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Identify this "instrument"
Old 23rd February 2020
  #1
Gear Guru
 

Identify this "instrument"

I think it is an instrument!

this still was taken from a WWII documentary, there is a parade. The solider is marching along and apparently "playing" by pushing buttons or something on the front of the box. The audio in the clip was not from the actual parade, so no sound from it is available.

I know it looks a bit like a transistor radio, but radios in those days were huge and had giant antennas. The dark panel is apparently not a 'speaker', because he is sticking his fingers in there and pushing them up and down.

Identify this "instrument"-what.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
Identify this "instrument"-what.jpg  
Old 23rd February 2020
  #2
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
Sent the pic to my 89 y/o father who’s ex military. He didn’t know exactly but seems to think it’s a sensing instrument for radiation, RF, or radar detection, etc. To give you an avenue to google.

As a side note, we always had old military radios and test gear in the garage. He gave it all to a friend that was setting up a display in a museum in Galveston. Hurricane Ike washed it all away. He had held onto it all since the 1950’s to have Mother Nature reclaim it in less than 24 hrs.
Old 24th February 2020
  #3
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian M. Boykin View Post
Sent the pic to my 89 y/o father who’s ex military. He didn’t know exactly but seems to think it’s a sensing instrument for radiation, RF, or radar detection, etc. To give you an avenue to google.
I don't know, it looks kind of like a radio from the 1960's - but in 1942, I don't think any working radio would have fit in that box. Never mind the batteries. And it has no antenna!

Here is the video that the shot was taken from. The context is that there are shots of people parading, marching, and even some locals dancing.


skip ahead to 20:33 to see the clip

As you can see, he is pushing his fingers onto some buttons or something. My first impression too, was that it was electronic, but from how light it obviously is, and looking at how he is pushing the buttons, he really looks like he is 'playing' a musical instrument or toy. Like a hurdy-gurdy or something. Or like he is "typing".

FWIW this is taking place in North Africa.
Old 27th February 2020
  #4
Gear Guru
 

bump

nobody?
no other guesses?

is this guy a Time Traveler with an 8-track player?
Old 27th February 2020
  #5
Lives for gear
 

The guy right before him is playing a purse dog, so maybe it's not a musical instrument? If it is, and it's electronic, then the speaker is probably on the other side, facing away. Maybe the controls are off to the side to avoid the magnet? But there doesn't appear to be a cable running to his backpack, and like you mentioned, it seems very lightweight. I would have guessed maybe a speaker for a two-way radio setup, but I don't see a cable.
Old 27th February 2020
  #6
Gear Guru
 
Muser's Avatar
I ran it through my portable Ouija Board and it spelled

Model 5G603M Companion

can't personally comment on the veracity of that claim from the world beyond though
Old 27th February 2020
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser View Post
I ran it through my portable Ouija Board and it spelled

Model 5G603M Companion

can't personally comment on the veracity of that claim from the world beyond though
Dude you rock! I had no idea Zenith or anybody made radios that small before the Roswell crash. Big up for Earthling pride, and also I learned something today.
Old 27th February 2020
  #8
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Muser's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PuggaMahone View Post
Dude you rock! I had no idea Zenith or anybody made radios that small before the Roswell crash. Big up for Earthling pride, and also I learned something today.
well, run the google images section and just put in
1940's portable radio
I think there might even be some from from the 30's too
Old 27th February 2020
  #9
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PuggaMahone View Post
The guy right before him is playing a purse dog, so maybe it's not a musical instrument? If it is, and it's electronic, then the speaker is probably on the other side, facing away. Maybe the controls are off to the side to avoid the magnet? But there doesn't appear to be a cable running to his backpack, and like you mentioned, it seems very lightweight. I would have guessed maybe a speaker for a two-way radio setup, but I don't see a cable.
Yes, I think the form-factor of the box implies that it is "electronic" to us here in the 21st century. It reminds me a bit of a transistor radio I had in the 60's. But looking at actual electronics from that period makes me think maybe it is "something else" that just happens to go in a certain shaped box.

It's like those pictures from the 1920's where someone is holding a small piece of wood or something that happens to be the approximate size and shape of a cell phone.

But this is what a "portable" radio looked like in 1942:

Identify this "instrument"-wwii-radio.jpg

They also had these, but they could only be used within a certain distance of the "real" transmitter:

Identify this "instrument"-handie-talkie.jpg

the device in the video has no visible source of power nor does it have any obvious antenna








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Attached Thumbnails
Identify this "instrument"-wwii-radio.jpg   Identify this "instrument"-handie-talkie.jpg  
Old 27th February 2020
  #10
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser View Post
I ran it through my portable Ouija Board and it spelled

Model 5G603M Companion

can't personally comment on the veracity of that claim from the world beyond though


The Zenith Companion certainly has the right overall shape. And the handle is is also just right. But the box in the video has a single dark panel across the whole front. The Companion seems to have a dial and also a speaker which are separated. But these are small details, and it could be a very similar radio with a slightly different feature set.



What still bothers me is that in the video, the solider really seems to be sticking his fingers "into" his device. As if he was "typing" or something. As opposed to just turning the tuning knob.




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Attached Thumbnails
Identify this "instrument"-parade-box.jpg   Identify this "instrument"-companion.jpg  
Old 27th February 2020
  #11
Here for the gear
 
Avenue Road's Avatar
 

The Philco PT87 gets pretty close - circa 1941.

