Tuesday, July 12, 2016

British Photographic Reconnaissance Cameras in WW1 - Part 5

TYPE P1, 18, and F1

The Type P1 designed during the war as a replacement for the A Type specifically for oblique photography used 5 x 4 inch plates in a Machenzie-Wishart holder. The shutter was a hand wound focal plane type, the lens mounted in a fixed cone. Two hand grips were fitted, together with a tube and cross wire view finder which was below the body to enable the operator to stay low in the cockpit whilst using. A special sling was sometimes used in conjunction with the gun scarfe ring in open cockpit aircraft. Two cameras could be slung side by side in this mount to obtain stereo photographs.

MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIRST WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION 
Type P1 Camera – Replacement for A Type specifically for oblique photography – stereo mount shown. © IWM (Q 12287)

The Type 18 was also used primarily for oblique work, designed and built by the Houghton-Butcher Company. Using single, double sided plate holders the camera took 5 x 4 inch glass plates. It had viewfinders on top and the bottom of a rigid camera body. Slit width and shutter tension were adjustable together with lens diaphragm for exposure control

Camera Type 18 
Camera Type 18 © IWM (PHO 23)

The Aero Camera or F Type was the first and only official film camera used from the air in the war, and appeared in 1916. It was rejected in France but was used extensively in the Middle East, where large tracts of country were mapped by means of this camera. The F Type camera was designed to take a continuous series of pictures on a roll of film 5 inches wide and either 25 of 50 feet in length, a 50 feet roll giving a series of 120 exposures. The camera with an 8 inch lens was usually fitted on a bomb rack on the underside of the aircraft. Air movement through the camera’s small propeller provided the power necessary to operate the camera which was controlled remotely by the pilot.

BRITISH AERIAL CAMERAS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR. 
Type F1 Film Camera. © IWM (HU 86135)


Friday, July 1, 2016

British Photographic Reconnaissance Cameras in WW1 - Part 4

TYPE LB and BM

The LB Type was the next and last in this series. The LB Type was a further improvement on the L Type and made its appearance in 1918. In general design it was similar to the L Type however the camera mechanisms had been significantly simplified greatly assisting repair and maintenance. The key alteration was the inclusion of an easily removed self-capping focal plane shutter, which could be readily replaced without disturbing the other parts of the camera mechanism. Different lens mounts allowed the use of lenses of 4”, 6”, 8”, 10”, and 20” focus to be used. The lens mounts were interchangeable and were attached via a bayonet fitting on the lower part of the camera body. Other improvements included an exterior lever for adjusting the shutter slit, and a simple method to convert the changer mechanism from hand to power operation. This camera was still in use well into the 1920s having been re-designated P7.

FIRST WORLD WAR 1914 - 1918: AERIAL RECONNAISSANCE 
Type LB Camera being handed to an Observer in a DH4 © IWM (IWM FLM 3582)

MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIRST WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION 
Type LB Camera being inspected © IWM (Q 12287)

It was during 1918 that the RAF formally changed their naming convention for aerial cameras. P was used for plate cameras, F for film cameras, and G for gun cameras.

The BM Type introduced in 1918 was the ultimate development of the B Type and included all the refinements of the LB Type. Its development was triggered by the need for higher resolution pictures from aircraft that were now flying higher. This was the largest camera used by the RAF and was made entirely of metal. The focal lengths of the lenses ranged from 7” to 20”. The BM Type was an extremely heavy camera and it was not easy to change the magazines which when loaded with plates were also heavy and awkward to handle. When ready for flight with a 20” lens cone and 3 magazines the camera weighed 82lbs.

BRITISH AERIAL CAMERAS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR. 
BM Type Camera © IWM (HU 86136)