Aerial Images by Daring Allies Revealing Hitler's Weapons
The date is September 2, 1944 and the place Peenemunde, a village on the Baltic, where the terrifying weapons Adolf Hitler hoped would win the war for Germany were designed and tested. The image is astonishing enough, but how it was taken is even more startling.
For it comes from an archive of aerial photographs snapped by daring pilots - sometimes flying as low as 50ft - during secret reconnaissance missions in the Second World War. Others in the collection convey the human suffering experienced amid the fighting, including rare shots of a Nazi slave labour camp and of the notorious Colditz prisoner of war camp.
Until now the pictures have been kept behind closed doors. But they are revealed to the public for the first time today via the internet amid a painstaking cataloguing process. Alan Williams, manager of the National Collection of Aerial Photography which houses the photos, said: 'The archive literally shows the world at war.'
Long before the days of Google Earth, the highly skilled airmen who took them flew alone, by day and night, in unarmed Spitfires relying on their wits as they risked their lives to capture the images on their plane-mounted cameras. Sometimes their planes were painted pink, as the unusual colour proved very good at hiding the aircraft against a background of low cloud. For high altitude missions, the planes were painted a dark shade of blue...
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