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Floraphone Update – This Week in CECOM History

This blog highlighted a photograph on 27 March 2014,  showing MG George Owen Squire (copied below) that is dated 17 April 1919. Since that time we’ve learned a little more about the ideas behind the “Floraphone.”

In April 1919, Major General George Owen Squire, Chief Signal Officer and the man responsible for locating the Radio Laboratories at Fort Monmouth, attracted attention by using trees as radio antennas. He drove a spike into the trunk of a tree on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. and picked up signals from Germany. He called such messages “floragrams,” and the tree-telegraph was described as a “floragraph”; the receiver a “floraphone.”

This new idea was featured in Scientific American in the 14 July 1919 edition, as well as the Electrical Experimenter from July 1919.

So the next time you see one of those cell-phone towers disguised as a tree, you can remeber that we once used real trees as antennas.

Image # 0587

Image # 0587

Posted in From the Archives, Squier's Stories, This Week in CECOM History.

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This Week in CECOM History – Army Day 1949

Showing pigeons to public during Army Day, on 9 April 1949, Sgt. Harry Lucas from the Ft. Monmouth lofts on the right.

The pigeon program was headquartered at Fort Monmouth from the end of World War I until the program was discontinued in 1957.

CE Museum Photo #3543

CE Museum Photo #3543

Posted in This Day In History, This Week in CECOM History.

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AN/GRC-106A Radio Set

From time-to-time, this blog feature will present its readers with information related to more-or-less random pieces of equipment. This “series” of blogs generally will focus on Radios, but may on occasion venture into other equipments and apparatus. This blog features the AN/GRC-106A Radio Set.

AN GRC-106 A Image

The AN/GRC-106A was a vehicular mounted radio communications set used in combat areas, from battalion to field army. Originally designed to extend the range of voice communications, this radio was also employed as the basic radio for medium range radio-teletypewriter communications. The AN/GRC-106A was also compatible with manpack equipment used by foot soldiers.

The predecessor to the AN/GRC-l06A was the basic single sideband radio set, AN/GRC-106. The AN/GRC-106 radio was developed to provide combat units with a series of radio sets affording reliable voice, continuous wave and teletypewriter communications. The AN/GRC-l06A featured improved tuning characteristics that allowed for a reduction of the required channel separation from 1 KHz to 100 Hz permitting the 106A to utilize 10 times as many channels as its predecessor.

The AN/GRC-106A was an ultra-rugged single sideband transistorized radio set designed mainly for vehicular mount. The system was composed of two major units 1) Receiver-Transmitter RT-834/GRC, and 2) Radio Frequency Amplifier AM-3349/GRC-106 which were contained in two sealed cases to protect the operating circuitry from dust and moisture. An extreme range of permissible operating temperatures made the AN/GRC-106A suitable for use anywhere in the world.

The AN/GRC-106A was designed such that a standard vehicular generating system provided sufficient power (25 amperes) for voice operation. Teletypewriter operation required a higher capacity generating system (100 amperes). The AN/GRC-106A used a half wave doublet antenna in fixed or semi-fixed positions. On a moving vehicle the AN/GRC-106A used a standard 15-foot whip antenna.

AN GRC-106 A Characteristics

Most of the information to prepare this blog comes from “U.S. Army Fact Sheet Radios No. 4, October 1970, AN/GRC-106A.” This fact sheet and other communications-related documents and photographs are available for review at the CECOM Historical Office. The Historical Office is located at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Contact us via our Web-based contact form at http://cecom.army.mil/historian/contactus.php for additional information.

This post was written by Floyd Hertwck.

Posted in From the Archives.

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Signal Corps Dirigible No. 1

Over the past few years the CECOM Historical Office has accessioned a large number of items, including photographs, documents, and other items. By using our blog site, we will be introducing some parts of this collection. In this blog article we will discuss some newly discovered era documents related to the original Signal Corps 1, a Dirigible. This Blog article is offered as an update to a blog released on this site 11 July 2011.

The revision is rather exciting, in that we are adding information pertaining to era documents that were generated by the Signal Corps. The documents found are part of a collection of early “Signal Corps Bulletins.” This particular set of bulletins apparently began publication in 1906, and ran through 1912. They in large part are informational or advisory publications as described below.

Signal Corps Bulletins No. 5, ca 1907, is titled “Comprising Signal Corps Specifications on Dirigible Balloons and Heavier-Than-Air Flying Machines.” This bulleting contains “Dirigible Balloons Specification No. 483”, and “Heavier-Than-Air Flying Machines Specification 486.”

Signal Corps Bulletin No. 9, 22 April 1908 is titled “Aeronautics.” This bulletin includes a discussion on dirigibles with photographs of a helicopter and aeroplanes. The bulletin defines aeronautic terms, then applies the terms to various forms of flight, including the dirigible.

Signal Corps Bulletin No. 10, is titled “Dirigible Balloons.” It includes a lecture that was delivered at the Society of Mechanical Engineers in May 1908. The lecture is a technical presentation on dirigible balloons. A second part of this bulletin includes a paper titled “How to construct a Balloon, the Making, Inflating and Sailing of Gas balloons. This paper was prepared by B. Courtright, an Aeronaut.

