oly720man
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Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Mon May 16, 2011 9:54 am

There was an interesting program in the BBC last night (spoilt in my view by the rather breathless and overstated narration) about the use of photo reconnaissance Spitfires and the interpretation of the photos they generated, in 3D. I was interested to see that there was some film of Spitfires carrying American markings and being flown by American personnel. Were these really RAF aircraft that were used by the Americans for the duration or did the USAF actually own and operate them themselves?

Iplayer link for those who can access it

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b011cr8f/Operation_Crossbow/

It was indicated that the one thing more than any other that brought the UK and US together was the use of photo reconnaissance and that they called on the artistic talents of Hollywood in the actual interpretation of the images.
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Stealthz
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Mon May 16, 2011 11:19 am

I don't have my references to hand as they are all in storage at the moment but I believe the USAAF operated something like 600 Spitfires from 1942 into 1944 and not only for P/R.
I think 13 or more USAAF pilots became aces in Spitfires with approx 300 Axis aircraft falling to the clutches of USAAF spitfires.
If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
 
baroque
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Mon May 16, 2011 12:28 pm

Quoting stealthz (Reply 1):
believe the USAAF operated something like 600 Spitfires from 1942 into 1944 and not only for P/R.

A doco on a recent QF flight referred to USAAF Spits and while recce was mentioned other roles were implied.
 
oly720man
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Mon May 16, 2011 4:47 pm

Quoting stealthz (Reply 1):
I don't have my references to hand as they are all in storage at the moment but I believe the USAAF operated something like 600 Spitfires from 1942 into 1944 and not only for P/R.
I think 13 or more USAAF pilots became aces in Spitfires with approx 300 Axis aircraft falling to the clutches of USAAF spitfires.

You must have a great memory for facts. A short history of USAAF Spitfires here confirming what you say.

http://spitfiresite.com/2010/04/uncle-sams-spitfires.html
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GDB
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Mon May 16, 2011 5:40 pm

It was a good doc, though I agree narrator 'Miss Moneypenny' Samantha Bond was a bit excitable.

Certainly the links forged then between the US and UK intel communities remains.

A lot of nice colour footage of the USAAF Spits too.
 
canoecarrier
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Mon May 16, 2011 6:24 pm

Quoting oly720man (Thread starter):
photo reconnaissance Spitfires and the interpretation of the photos they generated, in 3D.

The method they used for photo interpretation to get the "3D" effect has been used for decades. It's called Stereoscopy. It works by taking two offset photographs of the same area and looking at them through a Stereoscope:



The concept is the same as why we see things in 3D, our eyes are offset giving us depth perception. There are many applications where this is useful like making topographic maps, determining the height of objects on the ground, or identifying stream locations.
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cmb56
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Mon May 16, 2011 11:00 pm

There were hundreds of Spitfires used by the USAAF during WWII. Especially in North Africa. I have seen many photos of Spitfires and also Hurricanes with desert camo on them and US stars on a blue circle. The Hurricanes may have been PR, British planes and pilots with US marking to keep the French in NA from getting too mad. General Billy Mitchell was reprimanded for flying his Spitfire without proper escort for an officer of his rank. The 8th AF in England used Mosquitos for weather recon for a period of time. These were painted PR blue with a blaze red tail. Once the Mustang became available they simply sent a flight of P-51 to do the weather recon instead.
 
GPHOTO
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Tue May 17, 2011 5:35 am

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 5):
There are many applications where this is useful like making topographic maps, determining the height of objects on the ground, or identifying stream locations.

I actually did some topographic mapping as part of my degree course many years ago. The equipment was exactly like in your post and the way the images look is quite remarkable. The way 3D clarifies the picture cannot be overstated, you are able to extract so much more information from those two dimensional images. This was long before the recent vogue for 3D and so looking at a three dimensional image was still quite a novelty to me as a student back then.

