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Metrotone News: 1928

Metrotone News: 1928

Washington, D.C., or vicinity circa 1928. "Photographing fire for newsreels." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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REO Speed Wagon Junior

The Hearst truck is a circa 1929 REO Speed Wagon Junior. The chrome grille is very distinctive and similar grilles were used by REO automobiles between 1929 and 1930. Many of the parts on the Speed Wagon Junior model were also used on the REO automobiles of the same time period.

Those socks

The cameraman dude on top of the Hearst truck is sporting some spiffy plus fours. Vintage plus fours are still available here and there, but those knee socks, whoa. I'd kill for a pair those.

No accident.

I thought this photo looked familiar. Turns out I have a U.S. Commerce Department booklet dated Sept. 1, 1930 entitled "Report of Fact-Finding Committee on Control of Airplane Hangar Fires by Automatic Application of Water." The report summarizes a series of controlled tests to determine whether water sprinkler systems could control aircraft fires (turns out, they mostly did). The exact location of the tests is not stated, but it was definitely in the D.C. area. Obsolete Army and Navy planes, with fabric wings, were used in a dozen test fires in April and May of 1930.

So that answers the question of how the newsreel photographers were able to get such a good vantage point -- they were invited in advance!

Hot Wings!

Must be an aircraft hangar -- the rolling doors and arched roof. Plus the large panel in the right foreground has a definite aeronautical look to it, perhaps a wing flap or rudder? Looks like some military uniforms in the crowd also.


The cinematographer on the truck is probably using an Akley setup I would recognize an Akley gyro head on the tripod anywhere. Akley cameras were quite common but the head the part that mounts to the tripod was quite unique. I cannot see the other camera but the magazine looks like a Bell and Howell I wouldn't be surprised if the camera was a venerable B&H 2709.

Burning long?

I like how that one camera man had time to build himself that nifty platform to set up his camera on.

[Or maybe it was already there. Looks like an aviation engine stand. - Dave]

Seems like there was plenty of time for this guy to construct his platform, knowing ahead of time it was going to burn.

Look, it's Kane

er, I meant Hearst Metrotone News!

Another Smoking Lounge


Oh la la!

Check out the gams on that guy! (The camera man on the left.) Also, do I spy jodhpurs on our friend at the back of the crowd on the left side?

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