Royal Air Force: No 1 Camouflage Unit (Scotland)

Scope and Content

Oblique aerial images of locations in Scotland taken between 1940 and 1944 by No 1 Camouflage Unit (No. 1 CAM Unit). Taken to examine the effectiveness of camouflage painted on structures they mainly show industrial plant, airfields and other non-military installations. No sortie plots held.

Administrative / Biographical History

No. 1 CAM unit was responsible for collecting vertical and oblique survey cover of the United Kingdom during the Second World War (1939-1945) using mainly training aircraft. Large tracts of the country were photographed to monitor the effectiveness of various camouflage schemes and to provide cover of possible invasion beaches on the eastern seaboard. In particular the photographs were used to assist in the camouflaging of industrial plant, airfields and other installations vital to the war effort. A number of the oblique photographs for Scotland have survived and are contained in this collection.

The CAM obliques, taken for strategic reasons as well as to test equipment, rarely covered military targets. The material is mainly concerned with the central belt of Scotland due to the greater industrial concentrations under threat from enemy activity and in need of camouflage appraisal.

These aerial photographs represent a small selection of the total created during the wartime operations of No. 1 CAM Unit. The original negatives of these prints were deliberately destroyed during the 1950s after their chemistry had become unsafe due to their nitrate base. Many of the prints still retain their 'chinagraph' pencil marking where photo-interpreters have annotated 'features of note'.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Electronic copies accessible via NCAP website, search room and Paid Search Service.

Other Finding Aids

Electronic index accessible on NCAP website.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Aerial prints. Prints are mostly 8.5 x 7 inches (230 x 180mm).

Conditions Governing Use

Standard licence terms for use apply.

Custodial History

Formerly held by the Scottish Office. Within the Scottish Office it was held by the Department of Health for Scotland until its 1962 transfer to the Scottish Development Department. Within these departments it was held by the entity variously known as the Air Photograph Library / Air Photographs Unit. The collection was transferred to RCAHMS in 1993.

Related Material

The surviving CAM imagery of England, Wales and Northern Ireland is held by:

English Heritage Archive Services, The Engine House, Fire Fly Avenue, SWINDON, Wiltshire, SN2 2EH. Tel: 01793 414600, E-mail:

Central Register of Air Photography for Wales, Welsh Assembly Government, Room G-003, Crown Offices, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF1 3NQ. Tel: 029 20 823815, E-mail:

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 66 Balmoral Avenue, BELFAST BT9 6NY, Northern Ireland. Tel: 028 9025 5905, E-mail:


RCAHMS (2000), Catalogue of the RAF World War II photographs in the National Monuments Record of Scotland, Scotland from the Air 1939-49, volume 2, ISBN 1-902419-19-7.

Corporate Names

Geographical Names