RCA R28 (R-28) Cathedral Style Tube Radio, Late (1933)
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RCA Model R28 Cathedral Tube Radio (1933)
RCA Model R28 Cathedral Tube Radio Chassis View (1933)
The RCA-Victor model R28 cathedral radio featured
here is the later two-band, 4-knob version introduced
circa the early May 1933 timeframe. It listed at $19.95
and formed part of the company's
carryette series.
The evolution of the R28 from its early to late vers-
ions makes an interesting story.

In March of 1933, just a month or so before the rel-
ease of the late R28, RCA Victor placed an ad in Rad-
io Retailing announcing what were perhaps the first
four of their
carryette models, once they were ready to
ship: the
Chest R28B, Colonial R28C, Tambour R28D
Sheraton R28E (ad from March 1933 below). Hot
on their heels, during that same month of March, add-
carryette models appeared in newspaper ads,
including the early version of the R28 cathedral, hav-
ing one band and 3-knobs (ad from
March 31st). Per-
haps these additional sets just missed the printers
deadline for the March edition of Radio Retailing. Of
note is that during this early period, there was no men-
tion of shortwave coverage for any of the models; they
were all single band with 3 knobs. The R28 c
used the same 5-tube type R-28 chassis, which had
obviously been designed with the flexibility to allow it
to be embodied within multiple cabinet types.

RCA's neat and tidy plans for the
carryettes however
met with upheaval just a month or two in. A May adver-
tisement in Radio Retailing (
May 1933), the copy for
which would likely have needed to be submitted in
April, proclaimed the addition of the police band to the
R28 series. This appears to have all happened so
quickly that the ad copy did not get to use updated
photos. The R28, for example, was still depicted as
the three knob version, whereas in truth the two band
sets added a fourth knob for band switching. The
same was true for the illustrations used in newspaper
ads, such as one from
May 1st 1933 (it is for the late
cathedral set, as it references shortwave). What is
particularly striking is that the tidy, symmetrical app-
earance of the knob arrangement for the single band
sets was unbalanced by the addition of a fourth knob
at the extreme right of the cabinet facade - see my set
to the right!

So what could have caused this abrupt change in
plans by RCA-Victor? I postulate that the about-face
was all a reaction to Philco's introduction of the
and its quick follow-on to their 80B. The single-band
4-tube 80B was introduced in the fall of 1932 as a sell-
up model, priced very competitively to draw buyers
into stores, where they might then be persuaded to
buy one of Philco's more expensive models. But sales
of the 80B at once took off, and it became a run-away
best seller, much to the surprise of Philco. When RCA
saw this they perhaps conceived of or accelerated
carryette line, with its principal model, the R28
cathedral, offering comparable style, features and pri-
cing to the 80B. While RCA's plans were in the works,
however, before any of the sets had been released
for sale, Philco moved the goalposts and, in January
of 1933, upgraded their model 80B to receive police
calls, naming the modified set the
model 81B. RCA-
Victor at this time would likely have been committed to
releasing their single-band
carryettes, which went on
for a circa March of 1933 debut. In the meantime, it
appears they scrambled to upgrade the models as
soon as possible to provide police band coverage,
not wanting to be outdone by Philco. Making matters
worse was that upon introducing the 81B Philco red-
uced the price of the model 80B to $15, which comp-
ared directly with their early model R28 at $20. As a
result, RCA's release of the two-band
carryettes in
around May of 1933 was rushed, with ads placed bef-
ore even updated photos and illustrations had been
obtained. By June, however, all was caught up, with
ads properly depicting the dual-band
carryettes as
having 4 knobs (see
June  & July ads below).

As best as I can tell, the R28 cathedral sets, both
early and late, were referenced using just R28, with
no trailing letter. All other models were distinguished
using a trailing letter (A thru G). This would imply that
the cathedral was the principal or founding member of
the series, despite it appearing to have not been the
first to be announced. In all, I've seen it mentioned
that ultimately, 8
carryette model types were offered
at this time.

The dual-band R-28 series utilizes the 5-tube R28-P
chassis (the P designating police band coverage).
The tubes are 58 (RF), 2A7 (mixer/LO), 57 (2nd
detector), 2A5 (AF power amp) & 80 (rectifier). Band
coverage is 540 to 1500kcs (standard broadcast) and
1400 to 2800 kcs (police). The radio provides no
Automatic-Volume-Control and has a two-point tone
control. The schematic may be found
here, courtesy

The single-band
carryettes appear to have been dis-
continued once the late versions appeared, making
them comparative rarities today. By the fall of 1933,
the R-28 cathedral was replaced with
model 110 for
the 1934 model year. The chassis was basically the
same, the principal difference being the replacement
of the two-point tone control with a continuously var-
iable one.
ABOVE: Early ads from RCA Victor for carryette models. Left is from a
Utah newspaper dated
March 31st 1933. Right is from Radio Retailing,
March 1933
. All models shown are single band with 3-knobs.
ABOVE: Ads for upgraded 2-band models, but having photos of the earlier
single band sets. Left is from a Berkeley, CA, newspaper dated
May 1st
. Right is from Radio Retailing,  May 1933.
ABOVE: Ads for upgraded 2-band models with correct model depictions. Left
is from an Oakland, CA, newspaper dated
June 7th 1933. Right is from
Radio Retailing,  July 1933.
May 1933 Radio
Retailing editorial
announcement for
the Carryette line
(among others).
Its timing makes it
applicable to late
carryette versions.