The 48 set in combat.

I recently obtained one of these once widely used military radio transceivers. My own set is in "good" condition and is now fully operational after I made several relatively minor repairs.
First manufactured in 1942 in the U.S.A. under the "lend Lease" agreement, they were quickly put in to service by the British and allied armies. This page contains general information about the 48 set, pictures, and circuitry. Also included is some information relating to my father's WWII experiences as a signaller with the 9th battalion of the Royal Fusiliers with the British army in Italy 1943/45.

This photograph is from "Always a Fusilier" the history of the Royal Fusiliers regiment of the British army.
This is the only photograph I know of a 48 set being used in action.

This incident happened during the Italian campaign of WWII probably during 1943. The 8th and 9th Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers were at this time part of the 56th (London) Division. Sometimes called the "Blackcats" because of the design of the divisional insignia.

56th Division Insignia.

Sgt. Chenery is operating the 48 set out of what looks like the back of a truck. The rod antenna can be seen sloping outward to clear the canopy of the truck. The ability to vary the angle of the antenna must have been very useful in many situations.

The battery voltages are:

Valves heaters 3 volts.
Receiver and Transmitter H.T. 150 volts.
Tx/Rx relay 12 volts.
The valves all have 1.4 volt directly heated cathodes, and are very quick to come into action from cold.

The internal batteries are kept in the bottom compartment.
The designed range for the WS48 was about 5 miles on Radio telephone and 10 miles on telegraphy. Actual range depending upon the state of the batteries the type of antenna and terraine.
The steel whip antenna has a maximum height of 3.4 metres (measured on my set). Though the length could be adjusted to suit the occasion. A full length whip might just give the enemy a good sight on your location, in which case it would be prudent to use a shorter antenna.

I have used my set over a "line of sight" path for a distance of 5 miles on Radio telephone.
On CW (telegraphy) over 1900 miles, in QSO with VK3XU operator Drew in Melbourne, Australia on August 19th 2002 on 7005 kHz, using the 1.5 metres whip aerial without even a counterpoise earth wire. Located at the time of the contact inside my house. Power output of the transmitter is a mighty 0.25 watt. Yes that's right, only 1/4 of a watt for all that weight!
More recently in December 2003 I managed a contact on 7004 kHz with JA1NUT operator Shin in Mochisi Japan, using a long wire antenna. I also had a QSO of 90 miles to Wellington with an HT supply of only 93 volts!
The unit appears to be very tolerant of low voltage HT and will continue to operate down to about 85 volts.
The standard of construction is high and a tribute to the manufacturer. My own set only required two faults fixing on first switching on after about 30 years of being stored in damp conditions under a house. A shorted HT blocker in the transmitter and a "high" resistor in the Transmitter oscillator.

The dangers of trying to improve radio coverage in battle.
My father an infantry signaller in the 9th Royal Fusiliers operated one of these sets during the Italian campaign in WWII. He told of an occasion when he and fellow signallers took the 48 set to the top storey of a large house to get more range. Where they eventually came under mortar bombardment from the German infantry. As they were retreating to the safety of the basement a bomb came through the roof and killed one of my father's comrades.
Perhaps the whip antenna was seen by the Germans or maybe their signals had been traced by a Radio Direction Finder (R.D.F.) unit.

Click here to see some details of the 9th Royal Fusiliers (167 Infantry brigade) war in Italy.
The Battle of Gemmano just one of their many actions from Salerno to Trieste.

Click here to see pictures of my 48 set.

This page last updated 2:25 p.m. 13/01/2004
Page handcrafted by roger