top of page

二戰-民國32年:美國陸軍航空隊,格拉菲 C-3 地面照相機,序號:43-29794《Black Water Museum Collections | 黑水博物館館藏》

World War II - 1943: US ARMY AIR FORCE, Ground Camera Type C-3, SERIAL NO. 43-29794, Mfrs. of Graflex and Speed Graphic Cameras

二戰-民國32年:美國陸軍航空隊,格拉菲 C-3 地面照相機,序號:43-29794《Black Water Museum Collections | 黑水博物館館藏》


World War II - 1943: US ARMY AIR FORCE, Ground Camera Type C-3, SERIAL NO. 43-29794, Mfrs. of Graflex and Speed Graphic Cameras 二戰-民國32年:美國陸軍航空隊,格拉菲 C-3 地面照相機,序號:43-29794《Black Water Museum Collections | 黑水博物館館藏》
World War II - 1943: US ARMY AIR FORCE, Ground Camera Type C-3, SERIAL NO. 43-29794, Mfrs. of Graflex and Speed Graphic Cameras 二戰-民國32年:美國陸軍航空隊,格拉菲 C-3 地面照相機,序號:43-29794《Black Water Museum Collections | 黑水博物館館藏》

































GRAFLEX HISTORIC QUARTERLY FOURTH QUARTER 2010
.pdf
Download PDF • 2.51MB

We all know the Speed Graphic was the staple US military still camera before, during, and for some time, after WWII. While the Army/Signal Corps was the greatest user of these cameras and generally the only branch of the Forces to have specially modified parts (the black Kodak Supermatic shutters) or whole cameras (the olive drab PH-47-J and KE-12(1) Pacemaker Speed Graphics), the other Forces used pretty much off-the-shelf cameras. Going back to WWI, the US Army Signal Corps was issued Kodak 3A (finished in brown leather and brass hardware) cameras, a total of a few hundred Graflex 3A, Tele Graflex (both in brown leather and brass hardware) cameras, and possibly some standard Speed Graphic cameras. Between the World Wars, specially designated military Graflex cameras seemed to have died out. In about 1937, however, the US Army Air Corps contracted Graflex to supply the USAAC designated “Camera, Ground-Type C-3,” an off-the-shelf 4x5" Speed Graphic, equipped with a dial-set Compur shutter and a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens. After 1940 the same designation (C-3) was applied to the new Anniversary model 4x5" Speed Graphic, and this continued until about 1943, under different contract numbers. A departure from the seemingly strict Armed Forces 4x5" format occurred when Graflex supplied the US Army Air Forces with Miniature Speed Graphics, imaginatively named “Camera, Ground-Type C-4.” Strangely, although all the C-4 cameras known to me have 1941 serial numbers, Air Forces documentation suggests they weren’t supplied until 1943. Sometime after 1947, the latest Pacemaker Speed Graphic was supplied under contract as - yes, you guessed it - the “Camera, Ground-Type C-6.” Early in the 1950s, all military Graflex contracts were done through the General Services Administration, no matter which branch of the Forces the cameras were destined for, so it is quite possible for a Navy or Army camera to have an “AF33 (xxx)xxxxxxxx” contract number.


The major difference between the Air Forces version and the standard camera is the special black solenoid, allowing the shutter to be tripped by the flash handle, mounted on a small black custom plate screwed to the lensboard and immediately above the lens. This same solenoid was later used, with slight modifications, in the wooden-bodied US Navy/USMC Combat Graphic toward the end of WWII.


A secondary difference, and in common with many other AAF 4x5" Speed Graphics, are the three small red or (probably faded orange) dots on the front lens of the top tubular viewfinder. According to Tim Holden, a 40-year Graflex employee, they are a parallax correction device for centering subjects at very close distances, at 4 feet, 2 feet or 18 inches when the viewfinder rear eyepiece distance is set at 6 feet.


Yet another difference, but only in contrast with the C-3 and C-6 4x5" cameras, is the use of a plastic military nomenclature plate, on the outside of the front door, instead of the usual metal version. Most of the plastic plates are now brittle and very fragile. On two of my cameras, the plates are now missing, but the four rivet holes show where they were. The C-4 plate is about half the size as those on the C-3 and C-6 Speed Graphics.


