The Navy Trains Radio Technicians
November 1942 QST Article
Uncle Brian was a radioman in the U.S. Navy during the end of the Korean
War era. A great story teller, he used to talk about his Navy experiences
and later times as a UPS semi hauler when he and others from my Buffalo
side of the family would come to visit during summers when I was a kid.
He spent his enlistment most on a gravy assignment at the U.S. embassy
in Australia. He couldn't tell me what he did there, 'cause then he'd
have to kill me ;-)
November 1942 QST
of Contents]These articles are scanned and OCRed from old editions of the
ARRL's QST magazine. Here is a list of the
QST articles I have already posted. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
See all available
vintage QST articles.
The Navy Trains Radio Technicians
Radio Hams Prepare to Learn a Fascinating New Art
This is the story of a radio technician. He's one of the lads
who, sooner or later, will be found out in the front lines - the first
line, in fact, of America's defense. On the front line of battle - and
on the front line of science, too. For his job it is to run one of the
important new scienti1l'c developments that in the end will win the
Not that we're going to be able to tell you just what he
does, of course. That's a deep dark secret - and we'd better all pray,
fervently, that it remains so. Even he himself doesn't know, in all
probability - yet. His present job is to train himself to the point
where he will be fit to find out.
For he is a student at one
of the Navy's primary EE and RM training schools.
seven of these schools scattered around the nation. There's one at Grove
City College in Pennsylvania and another at Utah State Agricultural
College, Logan, Utah. There are two in Texas - one at the University
of Houston and another at A&M College of Texas. Oklahoma A&M
College at Stillwater has one, too, and the Bliss Electrical School
at Takoma Park, Maryland, is now devoted entirely to this training.
Hams in the current Navy RT class at Grove
City College: First row, I. to r.: Lt. Comdr. W. F. Grogan, US R. ex.W4QY.
Commanding Officer; W3FGA.W3HYL; W8PGM; W8TTK; W3DYM; W2LWS; W8QZO;
W2NPH; W8VYM. Second row; W8SC; W3JMO.W3JWL; W1ELR; W1EQG; W2AFM; W3JIX;
W1EII; WIDZB. Third row: W200U·W3IAY; W1LTR; W80ST; W80TO; W3GYY; W1JTG;
W1NCQ. Fourth row: W3EJA; W3HHY; W8LWV; W8NNW.W8SAA; W3CTS; W3GCI; W8KWA.
Fifth row: W7HKW -ex·W2IDO; W8VZK; W3IQO. ex·AD47; W2HEO-ex.WIAZK.
Then there's the school at 190 North State Street in
Chicago - except that instead of being last on the list it should have
been first, since it was the first to start instruction and its commanding
officer, Lt. (jg) William C. Eddy, USN (Ret.), did a great deal of the
work in setting up the curriculum for the uniform course taught at all
Which of these schools does our hero attend? Any
- and all. All you have to do is to look for a fellow with a trim white
uniform, a collection of books and papers under his arm and a look of
concentrated absorption "on his face. It won't be hard to find him,
either - there are hundreds of him at each of these seven schools, and
hundreds more coming and going every thirty days or so.
hear from some of his buddies speaking from the campus of the Utah State
Agricultural College at Logan, Utah:
"The Battle of Logan"
Veteran or neophyte, all primary EE and RM students are taught radio
principles and practice from the ground up - and learn a lot about
fundamentals they passed up in earlier training. These photos show
Grove City students in typical lab sessions. Top - Making a study
of the factors affecting the performance of a Class. A resistance-coupled
amplifier, Front, D. F. Burdett; rear, R. Spencer, ex.W2DEG. Second
from lop - Lt. Comdr. W. F. Grogan, ex.W4QY, explaining the construction
of one of the "bottles" from the 1-kw. ham transmitter. The 100-watt
college transmitter is visible at the right. L. to R.: R. W. Somers,
RT2c, W3RRY; Lt. Comdr. W. F. Grogan; T. S. Austin, W8RDJ, and R.