Signal Corps Bulletin No. 13, “Aeronautical Notes”, ca 1911, is a presentation of additional information that addresses instruments and the purchase of “Dirigible Balloon No. 1.” Also included is a discussion of Signal Corps No. 1, the aeroplane. This bulletin includes photographs and some related diagrams.

These items and other communications-related documents and photographs are available for review at the CECOM Historical Office. The Historical Office is located at Aberdeen Proving Ground. If interested, the reader can also contact the Historical office through our “contact us” Web page at http://cecom.army.mil/historian/contactus.php.

First Signal Corps No. 1 in flight hangar at Fort Myer

First Signal Corps No. 1 in flight hangar at Fort Myer

This post was written by Floyd Hertweck.

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This Week in CECOM History – 19 March 1945

S/SGT Robert L. Lewis, Centralia, IL, directs artillery fire by radio from an observation post in a bomb crater. Smoke rises in the background from shells bursting on German positions in the valley leading to Zweibrucken, Germany. 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Seventh Army, IV Corps. 19 March 1945. SCR-609.

CE Museum Photo #2021

CE Museum Photo #2021

Posted in From the Archives, This Day In History, This Week in CECOM History.

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Happy Birthday, West Point!

On this day in 1802, President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation establishing a permanent military academy at West Point, marking the official birth of West Point – The U.S. Military Academy.

In honor of that birthday, we’ve posted a couple of our many photos showing visits by West Point Cadets to Fort Monmouth.

Photo # EBD526

Photo # EBD526

Photo # EBD0555 - West Point Glee Club Concert, 14 March 1953, Sponsored by the Fort Monmouth Chapter 155, National Sojourners. West Point Glee Club in action under leadership of Lt. Barry H. Drewes.

Photo # EBD0555 – West Point Glee Club Concert, 14 March 1953, Sponsored by the Fort Monmouth Chapter 155, National Sojourners. West Point Glee Club in action under leadership of Lt. Barry H. Drewes.

Posted in From the Archives, History Happenings, Photo Series.

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Ready for you Screen Test?

While there are many interesting and intriguing documents in the CECOM Historical Office’s archive, we have chosen one document in particular to discuss here. It is a 1942 report titled “Screen Rooms.” The report was a product of the Coordination Group, V.I. Section, which was a part of the Signal Corps Laboratory.

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This report was generated early in WWII, when the need for reliable radios in vehicles was vital to the War effort. To test vehicular radio noise suppression, it was very important that there be a convenient room that was free of RF (radio frequency) disturbances located in the radio manufacturer’s plants that would allow the testing of radios for vehicle noise in an environment free of noise sources other than the vehicle. The rooms would be used at the manufacturer’s location so as to be near the “production center” of the radio; the manufacturing facility was itself a source of radio noise of varying amplitude and character due to machinery, power stations, and electrical apparatus located within the plant.

The concept of the screen rooms was developed in 1941. The room as conceived would be 40’ long, 20’ wide, and 22’ high, surrounded by walls constructed of two sheets of copper spaced 6” apart. The doors would provide 12’ square opening. The room would also include lighting, ventilation, and testing equipment. The first room was built to design in St. Louis at an automotive plant, and proved the design satisfactory for production testing and to be less costly than standard reference screen rooms in use at the time. When a room was completed, it was necessary to determine its attenuation characteristics which could vary at each location where the screen room was used and to correlate the screen room’s readings with similar tests in noise free locations.

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The report goes on to describe some of the testing that took place, including use of galvanized screen which proved to be similar in performance to copper when installed with “well made joints.” Included in the report are some photographs and inspection information for selected installation locations in Indiana, Michigan, and Missouri. There are also selected drawings and discussions for some of the rooms inspected.

A copy of this report is available from the CECOM Historical Office. The Historical Office is located at Aberdeen Proving Ground. If interested, the reader can also contact the Historical office through our “contact us” Web page at http://cecom.army.mil/historian/contactus.php.

This post was written by Floyd Hertweck

Posted in From the Archives.

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Women’s Work – for Women’s History Month

Women working on Decoys

WWII War Effort, workers assemble decoy (C of E Model No. 12 Gun, 90mm. A.A. M1, Shipping Weight 210 lbs – 20,9 cu ft)

Posted in From the Archives, Photo Series.

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Project Cyclops

Included in the CECOM Historical Office’s archive is a circa 1958 report on the Project Cyclops Program. The report’s purpose was to document “a presentation of the US Army Combat Surveillance Agency” that was given by the US Army Signal Research and Development Agency. Project Cyclops grew out of a need to know what items or systems were available and adaptable for combat or battle area surveillance, and to determine what new developments were in progress or were planned for development. The need to answer these questions was assigned to the Signal Corps Research and Development Laboratory; the Laboratory decided to respond by developing a series of charts that would display technical data and other information. With this Project Cyclops was established 2 December 1957.

