DAYTON, Ohio -- This camera, manufactured for the USAF by Boston University in 1951, is the largest aerial camera ever built. The camera is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
This original drawing from the early 1950s shows how the camera was installed in the RB-36. The camera could be used in this position to take vertical photographs, or rotated on its mount to point out of the lower left side of the fuselage to take oblique photographs. (U.S. Air Force photo)
This camera, manufactured for the U.S. Air Force by Boston University in 1951, is the largest aerial camera ever built. Initially, it was installed in an RB-36D. Later it was used in a C-97 aircraft flying along the air corridor through communist East Germany to Berlin, but a 10,000-foot altitude restriction imposed by the communists made the camera less useful than at a higher altitude. It was also used on reconnaissance missions along the borders of Eastern European nations. The camera made an 18-by-36-inch negative and was so powerful that a photo interpreter could detect a golf ball from an altitude of 45,000 feet. Dr. James Baker of Harvard University designed the camera.