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Radio at War, by RCA Videos for Engineers
is radio, performing swiftly and efficiently in the heat of battle," so says the narrator of
RCA's promotional WWII film entitled "Radio at
War." It follows brothers Joe and Jim Brown from their bedroom Ham radio set in Middletown,
USA, to radio school with the Army Signal Corps and the Navy Communications Dept., respectively,
and on into the field and onboard ship where they handle voice and Morse code operations. Jim
is elated as he sews on his Radioman 3rd Class "crow"
patch after graduating from communications school. Brother Joe departs for the battlefields
of Europe as a sergeant earning "$98 per month" after his training
(I earned $419/mo. as an A1C radar tech in 1979). He
raves in a letter to home about the new walkie talkies that have a range up to 5 miles that
will surely "play an important part after the war." Wireless communications was still in its
infancy, where families gathered in front of the tube radio for news and entertainment - "The
magic of radio bridging space faster than the most powerful plane."
film showed a runner delivering a critical message when radio communications failed. That was
the early 1940s. Now, here is a headline from March 14, 2011 - "Army
Must Cure Mobile Radio's Dismal Failure Rate," where the story states, "GMR, which is part
of the DOD's next-generation Joint Tactical Radio System, performed so poorly in secure voice
mode that the combat unit employing it during tests at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., last
year had to rely on the archaic means of communicating by runners." Sad
is a web page with info on the original walkie-talkie, the
An interesting note from the site, "The SCR-536 was originally called the "Handie-Talkie" (meaning
it could be carried in your hand) while the term "Walkie-Talkie" referred to man-portable backpack
units like the
SCR-300 (meaning you could walk and talk)."