Luftwaffe
Photographic Reconnaissance Aircraft
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Focke-Wulf 189, 190, Ta 152

By the middle of 1938 the prototype of the Focke-Wulf Fw 189 had flown and later that year a number of other prototype variants had been planned and some flight tested, one being a sea-plane version though its construction was never completed.
By the start of 1940, Focke-Wulf had received orders for ten Fw 189A-0s, these would be a pre-production version, later an order for a further twenty Fw 189A-1s was placed. Fitted with a Rb 20/30 reconnaissance camera as standard, the aircraft could also carry various other reconnaissance cameras. Among them was the Hk 12.5 or Hk 19 hand-held camera, which could be used by a member of the crew.
By early 1942, the Fw 189A was equipping a number of Luftwaffe reconnaissance units. A number of areas within the aircraft had been up-graded for the A-4 variant, having a 20mm cannon fitted in the wing roots, replacing the machine guns, light armour being added around the engines, under the fuselage and the fuel tanks, thus giving the aircraft better protection in the low-level reconnaissance role. The A variant had a speed of 217 mph and a ceiling of 23,000 feet.
The Fw 189A was used by a number of other nations in the reconnaissance role, Royal Romanian, Royal Bulgarian, Royal Hungarian and the Slovakian Air Forces. The Fw 189 was a robust  aircraft and remained in service up until 1945.


Fw 189A
a Rb 50/30 camera being removed from the aircraft.

The first test flight of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was on the 1st June 1939 and until 1944 there were eighty different types of prototype aircraft covering the different marks A to G. The reconnaissance variants being the Fw 190A-3/U4, A-4/U4 and the A-5/U4.
The A-3/U4 being the first was the benchmark for future reconnaissance conversions. The wing cannons were removed and two Rb 12.5 cameras were installed in the rear fuselage. The camera aperture was surrounded by a curved housing and splash guard (see image bottom left).  Also a gun camera could be fitted in the port wing leading edge. Produced in limited quantities, this version was used in part for operational training.
The A-4/U4 variant was very much like the A-3, wing cannons removed and a pair of cameras mounted in the aft fuselage. The control box for the cameras was mounted between the  pilots legs. The Fw 190A-5 fighter was very similar to the A4 variant, with just a few upgrades to the overall aircraft.
The A-5/U4 was the proposed reconnaissance variant, again with the basic setup of both the A-3 and A-4, the A-5 was planned to carry a wide range of camera systems, the Rb 12, Rb 20/30, Rb 50/30 and the Rb 75/30, all in the vertical position.



In addition to the standard fighter version of the Focke-Wulf Ta 152 there was a requirement for a standard and high-altitude reconnaissance variants. The standard recce variant, was designed to replace the Bf 109 reconnaissance aircraft of the time, was coded at the Ta 152E-1, this was to be based on the B or C fighter variant. It would have an engine mounted cannon and wing machine guns.
The high-altitude variant started development as the Ta 152E-2, however, this changed to the Ta 152H-1-0 and was base on the Ta 152H-1 fighter. Having the basically the same setup as the E-1 variant but with a larger wing span and a pressurised cabin. Both recce variants  were being designed to carry a wide range of cameras:
Vertical - Rb 75/30
Vertical - Rb 50/30
Vertical - Rb 30/18 or Rb 50/18
Staggered pair - Rb 20/12x12
Staggered pair - Rb 40/12x12
Staggered pair - Rb 12.5/7x9
Staggered pair - Rb 32/7x9
There were plans to produce a Ta 152E-1/R1 with this they were going to remove the Rb 75/30 camera and install a Rb 50/18  camera fitted at an angle of 10 degrees to the horizontal. A bulge camera housing for the side of the fuselage was developed and tested on a Fw 190D-9 (see image right).
Only three prototypes were planned, the Ta 152V9 & Ta 152V14  for Ta 152E-1 variant and Ta 152V26 for the Ta 152H-1-0.
Ta 152V9 & V14 cancelled in January 1945, with the last variant Ta 152V26 being listed as ready to fly in March 1945.

Focke-Wulf Ta 152H Recce Variant
What a Ta 152E-1/R1 may have looked like (c) letletlet-warplanes - Click to close
Thank you to Sreckć Bradić for this great profile of what a reconnaissance
Ta 152E-1R/1 may have looked like with the oblique camera mount.
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Heinkel 46, 70, 111, 219

In 1931 Heinkel produced the He 46, which at the time became the Luftwaffe's main reconnaissance aircraft and was to equipped all recce squadrons by 1936. A total of 478 aircraft of all variants were produced, with the main production variant being the He 46C-1, which could carry a camera or twenty 10Kg bombs. A number of He 46C-1s were used by the  Spanish Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. By the spring of 1938, the Luftwaffe started to gradually replace the He 46 with the Henschel Hs 126. By the time of the invasion of Poland, only five squadrons were in fulltime use and by 1940 only five aircraft were in full service, the others relegated to second line duties.


The Heinkel He 70 "Blitz" was produced to be a fast mail-plane in the early 1930's for the aero company Deutsche Lufthansa. Having a crew of two, it also could carry up to four passages. The He 70Cwas the third prototype that was used for trails as a reconnaissance variant, the second crewmember would hang out over the side of the aircraft with a hand-held camera, possible a Hk19. A number of aircraft were sent with the Legion Condor for use as reconnaissance aircraft in the Spanish Civil war.
The He 70F / F-1 were the next variants used in the photographic reconnaissance role. With the

He 70K being another reconnaissance version produced for the Royal Hungarian Air Force between 1941 and 1942.
There was a major problem with the He 70, its airframe was made from a very light and very strong magnesium alloy, which can burns in air if over heated and the resolution frames cannot be put out with water. So, a single hit for a machine gun could set the plane alight. The Hungarian Air Force grounded all their aircraft and replaced them with He 46s until the reconnaissance version of the Bf 109 entered service. A He 70G was even used by Rolls Royce as a test aircraft for its Kestrel engine during the development of the Spitfire.




Some say that the He 111 looked like a four engine scaled up version of the He 70, the first prototype flow in February 1935. Then in 1936 the forth prototype, He 111V4 a ten seated passenger airliner in the markings of Deutsche Lufthansa, was handed over to a clandestine reconnaissance unit along with two He 111C-03's again in civilian markings and all carrying civilian registrations. They carried out covert reconnaissance missions over Britain, France and Russia. Flying as if they on route proving journeys, these aircraft had well hidden cameras and extra fuel tanks fitted. One did however crash inside of Russia, but the time the Russians being aware of what the aircraft were up to only made a minor diplomatic protest.
Another form of recce for which the Heinkel He 111H was used for was weather reconnaissance. Known as
Wettererkundungstaffeln or Wekusta, these squadrons were completely independent and self-administered units. A flight could last up to ten hours, however, it was known that even longer flights could be taken once extra fuel tanks were fitted. A specialised instrument carried was a Meteorograph (arrowed left), which automatically recorded, the temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. A hand camera was carried in the aircraft and could be used if required. 



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