Collecting Military Binoculars

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Bausch & Lomb Prism Stereo 6x Type EE 1916

 

No:  EE  20749     ( For the pictures, just scroll down!)  (Click here for the Bausch & Lomb history)

 

Field glasses issued by the Signal Corps are not for personal use. Officers are to have a personal field glass, which can be purchased from the Signal Corps, who have purchased for testing many samples, which can be inspected. 

5 binocular types were in use by the U.S. Army in 1916:

   Type A.  Magnification 5.6 (day, 5.4 degree field), 3.8 (night, 8.3 degree field, plus lenses drop in front of eye lenses); Galilean, 1.5 inch objective, aluminum & brass.  Two issued to each company of infantry, cavalry, coast artillery, Scouts, and Signal Corps.  Price, $12.15.  Later Model 1910 has interpupillary adjustment, price $14.75.

   Type B.  Magnification 4.5 and 6.5, Galilean, 1.75 inch objective, interpupillary adjustment.  Field of view at 4.5x, 90 yards at 1,000 yards; at 6.5x, 60 yards.  Price, $17.50.  For field artillery.

   Type C.  Magnification 10, 1.75 inch objective, field of view 80 yards at 1000 yards,  Porro prism.  1910 issue was the Terlux 10 power.  Price $39.90.  Issued to artillery reconnaissance officers, Signal Corps, and all machine gun platoons.

   Type D.  Planned in 1910.  Magnification 8, field of view 5 degrees 40 minutes, estimated cost $27.  1916 issue, Busch 8-power Stellux, 1.75 inch objective.

   Type EE.  Issued by 1916, Porro prism, magnification 6, 1.1875 inch objective, mil scale reticle on one side.

Telescopes issued in 1910 were the Type A, 2 inch, 18x and 24x, prism erector, alt-az on folding tripod; and Type B, 2 draw spyglass, 19-27 power.

 

The Signal Corps Storage Catalogue (1920):

Type E - "binocular, 6 by 30; same as Field glass, type EE, except for omission of the mil and range scale"

Type E-1 - "binocular; Galilean: 4.5 inches diameter magnification; object lens 1.75 inches...formally designated type B"

Type E-9 - "Galilean; magnification approx. 3.5 and 5.5 diameters; object lens 1.5 inches...formally designated type A '1910' "

Type E-10 - "prismatic; 'Terlux' 10-power; object lens, 1.75 inches...formally designated type C"

Type E-11 - "prismatic; Busch 8-power 'Stellux'; object lens, .75-inch...formally designated type D"

Type EE - "binocular, 6 by 30; object lens, 1.1875-inch...one barrel equipped with mil and range scale"

(Steve Harris)

 

At the onset of WWI, the Signal Corps was responsible for distributing binoculars to the Army.  They were issued to noncommissioned officers and sold at cost to commissioned officers who were engaged in combat.  It became clear that many thousands would be needed, but U.S. manufacturing capacity was far smaller and used German and other European glass.  In 1914, the U.S. imported $641,000 worth of optical glass, and in 1915, almost none was imported.  Thus, in late 1914, production of optical glass was developed at Bausch & Lomb, Spencer Lens, and Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co., assisted by the U.S. Bureau of Standards and the Carnegie Institute's geophysical laboratory. 

Binocular production was established in Rochester at Bausch & Lomb, Gundlach - Manhattan, and Crown Optical.  B & L's connection with Zeiss was dissolved in 1915, when B & L began manufacture of binoculars for the British, French, and Russian governments.  As of 1914, B & L had made up to 1,800 binoculars in a year.  By November, 1918, 3,500 binoculars were made each week at B & L, and at the armistice, the factory had 6,000 employees and measured 32 acres.  Gundlach - Manhattan produced up to 600 binoculars per week during the war.  Crown had difficulties in increasing production, and the factory was commandeered by the Navy in late 1917, with production reaching 1,200 Army Signal Corps binoculars a week, in addition to production for the Navy.  To staff these three factories, the Signal Corps often used draftees who had some related experience.

The Weiss Electrical Instruments Co. in Denver had made surveyor's levels and engineering equipment, and made binoculars for the Army at this time.

The Talbot Reel & Manufacturing Co. in Kansas City made fishing reels in a factory that was 30 square feet in area.  It was purchased in 1917, a new factory was built, and production of Army field glasses was accomplished before armistice.

The standard Army binocular was 6 power, prismatic, individual focus, with a field of 150 yards at 1000 yards; issued with a leather case with attached compass.  Total shipments of these were about 106,000 units.  Artillery units were supplied with an 8 power binocular, all of which were made in France.

(Source: Benedict Crowell. America's Munitions 1917-1918. Washington:

Government Printing Office, 1919. p577-9)