AN/PRC-6 Radio Set

The program to develop the AN/PRC-6 was formally started during March 1945. The PRC-6 was to be used as a means of communication among foot soldiers of the most forward elements (company or platoon) and between infantry and close support armored elements.

Radio Set AN/PRC-6, Korea-Vietnam Walkie Talkie
Radio Set AN/PRC-6, Korea-Vietnam Walkie Talkie.

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AN/PRC-6 Radio Set Requirements

The new AN/PRC-6 (often called the "prick-6" or the "banana radio") was intended primarily as a replacement for radio set SCR-536. AN/PRC-6 had to be compatible with radio sets SCR-300 and AN/GRC-3 through AN/GRC-8 (vehicular radio sets) with a range of 300 yards in jungle and one mile in rolling terrain. AN/PRC-6 could weigh a maximum of nine pounds, but six pounds was considered desirable. Its size and shape had to be such that it could be easily concealed.

Its mode of operation was to be FM-modulation, with one preset and 44 possible channels. The battery had to have a minimum life of four hours, with a 2:1 receive-transmit ratio. And, lastly, the shape of microphone and headset had to permit free use of the operators hands.

At the outset, opinions differed from Army personnel as to the desirable form the PRC-6 should take. Several configurations were made as tests. Motorola made its initial development model curved to fit the body, to facilitate concealment. In comparison with other FM equipment, this receiver-transmitter using miniature tubes was very light but required an unacceptably heavy 11-pound battery for operation.

AN/PRC-6 Radio Set Development & Specifications

Radio Set AN/PRC-6 in use
Radio Set AN/PRC-6 in use.

While the contractual development of the AN/PRC-6 was taking place, engineers were carrying on a parallel development of this equipment involving eleven newly developed subminiature tubes (acorn tubes). These new tubes enabled the design and employment of a new FM circuit that substantially reduced the radio's power requirements, permitting a realistic design for the PRC-6. To continue development of the set along these lines, a contract was let to Raytheon for the squad radio. Raytheon succeeded in its final laboratory model in reuniting the receiver-transmitter and battery in one case, resulting in the production of the final model of the AN/PRC-6, known as the "handy-talkie."

The AN/PRC-6 is a miniature, low power, battery operated radio receiver and transmitter designed for communication over short distances. Highly portable (by 1950 standards), it is intended primarily as a handy-talkie for foot combat troops. The TM says, "No skill is required to operate it."

The Radio Set AN/PRC-6 consists of Radio Receiver-Transmitter RT-196/PRC-6 and other operating components. The frequency band had been chosen to overlap the frequency bands of certain communications equipment used by Armor and Artillery, in the 47 mc to 55.4 mc band. FM modulation is used. The power supply is the BA-270/U battery which provides four voltages in one package: +1.5v, -4.5v, +45v and +90v. There is a single plug to connect the battery. The weight of the complete unit, including battery, is approx. 6.5 pounds.

The AN/PRC-6 circuit uses 13 tubes (receiver and transmitter); a second set of 13 tubes is supplied with the unit as running spares. The unit is factory set with one crystal and may be changed to a different frequency in the field by replacing the crystal and re-tuning the unit. It uses a 24 inch whip antenna. There is an optional handset H-33C/PT that can be connected to the AN/PRC-6 by a 5 foot cable. A web sling is provided.

AN/PRC-6 successors include the AN/PRC-68 family of squad radios. The technical manual for this radio is TM 11-296.

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