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174 Posts
Posted - Apr 27 2020 :  4:34:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Excellent, thank you, Jacques!
So we have 3 varieties - the 'classic' RF, the 1d-type and the 4-digit with large engraving.

Interesting, I did not know about the magnetic frame counter. So all others are non-magnetic?
We need to summarize these features for each FED1 type / serial range some day, preferrably in the wiki but aso in one thread for all FED1.

I am a bit puzzeled about the high weight of #200068 though- 10g more than the other cameras with steel shutterbox - what could be the cause?

About the milling of the buttons - it seems the small disconnector knob with its coarse engraving is unique to classic RF, right? It seems more coarse and more crudely made than the ones in FED1'a' also these buttons are very different in diameter though the diamond shape milling is the same in your and Alexander Kneller's RF. Could you post your early FED1'f' for comparison?

About the main buttons - have you compared them to early FED1'b'?
Also take look on the curved arrows on top of the buttons indicating rewind direction - They look diffferent in FED'a' and 'b' though the millings seems almost indistinguishable in my cameras.

If we focus on the 'classic' RF with the stretched vulcanite and brass shutter box, we see these were not randomly assembled from some spare parts. They seem to have highly specific features.

Have you checked for engraved dates in the shutter cage of all cameras? It would be interesting to know from which serial range these brass shutter cages came from.

So film plates are non-magnetic without hole. Whre did they come from? Which other FED1 have those?

As for top plates, it really seems we have both the ones with blunt and sharp edges. Am I correct that the ones with blunt edges also have a much more coarse chroming finish than the sharp ones?
Any idea from which serial range those blunt top plates could be from?

Probably a lot of work but maybe we can determine from which sort of parts the classic RF were assembled and which were likely made from scratch.

More thoughts about the non-typical RF cameras next time...
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Jacques M.
2454 Posts
Posted - Apr 28 2020 :  11:07:38 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Well, some precisions after your questions.

Concerning the film plate:
- brass with hole from my # 1453 to 104370
- some incertitude then
- steel/hole from c. 120000 to c. 150000,
- steel/no hole up to the end of the Berdsks
- steel/no hole for the first 1f.

Concerning the shutterbox:
- brass from the beginning to c. 105000
- some incertitude, then
- steel up to the end of the Berdsks.
- brass for the first 1f.

The "incertitude" corresponds of course to the period during which the old and new parts were used simultaneously.

Concerning the internal date inside the RF:
- 3216: 29/?
- 200068: 31/?
- 200209: nothing visible
- 200898: 25/?
- 200977: nothing visible.

Nothing visible: I am pretty sure for the 200209. I should dismount the 200977 to be certain (I won't do it). No chance about the months: they are just on the place erased by the cartridge...

About the disconnecting button: the milling is the same (coarse) for the classical RF and the early 1f (210064, 210455, 210921). But the diameters are different: 3,6mm on 1f-s and 4,4mm on RF-s.

I will see if I can answer some other of your questions.

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Jacques M.
2454 Posts
Posted - Apr 28 2020 :  11:52:12 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

An addition about the frame counter, magnetic on the #200898.

On the # 200898, it is easy to "decide" if the frame counter is magnetic or not, because the upper plate, just below, is not.
It is much more difficult on cameras where the upper plate is magnetic, like the 1e "Berdsks" as I never know for sure whether it is the counter or the plate which reacts to the magnet... Of course, a partial dismount would be the solution. But I am very reluctant now.

Anyway, this counter does not look like an ordinary Fed's. If the pins are at the right position, the metal is much more bright: nickel?
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174 Posts
Posted - Apr 28 2020 :  6:27:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Things are becoming a bit clearer, at least I think.

To me it seems the classic Red Flags are much closer to early 1f than to any pre-war NKVD parts.
Which means - they were probably not made with pre-war spare parts but - at least largely - with post- war newly designed and produced material.

Think about it - the brass shutter box without engraved dates, the non-magnetic film plate without holes, the milling of the knobs, even the vulcanite, everything seems unique and remained the same even after they relocated back to Kharkow.

