Gibson Girl Emergency Radio

We have an operable post-war (1950) Gibson Girl emergency radio on display that you can hold and cranked to provide electric power, just like a military survivor would have had to do from his life raft in WWII. The Gibson Girl was an improved version of an early war German radio captured by the British. They came to Bendix Corp in America to produce an improved version for them. Bendix made thousands of Gibson Girls first for the British, then for the US when we entered the war.

The Gibson Girl radio’s power was generated by cranking a double-voltage hand generator, at 80 revolutions a minute, delivering 24 volts instead of using batteries. This meant that the radio could be stored for long periods without maintenance. The radio’s hourglass design was so that it could be easily held between the legs while cranking the handle generating enough electricity to transmit an emergency “SOS” signal on 500 kHz. With the antenna extended to its full height of 300 feet, by balloon or kite, it could be received for approximately 200 miles.

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