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. 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.
- AN/PRC-6 Walkie Talkie
- TM-11-296, Radio Set AN/PRC-6 Operation and Organizational Maintenance manual, U.S. Army, September 1955