Also if I remember correctly we are told the spare parts evacuated from Kharkow and tools never made it to Berdsk so they had to re-engineer everything in 1945-46. This saves us from explaining why seemingly mostly b/c parts but no d/e parts were used for the classic RF as one would expect. What if these are not early FED spare parts but newly made?

If the blunt-edged top plates really are unique they could be early attempts to machine these parts until they managed to return to the exact specifications. You even see tool-marks on some of them.

Look at what I found, I think this is substantial:
serial ___ top plate _ finish _______ anomalities
200146 _ blunt ____ coarse chrome
200161 _ blunt(?) _ ?
200209 _ blunt ____ coarse chrome
200333 _ blunt ____ ?
200347 _ blunt ____ coarse chrome __ coarse vulcanite
200535 _ sharp ____ shiny chrome
200600 _ sharp ____ shiny chrome
200680 _ sharp ____ shiny chrome ?
200898 _ sharp ____ shiny chrome ___ 1d
200977 _ sharp ____ shiny chrome ?
201668 _ sharp ____ shiny chrome ?
201702 _ sharp ____ shiny chrome ___ 1c

More additions would be welcome!

It seems we have 2 versions of the Red Flag top plate
a) up to 200347 - unique blunt edges at speed dial, very coarse chrome
b) from 200535 - more or less normal shape of top plate with finer chrome.

I haven't looked at the dents around the disconnector in detail but things are way less chaotic or random than they seem once you only look at the RF with the classic features.

So my current theory:
RF was produced in Berdsk (Princelle's passport, photo of cameras in Berdsk)
No (or few) camera parts and next to no workers ever made it to Berdsk and no FED cameras were produced during WII.
In 45-46 they started from scratch, reconstructing all the parts and tools, some not in the same way as previous models (rewind knobs, film plate, probably shutter box). At the beginning they redesigned the top plates with blunt edges and had problems with chrome. Either they later received unengraved spare top plates or - I think this is more likely - they got better tools to better reverse-engineer the original ones.

They made the majority (Princelle at least tells us about a passport for 201280) of RF at Berdsk.
After returning to Kharkow either some late RF were assembled or - more likely - they made early 1f with the parts they still had until they ran out. Then they started to produce later 1f with the new machining tools in Kharkow, substantially changing the look of the cameras.

Questions to answer:
.)What are significant differences between RF and early 1f?
.)Is there a difference in pre-war brass shutter box and RF / 1f?
.)Is there a difference in pre-war top plates, late RF and early 1f?
.)Where did the lenses for early RF / late RF / early 1f come from?
The classic type (a) with blunt edges seems to have c/d lenses, later lenses in the wiki have 4 digits like on 1f. But we need more lens serials for that.

I already asked Alexey but got no reply To bad, he has so many interesting cameras and lists on his page #200026 (coll. V. Khalatov / Russia). I'd like to see a picture, it is said to have a strange coarse vulcanite like 200347 and some early 1f. Who else could be asked for details about their RF?

Also the Berdsk thread seems highly relevant to the RF and early 1f topic and should be linked here.
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Jacques M.
2454 Posts
Posted - Apr 29 2020 :  09:46:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Your explanation between blunt and sharp edges is interesting.

Concerning the vulcanite, we can find on the Red Flags and the very early 1f exactly the same two types: stretched, and "snowflake" (or other names), visible on Alexey site. We can find too some rare 1f with a circled shutter release button, the rule being a non-circled one from the beginning of the 1f series.

That said, my s/n 210064 is entirely normal...
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174 Posts
Posted - May 10 2020 :  08:09:22 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Jacques, can you compare the brass shutterboxes of FED NKVD, RF und FED1f?
Maybe there is something subtle. Compare the shutterbox top plate when looking into the lens mount, behind the rangefeeler. The position of the screw there varies between FED1 series.

Until contrary evidence surfaces I am pretty convinced that most if not all parts of the classic RF were made post-war either in Berdsk or Kharkow and are not pre-war spare-parts from early FED1. To me it makes no sense that the factory in Kharkow had thousands of brass shutterboxes stockpiled while switching to metal during the FED1'd' series.
Not just enough for the RF but als for early 1f and some FED Zorki? Meanwhile no late 'e' parts are used even though these were the most recent? Even worse to explain the fine milled buttons. From FED'1a/b'? I don't believe any of it to be honest but maybe there is something to prove me wrong?

