AN/PRC-6

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AN/PRC-6, somewhat battered from use.

The AN/PRC-6 is a walkie-talkie used by the U.S. military in the late Korean War era through the Vietnam War. Raytheon developed the RT-196/PRC-6 following World War II as a replacement for the SCR-536 "handy-talkie". The AN/PRC-6 operates using wide-band FM on a single crystal controlled frequency in the 47 to 55.4 MHz low band VHF band.[1] Rated power output is about 250 mW. The range is about one mile, but much less in jungle.

The AN/PRC-6 circuit uses 13 vacuum tubes for the receiver and transmitter combined, all but one subminiature. The unit may be changed to a different frequency in the field by replacing the crystal and adjusting tuned circuits, using tuning indicator ID-292/PRC-6. The tuning chart inside the case is not accurate enough to properly align the unit. The AN/PRC-6 uses a 24 inch whip antenna, with a BNC connector for an external direction finding antenna. There is an optional handset H-33*/PT that can be connected to the AN/PRC-6 by a 5 foot cable. The RT-196 can be carried over the shoulder using a provided web sling.

The US Marine Corps made limited use of the AN/PRC-6 as late as 1972.

The AN/PRC 6 was also manufactured under licence in France ("TR-PP-8") and Germany (6 channel version or PRC6-6). Israel too manufactured single channel equipment. Modernisation of the AN/PRC6 resulted in various solid state crystal controlled and synthesised radios, usually with higher output ratings. For example, Greek valved sets were refurbished in the mid-1980s and converted into single channel solid state one watt units housed inside the original casing. These updated solid state versions were given various designations such as PRC-6T (for "Transistor"), PRC - 6T/180 (180 channel synthesised unit) and PRC - 6GY.

The frequency range of the PRC-6 covers the 6 metre amateur radio band (50-54 MHz in the US and Canada, 50-52 MHz in the United Kingdom), and the many versions of these sets are relatively available and cheap (around £30-40 in the UK) in comparison to other vintage military radios. As a result many examples have been put on the air, although practical operation is hampered by the necessity of building your own power supplies (the original dry batteries, which supplied +1.5, +4.5, +45 and +90 volt outputs, being unobtainable or display pieces only) and the limited output power and range. In addition a separate crystal and laborious retuning is required every time a frequency change takes place. For this reason in the US 51 MHz is used as a net frequency at many radio events, necessitating only the one crystal.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mark Francis, KI0PF (2005). Mil Spec radio gear - Korean War to present day. Hicksville, NY: CW Communications, Inc. pp. 164–167. ISBN 0-943016-33-9. 
  • AN/PRC-6 Walkie Talkie
  • TM-11-296, Radio Set AN/PRC-6 Operation and Organizational Maintenance manual, U.S. Army, September 1955