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Visitors Since 22 October 1998
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Information



  Army Radio Sales Co. :: German Tank Radios

  German Tank Radios
German Tank Radios

German Tank Radios

During W.W II the German military made extensive use of radio. One of the key elements of the Blitzkrieg was the co-ordination of armour, air power, artillery and infantry, and radio was the perfect medium for this co-ordination. The German victory over Poland in 1939 illustrated how intermedate communication between land and air units could more effectively defeat an enemy. However, it was the success of the panzer troops in France and Russia that showed how indispensable radio had become in armoured warfare. A brief review of their opponents' failures will help to show the advantage radio gave to the German panzers.

Detailed accounts of the 1940 battle of France illustrate time and again how the French army lacked the proper command and control techniques. Despite having a numerically superior tank force, the French were never able to mount a concentrated defence or a major counter attack. Their battle plans were issued verbally before combat and units would have to stop and regroup to receive updated objectives.

During battle most commands were relayed via flag signal. These signals were frequently obscured by smoke, darkness or a dispersed battlefield and thus never received The French forces that were radio equipped often fared no better. One report mentions a French unit whose radio batteries ran down just before combat, thus insuring a lack of proper communication.

The invasion of Russia in 1941 again pitted the Germans against an opponent with inadequate command and control capacity. In the case of the Soviets, however, it was mostly a lack of proper training that left them paralysed. When the Germans encountered the radio equipped T-34 tank, no Wehrmacht tank could defeat it at normal combat ranges. Heavy artillery, 88rnrn anti-aircraft guns or attacks from the side or rear were needed to knock out aT-34.

The Soviets were never able to press this advantage however. Their armoured commanders lacked the ability and freedom to make rapid decisions. While local counter attacks by T-34s were often successful, they were not maintainable without fresh combat orders or co-ordination with other units. By the time further counter-attack was approved and organised, a German defence would usually be prepared. Thus, while most Soviet armour had basic radio equipment, the training and infrastructure necessary to properly utilise this radio equipment was not available.

In stark contrast to the French and Soviets, the Germans provided both the training and equipment necessary to meet the radio needs of their armoured troops. Almost every armoured vehicle bad a radio receiver and most had a transmitter as well Special armoured radio vehicles were used to co-ordinate communications between head-quarters, air, armoured, artillery and infantry units.

These vehicles were designed to accompany armoured units on the front line and beyond. By equipping their combat vehicles with radio, and supplying special armoured radio vehicles, the Germans formed a complex radio network for their panzer troops.The most frequently encountered of these specialised vehicles were the command vehicles. The key element of the command vehicle was the presence of additional radio equipment, which provided access to a wider range of frequencies. These supplemental radios allowed the relay of information from headquarters or aircraft to other vehicles in the unit The most common of the command vehicles was the command tank, or Panzerbefehlwagen PZB fwg).

The Panzerbefehlswagen consisted of a Standard production tank that was converted to command capacity by the installation of additional radio equipment This resulted in a reduced ammunition storage capacity. Externally, the only visible change was the additional antenna. The "star,' antenna, which had an umbrella-like fold out frame on the top, was used on these vehicles. The added antennas were difficult to observe at combat ranges and thus the command tanks were not conspicuous targets.

Also included in the family of special armoured radio vehicles were armoured half-tracks, along with four, six and eight wheeled armoured cars. These vehicles were equipped with a variety of radio sets, depending upon their objective. They initially had a large frame antenna but later versions used the less conspicuous mast antenna. Perhaps the most versatile armoured radio vehicle was the half-track SdKfz 251. While all models of this vehicle were radio equipped, several versions had special radio equipment.

These included the command vehicle (SdKfz 251 /6), the artillery slilvey vehicle (SdKfz 251/12) and the observation vehicle (SdKfz 251/18). The radio command half-track (SdKfz 251/3) could be adapted to accept eight different combinations of radio equipment. The selection of radio combinations depended upon its assignment which could include command post vehicle or front line link between headquarters and air, artillery or armour.

The network of these armoured command, observation and communications vehicles and radio equipped combat vehicles was effective. It gave the German commanders both a clear picture of the battlefield and the means to direct their troops as quickly and precisely as possible. This network allowed the panzers to roam deep behind enemy lines yet maintain contact with headquarters. It also allowed them access to the latest reconnaissance reports and to be deployed at a moments notice.

