British Radios Used by Iraqis
Racal Syncal 30
|Racal Syncal 30
This radio system of British origin seems to have been the most common of it's type used.
Roughly equivalent in it's deployment to the US PRC-104, there is no comparison in the
technology, or quality of design and manufacture it uses. Unlike most European post WW-II
designs, the Syncal 30 does not include any commonalties with US equipment, such as basic
configuration, audio, antenna, power, or carry accessories. Nor do any of the others in
this line of equipment.
The basic radio ( TRA-931X ) is of all solid state design, mid 70's technology and
could be combined with various ancillary equipment to allow use as a backpack set,
vehicular installation, and as a semi fixed station. Indeed, this radio system was used in
all these capacities by Iraq.
The example in my collection was captured, and it's operator killed, in an Iraqi held
bunker in Kuwait by elements of 101st Army Airborne, his blood all over the thing. It
included all the accessories to allow it to be used in the various capacities listed
The radio features 1.6-30mc operation in 1kc steps, frequency selection is via five
rotary dials and a provision for fine tune with the "search" control for
continuous coverage. Modes of operation include AM/LSB/USB, and a High / Low power output
option ( 20 watts / high ). Other features include a built in manual antenna tuner that
will allow the use of a top mounted whip antenna, or any wire or dipole type. The basic
R/T unit requires 24VDC, and as a pack set this is supplied by a sealed Nicad battery
attached to the bottom of the radio. Other accessory equipment was available to allow the
radio to be operated from 12-32VDC, or AC mains. A 100 watt amplifier is also known to
have been available for semi fixed or vehicular installations.
MA-691 Hand Generator Folded
MA-985 Local AF Amp and Remote
MA-934 Battery Pack Side View
MA-934 Battery Pack Top View
MA-691 Hand Generator Open
Accessories include, MA-913 hand crank generator for the charging of the MA-913 Nicad
battery. MA-985 allows the complete remote user control of the radio via handset or 2 wire
line. MA-937 power supply/charger, for radio operation from a vehicular source of
10-32vdc. MA-988, vehicular amplified loud speaker. 8ft sectional whip antenna with fold
over and chock absorbing base for pack operation. TRA-4044 100 watt amplifier. BCC-540
vehicular antenna tuner.
The the Syncal 30 is reported to be in use in "many third would counties".
Field servicing is impossible, requiring the removal of 16 screws to gain access to the
radio's interior. Once inside, little can be done, and the service manual for this radio
is almost completely useless, and the schematics it contains are totally unreadable.
Racal TRA-906 Squad Call
|TRA-906 Squad Call
Another very low end radio has also shown up here. It would appear to be a even cheeper
alternate to the Syncal 30. Introduced in the 1960's, the Squadcal ( TRA-906 ) would seem
to have been directed towards the most inexperanced of operators. Similar in consept to
the Southcom SC-120, but even more basic than that radio. Below are some comments from one
of the sets owners.
The Racal "Squadcal" units I have are xtal controlled
2 to 7Mhz AM CW USB on something like 29 channels, with a single xtal per channel. The
case is injection molded plastic, with a battery compartment for 3ea 6 Volt lantern type
batteries. All circuitry is on a single PC board. Construction quality is about the same
as found on mid 1970's marine radios, Glass-epoxy PC board, no plugins. There are no
sealed modules or exotic integrated circuits. Definitely a bargain basement type of radio
design, but not flimsy.
Reported to have been originally designed and built in Australia by Racal Australia,
the following is taken from their promotional literature.
Ops 2-7mc on any of 29 xtal control channels with unlimited spacings. Modes include
AME/SSB/CW, with an RF output power of 5 watts PEP/CW. Primarily designed for backpack
operation with the standard MA 948 nicad battery, other battery options included an
adapter for the use of 14 "D" cells, or alternately 3ea 6v lantern type
batteries. Power could also be supplied by optional equipment from AC mains or a DC
vehicle source. Features and controls include, a built in antenna tuner for use of a top
mounted whip antenna, or 50 ohm output connections. A Clarifier control for fine tuning
SSB or CW pitch. And an RF gain control, strangely, there's no volume control. The radio
is also said to be completely seal, dust and water tight.
For a radio set of the 60's-70's, the Squadcal would offer some features that would
appeal to the purchaser of equipment for a POOR and BACKWARD country. These would include
it's simple operation and construction. The discrete component, single board design would
allow for a minimum of logistics problems, and simple servicing, similar to a CB radio.
However a more skilled technician would be required and field servicing would be
impossible. As we know that Iraq was neither Poor, nor Backward, and they had no skilled
technicians. Again a common fact remains, It Was Cheap!
Pair of TRA-906 Radios
Also known as the UK/PRC-349, this radio unlike many of those used by the Iraqi army, is a
full blown quality military design. But like many others, it was an obsolete type,
discarded by the the military in it's country of origin, England. Slightly larger than a
walkie talkie, the BCC-349 has no provision for local control and must use external audio
accessories. It should be noted too, that the audio accessories for this and other radios
of this family built by Racal, are of very sorry design, fragile in construction, sloppy
in mechanical design, and built of the most unsuited materials. It seems the Iraqi's also
noticed this defeciancy, as "home brew" audio accessories utilizing US type
handsets have been encountered ( note, the solder job on these examples is such that if
they'd left the iron alone and used Super Glue, they would have been better off ).
The radio set is an all solid state design, of mid 70's technology. It would be
deployed in much the same capacities as the US PRC-68, and in some ways is a more
attractive radio than it's US counterpart. It is carried in a nylon harness under the arm
in much the same manner as a pistol sholder holster. This method of carry is a very
attractive and practical one, first envisioned by the US in the early 50's during the
development of the PRT-4 and PRR-9. But sorrily, utililized only on various later model
European equipment. The controls of the BCC-349 are oriented down the side of the radio ,
thus allowing easy access by it's operator. This "under the arm" carry
configuration offers many advantages that cannot be incorperated in other carry methods.
