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'Basic Cover 1954' was the US Air Force's secret mission to provide the air force and its allies with aerial photos of all of Denmark. In May 1954, the US Air Force captured more than 42,000 aerial photos in scale 1:10,000 from a height of 1,500 metres, and the photos are of exceptional quality.
The flyovers were mentioned in the media, but the Danish government denied any knowledge of them. The photos were not released until the 1970s and it is not clear what they were used for until then. The original copies are with the Washington National Archives and in 2006 the Royal Library received a copy of the entire set of photos from the British air force, Royal Air Force (RAF). In the past eight years, COWI has transformed this extensive raw material into a finished product that lets us all see what Denmark looked like in 1954.
"Historical orthophotos such as DDO®1954 give us a unique opportunity to study, for instance, land use at a time when land use underwent vast changes," says Research Librarian Henrik Dupont from the Royal Library. Along with more recent maps and orthophotos, DDO®1954 tells the story of the historical development in a specific area's topography and can be used for many different purposes. "The nation-wide historical orthophoto gives us a better basis for starting cultural studies and nature restoration projects. And by locating sites such as past storage sites, gas stations and production plants, we are able to pinpoint potential sources of pollution," says Surveyor Henning Andersen, COWI.
If you want to see what your parents' childhood homes looked like in the mid 50s, go to www.kortal.dk (only in Danish) where you can access DDO®1954 every day after 17:00.
The majority of the images come from a film copy, which COWI in cooperation with the Royal Library retrieved from RAF's archives in England. Images from the capital region and Bornholm were provided courtesy of National Survey and Cadastre.COWI scanned the old rolls of film and transformed the scans into an orthophoto. The project is backed by Augustinus Fonden. The material is available in a 25 cm resolution, apart from Bornholm, which has been produced in a 50 cm resolution.