British Military Keys - Navy

Royal Navy Admiralty Pattern No ???? Morse Signal Key circ 1930.

This extremely rare Royal Naval Morse Key based on the A.P. 5475 is mounted on a cast aluminium alloy base with the cast Trademark of Alpax on the underside. Alpax is the Trademark of Lightalloys Ltd of St Leonard Road, Willesden Junction London who, in 1922 was responsible for the introduction of Alpax, a modified aluminium silicon alloy, into the U.K. By 1926 the company was incorporated to acquire a private company of the same name and also were allied with Fermans Die Castings Ltd of London. Alpax was described in the Observatory dated 1933 as “A ductile silicon-aluminium alloy which had a higher resistance to corrosion than any other aluminium alloy and will withstand unfavourable atmospheric conditions including moist sea air, in both temperate and tropical climates”. How much of this key is made of this alloy is unclear but it was obviously used because of the extreme conditions this key was used in. Generally, this key looks similar to the A.P. 5475 and could be a variant of it but does have distinctive differences mainly to the design of the arm which is square in section and has a circular flange assembly behind the knob. This flange had remnants of a rubber or weatherproof material sandwiched between the two sections indicating that this key was housed in a waterproof housing and therefore situated outside on an open deck or bridge. It has the same heavy contacts, spring assembly and overhead contact mounting as the 5475 but its true identification label would probably have been mounted on the enclosure. I have, to date, never seen another example of this key so if anyone has further information please contact with me.
British Morse Telegraph Key .
Admy. Patt. 7681 (Navy) Serial No P368 Dated 1928.
 
A nice early version of this British Naval Key. Missing the cable clamps and sheet metal cover but still in a good original condition.
British Morse Telegraph Key .
Admy. Patt. 7681 (Navy) Serial No L.M. 3438
A nice example. Date and manufacturer Unknown.
British Morse Telegraph Key . Admy. Patt. 7681 (Navy)
Manufactured by Ward and Goldstone Ltd. Salford. Manchester.
 
With vast 5/16" Dia. contacts. The Bakelite bottom measures approx 5.5" by 3.5" (142mm by 89mm).
On the base is stamped:
"ADMY.PATT. No 7681. KEY MORSE (ADMY. PATT. = Admiralty Pattern).
A white W.G. paint stamp indicates Ward and Goldstone Ltd.  
A great key to use with a very smooth, clean movement.
Weight is about 700g.
This was the last version of this Key.
British Morse Telegraph Key .
Admy. Patt. 65485 (Navy)
Serial No 519 A.G.I Ltd.
Dated 1952.
 
Royal Navy Admiralty Pattern "A.P.65485" Morse telegraph key complete with the rare cover. Both the key and cover are in good condition although the cover apears to have been re-painted at some time.
The Morse key is labelled "ADMIRALTY PATTERN 65485 KEY MORSE A.G.I Ltd.
SERIAL No. 519 Dated 1952".
The key with cover measures approx 4 & 3/4" by 3" and 3 & 1/2" high inc. knob (120mm by 75mm by 90mm).
Weight of the key is about 1Kg.
British Morse Telegraph Key .
Admy. Patt. No. X-691. (Navy)
W.G. YEAR 1943.
 
Royal Navy ADMY PATT No X. 691.
This is a scarce Navy A.P. X.691 key and although missing its cover is still a hard key to find.
The identification on the front edge reads "ADMY PATT NoX.691. KEY, MORSE. W.G. YEAR 1943"
(W.G. = Ward & Goldstone Ltd. Salford, Manchester, England). Designed and made by Marconi owned companies in the UK in the 1940's and featured in Morsum Magnificat magazine MM40 page 41.
Identical to the Royal Navy ADMY PATT 65485.
ADMIRALTY PATTERN 1271 BUZZER REPEATER AND KEY UNIT, SER. No. WER 8906.
 
Key WT 8 Amp No2 Mk II, ZA 3145, simplified tensioner (Group 11) Naval Key.
 
