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Elbow Telescopes

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#1 Bruce MacDonald

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 06:51 AM

The thread on the Edmund satellite scope has reminded me about elbow telescopes, which I think were used for gunnery during WWII and then sold on the surplus market in the 1950s and 1960s. They were commonly used for applications such as observing satellites and bright variable stars.

Curiously I don't remember seeing any photos of them or reading any details about them. They must have been heavy for military applications, and ruggedly-built.

I am interested in reading whether anyone on this forum has more information or collects them...

#2 Glassthrower

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 10:13 AM

Hi Bruce,

I see these on eBay from time to time. They were advertised in old post-war Sky & Telescope magazines for about $20. They had a model with coated optics and another with uncoated. There was a filter assembly built in with 2 or 3 colored filters and a neutral density filter. When I saw these in the old 1950's and 1960's magazines, I thought to myself - what a keen RA-finderscope these would make. I don't recall if they have a reticle or not, but I think they do.

Typically, on eBay, they sell for about $40-$50US depending on condition. Although, occasionally, an eBay seller will think they have a rare "war relic" on their hands and try to sell it as a "piece of military history" with an outrageous price tag of $150.00US or better on it. I just chuckle to myself when I see those listings. ;)

Let me dig through my pile of old magazines and I will see if I can find/scan/post one of the old ads.

Regards,

MIkeG

#3 brentwood

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 07:41 PM

The 7" reflector that I bought in 1960 had one of these as a R.A. finder. It was just bolted to the side of the square tube. It must have only been adjustable in the vertical plane, but I don't remember any problems because of this.
It was marked 7x50 and the quality of the optics was very high. There was a reticle that could be illuminated, but by what voltage I have no idea. There were no filters on mine.

#4 Bob W6PU

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 09:37 PM

I believe that you're referring to the M17.

There are several photos of this elbow telescope on Pg. 2 of the Treckerscope Thread, one shows the M17 mounted on my 10" F/5 Treckerscope.

Bob

#5 CNposter

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 02:03 AM

15+ years ago, before surplus Chinese optics and the Web, if you wanted a RACI finder you were limited to Lumicon or Tuthill around $300. To ATM one, surplus objectives in general were not widely available (except for copier lenses weighing a metric ton) and Japanese 1.25" amici star diagonals were running $100. Edmund Scientific was selling the mil surplus 7 x 50 elbow scopes for $125. I bought one to scavenge the optics. As you surmise, it was HEAVY. It had a 4-position filter wheel and a roughly 25mm FL Symmetrical or Plossl eyepiece with built in helical focus and crosshair reticle. The objective is a cemented doublet.
The scope had been painted so many times that I had to grind off screw heads, and use a hacksaw, to get it apart. The rear casting had a flat bottom for mounting with no adjustment. The optics, once removed and cleaned, worked well as a finder.

#6 John P

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 08:07 AM

Many, many years ago, when I made most of my equipment, I bought an elbow telescope to use as a finder. I removed the objective...it was a 50mm, added an extension and used an 80mm objective. It was a good finder and worked very well. I have no idea whet eventually happened to it.
As I recall, it had a large, heavy erfle eyepiece. At one time there were articles published discussing the danger in these old military erfles, due to radioactivity in the glass. There's an interesting tibbit for you.

#7 Bob W6PU

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 10:00 AM

My M17 elbow telescope is a wide field, 8x50 USN, WW2 issue, with three selectable filters, and was made by Eastman Kodak, in 1943. Great numbers of these were sold for $12.50 by Edmund Scientific in the 1950s!

It has a built in cross hair that can be illuminated, and makes a dandy finder for my 10" Treckerscope!

I am told that this was not put on the Treckerscope by Coast Instrument, but rather by a previous owner.

Bob

#8 refractory

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 10:38 AM

If the old Erfles had radioactive elements, wouldn't they have yellowed a bit by now? I have an old 6 inch aperture aerial lens that is like this. This might give one a hint there is a problem (like gamma rays....).

Jess Tauber

#9 Bob W6PU

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 11:09 AM

The glass would not necessarily yellow Jess, but the user would, along with loss of their hair!

I'm sorry guys, I just couldn't resist that one! :roflmao:

Bob

#10 Bruce MacDonald

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 05:34 PM

I forward this post from Greg Roberts, a satellite observer in Cape Town, who gives a few reminiscences about these telescopes:


Being a veteran Moonwatch observer - almost 50 years ago!! - I can say a bit about this telescope. I actually had one for many years but lent it to a youngster at the time and he disappeared with it. The optical quality was pretty
good for a 2 inch objective and it had a nice big eyepiece. I think they were made by Edmund Scientific from war surplus - there should still be a lot floating around as some Moonwatch stations may have had a few dozen of them. They were cheaply made and I guess "thrown" together to provide a telescope to meet the MOONWATCH specs for a suitable tracking telescope.

Another "Moonwatch" telescope around that time was made by Unitron but a lot more fancy and expensive- came on a small mount that one could put on a table and had az/alt graduated circles. The optical quality of the objective left much to
be desired - I remember tracking Explorer 19 with it - if memory serves me correct this was a small balloon for air density measurements. Again this had a very nice eyepiece.
The Unitron was not supplied as part of a Moonwatch station- I purchased mine provately and still have it, although a little the worse for wear!

Still on the subject of MOONWATCH another instrument is use was the M8 elbow telescope- I think it came out of tanks originally? - again 2 inch aperture and erfle eyepiece. I think this was issued to some Moonwatch teams as "standard"
equipment. I still have mine.

