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The Weapons Research Establishment (located in Salisbury, South Australia) was managed by the Commonwealth of Australia's Department of Supply and collaborated with various defense contractors.[1] In conjunction with the Joint Anglo-Australian Missile Testing program,[2] WRE developed an ultra-wide 186° fish-eye lens (design by RA Dixon [3][4]). This lens found application in a number of specialised cameras:[5]


The Weapons Research Establishment Camera Interception Single-Shot WRECISS unit (developed 1957) was mounted in the nose telemetry bay of the surface-to-air missile. Although the firing lever must be replaced after each mission, it was estimated that some 30 per cent of the units could be re-used without repairs and a substantial further proportion could be repaired relatively cheaply. WRECISS shot single negatives using 0.93in discs punched from 35 mm Ilford Photo SR101 film., exposure time 0.3 millisec

Weight 801; diameter 1.5in; length 1.25in; field of view 186 ° (Dixon lens); effective relative aperture, approximately f/8; 192 cameras were made in the initial production run.[6]


The Weapons Research Establishment Roll Orientation Camera (see entry: WREROC) was developed to record the roll (rotation) of a missile in flight in relation to the horizon. The coverage of the ultra-wide angle Dixon lens was restricted to a narrow slit. The 35mm colour negative film was moved at a constant speed past the slit so that the resulting image is a continual strip that shows the horizon throughout the duration of the flight.[7]


The Weapons Research Establishment Small Target Aircraft Recorder (WRESTAR-A) was a camera designed to form the centre section of a towed Rushton airfcraft target. The camera, which measures 190mm in diameter, carries eight ultra-wide (186 degree) Dixon lenses. The camera was designed that it successively exposed four image pairs (using diametrically opposed lenses) over a period of 30 milli-seconds. Each lens pair cover the entire sky around the target.[8]


While technically the Weapons Research Establishment Target Aircraft Recorder (WRETAR) is a high speed cine camera mounted on a target aircraft. The resulting negatives were not projected as a film but examined individually in order to assess the miss distance of the missile in relation to its target.[4]


  1. Such as Fairey Aviation Co of Australasia Pty Ltd (later merged into AWA Defence Industries of Australia).
  2. For back ground see: Morton, Peter (1989) Fire across the desert. Woomera and the Anglo-Australian Joint Project 1946–1980. Canberra : AGPS; as well as Twigge, S.R. (1993) The early development of guided weapons in the United Kingdom, 1940-1960. London: Routledge.
  3. ‘Wide Angle Lens Systems.’ US Patent Filed 23 Dec 1957; Issued 18 Dec 1962. Applicants: Robert P. Bonnell, Jack V. Ramsey and Francis Alfred Thomas Dixon, assigned to The Commonwealth of Australia. US Pat. Nº 306875
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dixon, F.A. (1961) Cameras with Wide Fields of view used in Rocket Research at the Woomera Range, South Australia. In: K.J. Habell (ed.), Proceedings of the Conference on Optical Instruments and Techniques London 1961. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Pp.273-278.
  5. Many of the lenses used for the WRETAR, WRECISS and WREROC cameras were produced by Etherington Optical in Mildura, Victoria: Edgar, Don (2000) Obituary Reginald Robert Etherington. Clinical and Experimental Optometry vol. 83 nº 4, pp. 234-235.
  6. Missiles and Spaceflight. Flight 1 January 1960, p. 4
  7. For an in-depth description, see Spennemann, Dirk HR (2015a) History, Description and Technical Details of the WREROC missile cameras. vers. 1.0. CAMERA | TOPIA (Albury NSW)
  8. Spencer, F. (1969) WRESTAR-A (Weapons Research Establishment Small Target Aircraft Recorder Type A). Weapons Research Establishment Technical Note PD 98 (February 1969). Salisbury (South Australia): Weapons Research Establishment, Department of Supply