A list of RF parts not seen anywhere pre-war and definitely newly made would be helpful.
.)early top plate with blunt angles and poor chrome
.)vulcanite pattern
.)disconnector button
.)non-magnetic film plate without hole
.)main buttons with fine milling(?)

Of course the inner workings of the speed selector and rangefinder would be highly interesting but I would not want to take a classic RF apart either...
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Jacques M.
2454 Posts
Posted - May 21 2020 :  08:20:52 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Frankly, I am not in the possibility to draw conclusions concerning the parts which were used to make the RF... My feeling is that it would have been easier to use 1d/1e parts, when possible and if they existed. And for the rest, re-make the missing parts.

My RF # 200977 (my "most" classic RF) has an interesting belt, with curious irregularities on the area in contact with the baseplate. Visibly, the casting of alloy was not simple for this camera, and it cannot belong to the 1d/1e series. So certainly it was specially made. My # 200209 has some identical irregularities on the same zone, but less sharp. Nothing on the three other ones. Perhaps a discriminant feature?

About some other features:
- the shutter box has always that non-bright paint on the "classic" RF, with a type of screws well shown by Alexey. It's the same on my Fed Arsenal, but with a magnetic shutter box. All that is completely different on the 1f, including the early ones: bright paint and chrome screws and bolts.
- the vulcanite, "romashka" or stretched on classic RF and very first 1f. I have never seen these coverings on other Feds, including the Fed Arsenal.

For the moment, it's all I can say. About my feeling, I think too that it should not be very easy to make a series of working shutter boxes, from nothing. I have read somewhere that Fed had always 12/15000 complete sets of parts in advance. The problem is perhaps to know where they were in 1946...

Amitiés. Jacques.

Edited by - Jacques M. on May 21 2020 08:25:20 AM
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174 Posts
Posted - May 27 2020 :  07:09:33 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This is still interesting!
If you find the time please provide a photo of the irregularities on the belt.

Anyway we can safely dismiss the hypothesis that Red Flag was fully built from pre-war NKVD spare parts from the FED factory. Clearly at least some parts had to be re-engineered post-war and we have evidence this was not without problems.

The brass shutter box is still the most interesting part for me. So the RF one is different from early 1f. This is not surprising if we assume RF was made in Berdsk from early-production parts while 1f was the first post-war mass production back at Kharkow.

Again, not impossible that FED had all the necessary spare parts but I find it extremely hard to believe they had so many b/c parts shipped to Berdsk but no or few d/e parts. Unfortunately there is little solid documentation about the fate of the parts but it seems consensus now at least the vast majority never made it to Berdsk but was stored elsewhere during the war and then distributed to KMZ/Arsenal while FED started from scratch.

Currently my opinion is that if Princelle's passport is correct, most likely all RF were built in Berdsk. It is unreasonable to assume FED continued to build a few hundred identical cameras after moving all machinery to Kharkow before switching to 1f. This is simply not economical and the time of war turmoil or urgent military demand was over at that time. It is more logical to assume FED started producing 1f in Kharkow with new machinery and a new logo.

The only way to solve this would probably be checking camera / lens serial ratio and see if we find any changes but we have too far serials for that. However it seems all 'classic' RF have a 4-digit lens serial. We should pay more attention to these lenses as well, I feel. Do they show any oddities compared to NKVD and 1f lenses?

Also my personal opinion is that 'non-classic' Red Flag are not original factory work but a later attempt to save the RF top plate and sell it to collectors. Surely it was known a RF top was something rare even in the early days of camera collecting. While I have no proof, the random serial distribution and the use of seemingly original NKVD-bodies except for the top plate gives some evidence. Also it seems clear the factory was able to build characteristic 'classic' RF right from the start, even if with some lower-quality parts. There is no reason to assume they had to cannibalize used NKVD cameras randolmly in between regular production.

