Early Gunner’s Radio

This Chinese military radio is the result of the great pressure from the north, especially the armor force of USSR. The only thing that China could bring up to against this, at that time, is the anti-tank gun force. To better coordinate the anti-tank guns in the field, China needs better communication equipments other than field telephones. There came the requirement for a battlefield gunner’s transceiver.

The requested transceiver has to be light weighted enough to be carried by gunner and easy enough to operate without a dedicated radio operator. The former requirement is given in 1968 and the new radio is created by Wuhan Wireless Manufactory and sent to military for trial operation in 1971. However, the project is canceled due to economic reason in 1971, leaving a number of trial machines in military warehouse.

This gunner’s radio transceiver is designed to be carried by artillery gunners, especially the anti-tank gunners. It is light weighted, only about 800 g and measured 170x135x55 mm. It has six channels (34.25, 34.35, 34.45, 34.55, 34.65 and 34.75 MHz) controlled by six crystals. It requires no search and no fine tune, so it could be operated by anyone with minimum training. It is a great improvement comparing to the one continuous band used in A211 and 708 radio transceivers. The only operable switches/knobs are the channel switch and a squelch threshold adjustment knob.

The radio uses a 1.5 meter fishbone whip antenna, an external antenna, connecting to the radio’s external antenna outlet, could also be used in place of the 1.5 meter whip antenna. The earphone and microphone are built into a hat and connect to a small power switch control box and then connect to the radio body. This type of configuration is adopted by later 861 radios. An interesting point is that the microphone is in front of operator’s forehead.

The radio is powered by a 15V mercury oxide-zinc unit battery. This is a toxic non-rechargeable battery used mainly by military for portable device in 40’s and 50’s, it has phased out of market nowadays. Since the mercury battery could not operate properly in low temperature at that time, an external battery box using zinc-carbon dry cells is supplied. The radio output power is about 0.3W. The stated range is 2.5 km in a flat field. My sample is made in January 1971 with a manufactory serial number of 000387.