During the early war years, well trained commanders such as Erwin Rommel were frequently given the freedom to exploit this advantage to the fullest extent. Certainly, the rapid German advances in 1939 - 41 would not have been possible without radio. The combination of wide radio distribution, special armoured radio vehicles and though radio training allowed the Welnniacht to get maximum use of its armoured units.

A large variety of panzer radios were built, each with a specific purpose and designed for a specific class of vehicle. Tanks, self - propelled artillery, half-tracks and armoured cars all had different radio equipment and operated on different frequencies. Thus, the standard tank radio set was not capable of operating in the frequency range used by self-propelled artillery, the Luftwaffe or other branches of service that might be on the same battlefield.

As noted earlier, command vehicles had additional radios which allowed them to receive a broader range of frequencies. For example, information from the Luftwaffe would be received by the company leaders tank on the command set and then relayed to all other tanks via the standard tank radio set. This helped to organise the radio communication and prevent one unit from accidentally interfering with the communications of another.

If a German armoured vehicle had to be abandoned and was at risk of enemy capture it was the radio operators responsibility to remove or destroy the radio equipment. After the war the Allies ordered all German military radio equipment destroyed to help prevent any type of resistance or reorganisation Those radios that survived were frequently used by amateur short-wave radio enthusiasts. These "ham" radio operators would often modify the radios or simply use them as a source of spare parts. As a consequence, W.W.II German panzer radios are difficult to locate today.

Therefore, I have provided illustrations and descriptions of the panzer radio equipment in my collection I welcome any correspondence on this subject and I will gladly share any information that I have. I am always interested in acquiring any panzer radio material, from complete sets or accessories (dynamotors, intercom equipment, antennas, manuals, etc.) to any spare parts, connector cables, photographs or other information.
You may contact me through E-Mail wlhoward@gte.net Telephone AC 727- 585-7756

15W.S.a. and Umformer
15W.S.a. and Umformer
Umformer 15a and its mounting plate. This is a diagram showing the Umformer 15a  in a set up with its radio, the 15 Watt Sender -  Emfanger b.

The article above, written by Scott Clark in 1995 provides a good introduction to the role of armoured forces and their radios during WW 2. As Scott pointed out, there were many radios used by German armoured forces. Scott's article had a chart with it which referred to various configurations as Fug XXX. For the most part, the Fug (Funk Sprech Gerate) term was used for aircraft radios. The sets that were found on the command half tracks, seem to be either ground force radios or Luftwaffe compatible radios.

The most commonly encountered Tank Force Radios were the 10 W.S., 20 W.S. and 30 W.S. Transmitters and their companion Receiver, the UKw Ea.

10 W.S. c Transmitter
10 W.S. c Transmitter 27.2 - 33.300 KC, Found in every Tank
10 W.S. h  Transmitter 23-24.95 KC

10 W.S. c Transmitter
10 W.S. c Transmitter Inside View
20 W.S. Transmitter
20 W.S. Transmitter 27.2 - 33,300 KC
Usually found in Company and Battalion Commanders Tanks
20 W.S. Transmitter Inside View
20 W.S. Transmitter Inside View
Receiver, UKw E. 1940 Design
Receiver, UKw E. 1940 Design
Receiver, UKw E. Late War Design
Receiver, UKw E. Late War Design
UKw Ea Receiver Late War Design
UKw Ea Receiver Late War Design
UKw Ea Receiver, Late War Design, Internal View
UKw Ea Receiver, Late War Design, Internal View
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor for 10 W.S Receiver
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor for 10 W.S.Receiver
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor for 10 W.S Receiver
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor for 10 W.S Receiver
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor Internal View
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor Internal View
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor Internal View
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor Internal View
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor Internal View
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor Internal View
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor Circuit Diagram
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor Circuit Diagram
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor Connectors
EUa-4 Receiver Dynamotor Connectors
Interphone Amplifier System for Tanks Wiring Diagram
Interphone Amplifier System for Tanks Wiring Diagram
Interphone Amplifier System for Tanks
Interphone Amplifier System for Tanks
Interphone Amplifier System for Tanks
Interphone Amplifier System for Tanks
Interphone Amplifier System for Tanks
Interphone Amplifier System for Tanks

 

30- S Transmitter and U 30 b Dynamotor
30- S Transmitter and U 30 b Dynamotor
Radio Transmitter 30 W.S.a.
30 W.S. Transmitter 1,110 - 3010 KC ( Usually found at Regimental and Division level )
During World War II the Germans produced some of the finest military radios the world had seen. Rugged, dependable and made with the finest material, these sets have stood the test of time and most of these sets show up today 1ooking almost like they left the factory last week. Those sets which look damaged got that way in basement floods or from lack of care by current owners.

