United States Army in World War II: The Technical Services

The Signal Corps: The Test (December 1941 to July 1943)

by George Raynor Thompson, Dixie R. Harris, Pauline M. Oakes, Dulany Terrett

Office of the Chief of Military History

Department of the Army

Washington, D.C.


. . . to Those Who Served




Chapter 1: December 1941

“This Is Not Drill”—War in the Philippines—The First Month of War in the Field—The Impact of War in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer

Chapter 2: The Call for Troops (January–February 1942)

The Source of the Demand—The Limitations Imposed by Tables of Organization—Plans f or Getting Enlisted Men—Plans for Getting Officers—Getting Civilians—Shaping the Response: Wide-Scale Training

Chapter 3: The Call for Equipment (January–May 1942)

Supply Dominating Research—Wire, the Basic Equipment—Radio for Mobile Armies and for World Communication—Radio Airborne—Radar Into the Air for Interception and Search—Ground Radar: the Continuing Exigencies of Coastal Defense

Chapter 4: The First Months of the War Overseas (January–May 1942)

Toward Eastern Bastions—Toward Pacific Outposts—China-Burma-India Vicissitudes—Last Weeks in the Philippines

Chapter 5: Alaska Communications (January–July 1942)

The Command Network—Kodiak, Otter Point, Dutch Harbor—The Attack on Dutch Harbor—The Repercussions of Dutch Harbor—The Alcan Highway—Canol and the Northwest Ferry Route—Communications for Ground and Air Warning Systems

Chapter 6: The First Billion Dollar Signal Corps (January–July 1942)

The Headquarters Supply Organization—The Soaring Signal Corps Budget—Basic Organization and Policies—Facilities Expansion and the Problem of Components—Material Shortages—Production Expediting—The Field Organization—The Procurement Districts—Difficulties Within the Signal Corps Inspection Service—The Expansion of Signal Corps Depots—Procurement Growth in the First Six Months of War

Chapter 7: Signal Schooling (January–July 1942)

The Training Structure—Camp Crowder—Camp Kohler—Fort Monmouth—Camp Murphy

Chapter 8: Signal Equipment: Wire And Radio (June–October 1942)

Toward Automatic Teletype and Tape Relay—Carrier Equipment and Spiral-Four Readied for Use in War—Ground Radio and Radio Link or Relay, Transformed by FM—Signal Corps Provides VHF Command Radio for Army Airplanes

Chapter 9: Signal Equipment: Radar (June–October 1942)

Airborne Radars on the Increase—IFF—Identification: Friend or Foe Radar—Signal Corps Altimeters; Secretary Patterson’s Objections—AI—Airborne Interception Radar—ASV—Air-to-Surface-Vessel Microwave Radar—Ground Radar Potentialities Multiplied by Microwave Techniques—SCR-296, Seacoast Artillery Fire Control Radar—SCR-582, Harbor Surveillance Radar—SCR-615, Microwave Radar for GCI, Ground-Controlled Interception—SCR-602, Lightweight Warning Radar.—SCR-584, Microwave Tracking or GL, Gun-Laying Radar—MEW, Microwave Early Warning Radar

Chapter 10: Accumulating Strength over the World (June–October 1942)

Bolstering the Army Airways Communications System—Build-up for the Air Forces in the Northeast—Radars for Aircraft Warning—Defense to Offense in the West—Holding Action in CBI—Strengthening Eastern Outposts

Chapter 11: Preparing for the First Major Test (June–November 1942)

Training—Problems of Procurement—Plans and Preparations, at Home and Overseas

Chapter 12: The Test at Issue in North Africa (November 1942–May 1943)

Communications, Assault Phase—Stabilizing TORCH Communications—New Developments in Combat Communications—Signal Corps Radars Meet the Test of War—“This is a Signals War”

Chapter 13: Photo by U.S. Army Signal Corps (January 1942–Mid-1943)

Organization and Facilities—Training Cameramen—Combat Photography: Early Units and Problems—The Widening Range of Photographic Activity—The Training Film Program—Summary: The Status of APS at Mid-Year 1943

Chapter 14: Global Communications (Late 1942–Mid-1943)

The Design for ACAN—Organizing and Implementing ACAN—From the Caribbean to the Middle East—From India to Australia—Island Hopping Networks in the South Pacific—Alaska and the Aleutians

Chapter 15: The Technical Service a Supply Service (Late 1942–Mid-1943)

Technical Specialization vs. Mass Supply—The Shrinking Labor Market—International Aid—The Shifting Emphasis in Procurement—The Increasing Importance of the Distribution System—Overseas Complaints of Distribution Deficiencies—The Fiscal Tear Summary

Chapter 16: Signal Corps Position in Mid-1943 (May–June 1943)

The Situation at Home and Overseas—Headquarters Crisis over Supply and Control Problems—The Signal Corps Swaps Horses in Midstream

Bibliographical Note

List of Abbreviations




Original Radar Plot of Station Opana—Maj. Gen. Dawson Olmstead Arriving at Panama—New Developments in Signal Communications—Signal Corps Switchboard BD-72—The SCR-300 and the SCR-536—The SCR-578, Gibson Girl Radio—Airborne AI-10 Radar, SCR-520—Air Attack on a Submarine—SCR-268 at Pacora, Panama—Signal Line Crew Checking Cable—Cable-Laying Operations in Alaska—Open-Wire Line in Alaska—Hand-Finishing a Crystal—A Section of the Philadelphia Signal Depot, August 1942—Training a t Camp Crowder—Training a t Fort Monmouth—Radiotype Equipment—Vehicular Mounting of Radio Sets—The SCR-718, Radio Altimeter—Coast Artillery Fire Control Radars—The SCR-602 Type 8 Lightweight Warning Radar—Radar Sets SCR-545 and SCR-584—Aircraft Warning Radars—Section of the Radio Room, Fort Shafter, Honolulu—Installation and Maintenance of Signal Equipment—Antenna Towers of Radio Marina, Asmara—Communications on the Beach in North Africa—The SCR-299 in North Africa—Restoration of Communications Facilities—The SCR-268 Searchlight Control Radar—Men of the 53rd Signal Battalion—A Wounded Signal Corps Cameraman—The Signal Corps Photographic Center—Signal Corps Cameramen—V-Mail Being Processed—A Class in Projector Repair—A Motion Picture Set at SCPC—Signal Communications From Forward to Rear Areas—AACS Station on Ascension Island—Communications in CBI—Wire Lines in New Guinea—Boehme High-Speed Operation—Lend-Lease to the French—General Olmstead

All photographs in this volume are from U.S. Department of Defense files.