These include protection from damage, the radio is hidden from general view, extreme ease
of user operation and access to controls, and this location is most un-incombering to the
The one in my collection was removed from an Iraqi storage bunker by elements of the
Marine Second Low Altitude Air Defense Battalian, attached to the Second Marine Division.
Also contained in this huge complex were hundreds of items of radio and ordnance, all
showing signs of extreme neglect and disrepair, further evidence of the Iraqi's lack of
expertise, and maintenance abilities.
Two portable antenna configurations were supplied with the radio. The first and most
attractive is a "Rubber Duckie" type,approximately 14" long. The second,
used for longer range, is a long outdated sectional type reminiscent of WW-II British
sets, and borrowed for use on the Canadian/Dutch CPRC-26, and the U.S. SCR-300/BC-1000.
When assembled, it is about 3' long. Below is an extract from the book Military Radio
Data, PRC Designated Radio Equipment, it should be noted that those returning here from
Iraq covered a 37-46.975 Mhz frequency spread.
Hand-held VHF, FM transceiver. Built in England by Racal ( BCC-349 ), the PRC-349 is part
of the "Clansman" series of radio equipment. Intended for platoon level personal
communications under combat conditions. The set can be slung from the shoulder,worn on the
back or chest with it's adjustable quik-release holster. Alternately it is small enough to
be carried in a belt worn holster or in the pocket of a combat jacket. Features include
operation over any 10mc segment of the band with 400 possible channels spaced 25kc apart.
A transmitted 1kc alert tone, protection from open or shorted antenna circuit, and
receiver overload. And a battery save function that is in automatic operation during
no-signal conditions. Lastly, the PRC-349 can be supplied with numerous battery, and
Ops 37-46.975 Mhz, ( any 10mc segment ). RF power output is a
selectable 0.25 / 0.5 / or 1 Watt. Requires 12VDC as supplied by various rechargeable or
dry batteries, vehicle adapter cord etc. Size 244mmH x 90mmW x 0.5mmD ( with manganese
alkaline battery ), 1.5kg ( with antenna )
Known accessories include rubber-helical short antenna, whip or trailing wire antennas,
light-weight headset with boom mic, throat mic, standard Clansman headsets or handsets,
special PTT box for tone signal and various holsters and carry straps.
Production started for the British Army in 1978. In 1979 a production license was
granted to Spain It is most likely that both countries are or were exporting
PRC-349's.Quantities of BCC349's have been brought to the U.S.as war trophies from recent
"Desert Storm" activities.
UK/PRC-349 as Worn
Racal is a very highly respected name in communications electronics, and builds some of
the most advanced equipment in the world. Most communications equipment of British design
and origins are of the highest quality, many examples can even be found in current U.S.
inventory. However, the systems represented here, with the possible exception of the
BCC-349, do not reflect this reputation, and were specificaly designed to appeal to a low
budget government for it's military need. Indeed, the company's own promotional material
reads, "was designed for high quality low cost military or civil
Their mechanical construction is at best marginal for a full blown combat field radio,
having cabinet designs of soft aluminum stampings, with spot welded seems, and little if
any water tight integrity. Without exception the audio and antenna accessories are of the
most ill suited and fragile designs, with no thought towards ergonomics, practicality, or
serviceability. Absolutely nowhere is there a commonality with these radios and that of
any other type other than, in some cases, those also built by Racal of the same generation
or series. I/E the inter-changeability and compatibility between equipment types,
accessoies and generations both old, current, and future is of major importance in every
item of military equipment. This basic requirement is not reflected here. There could have
been only one attractive feature here, as has been touched on already, The Price Tag!
Of the several models of Racal radios we've discussed in this series, the TRA-967 is one
of the more attractive ones. A pack set smaller in size than a backpack radio, and to big
to be described as a handheld, maybe it would be best known as a hand-carried portable. It
could be carried over the shoulder with a canvas strap, or worn on a pistol belt, and
would be deployed in much the same capacities as our PRC-77. Two versions are known to
have been built, and it is not known which was in use by the Iraqi's. The first, TRA-967/1
has a rated RF output power of one watt, while the second, the TRA-967/3 is rated at 3
Features include a frequency range of 36-76mc, with 25kc channel spacing.
Four place rotary knob frequency selection, illuminated by tritium beta markings. RF power
output of 1 or 3 watts (dependant on model), from a 12v dc power source. A circuit design
that utilizes digital synthesis techniques and linear IC's.
Known accessories include a 3ft sectional whip antenna, canvas carry bag, and various
ancillary equipment to allow it's use as a vehicular, or semi-fixed installation.
While this set is not as ruggedly built as it's U.S. counterparts, it does boast some
more advanced features, that though they are more attractive, do add to the complicated
nature of the radio set, both in electronic design, and operation. The TRA-967, like
others of it's family, was geared towards sales to the "military on a budget".
Racal TRA-967 Side View
Racal TRA-967 and Accessories
Racal TRA-967 and Accessories
|MA-4224 Encryption Unit
Another Racal piece of equipment that has been found here, mounted in the top rack of a
Racal Syncal 30 HF instalation, is the MA-4224 voice encryption unit. Reported to have
been introduced in the late 1970's.
Also a Racal product, the MA-4224 appears to be of
better mechanical contruction than other equipment. The unit uses delta sigma analogue to
digital conversion, is connected in the audio line between the handset and radio in use,
and will maintain an audio bandwidth of 2kc, so as to be compatable with all HF/SSB, or
Racal Field Telephone 2C703/1
| Racal Field Telephone 2C703/1
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