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Basic gear from the Hungarian People's Republic

Discussion in 'Vintage Equipment Diving' started by David Wilson, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    Thanks, guys, for the positive feedback!

    Thanks for the correction, dmaziuk. You're right, of course, about the blueprint being worded in Russian. This said, the source of the image was an article in the sixth issue of the Soviet diving journal БИБЛИОТЕЧКА СПОРТСМЕНА-ПОДВОДНИКА, which can be found online at http://www.scubadiving.ru/biblioteka/Knigi/sportsmen_podvodnik_006.pdf. The article, whose title is "ЛАСТЫ «НАЯДА»", can be found on pages 18 to 23, the blueprint appearing on the final page. The piece is explicitly sourced as «Poseidon», ГДР" and "Перевод с немецкого", which I take to mean that the text was translated from the original German in the East German diving journal "Poseidon". Perhaps whoever translated the article from German into Russian chose to translate the blueprint captions from German into Russian as well. I don't think the article mentions the Soviet replica of the East German "Naiade", just the West German flagship fin "Barakuda Bonito", which it uses for comparative purposes.

    On now to Hungarian People's Republic fin Syren, which is pictured below on the now familiar flyer issued by Taurus:
    This is my only picture of this closed-heel model, which was available in just one size. The accompanying caption reads: "Syren. Fin size: 43. Pairs of same shape for left and right feet. Elongated. Closed heel. Without band." A fin, therefore, with an elongated ribbed blade not unlike the Mares GTX fin, which also went under the name "Haiti":
    During the 1970s, Italian diving equipment manufacturers such as Cressi, Mares and Salvas were beginning to release fins with longer blades for competition and freediving use. As mentioned in a previous post, Hungarian manufacturers were aware of such developments and tried to emulate them. Whether Hungarian Syren fins of the 1970s were the same as the country's "Sirene" fins of the 1960s I cannot say due to lack of documentary evidence.

    The next fin to be reviewed is the Martelon. Its design will be familiar to readers of my Polish People's Republic thread.
    aquacat8 likes this.
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    The subject of this message is the Martelon adjustable open-heel fin from the People's Republic of Hungary.

    Martelon fin
    The caption on the Taurus flyer reads: "Martelon. Fin sizes. Size 0: 30-34. Size 1: 34-36. Size 2: 38-40. Pairs of same shape for left and right feet. Without heel. With band. So the fin came in three smaller sizes, suggesting they were intended for children and young people.

    Martelons came in other colours too:
    Martelons appear to have originated in Poland as Gumars:
    and later as Michałeks:
    As such, the history of Martelons could be easily explained as the transfer of fin moulds from Poland to Hungary following the decision by COMECON to centralise basic gear production in Hungary. In the mid-1950s, however, W. W. Haffenden of Sandwich in the English county of Kent began manufacturing their Submarine (later Britmarine) Clipper fins, which I used when I first learned to swim:
    Unlike Martelons, Clippers were available in sizes up to UK 10. Haffenden also made Clipper fins for other companies. A prominent example is the "Lloyd Bridges King Neptune Marlin" fin, exported from England to the United States to satisfy the growing interest there in underwater swimming encouraged by the popular "Sea Hunt" TV series.
    I am left wondering whether the "Michałek" fin made in the Polish People's Republic and renamed "Martelon" in the Hungarian People's Republic was simply a copy of Haffenden's Submarine/Britmarine Clipper fin made in England from the mid-1950s to the early 1980s. If so, this confirms the fact that diving equipment manufacturers in the eastern bloc were not only aware of fin designs and developments within the socialist countries of Europe but also familiar with what was happening fin-wise in the western world, including the UK.

    Next up, in a few days' time, is the Hydroslip fin, which originated in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) before transferring to a Hungarian manufacturer.
    iamrushman likes this.
  3. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    Just a reminder that we have now reached the final fin model on the Taurus flyer above. Like the Najade, the Hydroslip was originally designed in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), where it was called the "Hydroslip Super".

    Hydroslip fin
    The caption to the images of the black, green and blue Hydroslip on the Taurus flyer reads: "Hydroslip. Fin Sizes. Size 1: 34-36. Size 2: 40-42. Pairs of left and right foot shape with band and open heel." As you can see, this heelstrap fin comes with an extended heelplate, a closed toe and a pronounced centre rib.

    As stated above, this fin began life as the Hydro-Slip Super, which first appeared in East German sporting goods stores during August 1960. Here is an advertisement announcing the the launch of the fins:
    The caption under the image of the fin reads in English roughly as follows: "Our new "Hydro-Slip-Super" swim fin with its blade angled downwards by 20° and outwards by 6° and its open-toed, comfortable, foot-friendly shoe-like foot pocket." The manufacturer was VEB DEGUFA of Berlin-Weißensee.

    So the Hydro-Slip Super was an asymetrical fin worn with the longer blade tip on the outside. Each pair had "handed" foot pockets, meaning that there were differently shaped pockets for the right and left feet. This was the first East German fin with a toe opening, but later versions of the Hydro-Slip Super appear to have reverted to a closed-toe design. The foot pockets on the newer versions came with pronounced toe-caps, however, which could be cut out, if required, to accommodate growing feet:
    The range of available colours included green and black:

    My next posting will be about the Tihany fin, which was of a similar design.
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    On to the Tihany fin in our review of basic gear from the Hungarian people's Republic.

