Please click your language flag. Bitte Sprachflagge klicken.

British Army Equipment Designations

Jürgen Stichling Ernst Erb Bernhard Nagel 
Please click the blue info button to read more about this page.
Forum » Commercial sets (incl. valve testers) » Military equipment 1930 and later » British Army Equipment Designations
Martin Bösch
Martin Bösch
CH  Articles: 560
Schem.: 104
Pict.: 2263
17.Sep.11 21:47

Count of Thanks: 28
Reply  |  You aren't logged in. (Guest)   1

In the forthcoming time, I will try to enter some British Army equipment in our database here at

Many British Army transceivers carry a designation like "Wireless Set.". Very much in depth information on all of these sets can be found in the excellent books of Louis Meulstee, who did write four books about British Army communications equipment.

Most of my knowledge about British sets do originate from studying his excellent books, I only have a small number of Wireless Sets in my collection, one of the most famous ist the "Wireless Set No. 19" which was sold as surplus after the war and was used by many radio amateurs.

Very early nomenclature
Shortly after World War I, did not only a carry a designation derived from the input power but got a letter code, starting from A used for sets used from forward troops very near the frontline, with ascending letters for equipment used further "behind".
Mobile stations got a prefix letter "M".

Nomenclature of Wireless sets 1929 - 1948
In 1929, six sets with different communication ranges habe been introduced, from No. 1 Set for short range communication to No. 6 set for world wide range.

After 1930, the last figure of the Wireless Set nomenclature indicated this same communications range or purpose, later designs of sets with the same purpose got a second number as a prefix in ascending order, e.g. 19, 29, ...
New sets under development got an letter "X" in front of the future designation.

Wireless Set Designations 1929 - 1948
Type of Set Designation Later Designs
Short range Brigade, Artillery/GP No. 1 11, 21, etc.
Short range Division / GP No. 2 12, 22, 62, etc.
Medium Range Corps, mobile set No. 3 23, 33, 43, etc.
Long range transportable GHQ / Base set No. 5 15

Long range transportable Army chain

later: special types

No. 6

No. 26


36, 46, 76, etc.

Interim AFV (armoured fighting vehicle) set

later: special types

No. 7

No. 17


27, 37, 47, etc.

Infantry battalion manpack set No. 8 18, 28, 38, etc.
AFV set (armoured fighting vehicle) No. 9 19, 29, 49, etc.
Local control set for AFVs (armoured fighting vehicles) No. 14 24, 34
Jamming set No. 16 56
UHF sets with optical paths No. 10 20

Canadian sets designed and manufactured in Canada not having an exact British equivalent got a designation with a prefix C.

Australian sets linked with British models usually got a designation with a 100 - prefix, e.g. Wireless Set 101 instead of 1.

Nomenclature after 1948
After the count of "Wireless sets" reached a number of 88, a new nomenclature has been introduced in 1948 consisting of a letter (indicating the power input) and a number indicating the frequency range.

For in depth informations, go and get a copy of the Meulstee books,
hope that helps
Martin Boesch

Iain Moffat
GB  Articles: 1
Pict.: 0
29.Sep.18 12:12

Count of Thanks: 2
Reply  |  You aren't logged in. (Guest)   2

To continue this topic after 1950, there have been two schemes used 

1950s and "Larkspur" system until 1980s

Firstly from around 1950 until 1976 new sets had one letter and two numbers. The letter indicated power and the two numbers indicated frequency range. The letter increases with power. I do not remember the power limits for each range but "A" sets were generally portable under 5W, "B" sets were generally small mobile sets in the 10-20W range, "C" sets were larger mobiles around 20-50W and the "D" sets were large truckmounted sets well over 100W.  Numbers  below 30 are HF and numbers above 30 are VHF. 

For example A16 was a small HF patrol set, B47 was a low power VHF mobile, and C12 was a modernised Wireless Set 19. 

Sets with a separate receiver used an A/B/C/D designation for the transmitter and an R number for the receiver continuing the WW2 series. For example C11/R210 for the largest transportable HF station and D11/R234 was a Marconi marine set installed in a 4x4 truck. 

1976 onwards NATO standard

After 1976 the Clansman and Bowman ranges of sets have used American style numbering starting UK/PRC for portable and handheld sets and UK/VRC for mobile and fixed stations followed by a number in the 300-399 range. A few older sets that continued in use past 1980 were renumbered by adding 300 to the original type number (so Station Radio A16 became UK/PRC-316), and the future UK/PRC-320 was first mentioned as B20. The Clansman range and associated sets were: 

UK/PRC-316       4W CW/AM patrol set ex A16 by STC in service 1965 to early 1980s

UK/PRC-319       40W CW/AM/SSB/Data heavy manpack by M.E.L. used by UK Specisal forces from 1989

UK/PRC-320       30W CW/AM/SSB HF manpack by Plessey issued 1976 

UK/VRC-321       45W CW/AM/SSB HF fixed/mobile by M.E.L. issued 1976 

UK/VRC-322       250W CW/AM/SSB/RTTY HF fixed/mobile by M.E.L. issued 1976 

UK/PRC-344       UHF AM airband ground to air set by Plessey    

UK/PRC-349       VHF FM 36-46MHz 250mW near-handheld by Racal issued late 1970s

UK/PRC-350       VHF FM 30-56MHz 2W light manpack by Racal issued 1976 

UK/PRC-351       VHF FM 30-76MHz 4W manpack by Racal issued 1976 

UK/PRC-352       UK/PRC-352 with 20W (nominal) 30W (in real use) amplifier 

UK/VRC-353        VHF FM 30-76MHz 50W fixed/mobile set by Marconi

From 2007 onwards these sets were replaced by the "Bowman" range which use spare numbers in the UK/VRC-3xx range

 I hope this helps 


73 de G0OZS


This article was edited 29.Sep.18 12:13 by Iain Moffat .