Just had another look at the video. The movement of his fingers is consistent with him using his thumb and first finger to twiddle the volume / tuning knobs.
Attached Thumbnails
Identify this "instrument"-philco-pt87-universal-power-vacuum-tube-portable-am-radio.jpg  

Last edited by Avenue Road; 27th February 2020 at 07:09 AM..
Old 27th February 2020
  #12
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avare's Avatar
 

Another interpretation is that is the back of the radio, being to project to the crowd and the soldier is moving a (n intermittent) capacitor.the

Talk about boom development!
Old 27th February 2020
  #13
Gear Guru
 
Muser's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post


The Zenith Companion certainly has the right overall shape. And the handle is is also just right. But the box in the video has a single dark panel across the whole front. The Companion seems to have a dial and also a speaker which are separated. But these are small details, and it could be a very similar radio with a slightly different feature set.

What still bothers me is that in the video, the solider really seems to be sticking his fingers "into" his device. As if he was "typing" or something. As opposed to just turning the tuning knob.

.
yeah I don't really know what he's doing with his fingers. turning dials I would assume. unless it has some type of roller control. it might be one of those things where, when someone suggests some other intent or device, we start to see human actions as having different behaviors. other people can often tend to do things in different ways to us in any case, so that can also add to the illusion. given the guy with the puppy, my money would be on a portable tube radio. that's why I went searching for it I guess. I tend to work by trying to make the best guesses I can, and then go looking for supporting evidence. so I found the challenge an interesting one for various reasons. maybe t would have been good to have left it to see what other people came up with. that could have been even more interesting I suppose. but then again, I bet that may well happen in any case. it usually does.
Old 27th February 2020
  #14
Lives for gear
Kind of begs the question of what was being broadcast in 1942 North Africa. Armed Forces Radio? No visible antenna would imply AM. What powered it? Batteries weren't what they are now.

Must've been owned by a high ranking officer to be able to supply/use it during a prolonged campaign.

Just thinking out loud.

Last edited by onewire; 28th February 2020 at 02:40 AM.. Reason: Separate supply/use
Old 27th February 2020
  #15
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Papanate's Avatar
 

I believe this is a civilian portable radio - The soldier is turning the knobs to tune it in, In the descriptor the is said to take batteries making it portable.. I think it is a Philco model pt-87. You can see one here: 1941 (June 1940) - Philco Radio Gallery

And you can see the original advert for the radio here PT-87 1941 Advertisement

It would have been expensive for the era - but the soldier holding the 'radio' has a pinky ring - which says that he comes from money - and could afford an expensive toy.

Old 27th February 2020
  #16
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Avenue Road View Post
The Philco PT87 gets pretty close - circa 1941.
Just had another look at the video. The movement of his fingers is consistent with him using his thumb and first finger to twiddle the volume / tuning knobs.
I tried to imagine that's what he was doing, but I still keep seeing him 'pushing' with his fingers. I wish I could watch the video again, it seems it has been taken down. I wonder if the "increased activity" generated by this thread alerted the copyright holders of the Victory At Sea series!


Quote:
Originally Posted by avare View Post
Another interpretation is that is the back of the radio, being to project to the crowd and the soldier is moving a (n intermittent) capacitor.
Yeah, it does look like the "back" in a way. Then again, the few photos of the backs of the units that I found, the back was 'closed'.


Quote:
Originally Posted by onewire View Post
Kind of begs the question of what was being broadcast in 1942 North Africa. Armed Forces Radio?
I suppose they might have set up an AM station for English-speaking Allied soldiers. There were tens of thousands there which might make it worthwhile. Unlikely the GIs would have been into the local Algerian station, if there even was one. On the other hand, there was shot at one point of some local people apparently grooving to some bagpipers marching by.


Quote:
No visible antenna would imply AM. What powered it? Batteries weren't what they are now.
Yes, most of them say AM. I certainly had no idea that there were radios that small back then. I guess I was thinking of the military radios that were 2-way. They do say "batteries" in the description. Some of the places that sell these old radios list battery-operated "Farm Radios" - which I assume were for rural people who did not yet have electricity coming to their house.

Apparently they did have 'dry cells' by that time, so at least you were not carrying around a box full of acid.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser View Post
yeah I don't really know what he's doing with his fingers. turning dials I would assume. unless it has some type of roller control. it might be one of those things where, when someone suggests some other intent or device, we start to see human actions as having different behaviors. other people can often tend to do things in different ways to us in any case, so that can also add to the illusion.
I guess I had that reaction. Like those old photos where someone is using a hearing aid but it reminds us of how a modern person would hold a cell phone. He just looked to me like he was 'playing' it.


Quote:
see what other people came up with. that could have been even more interesting I suppose. but then again, I bet that may well happen in any case. it usually does.
I am still hoping someone finds a "toy glockenspiel in a box with a handle" from the 1940's.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Papanate View Post
I think it is a Philco model pt-87. You can see one here: 1941 (June 1940) - Philco Radio Gallery

I like the this one for the curve of the "shoulders" and also because the front panel is one large dark area instead of two like most of them have.
Old 27th February 2020
  #17
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Papanate's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I like the this one for the curve of the "shoulders" and also because the front panel is one large dark area instead of two like most of them have.
It is about 90% sure that this is what you are seeing. I am on a WWII forum and some Veterans recognized it and the parade. That the video is B&W makes the last 10% confirmation close to impossible.

It's most definitely a radio of some sort - and it's most definitely not a musical instrument of any kind.
Old 28th February 2020
  #18
Gear Guru
 
Muser's Avatar
it's more likely along the lines of the Philco, because the front panel is continuous.
whereas the one I mentioned, isn't.
Old 28th February 2020
  #19
It's actually just his lunchbox.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser View Post
I ran it through my portable Ouija Board and it spelled

Model 5G603M Companion

can't personally comment on the veracity of that claim from the world beyond though
Yeah, it does look like some of those radios.
Old 28th February 2020
  #20
Gear Guru
 
Muser's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dohreetoh View Post
It's actually just his lunchbox.
He could be distracting his pet mouse from eating his samiches, I guess.
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