Again all this is just my opinion based on the current state of our knowledge which is still not great. And of course open to debate. I'd be delighted if anyone could disprove my hypotheses.
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Jacques M.
2454 Posts
Posted - May 27 2020 :  09:17:33 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Here is a photo showing the main irregularity. I have others if necessary.


Just a remark about the early 1f. I have several of them, and they really have beautiful covers, with very fine and precise engravings. One feels that the tools are new! But I wonder about the "flower" and "stretched" vulcanite on some of these early 1f. That means that we had a transport too from Berdsk to Kharkov. So, why not for other parts? Unhappily, I don't own one of these rare 1f to compare with the others.

Now, that the non-classic Red Flags were not originally made at the factory, it is well possible. But I am a bit doubtful, as the tradition was rather to use old parts with new ones, when possible. Only a feeling.

Anybody else to debate?

Amitiés. Jacques.

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174 Posts
Posted - May 27 2020 :  2:36:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you, good find!
So we can assume this camera body was a new construction as well.

I was wondering too about the erratic snowflake vulcanite. How is this pattern produced and how is it applied to the camera? Does anyone know about the technical process and machinery?
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Juhani Halmeenmaki
982 Posts
My Collection

Posted - May 27 2020 :  11:00:18 PM  Show Profile  Visit cedricfan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Niko80

Surely it was known a RF top was something rare even in the early days of camera collecting.

Well, around the millennium the value of USSR FRs was not much in the FSU-countries. It was easy to buy them for 20 euros in Estonia. And none of the sellers (pawn shops, antique shops etc) knew if one version was more valuable. If I would only have known how the value will grow, I would have bought them all...

Best regards,
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174 Posts
Posted - Jun 04 2021 :  10:13:42 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Another year has already passed. Unfortunately I have not come up with anything new regarding the FED NKAP but I noticed Jacques changed the wiki.

It used to be:
201759 __ 01000/132 ___________ private
now this lens is used by another camera.
201657 __ 01000/132 ___________ eBay

What caused this change?
Interestingly the new pairing fits way better into my regression line. It is an excellent fit with a R² of 0,94 (1 is max).

What we see here are 13 pairs of FED NKAP cameras with a 4-digit #0XXX lens. One from Jacques was omitted as he states the pairing is not original and a macro lens.

http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent2/462021_FED NKAP camera-lens 06_21.png

For the 2nd NKAP batch from about #200.500 onward these lenses apparently were paired with cameras in a specific way.

We would expect camera serials to start at 200.000 and lens serials at 1 and then roughly rise 1:1. For every camera serial the lens serial rises per one on average with more or less equal outliers grouping left and right as they poured together batches of cameras and lenses.
But obviously this cannot be true as quite some Red Flag cameras come with different lenses.

Now while the 13 cam-lens pairs with reasonable 3-4digit numbers group very well along a regression line pretty much like with the FED-S, things do not work as expected. Apparently it takes more than one camera serial numbers for the lens serial number to rise by one!

The blue line is the calculated regression for our samples - with a slope of 0.64 it lies between 2:1 and 3:2. Assuming 2:1, camera serial rises 200, lens serial rises only 100. Clearly these lenses were not paired randomly with cameras.
But this only works for the 2nd NKAP batch with sharp-edged top plates and shiny chrome from around #200.500 onward. There are only two samples for the first batch and they are unusually high lens serial numbers for these early cameras. Curiously the regression line pretty much hits zero on both axes, so if we moved back to camera #200.000 in this pairing scheme of batch2 we would theoretically arrive at lens #0001. But in the real world, the 'primitive' batch1 with the blunt edged top plate and dull chrome up to about #200.500 behaves differently.

So what happened here?
I have no idea. We see something like this in the FED-S where roughly every 10th camera was picked to get paired with a 50/2 lens - at a constant ratio from mid 'c' to late 'e'.

With at least the 2nd batch of Red Flags it seems only every 2nd camera was paired with this type of lens, or 2 out of 3, or a mixture which changed over time. But not every camera.

