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FED history (part 1)
FED history (part 2)
FED-Zorki
KMZ History
FED "original"
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FED "NKVD"
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FED "Berdsk"
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FED
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FED History (part 2)


Announced in 1937, the new model "FED V" only actually appeared in 1938.

Identical to the standard FED it displayed, like the Leica IlIa its model, the slow speeds on the front (1s - 1/20s) and the maximum speed was brought up to 1/1000s. Only 40 copies of the FED V were to be assembled.

The "FED S", fitted with 1/1000s, delivered with the brilliant lens f2/50mm, was to be produced parallel to the "classic" FED, but in small quantities. That same year saw the publication of a manual written by D. Bunimovitch based very closely - on the Leica Handbook. A second edition was to be delivered in 1942.

In 1939, two historical events were reported on the FED covers (FED 1e):

- The Ukraine lost its independence: the engraving NKVD UkSSR became NKVD SSSR, and

- the FED commune became a KOMBINAT, (from the English Combine, and the French Association) an economic structure more in keeping with the industrial complex that the firm had become: the case was engraved likewise.

The 80,000th FED was announced in the January 1939, on edition of Sovietskoe Foto as having been assembled at the very end of 1938.

The 100,000th FED was celebrated by the press in its own turn in the middle of 1939.

In 1939, the total Soviet production of all models exceeded 478,000 cameras of which 34,000 were made at Kharkov.

Slightly more than 175,000 FED were made from 1934 to 1941. (Official figures: in reality certainly more than 180,000 of which a large number, were not assembled in 1941.)

On 22nd June, 1941, breaking the German-Soviet pact, Nazi Germany invaded the USSR. In the face of the German advance, Stalin ordered more than 1,300 businesses to withdraw with all their machinery into the Ural or into Siberia.

From 5th September to 16th October the FED Kombinat was evacuated to Berdsk, 40 kilometers from Novosibirsk.

The staff who had not been called up, under the direction of the chief engineer Gorbunov, did not resume the production of cameras or drills. However, a few hundred cases were assembled using spare parts. The vast majority of the tools, production machines and unassembled cameras never arrived at Berdsk, but were directed towards "another" business. The officials of FED were never to know the destination of their ex-production tools. However a "selection" of FED technicians were secretly delegated to "another place" of Siberian exile

Under the supervision of the Soviet Air Force, the evacuees from Kharkov were appointed to the tasks of making aircraft parts, carburettors, injection pumps (Lavotchkin LA-5 plane) etc.

25th October 1941: Kharkov fell to the German troops. The town was all but razed and in the destroyed FED factory, the conquerors were surprised to find copies of "Leica" and "Leitz" microscopes. The archives of the Commune were burnt, only those of the "Party" were cleared out.

After long fierce battles, Kharkov was freed on 23rd August 1943 by the Red Army. Immediately, a number of volunteers, formerly from FED, returned between 1943 and 1945 to Kharkov, a town in ruins.

In June 1945, orders to resume the photographical production arrived in Berdsk.

In January 1946 3 workshops were set aside for this purpose, not without difficulty. It was using bodies and lenses remaining from the evacuation and the experience of a few evacuated workers but with hardly any supervision that the "dzerjinskiens" recreated their equipment. In July 1945 the dimensioned plans were ready and the albeit rather clumsy production and assembly of the first "post-war FED" began. (FED 1e)

A few hundred cameras were made.

During the first quarter of 1946, the 3.5 lenses were produced once again, in spite of the absence of qualified staff. The collective promised to multiply by 5 the rate of production. In June 1946 79% of the production plan was achieved. (Party documents)

6th September, 1945, FED received the Order of the Red Flag for Work (Ordena Troudovogo Knasnogo Znameni) for its heroic conduct during the great patriotic war.

In 1946 the NKVD was reorganized and made subordinate to the MVD. FED abandoned its status of Kombinat and became an independent factory.

July 1946, the decision was made to go back to Kharkov. Already between September 1943 and 1945, some people had returned to Kharkov, with the mission of rebuilding the factory.

From September to November 1946 9 trains coming from Berdsk brought survivors, machine tools and ... a great deal of hope to Kharkov.

In January 1947 the machines were assembled and the factory received the order from the ministry to recommence the production of cameras on a massive scale. This production started properly in March 1947. With the return of the demobbed soldiers the workforce was complete again.

In 1947 the "FED-ZORKI" was put into production in Krasnogorsk near Moscow.

At the beginning of 1948 the factory made 800 sets of production equipment but it was only in June 1948 that with difficulty the first twenty new FED "Kharkov" were assembled. On that occasion the factory resumed the numbering at 200001 (or 200010?).

In December 1948 production reached 300 FED per month. The first 1800 bodies were engraved on the cover with the Order of the Red Flag for Work. (FED Red Flag). The engraving NKVD was replaced by that of NKAP. (People's Board for the Aeronautical Industry.)

At the same time FED made parts of agricultural tractors. 0ut of the 128 different articles in the catalogue, many were made of cast iron or moulded aluminium. These moulding techniques were perfected in detail during the war. The body of the FED 2 was to be the proof of this.

The next series appeared with a redesigned set of initials FED (FED type 1f). The presentation and the finish continued to improve and during 1953 at about the number 400,000 the camera was fitted with 1/25th of a second and a few improvements. (FED type 1g).

1952 saw a crisis, the cameras were not selling so well...

From 1933 to 1941, then from 1946 a 1955, more than 700,000 FED "Leica copies" were made, all the same in appearance if differences in the engraving are excluded.

A development of the FED had already been researched before the great patriotic war, but the plans had disappeared with the equipment in the exodus...

Another successor of the FED 1 was to make its appearance in 1955: the FED 2. By 1970 almost 2 million had been made.

In 1971, the factory became the FED Unit of Mechanical Production. Throughout its history FED had been, and remained, a factory producing popular photographic cameras, which were mainly mechanical and cheap but reliable. All the attempts to break away from this ethos had not been pursued, probably more as a result of the "factory spirit" rather than external factors or technical difficulties.

From 1981 to 1985 the production general manager was called V. P. Makarenko, a famous name there.

In 1991 after the collapse of the USSR, FED became an independent Ukrainian factory.

Anton Makarenko wrote in 1936:

"and perhaps the FED will be better known than the Dzerjinski commune"



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