In the early 1970’s, I was alerted to a chrome Leica IIIc 385725K engraved Luftwaffen-Eigentum and Fl.no.38079. Delivery records then held by Ernst Leitz Wetzlar indicated this camera had been delivered late in the War to Berlin on 11.8.44 ( August 11th, 1944) on shipment 13082. This camera was not identified as Luftwaffe issue, and I, and other specialists, thought it might be a fake.
Continued research unearthed other IIIc’s with close serial numbers and the Luftwaffe engravings. Perhaps these artifacts carried authentic military engravings and were indeed prepared for the German Air Force?
Within the range 385600-385800, I have encountered other examples:385675,697,722,724,733,735,748,753,772,780,794, and 800.
The camera illustrated, 385722K, has recently surfaced and is representative of the 385600-385800 grouping. Close inspection reveals an engraving error. The words Luftwaffen-Eigentun should be Luftwaffen-Eigentum ( air force property).
The 5cm Summitar lens 578804 was shipped to Berlin on 17.2.44 on shipment 9912 and is not recorded as a Luftwaffe issue. The leather carrying case carries no military markings and is likely later than the Leica and lens.
Camera and lens date from 1944 and somehow have survived to the present. We can only guess how this occurred. Was the equipment brought to the USA by a returning serviceman? Where has it been since 1944? What kind of images did it record? If these artifacts could speak to us what would they reveal?
Seventy six years old, looking like new, possibly in need of a CLA, this Leica and lens is in reality a time capsule.I have no doubt it will celebrate a 100th birthday.
Will film be available ??? !
Leica IIIc “Luftwaffen-Eigentum” (wrongly engraved (with Leica 5cm f2 Summitar “Luftwaffen-Eigentum” lens w/case.filter,cap Nice /RARE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James L. Lager received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Ohio State University. In 1971 he joined the Leica Technical Center of E. Leitz, Inc. Rockleigh, N.J. Since 1975 Jim has worked in the retail sector of the photo industry. The author’s previous books are; LEICA ILLUSTRATED GUIDE, (1975). LEICA ILLUSTRATED GUIDE II, (1978). LEICA ILLUS-TRATED GUIDE III, (1979), LEICA LITERATURE, (1980) and LEICA, AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, VOLUME I – CAMERAS, (1993) and VOLUME II – LENSES, (1994).
Jim is a past president of the Leica Historical Society of America (LHSA) and past editor of its official publication, VIEWFINDER, in which he wrote and illustrated over 100 articles. His photographs have been published in LEICA FOTOGRAFIE and LEICA PHOTOGRAPHY. Over 22 years of almost daily contact with the Leica camera on both pragmatic and esthetic levels, has given Jim Lager a unique perspective on this engaging subject.