View Full Version : Fairchild Aerial camera - how to get the lens out?

Vincent Pidone
25-Feb-2013, 16:46
I'm posting this here rather in the "cameras" forum in the hopes that you diy folks won't beat me up as badly as I deserve.

I bought a Fairchild f-56 aerial camera thinking to remove the lens.

It is not entirely clear how that happens.

I've seen the lensboards out, so I know it can happen, but I'm not certain how to go about it.

I would have just started by removing the six screws around the edge of the board, but another post on the subject said that that didn't work for the poster.

I gather that many of the other Fairchild cameras were of similar design, just different focal lengths, so if you got the lens out of another model, please tell me how.

Problem two, and I should have seen this coming, there is no "T" or "B" on the shutter.

Might there be some way to hold the damn thing open if and when I do get it out of the camera?

Why I want to bother: the lens is a 20" B&L telephoto and the camera was reasonable.

I did look online for anything on this camera and found nothing of substance.

Please spare me your thoughts on why I shouldn't have bought this, or what I should have bought instead that would have been easier, cheaper, better, lighter, longer, sharper, etc.

In anticipation of my eventual success in this endeavor, I will offer up the remains of the camera free-for-shipping to anyone who is a more optimistic tinker than myself. (It's heavy: shipping won't be cheap)

John Kasaian
25-Feb-2013, 16:59
You can probably find a manual on line, or track down one of the techs who maintained these for your wealthy Uncle "back in the day." If you're in California, Castle Air Museum might be able to help you with the details---theres lots of old Airdales hanging around the place.

Dan Fromm
25-Feb-2013, 17:09
I can't answer directly, but have extracted lenses from several aerial camera lens cones. They all screwed into the cones and were held in place by radial setscrews. Aircraft vibrate, so the setscrews are typically glued in. Look closely, you might find what I did. There's no guarantee, but looking is cheap.

The Handbook of instructions is in at least three libraries. http://www.worldcat.org/title/handbook-of-instructions-for-fairchild-f-56-aircraft-camera/oclc/11014634 Finally, you might ask the National Air & Space Museum.

John Kasaian
25-Feb-2013, 17:09
If yours still has it's watch, you might be able to make a deal with this chap

Vincent Pidone
25-Feb-2013, 17:12

I tried looking online: No manual, even though there are posts suggesting that there is one somewhere.

There is a used copy of the operator's manual for $30 at a used book seller, but that almost certainly won't have repair info or an illustrated parts breakdown, and would represent a substantial increase in the cost of the project.

I haven't gotten into the aircraft forums: I expect that my question would be as welcome there as "how do I convert a Century Studio camera into a coffee table?" would be here.

Vincent Pidone
25-Feb-2013, 17:16

I actually had searched enough to have found that, but suspect that it's just the operator's manual and not the tech manual.

Interlibrary loan is available very slowly and not always free, so the bookseller with the $30 copy might get my money eventually:
but only after all of you folks give up and after I've broken a screwdriver or two and some Sawzall blades.

Vincent Pidone
25-Feb-2013, 17:17

It's missing the watch.

I gather that they're all missing the watch.

It must have been a pretty cool watch.

25-Feb-2013, 17:35
To remove the lens you need a saw.

Alternatively, you might be able to drill out the rivets on the back side.

Good luck.

John Kasaian
25-Feb-2013, 18:41
Old time military photographers are pretty cool guys! Contact the PA (Public Affairs) Officer at Wright Patterson AFB. They might be able to link you up with someone who can help.

25-Feb-2013, 19:55
You are asking for help to destroy an artifact from the US military? Or you are trying to repair it?

Vincent Pidone
26-Feb-2013, 06:32

I would like to remove the lens without destroying the camera and donate the remaining camera parts to whomever wants it.

I am not trying to repair the camera as it is intact and apparently in working order now.

If you know where I can get 7" roll film, I could be using it right away.

That is, if I had a proper aircraft to hold it up.

It probably weighs upward of 40 pounds and was never meant to be used other than in it's proper socket in an aircraft.

If you think that this artifact has such significant historic value that I should be ashamed to "destroy" it, you can pay me what I paid for it (+ shipping) and save it from having its lens removed. If you would like some time to raise the funds to pay for shipping via Kickstarter, I can hold off on any attempt to "destroy" the camera. <insert tongue in cheek smiley>

John Kasaian
26-Feb-2013, 07:13
Don't be getting yourself a hernia!
AFAIK you may still be able to find frozen 5" and 9.5" aerial roll film, but no 7"
I tracked down a 7" spool on eBay so I could cut down 9.5" film "someday":o to use on my F-8.
Are you sure your cameras a 7"? I thought those were 70mm?
BTW, do you want a film processor for developing aerial roll film? You can have my Houston-Fearless for the price of shipping (its already strapped to a pallet!)

26-Feb-2013, 07:24
You are asking for help to destroy an artifact from the US military? Or you are trying to repair it?

Are you suggesting this hasn't been done millions of times since WWII? There are many boneyards in Arizona, where unwanted aircraft have been cut up for scrap for 68 years. B-17 Flying Fortresses, 12,731 built, 10 are still flying:

A wetplate I took of some recent S-3s getting scrapped here. Somewhere I have a shot of two F-86 front ends that I knew would disappear soon...and now they're gone too.


Vincent Pidone
26-Feb-2013, 11:05

I was kidding about the roll film.

Trying not to get a hernia is why I want the lens out of the 35 or 40 pounds of aluminum that houses it now. (a.k.a. Fairchild F-56)

And where do Aero-Ektars come from?

Some from Fairchild cameras left as blind as Samson after his haircut.

Yes some were used on Speed Graphics, but many were from "destroyed" military artifacts.

If anyone has any thought that a Fairchild F-56 is worth saving, speak up now.

Well, I'm a procrastinator, so you might have a while to save the F-56.