Mr. Fitzsimons,

Thank you for your inquiry. Yes, we are the same company that supplied the Liberty Ships with radios. I am working on a history of the company and hope to place it on our website soon.

Briefly, Irish immigrant John William Mackay made a fortune as a silver miner and was one of the 3 owners who speculated on a piece of land to become known as the Comstock Lode. Using his wealth and vision, he created The Commercial Cable Company and broke the Western Union monopoly. Following his death in 1901, his son Clarence grew the company through mergers and acquisitions and in 1927 acquired Federal Radio and Telegraph Company's radio transmitting stations. The new company was called Mackay Radio and Telegraph. Federal retained their radio manufacturing business and contracted with Mackay to provide radio equipment for a 20 year term. Mackay did not begin to produce their own products until 1948. Therefore the Liberty Ships were supplied with Mackay Radios built by Federal. I hope that someday the archival drawings for these Federal Radios will turn up as nobody seems to know where they are.

I applaud your efforts to restore the radio room on the SS Red Oak Victory. I will assist you as best I can. The crystals you need are probably type FT-171. This was used on the BC-610 transmitter. I don't know if you can find any of these but you may be able to improvise by using banana plugs to make an adapter to a newer style. The Mackay-produced transmitters and receivers used FT-243, FT-241, HC-6/U and HC-17U style crystals. I will inquire with our suppliers to see what they can do. We haven't bought crystals since 1991.

Are you trying to restore the radios to operational status or just cosmetically complete?


Michael C. Beck, P.E.
Technical Director
Thales Mackay Radio, Inc. (formerly Mackay Radio Systems)
5249 Capital Boulevard
Raleigh, NC 27616 USA