    Tihany fin
    Note how the Tihany differs from the Hydro-Slip in that it has two centre ribs instead of one and its foot pocket is open-toed. According to the Hungarian Diving Museum site, the Tihany came along when basic gear production transferred to the Extruform Műanyagipari Rt (Extruform Plastic Industry Inc.) plant in Tata. Here's a close-up of the top of the foot pocket:

    Tihany is a village on the northern shore of Lake Balaton on the Tihany Peninsula in Hungary. The whole peninsula is a historical district:

    The Tihany fin came in colours other than green:

    We'll be moving on to Hungarian People's Republic diving masks in the next posting in a few days' time.
  5. iamrushman

    iamrushman Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: ft. lauderdale, florida
    i like the asymmetrical look of this / these style of fins / flippers..
    David Wilson likes this.
  6. dmaziuk

    dmaziuk Great White

    You'd probably get much more "twisting" force on your foot than you get with a regular blade. I wonder about foot/calf cramps in these...
    iamrushman and David Wilson like this.
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    I wonder too about the difference in performance between symmetrical and asymmetrical fins. With the latter, there's also the problem of deciding whether to wear the "pointy" sides outwards or inwards.

    Fins with asymmetrical blades shouldn't be confused with "anatomical fins", which have differently shaped foot pockets for the right and the left foot but which come with identically shaped blades such as the Cressi Anatomic:
    iamrushman likes this.
  8. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    On now to diving masks made in the Hungarian People's Republic. We'll begin with a rough English translation of some text on the Hungarian Diving Museum site at :::... Magyar Búvár - Múzeum ...:::: "(During the early 1960s) there soon began small-scale production, mostly in the yellow livery of the FERUNION Foreign Trade Company, or hidden in a black case, of robust divers’ knives with aluminium handles, spearguns, “S”-shaped snorkels with plastic barrels and ping-pong ball valves, weight belts with wire buckles, followed by capillary depth gauges. The FERUNION range also featured, for example, “Carib”, “Profilux”, “Major Special” masks, “Gaston” snorkels, or “Sport”, “Sirene”, “Balaton” fins."

    The quotation above refers to three models in the FERUNION Foreign Trade Company range of diving masks, namely the "Carib", the "Profilux" and the "Major Special". I can't find any further information about the "Major Special", but illustrations of the other two models appeared on the sides of a cardboard box containing a diving mask in a recent online auction:
    MaskBox1.png MaskBox2.jpg
    The first image shows the "Profilux" while the second illustrates the "Carib". This mask carton is my sole source of diving mask imagery for the FERUNION range. Let's take each model in turn.

    2351 Lido: Appears to be a frameless oval diving mask where the lens is retained solely by a groove in the skirt. Adjustable strap with twin buckles.

    2352 Tata: Metal clamp with top screw holds oval lens in place. Adjustable strap with twin buckles.

    2353 Carib: Metal clamp with top screw holds oval lens in place. Adjustable strap with twin buckles.

    2354 Marino: Metal clamp with top screw holds oval lens in place. Oval lens. Corrugated compensator bosses to aid ear-clearing. Adjustable strap with twin buckles.

    2535 Kingston: Cressi Pinocchio lookalike with nose pocket for ear clearing. Split strap with twin buckles.

    2536 Profilux: Comes with drain valve and strap buckle adjustable at the back of the head.

    I have several more pictures of one of these models, the "Marino", which I will post in my next message.
  9. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    Here are a few more images of the FERUNION "Marino" compensator mask.

    5e346ae3e169e3899434e020dc01705ef.jpg 5fe3309d36c63ecded4552a38d853f543.jpg
    Ear-clearing accordion bosses were the distinctive feature of this model in the FERUNION range. The feature, which was patented in France by Beuchat of Marseilles, was also common in Soviet diving masks.

    In my next posting in a few days' time, I will move on to the three Hungarian diving masks from the 1970s that appear in the.Taurus advertising flyer.
  10. David Wilson

    David Wilson Manta Ray

    We'll begin today with that Hungarian Taurus flyer and more particularly the first mask featured on the top right. You'd be forgiven if you sensed "déjà vu" when reading the name "Taifun" (German for "Typhoon") and seeing what the Taifun mask looked like as it began life in the German Democratic Republic.

    Taifun mask
    The caption on the flyer reads: "Taifun. Anatomically designed diving masks, injection moulded, with Plexiglas window and adjustable rubber band with buckle. Type: TAIFUN. Three sizes, without nosepiece & frame." The accompanying picture shows that the mask was available in three colours (green, black, blue) as well as three sizes.

    Here is an East German advertisement for the mask when it was originally manufactured at the East German DeGuWe plant.

    Following the decision of the eastern bloc international CMEA trading group to transfer production of basic diving equipment to the Hungarian People's Republic, the East German moulds appear to have passed to the Palma works in Hungary where the mask continued to be manufactured in the same design.

    In my next posting I will examine the second of the masks on the Taurus flyer, the Modell, which came with compensator bosses. It also originated in the German Democratic Republic.
    iamrushman likes this.

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