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World War II era Speed Graphic help

 
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Skywriter1958



Joined: 01 Jun 2016
Posts: 3
Location: Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 6:18 pm    Post subject: World War II era Speed Graphic help Reply with quote

This post might also fall under the military camera category, but I think for this initial inquiry I'm in the right place.

I'm a military historian and author with several books in print about the air war in the Southwest Pacific. Currently I'm writing a narrative about the first American heavy bomber offensive of the war, which occurred from bases in Australia and New Guinea in early 1942.

But the story begins with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

On the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, Staff Sgt. Lee Embree was aboard a B-17 that happened to arrive over Oahu on the same general bearing as the first wave of Japanese attackers. Embree was carrying his "Speed Graphic" camera. A photo of Embree and his camera appear in this 2008 article:

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20080125/NEWS/801250302

In the article, the writer alludes that prior to taking off from California, Embree swapped seats with the squadron flight surgeon. This was supposedly done so that Embree could connect his camera to the 24-volt electrical system of one of the new B-17Es. (Embree was originally supposed to ride aboard an older B-17C.) I have subsequently confirmed with B-17 experts that the older C models had a 12-volt system, while the new E models did indeed feature a 24-volt system.

My knowledge of the Speed Graphic is extremely limited. Was it capable of being connected to an electrical system? 24-volt systems were not common in the civilian world--cars in those days had 6-volt systems--so it seems odd that the camera would connect to a fairly unusual system.

Was there a military version of the Speed Graphic made for aerial photographers? If so, perhaps the electrical connection makes sense.

Thanks in advance for any help rendered![/url]
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3669
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are no electrical components of a Speed Graphic of that era. The model in production at the time WWII started was the Anniversary Speed Graphic. Its replacement model the Pacemaker Speed Graphic started production in 1947.

The only accessory I'm aware of that uses electricity is a flash consisting of a battery case and a shutter release solenoid.

The camera in the picture of Mr. Embree in the linked article is a Pre Anniversary Speed graphic. It was simply called a Speed Graphic in the day.
It has no flash or solenoid on it. The lens is in a Dial Set Compur shutter. The lens is probably a 135mm but could be a 152mm. There is a shutter release cable attached to the shutter and mounted to the top right if the front standard. The camera has an Optical View Finder on the top right and a Kalart side rangefinder.

Anyone know of a 24V accessory for a Pre Anniversary Speed?
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Jim C.



Joined: 18 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only thing I can think of is that the camera that needed the 24 volts
might have been one of the Fairchild K series aerial cameras, some were
equipped with lenses from Graflex so it could have been mistakenly
ID'd as a Graflex camera.
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Skywriter1958



Joined: 01 Jun 2016
Posts: 3
Location: Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim C. wrote:
The only thing I can think of is that the camera that needed the 24 volts
might have been one of the Fairchild K series aerial cameras, some were
equipped with lenses from Graflex so it could have been mistakenly
ID'd as a Graflex camera.


Thanks for the replies so far. This might help explain why Embree asked to switch seats. I don't know any more about aerial cameras than I do about Speed Graphics, but it would make sense that as the squadron photographer, Embree toted more than one camera on the flight across the Pacific: his personal Speed Graphic and an Army-issue aerial camera that required a 24-V connection. The latter would justify the request to change seats. It's entirely possible that Embree used his personal camera to take the famous photos over and on Oahu on that important day, but the newspaper writer misinterpreted the information. Certainly wouldn't be the first time.

Besides the Fairchild series, were there other mil-spec cameras (presumably hand-held) that might have been issued to a photographer in the Air Corps and could be plugged into an aircraft power supply?
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
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Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A google search for WWII aircraft cameras gives this Wikipedia page:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_K-20 which should answer the question of other aircraft cameras of the era.
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Markus



Joined: 13 May 2015
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Location: MA, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So what's the 24V used for in an aerial camera? Heating the camera? Or was there motorized film transport?
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3669
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

According to this manual http://www.cameramanuals.org/prof_pdf/k-20_aircraft_camera.pdf the K20 is a manually operated camera for hand held use. There may have been an auxiliary electronically operated remote control system but I can find no mention of one.

The 24V aircraft system provides brighter lighting than 12V systems.

There may be better information buried in a military archive somewhere.
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Dan Fromm



Joined: 14 May 2001
Posts: 2016
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Um, I b'lieve that Graflex made Fairchild K-24 cameras for the Army Air Corps. Some of these beasties had motor drive backs.

24VDC is the standard aircraft low voltage DC power. 24v batteries etc., 28 v generators. The standard aircraft AC power is 120v 400 hz.
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Skywriter1958



Joined: 01 Jun 2016
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Location: Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for all of these replies, which are helpful, and got me to take a step back and think in more general terms.

Staff Sgt. Embree was a photographer assigned to a reconnaissance squadron, which happened to be on its way to the Philippines when the attack on Pearl Harbor waylaid everything.

So logic suggests that his personal Speed Graphic camera had nothing to do with the B-17's electrical system. Instead, Embree was almost certainly assigned one or more of the "fixed" or aircraft-mounted cameras for reconnaissance and bombing assessment use.

I'm inquiring with some B-17 experts for confirmation, but I'm fairly certain that all E models had camera ports.
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grenadier2002



Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 6
Location: So California

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 6:24 am    Post subject: Speed graphic Reply with quote

Have you checked the air museums in your area? I know Yanks air museum (Chino California) has a bunch of graflex AAC cameras and a p-51 and p-38 camera airships.
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dstoenner



Joined: 03 Jun 2016
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

45PSS wrote:
A google search for WWII aircraft cameras gives this Wikipedia page:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_K-20 which should answer the question of other aircraft cameras of the era.


The reference here states that these camera used a vacuum system to hold the film flat so my guess is that the 24VDC was used for the vacuum pump.

Just a hunch

David
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