J. Parker, RT2c, W8NNW. W8SAA. Second from bottom Obtaining data
for saturation and magnetization curves of shun t and series wound
genera tors. Note the terminals and meters visible in the background;
these are on the main switchboard in the college electrical engineering
laboratory. L. to R.: W8VJV; W2LOK; unidentified; T. S. Anstin,
W8RDJ, and G. M. Vrooman. Bot/om - An experiment on tube characteristics,
obtaining data for families of curves. Reading from L. to R.: W8KWA;
W8LWV; W3IQO; W3JIX; W3JMO. W3JWL, and T. S. Austin, W8RDJ, instructor.
"In a sparkling
green valley tucked between the mountains of Northeastern Utah, far
from the whine of planes and the roar of guns, several hundred sailors
and marines are, as they call it, fighting the Battle of Logan.
"The Battle of Logan? You've never heard of it? Well, probably not.
It isn't heralded in the press or broadcast to the firesides. It is,
however, far more important than the average American will realize for
some time to come.
"Who are these sailors and marines? Where
are they from and what are they doing?
"Most of them held ham
radio licenses or were engaged in radio repair service in their respective
home towns. Towns that ranged from the East Coast of New England to
the West Coast of California, from the plantations of Louisiana to the
rolling prairies of the Dakotas.
"Swapping white collars and
work shirts for the blues of the U. S. Navy and the forest green of
the Marine Corps, these fellows are taking advantage of the chance of
a lifetime, learning more about u.h.f. than they ever would have learned
elsewhere - and with all expenses paid, plus a" salary.
present the Battle of Logan has its campaign of action raging at the
Utah State Agricultural College, Logan, Utah, where the men, under the
command of Lt. (jg) Carlos J. Badger, USN (Ret.), are undergoing an
intensive 12-week course including mathematics, electricity and radio.
There one may hear the peculiarities of the fundamental laws set forth
by Ohm and Kirchhoff thoroughly cussed and discussed by a dark, drawling,
soft-spoken former cattleman from Louisiana and a blue-eyed ex-highway
patrolman from Iowa.
"An ex-newspaper reporter finds that learning
the 'five Ws' of the u.h.f. presents several new angles. Those who are
fortunate enough to be hams and are more or less familiar with the work
- well, they begrudge even taking time out to eat.
to the men for their work are the well-equipped laboratories of the
College, containing more than $250,000 worth of equipment for use in
"During the intensive 12-week course, each
man will build a u.h.f, superhet. Another important phase of the course
includes thorough drilling in the fundamentals of a.c., d.c. and resonant
circuits, motors and generators. Such a background is necessarily required
before the men are qualified for advanced training in the operation
and maintenance of the u.h.f. gear which is so vital to the Navy.
"Most of the hams attending the school are Navy men. The Navy
offers men with ham and repair work experience the opportunity to learn
the secrets of u.h.f. work which will be doubly useful to these men
when: they return to civilian life. The training alone which they are
now receiving would be prohibitive in cost to them as civilians.
"In addition to this training the Navy offers men ratings that mean
the equivalent of $200 or more per month in civilian life, All that
the Navy asks in return for this training is the willingness and cooperation
of the men.
"So once again this little Mormon Valley awakens
to the same fighting spirit that was exemplified by their own pioneer
ancestors, as the Battle of Logan rages on!"
Those were the
words of Marine Corps Pvt. D. E. Giersdorff and RM2c F. M. Viles.
They could as well have been speaking from the sultry plains
of Texas or the noisy bustle of Chicago's Loop or even the Nation's
capital; the words might have been different, but the thought would
be the same.
For, apart from the external details of structures
and climate and topography, the spirit and training at each of these
schools is very much the same. And geography doesn't seem so important
in the mind of a fellow who may - and probably will - find himself serving
on the seven seas, on coral strand or frozen reef, in the air and along
the shores and on the sea.
At the Corner of State and
Suppose you were talking with a student from 190. North State Street,
Chicago. "Odd sort of name for a school," you'd say. How did it get
that name? Well, here's the story.
