RON TAYLOR AM in clear fresh water springs, Ewen Ponds, near Mt Gambier, South Australia. A good location to check sharpness of camera lens underwater. Ron with his own workshop-made camera housing with Rolleiflex wide angle 6x6cm medium format camera.
Same whale shark in both pictures. 35mm lens vs. 15mm lens
In early 1942, the (RAAF), experiencing air attacks on towns in northern Australia, found itself unable to obtain British-designed interceptors or sufficient numbers of P-40s. US Fifth Air Force squadrons in Australia were already receiving the brand new P-39D-1. Consequently, in July 1942, older USAAF P-39s, which had been repaired at Australian workshops, were adopted by the RAAF as a stop-gap interceptor.
Seven P-39Ds were sent to No. 23 Squadron RAAF at Lowood, Queensland. Later, seven P-39Fs were operated by No. 24 Squadron RAAF at Townsville. In the absence of adequate supplies of P-39s, both squadrons also operated Wirraway armed trainers. However, neither squadron received a full complement of Airacobras, or saw combat with them. The home air defence role was filled first by P-40s, followed by Spitfires. Plans to equip two more squadrons with P-39s were also abandoned. 23 and 24 Squadrons converted to the Vultee Vengeance in 1943.
There are TEN issues of Fathom. Each is 48 pages.
Edition numbers can be located in CATEGORIES in right hand column.
First issue was December 1970. Issue TEN was 1973. Fathom magazine is said to have put Australia on the international diving map during those early years, as the stories and advertising will illustrate.
In the same era the Captain Wally Muller owner of charter boat Coralita began operation for scuba divers. The first live-aboard and with dive destinations to The Coral Sea.
We hope you will enjoy these pages from the past.
Photo’s by JOHN HARDING for Peer Productions, Cairns, Queensland
click to enlarge
- Fathom was a marine diving magazine published by Gareth Powell & Associates in Australia. It is considered to have played an important role in raising international awareness of the status of Australian marine life, especially sharks with underwater photography, and established new standards in terms of quality, content, design and accurate marine journalism at a time when most was being sensationalized in the popular press.
- It was said to be better designed and printed than the leading USA publication, Skin Diver.
“Fathom magazine was a perfect fit for its time. The 48-page publication first appeared in Sydney December 1970, produced by Gareth Powell, an eccentric, entrepreneurial British publisher who knew, above anything else, how to employ talented people and give them the freedom to work. Fathom quickly came to reflect the new scuba diving and marine environmental awareness inspired by the Save the Barrier Reef campaign, and the crown-of-thorns starfish plagues threatening coral reefs world wide”.
- Gareth Powell has been quoted as saying the title Fathom was one of three suggested by editor, John Harding who had canvassed the idea of publishing a dive magazine to him on three occasions. The design was similar to Surf International which was soon to cease production.
- A major influence on the style of the magazine was the designer, Roy Bisson. In Fathom the freelance contributing photographers and marine journalists were among the best that Australia had produced and included Ron and Valerie Taylor, and John Harding. The art director (an accomplished diver) had full responsibility to choose the photographs used and to decide how they should be displayed. No other magazine company in Australia, at that time, allowed this level of involvement by their creative staff. The only person who was kept well away from the creative process was the publisher, Gareth Powell. He knew printing – and Fathom was to set new standards for the international diving world, attracting attention from many experts in this field, including the aloof Philippe Cousteau who granted an exclusive and rare interview during his Australian visit. The editorial content of the magazine was under the control of John Harding (a photojournalist and underwater film cameraman) and Roy Bisson.
- It was the responsibility of Harding & Bisson to devise stories, write, photograph and sell advertising and assemble all pictures rather than rely on haphazard contributions. Dive shops were initially reluctant to advertise until after issue number six.
- 1971 was the beginning of P.A.D.I scuba schools franchise being available to Australian dive shops.
- In early 1973 the magazine ceased production with issue ten and before completion of a proposed “Annual”. Various reasons contributed to the closure despite a rapidly rising circulation in Australia and USA. A plan to publish Fathom Yearbook much later was actively supported by all former advertisers.
- The magazine was printed in Hong Kong and Singapore to obtain better quality than anything available in Australia.
- Fathomag.wordpress.com now features 480 pages from all ten issues. Copyright applies.
The John Harding Australian Marine Picture Library
“OUR FUTURE – A NEW ADVENTURE”
Marine Photography: 1960 – 2013
fathom (Reg. TM, Australia)
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