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Radione R3
Portable shortwave receiver

Radione R3 was a military shortwave receiver in a civil enclosure, developed and manufactured in 1941 by Radio Nikolaus Eltz in Wien (Vienna, Austria). It was used during World War II (WWII) by the German Army (Wehrmacht), Navy (Kriegsmarine) and the Intelligence Service (Abwehr). For this reason it is listed here as a spy radio set. It was often used in combination with the RS-20M transmitter, but also as a standalone receiver, for example with the Abwehr S-87/20 transmitter.

The R3 covers the short wave frequency range of 2.5 - 25.7 MHz (12 - 120 metres). It is suitable for receiving AM and CW (morse) signals. It has a sensitivity of 5-10 µV for AM and 1-2 µV for CW.

The radio is housed in an aluminium enclosure that is very similar to that of the civil Radione R2 (from 1939) on which it is based. It is built with 6 thermionic valves 1 (vacuum tubes). Unlike the R2 – which has 5 valves – the R3 has a built-in Beat Frequency Oscillator (BFO) for reception of CW signals. The space for the extra EBC11 valve had already been reserved on the R2's chassis.
  
Radione R3 with headphones

The R3 was available in a number of power variants. The one shown here has a built-in mains transformer that is suitable for 120, 150, 190 and 220V AC, using a special power plug that can be inserted in four different ways. It can also be powered by a 24V DC source, such as the battery of a truck. Other variants were available for 6V or 12V DC. The voltages were usually impressed in the leather carrying grip on top of the device. Unlike other Radione receivers, production of the R3 was discontinued at the end of WWII, which is why it has since become a rare collectors item.

  1. Steel valves. German: Stahlröhren.

Transport case  Transport case with Radione R3 in stowed position Radione R3 with headphones Radione R3 receiver Rear view Radione R3 with mains power cable and headphones Bottom Headphones
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Transport case
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 Transport case with Radione R3 in stowed position
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Radione R3 with headphones
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Radione R3 receiver
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Rear view
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Radione R3 with mains power cable and headphones
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Bottom
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Headphones

Controls
The diagram below shows the position of most controls and connections of the R3. A suitable power source should be connected to one of the sockets at the left side (not visible here). The antenna and counterpoise wires are connected to the sockets at the bottom of the right side. If necessary, a pair of headphones can be connected to the 2-pin socket at the right side of the top panel, and the internal speaker can be disabled with a switch at the centre of the top panel.


The radio is suitable for shortwave (SW) frequencies between 2.5 and 25.7 MHz, divided over three bands, selectable with the band selector at the top. Each band has been assigned a colour that corresponds with the colours on the frequency scale. The desired frequency can be adjusted with the knob at the bottom right. An extra scale (just above the knob) is available for fine tuning.

Front Leather grip with impressed voltages Power ON/OFF Speaker ON/OFF, frequency adjustment (below plate) and band selector. Band selector Band selector and headphones socket Frequency scale Volume control and tuning knob
Power sockets Mains power socket open Mains power cable connected (220V selected) Antenna and ground sockets Antenna and counterpoise connected Marine acceptance stamp of 2 March 1944 Accessory compartment at the rear Serial number plate
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Front
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Leather grip with impressed voltages
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Power ON/OFF
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Speaker ON/OFF, frequency adjustment (below plate) and band selector.
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Band selector
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Band selector and headphones socket
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Frequency scale
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Volume control and tuning knob
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Power sockets
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Mains power socket open
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Mains power cable connected (220V selected)
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Antenna and ground sockets
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Antenna and counterpoise connected
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Marine acceptance stamp of 2 March 1944
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Accessory compartment at the rear
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Serial number plate

Known use
The Radione R3 was a universal semi-portable shortwave receiver that was suitable for a wide variety of applications. Here are some examples of its users:

  • Wehrmacht
    During WWII, the German Army (Wehrmacht) used the Radione R3 receiver and the RS-20/M transmitter for mobile installations, for example in bunkers (see below).

  • Kriegsmarine
    The R3 was used by the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) for use aboard small vessels, often in combination with the Radione RS-20/M transmitter, or with the Lorenz Lo40K39f.

  • U-Boat
    The Radione R3 receiver and RS-20/M transmitter were also used by the U-Boat section of the Kriegsmarine for backup purposes, and for troops that were landed ashore for special operations (commandos).  Trivia: The R3 is visible in the movie Das Boot   Wikipedia.

  • Abwehr
    The German Intelligence Service, the Abwehr, used the R-3/RS-20M as a small commando station [1]. The R3 was also used as a stationary receiver in some head-end stations of the Abwehr, commonly in combination with an existing transmitter like the S-87/20 [2].

  • Sicherheitsdienst (SD)
    Another WWII German secret service, the Sicherheitsdienst or SD (security service), also used the Radione R3. Examples are secret agent Richard Kauder (codename: Klatt), who used it in Sofia (Bulgaria), and Franz Mayr, who used it in Tehran (Persia, now: Iran) [4].
Wehrmacht
It is often thought that the Radione Radio Set was only used by the German Navy (Kriegsmarine), but the image below — taken in a wartime bunker — proves that it was also used by the German Army (Wehrmacht). At the far right is the Radione RS-20M transmitter, which is used here in AM mode (phone). To its left is the Radione R3. At the far left is a DR-78 transceiver made by Philips.

