Missile Cameras

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Cameras played a major role in documenting the experiments and testing carried out the early days of guided weapons development. A suite of specialised cameras were developed in the mid- to late 1950s by various U.S. manufacturers, by Soviet camera makers and by the Royal Aircraft Establishment in the UK.

In Australia, the Weapons Research Establishment (South Australia) designed such cameras as part of the Anglo-Australian Joint Project (1946 to 1980) which focussed on guided weapons and missile development. The research focussed on a missile's behaviour in flight relying on observation and general telemetry data. While the latter would be displayed on an cathode-ray oscilloscope in real time, they needed recording to allow for detailed analysis. Film was a suitable medium to record such transitory analog data. To this end, high-speed cine cameras were developed which capable of 100 frames/second and more. While recorded data would be viewed as segments of motion film many were analysed on a frame-by-frame basis.

In principle, cameras were developed for four different applications: ground-based cameras for observation and the recording of the telemetry, and airborne cameras, either borne by the missile or carried by the target.

Ground based cameras

Missile behaviour

  • Telemetry recording
Recording of moving Oscillograph data occurred principally with the GW 3 camera. Such cameras also existed in the civilian arena (such as the Cossor 1428).[1]

Airborne cameras

Simple rocket cameras

Missile-borne cameras

Target Aircraft Cameras


  1. The Fairchild F-296 is an example of camera used to record stable oscillograph data where a single image sufficed for the purposes documentation.