Archives and Research

National Collection of Aerial Photography

Delve into NCAP, one of the world’s largest and most significant collections of historic aerial photographs.

An image of the German city of Cologne from above that can be found in the National Collection of Aerial Photography.

Explore more than 26 million aerial images featuring historic events and places worldwide, including 1.6 million images of Scotland.

It is the role of The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP) to collect aerial imagery and preserve these records – both digital and physical – for generations to come, while also making them as accessible and widely available as possible.

Collections of imagery include:

  • Aero Pictorial – historical oblique aerial photography of Scotland
  • Aerofilms – historical oblique aerial photography of Scotland, including some of the earliest aerial images of the country
  • Allied Central Interpretation Unit (ACIU) – Second World War aerial photography of Western Europe
  • Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS) – aerial survey photography of locations around the world
  • German Air Force – German aerial photographs and photomosaics from the Second World War
  • Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC) – declassified Second World War/Cold War aerial photos of global locations 
  • Mediterranean Allied Photo Reconnaissance Wing (MAPRW) –Second World War aerial photos of Mediterranean locations
  • Scottish Office Air Photographs Unit (and later bodies) – aerial photography of Scotland
  • Simmons Aerofilms – aerial survey photography of the UK and Middle East
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