Example of a Radione R3 and RS-20M being used in a German Wehrmacht bunker. Image via [3].



Abwehr
Within the German Intelligence Service, the Abwehr, the combination R-3/RS-20M was known as Kleinabwehrstelle (small defense station). It was generally used between 3 MHz and 6.5 MHz for intelligence operations (Abwehrkommandos), mainly in foreign countries behind enemy lines [1].

The R3 was also used as a standalone receiver in some head-end stations (the Funkköpfe) of the Abwehr, commonly with an existing transmitter such as the S-87/20 as shown in the image on the right. [2].

 More about the S87/20
 More about the Abwehr
  
Fixed Abwehr station consisting of S-87/20 transmitter and Radione R3 receiver

Parts
Transport case Radione R3 Headphones Wire antenna AC mains power cable
AC
DC battery power cable
DC
Spare parts Operating instructions
Transport case
The R3 was distributed in a large wooden transport case that measures 45 x 41 x 19 cm and weights over 15 kg, the radio included.

At the front is a lid that is fixed with two hinges at the bottom and a heavy lock at the top. After unlocking the lid, it can be lowered as shown in the image on the right. In order to connect and operate the radio, it has to be removed from its storage position. A similar case was used for the complementary RS-20M transmitter.
  
Transport case with Radione R3 and accessories

Radione R3
The actual Radione R3 is stored in the large compartment at the lower half of the transport case. Rather than operating it standing on the lid of the transport case, it was usually placed on a table or desk, along with a suitable transmitter, whilst the transport case was stowed elsewhere.

The radio measures 350 x 240 x 175 mm and weights approx. 11 kg. It can be operated from the AC mains, or from a suitable DC source.
  
Radione R3 receiver

Headphones
By default, the demodulated audio signal can be heard through the large internal speaker that is located at the left half of the front panel.

Alternatively, a pair of 2500 Ω headphones – such as the Wehrmacht headphones shown in the image on the right – can be connected to the socket at the right of the top surface. When doing this, the internal speaker can be switched off with a toggle switch at the top. The Germany Navy usually had its own type of headphones.
  
Headphones

Antenna
At the bottom of the right side of the radio, are two sockets for connection of the antenna and a suitable counterpoise. The socket for connection of the antenna is recessed.

The image on the right shows the two antenna wires that came with the radio. Each wire as a banana plug at one end.
  
Antenna and counterpoise cables

Mains power cable
The Radione R3 can be powered from the AC mains by means of the special power cable that is shown in the image on the right. The square plug can be entered in four different ways into the power socket at the side, with an arrow indicating the selected voltage.   
Mains power cable

Battery power cable   wanted
Depending on the version, the radio could also be powered by a 6V, 12V or 24V DC power source, such as the battery of a car or boat. The radio featured on this page, is suitable for 24V.

No image available
  

Spare parts
Each R3 receiver can be with a small grey wooden box with spare parts. The box measures 217 x 72 x 169 mm and contains spare fuses, spare valves and a spare vibrator.

The image on the right shows the opened box, from which four valves are currently missing.
  
Spare parts

Manual   wanted
Each radio came with a manual that contained operating instructions, a description of the circuit, and full circuit diagrams for each of the voltage variants. The March 1942 manual is available for download below.

Furthermore, a calibration table (German: Eichtabelle) was supplied with each radio.

No original available

 Download the manual
  

Transport case  Transport case with Radione R3 in stowed position Transport case with Radione R3 and accessories Headphones Headphones Headphones close-up Antenna and counterpoise cables Antenna and counterpoise connected
Mains power cable Mans power plug Mains power cable connected (220V selected) Radione R3 with mains power cable and headphones Spare parts box Spare parts Spare parts Headphones used by the Kriegsmarine [5]
Front page of the Calibration Chart that was supplied with each R3
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Transport case
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 Transport case with Radione R3 in stowed position
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Transport case with Radione R3 and accessories
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Headphones
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Headphones
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Headphones close-up
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Antenna and counterpoise cables
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Antenna and counterpoise connected
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Mains power cable
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Mans power plug
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Mains power cable connected (220V selected)
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Radione R3 with mains power cable and headphones
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Spare parts box
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Spare parts
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Spare parts
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Headphones used by the Kriegsmarine [5]
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Front page of the Calibration Chart that was supplied with each R3

Block diagram
Below is the block diagram of the R3 receiver. The circuit is built around six valves that are shown in blue in the diagram. At the left is the EF11 RF pre-amplifier. It delivers its signal to the ECH11, which is a combined mixer and oscillator. The oscillator is tuned in tandem with the filter circuits of the RF amplifier and the mixer. The output of the mixer is fed to the IF amplifier (EF12) which passes it on to the detector (EBC11), in each case preceeded by a fixed double IF bandpass filter.

