U.S. Army Model AN/GRR-5 Shortwave Receiver (1959)

     

        

     

Affectionately known as the "Angry 5," the AN/GRR-5 compact mobile shortwave receiver was used widely in the United States military during the 1950s and 1960s. It consists of two chassis: the model R-174/URR receiver and model PP-308/URR power supply. The two-compartment cabinet has the model number CY-615/URR. Here is the complete radio as normally seen, with the two chassis inside the cabinet.

The next photo shows the radio's controls. The receiver chassis sits above the power supply chassis, which also contains the speaker. In the center of the receiver is the large circular tuning knob, which can be moved to preset frequencies by pulling out the smaller center knob.

This radio covers 1.5 Mhz - 18 Mhz in four bands. The smallish tuning dial is located above and left of the tuning knob. On the left are large connectors for antenna and ground, the RF gain knob, and the four-position bandswitch. The antenna trimmer knob lies left and below the tuning knobs.

At upper right is a Monitoring Input connector with removable cap. To its left is a four-position mode switch (PHN, CW, NET, CAL). Just below are two Phones connectors, also with removable caps. The BFO and AF Gain knobs are located at lower right, and nestled between them is a two-position output switch (LO/HI).

In the center of the lower power chassis is the rugged little speaker grille. To its left are two jacks with removable caps. The upper one is for connecting a dry battery cable; the lower one is a container for spare fuses. The fuse caps themselves are located in a row along the bottom.

At upper right is the Power Input jack for connecting an AC or non-battery DC power source. To its left is the speaker on/off switch, and below it is the main power switch. Left of that is the four-position Power Selector, with positions for 6V, 12V, 24V, and Dry Battery. A legend on the front panel notes that changeover to AC power is automatic.

The next photo shows the cabinet with both chassis removed. A thick rubber-coated cable connects both chassis when they are installed.

Heavy spring-loaded clips on each side hold the chassis securely in each cabinet. Be careful to keep your fingertips out of the way when releasing these clips. They can bruise your finger as hard as a powerful rattrap.

First Impressions

I bought this receiver at an auction of radio goods in Kennewick, Washington, in October, 2001. My winning bid was a whopping $26—a good price, in my view.

I wasn't familiar with this receiver (or any military receivers, for that matter). The frequencies shown in the tuning dial indicated that it was a general-coverage set, however, so I figured it was worth a try.

After ordering a copy of the manual, I fashioned a temporary power cord, connected an antenna, then slowly powered up the set using a variac. I was pleased to discover that it worked well on all bands. With only a short random-length antenna strung on the ceiling of my workshop, it pulled in plenty of shortwave stations as well as the standard broadcast band.

Not wishing to press my luck, I powered it down until I could check out its old capacitors and other power-supply components.

The manual that I had at the time was published by the Southeastern Signal School in Fort Gordon, Georgia. Running to about 20 pages, it includes only the block and schematic diagrams.

The 129-page military manual is much more detailed. You can download it from this link: AN/GRR-5 Military Service Manual. The document is a 27-megabyte PDF-format file, so if you have a slow dial-up connection, please be patient.

Electronics

The AN/GRR-5 has been described as a "Zenith TransOceanic on steroids," which is not too far from the truth. Both radios are high-quality multi-band portables, which use low-voltage miniature tubes. Here is the tube lineup for the Angry 5.

Tube Type Function
V1 1L4 1st RF amplifier
V2 1L4 2nd RF amplifier
V3 1R5 Converter
V4 1L4 1st IF amplifier
V5 1R5 2nd IF amplifier/Cal.osc.
V6 1U5 Detector/AVC/AF amplifier
V7 1R5 Low AF amplifier/BFO
V8 3V4 High AF amplfier

With two stages of amplification in the RF and IF stages, you would expect excellent sensitivity from this receiver, and it doesn't disappoint. The audio section can't compete with the push-pull audio offered by, say, a TransOceanic 8G005, but given this radio's mission, luscious sound quality must have been a lower priority than sensitivity and rock-solid stability.

The AN/GRR-5 also includes "boatanchor" features which are lacking in the consumer-oriented TransOceanic. These include BFO, an antenna trimmer, and calibration, as well as a clever system for automatic tuning to a number of preset frequencies.

Designed for service in the field, the AN/GRR-5 is built to rugged standards. The next photo gives a view of the top of the receiver chassis.

From this view, you can see part of the husky gear-driven tuning mechanism near the chassis front. Note the golden appearance of some components. This is weatherproofing varnish, applied to prevent fungus growth and moisture damage in humid climates.

