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The AR88 is a general purpose communications receiver manufactured by RCA in the U.S.A between 1941 and 1945.
They were made in large numbers for service use. Most were sent to the U.K. and Russia for the war effort.
They came in 2 versions, the AR88D and the AR88LF (low frequency version). The R.A.F. designation was R1556A and R1556B for the LF version.

They evolved into the CR88 in 1946 with crystal phasing, and the CR88A with an S meter. Later models CR91 and CR91A have the same coverage as the AR88LF.
Model SC-88 is like the CR88 but shows only the band in use.
CR88B is the last version in 1951 and has a crystal calibrator. D89 is a triple diversity version.

Your comments:

  • I still have my AR88. Amongst radio amateurs in the 1950s a popular conversion was to fit a BC453 inside, making a double superhet. My father bought such an AR88 and after we aligned it with a signal generator he passed it onto me. I added a product detector and some squat low noise RF valves. The performance was outstanding for its time, very little drift.I used it for RTTY when active. In the 1990s I replaced the caps.
    .......... Michael Moore, Leeds West Yorkshire, 4th of April 2018

  • These were wonderful receivers, but very heavy. I was at college in Hull, and there was a shop in the arcade that occasionally used to sell these. The proprietor said I could have it for free if I could run to the end of the arcade with it! I also remember seeing these with some ATC troops. I fixed one for them: just an open circuit screen grid resistor, then all worked fine. They used it for their radio-nets.
    .......... Tim Makins, Bawnboy, Ireland, 1st of August 2016

  • I was a wireless operator in the Raf 1959-1961 stationed at Pergamos 264 signals unit BFPO 53 working with GCHQ receiving Signals Intelligence on a RCA AR88 receiver using a selection of aerials from a 15 acre aerial farm.Therefore morse code reception could be adjusted at the set by the click of a switch.
    .......... Ritchie Hare, LEWES - EAST SUSSEX -ENGLAND, 6th of January 2016

  • Fabulous receiver of the 30's style....and "heavy-as"!!..heavier than my collins 391 I reckon..heavier than a Murphy B-40...the latter were used in submarines...dual purposes!!

    No communications receiver needs an S meter though handy if your ears and brain are wandering.

    Their only real purpose in rack mounted dual diversity (as I see it) would be to indicate a fault (through noticeable variations or levels compared with other sets) or an antenna issue. They can make general servicing "in-situ" easier...Plug-in a fixed level sig gen and read the meter!...Probably one of the most sensitive receivers of all time and definitely 'traditional' Used through WW11, they really were swamped by the National HRO.
    .......... Tony Clancy, Sydney NSW, 18th of November 2013

  • Still in service with British Army in 1965.I discovered them in the RAOC stores during
    a change of role for the gunner regiment I was in. Their use I was told was for the
    reception of specialised met information for nuclear warheads !
    .......... Mike, Norfolk, 29th of January 2013

  • I am still running 2 of these ( D SERIES MEDIUM WAVE VERSION) sets for a bit of fun DXing as reception is not good in this country (New Zealand) at this point in time (2012) and since the advent of cell phones the radio hams are not about on the 20 meter band. But the radios are still a piece of history to this 73 year old owner. Up until the early 1960s NZBC Royal NZ air force Royal NZ navy & The NZ Post office used them until the Racals R17 came available. Regards Noel Martin Christchurch New Zealand.
    .......... Noel Martin, Christchurch New Zealand, 30th of November 2012

  • There were more than two versions of this receiver. The AR-88F for instance was part of a triple-diversity system known as the DR-89 (made by RCA. This involved a large rack of three AR-88F receivers, with a system for selecting the strongest signal of the three, thus improving reception quality (typically very important for teleprinter systems).

    AR-88s with S-meters are uncommon. The RAF versions you refer to generally had them, because part of the conversion job (the R-1556 etc wasn't a standard AR-88) was to fit one of these meters.

    These are exceptionally well made receivers for their time, and represent some of the best of the electronic engineering of the Allies during WWII. They were rightly very popular with amateur radio operators when they appeared on the surplus market in the 1950s and 1960s.
    .......... Richard Hankins, Ross-on-Wye, 8th of June 2011

  • I used these in conjunction with Armour wire recorders in Hong Kong in Royal Signals unit SCU 14 in 1946/7
    .......... Alan Stott, Aberden, 10th of January 2011

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