1) Arsenal Plant at Kiev, 1949
Kiev Ukraine 1962
The Zeiss Ikon Contax was introduced in Germany during 1932 and was the most advanced 35mm system camera of its time. It was far more advanced than the Leica system as it incorporated a metal shutter of a slotted type with hinged metal curtains which moved vertically. As in most modern cameras it incorporated a bayonet lens mount and not a 39mm screw mount as in the Leica II which it was competing against. It also had a very long rangefinder base of 67mm. Production continued until 1961 except for the period between 1944 to 1952 probably due to the fact that the Russians took the design as spoils of war.
The Soviet Union demanded camera technology and machinery from Germany, and the Allies agreed. The US 80th Division took the Zeiss plant at Jena and spirited away a number of documents and higher management and design staff and, of course, the Zeiss Lens Collection before the plant was turned over to the Soviets. Then, the Soviets gradually moved a lot of this gear to several Russian and Ukrainian sites. The Zeiss Ikon Contax was placed into production at Jena and this was shifted to the USSR by 1949. By that year, the Arsenal Plant at Kiev was producing exact copies of the Contax II camera and the Prewar Zeiss lens line for this system; the Contax III was added the following year. These are the Kiev II and III camera bodies which, bit by bit, are improved and modified into the Kiev 4A and 4AM which remained in production until 1986. (And this also explains why Zeiss Ikon wonks recommend Prewar Contax cameras as users: new parts are still being manufactured in Kiev!)
3) Production History
1947 Kiev-Contax an exact copy as made from Zeiss Ikon Contax as made from original parts. Less than 500 produced
1948 Kiev-48 less than 2000 produced
1949 Kiev-49 less than 2000 produced
1950-59 Kiev-2 identical to Contax, 48 and 49. The model 2 had no exposure meter, reminder dial or flash sockets. The model 2A had no exposure meter or reminder dial but incorporated a flash socket. All versions had a flip-out base stand to stabilise their use on a tabletop.
1952-59 Kiev-3 some with uncoupled exposure meter. The Kiev 3 had an exposure meter but no flash sockets and model 3A an exposure meter. All versions had a flip-out base stand to stabilise their use on a tabletop.
Model Production years - Superficial changes in appearance
Exactly like the original Contax II, unsynchronised
As Kiev 2 but with added flash synchronisation
With meter, exactly like the original Contax III
As Kiev 3 but with added flash synchronisation
As 3A but lower meter & controls, small rewind knob
As 2A but with film speed reminder dial
As 4A but of more modern appearance
As 4 but of more modern appearance
Modernised to some extent with larger upper housing