Signals Production Branch History May 1, 1942 - August 31, 1943 Continued

 

PART 2 -- Relations with Manufacturer of Communication Equipment

General:

In this chapter are included the stories if the production of a number of communications equipments which have stood out prominently in the work of the British.

The equipments described have been chosen for their value in illustrating the operation of the Branch. The fact that they have been chosen does not necessarily attach more importance to them, as contracts, than to any other equipment covered by the 15,000 odd contracts handled by the Branch during its existence.  This is particularly true in the case of wireless equipment procured by the Navy and the Air Force.  Both of these Services have placed some very large contracts through the Branch.  However, once the contracts were let, the efforts of the Branch have not been required beyond teh normal production control functions and the expediting of materials.

Wireless Set No. 19:

This equipment was designed to meet the communications requirements of armoured fighting vehicles.  It comprises three separate channels of two way communication, one for speech by wire telephone between the crew of the vehicle, one for radio telephone between adjacent vehicles separated by distances up to one mile, and one for radio telegraph or radio telephone between vehicles -- or between vehicle and fixed stations -- over distances up to twenty miles.  All three channels may be operated simultaneously when suitably installed in a vehicle.

Somewhat complicated, but necessary, is the system of controls, with inter-connecting wires, which is installed in the vehicle and to which the set is connected. This is known as the Installation Kit.  Its purpose is to bring facilities of the set to the members of the crews.  By means of this installation, certain crew members can operate all three channels while others can communicate within the vehicle only.  The make up of the Installation Kit varies with the type of vehicle. In value, the Kit represents between fifteen and thirty percent of the value of the complete wireless station.

The No. 19 Set was developed in the U.K.  In the summer of 1941 the Department of National Defence authorized the manufacture of the set in Canada. A group of engineers from Northern Electric Company visited the U.K. to study manufacture there. They brought back complete manufacturing data with them and immediately commenced preparations for production on a small scale.  A number of modifications were made, in consultation with an engineer from the Department of National Defence, to accommodate the set to Canadian manufacturing methods and also to increase its efficiency.  This model was called Wireless Set No. 19 Mk. II.

By the beginning of 1942, Northern Electric Company were turning out sets at a low rate.

Meanwhile, orders for sets had been pouring in much faster than had been anticipated, so it was found necessary to negotiate with R.C.A. Victor Company and Canadian Marconi Company for additional manufacture.

Early in 1942 the U.S. Army Signal Corps became interested in the set and proceeded to establish manufacture in the United States to fill Lend-Lease orders.  The set as manufactured in the United States was an exact copy of the Canadian version.

When the Branch came into being, all three Canadian contractors were just getting early production troubles cleared from their assembly lines and were well on the way to high rates of production.

By this time there was a total of 36,000 sets on order in Canada.

Although the prime contractors were in a position to turn out sets at high rates, there were deterring factors which all but brought production to a stop time after time.

Tooling for component parts was one of the major stumbling blocks during the spring of 1942.  The original tooling had been set up to produce for a total of 2,000 units at a low rate.  When orders began to multiply, new suppliers and new tooling for hundreds of components had to be established.  This resulted in a period when existing tooling was not only far from adequate but also, in some cases, unsatisfactory, and when the new tooling was not complete.

In the midst of this, the supply of purchased components such as vacuum tubes, indicating meters, resistors, capacitors, nearly failed.  This was the time of sudden expansion of the communications industry throughout this continent and suppliers of components could not meet demands.  The period was one of continuous consultation between the expediting personnel of the three contractors and of the Branch to apportion available materials so as to keep the production lines operating to best advantage.

The production difficulties were further amplified by continual design change, first, to keep up with revisions to the set eminating (sic) from the U.K., and second, to substitute for materials which could not be obtained.

In spite of these difficulties, and by exemplary cooperation between contractors who previously had been unbending competitors, production continued to flow.

In the late summer of 1942, as a result of modifications to the set in U.K., and of a visit of Branch personnel to U.K., several major modifications to the Canadian set were proposed.  Engineering work was assigned to R.C.A. Victor Company in collaboration with the Technical Section of the Branch.  In October, a model of the new version, known as the Wireless Set No. 19 Mk. III was completed, and demonstrated to the satisfaction of Canadian, U.K. and U.S. authorities.

Next followed a period of discussion over placing the Mk. III set in production.  In January a decision was reached to change over completely from the Mk. II to Mk. III version and a definite changeover point was chosen.

R.C.A. Victory Company and Canadian Marconi Company commenced the changeover in May, 1943.  North Electric Company continued the Mk. II set for another couple of months in order to clean up outstanding orders for all three contractors.

The expected difficulties were encountered bringing the Mk. III version into production.  This resulted in a falling off of deliveries during the summer.

A statistical summary of the No. 19 Set is given HERE.

 

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Signals Production Branch History Part One

Signals Production Branch History Part Three

Signals Production History Part Four

 

Wireless Set No. 19 Home Page