While Keys WT 8 Amp have been identified in this survey principally for Army applications, plus a few as used by the RAF, two have been identified in a Navy application. One is a Key WT 8 Amp No2 Mk II, ZA 3145, simplified tensioner (Group 11), with a 10A/7790 knob from an RAF bathtub key, mounted on an ADMIRALTY PATTERN 1271 BUZZER REPEATER AND KEY UNIT, SER. No. WER 8906.
The other is in a similar AP 1271 Unit, reported with a three bracket, simplified tensioner, Key WT 8 Amp (notionally Group 8). This key has no base of its own, but is incorporated into the unit's base. The knob is also a type 10A/7790. It has been suggested, but not confirmed, that this type of unit was used on large warships for internal communications between the main W/T office and other offices. As well as the 'phones earpiece it has a miniature bulb which was used to attract attention when the Radio Supervisor was calling.
British NATO Key
 
NATO Key has preset tension settings. It was designed for use by NATO forces.
Made in the 1970/80’s by Pryce Edwards Ltd and Marconi S. & R. Systems Ltd.
The cover of this key is battleship grey painted brass. It weighs a hefty 3-1/2 lbs.
The cover measures 8" by 3.25" (203mm by 83mm) but the keys overall length is 10.5" (268mm).

British Military Keys - Airforce

The classic MARCONI Air Ministry (A.M.) "D Type" Key. Designated 10F/7373.
 
The classic MARCONI Air Ministry (A.M.) "D Type" Key. Designated 10F/7373. A fine big ground station key with large contacts.
A magnificent morse key on a par with the Marconi Marine keys of the same era.
Early versions have "MARCONI'S WIRELESS TELEGRAPH Co. Ltd. No xxxxx LONDON" inscribed on the base, later ones have unmarked bases.
Used on the high voltage portion of circuitry in a transmitter, therefore the unit is fully enclosed to protect the operator.
British Air Ministry D Type Morse Key Ref 10F-7373
Manufactured by Sett & Co

This rare D Type Air Ministry ground station Key 10F-7373 was manufactured by and stamped Sett & Co. It is rare to find a Type D key on a wood base and even rarer to find one with a wooden cover. The key is made completely of brass and to the usual specifications found on the more regularly found Bakelite mounted and cased versions. On the front edge of the wood base is a stamping of Sett & Co, there is also a circle with AID XY8 inside it, and the stores reference 10F-7373 stamped on the rear edge. This in itself is unusual as the 10F and the 7373 would normally be separated by a slash (/) rather than a dash (-). The circular stamped mark is a quality control mark of the Aeronautical Inspection Directorate with the XY8 being a reference to the inspecting officer this confirms the place of manufacture being in the U.K., thanks to Steve from the Air Ministry website for providing this information. After carrying out extensive research no information or history of the manufacturer has been found. The cover is as well made as the rest of the key with dovetailed corners and is an exact copy of the Bakelite covers found on other keys. This example was purchased from Snowflake, Arizona, in the United States in March 2016, how it found its way there is also a mystery.
British Air Ministry (A.M.) Key. Pattern 2426. Designated 10A/1975.
 
A check of Air Publication 1086- Vocabulary of Stores, gives 10A/1975 as “Keys, Transmitting, Pattern 2426”. It was a standard Morse key within the RAF, being used on most stations for transmitting Morse code.
 
Bryan Legate
Assistant Curator
Department of Research & Information Services
Royal Air Force Museum London
020 8358 4810
 
