Signals – Nachrichten
During the coarse of the Second World War, communication proved to be vital in all theatres of combat, from panzer to ground to air ; all used communication techniques of one kind, or another, and yet this part of warfare is often overlooked by historians, and enthusiasts.
Sophisticated machines using copper wire or radio waves appeared in there abundance, while more specialist devices such as the L1.Spr.G.80 which used infra-red light to transmit encoded signals, and the HHF used for measuring Field Intensity for tracking down enemy ground station transmissions.
Even though high tech devices were being pressed into service by the thousand, much more simpler devices were still in use; Signal Flags; Heliographs; runners/couriers; homing pigeons.
Along with all this equipment, there was also a multitude of specially designed accessories, from adapted motor transport, cable-laying devices, to the various headphones developed for the different scenarios warfare presents.
All infantry units had several members of personnel who were trained in the use of telephone installation, maintenance, and operation, and the same in at least one of the many radio sets the German Military used; some regiments had their own Signals Division.
On this page are some operational, original items of German WWII signals equipment owned by members of the group, that were commonly used in the Field during WWII;
Field telephones were first introduced to the regular army in 1905, with the elegant looking ‘Modell 05” made by the German Electrical Company ‘Ammon”. In the field during World War One, this unit proved delicate, so a more robust version were made, contained in wooden cases, known as the ‘Modell 16’ or FF16.
The Feldfernsprecher model 33, or ‘FF33’ was a later development of the FF16. Comprising of a switched handset, connecting to a base unit via a 5 or later, 4 pin plug and lead. The base unit contains the 80 Volt bell and crank inductor circuits, and the 2 Volt switching apparatus common to telephone internal circuitry, - not an awful lot of change had been made from the FF16, and indeed, not so much different to the apparatus used in modern armies until the late 1980’s.
The unit case is made of brown bakelite, and encloses a full black metal case which contains the vital parts of these units. The handset is also made from bakelite.
Power is supplied from a removable 2 Volt dry cell, contained within the bakelite case. The 80 Volt required to supply the bell circuit is as previously mentioned, from a crank inductor, or Umformer.
In addition to the Field Telephone being up graded and modernized in 1933, so were the Telephone Field Exchange Units. As with there predecessors, used during the First World War, these units have a 2 part wooded case, hinged at the rear. The lower part being for storage of the jack-leads, the upper contains the electro-mechanical parts normally attributed to telephone exchange mechanisms
Each unit could connect 10 lines of the 2 wire system, by means of a simple jack-lead method of connection, in conjunction with a push-switch for each line to enable the operator to make connection with any of the out going lines.
The unit is silent in operation, so as not to give away its position in the field to enemy troops, indication of an incoming call is ‘Flagged’ by means of a small metal flap which drops open to reveal the line number. Also when in operation, the FF33 telephone connected to the operators terminals is mute, ie, the internal bell within these units is made in-operable, by not allowing the 80 Volt AC signal to connect to the bell circuit, so maintaining silent operation.
This modern looking receiver unit does look out of place amongst the other equipment, with its smooth, slightly curved lines. The appearance is that of a 1950’s transistor portable radio. The Radione R2 was developed in 1939 by the Austrian company ‘Radione” (RADIO Nikolaus Eltz), and production only ceased in 1942, to make way for the successor, the model ‘R3’.
The case is made from entirely pressed mild steel, dimensions are 350 x 240 x 170mm, and the total weight (with innards), is less than10.5Kg, thus meeting the criteria of producing a compact portable radio receiver that can be literally carried as a small piece of hand luggage.
The unit is fitted with 6 tubes/valves within its 7 stage Audio Frequency circuits, and has reception ranges of Short and Long wave transmissions.
Torn Fu. b1
This unit was developed due to a requirement for a mobile transceiver unit, that is robust, small enough to be carried by Infantry, and could also be easily installed into vehicles. Lorenz supplied this requirement in 1935 with the development of the Torn. Fu.b1.
The unit, like most radio sets designed for the military, is made from steel plate, and like many others with the infantry in mind, has hooks on the reverse side for carrying straps. The antenna assembly mounts directly onto the top of these units, using a screwed collar arrangement. This, along with the headphones, telegraph key and batteries were carried in a separate steel tool chest.
The unit is divided into 2 sections; the left is the Receiver (Empfänger), which has an operating frequency of 3 to 7.67 MHz; and the right, is the Transmitter (Sender), which its operational frequencies are between 3 to 5 MHz.
Power supplies are from 2,4 Sammler MC38 + 2x90Volt anode cell (battery).
Provision is made on the front of the unit for; 2 headphone sets of the Dfh.a. type; telegraph key; hand held microphone; and FF-33 telephone.
These Tranceiver units were initially developed in 1940, as the WR1/T, by the German company Blaupunkt. The following year, to meet demands from the military, other German electronic companies of Philips, and Telefunken were contracted to manufacture more of these highly successful Transceiver units. At the same time, improvements in the form of increases in bandwidth ranges, and more versatility in the ranges of power supply, - they then became known as the WR1/P.
