Sociedad Ibero-Americana de la Historia de la Fotografia Museo Fotográfico y Archivo Historico "Adolfo Alexander"
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Combat Graflex


Combat Graflex 5.5x7cm rangefinder camera for 70mm roll film, rare olive-coloured military outfit from the US Signal Corps: KE-4 (1) with matching Ektar 2.8/4" (102mm) nº RM823, (1953)  Ektar 4/8" (205mm) nº OY169,  (1960) hood, cap, flash with olive-coloured reflector, all in matching olive-coloured metal case (nº 477231, c.1956)


The Combat Graphic camera was built from 1954 till about 1957 by Graflex Inc. It is designated the KE-4 (1)

Still Picture Camera by the American Military. It began life as a design by one

John Maurer (see

And  who specialised in

designing motor-driven cameras for the Air-Force and was put into production by Graflex where it was

productionised by Hubert Nerwin who had been part of the design team at Zeiss-Ikon who produced the

Contax 35mm cameras, total production about 1500 units.

It is finished in drab olive (of course) with black trim, uses 70mm double sprocketed film in cartridges which are

like oversize 35mm. It's 10ins. (255mm) wide by 5ins. tall (127mm) and with the normal 4in.(102mm) f/2.8

Kodak Ektar is about 5.25ins. deep (134mm). The body is made of cast magnesium and it weighs about 5lbs.

(2.25Kg). The normal lens focuses to 4ft and is clickstopped to f/22.

Shutter Speeds are T,B,X,1,1/2,1/5,1/10,1/25,1/50,1/100,1/200,1/500 with a standard cloth focal plane shutter.

Wind on is using a clockwork spring motordrive which would advance about 9 frames per winding in a single

shot mode. Film feed is from Cassette to cassette with a built in knife cutter to alow unload in mid roll (like an

Exakta), frame size is 6x7cm.

Focusing is by a rangefinder, 4.5in. (115mm) base, in a single viewfinder that also zoomed when the telephoto

lens was attached, framing for wide-angle is by a "Sports" type finder on the top.

Additional lenses were:

2.5in (63mm) f/4.5 Kodak Ektar Wide-angle click stopped to f/22, min focus 4ft.

8in (205mm) f/4 Kodak Ektar telephoto click stopped to f/22, min focus 8ft.

The camera plus the two extra lenses and a bulb flash unit all came together as a kit in an olive drab

Haliburton case and was known by the military as the KS-6(1).

Nerwin did more than concieve the camera:  he was hired away from Zeiss Ikon (Stuttgart) by Graflex in

1947 as part of the US-sponsored Operation Paperclip -- as Chief of Design at Zeiss Ikon, his salary was

about 1/3 or less what it became as the KE-4 project chief at Graflex!.  When he joined Graflex, he had the

camera rethought on Contax RF terms, which is why the two share so many similarities.



The Lenses

Kodak Ektar 2 ½ inches f/4.5 (63.80mm)  Wide angle

Kodak Ektar 4 inches f/2.8 (102mm) Normal

Kodak Ektar 8 inches f/4 (205mm) Telephoto


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