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Basic gear from the mid-twentieth-century Federal Republic of Germany

Discussion in 'History of Diving Gear' started by David Wilson, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    On to the Barakuda-Longo (above). The image comes from a 1969 Barakuda catalogue. The caption reads roughly as follows: "Barakuda-Longo. Floating, yellow. A swim fin made of high-quality yellow floating rubber meeting the highest standards and offering a secure and comfortable fit. Packed in a practical polythene bag. It came in six sizes.

    This model appears to have emerged from collaboration between Barakuda in Germany and Longo in Italy. Here's an advert posted by the latter company for the same fins:
    As can be seen from the image, Longo was based in Bologna.

    And here are some auction images of a pair of Barakuda-Longos:
    These fins were also made in orange:

    So Barakuda-Longos were made in Italy and jointly branded by the German and Italian companies. The full-foot fins themselves have stiffish blades and soft foot pockets, which relative to other Italian fins are on the broad side.
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    The Barakuda Rapido was the successor to the Barakuda Longo in the 1981 Barakuda catalogue (above). The caption reads "Rapido black, Rapido yellow, with offset blade of medium stiffness. Sizes from EU 34 to 48. The word "Profi" means "Professional". Like Longos, Rapidos have soft comfortable foot pockets with wider toe openings than the former.

    Here are some further images:
    36340065_57af44e62ad9a5-32893004IMG_2685.JPG 36340065_57af44e76b46a7-67795585IMG_2687.JPG
    That's my ration for today. Next time we'll have a look at other new fin models in the 1981 Barakuda catalogue.
  3. Schwob

    Schwob Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Illinois
    I so forgot. Seeing this picture brings back this memory:
    Forelle blau, (the earlier two catalog pictures), looks just like the cheap plastic fin I had as a kid, although for me that must have been in the early 70s (Maybe mine were not an „original“). I do remember it. Not for good reasons. I recall an ill fitting, hard POS blue plastic fin (possibly because I needed to use it years before my feet fit) that chewed my upper feet to shreds right at the end of the foot pockets. Later a first pair of full pocket rubber fins were an eye opener over what a crappy fin such plastic fins were...
    Sam Miller III and David Wilson like this.
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Glad I brought back a few memories for you, Schwob, even though they were disagreeable ones. I share with you a disdain for the cheap plastic fins available back then to be foisted on children by adults unconcerned about the consequences of the hard, sharp, unyielding material on growing feet. I've never really understood why plastic fins eventually took off at all, considering the commercial failure of the first composite fin, the Caravelle, and I can only conclude it's all down to an obsession with lightness when transporting fins on planes. Today's "travel fins" = "I let the airline decide what fins I wear". The Japanese have the right idea when they stick to comfortable all-rubber fins.
    But revenons à nos moutons and let's consider the two remaining models to be reviewed on the fin page (above) in the 1981 Barakuda catalogue. First the model dubbed "Hit", which appears on the left in the image. The caption at the top translates roughly as follows: "Hit, orange. Swimming fin with enclosed heel and open toe. Offset blade. Sized from 29-31 to 43-45. Floating". It is classed as an "all-round" fin.

    A few more images for a closer look:
    $_57a.JPG $_57b.JPG $_57c.JPG
    So a "typical" recreational full-foot fin of the period marked with the names of the brand (Barakuda) and the model (Hit) on the top and with the size ranges and the buoyancy factor in English on the bottom. The blade reinforcement lies more in the side rails than in the centre ribs, which largely serve as decoration.

    The pattern topping the blade is certainly reminiscent of a certain Italian fin of the time: the Salvas Condor:
    The difference is in the number of lines, 3 in the case of the Barakuda Hit and 5 in the case of the Salvas Condor. Salvas may have donated or sold their Condor moulds in turn to Istanbul rubber manufacturer Nilsan, who used them to create their Golf model:
    Or perhaps the Turkish fin-maker was inspired by the original Italian design.
  5. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Our second fin of the day is the Barakuda Stream (right above). The caption is relatively terse: "Stream. A lightweight fin made of floating rubber material. Orange. Sized 26-29 to 44-45". Perhaps the most distinctive feature is the centre rib ending in a trident. Otherwise this fin is just another recreational fin from the early 1980s when almost every western fin manufacturer was jumping on the tupperware bandwagon at home and outsourcing their rubber fin production overseas closer to the rubber plantations in the Far East.

