B&H Navy GSAP WW2 Gun Cam

The long winded Bell & Howell US Navy GSAP N-4A WW2 Aircraft Gun is a killer camera. Quite literally.

This metal brick was manufactured during WWII and mounted on fighter planes for the simple task of shutting up Joe Dinkins with his whole “I shot down 12 Germans today Ted, what did you do???”. That’s pretty accurately actually, as pilots tended to embellish their kill ratio upon returning to base, so the GSAP (Gun Sight Aiming Point) Camera, which was activated with the machine gun trigger in the cockpit, confirmed with good old fashioned film their kills.

16mm film was loaded with a special cartridge and could shoot frame by frame, 16fps or in dope slow motion at 60fps if you really wanted to watch death happen slowly. There was a crosshair etched on the glass pressure plate to give you a little HUD style target when watching the footage back. Surprisingly there are tons of these films available online and are both horrifying and mystifying to watch. For instance:

or this

or this with dope titles like sports cards

This camera is absolutely wild, and such a unique piece of history that is connected to a dark past. I found this particular metal shoebox in a little store in Nevada, and I can only imagine what it has seen in its lifetime. Most of the camera’s I have I imagine have seen families and friends in lots of foreign countries and family gatherings. This little guy however, has seen the worst of men, and the greatness of glory on a level that I doubt any Polaroid could ever. So much death, fire, and destruction it almost feels possessed by the devil himself.

That said, in 1944 Bell and Howell overproduced this camera for the military, so it retrofitted it with a handle and sold it on the consumer market! Isn’t that great! American families around the world could use this death recorder to shoot little Betty’s 5th grade recital. She probably also killed in that, but in a different way.

All in all these guys are pretty easy to find online in various conditions, and a hellova interesting looking piece of history to have on your shelf. Unfortunately this is one guy that I cant run film through (yet) until I find a cartridge, but if you have one and need some help taking it apart, check out this guy’s video which does a pretty fine job. I personally like 1m46s in when he says cartridge. It’s brilliant.



The Vintage Camera Quest is an adventure through vintage cameras by director Roberto Serrini who records his adventures in word, photography and film. . Check him out on instagram @vintagecameraquest or twitter @oldcameraquest or subscribe to his blog www.vintagecameraquest.com – thanks for reading!

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3 thoughts on “B&H Navy GSAP WW2 Gun Cam

    1. You are correct, and good eye. As I understand it (and please tell me if I’m wrong) the camera was designed by Bell & Howell originally. Lackner made this particular model, but for search and commonality continuity, I’m referring to it by it’s designer’s name. You wont find much if anything on a Lackner GSAP camera on the net. I could only find one reference of it on an order sheet here: http://csusap.csu.edu.au/~dspennem/ReportStore/GSAP_AN_N6A_Walkaround.pdf


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