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Army and Military (Field) Telephones
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This Page is Dedicated to Field and Military Telephones,

Design Considerations for a Field telephone were more complex than you might think.

The handset had to have a press to talk button to ensure only that speech and background noise what was wanted would go down the line, then the enemy could often easily overhear the line with sensitive ground spike and amplifier arrays.

The PTT switch also conserved the life of the dry cell batteries, but mean the line impedance would change suddenly from approx 10mΩ to 200Ω when it was pressed.

The batteries were to be isolated from the line to ensure there was never a polarity issue and unnecessary current drain when connecting field telephone sets to the wire pair or wire and ground. The wire polarity and especially which wire went to ground where needed was a big issue and meant that the line terminals and internal circuits were isolated from any metal housing or other external metal parts at all times.

The magneto was needed to generate enough ac line current and voltage to ring the other phones (and own) bell set over long wires or thin wires (Higher voltage drop). The set had to survive full blast (Fast and furious turning) on short local lines (say 15 foot) yet work over long distances of up to five miles on Don10 wire.

Field telephones with 3 Volt battery systems also had to work without any additional modification or settings, with 1.5 Volt and 4.5 Volt systems, and even 9 volt to 60 Volt dc CB exchange systems in some cases.

The Bells were needed in loud environments such as Gun Batteries, but had to be mutable down to a low buzz, in forward observation post or trenches so as not to give the position of the user away.

Early Field Telephones had to be compatible with morse code systems such as the Fullerphone, allowing either the connection (additional Jack) of a morse key, or external interface in the line, and a tunable buzzer.

They also had to work on Field Telephone exchanges systems from many different makers and also with any captured enemy or allied field telephone equipment or exchanges.

The WD wanted them to work with the (non insulated) steel barbed wire of a cattle fence and ground spike over a distance of three miles, which if the fence poles were wood and the weather dry was possible. If the fence poles were metal or wet wood, then you would have more chance shouting to get the message through than over the WD expected electrical path.

UK Army and Other UK Government Services

The field telephones were not only used by the three main services, Army*, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, but also by Civil Defence, Auxiliary Fire Services, and the British Red Cross. *Note for the Americans, there is no such thing as the “Royal Army” in the UK, just Army!

Later the same sets became available for use on British Railways and also by the GPO, and from the late 1950s it was difficult to tell what was a Field telephone for military use, and what a linesman’s telephone or trackside telephone for civilian use.



UK Army and Other UK Government Services

The field telephones were not only used by the three main services, Army*, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, but also by Civil Defence, Auxiliary Fire Services, and the British Red Cross. *Note for the Americans, there is no such thing as the “Royal Army” in the UK, just Army!

Later the same sets became available for use on British Railways and also by the GPO, and from the late 1950s it was difficult to tell what was a Field telephone for military use, and what a linesman’s telephone or trackside telephone for civilian use.

SEE the
extra Page for the FULLERPHONE

WARTIME SPECIAL TELEPHONES FOR SCRAMBLED LINES

A special version of the 300 was produced by Pye-TMC during World War 2. It was officially called the Secraphone, but generally known as a "Scrambler Phone" . It was housed a black 322 body case, but fitted with a distinctive green handset, and connected directly (normal) or via a box of electronics (Secret) to scramble the voice frequencies of a call at one end and on an identical system at the other end, to unscramble them. The first used frequency inverters and shifters to mangle the sound and make it unintelligible, but this was easy to crack.

WW2 Army Secraphone (do you also see “crap” in that name?)


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Other versions used a mixture of frequency modulation and Time Division Coding into a multiplex channel. Adjacent channels were filled with random noise or other signal traffic, making them safer both on wired and wireless systems such as the WS 10. These had red handsets to denote the higher robustness of the signal path against interception.

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To ensure against complacency, (Users forgetting to be careful when using public non-encrypted phones) The handsets had a different colour than the base, and a warning plate was fitted to say “Speech on telephones is (Generally) not secret!”

If the handset could not be provided in red or green, then red or green ear- and microphone cups were used, or during wartime when stocks were not always available, normal black handsets were simply painted red or green respectively.

