Maurice Cammack recalls his experiences with the KW-9. "We communicated securely with KW-9's using AN/GRC-46 RTTY vans, homemade MSC-29s (using TT-76s, TT-4s, TCC-14's all mounted on wooden benches and racks) and in the Base CommCen at Camp Page. We also had two homemade rigs, mounted on 3/4 ton trucks for NAICP response communications.
Without exception, we were lucky to get 3 or 4 messages out before losing sync and having to reconnect. The 8th Army support element for our crypto was run by CWO Freshwater. Mr. Freshwater issued us extra baskets and rotors when we were in the field. I put one guy on, full-time, just cleaning, and setting up spare baskets so that we could swap out anytime that sync was lost.
These CE91798 diodes were part of the TSEC/KW-9 translators. Mounted on the bottom of the KW-9 rotor stepping unit, there were two translator blocks with hexagonal shaped holes (like honey combs) filled with dozens of these diodes. (Photo and copy courtesy George Mace)
At one point while we in the field, I went to the Missile Command Commander to see Col George Sammett when our outfit couldn't keep the backlogs down and had to move most of our traffic by messenger. We finally got two KW-26s installed for the Base CommCen which improved the situation but in the field, the KW-9's drove us crazy.
When I left Korea, I was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division at Ft. Benning and went into another nightmare with KW-9's. The problem now was that we had more RTTY rigs, real MSC-29's and a Division Commcen which was a tributary off the main post CommCen. In spite of better equipment, a decent environment and good support, we still never got a KW-9 to last over a few hours before it dropped sync. We alsways had to swap out the basket or bring it down, clean the rotors and reset it.
One of the happier days of my life was standing by CWO Arnold Kendrick as we watched the last tractor trailer leave for Lexington, with the remainder of the Divisions KW-9s on-board. I don't think my experiences were any worse, or better than others but it would sure be nice to understand how the things got approved and issued to field troops in the first place".
TSEC/KW-9 without case. (NSA photo dated October, 1961. Submitted by David Youse)
George Mace provides an elementary description of the KW-9. "It had send and receive loop boxes facing the front of the unit. They had meters, knobs and jack receptacles. The stepping unit, with rotor basket set in the center of the unit and had tubes all around the outer edge of the circuit board. The frame of the KW-9 looked just like the KL-7 with aluminum rails on both sides for shipping protection.
There are eight windows for moveable rotors - four on each side of the number 5 rotor which is stationary. A KW-9 stepping unit also resembled that of the KL-7 except it was larger and it sat higher because of the two translator diode blocks. KW-9's were shipped in fiberglass cases, painted Air Force blue.
The KW-9 was taken out of service around 1966. According to Jim Norris, "many KW-9's were dumped in a bay in Alaska".
1) Maurice Cammack <mcammack(at)direcpc.com>
2) George Mace <gmace8(at)comcast.net>
3) David Youse <david.youse(at)verizon.net>
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