Researching Foreign Aerial Photography – Captured German Aerial Prints

In our previous post, Researching Foreign Aerial Photography, we discussed how to locate rolled aerial negatives. However, the Cartographic Branch also holds some aerial photographic prints within our holdings. These images are searched and located in a similar manner as rolled aerial negatives, but have a few differences that will be highlighted in today’s post.

The Cartographic Branch holds the series German Flown Aerial Photography within Record Group (RG) 373. This series is generally known as German GX Prints and consists of prints of aerial reconnaissance photography taken by the Germans during World War II. The photography was captured by the Allies at the conclusion of World War II.

Captured German Aerial Photograph showing the Thames River in London, England. RG 373, GX 10369 SK, Exposure 94.

The process for researching or locating coverage of a specific area within the captured German aerials begins the same was as it does for locating rolled aerial negatives. Please see the “Getting Started” section of our previous post, Researching Foreign Aerial Photography, to begin your search.

After locating an overlay index that lines up with the location of interest, the next step in the process is to examine the top of the overlay index sheet and see if it contains a spot number or a GX or TUGX number. If it contains an alphanumeric spot number, it means that the photography consists of rolled aerial negatives. This process is outlined in our previous post, Researching Foreign Aerial Photography This post will focus on locating the photography if a GX or TUGX number is displayed on the overlay index sheet instead of or in addition to an alphanumeric spot number.

GX Print showing a town. RG 373, TUGX 400 SK, exposure 10.

Overlays with GX or TUGX Identifier

Our Captured German aerials are located by the GX, TUGX, or other related number, which is typically located near the top of the overlay index sheet. In order to request GX prints, the GX print number and whether the print is an SK, SD, or SG print is needed. The GX number is typically found on the Orgn. & Sortie line. The SK, SD, or SG designation can be found on that same line, or may sometimes be found further down on the first column of information.

Example of an aerial overlay index sheet for a GX Print, GX 852 SK. Note the SK designation that is found after the number. Designations include SK, SG, or SD.
overlay example for ussr - TUGX
Example of an aerial overlay index sheet for a GX Print, TUGX 1225 SK. Note the SK designation that is found after the print number.

It is also important to note the exposures that cover the area of interest. This is necessary to locate the exact photographic prints covering a certain area. This information does not need to be included on the pull slip, but is used when viewing the actual records.

GX exposure example.jpg
The circled area demonstrates the exposures. The square boxes represent individual photographs. Each photograph has an exposure number associated with it. This is shown by the number in the corner of each box. In the circled area, the box on the right is 164 and the box on the left is 171. Those are the exposure numbers. The line between the two boxes shows that continuous coverage exists between those two areas. The exposure numbers range from 164  to 171 between those two boxes (moving from right to left).

Requesting, Viewing, and Reproducing GX Prints

GX Prints are formatted as photographic prints and typically measure about 12 inches by 12 inches, although the sizes can vary. They are arranged numerically by the GX or TUGX number. Within each box, the prints are labeled with exposure numbers. Unlike many of our rolled aerial negatives that are stored off-site for preservation reasons, all GX prints are stored onsite. They are requested using pull slips, which may be submitted in our research room. The pull slips need to include the series title (GX Prints), the Record Group (373), and the GX numbers (example: TUGX 1225 SK). Two GX numbers may be submitted on a single slip. Up to ten unique numbers may be submitted for a single pull request. Please list SK, SD, and SG as separate numbers.

Sample pull slip to request two GX prints. The series title is GX Prints, the Record Group is 373, and other “other record identification information,” please include the GX or TUGX numbers, including the SK, SG, or SD designations.

It is important to note that sometimes we may not have prints for each GX or TUGX number shown on our overlays. A complete list of available GX print numbers can be found in the GX Inventory binder located in our research room.

GX prints may be copied in our research room using non-flash photography. They may also be reproduced using a personal scanner (note: the glass platten on the scanner must be large enough to accommodate the entire print), or scanned to a USB drive for a fee using equipment provided in our research room.

Other Captured German Aerial Prints

The Cartographic Branch also holds some other captured German aerial prints, which utilize different identifiers besides the standard GX and TUGX. These include DT and DT-TM as some of the most common identifiers. These are sometimes referenced on the overlay indexes and sometimes must be located by geographic area using a different finding aid. More information and a listing of this other German aerial imagery is available in the Cartographic Research Room.


3 thoughts on “Researching Foreign Aerial Photography – Captured German Aerial Prints

  1. Thanks, Brandi Oswald, for describing how to locate photographs in your valuable resource of German aerial photographs from World War 2. The members of the staff there at NARA2 are always very helpful to both beginners and old-timers with these explorations, and this summary of yours will be particularly helpful for anyone who is starting. These historical photographs that you preserve are particularly valuable for seeing the land before modern development has obliterated the past.
    Bruce Bevan

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