system (or J-E for short) was a high frequency
radio system developed during World War II
for use by agents working behind enemy lines to relay information and replaced the earlier S-Phone
system used by agents.
Design and development
The Joan-Eleanor system was developed from late 1942
onwards for the US Office of Strategic Services
(OSS) by DeWitt R. Goddard and Lt. Cmdr. Stephen H. Simpson, with some contributions from mobile radio pioneer Alfred J. Gross
. It was reportedly named for Goddard's wife's Eleanor, and a WAC
Major of Simpson's acquaintance named Joan.
The initial design work was performed at RCA's laboratories in Riverhead, NY, and the production units produced by Citizens Radio of Cleveland, Freed Radio Corporation of NYC, Dictagraph Corporation of New York, and the Signal-U Manufacturing Company. Most of the testing was carried out at Bovington, England, beginning in July 1944, with the first operational use later that same year.
The system was classified as top secret by the US military and was not declassified until 1976.
The system comprised a pair of transceivers
- A handheld SSTC-502 transceiver for use by an agent in the field.
- An SSTR-6 transceiver carried on an aircraft flying overhead at a prearranged time.
The system was designed to use the UHF band, since it was known that these frequencies could not be effectively monitored by the enemy. The agent made his report in plain speech, and the aircraft recorded the transmission on a wire recorder. Since Morse code was not required, the agent did not need to be trained in it, thus reducing overall training time, which was considered an advantage in the European theater. Additionally, the aircraft could ask for immediate clarification if required, without the delay of encryption and decryption, or an intelligence officer aboard the circling aircraft could talk directly with the agent.
Because of the low power and the unit's limited range, the transmissions were virtually undetectable and the Germans were unaware of the system.
The hand-held SSTC-502 transceiver used a dual triode
as a combination super-regenerative
detector while receiving, and an oscillator
during transmission. Two other vacuum tubes
acted as a microphone amplifier
. The antenna was a simple dipole
attached to the top of the unit and the only controls were for regeneration and fine tuning. The unit was powered by two D cells
for the tube filaments, and two 67.5 V batteries for the tubes' plates. The original operating frequency was 250 MHz, but it was discovered that the Germans had a receiver capable of operating at this frequency, and it was changed to 260 MHz.
The airborne SSTR-6 transceiver comprised a superheterodyne
receiver with two RF amplifier stages, two limiter stages and an FM detector. Power was supplied by four 6 V wet cell
batteries. The equipment was used in B-17
and de Havilland Mosquito
aircraft, the Mosquito being used for most missions due to its high speed and high altitude capability which rendered it safe from most defenses.
The initial aircraft used with the J-E system were de Havilland Mosquito
) Mk. XVI aircraft of the 654th Bombardment Squadron
. The missions were codenamed Red Stocking
to disguise their nature; useful confusion was created due to weather missions having been codenamed Blue Stocking
. For J-E missions the aircraft's bomb-bay was fitted with an oxygen system and modified to accept the SSTR-6 transceiver and wire recorder, with an operator sitting on a cramped drop seat behind the collapsible fuel tank.
The first successful use of the system was made on 22 November 1944 by Stephen H. Simpson; he recorded transmissions from an agent codenamed "Bobbie" while orbiting at 30,000 ft over occupied Holland. The 654th Bombardment Squadron flew 32 Red Stocking missions on behalf of the OSS over Germany, Austria, and occupied nations. One of the most daring was flown on 3 March 1945 when a Mosquito PR XVI at 30,000 ft over Berlin established radio contact with agents who had earlier been dropped from an A-26 Invader.