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ZC1 - Radio Trucks

ZC1 HF Radio
ZC1 Mk-1
ZC1 Mk-2
General Motors Canada
Assembled by
General Motors NZ
Radio Bodies Made By
NZ Railway Workshops
Internal views
Replica body
Original body
Original truck


Drivers at the School of Signals at Moindah, New Caledonia, parading with their mobile signal offices and  wireless vans.                    

  The above photo shows a row, behind the jeep, of the radio trucks purpose built in New Zealand to house the ZC1 Radio and its companion ZA1 RF Amplifier.  
  The official History of the NZ 3rd, 8th and 14th Brigades service in the Pacific records the following about these trucks which first saw service at Vella Lavella in October 1943.  
  from page 199

"The dawn of 1 October heralded an eventful day. ----------- Although the smallest, probably no echelon was more welcome than the 15 other ranks who arrived on this day bringing with them three specially designed wireless vans and other technical equipment, including new ZC1 wireless stations."

  from page 207  
  "Progressively received with the echelons were the sections' jeeps, six-by-fours, quads and wireless vans, which became actively engaged in assisting communication tasks. The wireless vans were a new acquisition, in use under active service conditions for the first time. Designed and constructed in New Zealand, the vehicles were complete with ZC1 radio stations and ZA1 50-watt amplifiers, generator for battery charging, electric fans for interior coolness, blackout screens to enable the continuity of transmission during air raids, and built in desks and cupboards. Their mobility, like that of other vehicles in the jungle scene, however, was limited to clearings or prepared pathways."  
  As far as can be ascertained less than twenty of these radio trucks were built.  Based on the Canadian manufactured Chevrolet C8AX cab and chassis units purchased by NZ in CKD form, these trucks were assembled by General Motors in their assembly plant at Petone near Wellington.   Purpose built "Radio Cabins"  were constructed in the nearby Railway Workshops and fitted to the trucks.  It is believed that the last of them were sold out of the Army around 1967.  GT Gillies Ltd a vehicle disposals specialist had four or five low mileage ones on display in their Seaview yard by mid 1967.  
  The following comment in the history suggests that although bringing many conveniences, in a climate of high humidity and temperatures, the trucks were not an unmitigated success in the prevailing conditions especially at night.  It seems conditions were such in the close confines of the radio cabins that the cooling fans could not cope.  Sets "cooked" and failed while operators found the conditions almost unbearable.  An idea of the heat and humidity can be gained from the description of a newly issued kitbag that grew a healthy coat of mould in less than two hours from issue.  
  from pages 217, 218  (on Mono Island)  
  "One of the foremost difficulties confronting the three section commanders was the provision of suitable facilities during the night hours to enable signal office personnel—especially cipher—to work with lights and yet retain security by the complete blackout enforced. It was not particularly comfortable for the operators cooped up in the covered fox-holes where the condensation immediately spelt trouble for wireless sets and also exchanges.  The mobile wireless vans taken forward unfortunately proved of little assistance owing to the humid conditions within their enclosed operating cabin when the blackout shutters were drawn into position."  


ZC1 Radio Truck being used by Territorial Soldiers somewhere near Christchurch


top                                                                                         April 2009