Shop work starts with bending sheet metal chassis, cutting holes,
etc., carries on through construction of 5-tube superhet. Top -
Students operate all types of machine tools in Bliss Electrical
School's well-equipped machine shop. Below Drilling, punching and
soldering chassis in Grove City's third-month radio lab. L. to R.:
W. B. Stryker; A. M. Pontus, W3FCR; F. L. Pratt, and P. H. M. Tippin.
You've probably heard of
Lt. (jg) William C. Eddy, USN (Ret.). There was a Saturday Evening Post
piece about him some months ago - one of those yarns featuring extraordinary
combinations of American genius and success. Lt. Eddy is the former
submarine commander who, upon retirement from active duty, promptly
began one of the most amazing inventive careers on record. The tale
of that career is far too long even to hint at here; let it suffice
to say that a couple of years ago Lt. Eddy left NBC and took a job as
television director of Balaban and Katz, operators of television station
W9XBK - which is located in the State-Lake building in downtown Chicago.
That W9XBK, wholly staffed by hams and built much like a ham rig, quickly
forged into the forefront of television research is now certainly no
When the war came along B & K - as symbolized
in the person of Lt. Eddy - found there was a job to be done. The Navy
needed trained men for the operation and maintenance of its special
equipment. So they turned over to the Navy a substantial part of the
space devoted to their television laboratories in the State-Lake building
at 190 North State Street - whence came the name of the school. Lt.
Eddy participated in the work of preparing the curriculum to be specified
by the Bureau of Naval Personnel for this and subsequent Radio Materiel
schools. They devised a standard examination designed to disclose the
qualifications of men seeking enlistment in the new branch.
Through classroom lab and shop the Navy's radio
technicians get a thorough grounding in basic electrical principles,
as well as radio, u.h.f., cathode-ray tubes and all the rest. Left -
Measuring the characteristic impedance of a telephone line at Grove
City. Front (hand on dial) W8KWA; standing, Instructor Smock, chief
operator WSAJ, owned and operated by the College; center, two Marine
privates; right, W3GCI. Center - Typical classroom scene at the 190
N. State St. school. At left in the laboratory are Instructors William
Kunz, W8SNS, and Stanley Osterlund, W9TJL, inspecting a 20-inch Cathode-Ray
Oscillograph, one of the three now in existence in the country. At right,
A. H. Brolly, ex-W6RG, chief instructor lecturing from a drawing of
a triode crystal oscillator and the E.-I. curve of a triode tube. Right
- For fifty years Bliss students learned about electricity in this testing
lab, now used exclusively in teaching Uncle Sam's sailors. Completely
equipped for all types of power and physical measurements, his work
here equips the student to handle testing and measurement problems.
And along about the first of this year the school got
going - although it wasn't until May that the Navy made public announcement
of the fact.
Now men from all over the country and from
every walk of life, ranging in age from 17 to 50, assemble daily on
the top floor at 190 North State Street.
The school utilizes
a wing of the television station, including three large classrooms with
the necessary secondary study halls, a reception room and the administrative
offices. Roosevelt Hall, the laboratory section, is equipped with something
like half a million dollars worth of u.h.f. transmitters, antennas,
c.r. oscilloscopes, oscillators and other special equipment. Washington
Hall, with its lecture rooms, is equipped to handle the non-technical
subjects such as mathematics and radio theory.
There the V-6
reservists go for twelve weeks of intensified training. Those who make
the grade go on to receive advanced instruction.
Students work in groups during lab and shop sessions.
Left - a Grove City group making measurements on an amplifier. L. to
R., back row: W8LWV; Marine Pvt. Merriam; W8RUJ, instructor. Front row:
Marine Pvt. Mazzeo; W3JMO-W3JWL. Right - Atop the Balaban & Katz
building in Chicago a group of 190 N. State St. students investigate
performance of equipment in frigid February weather.
At Grove City
The Naval Training
School at Grove City College, Grove City, Pa., was the first of its
kind to be organized in the East.
