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Author Topic: 10 meters and WWII Wehrmacht Panzers in North Africa  (Read 10369 times)
K3ANG
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Posts: 177




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« on: July 05, 2012, 09:54:37 PM »

I heard this story almost immediately after I got my ham license (1977).  The story is there was a huge skip on 10 meters that enabled hams in the US (maybe other countries, too?) to listen in on Rommel's command cars when he was running rampant in North Africa.  It seems the transmitters in the command cars were built to transmit in part of the 10 meter band. The US hams who happened to be listening to 10 (they couldn't transmit due to war regulations) started hearing German in part of the band.  Those that understood the language I'm sure told the US military about what was going on, IF this event did happen.

Is there any way to prove/disprove this?  I'm hoping there is documentation to prove it.  Or it's an early urban legend.

73
Greg K3ANG
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K3ANG
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Posts: 177




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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2012, 10:21:13 PM »

Pictures of the equipment here
http://www.omgmod.org/wiki/index.php/SdKfz_223_Scout_Car
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwerer_Panzersp%C3%A4hwagen
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W5FYI
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Posts: 1044




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« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2012, 12:05:51 AM »

I remember that story, too. The version I heard was that a farmer-ham heard the foreign-talk on his receiver, didn't know it was German, bud did know that hams were under radio silence during the war.

I suppose you could ask the editor of the QCWA Journal to query his readers about the veracity of the story. The Quarter Century Wireless Association's web site it www.qcwa.org, and its general manager is Jim LaPorta, N1CC, n1cc(at)qcwa-hq.com.
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AC3P
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Posts: 20




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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2012, 05:40:37 AM »

I am of the opinion that it is true. After all I heard it from WA3NCQ(SK). Jim had the uniforms to prove it.  Grin
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K0OD
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Posts: 2520




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« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2012, 08:01:04 AM »

Why would this be newsworthy?

U.S. military and allies surely had plenty of listening posts in Free French outposts in Africa, on ships, in Russia, the Middle East  and elsewhere nearby, especially England and its many African colonies. Many non-ham AM radios in the late 1930s had shortwave capability (although rarely extending to 10-meters). Sunspot numbers were low during WW2. It wasn't hard to find Rommel's army and tanks in the North African desert.

There were some great stories of stateside hams helping the war effort. My favorite is of the ham who lived overlooking the Brooklyn Navy Yard and heard some Morse interference coming from within his apartment building. Turned out the code was from a German spy down the hall who was sending ship positions back home.  The spy was done in by his RFI! That story was in QST about a decade ago.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2012, 08:05:32 AM by K0OD » Logged
KA5IPF
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Posts: 974


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« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2012, 08:15:01 AM »

First check the sunspot cycle and see if it were probable. If so then it could have happened.
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G3RZP
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Posts: 4316




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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2012, 02:59:18 PM »

1942 would have been about the bottom of the sunspot cycle.

There were many listeners in the UK. Hams who were unfit for active service by virtue of age or health, marine radio ops who were retired and the like, all copying stuff and sending it to P.O.Box 25, Barnet, from where it went to a unit in Wormwood Scrubs prison for inital sorting and then the real interesting stuff went to Bletchley Park. This was the Radio Security Service, initially set up to catch spies. My father (G8ON) did that until he was called up for service in the RAF, and again after he was invalided out. They were issued HROs: father's last one had, unusually, a vernier scale fitted so you can log to 0.1 of a division. That didn't go back when the HRO did, and neither did the issued headphones - the scale graces my rebuilt HRO.

Had the great advantage that there was a pool of operators who could read Morse and didn't need training, used people who otherwise couldn't be used and freed other ops for the services.  Must have been one of the few occasions when the government and military between them showed sense!
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K0OD
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« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2012, 07:24:54 PM »

Sunspot cycle chart. Looks more like 1944 was about the bottom. Not a good year for Rommel either!
http://pmcooke.com/images/Sunspot%20Numbers%20Chart%201900-1995.jpg

Info on German tank radios suggests that most used low frequencies, or very low, which should be more secure than the 10 meter band.

http://www.armyradio.co.uk/arsc/customer/pages.php?pageurl=/publish/Articles/William_Howard_German/German_Tank_Radios.htm

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K8AXW
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Posts: 3593




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« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2012, 07:27:28 PM »

The Sun Spot Cycle 18 during 1944 was one of the highest recorded.  I had the pleasure of operating from Germany in 1956 which was during Sun Spot Cycle 19, which was the highest ever recorded.

During SPC 19, I worked low power mobile AM stations on 20 & 10m as a matter of course.  

So to answer the question, yes it would have been very possible for someone in the States to hear German Panzers in Africa!

Al - K8AXW
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K8AXW
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2012, 07:30:11 PM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_solar_cycles

K8AXW
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G3RZP
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Posts: 4316




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« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2012, 03:16:21 AM »

The sunspot max was about '46. The IGY was at sunspot max in '57 - that was a time when 10 meters was open all night on the North Atlantic. 10m DX was best in about 48 - it always in my experience tends to  be better overall but more consistent on the down side rather than the upside.
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K0OD
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Posts: 2520




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« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2012, 05:07:09 AM »

IGY= International Geophysical Year which straddled 1957 and 1958. Remember lots of stations with IGY suffixes then and even a few years later. 

I was getting on the air then and chasing DX but I have no recollection of ten being open all night. But my NC-88 was nearly deaf on ten and I used dipoles. 
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G3RZP
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Posts: 4316




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« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2012, 07:11:42 AM »

My father was so amazed that several times, he stayed up until 0230 working 10. It happened over a short period - about two weeks as I recall. He normally said that he'd work DX in office hours only!
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N5RWJ
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Posts: 461




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« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2012, 09:05:51 AM »

Its true, the desert group use 10 meters radio in all tanks.
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G3RZP
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Posts: 4316




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« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2012, 02:04:34 PM »

The US used frequencies in the 25 - 30 Mc/s range for short range comms. I was told - dunno how true - that the MPs used those frequencies a lot.

Is it true that the MPs were the most unpopular guys in the Army?
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