Operation Crossbow

Radio Times
Review by:
David Butcher

BBC4 repeats BBC2’s belter of a Second World War doc. It's a story you feel should be better known, about how spy planes hunted down Hitler’s ballistic missile programme, helping to defeat the first WMDs.

It centres on the wartime base at RAF Medmenham. Teams of “photo-interpreters” would pore over the images taken by Spitfire pilots flying over occupied Europe. Brilliantly, this “crack team of sleuths” used 3D images and even built scale models of targets, such as the V-1 rocket emplacements they were the first to spot.The tale comes to life, not least because of impressive contributors, including former reconnaissance pilots and bomb aimers at whom you can really only shake your head in admiration.

About this programme

The little-known story of Spitfire pilots and Allied technicians whose work helped to thwart the Nazis during the Second World War. The programme reveals how stereoscopic 3D photographs were used to help interpreters map every contour of the enemy's territory, and uses personal testimony, computer-generated imagery and original wartime pictures to detail how the initiative was able to uncover some of Hitler's most dangerous secrets. Narrated by Samantha Bond.

Cast and crew


Samantha Bond


Tim Dunn
Executive Producer
Eamon Hardy
Tim Dunn