Authorization for that school
was given in early February, 1942, when the second semester of the regular
college course was already under way. To it as commanding officer was
assigned Lt.- ' Commander William F. Grogan, ex-W4QY, one of the original
staff at Noroton (see August QST).
In less than one month, with the unstinted aid of Dr. Weir C. Ketler,
president of the college, and Russell P. Smith, educational director,
the training program was organized and under way. It was the Noroton
story over again; in that brief time it was necessary to vacate a dormitory
to provide barracks for the students, organize an instructional staff
and equip laboratories and classrooms.
No more hen-scratched circuit diagrams - the Navy wants the job
done right! Drafting class at Bliss, where students learn time-saving
methods for turning out neat, accurate mechanical drawings and schematics.
On March 1st the first
hundred RT2c reservists started training; by May 1st the full complement
had arrived. On this same day a Marine training detachment was authorized,
and from then on the school was jointly occupied by a mixed group of
marine privates and naval personnel.
Apart from the major business
of training, each of the Navy's primary schools has its own special
attractions. Grove City is no exception. The college gymnasium and athletic
field are available to the enlisted men of the school, and various forms
of athletics - tennis, basketball, swimming, horseshoes, softball
are available under the direction of a Chief Specialist of the Navy,
Wolf Creek, which separates the college into an upper and a lower campus,
is dammed, affording an ideal skating pond in winter,
is located in the pleasant community of Grove City, whose six thousand
inhabitants have warm feelings toward the uniformed men in their midst.
Every Sunday the local community swimming pool is reserved for the men
of the naval school. The local churches and homes welcome the sailors
and marines. The local USO provides varied entertainment - dances, picnics,
lounges, reading rooms and many other thoughtful aids to the maintenance
of student morale in their few brief hours of relaxation.
that's the way it is at all the schools. The circumstances may differ,
but the pattern is the same. Our information on the Texas and Oklahoma
schools is not first-hand - but we refer you to the letter from Oklahoma
A&M naval station graduate RT2c George Bird, W5HGC, on page 78 of
August QST; his report of the spirit there is sufficient evidence of
At the Nation's Capital
At venerated Bliss Electrical School over half of the initial class
were hams or former hams.
Left - Main entrance to the Administration Building at Bliss Electrical
School, near Washington, D. C. In this building are the general
offices, reference library and reading room, lecture hall, drafting
and conference rooms, machine shop and electrical testing laboratory.
Below - Memorial Hall, one of the dormitory buildings, at Grove
City College. now used as barracks for the Naval and Marine
The Bliss School was established
in 1893, when electricity was just coming into widespread use and the
first need arose for trained men to make installations and supervise
operation and maintenance. Its founder, Louis Denton Bliss, who began
his engineering career with the original Edison Company in the pioneer
days of electric lighting, is still its president and active head,
There, in an atmosphere hallowed in electrical annals,
the students live in comfortable dormitory bedrooms, usually two to
a room, and make their daily treks over tree-shaded walks around the
oval grounds between the various buildings, the dormitories and the
One of the interesting features of the Bliss
school is an 8-room frame house which each year was completely wired
as a practical shop project by the current civilian class, now converted
for use in special phases of the RT training.
there is a liberal sprinkling of hams on the instruction staffs of most
of these schools. For example, there is Lt.-Commander W. F. Grogan,
the commanding officer of Grove City College. As W4QY he was an active
ham for many years, having been SCM of Florida for about as many terms
as there are fingers on your hand. Joining the NCR as a ham when it
was first formed in 1925, he soon moved up to command of the Fort Myers
unit. When the Noroton school was founded in the autumn of 1940 he was
ordered to join the staff there, remaining until the end of last year.
On December 22, 1941, he was transferred to Philadelphia as assistant
District Communications Officer, and on February 8th he was ordered
to take command at Grove City.
