Original U.S. WWII Airborne CG-4A Glider Handie Talkie SCR-585 Radio Transceiver BC-721-B - Dated 1942
Original Items: Only One Available. This genuine U.S. Signal Corps WWII issue BC-721-B hand-held radio receiver and transmitter is offered in very good condition. It has not been tested for functionality but appears complete and undamaged. The BC-721 is a version for use in Gliders and has an 8 pin Jones plug on the enlarged bottom plate (battery cover). Behind the sliding door above and to the right of the PTT switch there's an antenna disconnect switch that's activated when the BC-721 is installed in its mount. Under the Army Nomenclature System, the BC-611 transceiver was the core component of the SCR-585 Signal Corps Radio set for CG-4A Gliders.
These are popularly referred to as a walkie talkies, although they were originally designated as "handie talkies”. This fine example still has the original data plate on the side:
SIGNAL CORPS U.S. ARMY
RADIO RECEIVER AND
TRANSMITTER BC - 721 - B
SERIAL NO. 1014 ORDER NO. 4267 - WF - 42
CALVIN MFG. CORPORATION
The battery door opens, and the contacts appear to be in good condition. It also still has its complete extendable antennas with removable cover. The sling is complete, and in good condition. Overall this is a great Handie Talkie radio, ready to add to your collection, or to use in reenactments.
More on the SCR-585 and BC-721 for the CG-4A Glider
CG-4A glider specification #1326 by WACO, Troy, Ohio, was released September 19, 1941 and was replaced by #1326-A of February 4, 1942 The September 19, 1941 #1326 specifications for the CG-4A radio system installation called for two radio units. The government was to furnish both units to the glider contractor who was to install them. These are noted as GFE (Government Furnished Equipment). One unit was to weigh 15 lb. and be mounted within sight and reach of the pilots. The other unit was to weigh 25 lb. to be mounted near the rear doors. Both units were to be mounted in a way to make removal prompt and simple, to be carried out of the glider by the disembarking troops.
In 1933 the Galvin Manufacturing Company (Motorola) of Chicago developed the “Walkie-Talkie” portable radio for the Army. This unit was a back-pack unit, including the battery, weighing approximately 50 pounds. In 1940 Galvin chief engineer, Donald H. Mitchell, while watching infantry manoeuvres in Wisconsin, conceived the idea of building a smaller, more portable radio that could be easily carried by an infantry soldier. This idea resulted in the “Handie-Talkie” radio which was described as being smaller than a “(soda) cracker box”. It was a transmitter and receiver unit designated BC-611.
WACO report 1326-A dated 4 February 1942 revisions specified radio set SCR-585-A for communication in the CG-4A. The March 16, 1943 CG-4A Appendix D revision continued to specify radio set SCR-585-A as GFE. This radio system was composed of a receiver-transmitter BC-721 (a modified BC-611), control box BC-722, mounting base FT-295, batteries, 14 foot 7 inch MC-365 control cable, jacks, plugs, communication cordage, 43 foot antennae wire and insulators, one throat microphone and two headsets. By June 1943, mainly consisting of the Cessna deliveries, over 1,000 CG-4A gliders had been delivered. By this time, Ford had delivered approximately 400 CG-4A gliders. Ford photo #76 dated June 4, 1943 shows a Ford glider with the SCR-585-( ) radio installed.
Glider deliveries were not to be delayed by shortages of equipment not critical to safe flying. Thus, if SCR-585-( ) units were not available, CG-4A gliders would be delivered without the radio system, especially during the August through December 1942 period of rush Cessna deliveries. This also applied to 1943 deliveries by the other contractors. Motorola Heritage Services and Archives correspondence of May 8, 2008 confirms that Motorola delivered 7,000 SCR-585-( ) glider version Handie-Talkie radio systems. Thus, if all Training Gliders (TG) and the CG-3A nine place cargo glider, which preceded the CG-4A, had the SCR-585-( ) radio system installed, this would leave more than 6,000 radios for installation in the almost 9,000 production CG-4A gliders built by December 1943.
The radio (BC-721) of the SCR-585-( ) system was mounted in the FT-295 base unit in the corner, near the top of the glider, above the “V” shaped emergency escape door, ahead of the 3¼ inch diameter cross member in the cargo section. The control shaft and communication cordage ran from this unit overhead and down to the control box (BC-722) just below the instrument panel. Thus, as with the surface control cables, the nose could be opened without severing the radio cordage controls. The antenna wire for the radio was 43 feet long and ran between the vertical stabilizer and one leg of the nose-opening tripod. The wire was insulated at each end. A wire ran from the radio unit directly up through the fabric to this antenna wire. These radios were powered by self-contained dry cell batteries which had a life of approximately one hour if left turned on.
At some point, in the neighborhood of 1,200 to 1,400 units, the BC-721-A was changed to BC-721-B. Both units were contracted by Wright Field and not by the Signal Corps in Philadelphia as were the infantry radios, BC-611. 1942 Contract #1146-WF-42 covered the SCR-585-A systems and 1942 contract #4267-WF-42 covered the SCR-585-B systems. The author has access to a BC-721-A radio, serial #251, carrying an ID card (penciled), dated Oct 22, 1942 with assigned call number 246552. A copy of the Aircraft Identification Card for CG-4A #42-46552 shows this to be the first Gibson production article delivered October 25, 1942. The AIC shows this glider arriving by air at Ardmore, OK on 4 January 1943, then to Sedalia, MO on 6 April 1943, then to Alliance, NB on 7 June 1943, then was surveyed (removed from inventory) December 1943. It likely was at this time that BC-721-A serial #251 first changed to private ownership status.
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