Finally because the above telescopes could not track the Vanguard satellites when at apogee, the so called Apogee telescope was issued to some MOONWATCH teams. This consisted of a 5 inch f/5 lens- I believe it was originally used on
large Naval warship guns ? - and an M8 attached to it, minus its 2 inch objective. Magnification was around 20x and field of view about 2.25 degrees. The optical quality of the 5 inch lens also left a little to be desired. I still have my Apogee telescope.

Cheers
Greg


Greg has signed up for this forum and I hope the administrators can get around to authorising his membership because he has a lot of experience and would be an asset here.

#11 Glassthrower

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 06:13 PM

Wow. That is very interesting. Indeed, I look forward to reading his contributions.

Regards,

MikeG

#12 Bonco

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 06:20 PM

Now if I was clever and had some time on my hands I would research the Moonwatch program and write an article documenting its development and demise. I'm not clever and have no time so I encourage someone else to do it. Seems like a worthy project. This thread is very interesting.
Bonco

#13 Bob W6PU

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 09:08 PM

I ran a Google search on elbow telescopes, and wasn't surprised to find that Uncle Sam purchased a number of different elbow telescope models for the Army and Navy, over the years!

The M17 both in olive(Army) and grey(Navy)shows up regularly on E-Bay.

Some say that the big wide field eyepiece is an Erfle( which I tend to believe), while others claim it's a Kelner or even a Plossl! Whatever, it has sharp correction right out to the edge of the FOV!

Although my M17 is a Navy model, made by Eastman Kodak in 1943, I wouldn't be surprised if some were'nt made by Bausch and Lomb and other sub contractors, as were the USN 7x50s of WW2.

Bob

#14 trainsktg

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 09:08 PM

A 'What If' scenerio to consider, I wonder what the astro community would be like today if it weren't for the massive quantities of WWWII surplus bought up and sold to the public by companies such as Edmund and Jaegers, to name a few.

Keith

#15 Greg Roberts

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 10:17 AM

Afternoon all - my first posting to CloudyNights :-))
When I read just now about the M17 elbow telescope it
gave my ancient memory a jog - I thought I had an M8 but went and checked now and sitting next to me is an M17
called "Telescope Elbow M17" and made by Minneapolis Honeywell Reg Co 1943" it has several numbers stamped on
it- the plate holding the erfle eyepiece is C78176, and
the main body has D43795 and another smaller number 52590. It still has its filters and an illuminated crosswire marking centre of the field of view.
There should be a fair number floating around- I saw one
many years ago in a local scrapyard very much the worse
for wear-looked like it had been underwater for a long
time-in such a bad condition I did not even think about buying it.

As Bruce has indicated I am now primarily a satellite observer with a homemade computerised satellite tracking system- called CoSaTrak. Electronics very similar to what Mel Bartel uses and in fact the CoSaTrak program will drive a Bartel system- I know because I recently made my 6 inch f/5 Celestron on a Super Polaris equatorial mounting into a Bartel system.

Maybe a short intro might be in order- amateur astronomer since the age of about 8, got bitten by the Space Age and
have been tracking satellites by optical and radio means since 1957. Became a professional astronomer in 1968 and retired in Oct 1999- mainly worked in Astrometry, CCD work and photo-electric photometry - visual and infra-red.

Best wishes
Greg

Pinelands ( Cape Town-South Africa)
email address grr at Telkomsa.net

#16 trainsktg

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 08:32 PM

Welcome, Greg, and it was good to read your first post...very informative.

I have a friend who has a collection of these scopes, as well as several examples of the German WWII 10x80 'flak' binoculars (including a monocular version built specifically for a one-eyed Nazi General) and I am amazed at how superior the images are through 60 year old instruments that were essentially designed with slide rules and pencils and manufactured on non-CNC production lines, all with the demanded haste of war quotas lurking in the background.

Keith

#17 droid

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 09:00 PM

Greg; welcome to cloudy nights.Good peice there,I remember seeing the "tank scopes" when I was a younger man, but havent seen one lately.I always thought they'd be great on a tripod for bird watching.

#18 Bruce MacDonald

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 08:27 AM

Welcome to Cloudynights, Greg!

I will have to start hunting around on eBay for M17 telescopes. I have now seen a pic of one and can imagine them being bolted onto a tank or a battleship.

I do like WWII optics and it is nice to see them being used for more peaceful purposes.

#19 Greg Roberts

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 11:54 AM

Thanks all for the welcome - hope I become a regular
contributor -- as Bruce may be able to inform you I do
"talk" a lot:-))
The M17 has good optics and despite being 60 odd years
old neither the objective or the eyepiece has yellowed
with age. Someone made acomment about the lenses being
radioactive and people loosing their hair-- not sure its
applicable in my case but I have very little hair on top!

Cheers from a hot Cape Town ( 37 deg C at the moment in the shade)
Greg Roberts
Pinelands (Cape Town- South Africa)

#20 BSJ

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 01:22 PM

Some info on the M17 http://www.wwiibythe...M75C M75D.htm

I was doing some research on it becasue I thought it would be a cool finder scope. Guess I'm not the first one to think that! I found the above link and this CN topic via google today. Funny thing is I joined CN last week...

I inherited my M17 from my grandfather. He must have gotten it surplus. We used it to see Haley's comet when I was as kid. Used it to project the sun onto the dining room ceiling to look at sunspots too, back in the 80's.

Mine has had the reticle removed but the filters are still there. Still has great lenses in it.
I pulled out the M17 and the spotting scope I use for shooting to do some star gazing. Doing so has made me decide to buy a decent telescope!

I saw Andromada last night for the first time with my 25x spotting scope! That was way cool.

I've sold some rifle sights and will be ordering a "real" telescope as soon as the buyer tells me he's happy!!!!

Brian


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