This August (2014) marks 100 years since the start of the
Great War, World War I. To commemorate
this, the National Archives has digitised 1.5 million pages of war diaries,
giving readers an insight into what the war was like from a first-hand
perspective. We too look back at the technology used during the First World
War, specifically the use of Aerial mapping.
Aerial maps had been around for quite some
time before WW1, dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. Gaspard-Felix Tournachon, a French photographer and balloonist, was the first to take an
aerial photograph in 1858. The technology soon evolved; in 1882 British
Meteorologist E.D.Archibald had pioneered Kite Aerial Photography.
During WW1, Aerial photography had many
different uses, and was integral to operations. Aircrafts with cameras attached
to them flew overhead taking photos. By the end of the war in 1918, both sides
were taking photographs of the front line twice a day. In the same year,
General Edmund Allenby commissioned five Australian pilots to photograph 624
square miles in Palestine to improve existing maps of the area – the first use
of aerial photography as an aid for cartography.
Aerial maps also branched out to aid with
more commercial practices at this time. Several WW1 vets recognised the
potential aerial photography had for survey and mapping purposes. A company
called Aerofilms created Photogammetry (the science of mapping from
photographs), and mapping companies such as the Ordnance Survey started to work
As with WW1, when the Second World War started, aerial mapping technology saw a
period of rapid change. Airplanes that were compact and fast were found to be
the most suitable aircraft for this activity, particularly Spitfires. Heating
systems for cameras and higher altitude photography was also used during this
In the present day, it is increasingly
likely that radio-controlled planes or multi-rotor helicopters are the aircraft
of choice for aerial imagery. Full scale aircrafts still have important roles
where higher altitudes or heavier equipment is involved. Aerial maps are now
used by individuals on a daily basis, to help them with navigation via
Aerial maps have also found their place within modern businesses. Many
companies require high resolution 12.5cm aerial maps, which allows them to
undertake a detailed analysis of the area for planning applications or to
combine aerial maps with other data sets, such as height data. .Map by Groundsure sells both 25cm and 12.5cm
aerial maps of Great Britain from leading provider, gettmapping.
blog post prepared by Steve Brown.