Shortly after World War II started, Leitz found itself in a sort of a predicament. The foreign shipments of shutter cloth material had seized due to the outbreak of the war. All that was left in stock was an experimental shutter cloth, which had different rubber layering and was red in color. Cameras that were ordered by the German Army, Navy and Air Force had to be delivered to Berlin, they were part of the war effort that German companies had to make.

Leitz decided to use the red shutter curtain material, even though there were doubts on its durability. And over time it became clear that the shutter cloth indeed gave in, the rubber started to desintegrate and left sticky black spots of goo on the shutter.

As a result, wartime cameras with red shutter curtains are pretty rare nowadays. 

 This particular camera is a red curtain Leica IIIc, which also had a seldom-seen 'N-L' engraving on the top plate. It is believed that these cameras were delivered to the German Heer (Army) in The Netherlands (die Niederlande), although that does not explain the dash in the engraving...?

The Tower type '45' camera was a screw mount Leica clone built by Nicca from Japan. It was sold exclusively by Sears in the United States, who commissioned cameras with their 'Sears' brand name with various Japanese and German camera manufacturers in the late 1950s and 1960s.

The second half of the 1950s saw the Japanese camera manufacturers face some difficulties in their production. Many of them (Canon, Nicca, Leotax, even the British Reid & Sigrist) had built their empires on copying the German design of the Leica IIIc. The Germans had lost their patents after World War II and the Japanese and other manufacturers had jumped on the opportunity to create their own versions of what had proven to be very well-built and highly effective cameras. But then, the Germans took the market back by releasing the Leica M3, which was a whole new level of camera and it was patented again too! The Japanese copy-cats were left lightyears behind.

 

But, they quickly figured out that Leitz had filed for a combined patent of all new features and had not filed the single alterations and improvements for patent too. And they set out to close the gap between their own (very capable!) models and the Leica M3.

And it got us some interesting developments. 

On the net you can find all kinds of stories on this lens. Most say its very soft wide open, prone to flare and what else. But most of the time this is merely a side effect from shooting a 50+ year old lens that has gotten hazy inside. Most of these lenses have scratches in the front element coating, which cannot be remedied with this pictorial, but image quality still can be improved a lot by cleaning the lens up.

 

Wanna see how to get the most out of this lens again? Read on!