RAN Technology

The Mosley Commando II

Vintage Ham Radio 0 Comments 04/15/2022 

Made in England and scarce even there

Posted By: Robert Nickels (ranickels)

The Mosley CM-1 receiver is quite well known and not especially hard to find in the US even though it was the only radio produced by the company that has been well-known for antennas since 1939.   Or is it...?

A full-page ad (advert for you on the other side of the pond) appeared in the RSGB Bulletin in 1963 for a nice looking and very capable SSB transmitter called the "Commando II". 

At the time, Mosley Electronics of Bridgeton MO had established a subsidiary company,  Mosley Electronics Ltd., in England to manufacture antennas to its specifications for the British and European markets.    This made sense due to the high cost of overseas shipping.    The Mosley UK factory was located in the industrial park that was built at the site of the former Rackheath Royal Air Force base a few miles northeast of Norwich England.

In 1963, O J (Jack) Russell, G3BHJ, was manager of Mosely UK back then. Owen Chilvers, G3JOC,  was assistant manager and took over the top spot a few years later, but evidently he was the champion of the Commando II, as his home address at 40 Valley Road in Norwich is the contact given on the magazine adverts.     We can only speculate as to it's original designer - maybe it was Mr. Chilvers himself?    Or perhaps it was a parallel situation to that of the CM-1 receiver that was designed by John Clemens who approached Carl Mosley to manufacture it.    We may never know as G3JOC is now SK and the present owner of Mosley Electronics can only confirm that the transmitter was only built in the UK and there's no indication that even a prototype or sample was sent to the US.     Except for the CM-1, the family-owned Mosley company of that era remained strictly focused on antennas and related products while the UK subsidiary evidently tried to broaden its offerings.

In one magazine ad,  prices are also given for a Mosley "top band" 160 meter converter and for a Q-multiplier,  but it's not surprising those items did not make it to the states since 160 was not nearly as popular here and Q multipliers were available from many sources.   Interestingly the Mosley antennas are almost considered an afterthought in that ad, which is clearly focused on the Commando II transmitter.

Examiniation of the manual cover page (see "Attachments" below)  shows a world globe logo that isn't the same as the globe logo used by the US Mosley company, nor does the tagline "A World of Dependable Communications from Mosley" appear on any other Mosley literature that I've been able to find.    There's certainly no resemblance to the CM-1 receiver - not even ONE 6AW8 is used.

Only a few examples of the Commando II are known to exist, although it seems that one may have been sold by RSGB on eBay in recent years.    The transmitter pictured has been kept in pristine condition to say the least!    The design is pretty straightforward with a pair of 6146 PA tubes providing 180 watts PEP, with built-in VOX and provision for AM (one sideband with carrier).    The 13D8 balanced modulator and  435 kHz carrier frequency and mixing scheme are uniqe, and the half-lattice SSB filter using just 3 crystals would probably be considered inadequate by today's standards.    The controls are well laid-out and the rig looks to be easy to use, of course who can complain about any rig with that full-view Eddystone dial!

The Mosley Commando had a list price of  140 GBP which probably had a lot to do with it's poor sales.   (In 1963 the exchange rate was approx.  $2.80 USD to the pound, which would make the transmitter list price $392 in US dollars).    Comments from UK hams remember it being out of their price range at the time but that's true for most gear we remember from our early ham years.   Even so, the Hallicrafters HT-37 was selling very well at $495 and the Hammarlund HX-50 at $549,  so the Commando II could have been compeititive even allowing for the cost of shipping to the US.   In reality it probably faced the strongest headwinds not from other transmitters, but from the small compact SSB transceivers that were taking the ham world by storm in 1963.   A British ham who wanted to get on SSB would have taken a hard look at the NCX-3 that was reviewed in the same issue of the RSGB Bulletin where the Commando II ad appeared, or at the SR-150 that was pictured on the cover.

In many cases we've been able to buy those radios we longed for in our early years and finally enjoy what we dreamed of earlier in our ham careers but the Commando II is one that will remain out of reach of most  simply because of availability.   And in this case, virtually no US hams were even aware it existed!

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Description Comment  
Mosley Commando II Manual

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