC-18, PRC-19, PRC-22, PRC-27, PRC-31, PRC-42, PRC-43, PRC-44, PRC-45, PRC-48, PRC-50, PRC-51, PRC-52, PRC-54, PRC-57, PRC-60, PRC-69, PRC-76, PRC-79, PRC-87, PRC-92, PRC-95, PRC-98, PRC-100, PRC-102, PRC-107, PRC-115, PRC-120, PRC-121, PRC-122, PRC-124, PRC-125, PRC-131, PRC-137, PRC-141>173, PRC-175>183. Dennis Starks; MILITARY RADIO COLLECTOR/HISTORIAN ****************************************** MEMBERS WRITE; #Great stuff on the off the shelf series! The B-K LPH series radios once listed a 2.5 watt version without keypad in their commercial catalog but I have never seen one. The main difference with the military seems to be frequency coverage as the commercial version will not accept programming for lower than 150mhz-much to the flustration of a lot of hams in public safety. The Calif. National Guard bought a few dozen B-K' s that were for use on military frequencies but had a frequency hop mod done by Transcrypt. The ones I saw carried no military numbers and only a model number from Transcrypt so I think they were actually purchased under state contract. They also had a permanently open microprocessor so the frequencies could be changed from the front panel at any time. They reportedly had problems with the freq. hop mode and then switched to Motorola Saber handhelds. The B-K series of handheld radios has become standard for U.S. Forest Service and many fire agencies. This is a mixed blessing to those of us in smaller agencies since the feds have priority on parts orders and the rest of us take leftovers. I've been waiting 3 months for my latest order. Take care. Ken ed) The 2.5 watt versions, less the keypad, are known to have been used in great numbers at least by the Air Force. Also the VHF, and UHF versions of both the Bendix King, & Motorola Sabres. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- The PRC-124 is the Collins frequency hopping radio that lost the Sincgars competition. Transworld took it over after Collins and I think they still market it. Do American PRC numbers really go up to 183 now? Tom ed) would like more info on the PRC-124 so it can get properly documented. It is for several reasons very difficult to discern just how high exclusive U.S. PRC numbers go. First, the U.S. commonly skips numbers that might someday be confused with a foreign type, this was the case with the PRC-35 which should have been the PRC-26, but was changed to avoid confusion with the Canadian CPRC-26. In the hundreds of items of equipment I've been able to document, from every corner of the world, there are only about three numbers re-used. So it would appear that there is some considerable cooperation of some type between our allied countries. This same practice is true when avoiding confusion with commercial model numbers, especially if that commercial radio was indeed used by the military, some typical examples are the Sunair PRC-20/6 (which in the military is a PRC-108), or the Transworld PRC-1077, 1088, & 1099, all of which are in U.S. inventory, but these are commercial model numbers, and not joint service AN designations. Second, there are numerous examples of foreign equipment in U.S. inventory that cause model number gaps and would push the U.S. number count up, examples are the Israeli PRC-174(their version of a highly updated PRC-74), or the PRC-601, and 602 which were jointly developed by the U.S., Israel, and Sylvania. Not to mention numerous examples of updated PRC-77's produced in Germany, and Israel. The PRC-6608 is a version of our PRC-113 built in the Netherlands, and in use by the U.S. Navy, or the PRC-515 built by Collins of Canada, also in U.S. service. There are many other examples, and as can be seen, these show support for the logic in reason #1. Third, and the hardest to document, are the experimentals. As can be seen with your example of the Collins PRC-124. Unlike RT, R, or T designations, PRC, URC, VRC etc are assigned to a particular item of equipment before it's experimental stage begins. If for some reason that item is dropped from further consideration, that number is not re-assigned, but instead dies with that project. Thus we have more gaps in the genealogy, and higher soaring joint designation model numbers. It took me close to 20 years to document all the PRC numbers, but the bulk of them were finished in the first 5. It was all these experimentals, and off the shelf PRC's that held everything up for so long. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- > The Repco model series 10-8. This one two was adopted in it's >VHF/highband version as the PRC-91, and later as the PRC-97. This reminded me that years ago I had some Repco 10-4 radios that had military nameplates on the front. Unfortunately I didn't keep any. Any idea which PRC these were? In case you don't remember, or have never seen one, the 10-4 has the blue plastic modules with the contact on the side. Tom ed) I have never seen a Repco 10-4, and would much like to know what it's PRC number was. My PRC-58 however, dose use the blue plastic modules you describe. For more info on this radio see, MILITARY COLLECTOR GROUP POST, FEB.13/98, OFF THE SHELF PRICK's; PART II, PRC-39>61 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Dennis, Here's a summary of the King Land Mobile products that I got from one of the principal engineers: (view with "fixed pitch" font for best table appearance) Here's a quick overview from what I can remember: model type freq # chan power misc LPH handheld vhf 148-174 2 or 14 5 W original unit EPH handheld vhf 148-174 2,14, or 210 2 or 5 W updated LPH LPU " uhf 450-512 2,14, or 210 5 W original uhf LPV " uhf 403-457 2,14, or 210 4-5(?) W downband uhf EPU " uhf 450-512 2,14, or 210 5 W updated LPU LPI " vhf 136-157 ?? 2 W army unit EPI " vhf 136-157 ?? 2 W updated army LMH mobile vhf 148-174 2 or 14 ?? original mobile EMH mobile vhf 136-174 210 + alpha 50 W updated mobile EMU mobile uhf 403-470 210 + alpha 50 W updated mobile I think this is fairly accurate, but I could be off on some of the parameters. I would steer clear of the LMH mobiles, lots of problems with the on/off switches, etc. Unfortunately, I believe this info to be from the "top of his head", and therefore subject to possible errors. I will continue to seek more substantiated information. I also asked him the following questions about the military units: - Were there any other military nomenclatures assigned? - Which model corresponds to the PRC-127? LPI/EPI? He couldn't answer, as he had little knowledge of the military nomenclature units. I know others that might, and will inquire. I believe the engineering department had very little to do with the PRC-127. I think that marketing sold it, essentially "off the shelf", however I don't know that an LPI/EPI unit was actually available in civilian clothes (i.e. no PRC-127 markings). Your "off-the-shelf" pricks series has been great. Thanks for your efforts. Sheldon ed) Of those modelsyou list above, the LPI, EPI, EMH, EMU, & LPV are known to have seen military service. ----------------------------------------------------------------------

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