AN/PRC-10 Backpack Radio

The AN/PRC-10 came into the Army inventory in March, 1951. It is a 16 tube FM radio which was used as a squad radio. It is part of a family of radios AN/PRC-8, AN/PRC-9, and AN/PRC-10 which differ only in the frequency of operation and the components that determine that frequency.

Radio Set AN/PRC-10, Korea-Vietnam Backpack Radio
Radio Set AN/PRC-10, Korea-Vietnam Backpack Radio.

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AN/PRC-10 Backpack Squad Radio

Each AN/PRC-10 radio set consists of a superheterodyne FM receiver and FM transmitter that share a common antenna. The Receiver-Transmitter consists of a single panel chassis assembly mounted in a magnesium case with a watertight seal. A short eight wire cable connects the chassis to the BA-279/U battery while two springs clamps hold the R-T case to the battery case. The PRC-8,9,10 radios can be adapted for vehicluar use by means of the AM-598/U Amplifier Power Supply that converts 24 volts to the operating voltages of the radio (the battery cable plugs into the power supply), plus can drive an audio aux speaker.

Radio Set AN/PRC-10

The operating frequency depends on pretuned components which differ for each model of the radio receiver-transmitter.

Radio Set Frequency Band
AN/PRC-8 20.0 to 27.9 mc
AN/PRC-9 27.0 to 38.9 mc
AN/PRC-10 38.0 to 54.9 mc

The AT-271/PRC antenna (the long antenna) is used with the radio for maximum range. It is provided in seven sections connected by an internal stainless steel cable, a total of 10 feet long. When folded, the cable keeps the sections together as a group. This antenna screws into the LONG ANT jack on the top control panel. The AT-272/PRC antenna (the short antenna) consists of several lengths of flexible steel tape riveted together, making a tapered antenna 3 feet long that screws into the SHORT ANT jack. The short antenna is for general service and can be folded into the carrying bag that is part of the PRC-10 equipment list.

In the field, soldiers quickly found that the backpack antenna was a sniper target. The antenna was therefore removed, or sometimes the radio was carrid upside down with the short antenna pointed to the ground, which did not seem to affect the range of 3 to 12 miles, depending on antenna used and siting conditions.

The handset H-33B/PT connects through a cable and ten contact plug that connects to the AUDIO jack on the control panel.

The weight of the AN/PRC-10 is 26 pounds including battery and other components.

Backpack Radio Set AN/PRC-10
Backpack Radio Set AN/PRC-10.

The technical manual for these radios was TM 11-612, covering the AN/PRC-8, AN/PRC-9, and AN/PRC-10.

The PRC-10 Story Ends in Vietnam

In July 1965, responding to General Westmoreland's complaints about the AN/PRC-10, the new, transistorized FM radios of the AN/VRC-12 and AN/PRC-25 families were shipped to Vietnam. Those radios, intended for deployment in Europe, soon became the mainstay of tactical communications in Southeast Asia. In three and a half years, 20,000 VRC-12 and 33,000 PRC-25 radios were delivered to Southeast Asia. The PRC-25, which fully replaced the PRC-10, was, according to General Creighton Abrams, "the single most important tactical item in Vietnam."

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Vietnamese Soldier with Radio Set AN/PRC-25 (May 1962)
Vietnamese Soldier with Radio Set AN/PRC-25 (May 1962).