Radio Amateurs in Navy Radio
April 1945 QST Article
In times of peace and times of war, Amateur radio operators are the first in line to serve their countrymen and citizens all over the world. As documented in the pages of the American Radio Relay League's QST magazines throughout the years of World War II, Hams proved to be invaluable to the effort. Even though probably none had previous radar system experience, their practiced aptitude for electronics made them perfect candidates for the task. In appreciation for their heroic efforts to help ultimately win the war on all fronts, the U.S. military put a lot of effort into preparing radiomen and radarmen for life in the civilian world. This article from April 1945, nearing the end of the war, discusses the value of military experience when returning to "the world." Even today, many electronics companies - particularly defense electronics companies - still prefer former military people for technician and even engineering positions.
April 1945 QST
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Radio Amateurs in Navy Radio
An Opportunity to Receive Valuable Radio Training While Serving Your Country
by LT.(jg) CHARLES LILLIE. . USNR. W1JTG
LEISURE conversation here at Radio Chicago turns again and again to the postwar future of amateur radio. Those of us who used to work DX on 5 meters are already dreaming up rigs capable of operating at 300 or 400 megacycles and higher, while the 10- and 20-meter gang are arguing the pros and cons of the still hypothetical 21-Mc. band.
It would be interesting to know just how many hams are now serving with the Navy. There must be several thousand in the radio technician bracket alone, for every school in this training program can point to a sizable group among its officers, instructors, students and graduates.
The Naval Reserve Armory at Michigan City, Ind., one of four schools at which pre-radio courses are given under the Navy's radio technician (radar) training program.
The author, W1JTG, shows Ensign George Dean, W7EAV, just what a 6L6 really looks like, while visual aids officer, Lt.(jg) Al Rogers, W9OZE, looks on.
CRT Sindelar, W8OOF, chief radio instructor at Radio Chicago, demonstrates the electronic voltmeter to students. Left to right: RT1c Langello; RT2c Shaw, W1NEU; S2c Birch, W8SEN; CRM Arden, W6LPF, and RT1c Diegan, W8BTU·W6EAF.
A group of Radio Chicago instructors gathered around a giant working model of a multivibrator. Left to right: ART1c Sanders, W9QUW; CRT Sindelar, W8OOF; CRT Alexander, W8VQ; ART1c McIntyre, W8TSR, and ART1c Dunlap, W9OGG.
Here at Radio Chicago, our visual aids officer is Lt. (jg) Al Rogers, an ex-lawyer whose 350- watt rig on 28- and 14-Mc. phone was heard under the call W9OZE, Waukegan. Lt. (jg) Arnold Schwemin, W7EWM, in charge of barracks, pioneered on 112 Mc. and worked 10- and 20-meter phone from Clarkston, Wash., while Ensign George Dean, W7EA V, pre-radio coordinator of instruction, spent his evenings in Seattle, trying to push 35 watts of 160-meter phone eastward over the Cascade Mountains.
CRT Ernest Sindelar, W8OOF, in charge of radio theory classes, and CRT Lloyd Alexander, W8VQ, in charge of laboratories, head the list of radio amateurs now teaching at Radio Chicago's primary school. Among the students may be found returned fleet men such as RT1c Victor Langello, formerly attached to the cruiser Boise, and CRM Oliver Arden, W6LPF, Ii veteran of five years of motor torpedo boat duty, together with recently enlisted men such as S2c John Birch, WSSEN, of Elgin, Ohio.
It might prove interesting to follow a typical student through the radio technician training program and see just what he learns in ten to twelve months. Upon qualification for RT by virtue of the Eddy Test, the new recruit is sworn in as a seaman first class, two pay grades above the normal entrance level. Four to eight weeks of indoctrination training at Great Lakes follow immediately and, after boot leave, the embryo radio technician goes directly to a pre-radio school in the Chicago area. These include former city-owned high schools and junior colleges such as Wright Junior College, Theodore Herzl School and Hugh Manley School, as well as the Naval Armory in Michigan City, Ind.
The function of pre-radio training is to bring men of widely varying background to a common level of knowledge in three and one-half weeks' time. Assuming that all students have some mathematical background, it is possible to provide a comprehensive review of high school algebra in this short period. In addition, the basic theory of electricity is introduced from the electron concept, and the student then studies simple direct current circuits, Ohm's Law in all its phases, power, voltage, and current measurements.