I purchased this key, on it's own, two years ago and have only recently made a purchase of a brass case with a quite poor homemade key from the 1950's. It wasn't until I found the brass label rivited inside that identified it as one for a Key Patt No 2426 and in turn with the 10A/1975  key that I already had in the collection. There was only one thing for it and that was to marry them back together and as is shown they fit perfectly. I have only seen two others, one of which has the label as shown above confirming that the 10A/1975 is the Pattern 2426 Key.  
British Marconi Morse Key Air Ministry Type B1 , Ref 10F/7839
Manufactured circ 1910-14.
Brass key with copper contact strips it has a Bakelite base and would have had a Bakelite cover but they were very fragile and easy to damage, so keys with cover are very uncommon.
It is a large key measuring 10 inches by 4.5 inches approximately 250mm by 110mm and weighs in at 2lb 8oz (1141grams) with the cover
A very scarce and unusual key, it has large front Mark contact like the Type D key but the Space contact at the rear is mounted on its own flat leaf spring which is made when the key is at rest and opens the contact when the key is depressed. The arm is insulated from the Space contact by means of a red insulating cone.
It was used with large spark transmitters of the day as is evident by the use of contact strips, insulation and cover, all to protect the operator of the very high currents used.
British Spark Key. Air Ministry ref 1969. Circ 1910.
This flameproof spark key made by S. G. Brown, London from around 1910 has the Air Ministry ref 1969. It is quite a rare key to find, this example unfortunately is missing the aluminium cover which would have covered the entire workings of the key and would have had a circular Mica disc over the rear spark gaps. It is documented by other collectors to have been used initially on airships as well as planes and that the reason for the rear spark gap is because the spark indicator was on a separate circuit to the key and was attached to the aerial with a probable use of to protect the volatile contents of the airship from stray currents. The spark gap on this key is on the earth and receiver line so my thoughts are that it would have been to protect the receiver from high voltage currents on the earth line when transmitting and when the key is in the rest and receive position. It may even have been an indicator to incoming signals.
Model: R.A.F. Type F "Bathtub" Morse key Ref. N°. 10A/7741 - MILITARY U.K. different makers
 
Material Bakelite case, Dimensions (WHD) 40 x 70 x 135 mm / 1.6 x 2.8 x 5.3 inch
Notes R.A.F "Bathtub" Flameproof Key, Ref.N° 10A/7741.
 
This was the standard key used in British (and Canadian) bombers such as the Lancaster, Halifax and Wellington aircraft during WWII. It is enclosed for use in explosive environments. All of the parts are brown Bakelite. The wire terminals are on top, and the adjustments are inside. The clip holds the cover closed, and can also be slipped over the skirt of the knob to hold it down and so send out a continuous signal. This allowed the radio operator to parachute out of a damaged plane while still sending a homing signal for rescue craft.  0.240 kg / 0 lb 8.5 oz (0.529 lb) .                        
British Brass RAF Spark Morse Key. Type RAF No.1 Key. Circa 1924.
 
The lower contact is mounted on a metal strap, there is a heavy wire between the lever and the support piece. Note the extra two smaller terminals and a bulb holder with bulb. This key is in very good almost unused condition.
British Brass Key. Marked Air Ministry 10F/2533 (designation 10F/2533) circa 1920/30.
 
RAF Air Ministry  10F/2533. Once sold as WW I surplus by Dixon's of London. Some were plated brass with designation 10F/2533 and the RCAF had the exact key with a different knob designated 10A/556.
British Military issue Hand Key
probable manufacturer Muirhead & Co Ltd. circ 1920.
 
This British Military issue hand key as denoted by the MOD arrow just behind the knob on the top side of the arm. A nicely manufactured key probably manufactured by Muirhead & Co Ltd but not proved as no manufacturers mark is present.
 
Any information on this key is welcome.
BRITISH HAND KEY A.M. 10F/20366 12 OZ TYPE 51 KEY.
WALTERS ELECTRICAL MANUFACTURING CO LTD. LONDON.
 
This scarce Walters key named the 12 oz type 51 with a designated Air Ministry code of 10F/20366  was used in the Vulcan ‘V’ class Bombers versions B.1 & B.2 in a military role and also in a civilian role in the de Havilland Comet Aircraft and dates from a period of the 1950’s. It has a double spring tension arrangement and has a removable cover to enclose any sparking of the contacts when in operation.

BRITISH HAND KEY NATO-5805-99-901-7902.
WALTERS ELECTRICAL MANUFACTURING CO LTD. LONDON.
 
This short version of the Type 51 Key manufactured by Walters Electrical Manufacturing Co Ltd and with the NATO stock number of
5805-99-901-7902 dates this key to after 1974 as this is the time that the NATO number format changed to show the country of manufacture i.e. United Kingdom and depicted by the number 99 is shown like this.
BRITISH HAND KEY NATO-5805-99-901-7024 AND
SWITCH ASSEMBLY NATO-5930-99-625-6995.
WALTERS ELECTRICAL MANUFACTURING CO LTD. LONDON.
This short version of the Type 51 Key manufactured by Walters Electrical Manufacturing Co Ltd and with the NATO stock number of 5805-99-901-7024 dates this key to after 1974 as this is the time that the NATO number format changed to show the country of manufacture i.e. United Kingdom and depicted by the number 99 is shown like this. This example is mounted on a steel base of which is mounted a switching unit with a NATO stock number of 5930-99-625-6995. The application of this key and switch assembly has not yet been established so any help would be appreciated.

