Armored Camera Survives V-2 Flight, Photographs Earth at 65-Mile Height (Feb, 1947)

Last year a group of high school students in Girona Spain launched a camera carrying balloon to over 19 miles in altitude, and got much better pictures.

The headline implies that the rocket went to a height of 65 miles, but the text says “65-mile flight” which is not exactly the same thing.

Armored Camera Survives V-2 Flight, Photographs Earth at 65-Mile Height

A motion-picture record of the 65-mile flight of a V-2 rocket launched in New Mexico, was produced by a standard American-made DeVry 35-mm camera. The camera was mounted in the midsection of the V-2 and aimed at an angle of 16-1/2 degrees to the axis of the rocket. After the peak of the trajectory, an explosive charge blew the camera clear at about 25,000 feet. On recovery, the lens and battery were found to be smashed, but the film was undamaged and the camera mechanism was in surprisingly good condition.

The 50-foot film reel, operated by a 24-volt electric motor, was exposed in four and a half minutes at four frames a second. Exposure time of the Eastman Super XX film was 1/50 of a second per frame. The aperture opening was f/5.6, with the shutter opening reduced to 17 degrees.

  1. Firebrand38 says: November 17, 201010:56 am

    Footage can be viewed here http://www.airspacemag….

    Contemporary newsreel on the story here…

    I love the narrator on the newsreel…”Engine of destruction”. I don’t get to use that in everday speech nearly enough.

  2. Kosher Ham says: November 17, 20101:05 pm

    Only 62 miles up? We would not orbit the earth for another ten years.

  3. Charlene says: November 17, 20101:16 pm

    Has everyone heard of the Brooklyn Space Program?

  4. Toronto says: November 17, 20101:51 pm

    Charlene: Yes, but I’d never heard of a DeVry camera before. I wonder if they had any connection to the schools of the same name.

    Tough little sucker, for the mechanizm to survice a 25,000 foot fall. I wonder where it came down – or the rest of the V2 for that matter. If I recall, Carslbad Caverns is about 60-75 miles east of White Sands (which I’m guessing was the launch site.)

  5. Andrew L. Ayers says: November 17, 20106:02 pm

    Toronto: I couldn’t find any “proof positive”, but from a quick amount of googling, I am pretty certain that the answer is “yes”; DeVry Corporation manufactured various film cameras (one mentioned here: http://www.vintagephoto…) in Chicago, IL – which is the same location for the DeVry Schools/University (see here:…). Herman A. DeVry founded the “DeForest Training School” which eventually became DeVry University. He was the grandfather of William deVry (…), a television actor. I am not absolutely certain, but I am pretty sure there’s a link… Can anybody else verify…?

  6. Daniel Rutter says: November 17, 20109:46 pm

    A V-2 could easily achieve an altitude of 65 miles – the vertical-launch maximum altitude for the WWII-spec V-2 was well over a hundred miles, and it got to more than 50 miles even when shot, as originally designed, for distance.

    So the altitude claim seems plausible enough, and the image shown could easily be from that high up. Whoever wrote the piece does seem to just be plugging press-release numbers into vaguely plausible sentences, though. Thank goodness modern science journalism has progressed to just printing the press releases verbatim!

  7. Dustin says: November 18, 20103:40 pm

    DeVry made motion picture equipment starting in the late teens through at least the ’30s — I’m not sure exactly when they got out of the market. I’m not aware of any connection between this DeVry and DeVry University, but who knows?

    The camera in Andrew’s link is a modified DeVry Standard Automatic, built in the mid-’20s. It was a bare-bones, economical 35mm movie camera popular with home enthusiasts and newsreel cameramen. I’ve got a couple and they work well enough. It’s usually hand-cranked, but it does have a built-in clockwork motor that can turn the crank automatically (hence the name) for 15 or 20 seconds. Aftermarket electric motors also exist, but I’ve never seen one.

    Everyone called it the Lunchbox, since that’s what it looks like, especially when you take the lens off. Often seen paired with the Suitcase, otherwise known as the DeVry Type-E Portable Projector.

    The last bit of the article doesn’t make any sense, though. At 4 fps, 50 feet of 35mm only lasts 3:20, not 4:50. And why only 50 feet? A Lunchbox can hold twice that if you’re using nitrate or acetate film (three times if it’s polyester).

  8. JMyint says: November 18, 20107:46 pm

    I’m thinking the reduced film load was because of the modifications to the camera. The caption under the picture say the film reel was protected by a 1 inch armour plate.

    The claim of 65 miles in altitude was probably because many of the V-2s launched at White Sands carried payloads well above the designed weight. The December 17, 1946 shot reached an altitude of 116 miles, a record for a V-2.…

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