As another example, take
the training staff at the 190 North State Street school. Among the instructors
who are amateurs or ex-amateurs at this school are A. H. Brolly, chief
instructor, exW6RG; William Kunz, W8SNS; Stanley Osterlund, W9TJL William
Kusack, W9QEE; H. E. Crow, RM2c, USNR, W9FHI; E. B. Hensley, RM2c, USNR,
W9HUW; R. L. Martin, RM2c, USNR, W9CTQ; Richard Mueller, RT3c, USNR,
ex-W90HZ; and Alvah Rogers, RM2c, USNR, W90ZE.
at a Radio Technician
Having seen where our radio technician lives and studies, let's look
at the man himself a little more closely. Remember, of course, that
he is a composite figure - resembling no one individual, but typical
There's more to being a Navy radio technician than just learning
radio, and the primary schools also teach Navy ideals and the Navy
way of doing things. Here a Grove City group is being instructed
in the correct method of lashing a hammock. preparatory to departure
from the school. Included in the group are WSTJH. WIDSJ. ex-W2AMM
First of all, he's somewhere between 17 and 50
years of age. If he is 21 or over he's been given a rating as Radio
Technician Second or Third Class, depending on his qualifications. He
is probably - but not necessarily - a high-school graduate. He has,
however, completed at least two years of high school mathematics; the
more he knows about algebra, geometry and trigonometry, the easier the
course will be for him. His knowledge of physics will be helpful, too
- and of course he has a genuine, deep-seated interest in radio, with
experience either as a ham or serviceman.
When he enlisted at
his nearest navy recruiting station he was given a qualifying examination,
consisting of elementary questions on mathematics, physics, shop practice,
electricity and radio. After he passed that exam he was given the regular
Naval Reserve physical examination.
When it was all over he
found himself in the Navy. His pay - which with allowances runs as high
as $130.50 per month - began the day he enlisted, and on top of that
he was supplied with uniforms, food, quarters, medical and dental care,
and of course with textbooks and training, all free of charge.
The first stage in his training began at the indoctrination station.
There he learned the rudiments of Navy life - and quickly found and
almost as quickly lost a bunch of new buddies, For in a very short while
he was on his way again this time to the primary training school to
which he was assigned.
At the school he found some hundreds
of other sailors or marines much like himself, divided up first into
classes and then into sections. The sections, each consisting of some
30 or more men, are the basic instruction units. Each section has its
own instructors - usually three - and goes through the course as a unit.
He found that he was required to put in a minimum of a 70- to
8O-hour week, 7 days a week - half of the time being spent in class
and shop, the remainder in supervised study. He found that he spent
4 hours of each day in lecture and 4 hours in the laboratory, the actual
periods being two hours long minus a 10-minute rest period at the end
of each hour.
He found, too, that it was to his own advantage
to attend every period in an alert, receptive frame of mind, and to
get in his outside studying faithfully, as well. For, because of the
intensive nature of the three-month course, every step interlocks with
the next and all study assignments are carefully chosen and coordinated.
And when a subject is covered it's finished - there's no backtracking.
Here is the program for a typical day:
Reveille. Bunks are made and rooms cleaned by 0620.
All hands assemble for 30 minutes of setting-up exercises and drill.
0800 Classes and laboratory;
two 2-hour periods.
Classes and laboratory; two 2-hour periods.
1830-2000 Athletic program and study period.
Course Stresses Math and Theory
As the training gets under way he finds that it is divided into four
main headings: D.c. theory, and mathematics, a.c. theory and radio.
The first two months are devoted to intensive math drills, physics,
direct current and mechanical drawing.
And if he thinks
that he already knows enough about these subjects to get by, he is in
for some stiff disillusionment. Regardless of how good his earlier training
may have been, he'll find there's plenty he didn't know. There was one
graduate electrical engineer from Ohio State we were told about who
- well, there's no need to go into details, but by the time he realized
how far behind he was, it was almost too late. Even veteran hams with
years of practical and theoretical background find they have to give
the course everything they have.
Besides the study of textbooks
and the art of the slide rule and drawing pen, there's plenty of shop
work, too. The text and lectures are supplemented in the laboratories
with experiments on series and parallel circuits, generator characteristics,
Wheatstone bridge measurements, vacuum tube construction and many others.
