Fairchild K-20

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Flight Lieutenant L H Abbott, British Air Ministry official photographer, pictured holding a Fairchild K-20 hand-held aerial camera in front of a Douglas Dakota, World War II

The K-20 is an aerial photography camera used during World War II, e.g., from the Enola Gay's tail gunner position of the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.[1] Designed by Fairchild Camera and Instrument, approximately 15,000 were manufactured under licence for military contract by Folmer Graflex Corporation in Rochester, NY between 1941 and 1945. The K-20 uses a 5.25"x20 to 5.25"x200 foot Roll Film, with an image size of 4x5 inches. Lenses were 6 3/8" f/4.5 with an adjustable diaphragm and were non interchangeable, these were made by Kodak, Ilex, or Bausch & Lomb, as available at the time of order. The camera featured the use of a vacuum to keep the film flat.

Earlier aerial cameras, from the World War I era, included the Kodak K1, with focal plane shutter, the Fairchild K3, K3A, K3B etc., with in-lens shutter to eliminate distortion, K5 etc., some of which used individual glass plates, some individual sheet film, and some roll film.

Similar cameras, from the World War II era: K17, K18, K19, K21, K22, F20, F40, F56, etc., many making 9" x 9" or 9" x 18" images using 9"+ roll film.[2]

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