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Thread: WW2 Half Track Radio BC-654

  1. #1
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    Default WW2 Half Track Radio BC-654

    The Mississippi Historical Radio and Broadcasting Society covers the History of the BC-654 better than I ever could ..so , I’ll let them introduce it to you –

    http://www.comcents.com/mhrs/mhrnl/nl4-2.html
    Here’s another page of theirs that covers it –
    http://www.comcents.com/mhrs/mhrsw.html
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    The reputation of the BC-654 is long and proud.

    The BC-654 is a receiver / transmitter which covers 3800KC to 5800KC, is rated at 17Watts CW, 5Watts AM Phone - although 25W CW and 11W Phone are typical. The Radio Set comes in three basic configurations - Field Radio Set, Vehicular Radio Set and Command Radio Set. The first two were used during WWII; all three during Korea. In all configurations, the receiver / transmitter are identical - the differences come in how the unit is installed and powered. As a field radio, the unit sets on four legs, the receiver powered by a battery (BA-43) and the transmitter by a hand cranked generator. The set packed up into three 55 pound back-packs that the radioman and two assistants would carry. Once in operation, the radioman operated the set, while the two assistants took turns cranking the generator and standing guard. As a vehicular set (as pictured), the set sits on a large stand which also holds a 6/12V dynamotor (PE-103), and the radio uses a vibrator supply (PE-104). As a command set, the unit is usually set on a table, and powered by a two cycle 3600RPM 1 horse gas generator. The BC-654 first saw combat in Africa during operation Torch November 8, 1942. The BC-654 was the first radio set to establish communications from the beach to the Fleet, and was used to coordinate Naval gunfire, and Beach Nets.


    The Signal Corps intention was to replace the BC-654 with the BC-1306 by Normandy.
    (I'll cover the 1306 in another Thread - Mike)
    There were some snags in the production of the BC-1306, so starting with serial number 54,100 (and a date of around August 1943), some 50,000+ BC-654's were produced and delivered in support of Operation Overlord. There is a story that one of the first half-tracks to reach the beach was disabled so was used as a radio relay to the Fleet to coordinate the landing and Naval Gunfire - if this story could be verified, it may well be that the BC-654 was the first radio on the beach at Normandy as well - but things were such chaos that day, no one seems to know for sure -there certainly wasn't time to take inventory! So we will probably never know for sure. After the War, (and a total of some 150,000 units) many BC-654s were sold as surplus to HAMs and others for $15 each - a long way from the $874 each the government paid. Along came Korea. By this time the BC-1306, which was difficult to build, had been replaced by the AN/GRC-9 set. However, there weren't enough, and the government bought up a bunch of BC-654's out of surplus, and put them into service in Korea. The main power source for the GRC-9 is a PE-162 gas generator. The Signal Corps modified one issue of the PE-162(B) and added a power connector for the SCR-284 (BC-654). After that "police" action, the remaining BC-654's once again hit the surplus market. “


    I found mine years ago …it came out of an Apartment in the Bronx. The Gent had died ..no relatives so ,his things were being sold, given away or thrown out. Luckily the 654 “commanded” a lot more respect because of its size & weight plus ..the scavengers saw that it was in mint condition and figured they’d sell it.
    I found out about it and drove down to buy it …I couldn’t believe how clean it was ! The old Gent must have been a Ham Radio guy and (like most of them) planned on modifying it (upgrades) …thank God he never got around to it.
    It even had Vehicle Rack and all the original Power Cables set up for a Half Track install.
    Over the years I’ve run into so many Radios that have been cut/drilled, new meters ..new plugs ..repainted ---not this one. This has been “sleeping” untouched for over 60 years and I’d bet it would still fire up if it was plugged in.
    As soon as I bought it , I had quite a few MV collectors try buying it …several just wanted the vehicle rack mount since that’s incredibly hard to find.
    I doubt if I’ll ever sell it …I’m hanging on to it so I can justify buying a Half Track someday.
    You know the rules --Gotta complete the set right ?

    Here's my example --
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    "If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law. "
    -Winston Churchill-

    "Do we really need 'Smart Bombs' to drop on these Dumb Bastards ? "
    -PFC Snuffy Smith-

  2. #2
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    Default



    "If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law. "
    -Winston Churchill-

    "Do we really need 'Smart Bombs' to drop on these Dumb Bastards ? "
    -PFC Snuffy Smith-

  3. #3
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    Nice set up. I like the pic with it mounted in an m2 track. I actually considered this set up as opposed to the 620 or 659 for my track, but it's already full with mortar equipment, so I chose small.

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    I know of someone(IB) who has a half track----but I dont think he is willing to sell it yet!!!! ROFL

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Mills View Post
    I know of someone(IB) who has a half track----but I dont think he is willing to sell it yet!!!! ROFL
    Not ready yet ...I'm still trying to convince Lisa they're "Cute"
    "If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law. "
    -Winston Churchill-

    "Do we really need 'Smart Bombs' to drop on these Dumb Bastards ? "
    -PFC Snuffy Smith-

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by iron bender View Post
    Nice set up. I like the pic with it mounted in an m2 track. I actually considered this set up as opposed to the 620 or 659 for my track, but it's already full with mortar equipment, so I chose small.
    Thanks Bender ..and I agree with you ,the 659 was the best choice for your setup. The 654 rack takes up too much room sitting out like that. I read it was also used on Command Cars …imagine that rack in the back seat ? …not exactly a Sony Walkman.
    "If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law. "
    -Winston Churchill-

    "Do we really need 'Smart Bombs' to drop on these Dumb Bastards ? "
    -PFC Snuffy Smith-

  7. #7
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    You have to admire IB's wife!!! I showed a picture of a jeep that I wanted to my wife and all I got was the "hairy eye" from her----which of course means if you bring that damn thing home---Im not sure where you are sleeping.

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