1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

On the Hand-Held Camera Program

An Excerpt From

VIETNAM STUDIES: The Role of Military Intelligence 1965-1967

Department of the Army, Washington, D.C., 1994

Photo Credit: MIV

The World Through A Window:  Young Citizen of DaNang,  1967, Seemingly Bewildered By The American Soldier That She Sees Outside Her Window

"As an adjunct to visual reconnaissance, and related to aerial photography, we initiated the hand-held camera program in an attempt to partially alleviate the timeliness problem since a mission could be flown, the film processed, the imagery interpreted, and the results delivered to the requester in a matter of hours instead of days.

"The program was implemented by the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Air Reconnaissance Support) for Military Assistance Command and by tactical air support squadrons for the Air Force. The MIBARS trained Army observers in the techniques of photography and also provided the cameras.  Film could be processed at either the tactical units or the battalion.

Photo Credit: Gene Zwarycz, "B" Detachment, Imagery Interpretation, 1968-1970

Above: Forward Air Controllers of the US Army's 21st Reconnaissance Airplane Company, operating out of Marble Mountain Airbase, and shown with the unit's organic 0-1 Bird Dog aircraft, prepare to go to work.  The 21st RAC frequently accommodated "B" Detachment personnel as observers.

"Several camera systems were tested. The first, employing the Questar lens on a camera chassis with motorized film transport, was unsuitable because of the need for a stable mount and the distortion that resulted from lens jitter when used in aircraft. The second system tested consisted of a catadioptic lens with 26-inch equivalent focal length mounted on the same body.  Although compact and easily handled, the small aperture, limited depth of field, and critical focusing made this camera unacceptable. Further testing of off-the shelf cameras resulted in selection of a Japanese model with a 200-mm. lens.  For special application, we acquired a 500-mm. and a 1,000-mm. lens for use with the camera.  Admittedly not the ultimate solution, it was adequate for our purposes."

See the "Hand-held Camera Program" for information on this "B" Detachment initiative


Mission and Impact

Visual Surveillance

Intelligence Keys

ES-38 Mobile Photography Laboratory

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