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Should most US half-tracks be Radioless?


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Okay, as part of the research I've been doing to generate my own set of Radio Vehicle Platoon rules for SASL, I've become more attuned to which vehicles in the ASL pantheon are listed as Radioless. Doyle, Chamberlain & Jentz list all SPW 250 & 251 vehicles as having a radio akin to the one used in the tanks, etc (groovy - matches ASL Chapter H). However, when I went looking for info supporting the presence of similar sets in the US M2/M3/M5/M7 series halftracks, it seems that they were not standard issue. My reading of a few mini-tomes (e. g. Zaloga & Sarson Osprey book) suggests the following:

- Company & Platoon HQ vehicles have radio

- subordinate vehicles within the platoon did not

- the AA versions did, but the AT GMCs did not (except perhaps for HQ vehicles)

Can anyone come up with something more specific one way or t'other?

P. S. all Commonwealth Carriers apparently had a radio set

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Brent Pollock,

There's veteran testimony to support this conclusion, albeit based on U.S. tanks. According to either the book TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES or related veteran stories, based on author Olson's interviews with his fathers fellow tankers, only the platoon leader and assistant platoon leader had transmitter/receivers in their tanks, allowing two-way communications, while the remaining tanks had receivers only.

www.tankbooks.com

This becomes apparent in several instances where a tank leader is "unhorsed" and takes over the tank of the next most senior leader, not just any tank. There's also the little matter of being on the higher formation net, which required, I believe, a second radio set over and above the short range company net, gear not fitted to any but command tanks. Whether this was true throughout the war I don't know, but it's certainly easier and cheaper to build mostly receivers than transceivers.

To learn more, may I suggest you check the Green Army Signal Corps books for the radio details and capabilities and then consult the Standard Ordnance Catalogue or similar? Also, would be willing to bet there are sites devoted to U.S. WW II mechanized infantry, if that's the right term.

Regards,

John Kettler

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In FM 17-42 "Armored Infantry Battalion" for 1944, the radio net for the battalion shows a SCR508 in the company commander's halftrack and each platoon commander with an SCR510 in the platoon leader's halftrack. If I read the diagram correctly each of the squads in the platoon also had an SCR536 (walkie talkie), which would have given them short range radio communications while in their vehicle, even though it was not a vehicle mounted radio per se.

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Thanks to the both of you for the prompt replies.

I'd also seen that snippet in TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES a couple of days ago as part of the research.

The field manuals are something I've only been able to stumble across haphazardly at such sites as Lone Sentry...I just ran a quick Google search and it shows the 'Nafziger collection' being for sale on many sites, including BFC :o) Time to add more stuff to my library, it seems...

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Brent Pollock,

Glad to have helped. The Olson book and the interviews on his site are terrific. Where else can you read about an M5 Stuart's having a spitting range clash with an 88, resulting in a turret side through and through (both sides and out), with the tank still fully functional and the crew unharmed?

Steve McClaire,

For the longest time I thought the thing which looks like a scaled up Gen One cell phone was a walkie talkie, but that item is actually carried on a soldier's back, with communication via an attached handset. The handheld only device is technically a handy talkie.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Steve McClaire,

I was happily ensconced in my ignorance until sometime last year when I happened to catch an episode of Mail Call in which American WW II tactical radios were shown and discussed. Prior to that, I would've likely been adamant as to the "right name" for the handheld transceiver and would've been wrong!

Regards,

John Kettler

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So far the only hard vehicle radio reference I've found has been Berndt's 1994 American Tanks of World War II (ISBN 0-87938-930-3).

This one does not list radios for the halftracks, but does have the following snippet suggesting that radios were not normal kit in the halftracks:

If radios were carried, seats were usually displaced, or if the vehicles were used as machine gun squad carriers, fewer crew were carried.

It does list the AA halftracks as being radio equipped, but doesn't mention the type.

For the other classes of vehicles, it is very specific:

M8 & M20 AC: SCR 506, 508, 510, 608 or 610

M3A1 Scout Car: SCR 506, 508, 510

M3/M5 Light Tanks: SCR 508

M24 Light Tank: SCR 508, 528, 538

M18/M39 TD: SCR610 or British #19 set

M4 Sherman: SCR 506, 508, 528, 538

From what I can see from sites like this:

http://hereford.ampr.org/millist/m23.html

...the four radios listed for the Sherman are all two-way sets, so the Tanks for the Memories comment is a tad odd? Granted, one book does not a solid case make, but still...

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Brent Pollock,

Am not familar with the Berndt book, but I'm strongly inclined to pay attention to something so singular as what the veterans described at Tankbooks.com. OTOH, this may've been the result of some production snag affecting only a particular batch of tanks. There were wartime crystal shortages through 1942, and what the veterans describe may've been from a temporary fix to stretch the crystal supply as much as possible by limiting the production of crystal-gobbling transceivers.

What I do have, though is the The Signal Corps: The Test in the Army Green series. Pages 229-234 address the Armored Force vehicular radio issue, with page 229 giving a breakdown of which set does what. 230 and 231 show pics of both long range (SCR-299 in an equipment crowded AFV with only two men in the back) and medium and short range (SCR-193 (could sub older SCR245 or new SCR-506), and SCR-510 sets) halftrack installations. Short range sets for the Armored Force also included SCRs-508/509/538.

By plugging in the SCR numbers, this site'll be a gold mine. As it is, it confirms halftrack installation for the SCR-528.

http://www.nj7p.org/cgi-bin/millist2?mode=normal&name=SCR-528

Do you have Hunnicutt's HALF-TRACK study?

http://www.amazon.com/Half-Track-History-American-Semi-Tracked-Vehicles/dp/0891417427

Relevant TO&Es are listed here, together with a great deal of material at the links for the two successive pattern of armored infantry battalion.

http://www.bayonetstrength.150m.com/UnitedStates/Armored/united_states_armored_infantry_battalion.htm

The penultimate paragraph here would appear to support your idea.

http://www.usarmymodels.com/MODEL%20GALLERY/Hurtgen%20Forest/4halftrack.html

I don't see the radio, but this M3 restoration is clearly sporting a radio antenna.

http://www.fightingiron.com/FI-Interior.htm

How anal would you like to get?

http://www.halftracks.com/index.cfm

The associated Forum would seem a great place to ask about radios! Note that an M2A1 in the sold section is listed as having a radio connection in the driver's compartment and that an M2A1 command vehicle, as evidenced by the map table, quite clearly has a radio fitted. You can see it in the pics.

From the ever anal armor modeling site Missing Lynx comes this useful review.

http://www.missing-lynx.com/reviews/usa/dml6329reviewcs_1.html

This explains some things in a way nothing else I've found does.

http://www.1944d-day.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5389

Radio grog resources (Several have forums!)

http://www.antiqueradio.com/index.html

http://www.armyradio.com/arsc/customer/home.php?cat=71

http://www.dxzone.com/catalog/Antique_Radios/Military/

Manuals!

http://www.portrayal.com/manuals.html

Why not ask our own Harry Yeide? He wrote WEAPONS OF THE TANKERS which, having seen online excerpts, I can assure you covers our halftracks.

Jackpot! Note that the SCR-538 has no transmitter, exactly what the Sherman veterans reported.

http://www.ali-larter.de/sherman/usrads.html

As for the M16 GMC, it makes perfect sense to fit a radio. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to alert the guns when a plane came?

Regards,

John Kettler

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