In the 1964 James Bond film “Dr. No” you will see the green handset 394 model phone, being used to make a call from the GCHQ monitoring room, a room filled with RACAL RA17 radios...

The Royal Signals provided secure microwave links using TDM and FSK multiplexed lines via their Radio Station “Wireless Set No.10” details of which can be found at this link (Opens in a new window)

WIRELESS SET No. 10 Scroll down to “WW2 Microwave (4 GHz)“

Or at the Bottom of this Page “1939 to 1945, the Busy War years (Part 2)“

After the war and up to the early 1970s the AEC truck called “Monty’s Caravan” (An office on the back of an Army Lorry) was parked in Wentworth Camp, Herford, Germany. I did take an opportunity to take a look into it, but cannot remember if the Secure telephones were still in place or not...

A RECOLLECTION OF MONTY

by Col (Retd) Paul Randall MBE TD, Ex Royal Signals.

Paul wrote “Just before El Alamein, I had the duty of visiting his caravan to test his Secraphone. One evening, I knocked timidly on the door, only to be confronted by a nightshirted figure. ‘Go away, I am at prayers.’ For half an hour I stood in the cold African night, whilst our Commander communicated on a superior channel to ours.”


I purchased this incredibly heavy model of Monty due to my interest in Military History, and tales about him related to me by my Uncle (Who served under him) and several Royal Signals people who I met during my service who also had first or second hand tales to tell of him. My visit to his vehicle while I was serving in Herford cemented the interest further, so that when I saw this figure for sale, I immediately snapped it up.

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FIELD TELEPHONE TYPE F


Siemens Brothers & Co., Ltd., also made a field telephone called the Type F, which had an entirely Bakelite body.

The two raised shoulders protected the bells and gave additional internal room for the battery wiring (left two square Siemens Dry Cells, or two Wet Cells) and the Morse Buzzer unit (A carry over from the Fullerphone days of WW1).

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Here a ghost view showing how compact the parts had to be laid out during design to fit inside the phone.

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The War Department were scared that Bakelite would be too brittle for field use, and insisted each came in a snug fitting wooden transport box, and also that the phone could be used inside the box with just the front lid opened and folded upwards onto the top. This meant the Magneto handle, the handset, the handset jack (Four pronged plug bottom right under the handset earphone) and the Line terminals (Two metal screw clamps front left behind the handset microphone) all competed for space at the front. Due to space and weight considerations, most Royal Signals linesmen ditched the wooden box and proved that the phones worked better naked than in a box...


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FIELD TELEPHONE TYPE J

The J type had a new circuitry added that improved the gain (The launch power of the spoken word and sensitivity of the received signal) allowing for greater lengths of wire between phones without the use of line amplifiers.

The Type J also had a CB switch that when lifted allowed the set to connect to civilian land lines and use the Central Battery instead of the local battery to power the Microphone.



LATER SHARED GPO/MILITARY MODELS

The GPO 250 F Linesman Telephone was adopted by the Army in two versions, one with dial, and one without. Later orders included the dial for the army users to be able to hi-jack a German Farmers phone while on exercise in Germany and phone home to the UK on his bill. lol. Saved having to tap out the number on the cradle switch at 10pps.


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The same was true for the follow-up model, which was originally made for the GPO and called the 405 Linesman Telephone.

It was adopted by the Army in two versions, one with dial (704/5), and one without (404/5).


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The white button on the handset earpiece cup, is the Press to talk button that connects the Microphone to the battery and ASIC coil.

The 405 Version of the Linesman Telephone (without Dial) was also used by the British Army

The 704B was green in “PO telephones” times and for Army use, But also later produced in “Buzby yellow” for British Telecom.

Sliding the Black switch (under dial finger stop) to the left sets the phone for CB (Exchange line) use. Sliding it to the right for LB (Field use) and pushing it beyond the natural stop on the right operates a momentary switch position that activates the transistorised AC ring current generator.

