ESC06782

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The paired 36″ “split-vert” cameras rank as one of the great (albeit less publicized) British inventions of the war. The long focal-length of the ...

ESC06782

The paired 36″ “split-vert” cameras rank as one of the great (albeit less publicized) British inventions of the war. The long focal-length of the lens allowed to capture even intricate ground detail from the heights as large as 35,000 feet on which the PR aircraft usually operated.

Simultaneous use of two cameras did not only increase the area covered by the photographs. Using specialized viewing equipment, the photo-interpreters could view the ground surface in stereo – or, as we would say today, 3D. Stereoscopic viewing was invaluable for interpreting three-dimensional shapes and greatly aided recognition of small objects. Many of the great photo intelligence successes of the war, including the discovery and follow-up of the notorious German V-weapons in Peenemunde, would have been much harder without the benefit of the stereo.

The development of these high-quality cameras during the first war years was a prerequisite for the outstanding success of the British and American photo-reconaissance units during the war.

2 Comments

By Mick Gladwin  |  2011-12-08 at 07:33  |  permalink

The cameras are F.52 fitted with 36″ focal length lenses.

By Ben Micklem  |  2014-10-29 at 20:21  |  permalink

The split verticals were used to increase coverage, as described. They did not have the 60%+ overlap required for stereo imaging, and even if they did, they are so close together that at 6 miles from the subject, no 3D effect would be present.

The stereo pairs were taken from overlapping time sequence photos, the aircraft having moved a considerable distance in the few seconds between frames, giving the separation of viewpoint required for a 3D effect when viewed with a stereoscope.

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