The next photo shows the receiver chassis underside. Notice the ceramic forms in the bandswitch, an indicator of the highest quality. I have no idea what this radio must have cost Uncle Sam when new, but it couldn't have been cheap!

Packed with transformers and other heavy components, the power supply chassis accounts for a good chunk of the AN/GRR-5's total weight. It employs four tubes and a vibrator for the filament supply.

Tube Type Function
V101 6AG7 B+ voltage regulator
V102 CK1007 High voltage rectifier
V103 0B2 Reference voltage regulator
V104 6AG7 Filament voltage regulator

Below is a photo of the power supply chassis top.

The husky speaker frame is visible near bottom center of that photo. A note on the power supply advises you to loosen the spare fuse cap to prevent distortion from the speaker. The AN/GRR-5 is well sealed against the elements. Some folks claim it will actually float if thrown into a lake!

The next photo shows the underside of the power chassis. You can see a fat "Black Beauty" capacitor near right center. It's the only one that I noticed on first inspection. You can be sure that I'll replace that unreliable capacitor before using the radio any further. (See Replacing Capacitors in Old Radios.)

This radio's power supply is much more complex than what you'll find in a consumer-grade radio. Firstly, the radio accepts four different power inputs: 110-volt AC, or DC in 6, 12, or 24 volts. Secondly, the supply offers a level of regulation (and hence, operating stability) usually found only in high-end communication receivers.

If you are looking for AN/GRR-5 accessories or parts, such as a whip antenna or power supply connector, try contacting Fair Radio, a military surplus supplier.

Final Thoughts

This radio is currently waiting its turn for restoration. Although it plays pretty well, its copper oxide rectifier is known to be unreliable, and I will at least check, if not replace, its electrolytic capacitors as well any paper or plastic capacitors.

I haven't quite figured out where to keep the radio once it has been restored. It wouldn't quite go with the decor in most parts of our house. In the meantime, however, it adds a little macho to the radio shelves in my workshop!

Here are some contributions from fellow AN/GRR-5 owners who visited this page.

First, here's a 1954 photo of Jim Jones on duty in his Army unit's communication station in Germany. The AN/GRR-5 is at upper right in that stack of equipment.

Here are Jim's comments on how the AN/GRR-5 was used in service.

Great receiver. We used it, in addition to its regular duties,
as a receiver for our ham station with a homebrew transceiver.

Notice the AN/GRC-9 next to the 5. We used these in the First
Infantry Division Artillery net. This was a CW net and I spent
eight hours a day, seven days a week operating the station.
When I got out of the army in 1955, I did not want to hear 
another dit or da again, but I relented and got my ticket a
few years later.

The division artillery net was a 24 hour communication net 
that was our main means of contact with division headquarters.
Every half hour, the headquarters station would call the net
to make sure everything was OK. It was all in Morse code;
divarty would send "QRU QRU?" which meant "I have nothing for
you, do you have anything for me" and we would reply "QRU".

After each communication we then called the Officer of the 
Day and informed him "Communication OK, Sir." This was done
whether we were on post or in the field.

Jim Jones
NG9E

Here are some comments from Berj Ensanian:

My opinion on this radio: I'd trade a hundred R-390As
for one good AN/GRR-5. I used to know a lot about 390s
(had so many of them back in the old days I once built 
one from just spare parts starting with the bare sheet 
metal panel), so I'm serious. Here's why: the AN/GRR-5
is an excellent HF receiver designed to operate anywhere
from the desert to the arctic, from just about any 
easily obtained power (and not much at that), with any
old wire that can be quickly clipped on, dials glow in
the dark, floats if the cork is still good, is its own
great speaker cabinet, very easily repaired/maintained/
emergency-modified, EMP-proof, can serve as a chair, etc.
So, if/when the planet's affairs crash, and all the 
390s cease being shack furnaces, the sweet little 
AN/GRR-5s will be hard-to-beat survival receivers.

Here's a photo of Y.A. Feder's AN/GRR-5 installed in his 1963 3/4-ton Land Rover.

Now, that's one heck of a car radio!

Finally, here is Chris Jones' AN/GRR-5 mounted in the back of his WWII Willys Jeep.

You can see more photos of Chris's jeep and his "Angry 5" at his photo pages 1 and 2.

If anyone else has comments or photos of an AN/GRR-5 in action, send me an email. Maybe your Angry 5 can appear here, too!

©1995-2014 Philip I. Nelson, all rights reserved