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WWII Forward Air Controller radio?


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I posted this under Aviation equipment, but someone suggested this section might turn up more help. I do WWII living history periodically, and I've been trying to put together an impression as an early forward air controller, in the vein of what Quentin Aanenson experienced on the front. I've been trying to find information on what kind of radios they would have been using, along with the respective equipment. I've been fairly unsuccessful so far. It sounds like they jerry-rigged a lot of stuff. I'm unfamiliar with the wartime air-band receivers and transmitters, so I'm not sure of what may have been typical. I'm also looking for any pictures of these guys in action. I've only seen one or two, not counting the one of Capt Aanenson, and his picture doesn't show any equipment (but interestingly, it does show him wearing paratrooper boots he must have procured somewhere along the way). Any resources y'all have would be greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks!

 

Crasher

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  • 3 weeks later...
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The photo that has the M1 carbine at the right of the photo. The large set in the center of the photo (with the two shiny handles) is a BC-191 transmitter. To the right of it in the upper compartment is most likely a BC-312 or BC-342 receiver, with a BD-77 dynamotor below.

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The AN/TRC-1... was that a reference to a full complement of individual components, or are you referring to just one of those sets that the guy in the last photo is using? It looks like each set has it's own box.

 

Thanks for the help!

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Of the 4 items in the photo, the two in the center are the TRC-1 receiver and transmitter. The one on the for right looks like another TRC-1 receiver. Far left I'm not sure what it is. Goggle AN/TRC-1 and you'll find lots of info about it.

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There is the airborne portable AN/TRC-7 tried and tested mid 1944 not sure if it was tested in combat or when ready for combat, I would say Varsity but there's no pictorial evidence as with some radios. It's been written that the small hand portable AN/CRC-7 although used as a survival radio for downed aircraft it has been said and written that it was used to help with supply drops with the airborne and a favourite with fighter pilots. It should have been the type of radio used in the film "Objective Burma" with Errol Flyn he used a BC 611 the CRC would be able to contact an aircraft of that size radio. There is video footage of forward air control in action in Germany 1945 on YouTube quite interesting in that the equipment carried were also carried in halftracks. As for living history for display there's quite a lot of gear to find, some of it expensive but hard to find.

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I've seen that footage, I believe. Really neat. But upon analysis, my dad and I are both of the opinion it may be staged footage for a war correspondent or Army videographer. But, it's still neat nonetheless that they do seem to be real FACs, and they're trying to document this new phenomenon.

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I've seen that footage, I believe. Really neat. But upon analysis, my dad and I are both of the opinion it may be staged footage for a war correspondent or Army videographer.

 

If you can provide a link, I might be able to tell you for sure if it's a correspondent of not...

Lee Bishop Formerly known as "Ratchet 5" with the 2nd Infantry Division (yes, in REAL life)

US WW2 War Correspondent collector

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Crasher,

 

No answer to your radio set question, but I did find that you'll need VHF sets for your LH display (hope that's not a DUH comment for you).

 

Recommend you get a copy of "Closing with the Enemy" by Michael Doubler, 1994 (ISBN: 0-7006-0744-7). The subtitle is How GIs fought the war in Europe, 1944-45. It has a great chapter about the evolution of the 'Air-Ground Battle Team,' including the integration of VHF sets into Shermans for FACs, and how the ground commanders learned to rely on the air support. Very interesting!

 

Steve

I remember:

Chris Ingrassia (9/11) CPT Tristan Aitken (OIF, 2003)

MAJ Paul Syverson (OIF, 2004) CPT Tom Miller (OIF, 2005)

SSG Scottie Bright (OIF, 2005) CPT Chris Petty (OIF, 2006)

MAJ Hurley Shields (OIF, 2008)

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________


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Near as I can figure, I need an AN-VRC-1, which is a jeep-mounted VHF radio. Looks like for the most part they did use vehicle-borne radios, though at the end of the war they came up with a radio set that could be set up without a vehicle's power source (picture below). However, as you mentioned, I have found that they also used aircraft radios mounted in tanks in the beginning, meaning I'd need an SCR-522 setup. Being for an aircraft, those can be pricey. :-)

 

ground-attack-radio.jpg?w=2000&h=

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If anyone else is interested, I did finally find a very in-depth article on the development of FAC's (or ASPs [Air Support Parties] as I found they were sometimes called). This is where I found a lot of the pictures. I need to make a trip to Maxwell AFB, I guess. Sounds like that's where he found a lot of his info in this artlcle. I just separated from the military there, might have to call on some connections.

 

http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-100924-003.pdf

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The video i was talking about is not the one you mention, its black and white and has no sound. very interesting footage of air control equipment, the guys are in army air force badged uniforms but in halftracks and other vehicles, its not staged and they are clearly planning an attack with aircraft. Its under Critical past on youtube, it seems i cant find it but its similar to this youtube video i was looking at at the same time, 1st US army taking Konigsfeld Germany March 09 1945. If you find it let me know. If you read the signal corps history in three volumes, The test, the outcome etc it mentions about forward air control radios including the portable AN/TRC-7 which was developed and tested during 1944 which became a popular radio for Korea. If you do find anything on this radio on your trip i would be interested.

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  • 2 weeks later...

That is some incredible footage, BC312! Obviously field footage. There's some fascinating elements to it, for example the visit from the Colonel, where they appear to be showing him their methods of operating. One of the officers has a 4th Armored patch, and one of the other officers accompanying the O-6 looks to be a Major or LtCol with a 9th AF patch on his raincoat, so perhaps a higher-echelon liaison officer or something. And the couple of scenes it looks like the guys staged just to be funny (dropping the cigarette butt in the guy's helmet, and grabbing their mess kits to race off to chow). Thanks a bunch for that!

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