The Columbus 5A was manufactured for Columbus Radio Centre Ltd by Radio Corporation of New Zealand Ltd in 1951, it was in production for 2 years. It's part of the RCNZ Model 5 series of radios.

Other radios based on the same chassis:

Miniature 5-valve mantle broadcast band radio.  Its likely that the 5A was the code for the switch to all miniature valves.

One of the photographed models above has an extra knob (the middle one) which is not original, and probably a home-brew tone control.

The Columbus 5A is part of the RCNZ Model 5 series of radios.

The first model 5's appeared in 1949 (although the model is widely accepted as being released for the 1950 range), and lasted for around 4-5 years with various changes along the way.  The first model used a mix of miniature and octal valves, but subsequent models used all miniatures.  Externally they all looked much the same aside from the model 5B which had a slightly wider dial scale, and a slightly narrower speaker grill to maintain the correct width for the model 5's cabinet.

By the mid-50's Radio Corporation of NZ was producing new plastic-cabinet radios like the 504 and 565, and this new versatile and colourful material was rapidly replacing timber as the cabinet style of choice - the model 5 being one of the last wooden mantle radios from Radio Corp NZ.

The radios in this series are:

Technical Information

Valves (5): Model 5
6BE6, 6BA6, 6AV6, 6K6 or 6V6GT, 6X5GT

Subsequent models:
6BE6, 6BA6, 6AV6, 6AQ5, 6X4

Intermediate Frequency: 455kc/s

Frequency Bands: 1

Chassis Notes(most schematics can be clicked to download a full size version)

The model 5 lasted for a few years and was released in four different variants with two valve lineups.  The models were the 55A, 5B and 5M.

The model 5 was originally spec'd to use an octal 6K6** output valve, although its likely that most have a 6V6.  There is also a release note stating it would most likely change to be a 6AQ5 in time.  It also showed an octal 6X5GT rectifier.  All subsequent models have a full miniature valve lineup.  The early schematic showing octal output and rectifier valves has no date or drawing number and may be a lab drawing, or an unofficial release to meet requests from service departments around the country.  A subsequently released 'Model 5' drawing dated August 1951, almost a year after the release note, shows all miniature valves.  Its unclear if RCNZ was referring to the original model 5 or all available variants at that time (although not all variants had the shown loop antenna).

The later versions also had a better spread of the frequency band as can be seen in the comparison photo of the early model 5 dial and the later ones.

The model 5B has a wider dial, with a narrower speaker grill to compensate, and uses a standard aerial coil rather than the loop aerial the other models have.

**Of interest is the valve lineup provided by the release notice sent to Columbus Radio Centres (see below) - the output valve is listed as a 6K6, which may be updated later to a 6AQ5.  The 6K6 is a lesser known cousin of the venerable 6V6 and RCNZ must have had a few of these rarer output valves for them to spec it into the set - although the official RCNZ schematic shows a 6V6GT.  Of course, all subsequent variants of the model 5 used 6AQ5 miniature output pentode.


Release notes for the Columbus model 5

1950 Columbus model 5 Schematic

1950 Columbus model 5 later schematic

General Construction Notes for Radio Corporation of New Zealand Ltd:

The first digit of the serial number typically indicates the year of manufacture of RCNZ chassis' (although not the decade - that requires a little knowledge of the valves, construction, etc). Sets from around 1934 onwards were often (but not always) constructed in a distinctive pressed 'baking pan' style chassis, seemingly unique to RCNZ.

Model codes beginning with a 0, for example the model 051, are Osram valve versions of the model without the leading 0. Technically the 0 should be an O (for Osram), however the digit 0 was used throughout the site before this fact was discovered.

The E suffix indicates a magic eye option is fitted (in models which were available with or without, such as the model 25).

A and B suffixes appear to be simply updates to the current model, R also appears to be simply an updated model ('R'edesign, perhaps?)

P indicates either a permanent magnet speaker version of a model which also came with an electromagnet speaker (the model 26 for example), or a portable model (like the model 694P).

N and M indicated miniature valve versions of a model which started with all (or a mix, ie: model 5) of larger valves. One of these two codes may indicate a transitional mixture of octal and miniature - clarification is required.

S often indicates a stereo model.  It can also indicate 'self-biased' in the transition period between back-biased and self biased sets where there were models with both methods employed (53S for example)

Finally, other suffixes and prefixes make occasional appearances in the RCNZ lineup - like the 66W (a variant of the long-running model 66) and the 75XA (a 10-valve version of the model 75 with a separate amplifier chassis).

Other documented models using this chassis (6 in total)

1949 Courtenay model 5 'Talisman'
1949 Columbus model 5 'Bristol'
1951 Columbus model 5M 'Bristol'
1953 Columbus model 5B 'Bristol'
1954 Courtenay model 5B 'Talisman'