Original U.S. Vietnam War Era RT-196/PRC-6 "Walkie Talkie" Radio Receiver Transmitter by Sentinel Radio - Used By NY Army National Guard

Item Description

Original Item: Only One available. This is an original Vietnam War Era U.S. Signal Corps RT-196/PRC-6 Radio Receiver Transmitter Walkie Talkie. This unit has not been tested by IMA but we were told it should be functional. However, we will not guarantee functionality. This set looks to probably have been in service after the Vietnam conflict, and has been repainted at least once, with additional wear afterwards. Definitely a piece of equipment that saw extensive use, with a great service worn look.

It still has its original data plate mostly visible at the bottom, with some paint around the edges:

RT-196 / PRC-6
SER. NO. 1796 ORDER NO. 2873 - PHILA - 52

This would indicate it was produced under a Korean War Era contract, but it doubtless stayed in service until the Vietnam war. It still has the original carry strap on the back and flex antenna. We did attempt to open it, but the rubber gasket that keeps water out has deteriorated and we did not want to force it open.

The carry strap still has a “custody” tag on it identifying the unit that used this radio, something rarely seen! The tag reads as:


A very nice Vietnam Era example, ready to display!

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 (1.5 km), 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 in (61 cm) 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 ft (1.5 m) 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 license in France ("TR-PP-8") and Germany (6 channel version or PRC6-6). Israel too manufactured single channel equipment. Modernization of the AN/PRC6 resulted in various solid state crystal controlled and synthesized 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 synthesized unit) and PRC - 6GY.

The frequency range of the PRC-6 covers the 6 meter 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 new, custom 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.

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