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Search Completed | Title | NEW DEVELOPMENTS FOR AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE
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Text | NEW DEVELOPMENTS FOR AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE | 001
NEW DEVELOPMENTS FOR AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE*
Colonel George W. Goddard, USAF Chief, Photographic Laboratory, Engineering Division Hq., Air Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio
T HE importance and scope of photography in military operations have been undergoing many rapid and radical changes for the past few years. Com- plete reconnaissance, including weather and radar as well as photographic cover- age, is required. The requirements, of course, call for round-the-clock coverage at all latitudes, for altitudes up to many miles; in short for all conditions under
which it is planned to operate aerial platforms of one sort or another.
Although 80 to 85 per cent of all allied military intelligence was secured by aerial photography, twice within our lives a lack of aerial photographic lenses has resulted in a mad scramble. We recall at the start of World War I the hue and cry that went out to photo shops, studios, and private citizens, begging for
long focal length lenses. We recall the response-hodgepodge _of soft focus, special effect, and straight objective lenses, the larger part of which were of German manufacture. We recall that there were only two major companies and two smaller operators in the entire country qualified to produce the large aerial lenses. Acutely conscious of these facts and the World War I shortage, the Photographic Laboratory at Wright Field planned a long-range program of lens research.
This program ran afoul of the natural American aversion to military might. Not only did the lens program suffer, but few new cameras were designed due to the shortage of funds. Available money was used to improve the reliability of existing equipment. A contract for 100 cameras often took more than a year to complete, and much of our optical glass for aerial lenses and filters was being imported.
German photographic and optical research were two of Germany's important industries. Our photographic industry was smaller, new~r and forced into com- petition with foreign firms of world renown. Zeiss' profits were turned back into research and development. Children, carefully trained in the grinding and polishing of glass, and top research scientists were called into service whenever the need arose. Our scientists were busy in colleges or in industry working in competition.
The Photographic Laboratory, in 1940, was in no position for a world war. Consequently, with war, came a cloud-burst of confusion. The Ground Forces and the Navy, as well as the Air Force, had urgent needs for cameras, films, prisms. lenses. periscopes, and other photographic and optical devices. Everyone found new uses for photographic equipment. Agencies competed in frantic haste to place orders. Thus World War II caught us looking through rose-colored glasses instead of precision lenses.
To the credit of American industry, two years after war was declared, in addition to the Army Air Forces supply. thousands of aerial cameras went to the Navy and our allies. Every fighter plane was equipped with gun cameras; bombers carried cameras to record bomb strikes and damage. Reconnaissance aircraft carried at least three cameras.
*While not identical, this paper is essentially the same as that given at the 1949 Annual Meeting of the Society. as a description of the subject matter and as an explanation and description of a large number of most interesting and instructive illustrations. A large reduction in the number of illustrations was necessary-Editor.
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