Type 861 Infantry Company-Platoon Level Compact Transceiver

The Chinese military radio Type 861 Company-Platoon Level Transceiver was very popular in China in the 80s. It was widely used during Sino-Vietnam border conflict starting from 1984 to 1989. They were equipped down to squadron level and equipping the squadron leaders. The development of Type 861 transceiver is first started in 1968; however, the development was suspended in 1971 due to economic/political reason. The development was resumed in 1973. The 861 transceiver was certified in 1979. An improved version 861A was introduced later with two addition channels.

This infantry radio transceiver is designed to be carried by infantry company/platoon commanders without the need of a radio operator. It is light weighted, only about 1.9 kg with antenna, battery and headset. It is measured 197x148x57 mm. It has 9 channels (49.3, 49.4, 49.5, 49.5, 49.6, 49.7, 49.8, 49.9, 50.0 and 50.1 MHz) controlled by nine crystals. The improved version has two additional channels, Channel A and B (49.1 and 49.2 MHz accordingly). 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 884 transceivers at that time, and it also use early generation of IC chips. The only operable switch/knob on the radio’s body is the channel switch.

The radio’s power output is about 0.3W. Using 0.48 meter whip antenna, it has a range of no less than 1 Km in a normal flat battle field condition. It also could use a 10.5 meter wire antenna to improve its range. 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. The 861 does not have a volume control knob on its body, a simple high/low two-level volume control switch is built into the headset control box. The 861 also has a simple telegraph key on top of the radio body for operating in CW mode with improved range.

The radio is powered by a 15V Type 861 alkaline unit battery. With a 1:3 transmitting/receive ratio, the unit battery could last 8 hours. A battery holder, which holding 10 AA size batteries, is also supplied in case that unit battery is not available. My sample of 861 was made in 1980, a very early production sample with a manufactory serial number of A801209; and that of 861A was made in 1991 with manufactory serial number of A910929, a very late production sample.

The only issue of this 861 radio is that it lacks squelch mode. It makes the operation of this radio not only a very tiring business but also decreasing environment awareness for the operator. The 861 infantry radio is being phased out of PLA active service in early 90s replaced by TBR115.

Courtesy of IAmHongKonger