Original U.S. WWII Gun Sight Aiming Point Camera Spec. 75-180 by Bell & Howell Co. - dated 1942

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a wonderful U.S. WWII G.S.A.P. (Gun Sight Aim Point) 16mm gun sight movie camera with 35mm f/3.5 lens, made by Bell & Howell Co.. This camera was the standard United States Army Air Force cine-gun camera during World War II. It was used mostly on fighter aircraft such as the P-51, P-47 and P-38 to record and confirm hits during air to air and air to ground gunnery. The camera operated only when the aircraft's gun trigger button was pressed. This type of camera was also fitted to the remote gun turret aiming controls of the Boeing B-29 heavy bomber.

Fighter pilots tended to make exaggerated claims of successful shoot downs of enemy aircraft, both due to misinterpretation of the actual action and due to overinflated egos. To record the pilot’s actual success (or lack thereof) in shooting down a target, cameras were installed. These machine gun cameras were synchronized with the nose-mounted machine gun.

This camera is offered in very good condition, and still has its correct data plate, reading:

SPEC. NO. 75-180 M'F'R'S. DWG. NO. 153 - M - AC
SERIAL NO. 42-92843 ORDER NO. W-535-AC-28135

The serial number listed indicates manufacture in 1942. It indicates that it the camera portion of the G.S.A.P apparatus, which also had other components. The "AC" in the order number indicates the U.S. Army Air Corps, which became the U.S. Army Air Forces, and later the U.S. Air Force. This would be totally correct for an early war issued camera.

The camera looks to be fully intact, and the cartridge door opens correctly. There is mounting hardware attached to the bottom of the camera housing, but we unfortunately do not know what specific type of mounting it is, or what it was used in. While it looks good, we cannot guarantee camera functionality, and have not tested it.

These were sold off in large numbers post war, and were used throughout the country in various functions. This example was modified with the addition of a press button on the side near the front lens, which we suspect would be to start the camera running.

A very nice piece of USAAF history, ready to display!

The Gun Sight Aiming Point (GSAP) 16mm motion picture camera Spec. No. 75-180 was designed by Bell & Howell for use in U.S. World War II fighter planes. It was based on their commercial 16mm design.

The GSAP saw service in the USAAF (later USAF) and the USN from 1940 through the Korean War. It was installed in a wide array of fighter and bomber aircraft including the P-38, P-40, P-51, B-17, B-25, B-29, etc. This camera is responsible for a vast amount, if not the majority of, the gun camera footage we now see in WWII and Korean War documentaries. By 1944 camera production had exceeded demand and a number of AN-N6 units were converted into hand-held cine cameras. After World War II many of these were sold off as surplus and frequently converted to civilian use.

The GSAP camera measures 7 x 3.5 x 2.25 inches. It was commonly fitted with the Wollensak Type- V 1 3/8 in. (35mm) f/3.5 variable aperture lens. Also known is the use of the Bell & Howell Ansix type-V 35mm f/3.5 and the Kodak Anastigmat 35mm f/3.5 lenses. A Kodak Anastigmat 76mm f/4.5 or a Bell & Howell Tele-Type-V 76.2mm f/4.5 was installed in the later, handheld units. The lenses were held in a lens mount that could be readily unscrewed from the cine camera itself. The cage-like mount also provided protection for the aperture ring preventing accidental movement.

The 16mm film was loaded in 5 x 3 inch metal cassettes containing 50 ft. of standard 16mm motion picture film. The cassettes were pre-loaded with B&W or color negative film, supplied by Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, NY.

The film pressure plate is a sheet of glass with an etched cross-hair, ensuring that the resulting image shows the target accurately. The film transport was a variable speed electric motor drive, 16 (normal speed) to 64 (slow motion) frames per second, powered via connecting cable from the aircraft’s DC power grid. The camera was activated with a solenoid switch connected to gun trigger mechanism, routed through an intervalometer, usually set to activate the camera for 5 seconds each time the gun was fired.

The units were installed with erector assemblies to ensure overall alignment and then regularly boresight calibrated with special equipment.

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