Radione R3 block diagram

For reception of CW signals (morse code), the signal of a Beat Frequency Oscillator (BFO) can be injected into the detector. It is built around an EBC11 and can be switched ON when required. The output of the detector is fed to the audio amplifier, which is built around an EDD11 double triode in push-pull configuration. It has a transformer-based output circuit which drives the speaker.





Interior
The R3 is housed inside an aluminium enclosure that is covered in green/grey wrinkle paint. The interior can be accessed easily from the rear, by removing the large bolt at the centre of the rear panel and (carefully) taking the rear panel off. Note that the rear panel may be binding somewhat.

The image on the right shows the interior of the R3, as seen from the rear left, after the rear panel has been removed. Inside the case is a metal frame that holds the larger parts, such as the valves, the filters and the mains transformer.

The image above shows the position of each of the seven (black) valves. Note that the type of each valve is printed on the metal chassis, aside each valve socket. The large rectangular part at the left is the tuning capacitor that consists of three individual capacitors that are operated in tandem. It is controlled from the front panel.
  
Interior

The six shiny square parts are the filters that are situated at the antenna input and between the various stages of the radio. Some of these filters are adjustable. At the bottom right is a fairly heavy mains transformer that is suitable for the most common AC mains voltages in the world.

The radio can also be powered by an external DC power source, such as the battery of a car or truck. Depending on the version, it is suitable for 6V, 12V or 24V DC. The version shown here was made for 24V, which should be connected to the (+) and (-) terminals at the side of the radio.

At the top right is the 24V vibrator pack. It is housed in an cylindrical aluminium enclosure, and converts the DC input into an alternating current (AC) that feeds the mains transformer. The transformer then provides the necessary HT voltages for the valves and for the filaments (LT).
  
Vibrator and PSU

The passive components (resistors, capacitors, coils, etc.) are located at the other side of the frame and can only be accessed by removing the front panel. For this it is necessary to remove the knobs from the front panel, plus the six screws around the edges of the front panel.

Rear Radione R3 interior Interior Vibrator and PSU PSU
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Rear
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Radione R3 interior
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Interior
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Vibrator and PSU
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PSU

Restoration
According to the acceptance stamp on the top right of the body, the R3 receiver featured on this page was delivered to the German Navy in Wien (Vienna, Austria) on 2 March 1944. At the end of the war it was stored in an attic with the message that it would soon be picked up by someone else. That person never came however and after the few years, the mysterious box was forgotten.

The radio was stored in its original grey wooden transport case, but the person who kept it had no idea what was actually inside the box. Many years later, the mysterious case resurfaced and the keeper finally wanted to know what it was hiding. As the lock at the top was locked and could not be opened easily, it was decided to break the two hinges at the bottom of the lid.

Out came a Radione R3 that appeared to be in very good condition. Although the metal rigs at the corners of the case had become rusty, the case had apparently preserved its contents well.
  
 Transport case with Radione R3 in stowed position

Apart from a few scuff marks on the body of the radio, in particular on the front panel, the radio was clean and the leather grip was still intact. With the radio came a grey wooden box with spare parts, a pair of Wehrmacht headphones, a mains power cable and a pair of black antenna wires.

So far, the following has been restored/repaired:

  • Wooden transport case cleaned outside and inside.
  • Radio exterior cleaned.
  • Front panel paint scuff marks restored.
Specifications
  • Frequency
    2.5 - 25.7 MHz
  • Sensitivity
    5 - 10 µV (AM), 1 - 2 µV (CW)
  • AF amplifier
    Class B push-pull
  • Output
    2500 Ω
  • Mains
    120, 150, 190 or 220V AC
  • Battery
    6, 12 or 24V DC (external)
  • Consumption
    30 Watts
  • Dimensions
    350 x 240 x 175 mm
  • Weight
    11 kg
Valves
  • EF13
    HF amplifier
  • ECH11
    Mixer
  • EF12
    IF amplifier
  • EBC11
    Detector/driver
  • EBC11
    BFO
  • EDD11
    AF amplifier
  • EZ11
    Rectifier (for anode voltage)
Frequency bands
  • Red
    2.5 - 6.7 MHz
  • White
    6.7 - 14.8 MHz
  • Green
    14.8 - 25.7 MHz
Wanted
We are currently looking for the following items:

  • Original manual
  • 24V DC cable
  • Additional spare valves
  • Photographs about the use of the R3
  • Radione RS20/M transmitter
Documentation
  1. Radione Empfangsgerät R 3
    31 March 1942.
References
  1. Arthur Bauer, Some Aspects of the German military Abwehr wireless service...
    ...during the course of World War Two
    15 September 2003. p 6.

  2. Gerd Reinel (DH2FAI), Personal correspondence
    March 2018.

  3. Unknown source, Image of German Funker in a bunker with Radione R3 and RS20M
    Retrieved March 2018 from Peter Zijlstra (PA0PZD).

  4. Arthur Bauer, Personal correspondence
    March 2018.

  5. Günter Hütter, Personal correspondence
    March 2018.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Wednesday 22 March 2017. Last changed: Thursday, 29 March 2018 - 06:35 CET.
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