Two of the cameras are fitted with the small silver-faced Graphex shutter and Graflex Optar f4.5 101mm, and the above mentioned black solenoid, while the third camera (number 293525) is fitted with a silver-faced Kodak Supermatic No. 1, an Ektar f/4.5 101mm with an “EC”(1941) serial number prefix, and an early Graflex solenoid. Whether this last camera left the factory equipped like that is speculation. It is certainly different from other (and that’s not many) C-4 cameras I have seen. All three cameras have a circular white Acceptance Stamp* on the inside of the bed: number 292625 and number 293703 have small stamps, approx 9mm diameter, while number 293525 (again the odd one) has a 15mm diameter stamp. All C-4s have the standard Mini Speed Graphic spring back, of course, with the built-in focal plane shutter flash sync.


The C-4 was supplied in a small unmarked brown leather-cased outfit, that seems poorly equipped when compared to the other military outfits, or “camera sets.” Inside the case is the camera, lens hood and K2 filter, a two-cell Graflex flash with 5" reflector, two flash sync cords, one double-sided Graphic sheet film holder, and a Graphic film pack adapter. Barely enough room is left for a couple of flash bulbs.


This (“Camera, Ground-Type C-3”) is the most common version of the AAF Speed Graphics. The C-3 history spans both the pre-Anniversary and Anniversary Speed Graphics, and the earliest (Pre-Anniversary) example in the collection is serial number 197145, from 1937. My C-3 Anniversary model serial numbers are 268369 (1940), 308065 (1942), 320902 (1943) and 321051 (also 1943). All cameras appear to be stock standard models of their time, meaning some have chrome metal parts, and others are all black. The all black wartime Anniversary models have the three red dots on the front of the top viewfinders, while the Pre-Anny version and earlier Anniversary versions have no dots. All cameras have a metal military nomenclature plate fitted to the outside of the front door.


The 1937 model has a Wollensak Alphax with a No. 32 Kodak Anastigmat f/4.5 6 3/8" lens. As the lens serial number begins with “EC,” I believe it was replaced by the AAF in 1941, as my earliest Anniversary C-3 also has the same shutter/lens combination. Research suggests the early pre-Anniversary C-3 cameras were originally fitted with a dial-set Compur shutter and a Carl Zeiss Tessar of 13.5cm or 15cm focal length. The Alphax shutters are connected to the first model (c1941) Graflex flat top solenoid which is mounted on the right side, as viewed from the front of the camera.


All the wartime C-3 Anniversary models seem to be fitted firstly with a No. 3 Supermatic shutter and No. 32 Kodak Anastigmat f/4.5 6 3/8" lens and later the silver No. 2 Supermatic shutter and 127mm Ektar lens, although there appears to be considerable overlap. I have seen a photo (in a 1943 Air Forces manual) of a C-3 equipped with a Graphex shutter and an unknown lens, which looks large enough to be the No. 32 Kodak or maybe a 135mm Optar. All of mine have the standard Graphic spring back, and I haven’t seen any with a Graflex back. Whether any C-3s were made after 1943 is not known, so if anyone has any information on later ones, please let me know. A May 1943 USAAF publication mentions 4778 cameras already “at hand” with further procurements of 400 (April ’43), 400 (May ’43), 491 (June ’43), 500 (July ’43) and a further 300 for each month August through December 1943, giving a grand total of 8,069 camera outfits (see next paragraph) at the cost of $243.35 each.


The C-3 came in a fully loaded black leather, purple lined case with “CASE TYPE C-3 CAMERA” proudly stenciled in white across the front. Inside was the camera, a Crown No. 1 wooden tripod, 3-cell Graflex flash, side extension flash, 7" and 5" reflectors, flash cords, six Graphic double-sided sheet film holders, a Graphic film pack adapter, lens hood and filter holder, filters, a black focusing cloth, and, in some outfits, a Bausch & Lomb 88mm wide-angle lens. There was also room for film, flash bulbs and a light meter. I swear every photographer finished the war 4" shorter after carrying that lot around!



The_4x5_speed_graphic_anniversary_instruction_and_ref_manual
.pdf
Download PDF • 3.40MB

1939 Graflex Prize Winning Camera Catalog
.pdf
Download PDF • 29.43MB


bottom of page