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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 19 Feb 2006 (Sunday) 00:10
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F-56 arial camera...

 
embdude
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Feb 19, 2006 00:10 |  #1

I picked up a new toy this weekend a WWII arial camera used by the US Navy, a F-56 made by Fairchild. It is very large and heavy! the Lens is an f8-32 40" (slightly over 1000mm if my math is correct!) and shoots a 6"x7" negative.

I am slowly figureing it out (no manual) and it needs a bit of TLC.

If anyone can offer me advice on the operation it would be greatly appreciated! I can only figure out about half the knobs and buttons so far! Stilll havent figured out the shutter release unless it has two!

I will post some pictures soon.


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Jon
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Feb 19, 2006 17:27 |  #2

Oh, wow! I had the 8" model (and the manual). Donated it to an aviation museum. You got a .50 cal. gun mount for it? The 8" one was hand-holdable, but I suspect the 40" will be a bit much, and that's what the bracket's designed for.

IIRC - the right handle is used to cock the shutter/wind the roll film (twist CW and return), then there's a recessed lever close at hand which fires it in manual operation. It requires 24 v DC; I rigged up 4 lantern batteries to drive the B3B intervalometer which came with it and would trip the camera automatically.

If you're using the 5x7" magazines (even back in the '70s 7" roll film was hard to find, and running a Versamat was even worse for a poor starving grad student), mount, remove dark slide, cock shutter, expose, pull sheet changer to get used sheet holder into leather light-safe pouch, move exposed slide to top of stack, repeat. The sheet film holders will also accept 5x7" glass plates if you want, IIRC. Count your exposures!

Shutter speed and aperture set by dials near the front of the lens, IIRC (may well be different on the 40"), using essentially standard apertures/shutter speeds of the time. There was a frame counter and a (compartment for) a watch, with illuminator to get a time-stamp exposed on the frame (only fit in the roll film area). The watch had long gone by the time I got it.

Post some pics of areas you're puzzled about - they may jog my memory.


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Feb 22, 2006 23:47 as a reply to  @ Jon's post |  #3

Thanks Jon

My F-56 is a bit incomplete, It has no back!:confused: Im not to sure if I will search one out or just make my own. Unlikely I will shoot yards of 6x7"roll film though! :lol:

For now I just want to get it up and working, then I will ponder what I am gonna really do with it! I will proably build a back for the Digital Rebel just for fun. Talk about the mother of all lens adaptations! Might be good for astro-photos

I hope to get some shots of it tomarrow.....

Do I understand correctly that it will take 24volts to trip the shutter? and are there any components in the missing back that I need for shutter operation?


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Jon
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Feb 23, 2006 13:01 |  #4

It was designed to run off aircraft voltages, which were 24V. It does work fully manual as well. There's a cam in the lens cone that meshes with the roll-film back to advance the film;otherwise everything happens in the cone. The 5x7 magazines had a supplemental back as well; the magazines connect to the back, and you could probably use that as a means of connecting a 300D with 5x7ish plate.

My fantasy (back when it wouldn't have aroused a "shoot first" reaction from the local police) was to get a Jeep and fix a MG mount in the back to mount the camera on. Would have been great at air shows.


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Feb 23, 2006 13:25 as a reply to  @ Jon's post |  #5

Right now I apparently can not trip the shutter with it set in manual operation, or change the apeature. The shutter speed knob turns ok.

Am I correct in thinking it is fixed focus at infinity??

Also the little U.S. Navy pocket watch is present in the little lighted compartment. It just needed to be wound up and now keeps good time. Proably the least important feature for me at this point but still prety cool!

The glass itself appears to bee in great shape (it came with front and rear lenscaps) A little fungus growing perhaps which can easily be removed. The shutter between the elements also looks good with no oil or tarnishing.


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Jon
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Feb 23, 2006 13:33 |  #6

Right, fixed focus. I vaguely recall there may be a latch on the RH hand-grip (which is the winding/cocking mechanism). Spring-loaded pin, maybe. Disengage that and you should be able to work the handle forward, then back to cock the shutter.


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Feb 23, 2006 19:30 as a reply to  @ Jon's post |  #7

Ok here are the promised photos! Weighing in at 49 lbs. even without the back!

I got the apeature working on now.

Still dont know about the shutter though. Looks like I am missing the handels on mine. The right hand one appears to attach to a circular mount, possibly the shutter wind. I cant get it to move with my hands, maybe it is stuck and maybe I dont get enough leverage without the handle, proably a little of both!

The first photo is the F-56 with a EOS 650 w/70-200 and a Koni-Omega 6x7cm camera (used to be my biggest till the F-56)


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Feb 23, 2006 19:32 as a reply to  @ embdude's post |  #8

Right side controls....what do they do?

I notice the brackets for the back are silver while everything else is black. I wonder if they were added later????


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Feb 23, 2006 19:37 as a reply to  @ embdude's post |  #9

The shutter-speed and Apeature control on the black dials.


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Feb 23, 2006 19:39 as a reply to  @ embdude's post |  #10

The back....

And the cool pocket watch compartment:cool:


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Feb 23, 2006 19:42 as a reply to  @ embdude's post |  #11

one more shot. It has a large very substantial tripod? mount.


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Feb 24, 2006 00:26 |  #12

my goodness, THAT's some big glass!




  
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Feb 28, 2006 14:26 |  #13

Jon,

The lens needs a bit of cleaning, do you suppose if I unscrewed the screws at the bulde in the upper mid cone I wouls be able to get at it?

Still havent figured out the shutter....


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Jon
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Mar 09, 2006 14:36 |  #14

Been keeping really busy - just came round to look for this.
The mount's designed for the .50 cal. MG mount in a bomber - usually a waist gun position,for oblique shots.

Your example seems to be missing the handles, which screw on (directly under the aperture control dial on the LH side, onto the large circular section on the RH side). The one on the RH side is the one you'd use to manually cock it by winding back & forth. IIRC, the straight lever in the recess on the right was the manual shutter release. My 8" one didn't have the other, curved, lever yours does. It might allow cocking, but I'm not sure. You'd have to put the Handle Lock knob to Manual, I think. Those latch-like fasteners are definitely after market. The original magazines had a semi-circular latching mechanism that hooked over the two studs (l & R) just beloww the added latches. Maybe a previous owner modded a different sized film magazine for use on it.
The counter is actually a frame counter.

Not having had the 40" to play with, and not having needed to disassemble the 8" one I had, I can only guess. I'd suspect that there's some mechanical linkage between the two ends - if you were to try disassembling it I couldn't say what the effect might be. I dunno, though. Could be the shutter and aperture are behind the lenses in the rear half; you might be OK. Would make sense, as it'd simplify things.

Possible sources for more info: Department of the Navy, Archives unit
Fairchild Semiconductor
American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Whittier College has the Fairchild Aerial Photography collection; Caltech has the Sherman Fairchild Library of Engineering & Applied Science.


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CyberDyneSystems
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Mar 09, 2006 15:55 |  #15

That's amazing!
Get it hooked up to yopur digitals and the "crop factor" would be what?
From 6X7?

40" X 25.4 = 1000 mm (rounded slightly :) )

You gotta firgure "X factor" brings it upwards of 3000mm? ... :shock: No?


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F-56 arial camera...
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