The mission of the project was to make a complete survey of all DoD Research and Development projects that pertained to combat surveillance in chart form, then review and analyze these projects to determine duplications and areas that required emphasis. To carry out this mission, engineers were brought in and assigned to the project. Under this project equipments were assigned to “fourteen fields of interest or categories.” See Figure 1.

Figure 1 - Project Cyclops Categories

Figure 1 – Project Cyclops Categories

The report goes on to discuss aspects of the process and, proceeds into speaker narratives and the recommendations for the categories of interest as follows. Photography, recommending expedited development of drone photographic capability, accelerated development of photographic system designed for specific drones, and development of a photographic process that would operate in radioactive environments, as well as research in the field of visual light detection. Infrared included recommendations for augmentation of support to research toward development of mosaic detectors capable of infrared images like a TV picture, establishing training in the interpretation of infrared flight records, evaluating two color infrared techniques, and a miniaturization program to ensure that future equipments are compatible with space and weigh characteristics of future drones and aircraft. Radar included portability for mortar detection radar, and new radar equipment for artillery and rocket detection, miniaturization. TV included developing high sensitivity TV tubes for night viewing, snapshot and high resolution strip mapping techniques. Facsimile, recommendations included developing equipment suitable for combat surveillance field use, and developing specialized facsimile applications. Acoustic & Seismic, included basically continue “as is.” Radiological Survey recommendations included instrumentation for use in drones and for measurement of radiation in clouds. Mapping and Survey, the recommendation was basically to continue “as is.” For Aircraft and Drones (see photo below) development of Air Force and Navy drones, high performance aircraft for army surveillance, and techniques for long range detection of guided missiles. For Meteorology and Navigation & Control the recommendations were general in nature.

Cyclops Drones

The general conclusion was there was no duplication, that attention should be focused on conversion of raw surveillance data into usable data and that R&D continue.

A copy of this report is available from the history office can be obtained from the CECOM Historical Office by contacting the Office using the Web link at http://cecom.army.mil/historian/contactus.php or the report can be reviewed by visiting the Office at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

This post was written by Floyd Hertwck.

Posted in From the Archives.

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COL Clifford A. Poutre

This Blog site has included number posts about pigeons and pigeon-related information from the Army’s pigeon program. These animals were both amazing and heroic having been responsible for saving hundreds of lives in wartime by “getting their message through.” Equally important were the soldiers that were a part of the program. The soldiers were the breeders, cared for, and trained to pigeons. Truly the program could not have been as successful without the efforts of the birds and the soldier pigeoneers. This blog will introduce COL Clifford A. Poutre.

COL Poutre was born in Hudson Falls, New York on 24 October 1904 as the only child of Hattie Irish Poutre and Clifford G. Poutre.

After receiving his BS degree from Lafayette College in 1927 COL Poutre enlisted in the United States Army 10 January 1929. Soon after enlistment, Poutre went to Hawaii and spent seven and one half years there. Poutre went through all the ranks from Private First Class to Sergeant and in 1936 was appointed Staff Sergeant, in 1940 he became Technical Sergeant and in January 1941 he was appointed Master Sergeant. Poutre was commissioned as First Lieutenant in the Reserve Corps in late 1941.

Fort Monmouth Signal August 13,1941

Fort Monmouth Signal
August 13,1941

According to the 1941 Daily Long Branch Record, while in college, Poutre was a prominent track man and ran in the Intercollegiate Cross Country Championships. He was also a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, secretary of the Sandy Hook Pigeon Racing Club; he also held memberships in the International Federation of Homing Pigeon Fanciers of America, the Central Jersey Racing Pigeon Combine, and the N.J. Homing Pigeon Concourse Association.

He was called to active duty with the Pigeon Breeding and Training Section at Fort Monmouth by a War Department radiogram on 7 August 1936. Prior to joining the Army, Poutre had made a hobby of pigeons and chickens. Once assigned to the Pigeon Program at Fort Monmouth, he confined his interest entirely to pigeons as stated by a 1941 Monmouth Message article, so that by the time of the article (as stated in the article), he was one of the most outstanding experts on pigeons in the world. While with the Pigeon Program, Poutre won hundreds of awards at pigeon races and championships and his work was publicized in national magazines and newspapers.

Poutre served with distinction as a member of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s staff in Occupied Japan following World War II. In 1957, Poutre, became the deputy commanding officer, U. S. Army Signal Supply Agency (he released the last pigeon in combat for the U. S. Army). He also served as the Tobyhanna Army Depot commander from 1 July 1957 to 31 December 1959.

COL Poutre releases a pigeon

COL Poutre releases a pigeon

After 31 years of service, Poutre retired as a colonel. He taught math at East Stroudsburg University from 1961 to 1972. He passed away 11 April 2008 at the age of 103. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Smalley Poutre. Information to prepare this biography is from a biographical sketch for COL Poutre published in the Daily Long Branch Record, 13 August 1941, and from an obituary published in the Tobyhanna Army depot newspaper The Tobyhanna Reporter (6 May 2008).

This post was written by Floyd Hertweck.

Posted in From the Archives, Pigeons.

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