Field telephone

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Telephone linesmen ford Lunga River during the Guadalcanal Campaign of World War II.

Field telephones are mobile telephones intended for military use, designed to withstand wartime conditions. They can draw power from their own battery, from a telephone exchange (via a central battery known as CB), or from an external power source. Some need no battery, being sound-powered telephones. Field telephones were first used in the First World War to direct troops. They replaced flag signals and the telegraph as an efficient means of communication. The first field telephones had a wind-up generator, used to power the telephone's ringer & batteries to send the call, and call the manually operated telephone central. This technology was used from the 1910s to the 1960s. Later the ring signal has been made electronically operated by a pushbutton, or automatic as on domestic telephones. The manual systems are still widely used, and are often compatible with the older equipment.

Field telephones operate over wire lines, sometimes commandeering civilian circuits when available, but often using wires strung in combat conditions.[1] At least as of World War II, wire communications were the preferred method for the U.S. Army, with radio use only when needed, e.g. to communicate with mobile units, or until wires could be set up. Field phones could operate point to point or via a switchboard at a command post.[2] A variety of wire types are used, ranging from light weight "assault wire," e.g. W-130 —8.5 kilograms per kilometre (30 pounds per mile)— with a talking range about 8.0 kilometres (5 mi), to heavier cable with multiple pairs. Equipment for laying the wire ranges from reels on backpacks to trucks equipped with plows to bury lines.[3]

Field telephones used by the United States Army[edit]

Soldier uses an EE-8 field telephone

Torture of POWs

According to the Army's Vietnam War Crimes Working Group Files, field telephones were sometimes used in Vietnam to torture POWs with electric shocks during interrogations.[7]

Field telephones of the Soviet Union[edit]

  • УНА "Unified unit" (Унифицированный аппарат)
  • ТАИ-43 field telephone set (Полевой Телефонный Аппарат)
  • ТА-57 field telephone set (Полевой Телефонный Аппарат)

Field telephones used by the Royal Norwegian Defence Forces[edit]

  • TP-6N Developed in Norway for the armed forces early 1970s.
  • TP-6NA Versions of TP-6N A to C
  • M37 Swedish field telephone used by the Norwegian Civil Defence. This phone is fully interoperable with the EE-8, TA-1, TA-43 and TA-312 series of US Field Phones.
  • EE-8 A part of The Marshall Plan (from its enactment, officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) The EE-8* was used in USA from WWII to late seventies, and in Norway from WWII until the TP-6 could replace it.
  • FF33 This phone was widely used from mid 1950s until it was replaced by TP-6 (after the EE-8) FF33 was left by the Germans when WWII ended, but was not used immediately due to political reasons.
  • Mod 1932 Developed by Elektrisk Bureau for the Norwegian forces, approved in 1932 (as the 1st std. field telephone), but never made in great numbers, due to bureaucracy and the start of WWII. Based on a model made for the Turkish Army by Elektrisk Burau.

Field telephones used by the Finnish Defence Forces[edit]

  • TA-57, made in the Soviet Union
  • P78, made in Sweden
  • P90, made in UK
  • ET-10, made in France



Further reading and external links[edit]