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Gibson Girl SCR-578 survival radio transmitter


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They called these "Gibson Girl" radios because their narrow waist reminded people of the young ladies drawn by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson:

 

gibsongirl.jpgshape.jpg

 

Officially it was the SCR-578 emergency transmitter (there was no receiver). First made in 1942, these were in use through the 1980's in some countries.

 

They had a hand cranked generator for power and included an automatic SOS sender with an option to manually key Morse Code messages. These were inspired by a captured German survival radio. There were a few different ID numbers associated with these including BC-778-A , SCR-578, T-74/CRT-3 and AN/CRT-3. The transmitter itself was the BC-778, while the complete set including bag, radio, accessories was the SCR-578.

 

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I found two of these recently at an estate sale, one of them in the original case with the accessories, including antenna, balloon, life raft rations, etc.:

 

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The shape of these radios allows them to be held by the legs as the hand crank is turned. You'll notice in this photo the proper attire for using one of these in a life raft. The 800 foot long antenna is held aloft by a balloon.

 

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The crank stows away on the side:

 

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The front panel:

 

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The controls are quite simple and, again, it can send an SOS automatically:

 

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The long wire antenna is stored on a spool behind this door:

 

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This is the signal lamp: it plugs into a jack on the front panel and flashes the same message being sent out by the radio transmitter:

 

lamp.jpg

 

Here are some of the other contents of the storage bag:

 

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Wow! What a neat collectible and even neater description. Many thanks for sharing this radio transmitter and its relationship to the Gibson Girl art. The hydrogen balloon idea is just super.

 

Best wishes, Jim

 

There is also a kite to hoist the antenna aloft.

 

I just tried the crank and amazingly the generator still turns and when I plugged the signal lamp into its socket it lit up! Not bad for something made in 1944. I may have an old shortwave radio that receives the very low frequencies and if so I will have to see if the transmitter still generates a signal. By the way, these use tubes so the generator has to produce two voltages: a cathode voltage of 24 volts and a plate voltage of 330 volts. A Dutch site at http://www.wftw.nl/gibsongirl/gibsongirl.html and some nice details including mention that the signal lamp was designed to be strapped to the top of someone's head (human lighthouse????). He also says that a small round compartment on the front opens up to reveal a ground wire with a weight on the end. These would have been dropped into the water and made a big difference in the efficiency of the antenna. A aircraft flying at 2,000 feet could pick up one of these transmitters from 150-200 miles away. After the war they made a dual channel model that could have transmitted over one thousand miles, but I think the short range transmission was probably better for search aircraft with radio direction finders: the long range frequency channel often was no audible to receivers close to the transmitters (one of the quirks or shortwave radio frequencies).


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I had my Gibson Girl as part of my display at an airshow a few years ago. It brought back one Vet's memory of its use - how it almost killed him.

 

They were in a raft after ditching. They ran the antenna up with the balloon and took turns cranking on the radio. The radio did its job and a rescue plane arrived while he was cranking. It did a pass to look them over and got a little too close. The plane snagged the antenna. The wire held just long enough to yank the fellow out of the raft before it broke. "There I am in the water with the dammed 25 pound radio strapped between my legs, pulling me down to a watery grave..." As one might guess, he got out of the harness before he drowned as he was there telling the story 60 years later. But not a war story he wanted to relive!

 

Tom :thumbsup:

Learn to ride hard, shoot straight, dance well and so live that you can, if necessary, look any man in the eye and tell him to go to Hell! US Cavalry Manual, 1923

WWII APS

 

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**PLEASE NOTE: THIS COMMUNITY MEMBER HAS SADLY PASSED AWAY**

 

 

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I had my Gibson Girl as part of my display at an airshow a few years ago. It brought back one Vet's memory of its use - how it almost killed him.

 

They were in a raft after ditching. They ran the antenna up with the balloon and took turns cranking on the radio. The radio did its job and a rescue plane arrived while he was cranking. It did a pass to look them over and got a little too close. The plane snagged the antenna. The wire held just long enough to yank the fellow out of the raft before it broke. "There I am in the water with the dammed 25 pound radio strapped between my legs, pulling me down to a watery grave..." As one might guess, he got out of the harness before he drowned as he was there telling the story 60 years later. But not a war story he wanted to relive!

 

Tom :thumbsup:

 

I wonder how many people were rescued because of these? It's an ingenious system.

 

I had not opened up the door to the antenna wire spool until after I read your story: I can easily see how this braided wire could support a man's weight for a while:

 

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I wonder how many people were rescued because of these? It's an ingenious system.

 

I had not opened up the door to the antenna wire spool until after I read your story: I can easily see how this braided wire could support a man's weight for a while:

 

Actually, it really didn't even have to support his weight. Just pull him over the side of the raft.

 

Another Vet I spoke to told of taking turns cranking the Gibson Girl for a couple days. After they were rescued, they discovered the thing wasn't working and all those hours of physical effort had been in vain. (The source of their rescue was being spotted by an aircraft out searching for them.)

 

Tom :thumbsup:

Learn to ride hard, shoot straight, dance well and so live that you can, if necessary, look any man in the eye and tell him to go to Hell! US Cavalry Manual, 1923

WWII APS

 

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**PLEASE NOTE: THIS COMMUNITY MEMBER HAS SADLY PASSED AWAY**

 

 

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i would love to come across one of these, are they hard to find?