Practical examples of all theoretical problems are demonstrated by visual aids and actual laboratory experiments. The student must be able to hook up and analyze each type of circuit himself and he will do just this in the lab. Proper shop technique is taught in separate classes during this early phase of the training program. Furthermore, the slide rule is introduced as a mathematical short cut. Every man learns its operation thoroughly as he watches his instructor manipulate a twelve-foot giant rule hanging on the wall and follows along with his own Navy issue rule of standard size. Such large scale models of all types of equipment, together with the use of carefully selected motion pictures, form a most effective method of presenting new material.
Pre-radio instructors are graduate radio technicians, many of whom are also radio amateurs. These men must successfully complete a specialized teacher training course at Radio Chicago before they are considered qualified for platform or laboratory duty.
Graduates of pre-radio school are assigned to one of several primary training centers located at Radio Chicago, 190 N. State St., Chicago; Stillwater, Okla.: Gulfport, Miss.; Takoma Park, Md.; Houston, Texas; Dearborn, Mich., and Great Lakes, Ill.
Radio Theory and Practice
Primary training is of three months' duration. The mathematics course stresses vector analysis and formula solution as important tools for the practical engineer, while the electricity course begins with Kirchhoff's Laws and goes into a.c. from sine wave generation into a.c. power and a.c, circuits, finally terminating on the threshold of radio theory. A practical course on rotating machinery teaches the do's and don'ts of this type of power supply, while daily laboratory classes again closely parallel theory lectures. Radio theory itself is introduced by a detailed study of the vacuum tube. Then follows a study of audio amplifiers, tuned circuits, detectors, oscillators, rectifier power supplies, and finally the complete superheterodyne receiver, together with Class-C amplifiers and the complete transmitter. The laboratory course concludes with the construction of a working superhet, while lab is further tied in with theory by means of a third-month course in servicing techniques. Upon graduation from primary school the student has received a complete education in general radio theory and typical circuits. He is now ready to go on with the study of specific types of Navy equipment at a secondary training school.
Secondary schools are located at Washington, D. C. (Bellevue); Treasure Island, Calif.; Chicago (Navy Pier), and Corpus Christi, Texas. The latter school is devoted exclusively to the study of aviation radio materiel. The Corpus Christi graduate will be an aviation radio technician and may expect a limited amount of flight time in Navy aircraft while testing equipment under airborne conditions. The other schools are more concerned with shipboard equipment, although aircraft gear is also taught as a necessary part of the curriculum.
Throughout secondary training great emphasis is placed on the need for a thorough understanding of the theory and practice of all Navy electronic equipment including radio receivers and transmitters, direction finders, and underwater sound gear. Laboratories are completely equipped with all the latest models of such equipment, and every student has the opportunity to perform actual experiments on the same gear he will later maintain at sea. It should be stressed that the graduate radio technician's duties are concerned solely with maintenance and engineering. No operating is involved, for men are trained in operating techniques at other schools far less technical in their scope.
It is apparent that RT graduates will hold a highly responsible position on the fighting team. Successful performance of duty naturally will lead to advancement. Advancement from the start of training is rapid and may be summarized as follows: Enlistment or induction as seaman first class. Generally the RT reaches the rate of third class petty officer in the early months of secondary school. Those specially qualified students are then graduated as second class petty officers. Further advancement to first class or chief petty officer is contingent upon satisfactory performance of duty with the fleet. Men with college background who display outstanding ability in secondary school may also be considered as officer prospects.
The need for radio technicians in the Navy is still great, and I can assure every amateur that the training he will receive in this program is second to none in the field of practical radio engineering. What is more, by serving in this capacity you will be adding one more page to the enviable record of amateur radio's total contribution toward the winning of this war.
The Navy is still accepting men for radio technician (radar) training and, in fact, the need for such men is great. Seventeen-year-old high school seniors may take the written qualifying examination (Eddy Test) at any time prior to their eighteenth birthday. In addition, all inductees who pass their pre-induction physical examination and meet Navy standards may take the Eddy Test, and those who pass are assured of assignment to the Navy for radio technician training. A highly technical background is not necessary to qualify, but a knowledge of high school mathematics and physics is essential. Experience with amateur radio will prove of extreme benefit, too. All Navy recruiting stations are prepared to administer the Eddy Test and tell you more about Navy radar, so here is a direct invitation to every amateur not currently engaged in war work to visit his nearest Navy recruiting officer at once for detailed information about the radio technician program.