12 December 2017

Early History of the PRC-25 and -77

Very few things in this world are a wholly original idea. So it is with the AN/PRC-77. The PRC-77 is actually a product improved AN/PRC-25, a radio that was revolutionary it its design.

The PRC-25 was introduced in the early 1960's and was the right radio at the right time. In 1965 General Creighton Abrams called the PRC-25 "The most important tactical item in Vietnam today". More important than the M-16 rifle, more important than the UH-1 'Huey' helicopter. In fact, it was the light weight, rugged design, ease of use and wide fielding of the PRC-25 that allowed the US Army to successfully implement the new tactic of vertical envelopment by helicopter. Vertical envelopment requires close communication between ground and aviation elements, and the PRC-25 filled this role perfectly.

The early history of both the PRC-25 and PRC-77 is not well known. The PRC-25 and -77 series radios were the most widely produced military communications systems ever fielded (estimates are that over a half million units were eventually produced in the US alone) and the PRC-77 is still in use with militaries around the world. They are also immensely popular with collectors. But the history of these radios, particularly the developmental history, is a bit foggy.

Back in 1999, Mr. Dennis Starks, a military radio collector and former editor of the Military Collector Group Post, put together an article that was, and remains, the the most comprehensive history of the PRC-25 & -77 series radios. The article, titled 'PRC-25, Forgotten Legend', was published on-line and is still referenced as a link from a number of collector and military history websites. Sadly, the hosting site Mr. Starks used was closed down several years ago and since then his article existed only as partial extracts on various discussion forums.

In December 2017 I was able to contact Mr. Starks and obtain an original copy of his article. With his permission I edited the article and re-created it as a PDF document. The article is a great read, with lots of important information on the early design and fielding of the PRC-25 and -77 radios. It is an important historical and collector's resource and it deserves a wider audience. Towards that end I have added a link to 'PRC-25, Forgotten Legend' (as a PDF) in the 'Links' section of this blog.

PRC-25, Forgotten Legend by Dennis Starks


W8BYH out

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