• "Radio Instruction Course. Chart No. 1," 1939-1945. Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

    More info
    Select an item:
    "Radio Instruction Course. Chart No. 1, 1939-1945."
    • Date
    • 1941-1945
    • Creator
    • Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. (03/09/1943 - 09/15/1945)
    • Rights
    • Unrestricted
    • Partner
    • National Archives and Records Administration
      National Archives at College Park - Still Pictures
    • Contributing Institution
    • National Archives at College Park - Still Pictures

  • "Soldiers and radio equipment," 1939-1945. Courtesy University of Kentucky, via Kentucky Digital Library.

    More info
    Select an item:
    "Soldiers and radio equipment, 1939-1945."
    • Creator
    • University of Kentucky
    • Rights
    • This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Physical rights are retained by the owning repository. Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. copy... more
      This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Physical rights are retained by the owning repository. Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. copyright laws. Please go to http://kdl.kyvl.org for more information. less
    • Partner
    • Kentucky Digital Library
      University of Kentucky

  • "Hidden radio," 1945. A radio used by United States POWs near Braunau, Austria is hidden behind a cupboard with dishes in it. Courtesy Brigham Young University - Harold B. Lee Library, via Mountain West Digital Library. 

    More info
    Select an item:
    "Hidden radio, 1945."
    • Date
    • 1945-05
    • Creator
    • Heslop, J. Malan, 1923-2011
    • Description
    • A radio used by United States POWs near Braunau, Austria is hidden behind a cupboard with dishes in it.. Electronic reproduction. Nitrocellulose; 10.16 x 12.7 cm. (4 x 5 in.)
    • Rights
    • Http://lib.byu.edu/about/copyright/special_collections.php; Public Domain; Courtesy L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University; Public
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
      Brigham Young University - Harold B. Lee Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Brigham Young University - Harold B. Lee Library

  • "Cadet Class in Radio Buzzer," 1945. Courtesy Tarrant County College NE, Heritage Room, via Portal to Texas History.

    More info
    Select an item:
    "Cadet Class in Radio Buzzer," 1945.
    • Date
    • 1936-05-08
    • Description
    • Cadets in radio buzzer. 8x10 b&w glossy
    • Rights
    • The contents of The Portal to Texas History (digital content including images, text, and sound and video recordings) are made publicly available by the collection-holding partners for use in research, teaching, and private study. For the full terms o... more
      The contents of The Portal to Texas History (digital content including images, text, and sound and video recordings) are made publicly available by the collection-holding partners for use in research, teaching, and private study. For the full terms of use, see http://texashistory.unt.edu/terms-of-use/ less
    • Partner
    • The Portal to Texas History
      Tarrant County College NE, Heritage Room
    • Contributing Institution
    • Tarrant County College NE, Heritage Room.

By the time the United States entered World War II in late 1941, radio technology had vastly improved from the equipment available in the 1910s. Vacuum tube radios, which just thirty years ago were bulky and hard to carry, were now smaller. This paved the way for lighter weight, portable, battery-operated transistor radios, encased in metal, for military field use during World War II. In addition to hand-held use by US soldiers on the ground, radios were now an integral part of airplane, submarine, and tank communications. Transmissions went greater distances and were more reliable, and soon became a staple of the war effort.

In order to make radio transmissions more secure, the US Marines employed Navajo, one of the most complex Native American languages, to send messages during World War II. The pilot project began with just 30 Navajo “code talkers,” who soon helped develop a virtually uncrackable cipher based in their native language (including "Moustache Smeller" as a code name for Adolf Hitler).

The program was such a success, particularly against the Japanese, that the Navajo code talkers program grew to 420 men. Navajo code talkers became part of every US Marine assault in the Pacific theater and served in all Marine divisions. Though the Japanese eventually cracked the codes of the US Army and Air Corps, the Marine's Navajo code was never broken.