Best regards,

Jim
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GST
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Tue May 17, 2011 8:22 am

When the Eagle Squadrons transferred to the US Army Air Force, they remained with their previous RAF aircraft for some time before converting onto USAAF standard types. It would not surprise me if PR units were amongst them, or if the fighting spits of Eagle Squadrons were converted into PR spits for USAAF units when new fighters were introduced to replace the RAF legacy aircraft.
 
Stealthz
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Tue May 17, 2011 10:54 am

Quoting oly720man (Reply 3):
You must have a great memory for facts.

Not as great as you think... I first read about this at spitfiresite and went searching for more detail... I went back to spitfiresite to confirm my recollection before posting!

Thanks for the compliment in any case
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canoecarrier
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Tue May 17, 2011 6:50 pm

Quoting gphoto (Reply 7):
I actually did some topographic mapping as part of my degree course many years ago. The equipment was exactly like in your post and the way the images look is quite remarkable. The way 3D clarifies the picture cannot be overstated, you are able to extract so much more information from those two dimensional images. This was long before the recent vogue for 3D and so looking at a three dimensional image was still quite a novelty to me as a student back then.

I completely agree. When I was a student GIS was in it's infancy and Google Earth didn't exist. One of my college jobs was cataloging a library of aerial photographs the university had of our state. I used to take the stereoscope, a couple of offset aerial photographs and look at some of our university buildings. I still occasionally use this technique at work. As you said, you're able to extract much more information by doing that, and in my opinion the tool still has applications that are better than using Google Earth.

You can understand after seeing photos in stereo why countries tasked extensive resources for photo reconnaissance to gather these stereo images in peacetime and in war to make maps and see what their adversaries were up to.
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GPHOTO
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Tue May 17, 2011 8:06 pm

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 10):
You can understand after seeing photos in stereo why countries tasked extensive resources for photo reconnaissance to gather these stereo images in peacetime and in war to make maps and see what their adversaries were up to.

It's a very strange experience isn't it? You have these two almost identical photos and before you use the stereoscope you can see everything in the photo, all the data is there, nothing is hidden, but it is all flat, quite literally two-dimensional. It is only when you use the steroscope that the data is fully revealed. Nothing has changed except the way you look at the pictures - same pictures, same eyeballs, same brain. Yet the amount of useful data you have access to has grown several-fold. It's an excellent illustration that data in itself is not the whole story. It is how you look at that data that is every bit as important as the actual data itself, which is a much more important concept. I think the stereoscope is a great way of illustrating this to the man in the street - it should be used more!

But enough philosophy for today!  

Suffice to say it was a simple, yet powerful technique that was particularly well exploited by the Allies. Good work all round and especially to those who had by fly into harms way.

Best regards,

Jim
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BE77
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Tue May 17, 2011 8:49 pm

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 5):
The method they used for photo interpretation to get the "3D" effect has been used for decades. It's called Stereoscopy. It works by taking two offset photographs of the same area and looking at them through a Stereoscope

Ugh - I got a headache just looking at the picture of the tools...it's been a long time since I had to use them, but it still hurts thinking about it...although I have to admit it wasn't that bad, unless you had been to the pub the night before....
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Tue May 17, 2011 9:10 pm

Quoting gphoto (Reply 11):
the stereoscope is a great way of illustrating this to the man in the street - it should be used more!

My first experience with a stereoscope was when my mother brought home one of these after a visit to North America in the 50s.
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kc135topboom
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Tue May 17, 2011 9:18 pm

Spits in USAAF service were still designated Spitfires, whether they were photo-reconn or fighters. Interestingly, de Havilland Mosquitos used in USAAF for photo-reconn were called F-13s. Hawker Hurricans also retained their British names and no USAAF designation.

BTW, before the US entered the war, many Americans flew for the RAF, including in the Battle of Britian, several became an ace. I believe they were called the Yankee Squadrons.
 
GDB
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Tue May 17, 2011 10:05 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 14):
I believe they were called the Yankee Squadrons.

