I am an avid ZENITH collector. If I won the "Mega-Bucks", I would own one of every Zenith manufactured 1935-1942 and one of every Zenith Trans-Oceanic accompanied by it Zenith "Universal" portable companion. However, not seeing such a winning on the horizon, I must invest wisely and practice selectivity as I expand my Zenith collection. During the next few weeks, throughout this website, I will present an expose of some of my "favorites" from my collection of Zeniths and other radios. I think this is a good place to begin so I will with a brief history of the development of the Zenith Trans-Ocanic radio which is highly sought after and coveted by collectors the world over.
Commander Eugene F. McDonald, president of Zenith, often traveled by yacht to the far regions of the Great Lakes. Radio reception in these remote areas on the AM band was at best poor. Desiring to keep abreast of Hitler's activities in Europe and be informed of ever-changing weather patterns on the Great Lakes, McDonald commissioned his engineers at Zenith to build him a radio which would ful-fill those objectives. During the late summer of 1939 this radio was developed and ful-filled the needs of Zenith's CEO. Thus the seed was planted for the Zenith Trans-Oceanic radio as we know it today. In January 1942, following more than two years of testing, "The Zenith Trans-Oceanic Clipper Shortwave and Broadcast Deluxe Portable Radio" was introuduced to the public, and was an immedite success. Early versions of this radio had a clipper ship silk-screened on the speaker grill. Later versions had an unidentified 4-engine bomber silk-screened in place of the clipper. It resembled the B-17. Thus the model, 7G605, has been dubbed the "bomber" Trans-Oceanic, and is perhaps the most desirable among collectors.
I will pause here to make a recommedation. If you are just interested in old radios in general, or, an avid collector of Zenith as I am, I recommed the book, "ZENITH Trans-Oceanic the Royality of Radios" by Bryant and Cones. I will refer to it often as I present my collection. I am on my second copy having worn out the first.
The Zenith Trans-Oceanic was as much a part of peace time as war time. During our wars, it became the lonely soldier's "buddy" keeping him or her abreast of all the news, favorite radio programs, weather and the latest music. One soldier wrote that his "Trans-O" rolled half way down a mountainside, and by the time he reached it, it was still playing. These radios are indeed durable and as tough as the soldier packing one with him. Special clips were mounted inside the back cover for storing a full compliment of tubes. Trans-Oceanics have been carried to the far regions of the world during peacetime on many expeditions. They have been prized by presidents, kings and dictators. Fidel Castro's favorite radio was the model 600 (1954-1962) and was the last tube-type Trans-Oceanic.
The Zenith All Transistor Trans-O was introduced just before Christmas 1957 and continued to be produced through 1986.
Below begins a photo log of some of the Zenith Trans-Oceanics in my collection.