British Military Keys - 8 Amp

GROUP 1 KEY WT 8 AMP No2. THREE BRACKETS. P.O. TYPE TENSIONER ON CENTRE BRACKET (TENSION SPRING)
 
Reference has been found to the No2 key with P.O. type tensioner in an equipment specification dated 1926. Until 1939, these keys had bases with sharp corners. The last ones of this type made in the UK seem to be dated 1941, with a slight change in design (ie, to bases with rounded corners), while they apparently continued in production in Australia until 1944.  
Note that there are also No2 keys with simplified spring tensioner (compression spring)
 
Manufactured by TB&S (Thomas Bolton & Sons) in 1944. The base has radius corners, Taper bearing pin, no finger plate with no country of manufacture indicated
GROUP 1 KEY WT 8 AMP No2. THREE BRACKETS. P.O. TYPE TENSIONER ON CENTRE BRACKET (TENSION SPRING)
 
This is an unusual WT 8 Amp key mounted in a cast brass / bronze cover painted grey so either Air Force or Navy issue. On the under-side the manufacturer marking has been machined out as to disguise it’s source. It may have been on special service missions and appears to read M K & Co Ltd 194? This seems to be a manufacturer that has not been noted and to date I have never seen a key mounted within this type ofcover before. The base is marked Key WT 8 Amp No2.
 
GROUP 1 KEY WT 8 AMP No2. THREE BRACKETS. P.O. TYPE TENSIONER ON CENTRE BRACKET (TENSION SPRING)

This is another unusual WT 8 Amp No2. Key, mounted on a fibrous brown base embossed with the Air Ministry mark so obviously assembled and used by the Royal Air Force but with no manufacturers markings to denote who originally manufactured the components of this key.
Dated 1940 – 1945.
GROUP 4 KEY WT 8 AMP No2. THREE BRACKETS. SIMPLIFIED SPRING TENSIONER (COMPRESSION SPRING)
 
Overlapping with keys having the more complicated PO type tensioner, this version of the No2 key seems to have been produced in the UK by one company only, during 1939 and 1940, with one other version made in Canada in 1941.
 
No Ref, Radius cornered base, Parallel Bearing Pin. Manufactured by WER (Whiteley Electrical Radio Co Ltd. 109 Kingsway, London. W.C.2.) in 1939.
GROUP 6 KEY SIGNALLING No2. THREE BRACKETS. SIMPLIFIED SPRING TENSIONER (COMPRESSION SPRING)
 
No Ref, Radius Cornered Base, Parallel bearing pin. Manufactured by Ericsson Telephones Ltd, Beeston, Nottinghamshire (now Plessey and G.E.C.). Rowland Cox, G4AL, worked at the Beeston factory until he retired. He remembers the keys being made there in 1940, and managed to obtain one. The survey lists only three versions made by this company, ie, Group 1, No2, ZA4511, 1940; Group 2, No3, ZA4605, 1941; and Group 6, Key Signalling No2, undated, installed in a Fullerphone.
 
GROUP 7 KEY WT 8 AMP No3 MkI. THREE BRACKETS. SIMPLIFIED SPRING TENSIONER (COMPRESSION SPRING)
 
Insulating sleeve and finger guard under knob noted on some keys.
Noted in Unit Operator No1 MkII, YA 8414; also in BUZZER SIG. TRAINING set.
Ref ZA 4605 , Radius cornered Base, Parallel bearing pin.
 
