Saturday, August 29, 2015

Not A Flash in The Pan

Did you know that a powerful strobe light was used as an electronic flash for military night aerial photography, during WWII? It lite up a square mile of countryside at a time revealing enemy troop movements, strength, and location. The flash tube was a tough monster made of 30 inches of strong, quartz glass, coiled into a xenon-filled spiral that withstood the 4,000 volts discharged through it. The tube fit into a reflector mounted in the plane’s belly or tail. Banks of capacitors, weighing up to 500 pounds each, were slung on the plane’s bomb racks and supplied power to the flash tube. A direct contact synchronized the flash to the equally over-sized aerial camera.

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