Hallicrafters Shortwave Radio; Winning WWII With Technology (1944)

Great film about a great radio manufacturer and radio set.

In 1944, this short subject film was produced by the Jam Handy Organization and sponsored by the Hallicrafters Company. It shows the construction of the SCR-299 and dramatizes its use during World War II. This is a B&W documentary presenting a look at the manufacturing and use of the (now defunct) Hallicrafters Company’s SCR-299 “mobile communications unit.” This 1944 film, produced with help from the US Army Signal Corps, and by the Hallicrafters Company, explains how, using radio gear such as this Hallicrafters shortwave radio transmitter and receiver technology, the US Forces and Allies were better equipped to win World War II.

The SCR-299 “mobile communications unit” was developed to provide long-range communications during World War II. The US Military sought improvements of range, flexibility and durability over its existing SCR-197 and SCR-597 transmitters. In 1942, Hallicrafters Standard HT-4 was selected as the SCR-299’s transmitter, known subsequently by its military designation as the BC-610. The SCR-299 was first used on November 8, 1942, during Operation TORCH involving companies of the 829th Signal Service Battalion establishing a radio net that could exchange messages between beach-landed forces and bases in Gibraltar. Despite initial problems unloading the sets from convoy ships, the SCR-299s served until the installation of permanent Army Command and Administrative Network stations. According to US Army military historians, “General Dwight Eisenhower credited the SCR-299 in his successful reorganization of the American forces and final defeat of the Nazis at Kasserine Pass.”

The SCR-299 was a “self-contained” receiving and transmitting mobile high-frequency (HF; or, shortwave) station capable of operating from 2 MHz to 8 MHz. Using conversion kits, it could operate from 1 MHz to 18 MHz. The transmitter output reached 350 watts.

The entire unit came in a K-51 truck except for Power Unit PE-95 which was in a K-52 trailer. Power could either be supplied by the Power Unit and a 12-volt storage battery or 115-volt 60-cycle AC commercial power and two spare 6-volt storage batteries. The power requirement was 2000 watts, plus 1500 watts for heater and lights.

The system could be remotely controlled up to a distance of one mile (1.6 km) using two EE-8 field telephones and W-110-B Wire kit. Remote equipment was provided for remotely keying or voice modulating the transmitter, remotely listening to the receiver, and for communicating with the operator of the station.

Read more details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCR-299

Public domain film from the Library of Congress Prelinger Archive.

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73 de NW7US

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Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Nebraska, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

2 Responses to “Hallicrafters Shortwave Radio; Winning WWII With Technology (1944)”

  • Bob KK5R:

    This is s great video that demonstrates timely coordination of radio communications resulting in a tradition in the modern military era.

    Waving flags has become more a pride-filled tradition instead of attempting to communicate. Radio does not care if there is adequate visibility. We only care today that there is adequate propagation and efficient use of material and technology.

    This film should give a warm sense of patriotism that helped lead us successfully through one of the most important, life-changing times in recent history. It was at a time where there are yet many who have first-hand experience of what actually too place. To ignore this is not paying due attention to the history of at least one element of what made this country great in the world. However, let’s not forget that our allies also benefited from this adventure in communication and many proudly share in its success.

    The ham community tends to praise the outcome of ham radio’s introduction into military communications as technicians, engineers and operators. Add to the communications the necessary areas of safety and security. It is not merely a matter of technology consisting of the design and use of available material, it was invention of new uses for the people and equipment, much of it in new territory never before experienced. It became an opportunity to demonstrate the skill and experience of the amateur radio community.

    Keep in mind that an amateur radio enthusiast in the early part of the 1900’s was nearly equivalent to being considered an engineer by many people. Ham radio communications and technology was all new territory and not merely consisting of a certifiable document. Later, many of those same hams became “television engineers” and their respect further enhanced. It was proof of someones ability to do unimaginable things in the existing world of new technology, the majority of it being staged outside the laboratory and thus more visible by the public.

    This film establishes in great part the historical importance of our hobby and the degree of technology that was taken from what some might think at first is a mere plaything, a new adventure, to an area of expertise that few other technologies have attained. In the process, there have been many other areas of expertise that benefited and were enhanced by electronic communication such as, for example, the chemical/physical arena where new requirements in materials that were required to make radio eventually come together with such a high degree of success. Arguably, without the breaking of new ground by pioneering radio, there would be no TV, cell phones, etc.

    The fact that this took place some 75 years ago, within a couple of years of my birth, and people are still talking about tends to lend this technology some degree of perpetuity.

    Correlation between what made those “old” ideas work with new materials and technology may well show up some day in new and amazing surprises.

    Many inventions actually come from adaptation, in large part, of old ideas into new ventures and not giving up on them when a problem developed.

    We have new materials and technology today. Not having some of them in decades past may well have been why some experimentation stopped regardless of the idea’s merit. Those old ideas must be reviewed periodically to see if some of them can possibly come to fruition today because of later discoveries and inventions.

  • Edward Williams- WB4GDH:

    My 1st Rcvr was Hallicrafters S-120.
    got the SX-100 & an SX-130after that in the late 60’s.
    Love those Hallicrafters.
    I think it was the HT-1 XMTR we had in Tech School in 1969.

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