Manufactured by WER (Whiteley Electrical Radio Co Ltd. 109 Kingsway, London. W.C.2.) in 1940.
GROUP 8 KEY WT 8 AMP, NO NUMBER. THREE BRACKETS. SIMPLIFIED SPRING TENSIONER (COMPRESSION SPRING)
 
Ref 10F/2533, Radius cornered base, Parallel Bearing Pin with Finger Plate.
Manufactured by WER (Whiteley Electrical Radio Co Ltd. 109 Kingsway, London. W.C.2.) in 1940.
Also marked 'AM' Air Ministry (with crown). 10/F coding indicates use by RAF.
GROUP 11 KEY WT 8 AMP No2 MkII. NO BRACKETS. SIMPLIFIED SPRING TENSIONER (COMPRESSION SPRING)
 
Ref ZA2869, Radius Cornered Base, Including 5th Hole, Parallel Bearing Pin. Manufactured by H&C. No country or year of manufacture noted.
This key is documented as having a moulded brass nickel plated arm, square ends, with arm and spacers cast as one piece although this key is not nickel plated. Note that the arm of the apparently identical key listed in a ZA 4390 Assembly, is not nickel plated. 
 
GROUP 14 KEY WT 8 AMP No2 MkIII/I. NO BRACKETS. SIMPLIFIED SPRING TENSIONER (COMPRESSION SPRING). BAKELITE
All keys in this group have a bakelite arm and base.
                                              
Has NATO number - Y1/5805-99-104-0214. Some have arm stamped "N", just in front of knob. Some noted with BUZZER SIG. TRAINING 6350-99-446-4165 (also NATO No.)
Parallel bearing pin, no manufacturers mark and no year of manufacture.
 

British Military Keys - Training

Buzzer Training Unit – Telephone Manufacturing Company Ltd. No 453 dated 1928.
 
TMC was formed to service one company, but grew into a supplier to many companies and Governments. It was never big, but it was always there. Unlike so many of its competitors, TMC survives today.
 
In 1902 telephones were still a new but now accepted business service, but most businesses still relied on one or two telephones within their building. Firms like Sterling and GEC were selling intercoms, but it was a struggle because of the high costs involved in purchase of the phones and wiring in the new system. Frederick Jackson saw a way around these problems. He had worked for The Private Telephone Company in London, and had risen to become Company Secretary. PTC was a telephone operating company, using equipment imported from H Fuld in Germany. A number of other substantially German-owned operating companies were doing the same in Britain at the time.
PTC was renamed New System PTC, and offered internal telephones for rent rather than purchase. This made it economic to change a business over to phones rather than continue with message wires or speaking tubes.
Jackson left New System PTC and joined a rival company, Intercommunicating Telephones, in 1908. The timing was good, as the British Post Office was now taking over the various operating companies around Britain. Internal phone systems, however; were left alone. He expanded the company, and even took over his old employer, New System. The phones were still supplied by Fuld.
Buzzer Training Unit – E.T. Ltd
 
Ericsson Telephones Ltd, Beeston, Nottinghamshire
(now Plessey and G.E.C.) - N.58353 circa 1940.

British Military Keys - Others

British morse key made by WD Wireless Factory No4. Soho, London. 1914 -1918.
 
British key made by W.D. Wireless Factory No 4: Soho. London W. No 2.  Probably during World War 1, before 1918, because WD Wireless factory existed until 1918. They produced mostly transmitters, especially for R.A.F., for example transmitter type 52M.
More information from the Imperial War Museum in London.
Dimensions are about 19x 5 cm.
British military key for Wireless Set No. 48.
 
This is principally a standard flame proof key J-5-A made by Western Electric in the U.S.A. during WW2 with transmit/receive switch fitted on top mounted on a Paxolin plate. The assembly is designed to be placed on the operator's leg and fastened by means of the canvas web straps provided.  This wireless Set was ordered by the British Supply Mission as an alternative production to Wireless Set No. 18.
Signal Lamp Mk2 Transmitting Key circ 1914-18

This transmitting key is from a Signal Lamp Mk2. It was manufactured between 1915 and 1920 by Joseph Lucas and would have made up a complete assembly consisting of a black painted metal electrical battery powered lamp, with attached view sight and detachable mounting stand. Carried within a painted wooden box with hinged top and webbing fabric covered lid. The Morse code key was attached to the inside of the hinged lid. There was also a brown leather carrying strap attached to box. This was used by allied troops to communicate between the trenches by light during WW1 The complete unit had a total height of 408mm a length of 240mm and a width of 150mm.