Original U.S. Vietnam War CIA Village Radio Program HT-1E Handfone - Set of 2

Item Description

Original Items: Only One Set Available. These are rare Vietnam War Era CIA Spy Village Radios HT-1E (Pair). Manufactured by The Hallicrafters Company, the HT-1E transceivers were part of the CIA "Village Radio" program in Vietnam. These radios were given to local Vietnamese civilians to report on any Viet Cong activity that was observed. Features telescoping antenna (one attend head missing), an earphone and Vietnamese / English labels for the controls. These radios could transmit 0.5 watt output power AM in the 30 to 40 MHz range and were crystal controlled on a single channel.

The internals of both radios appear complete, each radio requires 8 D Cell batteries. We have not tested these radios for functionality as they are being sold as collector items not functional transceivers. Overall condition is very good to excellent. Original data plates are serial numbered are P6310014 and P6310016

The "Village Radio Program" was sponsored by the CIA during the Vietnam conflict, through a front organization known as the Office of Public Safety (this series of radios are also known as "OPS radios"). The purpose was to provide simple radios to the local civilians, so that they could inform officials of Viet Cong activities. The radios were built under contract with Radio Industries (a subsidiary of Hallicrafters, purchased in 1963), and included the HT-1, the HT-2, the TR-5 "Hamlet Radio", the TR-20 "Village Radio", and probably the TR-35A, among others. HT-1 units that have come into surplus channels are usually unmarked; earlier units have ID plates. Radios in the OPS series were used in other places in addition to Southeast Asia.

A probable reference to the program is seen in an October 1966 monthly status report of the CIA’s Research & Development Laboratory:

“Three new design projects were initiated during this reporting period. The first is for a Village Radio Alarm System to be used to alert established counter insurgency centers when a village in their area is being subjected to a forced meeting by insurgent forces.”

The case of the HT-1 is made of a piece of extruded aluminum, with a cap-plate on each end. The bottom plate covers the battery compartment, which contains 8 "D" cells. The radio operates from 30-40 MC AM, crystal-controlled on a single channel, with a power output of 0.5 watts. Input power is 12 VDC, 0.18 amps (transmit). Several versions were made, including the HT-1A through HT-1E.

Early versions of the HT-1 had a "destruct button" near the bottom of the case, near the antenna base. This button did not detonate an explosive; rather, pressing the button and the PTT switch at the same time would blow a 125 mA fuse on the circuit board, thus rendering the radio inoperable by disabling both the audio driver and transmit oscillator stages. In the field, users had instructions that if they were ever out of radio contact that they should return to base. So, when a user became nervous in the jungle, he would sometimes "destruct" his radio, so that he had a good excuse to return to the village. For this reason, the destruct button was eliminated from later models. The internal fuse was replaced with a wire. The HT-1A manual says that the destruct circuit was not included on all radios. The schematic indicates the wiring changes if the button is present. By the time of the HT-1E, the destruct button is mentioned only in the disassembly procedure (probably erroneously) - the wiring for the button is gone from the schematic. [Note: The HT-1E schematic is missing a connection that is required for the transmit oscillator. This connection was probably removed by mistake when the destruct circuit was being removed.]
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