Unlike the Torn b1, the two circuits (Receiver and Transmission), were incorporated into just one area. Operating frequencies for the improved WR1/P are in 3 bandwidths; 0.150 to0.425MHz; 0.517 to 1.54 MHz; and 5.9 to 15.5 MHz.
Power supply for the model P are thus; 90Volt anode cell; 2xEML 1,25Volt anode battery; 4NC58 batteries; 6/12 volt Sammler batteries; and supply could also be taken from any mains network via multi-vibrator and choke circuits.
The case was manufactured from plate steel, and with the weight of the 5 chokes on the supply circuits, and the 3 tuning coils; these units were heavy, for a device that was designed to be carried by infantry/mobile units.
Provision is made on the front of these units for; 2 headphones of the Dfh.a. type; telegraph key; handheld microphone; and connection for a FF-33 telephone. Storage for these accessories is in a small boxed area on the front right of the unit. A separate Antenna and carry bag is also provided. Also featured on the front of this unit, is a loud speaker.
The Tornister Empfanger b (or Torn Eb), was first developed in 1935 by telefunken, to provide a lightweight mobile Receiver that not only could be used in vehicles, but be light enough for infantry to carry in a specially designed back pack.
The cases of the first models were made from plate Aluminum, but by 1943, these were changed to multi-layered thin Steel plate, due to stocks of Aluminum being reserved for the Luftwaffe’s aircraft manufacturing.
The complete unit consists of 2 cases;
The top is the Radio Receiver. This unit is capable of receiving both Morse Code signals, as well as telephony on a vast array of frequencies, ranging from 1KHz through to 7.1MHz.on 8 separate channels. There are no speakers installed in this unit as to keep noise to a minimum when in used in combat conditions. The user received the signals via headphones, standard infantry type Dfh.a.
The lower unit is the battery and tool chest, where a multi-vibrator module was installed, in order for the unit to work on several different supply frequencies. As well as this, there was also a 90 Volt dry cell to provide the HT for the valves. The aerial and headphones were also stored in this case.
Radio communication was not strictly limited to mobile infantry, aircraft, or to ground stations. Shipping and land vehicles also had a vast variety of there own types. In the 1920’s and 1930’s when the blitz kreig tactics were being developed, inter-vehicle communication was necessary, utilizing an array of available frequency bands.
The Telefunken Ukw.E.e receiver was developed in 1936 for the very purpose of vehicular installation. Installed in pairs, along with a Ekw.E.c; Ukw.E.d; and other receiver types, the 3 units were mounted in a rack system within the vehicle; types of which were generally armoured, such as panzers; half-tracks etc.
Construction, as with most, is made from plate steel, welded in to a box formation. As the unit is normally mounted in a rack assembly, there are no hooks for carrying straps. The front of the unit has provision for; 2 headphones of the type Dfh.d; a socket for the lead to the antenna; and a socket for the lead to the sender unit.
Power supply is provided by the vehicles batteries, via a EU.a, or a
Frequency range for the Ukw.E.e ; - 27.2 – 33.3MHz.
Cable/Wire Dispensing Equipment
Field Telephones were introduced to the armed forces very early in the
telephones development history. They proved there worth during the course
of the First World War, and have been a vital part of the communication
network ever since.
With the telephones introduction, came a vast variety of accessories to aid the installation and operation.
Telephones at the time were hard wired, and so a method of laying cable/wires rapidly in combat scenarios was required. Three methods were developed; a hand held device; a frame-mounted device, carried on the back of infantrymen; and a cart/vehicle mounted device. All three functioned in the same way- to lay, and also to wind in/recover telephone cable.
The hand held spools came in various sizes and styles, the more common were the ½Km and 1Km cable lengths. These were fitted into various specialised handle assemblies, known as Abspuler. The frame-mounted spools were of 5Km cable lengths, and were installed into a triangular steel framework. Leather straps are fitted to the vertical, along with a cushioned pad, and a leather pouch into went the winding handle, chain transmission, and other accessories.
Signals Tornister Backpack
This backpack for the Radio and Field Telephone Squads is larger in physical size than the standard infantry Tornister. Like those, this pack also is made with canvas sides and back, has a fur front (for water proofing), and has two leather carrying straps.
One difference is that this pack has a rigid wooden frame forming the box section, and internally, has two shaped metal strapping, that forms 4 different compartments. These are in two sizes; the larger are to hold the telephone cable reels, and the smaller hold the spare telephone batteries, a voltmeter with leads, and a small tool pouch.
On the inside of the fur front, are 4 canvas pouches, the two smaller hold bakelite in-line plug together connectors (for telephone line repairs); the larger pouches hold the operators manuals for the FF-33 telephone, or radio manuals; also maps, record sheets, and personal items..
Above the pouches, is a leather tube, this has the function of housing the Abspüler for the cable reels, or a small aerial for radio sets.
Externally are multiple small leather straps for holding cable poles, zeltbahn, greatcoat, and blanket.