Tag Archives: Cold War Radio

Soviet Era Radio: Dennis reviews the Shoroh R-326 receiver

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Kalinichenko, who shares the following review:

The Shoroh R-326 military radio

by Dennis Kalinichenko

I believe the piece of Soviet military equipment I recently bought to my collection would be interesting to all readers and contributors.

This is the R-326 “Shoroh” (“Rustle”) general coverage military tube shortwave radio receiver. These were produced decades ago, back in 1963. These portable receivers were in active military use in the Soviet Army until the early 2000s, when the R-326 was finally discontinued . Today, this set is no more a spy secret, but a great collector’s item and also a good receiver for home use.

My set cost me about $150 US, which is rather expensive for this radio. The R-326 was plentiful in the local market in 90-s, right after the fall of the Soviet Union, very cheap and popular between radio amateurs, but nowadays this radio has become more and more rare, so the price rises up.

My R-326 arrived from Khabarovsk city, the Russian Far East, where, I believe, for many years it was on duty in some of the Soviet radio intelligence and defense forces division.
The set includes the radio itself, original military 100 ohm headphones, original rectifier box for 2,5 V output, 12 meter long wire antenna on a reel, the 1,5 meter famous “Kulikov” mini-whip antenna, the isolator for placing it on top of the radio and some minor accessories.

Originally, the R-326 radio came with two batteries–1,25 V each–for field use, but mine are totally drained and need to be serviced, so I haven’t used them so far.

The radio is a light-weight, only 33 lbs, which is a real minimum for Soviet military equipment–the famous R-250 radio’s weight is up to 220 lbs–so, in comparison, this unit is really portable. You can easily put it in your car using the attached leather handle and take it with you on a weekend trip. No other military radio can be so “travel-friendly”; this is one of the reasons it was so popular in the ham radio and SWL communities.

The case is made out of steel and looks so solid you may want to use it as a nutcracker. And you can! In no way could you harm the box constructed to resist nuclear attacks. It is waterproof and sealed–so I can be confident that no previous owner has ever tried to solder something in the guts.

The radio is a super heterodyne containing 19 (!) special mini tubes and covering 6 SW bands, from 1 to 20 MHz. It works in both AM and SSB (CW) modes, having an on-board adjustable bandwidth control from 300 Hz to 6 kHz.

On the front panel, there are two scales: one is rough/coarse, and above is the precise one, a so-called photoscale, which may be adjusted to match real radio-frequency using the four screws near the sun protection visor. With this scale, you don’t actually need a digital readout. It also has a BFO control with a zero setting, adjustable AGC levels for AM and CW, and adjusting screw for matching the antenna input, as marked for 12 m long wire, 1,5 m and 4 m whip.

The radio has no built-in speaker. Instead, there are two output sockets on the front panel, for 100 ohm headphones and 600 ohm line-out.

The power consumption is very low for s tube radio, the rig needs only 1,4 A at 2.5 volts DC (including the lightscale). I use the original power transformer (transistor rectifier) and therefore switch the unit into the 220 AC outlet.

The sensitivity of the radio is extremely high and equals some modern transceivers. The selectivity is also impressive. No doubt it was really great for 1960s. But there’s negative side as well: the radio easily overloads even from the outdoor long wire antennas. The best fit is the “Kulikov” mini-whip that you can see in the photos.

When you switch on the radio, you hear noise, the level of which seems high, so you lower the volume down. Yes, the radio is sensitive and a bit noisy. But thanks to the tubes it sounds really amazing in the headphones. The SSB ham operator’s voice is warm and very clear.
The tuning is very smooth, being actually 2-speed: outer wheel is for fast tuning, inner wheel for precise tune.

It’s absolutely obvious that nowadays a simple Degen or Tecsun may be more useful than this old and heavy unit with big and tough knobs and switches. But what a pleasure sitting in front of this perfect tube radio at night, with the headphones on, turning the huge tuning wheels, looking into the moving dim scale, listening into distant voices and rustles, feeling yourself a Cold War times operator near the rig.

Isn’t this experience priceless?

Indeed the experience is priceless, Dennis! Better yet, your R-326 now has an owner that will keep it in working order and enjoy it on a regular basis. I personally believe keeping these vintage rigs on the air is one way to preserve, and experience first hand, a little of our collective radio history.

Thank you so much for sharing your review and excellent photos of the R-326!

Post readers: If, like Dennis, you have a vintage radio you would like to showcase/review here on the SWLing Post, please consider submitting your story and photos. Being a huge fan of vintage radio, I truly enjoy reading through and publishing your reviews.  I know many other readers feel the same!

Paul remembers the FLR-9 “Elephant Cage” in Misawa Japan

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul, who writes:

I was a morse intercept operator in the USAF in the late 1960s. I have a nice picture of a FLR-9 at Misawa Japan (now gone I think):

I was at Misawa from 68-70 in the USAF Security Service. I copied high speed code, mostly cut numbers. Got my ham license after discharge. I had 3 R390 receivers at my “position” and numerous different “antennas” on the FLR-9 to listen in different directions. While there I received a commendation for: “Providing information that otherwise would not have been known” I’m not sure I can say any more details.

To me [this photo] shows the immensity of the antenna.
Thanks.
Paul

Yes–this antenna is enormous! It must be a site to see up close. I’ve only seen Wullenweber Antennas from satellite imagery. Thank you so much for sharing your photo!

Click here to read previous posts about “Elephant Cages.”

Cold War radio treasure trove: The CIA Freedom of Information Act Reading room

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alexander (DL4NO), who writes:

I just found a German reference to the CIA Freedom of Information Act Reading room

https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/

As a first test I searched for “radio design”. A few of the documents found:

  • ACTIVITIES OF AMATEUR RADIO DESIGNERS
  • JPRS ID: 8744 TRANSLATION ELECTROMAGNETIC SHIELDING DESIGN FOR RADIO-ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT
  • DOSO INSTRUCTION FOR AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS; BULGARIAN RADIO EQUIPMENT PRODUCTION
  • AIRCRAFT RADIO COMMUNICATIONS IN THE USSR

This could be an amazing source, especially of historical information from the Eastern Block. But expect any search to be real work: Only the title and some classification of the documents are searchable. The rest is scanned documents.

Very cool–thanks for sharing, Alexander. I spent a little time this morning browsing the results using various radio-related search strings. It is a very deep archive.

Click here to search the CIA reading room.

Radio Free Europe and Christmas

1951 RFE Christmas card

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cummings, who shares the 1951 Radio Free Europe Christmas card above.

Richard also notes that he recently published a two-part series on RFE and Christmas on his blog, Cold War Radio Vignettes.

Both excellent reads! Thanks, Richard!

RFE and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution (Part 2)

HalliDial

Many thanks to Richard Cummings of the website, Cold War Radio Vignettes, who writes:

[F]or your weekend reading pleasure, Part Two, in which I briefly examine the background to and excerpts from the RFE controversial broadcasts:

https://coldwarradios.blogspot.de/2016/08/radio-free-europe-and-1956-hungarian_5.html

Many thanks for sharing, Richard!