General Stoner’s 24-Hour Circuits

Major General Frank E. Stoner

Major General Frank E. Stoner, Chief of the Army Communication Service of the Signal Corps. Photo courtesy of the Missouri State Archives

IEEE-USA’s Today’s Engineer has a very interesting story on Gen. Frank Stoner, Chief of the U.S. Army Communication Service during World War II. He set up two communications networks that operated around the clock and proved crucial to the war effort. One of the networks spanned the North Atlantic and used long-wave radio to mitigate the interference caused by the aurora borealis. The second, called ACAN (Army Command and Administrative Net), operated near the equator and used shortwave frequencies.

One interesting factoid is that ACAN had a capacity of 100,000,000 words per day. In 1945, the network carried about 50,000,000 words per day. Today’s communications networks, of course, carry billions times more data than this network.

After the war, Stoner became the United Nations’ Chief Communications Engineer and set up a radio network to broadcast news of the UN. At one point, Stoner enlisted the help of amateur radio operators to keep the network on the air:

In May of the following year, the United Nations broadcasting network that Frank Stoner had set in place with such care and foresight was at risk of going silent. For economic reasons, the United States Congress was considering reducing the funding for the State Department channels used to send programs abroad, channels which had been made available to the United Nations. With resourcefulness and ingenuity, Frank Stoner turned to the world’s amateur radio operators to relay the news of the Parliament of the World to the people of the world. Not only was there an elegant grass-roots symbolism in having amateur radio operators serving as a direct link between the United Nations and the people, it would also enable the United Nations to maintain communications in the face of possible interference — whether political interference or from natural causes — in the existing commercial systems. K2UN, with its networks of ham operators, went on the air on 17 May 1948.

Does anyone know if Stoner himself was a ham? I Googled him, but couldn’t really find anything that said one way or the other.

I’d also be interested in more information on the K2UN operations. Googling turned up an article from the August 9, 1947 issue of the New Yorker titled “Cooperative Hams,” but you have to be a subscriber to view the article.


  1. U.Märtins says:

    hallo i have a qestion
    it`s twenty years ago one of my teachers (dy5by) gave me an canadian
    ws 58. in newer days i take alook at the page “wireless for the warrior”
    but for the output of the 1299 tubes are only 0.3watt listet
    i remember that the carrier (unmodulated) had 1watt (
    the 1299 are much biger then the tubes used in the rx (1r5 1t5 1s5) and
    a look in the “röhrentaschen-tabelle” tells äquivalent = dl29 (pa= 2.5w)
    uwe märtins

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