Zenith Model H500 TransOceanic Radio (1951)


The model H500 Zenith TransOceanic was introduced in 1951, establishing a basic dial design that would last 11 years, until Zenith quit making tube-powered TransOceanics in 1962.

While the basic case silhouette and materials didn't change drastically from earlier models such as the 8G005Y and G500, Zenith extended the gold bezel of the tuning dial well to the right, creating a much wider, rectangular form that incorporated the six bandswitches.

Another cosmetic change is seen in the plastic Wavemagnet, where a grey, gently rounded rectangle replaces the earlier black oval. The Wavemagnet features a small brass Zenith crest above incised white lettering and yellow vertical stripes. It is removed by unscrewing two small, knurled brass knobs—not terribly convenient if you're in a hurry.

The next photo shows the grey WaveMagnet in place, mounted to the inside of the raised cover.

The H500 also sported some electronic improvements. All-glass miniature tubes replaced the older loktal types. A solid-state selenium rectifier replaced the glass rectifier tube. And a multifunction 3V4 tube did the work of three tubes in the older sets. The 5 in the model number indicates five tubes, which are 3V4, 1U5, 1U4, 1U4, and 1L6.

This H500 includes the original operator's manual, a slim book clipped inside the back cover. Also in the back is a little gang clip to carry a full set of spare tubes.

Clipped under the manual are the original schematics and worldwide station listing. The previous owner also slipped the end of an old battery box under the manual clip—perhaps to protect the manual, or as a reminder of which battery to buy.

This radio is a favorite of mine because it's almost exactly my age. It is in near-showroom cosmetic condition. The electronics have not been restored.

Before starting any electronic restoration, you should get a schematic to guide your work and help you understand the electronics. You can download the H500 service manual from Nostalgia Air or order it from one of the sources listed in our Parts page.

Military R-520/URR TransOceanic

Manufactured for about two years, the H500 also served as the basis for model R-520/URR, the only true military TransOceanic. Built in 1953/1954, the R-520/URR was essentially the H500 built to heavily ruggedized standards and covered with greenish brown material instead of the standard "Black Stag" leatherette.

A genuine military TransOceanic is prized by collectors for its rarity and is easily recognizable by the US Army Signal Corps ID plate on the front. The electronics are also noticeably different. Among other things, the chassis will have been sprayed with a colored varnish to minimize fungal growth in humid climates.

Beware of "Frankenstein" R-520/URR fakes which have been cobbled together from civilian radio parts. After the close of the Korean war, many of them ended up in military depots and were stolen or salvaged, possibly stripped of identifying serial numbers or otherwise disassembled. If you can find a complete, unabused specimen, you have a rare TransOceanic worth a few hundred dollars, or possibly more.

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