To support the fast moving Panzer forces, reliable communication equipment was needed. A whole series of tank force radios were developed. These were all AM sets and the most common were the: 10 W.S. a 10 watt transmitter, the 20 W.S., a 20 watt transmitter and the 30 W.S.a, a 30 watt transmitter.

The 30 W.S. started as the 30 W.S./24a-120. This set was not up to the requirements of modern combat as the Germans discovered and a new set was developed and placed in service. This set was the 30 W.S.a. This set was first identified for U.S. troops in the War Department Technical Bulletin TB SIG E-ll dated 10 May 1944 and again in the War Departments bulletin TM E-ll-227 dated June 1944.

TB SIG Ell gave detailed instruction on how to place the set is service. Shown in the bulletin was a data plate with the date of manufacture as 1942 so that means these sets were in the field when American Forces came ashore in North Africa. The dynamotor data plate shown had a manufacture date of 1940.

The 30 W.S.a covers 1,110 kc to 3,010 Kc in three overlapping bands. It is capable of both CW and voice. With a ground mounted station the set had a range of 42 miles for CW and 15 miles for voice. In a vehicular mount the ranges were 24 miles and 6 miles. According to one source the set has a range of 100 miles when used with a 30 foot antenna.

It is a MOPA transmitter using 6 tubes, 5 for CW and 6 for voice. The master oscillator is a type PL12P35, the power amplifier uses 2 type RL12P35 in parallel. The modulator uses 2 type RV12P2000 in parallel (used as a tone oscillator on CW) and 1 type RL12T15 for calibration (It is also used as a suppresser-grid and grid bias rectifier in the voice mode).

The transmitter is housed in a grey metal case that is 19.1"x .9" x 9.2" and weighs 41.9 Lbs. Unlike other German sets, the front cover is smaller than the outer case and fits inside the case and is held in place by studs on the front panel. Most German sets have hasp fasteners on the sides. It is assumed that this arrangement was to facilitate sliding the radio into a mounting box on the vehic1e. There is a carrying handle on the back side an when the the set is carried. the front panel is on the bottom.

30 WS Inside View
30 WS Inside View
U-30b Dynamotor and Mount
U-30b Dynamotor and Mount
U-30b Dynamotor
U-30b Dynamotor

The power requirements for this set were supplied by a 12 volt dynamotor, the U3Ob. This provided 12 volts at 2.7 amps for the filaments and 400 volts for the plate supply, drawing 120 ma for CW and 170 ma for voice. A light cast metal case houses the dynamotor, the starting relay and the noise filter. The dynamotor is held on its mount by two wing nuts on the front and can easily be removed from the mount. The mount has a junction box at the rear and the power cable is fed in to one side.

Another power cable can be fed out from the other side and connected to another dynamotor. For installations with several radios, this allows for a bank of dynamotors to be operated from one battery. With the dynamotor connected to a 12 volt battery, the power cable in place, the set is ready for operation. All that remains is to connect a key or a mike.

The controls for this set are easy to operate, even with gloves on. The band switch, marked "Berichschalter", has three settings. Band I is at the top of the scale and marked with a white dial cover, band II is in the centre with a red dial cover and band III is at the bottom with a yellow dial cover. At the bottom is the main tuning control, marked "Frequenzeinstellung" which moves ganged tuning capacitors.

Between the main tuning control and the power input socket is the four position function switch. The first setting is "S-Aus",(transmitter off), the next setting is "Tn" for voice operation, the third setting is "SBereit, Empfang",(transmitter off, receive only), and the last setting is "Tg" (for CW operation). Three more controls are located in the upper right side and these are "Ant.Kopplung" (Antenna coupling control) which is a five position switch used to select antenna coupling capacitors, "Ant. Abst Gross" (Antenna coarse-tuning control ) which is also a five position switch used to select antenna series tuning capacitors and Ant. Abst.Fein" (the Antenna fine-tuning control) which controls a variometer for antenna series tuning.

Above these controls are a brass screw connection for the main antenna and a small stud for grounding the antenna lead-in shield if a vehicular set up is used. On the left side are two more screw connectors for antenna and counterpoise. The Germans used a form of knurled nut on a screw that had the tip flared so the nut could not come off completely which save a lot of nuts from getting lost, both during combat and in the post war period! The antenna lead on the left side is connected to the companion receiver and the counterpoise is grounded to the vehicle chassis or a ground counterpoise.

