Operation Crossbow - BBC 2 on Sunday

#1
Those of us with a PI background might enjoy this on Sunday at 9 p.m.

BBC - BBC Two Programmes - Operation Crossbow

'The heroic tales of World War II are legendary, but Operation Crossbow is a little known story that deserves to join the hall of fame: how the Allies used 3D photos to thwart the Nazis' weapons of mass destruction before they could obliterate Britain.

This film brings together the heroic Spitfire pilots who took the photographs and the brilliant minds of RAF Medmenham that made sense of the jigsaw of clues hidden in the photos. Hitler was pumping a fortune into his new-fangled V weapons in the hope they could win him the war. But Medmenham had a secret weapon of its own, a simple stereoscope which brought to life every contour of the enemy landscape in perfect 3D.

The devil was truly in the detail and, together with extraordinary personal testimonies, the film uses modern computer graphics on the original wartime photographs to show just how the photo interpreters were able to uncover Hitler's nastiest secrets.'
 
#2
Those of us with a PI background might enjoy this on Sunday at 9 p.m.

BBC - BBC Two Programmes - Operation Crossbow

'The heroic tales of World War II are legendary, but Operation Crossbow is a little known story that deserves to join the hall of fame: how the Allies used 3D photos to thwart the Nazis' weapons of mass destruction before they could obliterate Britain.

This film brings together the heroic Spitfire pilots who took the photographs and the brilliant minds of RAF Medmenham that made sense of the jigsaw of clues hidden in the photos. Hitler was pumping a fortune into his new-fangled V weapons in the hope they could win him the war. But Medmenham had a secret weapon of its own, a simple stereoscope which brought to life every contour of the enemy landscape in perfect 3D.

The devil was truly in the detail and, together with extraordinary personal testimonies, the film uses modern computer graphics on the original wartime photographs to show just how the photo interpreters were able to uncover Hitler's nastiest secrets.'
What's the point of watching it now? you've just given us chapter and verse.
Think I'll tune in and watch Jarrod have his wicked way with another unsuspecting mong instead, far more interesting, what?
 
#3
Whatever ignites your runway beacons, as they used to say in 1942. With the 70th anniversary of AIPC closing in, who knows there may be one or two aged Brown Jobs who bother to watch
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#4
My grandfather flew in CROSSBOW. They were briefed that they were bombing a ball bearing factory.
 
#5
If I recall correctly, and my dear chums Subsonic, Rebel and Minnesota Viking may welll bear me out, our instructor at Ashford circa 1974/75, was one William Tell (or at least he looked like him and was pretty accurate with the Blackboard Duster), who as I remember was pretty good with a Crossbow himself. We used World War Two air photos of the Thames and London Docks during our A3 APR Phase of training with the old stereoscopes-no light boxes to help us then
 
#7
Sad to learn that both of the main "talking heads" in last night's programme aren't in the best of health at the moment. A speedy recovery to both Chris and Mike.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
The program rather ignored that a lot of the PR sorties were flown at the request of Intelligence, the photographic interpreters were often briefed what to look for, and the interpretation of results was done by Intelligence. While not doubting the undoubted contribution made by the interpreters, one cannot but feel their role was being 'bigged up' to make good television.

See R.V Jones's memoir - Most Secret War - for another perspective on this.

Wordsmith
 
#10
The program rather ignored that a lot of the PR sorties were flown at the request of Intelligence, the photographic interpreters were often briefed what to look for, and the interpretation of results was done by Intelligence. While not doubting the undoubted contribution made by the interpreters, one cannot but feel their role was being 'bigged up' to make good television.

See R.V Jones's memoir - Most Secret War - for another perspective on this.

Wordsmith
Maybe this is one of those inter-service things. Traditionally the RAF separated Int and PI as trades, so there wouldn't be a lot of crossover. Didn't OR's join as plotters, and then move onto PI proper later ? Whereas the Int Corps would train everyone as, well, Int and then stick people on the PI course as necessary.

Mind you, I wasn't around during WW2 (whatever the younger Coy members might think) so anyone who can correct me please do so. (Rebel ?)

And Most Secret War - brilliant. I blame the TV series for my subsequent interests in this area and career choice.
 
