Mobile Wireless Goes To War: 1914

1914ArmyWirelessTruck

The Army Signal Corps truck-mounted wireless, as shown in Popular Mechanics, October, 1914.

A hundred years ago today, May 10, 1914, mobile wireless was about to become a reality for the U.S. Army, as reported in the Washington Herald of that day:

U. S. WIRELESS STATION
IS MOUNTED ON AUTO

Government Rushing Work on New
Portable Apparatus for Signal
Corps in Mexico.

A new wireless station mounted on a mortortruck. which is being constructed with all haste by the [U.S.] government in Mexico, was given a preliminary trial last night in which the operator was In easy communication with Key West and Philadelphia. The machine is to be used by the Signal Corps of the troops in Mexico.

The idea of a wireless station made portable by mounting on a motortruck, is original with the War Department and this machine which soon will be ready for active service is probably the only one of its kind in existence. The machine is constructed on a new design by Signal Corp engineers and has been assembled by the National Electric Company, work continuing In secret night and day.

A new “rapid transmitting panel” containing the latest improved wireless apparatus has been set about midway in a big six-cylinder White auto-truck, which carries in boxes at each side, a jointed portable aerial reaching 85 feet into the air when fully extended. The electric power for the wireless is furnished by the motor of the truck In direct connection with an electric generator, supplying enough current to light the mounted wireless room and run the instruments at their full capacity. The apparatus has a range of 400 to 800 miles in sending, and of nearly 2,500 miles In  receiving. The machine is for service at the army’s general headquarters giving the commander of forces easy communication with a fleet at sea, or with any of the small portable field instruments carried by sections of the Signal Corps.

In recent preliminary trials the machine was subjected to strict tests. As soon as the work reaches a satisfactory stage of completion field tests will be given and the possibilities of the equipment accurately determined. Quick shipment to Mexico will follow.

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