Three sockets exist, one marked "Taste" for the key, one marked "Mikrofon" for the microphone and the one at the top marked "z Empf." for connection to the companion receivers side-tone socket. If the receiver does not have a side-tone capability, a headset may be plugged in here.

This set has a unique system for calibration. The cover plate marked "Frequenze-kontrolle" is swung to the left, disabling the power amplifier tubes. A headset may then be plugged in and the band switch set to one of the bands and the set tuned to a blue calibration mark. Pressing the microphone should result in a beat note being heard in the headset.

To remove the set from the case, four retaining screws, usually painted red or marked in red are loosened and the entire unit slides out revealing the insides. This set, like most German sets consists of a light cast metal frame with the components mounted on the front panel or on the frame. Being a transmitter, all the circuits are shielded by aluminium panels. Repairs are thus limited to changing tubes or fuses. There is a panel which mounts three spare fuses for the set. Any repair requiring new capacitors or resistors, etc would require evacuation to a repair facility and removal of the various panels. The panel with the spare fuses also has a panel with test points so that a voltmeter can be used to check the voltages with the set in various stages of operation.

In operation, this set was superior to its predecessor but lacked the capability to pre-set two frequencies. The prior set had a ring with two stops which would allow rapid shifting from one frequency to another, even in the dark. The 30 W.S.a required a light to see the dial and manual turning of the dial to the proper frequency, a difficult task for an operator bouncing along in a tank going over rough terrain. This must have been a common complaint because by 1945 the sets were made with this ring mounted on the front, as can be seen in the photograph.

My first acquisition for this set was a key of WW II vintage that I picked up at a gun show in 1987 and hoped that I would find a set that it would fit. I located a dynamotor in September 1991 and wondered if I would ever find the 30 W.S.a transmitter. Fortunately one appeared on my door step and I snapped it up, so I am well on my way to a complete set. I am missing the power cable so I have not made any effort to operate the set. If anyone else has a similar set, I would recommend that they get TB SIG E-11 before they power it up as the TB has detailed instructions for connecting the components and the operation of the set.

Fifty years have elapsed since this set was made but it looks factory new, a real tribute to the German war effort. German capacitors of WW II were generally considered to be the best so the capacitors in these sets are probably still good. Resistors are probably also still good so the only problems in placing these sets in operation is the tubes which may have bad filaments. These tubes are available from collectors in Europe. They are usually in the $25-$35 dollar price range.

With a range of 100 miles, this set is practically useless for HAM radio work but as a collectors item it is a valuable set as there were not that many made as contrasted to the 10 W.S. sets and the 20 W.S. sets. Displayed along with the companion receiver, the UKw.E.c ,d or e sets, or the Torn Eb set, and with the dynamotors, cables, key and microphone and headsets this makes a very impressive display.

80 W.S. Transmitter
80 W.S. Transmitter

More on the 30WS and 80WS, by Hue Miller KA7LXY
It's very interesting that the German scout and command vehicle set-ups included low medium wave equipment in the MWEc receiver and the 30WSa and 80WS. this equipment was carried in addition to the more generally distributed low-vhf equipment of the UKW series, ( UKW = Ultra Kurzwelle = ultrashort wave ) with its shorter range of less than 5 miles.

The apparent logic was to provide a stronger ground wave signal which would follow the lay of the land better, over hill country, for example. of course in motion this was fairly impractical to operate with a standard antenna, so when you see photos of German scout cars you will see what is called a "frame antenna" around the top deck, which looks rather like a handrail.

This antenna itself was not practical for the command Panzer ( AFVs ) so these, in addition to the usual UKW mast antenna of about 1.5 meters length also carried another robust and heavy mast antenna with some capacitive "whiskers" from the top, called "Sternantenna" = "star antenna. The 30WS covers 1000 - 3000 kc/s so it is well suited to amateur radio operation, either A1 or A3, on the 160 meter band, simply by supplying the correct voltages.

Italian radio seems to have followed along the same line of MW frequency employment. Marinelli is I believe the firm which built the Italian low-vhf AFV radios while A. Bocchini company built several models of LF-MF equipment, such as the movable set RF-4 which covered 200 - 4000 kc/s.

80 W.S. Transmitter Internal View
80 W.S. Transmitter Internal View

Hue Miller ka7lxy E-Mail kargokult@proaxis.com


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