AN/CRN-4 beacon used in Bastogne
The AN/CRN-4 beacon was reportedly used in Bastogne, but I can find no photographic evidence or first-person testimonials of it. My interest in this topic was renewed when reading “Bastogne” by Peter Schrijvers and finding an original 1944 handbook of the AN/CRN-4. This gives a more detailed look at the beacon’s components, such as the transmitter, the battery, the antenna and padded bags. As far as I can tell, the well-known photo of a beacon in use at Bastogne (right) is not a CRN-4, but a PPN-1. I can tell by the typical shape of the antenna compartment of the drop bag and the antenna. Both the bags (2) and the antenna of the CRN-4 look much different.
Here you can see a picture of the CRN-4 in its complete setup with 2 large antennas connected with wires and a grounding antenna laid out in a star shape on the floor.
However, this isn’t the only rare type of beacon that I have found wartime dated manuals for. Next to the better known AN/PPN-1 and PPN-2 Eureka beacons, the United States developed other portable radio beacons for guiding aircraft to drop zones. The PPN-1 was used in all WW2 operations. The PPN-2 was only used in Operation Varsity. The PPN-1 is very rare and only a handful of sets (if that) are known to have survived the war. PPN-1 accessories are also very rare. The PPN-2 is also quite rare and expensive, but more of these survived.
The so-called BUPS beacon is another mysterious piece. In reference books you will only find the antenna and its padded drop bag. It’s very rare, and I only know of about 5 collectors and museums who have one. But it’s unclear whether these were actually used, and where and how. I have a manual for the AN/UPN-2, as seems to be its official nomenclature, but the antenna itself is unmarked. The advantage of the BUPS beacon is its much longer range than the PPN-1 and 2. The BUPS telescopic antenna is much taller than that of the other beacons. According to literature on Operation Overlord, only 2 BUPS beacons were used on D-Day. I had a video here on YouTube, but unfortunately, it has been removed. When you look at this video, and that’s also what I get from the manual, the BUPS antenna is more like a spool, so not telescopic.
I also have a manual for the AN/TPN-2. This would still qualify as a portable beacon, but it looks much larger and heavier than the PPN-1 or 2 or the BUPS.
As I find out more about this subject, I will dedicated a full article to it. If you have more information, please send me an e-mail.
You need to read the book about Jack McNeice called the Dirty Thirteen. I haven’t finished the book yet but they do refer to the CRN-4. It is a most interesting book I have read about WWII so far.
Hi Coco, thanks for sharing that. I am still curious to see a wartime picture of it. Where does the book say they used it? In Bastogne or elsewhere?
Jake McNiece used the CRN-4 sets in Bastogne to resupply the 101st airborne. In his book, it details the events. In further research I have discovered that without the resupply the German blitzkrieg would have been a success. The CRN-4 sets were classified for many years after the war, so it’s hard to find accounts of their usage from the time.
Thank you for sharing this Jack! So this is more evidence to support the CRN-4 was used during the war. I wonder if anyone knows of an actual (complete) set still in existence?
Do you perhaps have pictures of the CRN-4 beacon? I could only find a very vague photo which does not look very reliable. But I can imagine that your manual contains good pictures and/or diagrams, right?
Thanks a lot!
Note: To my knowledge the left instrument in your photo is not a BUPS beacon, since that is a lot larger and looks different, I can send you photos if you want. The instrument here is just a telescopic antenna with bag, which unfortunately is not that rare.
Hello Jeroen, I have added a picture to the post, so you can see from the antenna that the CRN-4 was a completely different set-up from the PPN-1 beacon. You can’t see it in this photo, but the beacon itself was split up into 2 padded bags + bags for the antennas. I have found 2 mentions of the CRN-4 in books, but no period photographs other than the ones I have in the manual. I shared the manual with guys who were going to make a reproduction of the beacon and the bags, but this never happened. I think it requires too much special skills and rare parts to make a convincing replica.