Remember we seem to have 2 Red Flag batches - up until about #200.500 the blunt edged rangefinder housing with coarse chrome and afterwards the normal sharp-edged one with better chrome. It is possible something regarding lens-pairing changed in between, we currently have a big hole there and early data is very poor.

Still I cannot explain what is going on in the 2nd batch from 200.800 onward. Obviously they produced all serials, we see odd and even last numbers. So the only explanation is - they produced cameras in very small batches and not every one but only every second or 2 out of 3 were paired with this type of lens. The others received either other lenses or none at all. Indeed we see a number of cameras with higher-number 4digit lenses and some early ones with NKVD lenses. No idea if these are original but it makes some sense that they could not keep up with lens production. Making glass and grinding/polishing lenses is a big deal, way more than machining camera parts.

But again I cannot explain how they managed to retain the lens-camera ratio other than 1:1 over considerable time (pairs group along a straight line), not in the Red Flag and absolutely not in the FED-S. But it seems they had a well working system involving small batches of a few dozen cameras/lenses. Also for both FED-S and Red Flag it seems the pairing got tighter in later version while being more random in the beginning.
We just don't know how this was achieved or above all - why?

Alternative hypothesis:
The lens:camera serial ratio for 2nd batch is indeed roughly 1:1 and we are just seeing a lot of outliers.
Things would look like this.

http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent2/462021_FED NKAP camera-lens 06_21 1-1.png

Impossible? Certainly not. Maybe the ratio was unstable an the beginning and flattened out towards the end. We saw something similar in FED-S'c'. Curiously this way the regression line reaches zero (or the hypothetical lens #0001) close to #200.500 where we expect the 2nd batch to start. This however excludes this lens type from the first batch meaning the two samples we see there are not original. Not improbable.

We only have 13 samples out of about 2000 produced Red Flag cameras, that's 0.65%
For the 2nd batch, omitting the beginning, 10 samples out of about 1000 which is 1% and not bad for such statistics. And these 10 form a pretty straight line to me.

Whatever happened, the take-home message is:
The 4-digit 0XXX lenses are most likely the original ones produced for the Red Flag. We cannot say if others were used in the factory. Probably at least in the 1st batch. The 2nd batch looks much more refined and behaves differently so frankly I would not be surprised if they only managed to produce these lenses for the 2nd batch and used other ones for the first, or none at all at time of production.

I remain sceptical about the entire 'reuse of pre-war parts' theory. It seems clear now that the parts for the 1st batch of Red Flag were built from scratch after the war. They did not reuse any significant FED1 parts - most likely because none of these made it to Berdsk.

My best guess is that they built the first batch of 500 cameras (mostly) without lenses as lens production lagged behind. Maybe they outfitted some cameras with old FED lenses they managed to acquire for display but organized production most likely only started with the refined 2nd batch. Which explains why the two 4-didig lens serials in the 1st batch cameras we know are unusually high. They were paired later - but maybe still at the factory during batch2 production when they managed to make lenses.

It's a shame we are still missing so many lens serial numbers. Should we at least add the ones we have to the wiki now, Jacques?

Edited by - Niko80 on Jun 04 2021 10:20:18 AM
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Jacques M.
2454 Posts
Posted - Jun 04 2021 :  10:54:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Delighted to see you back, Christian!
For the changing of the lens # 01000/132 now on camera # 201657, previously on 201759, it's my own fault: I mixed numbers when recopying my listing. Hem...

Please, complete the wiki with the numbers we both have. It would be regrettable not to add them and they certainly can give some more light.

Now, I read cautiously your work. Thanks!!

Amitiés. Jacques.
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Jacques M.
2454 Posts
Posted - Jun 09 2021 :  04:22:00 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

I have just bought one of these 0xxx lenses (in fact, the #0582), to compare with other Industar 10, when it is here...

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Jacques M.
2454 Posts
Posted - Jul 08 2021 :  08:50:43 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Here is a photo of the lens # 0582, just received, and not yet cleaned (!)


It seems that the original Red Flags could have been appaired with lenses with a 0xxx serian number. So, if the owners of Red Flags could post photos of their lenses, so that we compare...

Thanks! Jacques.

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