J-37 Morse Key

J-37 US Signal Corps Mae West Morse Key
During WWII, the Korean War, and even into the Vietnam era the U. S. Signal Corps designated many of their telegraph (Morse code) keys with a "J-" and a number.  The real workhorse key during those years was the J-37 "Mae West" Morse key.  The J-37 key is a marvel of simplicity. There are many more glamorous wartime keys around, but the keys that carried the bulk of the action were the J-37 keys.  The J-37 key is unusual because, with the addition of different bases and connections, it became part of other more special purpose keys.  The base for this key has an extended set of binding posts on the rear for attaching a long set of connecting wires, and indentations on each side to allow the wires to be wrapped around the base of the key for storage in a training set.  This key was not given its own "J-" number as was done in most other cases, so the imaginative GI's found their own name for it.

J-37 Morse Key
The Army Signal Corps J-37 "Mae West" with the leg strap attachment.
The leg strap secured the key to the soldiers thigh, allowing him
to move during combat while keeping the key readily accessible.
 He only had to reach down to send his message while standing or sitting.

I found my J-37 "Mae West" at a yard sale recently for ten bucks!

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