Torpedo Camera Kit, Panoramic, US Navy Type 1 for TBF/M Avenger
The Vought-Solar Aircraft Torpedo Camera Type 1 was produced between 1942 and 1944 by Russell Vought Co, a division of Solar Aircraft Co., San Diego, CA, USA. The camera is a motorized panoramic camera, whose purpose was to document aerial torpedo attacks (from launch to impact) and for use in training. It was fitted with a louvered shutter and shot panoramic, 2 inch by 7-inch wide negatives in 120-type film.
According to the TBM Avenger's Erection and Maintenance Manual dated 1945, "The torpedo camera is attached on the under surface of the port wing panel at Wing Station No. 208.75, The camera was electrically operated and connected to the torpedo release circuit so that an exposure can be made at the time of the torpedo release." The camera was fixed-mounted with the lens aimed towards the torpedo's path to its target, likely pointing aft since the aircraft would be ahead of the torpedo since the aircraft would be faster than the submerged torpedo. The panoramic view captured a wide angle image of the target. Prior to the torpedo run, the pilot engaged the cockpit Torpedo Camera switch to heat the lens in order to remove any accumulation of frost or mist.
A pdf copy of the published manual can be downloaded at no cost by clicking here.
The kit includes the camera, the mounting bracket, 2 film magazines (1 is attached to the camera), magazine test unit, magazine cover, sighting unit, the cord with modification (for AC?), and original wooden case. The glass lens of the sighting unit is broken but could probably be fabricated (the glass pieces are included). There are also a few exposed negatives and prints of perhaps a civilian dock and structure, as well as a hand-written electrical diagram.
The kit is in remarkable condition given its age. We have no way to test the camera, and it is available as-is with no assurance of its ability to produce photos. The entire kit measures 8 inches by 14 inches by 10 inches and weighs ~32 lbs.