Not quite, the Eagle Squadrons.

Top
 
GST
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Tue May 17, 2011 10:42 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 14):
de Havilland Mosquitos used in USAAF for photo-reconn were called F-13s

Sorry to divert a little from the topic, but when US fighters were still given "P" designations for "Pursuit", what was "F"? Photo?
 
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Wed May 18, 2011 2:03 am

Quoting Baroque (Reply 2):
A doco on a recent QF flight referred to USAAF Spits and while recce was mentioned other roles were implied.

I just started reading a book on my Kindle called Woodbine Red Leader: A P-51 Ace in the Mediterranean Theater, and the author mentions that when he first got to Italy, they couldn't get Mustangs there fast enough, and a lot of pilots were flying Spitfires with US markings. I had never heard of this before tonight.

Marc
 
baroque
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Wed May 18, 2011 9:02 am

Quoting Cadet985 (Reply 17):
I just started reading a book on my Kindle called Woodbine Red Leader: A P-51 Ace in the Mediterranean Theater, and the author mentions that when he first got to Italy, they couldn't get Mustangs there fast enough, and a lot of pilots were flying Spitfires with US markings.

I am taking the return QF flight tomorrow and I assume that doco will still be loaded so I will watch it again with a bit more attention to the USAAF bits. Will post anything interesting - when I recover!
 
GPHOTO
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Wed May 18, 2011 12:08 pm

Quoting GST (Reply 16):
Sorry to divert a little from the topic, but when US fighters were still given "P" designations for "Pursuit", what was "F"? Photo?

Correct.  

Best regards,

Jim
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kc135topboom
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Wed May 18, 2011 3:12 pm

Quoting GDB (Reply 15):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 14):
I believe they were called the Yankee Squadrons.

Not quite, the Eagle Squadrons.


Quoting GST (Reply 16):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 14):
de Havilland Mosquitos used in USAAF for photo-reconn were called F-13s

Sorry to divert a little from the topic, but when US fighters were still given "P" designations for "Pursuit", what was "F"? Photo?
Quoting gphoto (Reply 19):
Correct.


Thanks for the correction on the squadron names, GDB.

Yes, the correct mission (for the USAAC and USAAF) was called photo-reconn. The "F" designation was assigned to aircraft who's primary mission was in this role, reguardless of the size, performance, and manuverability of the aircraft. The B-17 in photo-reconn was the F-9 (redesignated as FB-17 in 1948), the P-38 was the F-5, and the P-51 was the F-6. I said the Mosquito was called the F-13, that is wrong, it was the F-8. The F-13 was the long range photo-reconn version of the B-29 (redesignated as RB-29 in 1948). The B-24 was the F-7, and the B-25 was the F-10.
 
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Sat May 21, 2011 4:05 am

Quoting gphoto (Reply 11):

It's a very strange experience isn't it? You have these two almost identical photos and before you use the stereoscope you can see everything in the photo, all the data is there, nothing is hidden, but it is all flat, quite literally two-dimensional. It is only when you use the steroscope that the data is fully revealed.

With practice when doing fieldwork, you can eliminate the lenses alltogether. Which is good, those things can be heavy when tromping through the mountains. It's sort of like crossing your eyes for the "magic eye" images.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 20):
The B-24 was the F-7, and the B-25 was the F-10.

And the P-61 was the original F-15
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canoecarrier
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RE: Usaf Photo Rec Spitfires In WW2

Sun May 22, 2011 12:41 am

Quoting Spacepope (Reply 21):
With practice when doing fieldwork, you can eliminate the lenses alltogether. Which is good, those things can be heavy when tromping through the mountains. It's sort of like crossing your eyes for the "magic eye" images.

I wouldn't be surprised if we've used aerial photos for similar work. But, I'd get a headache if I did that too often. The pocket stereoscopes aren't that heavy though, but I've never found a good field application for 3D photos that I can't use a google earth image for. Even in very remote mountain areas topographic maps do the trick.
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