Millitary Reconnaisance films and cameras in the film era

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by BetterSense, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Now we all know there was this thing called the Cold War where we did all kinds of high-altitude surveillance on other countries. The SR-71 spyplane could fly at 81,000 feet.

    Apparently it was possible to image the ground from airplanes at high altitudes, and I'm pretty sure this was before the era of the CCD. I remember seeing grainy images on the History channel depicting the supposed missile silo's in Cuba that sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis. All this must have been shot on film.

    Does anyone know what kind of films and lenses and cameras were used for airborne surveillance? Was it color negative film that they used to capture such important images from so far away?
     
  2. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    There is a series of threads on this very subject here.

    I was involved in it and have posted pictures in my gallery including some camera pix (very indistinct due to distance) but I refer you to them and hope that can satisfy your curiosity. I spent 1.5 years in SEA working on reconnaissance.

    PE
     
  4. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Better Sense,

    as you gave that example yourself: in the Cuba crisis high and lowest altitude missions were flown. In low altitude flying even with image mation control rather high speed films were used. In high altitude missions b&w and colour films with resolutions of several hundreds of LP/mm were used.

    In space when there was the need to scan the film and send data via radio, films were either processed conventionally (even man controlled) or using a DTR process (instant) by means of the Bi-Mat system.
     
  5. Rolfe Tessem

    Rolfe Tessem Subscriber

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    FWIW, the SR-71 could fly a lot higher tha 81,000 feet...
     
  6. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Color films were used sometimes but mostly it was B&W and various sorts of cameras and various formats. The ones I was most familiar with made 8x10 images on B&W films, as I recall.
    The Cuban missle crisis film was most likely from U-2s which were the high-altitude predecessors to the SR-71s. But there were various aircraft that could be equipped with cameras, for example RF-4s which were used heavily in Vietnam. These weren't capable of the altitudes of the U-2s nor anything close to the speeds of the SR-71.
    But they were easier to support than the SR-71s, and there were many, many more of them. There is a photo of an RF-4 in my gallery.

    The cameras I knew had a rotating prism that transferred the image to the film which also moved during the exposure.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=cu...9cj2CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8

    If you truly have GAS, this might be something to try;
    http://www.surplusshed.com/pages/item/i1433.html
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The cameras that took "ULF" took 9x9" images and 9x18" images on B&W, Color and IR films.

    The Cuban Missile crisis used RF101C aircraft from Shaw AFB and Blackbirds. The Blackbirds were detected at Cape Canaveral but the people there were not cleared and did not know how to identify the images.

    Go to 67th TRW and select "Black Ops" to be taken to the subject of Area 51 operations at this time. If that does not work, try 67th RTS. The 15th TRS and the 18th TRS was assigned to the SEA operations at the time.

    PE