Over 650 aerial photographs taken between 1940 and 1943 by the No.1 Camouflage Unit, a specialist military unit set up to check and assess the effectiveness of camouflage schemes on industrial buildings and airfields, are now available to view online.
The attempts at hiding some of Scotland's most strategically important targets from air attack - from factories and power stations to gasworks and fuel tanks - are clear in many of the photographs in this collection. The aircrews of No.1 Camouflage Unit reported to the Camouflage Directorate, based in the Regent Hotel, Royal Leamington Spa, where new camouflage schemes for buildings, ships and aircraft were designed by teams of artists, designers, draughtsmen, photographers and technicians.
However, since the locations of most major industries were well known before the war, elaborate paint schemes designed to hide a factory from enemy aircraft could be counterproductive. While they may have fooled a low-flying raider long enough for him to overshoot the target, they rarely eluded the photographic interpreter. Once photographed by the enemy, camouflage could call attention to a place and mark it out as something worth hiding, and therefore valuable.