The FED was the first Leica II(D) copy made in the Soviet Union. Its production started in 1934 and lasted till 1955 with an interruption in 1941-1946 during WWII. At least seven different variations of the FED are known.
This FED is a type 1d by Princelleor type 4 by McKeown. It is also known as FED-NKVD (CCCP). Production years 1939-1941. This is the most historically significant camera made in the USSR. A large and painful piece of history is engraved on its top plate.
FED, for Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky (AKA Iron Felix), one of the Lenin’s henchmen, founder of the OGPU-NKVD-KGB. Died in 1926 at age 49.
NKVD, for Narodny Komissariat Vnutrennih Del (Interior Ministry) – the organization responsible for millions of innocent lives. In the years of Stalin’s Great Terror (mid to late 1930’s), millions were arrested, tortured, executed or sent to remote labor camps with very little chance of survival. Women, children, old and young – made no difference to the NKVD machine. The fear in the society was so great that arrest often brought a relief. Later became known as MGB and KGB, current name – FSB (Russia).
CCCP (Cyrillic for USSR) disintegrated in December of 1991.
Two things are still around – the FED factory in Kharkov (now independent Ukraine) and Soviet Leica copies – FED cameras.
- Shutter speeds – Z, 1/20, 1/30, 1/40, 1/60, 1/100, 1/200, 1/500.
- The lens is a collapsible FED, F=5 cm, 1:3.5, 39 mm LTM, coated. This lens is a copy of Leitz 50/3.5 Elmar. All prewar lenses were uncoated and had the old aperture numbers – 3.5, 4.5, 6.3, 9, 12.5, 18.
- As a true Leica copy, it accepts the whole range of Leica threadmount lenses.
This FED is in exc. condition cosmetically, the chrome is clean and bright. There is a small ding on the top cover, right above the left RF window (you can see on the top cover image). The vulcanite covering is clean and complete, no missing pieces. The shutter of this FED-NKVD is exceptionally smooth. The camera was obviously serviced and the shutter has a distinct Leica feel and sound, uncommon for prewar FEDs.
The lens is also clean with some dust specks inside (minor and will not affect image quality). Focusing and aperture are smooth.
This FED comes complete with a take-up spool and a lenscap. This is a capable user and a desirable uncommon collectible. Not too many of these cameras survived through the WWII and postwar hardship.