Firebee cameras

The subject of Firebee cameras is largely uncharted. 'Lightning Bugs' contains very few details on the cameras installed in the various models. SPIE paper 'RPV sensor system interface' by Harry N. Hodges (see papers listing) contains a list of the main camera models used. It formed the basis for the listing below.

Hycon HR233

The first Firebee version, the Model 147A, had a 'Hycon 233A' camera system installed ('Lightning Bugs' page 35). The SPIE paper lists the 147A, B and G models as using the HR233 camera. It lists the focal length as 24 inches and the film format as 9 by 9 inches. 'Manual of photogrammetry 4th edition' also lists the HR-233, and gives the following details: cycling time 1.5 sec, focal length 24", lens aperture f/8, format size 9 x 9", shutter speed 1/250 sec, weight 100 lbs, film size 9 1/2", film load 390', general remarks 'oblique scanning hd. 90° coverage'.

Dr Colin Hall runs a small Reconnaissance Museum in Birmingham (UK). The museum's collection started off in 1996 with a few British-made aerial reconnaissance cameras. The collection has grown with UK and US made cameras, images and associated equipment. The items range from WW1 to a Thales (formerly Vinten) Vicon 70 electro-optical pod with a Vigil infrared linescan sensor. Colin kindly supplied a picture of the Hycon HR233 camera from the Hycon 'Aerial Photographic Reference Handbook'.

Hycon KA-88A / HR338A

The SPIE paper lists the Model 147H and T as using the KA-88A / HR338A camera. The focal length is 24 inches and the film format as 9 by 9 inches. 'Manual of photogrammetry 4th edition' also lists the KA-88A, however gives Actron as the manufacturer and HC338A as the manufacturers designation. It gives the following details: cycling time 2 sec max, focal length 24", lens aperture f/8.0, format size 9 x 9", shutter speed 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000 sec, weight 135 lbs, film size 9 1/2", film load 1500' thin base, general remarks 'med. to high alt.; nodding five positions; HC-338A'.

Fairchild KA-60A

Used in Model 147J, possibly two cameras were installed. 'Manual of photogrammetry 4th edition' list the KA-60 (no suffix) and gives the following details: cycling time 0.08 to 1.0 sec, focal length 3", lens aperture f/2.8, format size 2.25 x 10", shutter speed 1/100 - 1/10000 sec, weight 25 lbs, film size 70 mm, film load 250', general remarks 'rotating prism'.

Fairchild KA-60C

Used in Model 147NQ.

Fairchild KA-89A / F415Y

Used in Models 147SA/SB/SC (the last being the AQM-34L). 'Manual of photogrammetry 4th edition' list the KA-89C (note different suffix) and gives the following details: cycling time 1.6 sec/cy to 3.1 c/s auto, focal length 3", lens aperture f/2.8, format size 2.25 x 9.4", shutter speed 1/120 - 1/6000 sec, weight 50 lbs, film size 70 mm, film load 1800' thin base, general remarks 'hor to hor for high-speed low flying a/c; drone'.

Fairchild KS-120A

147SD, KA-60C with larger film magazine. SPIE paper 'The Fairchild KS-120A panoramic reconnaissance camera system' by E. J. Kuebert (see papers listing). Aerial Photo Lab Museum with a photo of the KS-120A Panoramic Camera. It reports that the format is 70mm x 11" and it uses rolls of film that are 6400 feet. 'Manual of photogrammetry 4th edition' list it too and gives the following details: cycling time 1 to 12 c/s, focal length 3", lens aperture f/2.8, format size 2.25 x 9.4", shutter speed 1/120 - 1/12000 sec, weight 170 lbs, film size 70 mm, film load 6400' thin base, general remarks 'low altitude; rotary prism; moving film; drone'.

The fourth photo shows a 'KS-120A mockup installed in nose'.

Acton KA-85A

The SPIE paper lists Model 147NC(M1) as using the Acton KA-85A camera. The focal length is 3 inches and the film format as 2.25 by 7.2 inches. Acton appears to be part of Princeton Instruments now.

Maurer KB-10

The SPIE paper lists Model 147NP as using the KB-10 camera. The focal length is 3 inches and the film format as 2.25 by 2.25 inches. Anton Hermans reported that the manufacturer was J.A. Maurer Inc.

CA-120E night

147SRE (2)

Perkin-Elmer KA-98

BGM-34C, laser line scan camera

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