Abraham Mohale, Junior Curator, DITSONG: National Museum of Military History 

What is a military communication?

Military communication is the transmission of information from reconnaissance and other units in contact with the enemy and the means for exercising command by the transmission of orders and instruction of commanders to the subordinates. Military communication has for a very long time played an important role in warfare.

The military services learned from their wartime experiences the importance of scientific research and development in all fields, including communication electronics. Advances were made in the communication capacity of wire and radio relay systems and in improved electronic aids for navigation. The radio was the cheapest form of entertainment and it was the most popular medium during the Second World War. The accessibility and availability meant it fuelled propaganda and could reach a large number of citizens. The radio helped to entertain and inform the population and to encourage citizens to join in the war. It was mainly used to send electromagnetic signals over a long distance, to deliver information from one place to another.

Military communications or military signals involve all aspects of communications or conveyance of information, by armed forces. Military communications span from pre-history to the present. The earliest military communications were delivered by runners. It later progressed to visual and audible signals, and then advanced into the electronic age. Examples include text, audio, facsimile, tactical ground-based communications, naval signalling, terrestrial microwave, tropospheric scatter, satellite communications systems and equipment, surveillance and signal analysis, security direction finding and jamming.

Primitive methods of communication derailed messaging and always created uncertainty and authenticity of the received messages. The introduction of radio equipment made life easier and faster because radios use transmitters. A transmitter is an electronic device used in telecommunications to produce radio waves in order to transmit or send data with the aid of an antenna. The transmitter is able to generate a radio frequency alternating current that is then applied to the antenna, which, in turn, radiates this as radio waves.

Communication troops of the Ministry of Defence of the Soviet Union

The communication troops of the Ministry of Defence of the Soviet Union were generalized names for special forces intended for the deployment and operation of communication systems in order to provide command and control of troops and forces subordinate to the ministry of defence of the Soviet Union in all types of their activities. As a branch of the special forces, the communication troops were an integral part of all five branches of the armed forces of the Soviet Union (Ground Forces, the Navy, the Air Force, Air Defence Forces and Strategic Missile Forces). The general command of the communication troops of all five branches of armed forces, was carried out by the Chief of the Communication Troops of the Ministry of the Soviet Union. That is how the whole communication army troops was aligned under the Ministry of Defence.

The A-7 VHF transceiver.

When I started working as junior curator at DITSONG: National Museum of Military History, the Soviet A-7 VHF radio transceiver captured my interest and it resulted in this article. The Soviet A-7 VHF radio transceiver (later models include the A-7a and A-7b) was developed during the Second World War and used for communication in rifle brigades and regiments. The complete station was designed to be transported by individual soldiers. The A-7 is a portable man-pack radio transceiver with narrow-band frequency modulation. The set can be used as a radio telephone in a wired network and managed remotely. Setting the frequency of the receiver and transmitter circuits is adjusted in tandem by one control handle. The antenna and buffer oscillator are common for the receiving and transmitting circuits.

The transceiver with power supplies and accessories is housed in a wooden box with shoulder straps for carrying as a backpack. For long distances, the set is carried by two soldiers. The set only requires one radio operator. The deployment time is typically not more than five minutes.

Design and features of the Soviet A-7VHF transceiver

  • Frequency range is 27-32 mn2
  • Number of frequency channels is 101
  • Transmitter output power is 1W
  • Sensitivity of the receiver is 1-1.5μv
  • Intermediate frequency is 1100 kHz
  • Antennas – a whip with a height of 2.5 m or a flexible wire 6.4 m long
  • Range of action:

On a rough terrain – up to 7-8 km

On urban conditions – 3-4 km     On slightly cross-country terrain outside of buildings – 10 km and more

  • Power source is about two dry anode batteries bas -80, with a total voltage of 160v and two 2 NKN 10 nickel- cadmium batteries. The time of continuous operation from one set is 35-40 hours
  • Dimensions of the packing box – 210 x 385 x 330 mm
  • Mass of the radio station – 15.5 kg, the battery weighs 6 kg


Without doubt, the Soviet 1-7 VHF developed and used by the Soviet Union during the Second World War, was a masterpiece radio communication equipment. It involved high technology, but in a simplified form. The portable design features were almost of an advanced nature. With the development and advancement of technology it was possible for the creators to make more additions.




Garthoff, Raymond L.  1953. Soviet Military Doctrine. Muriwai Books.