Old movie operation Pacific bug on board

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KC7JNJ, Jul 19, 2021.

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  1. KC7JNJ

    KC7JNJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Was just watching operation Pacific with John Wayne. They showed a scene of the radio room I was surprised to see the type of key that was in the movie. Here is a was a screenshot of the radio room, at one point in the movie it showed him actually using it for a second.

    W9RAC, KO4ESA, PU2OZT and 1 other person like this.
  2. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's not "Duke" at the J36 is it?

    When I was in Marine Corps infantry training we were warned never to do
    anything like John Wayne does in the movies.:)
    WB5YUZ, KO4ESA, N2EY and 1 other person like this.
  3. KC7JNJ

    KC7JNJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not john at the radio. It is the miracle working radio operator.
    WB5YUZ, KO4ESA and M6GYU like this.
  4. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The military J-36 was a copy of the Vibroplex Lightning Bug. Many if not most were made by Lionel (yes, the model train people).




    http://www.vibroplexcollector.net/?page_id=568 (scroll down)

    It is my understanding that the use of "speed keys" in the Navy required that the operator be tested and certified on their use.

    For another John Wayne movie featuring WW2 era radio gear in action, watch "Island In The Sky". It's based on a true story - a cargo plane is forced to land in the wilds on northeastern Canada in winter.

    Of course, being a movie, there may be historical and technical inaccuracies.
    K1LKP and KO4ESA like this.
  5. WA1GXC

    WA1GXC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Common misconception-- The received wisdom on the street is that the J-36 was specific to the Lionel clone of the Vibroplex Lightning Bug.

    Not so. Inexplicably, "J-36" was the Joint Army-Navy designation for any semi-automatic "speed-key" bug independent of specific configuration.

    There are a multitude of J-36s; the "Lightning Bug" was most common, but Vibroplex Originals were commonly used across the military services.
    From what I gathered somewhere, the Vibroplex patent on the Lightning Bug pattern had expired and Lionel manufactured them on government
    contract with no licensing arrangement or fee devolving to Vibroplex Company.

    J-36s in the Lightning Bug pattern were manufactured by Brooklyn Metal Stamping Company, Bunnell Co., Vibroplex and Lionel. I believe
    McElroy Company of Boston made only a few hundred of their proprietary pattern J-36 bugs with "U S Navy" cast into the base edge.
    The Lionels are plentiful, the Bunnells are rare and expensive. Also, many bugs were obtained
    'commercial-off-the-shelf' and have civilian Vibroplex data plates.

    I have 2 Vibroplex bugs, WW II manufacture, both with non-military S/N plates.
    One is Fulton Street, one is Broadway. One 'Original', one Lightning Bug. The Original
    has a reed spring that is defective by nature--natural slow speed with standard weight mass is
    about 27-28WPM. I assume the metallurgy is flawed due to War production.

    The photo above certainly is not authoritative (It's a movie, for Pete's sake---That's the same movie where John Wayne is on the bridge-wing of a ship
    and reads latitude and longitude directly off his sextant immediately after taking a sun-sighting). But you'll note the bug appears to be a Vibroplex
    Original model, by its distinctive damper assembly at the far-end of the works.

    The iconic painting of the woman Navy WAVES Radioman, in uniform, which you'll all recognize, clearly shows her transmitting on a Vibroplex "original" model.


    Last edited: Jul 20, 2021
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  6. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The movie also showed the radio operator using a bug. It also showed crew outside running a "Gibson Girl" transmitter.
    KO4ESA and N2EY like this.
  7. K1LKP

    K1LKP Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    write THANK TOU.gif

    Last edited: Jul 21, 2021
  8. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    That is a keen eye you have Al for sure! Nice work, 73 Rich
    KC7JNJ likes this.
  9. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    This was a stock character in films in the days when HF communications were the primary mode of telecommunication.

    Telegraphers could also become celebrities in real life, although it didn't happen often. As long is there was living memory of World War Two, most Americans remembered the exploits of the Radiotelegraphers of Bataan. I knew one of them personally, Floyd Gravert, but I can no longer remember his call.

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