The white button on the handset, near to where the earphone cup joins the handset neck, is the Press to talk button that connects the Microphone to the battery and ASIC coil.

A different type (Bigger and wedge shaped) of Press to talk button was fitted on the Army version of the 746 telephone... In BAOR (British Army of the Rhein) camps there was a mixture of 1930s installed old telephones and wiring, or even exchanges, and various British sets. In the early 1970s this mix was still about 70% very old German phones and 30% UK phones, where even the UK phones were mainly from WW2 and before. So getting a phone on your desk that had the Clean smooth lines and crisp smart contrasting colours of the 746 below was something special.

British Army and MOD desk telephones (with PTT switch and dial skirt warning)

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For field deployment (such as Comcens, etc.,) some of the 746s had a metal clamp fitted to the back that could be folded up and over the handset. This formed a carrying handle and kept the handset in place during transport.

In the UK a mixture of standard GPO 746’s and Ministry of Defence (MOD) specials were used a lot on Army exchange systems and a lot fitted with the “AJ” four switch solutions, (AJ means Always Jamming) and in constant need of readjustment of the switches to their pins and microswitch bodies. If the rear single fixing screw was not fitted tighter than a tank turret, all it took was a slight tap to the side of the instrument to throw the free movement of the four slim but rubbing plastic square tubes out of whack! A Whack on the other side sometimes restored normal movement. Polish (Mr Sheen type, not East Block people) was another cause of annoying press button failure.

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Modern Army Butt-set (Bone)

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GERMAN FELDFERNSPRECHER (FF)


The Germans were very proficient in making field telephones for their Armies.

Here first of all, an “end of WW1” development, the FF18 which when later fitted with a better handset became the FF23 after the war.

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An improvement to the FF23 came with the fold out handset rest (Hook Switch) mentioned above.


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FF33 Is the standard Field Telephone created to satisfy the rearmament ambitions of a certain Adolf Hitler and the 33 stands for the year of its development (1933). The “NAZI” FF33 had the clever self selecting Cradle rest removed again, and also the Jewish (Biblical) first names like Samuel, Jacob and Zacharias removed from the phonetic letter table.

It was copied during WW2 by the Russians, Dutch, Chech and Yugoslavian Armies, some who continued to make them in the original style up to the 1980s.

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These continued in use to the end of WW2 and in many of the subsequent post WW2 armies in both Original and copy for many more years.

When the (West-) German army was reformed and became an integral part of NATO defence against (East-) Germany and its friends, the design was reworked and launched as the FF54 (1954)


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When the (West-) German army was reformed and became an integral part of NATO defence against (East-) Germany and its friends, the design was reworked and launched as the FF54 (1954) The FF54 had a fold out cradle rest that could be used even when the Lid was closed, and considered by many today a revolution over the old FF33 model, but it had already been invented and built in the FF26/FF28 models.

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On the lids of the German Field Telephones there is a write-on area for the user to write number or name of the station (with a chinagraph pencil), on one side, and on the other side a Phonetic Alphabet. Over the years the names used have changed...


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USA Government Services

The one below is Ex US Government and has stickers to remind the users that the conversations on it were being recorded at all times and not to discuss classified material on it.

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Here a ghost view to show the internal layout.

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This wall telephone version was bought in 1999 for Ten Deutschmarks, still new in box

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WORK STILL IN PROGRESS - MORE TO COME

Click the title (Between the stripes) or picture under them to go to the next page

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NOTE: Nothing on these pages is for sale. - Please do not ask!

Diese Seiten haben grundsätzlich die Beschränkung, daß sie keinen gewünschten Käuferkreis und zwar ABSOLUT KEINEN, weder privaten, gewerblichen oder nicht-gewerblichen wie Behörden ansprechen, da sie rein privat und nicht zum Zwecke von Werbung oder geldbringenden Angeboten oder Leistungen dienen. OLG Hamm (Urteil vom 28.02.2008, Az.: 4 U 196/07); dieses sagt; ist "zu fordern, daß diese Beschränkung für die Parteien, sprich für die Erwerber transparent und klar sein muß".


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