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Following the advice of UK and Scottish Governments, NCAP has now returned to limited operations in our offices.

We are now able to process orders for not-yet-digitised aerial imagery, to revised delivery timescales.

Preparation for Flight

 

Often overlooked, the camera clearing shots made at the beginning and end of each photographic sortie often show aircraft, airfield buildings and airmen at work preparing and recovering aircraft. These candid scenes were captured on film when the shutters of obliquely-mounted cameras in photographic reconnaissance aircraft were triggered several times to check that film was loaded and winding properly prior to a sortie, and to finish the film once the aircraft had returned.

 

 

A Spitfire PR Mk.XI photographed by a Spitfire of 541 Squadron, Royal Air Force on 05/06/1945.

A Mosquito PR Mk.34 of 540 Squadron, Royal Air Force, photographed by another Mosquito of the same unit. Image taken at RAF Leuchars, Fife, on 13 June 1946.

An RAF airman and a small truck, photographed by a Mosquito aircraft of 58 Squadron, at RAF Leuchars, on 16 June 1947.

This Avro Anson Mk.XI, framed in a hangar doorway at RAF Leuchars, was imaged by a Spitfire PR Mk.19 of 541 Squadron on 5 April 1948.

 

The imaging Spitfire, identified on the Film Report for this sortie as airframe PM 500, was fitted with an F24 camera in the port oblique station. PM 500 subsequently went on to complete this sortie by photographing Campbeltown, Argyll.

A Mosquito PR Mk.34 imaged by a Spitfire PR Mk.19 of 541 Squadron, on 5 April 1948. The Film Report for this sortie indicates that the imaging aircraft was again Spitfire PM 500, which was fitted with an F24 camera in the port oblique station. The aircraft went on to complete a sortie to Kintyre, Argyll.

An RAF airman photographed on 30 April 1948 by one of the two forward-facing oblique cameras mounted in dummy drop-tanks outboard of the engine nacelles on a Mosquito PR Mk.34.

 

The frame has been annotated by RAF photographic staff at a later date, with a reference to a popular 1960's television series.

An Airspeed Oxford and de Havilland Mosquito PR Mk.34 imaged at RAF Leuchars by one of the oblique cameras of another Mosquito on 27 May 1948.

Two Spitfire PR Mk.19s of 541 Squadron on the apron at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire on 21 February 1950. The Film Report for this sortie indicates that the imaging aircraft is Spitfire PM 500, which went on to complete a sortie to Dirleton, East Lothian, using its port oblique F24 camera. Note the open battery hatch in the rear fuselage of the nearest aircraft.

A Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk.19 photographed by a Mosquito of 540 Squadron, Royal Air Force, at RAF Leuchars, Fife, on 3 April 1950.

A de Havilland Mosquito PR Mk.34 of 540 Squadron, Royal Air Force, photographed by another Mosquito of the same unit at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire, on 19 May 1951. Visible in the background are at least four Gloster Meteor PR Mk.10's of 541 Squadron.

An Avro Anson aircraft preparing for flight, photographed by a Mosquito of 58 Squadron, Royal Air Force, at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire, on 23 May 1952. Visible in the background is Avro Lancaster serial number PA474 of 82 Squadron. This aircraft was performing aerial survey duties in 1952 and continues to serve with the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

 

Three airmen, dressed for winter weather on 22 February 1962, photographed by a forward-facing camera mounted in the glazed nose of a Canberra PR Mk.7 aircraft of No.58 Squadron. The airmen are involved in readying the aircraft for flight.

The forward fuselage of a Canberra PR Mk.7 is visible in this image, taken by the port oblique camera of an adjacent aircraft on 29 June 1962. The open crew access hatch can be seen towards the nose of the aircraft (right), while the starboard oblique and starboard outer (F44) camera ports are just visible to the left of the nose wheel. The airman seen walking towards the camera has the rank of Leading Aircraftsman.

A Canberra PR Mk.3 aircraft photographed by the starboard oblique camera of an adjacent Canberra on 29 June 1964. The crew are aboard the aircraft, preparing for a sortie. The natural metal finish of these aircraft was replaced in later years by tactical camouflage livery.

The lower fuselage of a Royal Navy Hawker Hunter FGA Mk.11 aircraft, in the process of being refuelled, and the under-wing fuel tank of another, can be seen in the upper portion of this image, taken on 29 June 1970 by the starboard oblique camera of a third Hunter. This aircraft type was operated by the Royal Navy School of Photography at Lossiemouth, Moray, as the mount of pilots on the RN Air Reconnaissance course.

 
 
 
 

Shadows

 

 

Not a clearing shot, but worthy of note as one of the few examples of a PR aircraft capturing its own image on film. This Spitfire PR Mk.19 of 541 Squadron is revealed by its shadow as it passes low over Windygates, Fife, on 22 January 1946.


 
The shadow of a Canberra PR Mk.9 photographic reconnaissance aircraft of 1PRU at the end of a sortie to Paderborn, Germany, in the 1980's.

 

View all of our digitised Clearing Shots.