The students are given intensive courses in the fundamentals of
radio construction and operating principles. There are lessons on oscillators,
detectors, amplifiers, coupling, transmitters, antennas and all phases
Here is Lt.-Commander Grogan's description of the
final month in the course as given at Grove City:
course in alternating currents includes a detailed study of the principles
of a.c., various series and parallel circuits, resonance, polyphase
voltages and currents.
"The theory of the construction and operation
of a.c. machinery, rectifiers and transmission lines is taken up. A
trip is taken through the local light and power plant to study this
machinery in actual operation.
"It is in this third month that
the hams are in their glory. During the first three weeks, four hours
per day are devoted to radio and electrical experiments. There are experiments
dealing with resonant circuits, tube characteristics, Class A, Band
C amplifiers, frequency response of transformers and amplifiers and
many others. The wellequipped college electrical and radio laboratories
are extensively used. In the electrical laboratory there are all types
of single and polyphase a.c. and d.c. machinery, transformers and a
large central switchboard.
"The radio laboratory offers many
opportunities for the ham. The college owns a 1 kilowatt ham rig (W8NXW)
and a 100-watt broadcast station (WSAJ) on 1348 kc., also a complete
Western Electric loading panel and line-test apparatus. The latter setup
allows the men to test the frequency response of from 1 to 60 miles
of telephone line. Oscilloscopes, vacuum-tube voltmeters, signal generators
and beat frequency oscillators all aid in making the experiments vivid
"The last portion of the third month is spent
in receiver construction. Then the ham's true nature comes to the front.
He aids the instructors in teaching those with little or no previous
radio training; he advocates his pet type of detector or oscillator,
and bets his partner that his own set will have the greatest selectivity
"When completed, these sets are tested with
the 'scope and analyzers, To more fully explain the construction and
theory, demonstrations are given on the RCA dynamic demonstrator in
conjunction with the 'scope, signal generator and audio oscillator.
"Finally, the third month ends. The hams leave with a
more complete understanding of the whys and wherefores of their work.
To some come dreams of new and better receivers and transmitters; to
others the future holds the promise of a new thrill building a rig and
having many QSOs, with their new-found friends and associates."
Graduates Go On to Secondary Schools Of more immediate importance,
however, is that - if he has made the grade - the new graduate is transferred
to a secondary school for advanced training. He may, too, be advanced
to a rating of Radio Technician First Class or even Chief Radio Technician,
with a base pay of $126 a month plus substantial allowances.
His primary training alone, however, will ensure him an education equivalent
to that given by electrical engineering courses in commercial schools,
plus the special u.h.f. and cathode ray training he receives. In other
words, he'll have a good grounding for a career in commercial frequency
modulation and television as well as the more commonplace uses of radio
and electricity when the war is over.
The radio world of the
future is going to hear a lot from these naval radio technicians. Some,
of course, will return to their original fields when it's all over -
for they come from every niche in life. A good percentage of the students
are hams and ex-hams, of course. Many are radio servicemen, d.c. station
operators, commercial announcers, remote control men, oscilloscope experts
and electrical and chemical engineers. Others are lawyers, chiropractors,
accountants; we even found an undertaker in one of the schools (and
he was near the top of his class, too!).
The ham is the
nucleus, though. "We think highly of the amateurs," said Lt. Brady F.
Dayton, resident officer at the Bliss school. " Amateurs throughout
have made unusually good students," is the judgment of Lt. Eddy.
And those without amateur background quickly become inoculated with
the bug - even though they can do nothing more right now than scratch
the itch. "It is interesting to hear the remarks of those graduated,
those going into a more advanced and specialized training," Lt.-Commander
Grogan commented, "They say, 'We'll be seeing you on the air after
this job is done,' or, 'I've never been an amateur or had a rig, but
I'll sure have one after the war.'''
They will - you can
be sure of that. But in the meantime they have a lot to learn and a
whale of a big job to do. They'll do it, too - you can be equally sure