    And here are a couple more pictures of Barakuda Stream fins:
    Not a lot more to say about them except that I once owned a pair and found them perfectly comfortable and serviceable as summer vacation fins for snorkelling in the Med.

    I'm going to finish here with a promise to return with a description of two more Barakuda fins to complete this review of the range. We'll then proceed to a study of Barakuda diving masks.
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    Thank you for the "likes", guys. Now for the last two models in the Barakuda fin range. We'll begin with the "Barakuda-Versehrtenflosse", which appeared in the company's catalogues between 1957 and 1959. Here is the relevant 1957 entry:
    BARAKUDA-1957-3.jpg The caption reads In German: "Die BARAKUDA-VERSEHRTENFLOSSE ist ein Spezialschwimmgerät, welches Unter- oder Oberschenkel-, ein- oder doppelseitig Amputierten im Wasser die volle Bewegungsfreiheit von Personen mit unversehrten Gliedmaßen gibt und sie zu schnellen und ausdauernden Schwimm- und Tauchleistungen befähigt. Die Flosse ist den anatomischen Voraussetzungen des Versehrten angepaßt und bildet in Verbindung mit dem von einem Orthopädiemechaniker individuell anzuarbeitenden Stumpfkorb mit Bandagierung eine bequem sitzende und zuverlässig arbeitende Schwimmprothese. Neben ihrem rein sportlichen Wert ist sie ein wichtiges Hilfsmittel für die Bewegungstherapie bei Amputierten und wird vielfach ärztlicherseits verordnet. Preis (ohne Stumpfkorb und Bandagierung): DM 29.50."

    And roughly in English: "The BARAKUDA DISABILITY FIN is a special swimming device giving an intact-limbed person's complete freedom of movement in the water to single or double lower- or upper-leg amputees and enabling them to perform with speed and endurance when they swim and dive. The fin is custom-made to the disabled person's anatomical circumstances, forming a comfortable and reliable swimming prosthesis when bandaged to the stump socket in a manner to be determined by an orthopedic mechanic on a case-by-case base. Apart from its purely sporting value, this is an important aid to amputees undergoing movement therapy and it is often prescribed by doctors. Price (without the stump socket and the bandaging): DM 29.50."

    The same image and caption appeared in the 1958 catalogue, while the 1959 version came with a shorter description:
    BARAKUDA-1959-5.jpg The German: "VERSEHRTENFLOSSE, barakudablau. Diese Flosse ist eine vollwertige Schwimmprothese für Ober- und Unterschenkelamputierte. Sie ist den anatomischen Voraussetzungen des Versehrten so angepaßt, daß sie ihm im Wasser die volle Bewegungsfreiheit normaler Schwimmer und Taucher gibt. Der Stumpfkorb muß individuell von einem Orthopädiemechaniker angearbeitet werden. Preis ohne Stumpfkorb und Bandagierung: DM 29,50. * Spezialprospekt anfordern!" Rough translation: "DISABILITY FIN, Barakuda blue. This fin is a full-featured swimming prosthesis for upper- and lower-leg amputees. It is custom-made to the disabled person's anatomical circumstances, giving him the full freedom of movement normal swimmers and divers have in the water. The stump socket must be processed by an orthopedic mechanic on a case-by-case basis. Price without stump socket and bandage: DM 29.50. * Special brochure on request!"

