WS19 Radio

The WS19 radio set was one of the more successful British radios of World War II, seeing service in armoured vehicles, soft skinned vehicles and as a ground unit throughout the war and well into the post war period, with examples being used by cadets into the 1970s. The Wireless Set No. 19 was developed in 1940 by the British War Office’s Signals Experimental Establishment and by Pye Radio. The Pye model was replaced with the MK II model in 1941, and the MK III model in 1942. My example is a Mk III. It consists of a sturdy grey painted steel box into which the working parts of the radio are fitted:

Two large metal handles are fitted to either end of the radio to allow it to be moved easily, whilst the working parts of the radio and connecting sockets are fitted to the front face:

The radio was designed to have three channels:

  • The A set provided longer range communications within the squadron or regiment.
  • The B set or “troop set” provided short range communication between tanks in a troop.
  • The IC channel provided internal communication between crewmembers inside the tank.

The dials for the A set can be seen to the left of the radio:

Post-war, forward area battle group radio traffic carried by Wireless Set No. 19 nets was progressively migrated to low-band VHF using a more modern generation of radios known as the New Range, later to become known as Larkspur. This employed FM and replaced the No. 19 in this role from 1954. As a result, the No. 19’s VHF ‘B’ section was abandoned and removed when sets were overhauled and can be seen in the blanked off panel on the front of my radio:

The large yellow ‘T’ indicates that this radio has been tropicalised for use in the far east. A full description of the roles of all the dials and switches comes from the technical manual:

This radio was bought as a very stripped down, non-functional piece and looked very sorry for itself:

I have replaced most of the exterior components now, although I am leaving the internal parts alone as I do not need it to work, just to be a display piece. Of course the radio does not work in isolation and for the WS19 set particularly there are a lot of accessories that need to be found to put together a complete set:

Many of these pieces are scarce and expensive, so like my other radios this will be a back burner project that will hopefully culminate in me having a full set at some point in the future. I have made a good start in acquiring the elements I need and we will return to these accessories in future posts.

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