#11
I have actually looked at stereoscopic photographs as part of trade training for Avionics.
They are truly amazing

The cameras that were used in canberra aircraft were the same cameras used to slap you with a speeding fine before digitalization.
 
#12
Maybe this is one of those inter-service things. Traditionally the RAF separated Int and PI as trades, so there wouldn't be a lot of crossover. Didn't OR's join as plotters, and then move onto PI proper later ? Whereas the Int Corps would train everyone as, well, Int and then stick people on the PI course as necessary.

Mind you, I wasn't around during WW2 (whatever the younger Coy members might think) so anyone who can correct me please do so. (Rebel ?)



And Most Secret War - brilliant. I blame the TV series for my subsequent interests in this area and career choice.
Cheeky fecker! Seriously though you might want to speak with MV he was always the more indoor, spotter type.
 
#14
Cheeky fecker! Seriously though you might want to speak with MV he was always the more indoor, spotter type.
That's the first time I've ever been called an indoor type.

OOTS, it wasn't until the 1990s that the RAF wrapped everything up into an Int Branch under the Ops Support trade group. You are correct in your assumption about plotters etc and the fact that the Corps trained Intelligencers first and specialists later. Cue Ad astra with some other bollox.

I can reveal that the first presentation about the Int Bike given to an Imagery Analysis Course was in 1997, I know because I gave it!!!
 
#16
Of course it was an Australian called Sidney Cotton who invented aerial photography, developed the techniques in espionage flights over pre-war Germany (with his secretary) and showed the RAF how to use them.

Incidentally, he was also the man who invented the sidcot flying suit in WWI.
Oh pleeeeze STFU.

I am no francophile but Félix Tournachon, known as “Nadar,” made the world’s first aerial photographs from a balloon during the 1850s.
 
#18
Indirectly related to this topic, I have a very tenuous association with Op Crossbow. The gent who trained the agents for the descent was also my instructor (PJI) on my bpc. He features on the cinema film in the parachute training sequences. Frank F was a larger than life Irishman but never an 'actor'. These scenes were filmed at RAF Abingdon.
 
#19
The spits that flew these missions had 2 portholes in the bottom for the camera. Was the front one for a viewfinder arrangement?

I strongly suspect not, most likely another camera. Although, as ever, I'm happy to be corrected. The cameras would be focused at infinity so no need for that, and they were fixed to the airframe so no way to adjust them in flight. Plus those days you'd need a physical optical path - prisms, tubes, mirrors etc - to get a decent picture to the pilot for him to adjust, which I doubt could be shoehorned into a Spit.

Missions would be planned so that the desired area would be covered when the planned track and altitude were followed and the cameras turned on at the planned point. However, racking my brain back to the days of tac recce, RECCEXREP 45 minutes from data download and so on, sometimes the pilots weren't as accurate as they might be. Then the first job was to work out what you were actually looking at and where it was.

Some film (Jaguar ?) came with co-ordinate data on the edges but it invariably lied like a cheap watch. Ah, Sunday morning headaches watching rotting films snap on a multi-strand light table in a musty smelling ATREL while looking at poor quality pictures of some part of Germany. Plus a killer hangover as the aircon put out borderline deafness-inducing levels of white noise. Marvellous. Not everything in the old days was better. I'm not old enough to have done that for real mind, missed out on the camps in Germany for Harrier, Midge and so on.

Back on track, I'm sure PR Spits (some, anyway) had an oblique behind the pilot that took some careful flying to get on target for low level obliques. Some radar dish on a clifftop comes to mind as one example.
 
#20
That's the first time I've ever been called an indoor type.

OOTS, it wasn't until the 1990s that the RAF wrapped everything up into an Int Branch under the Ops Support trade group. You are correct in your assumption about plotters etc and the fact that the Corps trained Intelligencers first and specialists later. Cue Ad astra with some other bollox.

I can reveal that the first presentation about the Int Bike given to an Imagery Analysis Course was in 1997, I know because I gave it!!!
Careful... You're sounding like Yelof ("See that photo? I took that...") We had the velocipede lecture on my course in the late '80s and I slept through it.
 

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