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British Mk301 clandestine radio

Article about: It's a bit difficult to know exactly where to pace this topic, as there is no specific forum for this kind of equipment that I can see... I have just acquired a Cold War period clandestine r

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    Default British Mk301 clandestine radio

    It's a bit difficult to know exactly where to place this topic, as there is no specific forum for this kind of equipment that I can see...

    I have just acquired a Cold War period clandestine radio receiver which was specifically built for use by 'stay behind' units in Western Europe. This was actually my very last purchase of 2018... I bought it on December 31st, but it only arrived today. The radio is a Mk301 receiver from circa 1954, and it is believed that only about 800 of these were built. The SAS and SBS units reputedly also used these tiny pocket radio's, but they were only built for receiving instructions or monitoring Eastern Bloc radio's.


    British Mk301 clandestine radioBritish Mk301 clandestine radioBritish Mk301 clandestine radioBritish Mk301 clandestine radio


    The set itself measured just short of 7 inches long by about 3.5 inches wide. The accessory box which carried the antenna, earphones, and power leads is roughly the same size as the radio. A plug-in coil pack was designed to supply four separate bands, and by simply changing the position of the coil the operator could select the desired band. The accessory box also doubled up as a battery box, and on the inside of the lid is a list of all the frequencies covered. Power was supplied by a 67.5 volt battery or 100 - 240 volt mains supply. The wire antenna supplied with the radio is 55 feet in length, and needs to be deployed for its full length for optimum reception.

    During the 1950's and 60's, the Western powers set up a network of 'stay behind' armed covert cells trained in the art of resistance, assassination, and disinformation. In the event of an invasion of the West by the Soviet Bloc they would start their armed resistance. British operatives were controlled by the secret communications centre of 'Hanslope Park' in Milton Keynes. One of these radio's was auctioned off in 2017 by well-known auctioneer 'Bonham's'. The guide price was 900 - 1400, and that example was missing it's accessory box with antenna & earphones. Two more appeared on eBay last year, one being sold by our old friend 'Vongold.' That one was also missing its accessory box and plug-in coil pack - along with missing screws from the casing... and that still made 300. Another appeared a few months later, and again the accessory box and contents was missing, and that made 400. The last picture is of the communications centre at Hanslope Park. Click on pictures to enlarge.


    British Mk301 clandestine radioBritish Mk301 clandestine radioBritish Mk301 clandestine radioBritish Mk301 clandestine radioBritish Mk301 clandestine radio
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

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    Really interesting. I think it would of been a pretty scary task to be a resistance fighter under soviet occupation.

    Was there any estimates to how many were made?
    I feel this is the sorta of kit that would of gotten destroyed once it was no longer needed. Not sure why though.

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    Quote by Jb4046 View Post
    Really interesting. I think it would of been a pretty scary task to be a resistance fighter under soviet occupation.

    Was there any estimates to how many were made?
    I feel this is the sorta of kit that would of gotten destroyed once it was no longer needed. Not sure why though.
    About 800 units were produced in total. They were eventually withdrawn from use around 1970, and those that were left were purchased by amateur radio enthusiasts from the usual ex-military shops that used to flourish in the 1970's. Being a radio amateur myself (callsign M1DAY & M0CRN), I can guess what happened to most of them, they would have been cannibalised for parts in 'home-brew' projects. Others which were faulty, would have been scrapped by MoD. So it is anybody's guess how many have survived. But of the four that have been offered for sale in recent years, the example I have is the only complete radio.

    Cheers,
    Steve.
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

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    Wow what a lucky bugger you are Steve, 1 of only 800 ever produced. That sure is a very interesting piece of cold war history, i wonder just how sought after these will be in the future?

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    Quote by Gunny Hartmann View Post
    Wow what a lucky bugger you are Steve, 1 of only 800 ever produced. That sure is a very interesting piece of cold war history, i wonder just how sought after these will be in the future?
    Well... I won't be looking for one.

    On a serious note though, anything connected to clandestine operations, special forces, and spy networks, has ALWAYS been highly prized amongst collectors, and there is only one way that prices are going to go.

    Cheers,
    Steve
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

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    Is it made by the Marconi company?

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    Dear Broad Sword, a REALLY interesting and beautifully photographed / presented (no camo net, mess, cats etc)....museum quality all round - thank you for making such an effort and showing us that respect.

    Mate, it's the most interesting small grey box I've come across. Thank you and well done.

    Respectfully yours,

    Danny Boy.

    PS how's things going re your search for Napoleon Solo's pen?

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    Quote by Anderson View Post
    Is it made by the Marconi company?
    The only information that I can find out is that it was designed by S. G. Hart when working for HMGCC at Borehamwood. It was a replacement for the MCR-1 'biscuit-tin' radio used by SOE and OSS. As you would expect, there is no makers name attached to equipment destined for clandestine use. Some may question 'why no transmitter?' But portable transmitters are easily located by listening stations, just two bearings are needed to plot the position of the radio. The sets received both voice and CW (morse), and would have been used to receive instructions from the controllers, I suppose the assumption at GCHQ would have to be that the units were still active with them being unable to report back.

    Composite... Ad***n, with me still being bound by the official Secrets Act, I am not allowed to tell you of the secret messages I am receiving in relation to the proposed military coup... code name 'Operation Brexit'. With regard to Napoleon Solo's pen, it is a bit too modern for my tastes in covert equipment, although I still remain a fully paid-up member of 'United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.'
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

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    ...when THE day comes my friend........

    oh, and I'll keep my Channel D open for you......ooooo-errrrrr! (about 80% of members won't have a clue!)

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