    So what's my take on this model? I find it curious that just one diving equipment manufacturer came up with the idea of a specialist swimming fin for lower-limb amputees in the 1950s, not so long after many servicemen would have returned from World War II with limb injuries, seeking rehabilitation and reintegration into ciivilian work and family life. I have found no evidence of the Barakuda disability fin being imported by other countries and Barakuda itself appears to have discontinued production of the fin when the 1960s came around. Perhaps the "orthopedic mechanics" of the mid twentieth century used their ingenuity to design a prosthetic foot that would fit securely into a "normal" fin. Insights, anybody?
  7. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    The final Barakuda fin for review today is a model called the "Eurofin":
    I suspect that the Eurofin was Barakuda's "swan song" in the fin manufacturing business. The company had already outsourced the production of its flagship Bonito fin to Malaysia, which not only had the raw material growing in the country's own rubber plantations but also a workforce ready and willing to learn how to manufacture finished products for export to the West. As for the Eurofin, the model above bears the Barakuda logo but I don't have any close-ups to confirm where it was made. Not much else to say, except for an observation that the Eurofin is an adjustable open-heel fin with a long, smooth blade not unlike a freediving fin blade.

    That's it for today and for Barakuda fins. We'll move on in a few days' time to the Barakuda range of diving masks.
  8. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: CALIFORNIA: Where recreational diving began!
    Remember -- I want to be first in line for the book or CD of your work

  9. dmaziuk

    dmaziuk Orca

    There was a guy showing up at the pool for a while, he was using a regular quattro or some such -- I didn't look too close so I can't tell the exact make & model. So it seems a regular open-heel pocket can work too, at least for some people.
    David Wilson likes this.
  10. David Wilson

    David Wilson Loggerhead Turtle

    I hear what you say, Sam, and thanks for the input about disability fins, dmaziuk!

    On to Barakuda diving masks, now. Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, as the old "Do Re Mi" song goes in The Sound of Music. Three masks appeared in Barakuda's 1953 catalogue. We'll begin with the "Model 52", named perhaps after the year of its introduction (1952)?

    Barakuda 1953 - 3.jpg
    German: "Barakuda-Einglas-Tauchmaske. Modell 52. Wollen wir beim Tauchen klar und unverzerrt sehen können, so müssen wir eine Tauchmaske oder Tauchbrille benutzen. Der Zauber der Unterwasser-Tier- und Pflanzenwelt wird durch die Tauchmaske zu einem unvergeßlichen Erlebnis. Diese Tauchmaske garantiert guten Sitz und absolut wasserdichten Abschluß auf jeder Gesichtsform. Sie ist für Druckverhältnisse bis zu 4 atm. (40 m Wassertiefe) gearbeitet und mit einer splittersicheren Klarsichtscheibe versehen, die durch einen Metallspannrahmen zusätzlich gesichert wird. Durch ihr erhöhtes, günstiges Gewicht wird der durch das Maskenvolumen verursachte zusätzliche lästige Auftrieb zum Teil wieder ausgeglichen. Die Tauchmaske wird in verschiedenen leuchtenden Farben geliefert. Preis: 7,75."

    Rough translation: "Barakuda single-lens diving mask. Model 52. If we want to be able to see clearly and without distortion while diving, we must use a diving mask or diving goggles. The magic of the underwater flora and fauna is an unforgettable experience when viewed through a diving mask. This diving mask guarantees a good fit and an absolutely watertight seal on any size or shape of face. It is made to withstand pressure conditions up to 4 atm. (40 m water depth) and provided with a shatterproof lens, which is further secured by a metal clamp.. Its elevated favourable weight partly counterbalances the annoying extra buoyancy caused by the mask volume. The diving mask comes in a variety of bright colours. Price: 7.75."

    The Model 52 reappeared the following year in Barakuda's 1954 catalogue.
    BARAKUDA 1954 - 5-6.jpg
    German: "Tauchmaske „52“ bewährtes Modell, das auch auf schwierigstem Gesichtsraum abdichtet, mit Spannrahmen aus seewasserbeständiger Leichtmetall-Legierung. Preis: mit Klarglas 7,85. Auch mit Gelbfilterglas. Ausführung: leuchtend blau mit Gelbfilterglas."

    Rough translation: "'Model 52' tried-and-tested diving mask, which even seals against the hard-to-reach areas of the face and features a clamp made of seawater-resistant light alloy. Price with clear glass. 7.85. Also with yellow filter glass. Version: bright blue with yellow filter glass."

    The "Model 52" was Barakuda's first and simplest adult mask. Renamed the "Ponza" in 1955, it survived in the Barakuda range of masks until 1973 at least.
    Sam Miller III likes this.

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