Brandon Sivek "God Bless Texas, and these United States"

 

 

 

 

 

In loving memory: Great Cousin 2nd Lt. Louis E. Machala, B-17 Pilot

2nd Air Force, 331st BG, 461st BS

Killed near Glenrock, WY on Feb. 25, 1943 during night time practice bombing

ALWAYS LOOKING FOR WW2 ARMY AIR FORCE FLIGHT GEAR

 

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PROUD MEMBER OF THE COMMEMORATIVE AIR FORCE

PROUD MEMBER OF THE FELLOW WINGNUT ASSOCIATION,

WINGNUTS OF THE WORLD UNITE!

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i would love to come across one of these, are they hard to find?

 

A Gibson Girl? No. A Gibson Girl with all the accessories can be one of those years-long quests just like filling out a C-1 survival vest. Occasionally one appears with all the "bells and whistles", but be prepared.

 

Tom

Learn to ride hard, shoot straight, dance well and so live that you can, if necessary, look any man in the eye and tell him to go to Hell! US Cavalry Manual, 1923

WWII APS

 

donation2007.gifdonation2008.gif

donation2009.gifdonation2011.gif

**PLEASE NOTE: THIS COMMUNITY MEMBER HAS SADLY PASSED AWAY**

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
A Gibson Girl? No. A Gibson Girl with all the accessories can be one of those years-long quests just like filling out a C-1 survival vest. Occasionally one appears with all the "bells and whistles", but be prepared.

 

Tom

 

There is one for sale on Ebay for $250 that appears to have most of the accessory items. Not a bid price. # 280369587696

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A Gibson Girl? No. A Gibson Girl with all the accessories can be one of those years-long quests just like filling out a C-1 survival vest. Occasionally one appears with all the "bells and whistles", but be prepared.

 

Tom

 

There is one for sale on Ebay for $250 that appears to have most of the accessory items. Not a bad price. # 280369587696

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There is one for sale on Ebay for $250 that appears to have most of the accessory items. Not a bad price. # 280369587696

 

I just sold one almost complete set with everything having original WWII dates for $275. It did not have the cans of chemical to inflate the balloon, but those are very hazardous materials and I did not want to ship 65 year old cans of dangerous substances. I did a lot of research on Gibson Girl radio sales using worthpoint.com and $275 is pretty high price for even a complete set. The one on Ebay has some serious issues and I think $250 it too high: I think some on the order of $150 is more in order and if you want something to put in a WWII display it's not even worth that. The set is a post-WWII dual-channel radio, the crank on the radio appears to be a mass of rust and the bottom of the carrying case is falling apart. I had to do repairs on the one I sold - those old cloth cases are very fragile and based on my repair experience, I would not want to tackle this one. I still have one of the post-WWII radios with no case or accessories and it has some rust on the crank and some dents, I figure that is worth less than $50. If you're a military radio collector one of these post-WWII sets would be nice to have but, again, this is not set for WWII collectors: you want one of the older single-channel sets.

 

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  • 6 months later...

I have an original dated silk parachute for the Gibson Girl but the lines were cut and I didn't know what the chute was for for the longest time because it given to me by a friend who didn't know either and all I cared about was that it was WW II dated.

Mike

 

 

 

They called these "Gibson Girl" radios because their narrow waist reminded people of the young ladies drawn by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson:

 

post-214-1246293579.jpgpost-214-1246294146.jpg

 

Officially it was the SCR-578 emergency transmitter (there was no receiver). First made in 1942, these were in use through the 1980's in some countries.

 

They had a hand cranked generator for power and included an automatic SOS sender with an option to manually key Morse Code messages. These were inspired by a captured German survival radio. There were a few different ID numbers associated with these including BC-778-A , SCR-578, T-74/CRT-3 and AN/CRT-3. The transmitter itself was the BC-778, while the complete set including bag, radio, accessories was the SCR-578.

 

post-214-1246298923.jpg

 

I found two of these recently at an estate sale, one of them in the original case with the accessories, including antenna, balloon, life raft rations, etc.:

 

post-214-1246293973.jpg

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  • 1 year later...

Just bagged up and priced one of the parachutes with cords, and one of the rubber balloons for the Gibson Girl that I will be hauling to the SOS for $27.50 each if anybody wants to grab them and pay postage, or have me hold them for the show.

Stephen

 

Email (click here) preferred and always faster than PM.

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  • 5 years later...

I'm now on the hunt for one of these! Can anyone help me at all please ?

I have found one part ,which I believe is the parachute pack .

 

LB

WANTED : RAF 1940 PATT FLYING BOOTS

WANTED : DINGHY TYPE K ,TYPE A

" ALWAYS WANTING USAAF ITEMS IN THEIR ORIGINAL PACKAGING "

"WOULD ALSO LIKE 487th FS AND 515TH BS RELATED ITEMS "

"Illegitmi non carborundum"

 



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Any one help in my quest ??

WANTED : RAF 1940 PATT FLYING BOOTS

WANTED : DINGHY TYPE K ,TYPE A

" ALWAYS WANTING USAAF ITEMS IN THEIR ORIGINAL PACKAGING "

"WOULD ALSO LIKE 487th FS AND 515TH BS RELATED ITEMS "

"Illegitmi non carborundum"

 



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"I found two of these recently at an estate sale, one of them in the original case with the accessories, including antenna, balloon, life raft rations, etc."

 

Holy, moly!

HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC








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  • 3 years later...

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