WS38 Mk III Radio

The Mk III version of the WS38 radio set saw marked improvements in the radio’s netting and tuning abilities. It also saw a redesign of the exterior casing, controls and basic design. Despite this, underneath it was still the same basic radio and the new mark was to see limited use before the end of World War II and more extensive service in the late 1940s. The radio consists of a number of parts, we will look at the aerial and headset separately and focus on the main wireless set itself today. It is worth however, just taking a quick look at the complete radio set up in the correct no 10 wireless haversack:

The most notable feature of the new Mk III was that it was tropicalised to allow it to work in the jungles of South East Asia. This meant keeping as much moisture as possible out of the internal electronics so the casing was made of die cast aluminium, hermetically sealed to prevent moisture getting in. The outer casing is painted green with the controls on the top:

The controls are all positioned so that they can be operated from the top when the radio is inside the pack, just needing the top flap to be opened. Note the large central dial and the metal ribs to prevent accidental movement of the controls:

A period diagram shows what they all do:

The radio was designed to allow it to be used whilst worn on the back, so a control cable is fitted that allows the operator to pre-set the frequency and then turn the microphone to transmit and off again without touching the main radio. This device is called a ‘Bowden’ cable. The lever is squeezed to transmit and by pressing the button on the end the radio can be turned off:

The cable passed over the operator’s shoulder as illustrated in the manual here:

A crystal calibrator could be attached to the front face of the radio which gave six reference frequencies and allowed the radio to be calibrated correctly. The battery for the radio was carried in the bottom of the pack, a cable with a rubber plug on the end was fitted to the radio that connected to this power source:

The Mk III radio is far rarer than the usual Mk II and my thanks go to my old friend Bill Pozniak who kindly helped me add this one to my collection. With its Far East connection, it is a great piece and we will be returning to look at an impression of a signaller in the Far East in the dying days of the war later in the year.

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