National SW-3 "Thrill Box"

Welcome to my National SW-3 "Thrill Box" page. This page features some great closeup photographs of the National SW-3 three tube regenerative receiver, including the cabinet exterior, cabinet interior shielding minus chassis, knobs and controls, and the chassis minus the cabinet, the special coils, and tubes.

The National SW-3 is an enigma in that it is an extremely simple and minimalist radio, yet it projects an elegance and grace with suprising high performance. This radio was designed in the late 1920's using the latest technology and cutting edge design concepts regarding shielding and isolation. It was built in the early 1930's during the depression. As you have heard in documentaries, money was extremely scarce during the depression so National minimized the number of components, reduced the number of tubes from 5 (SW-5) to three (SW-3), and sold a jillion of them.

But in spite of the depression and the minimal parts count, the SW-3 was still a well designed and well built quality radio! The SW-3 was not a stripped down model of the predecessor but in fact incorporated many state of the art and leading edge technologies and designs. The result was a superb minimalist radio which was in production from around 1931 through 1945. Thats a wonderfully long time span for a simple depression motivated three tube regenerative receiver.

A depression era shortwave radio should have been plain and boring but in fact the National SW-3 reveals a surprising elegance. Instead of marginal performance, the SW-3 is a strong performer capable of very good performance even today. While the SW-3 cabinet is a simple steel box, National did some things which make this simple radio stand out. Instead of a plain old shiny finish, National put a winkle finish which adds lustere to the cabinet. Instead of plain old knobs, National used extremely attractive "rosette" style knobs. The "oreo cookie" volume control is intriguing and quite uncommon. So in its simplicity, and modesty, the radio becomes elegant. That is the enigma of the SW-3.

I hope you enjoy the close up photo's of this wonderful radio from our recent past. At one time I owned most of the variations of SW-3's including the rare Model III that was made through the mid 1940's.  Regards, Scott WA9WFA

SW-3 Pictures Some closeup's of the SW-3 exterior including the "Velvet Vernier" dial
"Rosette" SW-3 Knob Some closeup's of the SW-3 controls including the "rosette" knobs
SW-3 Chassis Photo's Some closeup's of the SW-3 chassis with the cabinet completely removed.
SW-3 Wanted and For Sale SW-3 For Sale and Wanted Page
SW-3 Coils SW-3 Coil close up photo's and Identification
Model SW-3 Version 1 Pictures Early model SW-3 Version 1 photos provided by Terry N3GTE

Last Update: 11/25/2020
Web Author: Scott Freeberg WA9WFA
Copyright 2020 by Scott Freeberg WA9WFA - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED