Larkspur Headset

Before the introduction of the Clansman system of radios in the 1970s, the British Army used Larkspur which was one of the first generation of VHF radios in operation and far superior to the designs that had seen service in wartime. The Larkspur system included both manpack and vehicle mounted radios and some of its components were also integrated into other electronics systems of the day. Today we are looking at the headset which was ostensibly for use with the Larkspur Radio, however it was also compatible and regularly used with the No4C Mine Detector and it was for this role I purchased this example:

The earcups are now made of a pliable green rubber that ensures a tight fit over the ears and help reduce background noise:

A wire cage around each ear cup holds the wiring in place, allows the cup to swivel back and forth and helps exert pressure inwards to ensure a snug fit against the head:

A wire brace passes around the back of the head to hold the cups in position, whilst a leather strap passes over the top of the head to support everything:

This very much follows wartime practice, with an adjustable head strap and a wire brace around the rear. The length of the leather top strap can be adjusted by a pair of friction fasteners that when released allow the stap to pass through to the desired length and when pressed down clamp it firmly in the required position:

One of the major updates to the headset over 1940s practice is the connector at the end which replaces a large bakelite plug with a much more modern ‘jack’ type of connector in a rubber housing:

This is more robust and waterproof and the practice of filling plugs with plasticine to waterproof them could be dropped. Whilst the Larkspur radios would be phased out over the 1970s and 1980s, the headsets continued in service, not only were they used with the aforementioned mine detectors, but they could also be used with some parts of the Clansman system as well. These are often misidentified as being wartime in date as the NSN number includes the digits -1940-, in this case though it is part of the stores code rather than a date and they are most assuredly post war in date.

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