This is an utterly fascinating look at the role that photographic reconnaissance, and in particular photographic interpretation, played in the hunt for German secret weapons, especially the V-1 and V-2. The author is a retired photo-interpreter himself, and his expertise frequently shows through (although he also understandably biased in favour of the photo-interpreters when discussing any of the controversies that developed between the P-Is and other figures about who found what first!).
The book starts with a detailed explanation of the methods used by British and Allied photo-interpreters during the Second World War, and the equipment that was available to them. He then moves on to look at each aspect of the hunt, starting with the prolonged attempts to understand what was going on at Peenemunde, then moving on to the second major development centre in Poland, and three chapters looking at the different types of launch sites set up for the V-weapons, from the massive but ultimately futile concrete bunkers on the coast facing London, to the simple motorised launch equipment for the V-2. These chapters are copiously illustrated with the aerial photographs that were being used by the P-Is at the time, and a key strength of the book is Stanley's ability to use his own experience to explain what is visible on each picture.
Another key strength of the book is the care that the author had taken not to use hindsight in his judgements, but instead to look at what evidence was available to the P-Is when they were originally looking at the photographs. The result is a compelling and involving account of the process involved in turning raw photographic data into usable intelligence, and the use that was made of that intelligence once it had been gathered.
1 - Background
2 - Tools of the Hunt
3 - The Home of Wonder Weapons
4 - The Wilds of Poland
5 - Concrete Monsters
6 - Skis without Snow
7 - Out of Nowhere
8 - Warheads
9 - Looking Back
Author: Colonel Roy M. Stanley II, USAF (Ret)
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation