No3 Handheld Microphone

One of the tactical revolutions introduced by the Second World War was the use of wireless communications on the battlefield. The Great War had seen the use of field telephones, but the wires were easily cut by artillery fire. The Second World War saw a huge leap forward in radio equipment, with higher powered and smaller sets being developed and issued in increasing numbers. At the start of the war British tanks often only had one radio set per troop and the range was limited, by 1945 radios were universally used in armour, were much smaller and had greater range. Tonight we look at one of the most common forms of handled microphones used by the British Army:

FullSizeRender1The Microphone No 3 is a Bakelite shell, with a wire protruding from the bottom that connects to the main wireless set. On the opposite end is a circular mouth piece and on the side a button to depress to talk:

FullSizeRender2The type of microphone is stamped on the handle:FullSizeRender3The carbon type microphone used a DC current from the main set and can be seen in use with the very common large man carried No 18 set:

279I think my example is probably post war as the cable is has a plasticised cover rather than the cloth wrapping more usually seen. Unfortunately the connector for plugging the microphone into the radio on the end of the wire is missing. Sadly, having seen the prices, a matching WW2 radio set is probably out of my budget for quite some time to come!


  1. The microphone in the 18set picture could be a 4a type with a 4 pin plug. I have several plugs for the no3 (found a large amount spare-surplus) I have a 4a with a rubber/plastic cable cover. These were used for jungle climates.

  2. Other mouthpieces used with these microphones had about a 1″ hole in the middle for a rubber cone to fit over and direct the user’s voice right into the diaphragm of the microphone. Unscrew the mouthpiece and there should be a GPO No.13 carbon microphone inside.

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