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Air Reconnaissance over the Western Front

The Fairey Battle fighter bomber

The Fairey Battle was to prove to be extremely vulnerable to the much faster German fighters, particularly the Me 109. Fortunately the RAF were developing an entirely different strategy for photo reconnaissance. Spitfires were being developed for high level reconnaissance, the aircraft were unarmed, making them lighter and capable of achieving a greater height. Single aircraft flew all over Europe to take pictures, relying on their height and speed to evade enemy fighters. A technological revolution took place during the war as the RAF developed this specialist role with ever improved aircraft and much improved cameras, capable of taking high resolution images that revealed detail on the ground even from great heights.

British Movietone News from 8th March 1940 showing early Air Reconnaissance techniques using Fairy Battle aircraft escorted by Hurricanes.