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EE-8 Military Field Phone

The EE-8 Field Telephone was used by the Signal Corps from before World War II through the Vietnam War. It was housed in leather, then canvas, and its last production had a nylon case and straps, after the changeover to that material in 1967.

The EE-8 Field Telephone was standardized in 1932 and procurement began in 1937, providing a lighter and more functional unit just in time for the huge mobilization of the U.S. military for WW II. Among other improvements, the EE-8 increased the maximum transmission range of the predecessor EE-5 Field Telephone by six miles or more.

Field Telephone EE-8 On Tree (from TM 11-333)
Field Telephone EE-8 On Tree (from TM 11-333).

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EE-8 Military Field Telephone

EE-8 field phone in leather case

The U.S. Army Field Telephones EE-8, EE-8A, and EE-8B is a portable field telephone desgned for use on either local or common battery telephone systems. The talking and signaling range varies with the type of wire used, the condition of the wire (dry, wet, frayed) and whether the wire is on the ground or in the air. As a local battery telephone, a talking range of 11 to 17 miles is typical, suitable for Corps area usage.

The phones are contained in a case approximately 9.5 x 7.75 x 3.5 inches weighing about 9.75 pounds including battery. The EE-8-A and -B are a little larger than the EE-8. The main difference between the EE-8 and the other models is that a section of the case lid has been cut out and replaced by flexible material to enable the handset to be hung on the case in a position to hold down the lever switch.

At the start of World War II, the EE-8 in a leather case wiih a leather strap was standard issue. However, experience in the Pacific showed right away that leather did not hold up and the EE-8 leather case was replaced by an olive drab canvas case with web strap. The EE-8 and EE-8A utilize an aluminum chassis while the EE-8B chassis is sheet steel.

At the top of the phone, exposed when the cover is opened, there is a terminal block. All control switches and binding posts for wire are contained on the terminal block. The lever switch is curved and spring loaded so that it is depressed when the weight of the handset is rested on it (EE-8 is off line, switch open). The EE-8 comes on the line when the handset is lifted (switch closed).

A 90-100 volt, 20 Hz hand-cranked ringing generator GN-38 is contained in the case of an EE-8 or EE-8A while the GN-38A or GN-38B is used with the EE-8B. The crank is operated from the side of the case. The TS-9-F Handset connects to the EE-8 or EE-8A and is stored in the case, in an open area accessible when the top cover is open. The EE-8B has similar handset TS-13-E. Two BA-30 1.5 volt D-cell batteries are installed in the battery compartment reached from the terminal block area at the top-inside of the case.

Prone soldier using EE-8 field phone

How to use the EE-8 Field Phone

EE-8 Field Phone in olive drab canvas case.  Photo courtesy of Edmund F. Leavitt
EE-8 Field Phone in olive drab canvas case. Photo courtesy of Edmund F. Leavitt.

Operation of the phone is the same with all models.

Point to Point Operation of the the EE-8 Field Phone. In point to point circuits, local battery operation is used and the pair of phones on each end of the circuit are connected directly together (no switchboard). The hand-cranked generator is used to signal the other station. Ranges up to hundreds of miles are possible under ideal conditions with high quality wire.

Switchboard Operation of the the EE-8 Field Phone. Switchboards may be used in local battery mode or common battery mode. In local battery operation, all EE-8 phones are connected to the switchboard which can connect any pair as necessary. The hand-cranked generator is used to signal the switchboard. Several local battery switchboards can be connected together by trunks; any telephone of any of the switchboards can be connected to any other phone. Use of a switchboard in local battery mode reduces the distance that the signals will carry.

Common battery mode switchboard operation involves common battery signaling and local battery transmission. The local EE-8 must have batteries and the handset switch must be operated when talking. The lever switch of the telephone is used to signal the switchboard operator.

EE-8 Field Phone Accessories

The EE-89 Telephone Repeater may be used to increase the distance between EE-8 field telephones, up to double. The EE-89 is powered by a single BA-40 (See TM 11-2006).

In arctic weather, the BA-2030/U Battery should be used in place of the BA-30.

The technical manual for the EE-8 phones is TM 11-333.

Successor Equipment to the EE-8 Field Telephone

The rugged light-weight Telephone Set TA-312/PT was the main successor to the EE-8 field phone. As another analog 2-wire phone, it will interoperate with the EE-8. The TA-312 was used from the 1950s, while the EE-8 was still in service, through the 1980s.

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