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Zenith 6-D-315 (6D315) (left) & 6-D-311 (6D311) Bakelite
Table Radios (1939)
Zenith's most adventurous styling for any midget radio. They
were designed by Robert Budlong, who was retained by Zenith
for a number of years, during which time he was responsible for
many of their cabinet designs. The 6D311, one of Zenith's first
Bakelite models, was released in June of 1938, as part of the
line-up for the new 1939 model season. As best as I can
ascertain, the 6D315 followed in early 1939, perhaps as an
upgrade to the 6D311, and continued to be available into the
1940 model season.

The 6D315 (above left) was Zenith's first model to use a rear
wavemagnet attachment (photo lower right). In comparison with
the 6D311, it also added a handle and updated the dial scale.
I've seen the 6D315 with two variations on the escutcheon, one
as shown here (which is the same as that used for the 6D311)
and another with the additional word "wavemagnet" embossed
on it beneath the word "Zenith". I initially thought my unit had
the incorrect escutcheon, but I've since seen enough like this
one to be sure it's authentic, from the factory. The picture in
Jesperson's
Zenith Brochure Book also shows the escutcheon
for the 6D315 without the additional word "wavemagnet". Bas-
ed on a study of Zenith advertising, I now believe that the word
"wavemagnet" was added to the escutcheon at the start of the
1940 model year (i.e. around June 1939). There were perhaps
other minor tweaks to the design made at that time.

The 6D311 had an original purchase price of $14.95 for the
Franciscan Brown plastic version shown here. It was also
available in Ebony or ivory at $17.95. I found the 6D315 being
advertised for sale in April of 1939 (i.e. late 1939 model
season) at $19.95, though it was later offered as part of the
1940 line-up for $24.95.

Technical Details

The 6D311 is an ac/dc-powered superheterodyne that uses 5
tubes plus a ballast. The tube line-up is 6A8G (mixer/LO),
6K7G (IF amp), 6Q7G (2nd detector/AVC), 25L6 (AF amp),
25Z6G (rectifier). The schematic may be found
here, courtesy
of NostalgiaAir. Coverage is of the American standard
broadcast band from approximately 550-1700kc.

The 6D315 has a very similar chassis to the 311 but uses a
6U7G in place of the 6K7G as the IF amp and of course, it
features the wavemagnet. The schematic is available
here.
Curiously, this set provides reduced coverage of the standard
broadcast band, from 550-1550kc approximately.
What's to do? says mother. Father likes Fred Allen.
Mother says "Let's have something classical". Bro-
ther roots for "
GangBusters". Sister's a jitterbug with a
swing complex. Every night in the living room.. pandem-
onium!

"Oh for a radio in every one's room! Bright thought ..
peace at any price" says dad. Let's go down and turn
in this old parlor jalopy for a New Season 1939 Zenith
Automatic Tuning Console and three of those new low
price Superheterodyne midgets! We can do it with
those unheard of Zenith prices.

"What, you'll take the old jalopy and a few bucks as
down payment? Why, it's peace at a pittance, thank
God".
6D311...America's biggest little radio value.   King of the compacts.
If it hasn't a wavemagnet, it isn't a Zenith!
6D315. The RADIO with the WAVE MAGNET in the LITTLE GOLD BOX.
No ANTENNA! No GROUND! Just Plug in and Play Anywhere!
"Beautiful Reception in places where no
other radio will work. Handsome, compact,
portable new plastic radio gets distant and
local reception even next to elevators,
interference from neon signs and other
electrical disturbances. For use
everywhere and especially wherever
reception is difficult"
                                 
Clipped from a newspaper ad for the 6D315,
dated April 1939
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Zenith 6-D-311 Bakelite Table Radio (1939)
Zenith 6-D-315 Bakelite Table Radio with 'Wavemagnet' (1939)
Zenith wavemagnet attachment  for 6D315 Table Radio (1939)