The German Luftwaffe used a very
simple way in which to identify their cameras systems, all
reconnaissance cameras had
either a two or three letter code followed by two numbers, a
diagonal slash and then a further two numbers.
|Below find a list of Luftwaffe cameras as listed in Luftwaffe Photographic Equipment Schedule L.Dv.488/6|
|Hand Held Cameras
HKS, HK 13, HK 19
Rb 10/12, Rb 10/18, Rb 12/7.5, Rb 12.5/9x9, Rb 20/12, Rb 20/30, Rb 21/18, Rb 30/18,
Rb 32/7x9, Rb 40/12, Rb 50/18, Rb 75/18, Rb 50/30, Rb 75/30, Rb 100/30, Rb 150/30
NRb 30/18, NRb 35/25, NRb 40/25
SMK 16, SAK 35, ROBOT I & ROBOT II
HK-19 Hand Held Camera
HK-12.5/7x9 Hand Held Camera
HK-19 Hand Held Camera
|The Luftwaffe handheld cameras were extensively used before and during the early stages of the war. They were mainly used from an open cockpit reconnaissance aircraft. Later they were also used for ad hoc imagery collection from fighter and bomber aircraft. One example being is the HK 19 which came into service in the mid 1930's, another being the HK 12.5/7x9.|
|The three images above display the Rb **/30 camera.|
By far the most widely used
reconnaissance camera operated by the Luftwaffe was the
Rb 30 series. This camera was first introduced in
1938 It was a large format camera designed mainly for task of carrying
out photo-mapping work.
At the beginning of the World War 2, the Rb 20/30 was in
general use throughout the Luftwaffe, however, as Allied aircraft slowly forced the Luftwaffe to fly at
greater higher heights, the focal length of the lenses had to increased and
to this end, the
75/30 became more widely used. These camera were generally mounted
mostly in the vertical position, as a single camera or set up as a split pair.
It was also known that they were
occasions used in the oblique position.
The camera was fitted with an iris shutter within the lens and when fitted with a full magazine of film (210ft) and all attachments, its approximately weight was 160lb. Using a large film format, 32cm wide perforated film, this would give a frame size of nearly one foot square. During the exposing of the imagery, the film itself was held flat within the camera by means of "dynamic" air pressure that was supplied by the camera motor drive.
|The above image gives a comparison of Luftwaffe and RAF cameras.|
Luftwaffe cameras were removed from a "downed" Do 17 and compared
with RAF F.24s. The analysis from the cameras found that they
approximately produced imagery of the same scale.
(L to R) Rb50/30, F.24 with 14" Lens, Rb 20/30, F.24 with 3.25" Lens
As the war continued the Luftwaffe looked at
developing smaller and lighter reconnaissance cameras, mostly on the
lines of the USAAF and the RAF, these cameras evolved from the hand-held versions of
the pre-war systems. Captured RAF cameras may have also helped in some
way towards the development. The Luftwaffe looked at a number of smaller size film formats
for these camera,
25cm (10 inches), 7.5cm (3 inches) and the most generally used 18cm (7
These cameras were primarily used in aircraft that could not carry the bulky Rb 30 series.
With the 7x9cm format two focal length lenses were used, the 32cm and the 12.5cm, both these cameras used a focal plane shutter suggesting that they may have been a copy of the RAF F.24 or the USAAF K-24.
|Rb 12.5/7x9 in a Ju290||A pair of Rb 12/7.5 in a Fw 190A-3/U4||Fitting into a Bf 109|