The history of the SCR-274-N dates back to projects in the late 1920s and early 30s at Aircraft Radio Corporation, a subsidiary of Radio Frequency Labs of Boonton, NJ, a company formed in 1922. According to the History of Boonton:
"In the 1920's, the burgeoning radio industry created a large demand for molded parts, and, thereby, attracted the attention of Richard W. Seabury, who organized Radio Frequency Laboratories to exploit that new field. Spawned by that original company, more than a half dozen radio and electronics firms were later formed, and recognized internationally for the excellence of their products. Most of those companies today are operated as divisions of larger corporations, some have undergone changes in name, and have located somewhere else. RFL Industries, Aircraft Radio Corporation, Measurements Corporation, and Ballantine Laboratories are among those contributing materially to the prosperity of the area."
And according to the Boonton Township Official Web Site:
"In January, 1929 a great engineering conference was held at the Flying Field, and the electronic instruments industry came in full force to celebrate the opening and dedication of the new Radio Frequency Laboratories, Inc., its hangar and flying field in the Valley, and its old laboratory in Boonton. Aircraft Radio Corporation had already been incorporated in 1927 as a wholly-owned subsidiary to continue and expand research work initiated by an embryonic RFL in 1922. While his Consolidated trainer plane was hangared at ARC, young Jimmy Doolittle became a familiar personality on the local scene. It was in his plane in September, 1929 that he made his famous "under-the-hood" landing at Mitchel Field, ARC personnel having installed his special ARC receiver and radio gear."
For a current view
of the airport referenced above: Aircraft Radio Corporation Airfield,
The development of
the SCR-274-N is linked to work that Aircraft Radio Corp. did for the
Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA), predecessor to today's FAA, and
airlines in the early 1930s and the development of the Type K radio.
In The Command Set Story
by Gordon Elliot White(2) "... the Type K Command
equipment was first conceived in 1934 ... the creation of Dr.
Frederick H. Drake, chief designer at Aircraft Radio Corporation. He
apparently conceived the idea of independent, miniaturized, modular,
plug-in transmitters and superheterodyne receivers during the winter
of 1934." (Note: One of the first things you will learn when trying to
do research about Aircraft Radio Corporation is that most of the
published information that is documented and many first person
accounts from A.R.C. employees come from one author, Gordon Elliot
White. He is almost single handedly responsible for rescuing all of
the corporate documents that remain from R.F.L. and A.R.C. which he
was eventually able to donate to the National Air & Space Museum. To read his
explanation of how the documents finally got to NASM, look in the
ARC-5 email archives at QTH.NET,
under Select List pulldown: ARC5, Press "1998-2001 Archives" button,
select March 2001, and look for message: [ARC5] my history Sat, 2001
Mar 3 13:52:50 Gordon White <email@example.com>, or look at
my local copy.
It's a hoot; no wonder so much of our history gets lost ... personal
Even though the conception of the radio set that became the SCR-274-N was done in 1934, apparently the design sat on the back burner during 1935-36 with suggestions and advice from the military, but no development funds or contracts. According to White(2) "After 1937, the next five years were spent in testing, improving and selling the set to the military."
It appears that the first production versions of the resulting command set design was for the Navy in 1939 as RAT and RAV, which included receivers going up to frequencies of 27 mc. (See http://aafradio.org/index.html for information about the RAT, including pictures. Click on "Flight Deck", then "The first contract - the RAT".) The SCR-274-N Army Air Corps contract came along about October 1940, the similar Navy ATA/ARA version contract was let in December 1941, and further engineering improvements requested by the Navy resulted in the AN/ARC-5, contracted in 1943.
Aircraft Radio Corporation ceased to exist as a separate corporate entity in 1959 when a stock swap with Cessna Aircraft Corporation made it a wholly owned subsidiary.(6) In 1983 Cessna sold ARC to Sperry (Honeywell) and according to the Sigma-Tek website, "On September 1, 1987, Sigma Tek purchased Aircraft Radio Corporation (ARC) from Honeywell, Inc. Prior to its purchase by Honeywell in late 1983, ARC had been a wholly owned subsidiary of Cessna Aircraft. It is interesting to note that at the time when general aviation was at its highest, ARC was by far our largest customer. Through ARC, we service and support nearly all of the avionics and flight control systems for Cessna Aircraft."
1. Hutchens, Walt KJ4KV. "Electric Radio In Uniform, 'Command' Sets -- Part I", Electric Radio, Number 11, March 1990: 4-7,20-24.
2. White, Gordon Elliot. "The Command Set Story", CQ November 1964: 37-40. (Note: The full text of this document is attached as a PDF file with written permission of Gordon Elliot White and CQ Communications.)
3. White, Gordon Elliot. "Command Sets", CQ October 1965: 34-37.
4. White, Gordon Elliot. "Crystal Controlled Command Sets", CQ October 1965: 43-44.
5. White, Gordon Elliot. "The First and Last Q-5er", 73 Magazine June 1966.
6. White, Gordon Elliot. "Tubes Transistors and Takeovers", AOPA Pilot, June 1984: 111-113.
7. Command Sets, CQ Technical Series No. 106, Cowan Publishing Corp, 1957, Library of Congress 58-59924.8. Ellis, Marc. "Radio Restorations: Firing Up a World War II "Command Set"", Monitoring Times, Vol. 20, No. 10, October 2001; Vol. 20, No. 12, December 2001; Vol. 21, No. 2, February 2002; Vol 21, No. 3, March 2002: 76-77. (Multi-part article, always on same pages.)
9. Hanlon, Jim. "On the Air with the Command Set Triplets", Electric Radio, Number 74, June 1995: 4-9, 39.
10. Hanlon, Jim. "On the Air with the Command Set Transmitters", Electric Radio, Number 75, July 1995: 4-9, 38.
11. Hutchens, Walt KJ4KV. "Electric Radio In Uniform, 'Command' Sets -- Part II", Electric Radio, Number 12, April 1990: 4-7, 26-29.
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