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RION   РИОН
USSR spy radio set

RION was the code name of a complete Russian spy radio station that was developed in the USSR around 1957, during the early days of the Cold War. It was packed in two large standard suitcases and was used by spies and agents. The complete station consisted of a transmitter, a receiver, a power supply unit and batteries. Unfortunately, we have only found the receiver so far.
 
PR-56A Receiver
The PR-56A receiver, that was part of the RION spy set, is shown here. It was also used stand-alone for stay-behind organisations and as part of other spy sets.

It is a single-stage heterodyne receiver, built around 7 valves: RF pre-amp, local oscillator, mixer, 2 amplifier stages, detector and LF amplifier. It has a sensitivity of 2 - 5.5 mV. Circuit diagrams can be downloaded from the links below.
  

The receiver can be used from 2 MHz to 12 MHz, divided over 4 ranges. Each range has its own colour on the frequency scale:
  • 2 - 3.2 MHz (white)
  • 3.2 - 5 MHz (yellow)
  • 5 - 8 MHz (red)
  • 8 - 12 MHz (green)
The complete RION spy radio station consists of two fiber suitcases; one with the power supply unit and one with the PR-56A receiver and the PR-57B transmitter. Together, the two cases had a total weight of 37 kg (!) and if the dry batteries were present this would be about 40 kg.

The radio station was suitable for simplex and half-duplex telegraphy (CW) on the HF band between 2.5 and 10 MHz (receiver 2 to 12 MHz). When used in half-duplex mode, two antennas had to be used. The transmitter (PR-57B) produced an output power between 5 and 10 W. The set was construced to be used in extreme conditions, such as a temperature range from -40°C to +50°C and a relative humidity of 85%.
 
The PR56A receiver Power cable and connector

 
References
  • Website of scAvanger, Riga, Latvia
    Technical description of the RION spy set with many photographs.

  • Louis Meulstee, Wireless for the Warrior, volume 4
    ISBN 0952063-36-0, September 2004
    Note: in this book the receiver is erroneously called GR-56A.

Further information

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Copyright 2009-2013, Paul Reuvers & Marc Simons. Last changed: Saturday, 21 June 2014 - 22:08 CET
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