Zeiss Ikon built cameras at all levels of price and features, from the fabled Conates, Contarexes and twin lens Contaflexes that many photographers dreamed of owning, but many could afford, to the simplest box cameras and folding cameras. All were Zeiss top quality construction, some just had more features than others.
But as good as they were at designing cameras, they seemed equally unable to efficently manage their business affairs. All of the parties of the merger brought camera lines with them, and it was difficult to kill off lines that competed with each other. They made too many models, each available with too many lens and shutter combinations. In one year, they had 104 different models in their catalog, with a choice of nearly 1000 combinations of model, format, lens and shutter!
The war changed everything. The plant at Dresden was destroyed in the fire bombing, and with it the plans for their flagship camera, the Contax, and the tooling was carted of to Kiev. The glassworks at Jena was under Russian occupation. Most of the key design personnel were on the capitalist side of the Iron Curtain. Jena went back into production, producing the Contax SLR line. Many legal battles were fought, with the eventual victory of the "western" Zeiss over the Jena Zeiss. Eventually, the Jena plant relinquished the Zeiss trademarks.
Times were hard, but from the remaining assets Zeiss Ikon was reborn. In spite of the success of the Contax, Contaflex and the presige of the Contarex, Zeiss Ikon never really became profitable again. They aquired Voigtlander in 1965, but the problems with competing camera lines within Zeiss, and of course, the Japanese domination of the market, caused production to end in 1971, A limited number of cameras were assembled from parts on hand in 1972.
Virtually everything Zeiss ever sold was assigned a catalog number. They were usually expressed like a fraction, the top part being the model number, the bottom part showing the format. So for example, the Icarette line of folding cameras had four models of body, catalog numbers 509, 500, 512 and 551. They were available in 5 different sizes (plus one model that was dual format for rollfilm and plates). The 6 x 9 format is cataloged as 2. So 509/2 is the model designated 509, in 6 x 9. That same model might also be available in 6.5 x 11, 4.5 x 6, 6 x 6 and 8 x 10.5 as 509/15, 509, 509/16 and 509/17. No, I didn't forget a number on the 4.5 x 6 model. They didn't assign a number to that size, and they just call it the first number. I guess they figured it wasn't confusing enough.
Well, if THAT wasn't confusing enough, in 1958 they decided to change their catalog system to a decimal system. By that time, models that were available in different formats were gone.
Beginning to see the miracle that they stayed in business as long as they did?
With the large number of camera lines produced, and the large number of different models, it will take some time to finish this. These links are ready:
Contessa and related cameras
Contina and Continette