The characteristic difficulty in installing the airplane camera is that there is no place for it. After the gasoline supply, the armament, the wireless, the oxygen tank, the bombs, and other necessities are taken care of there is neither space available nor weight allowable. Where space may be found it will be inaccessible, or accessible only through a maze of tension and control wires; or it will be in a position where any weight will endanger the balance of the plane. Plane design has in fact been more or less of a conflict between the aeronautical engineer, who is designing the airplane primarily as a machine to fly, and the armament and instrument men, who look upon it as a platform for their apparatus. Lack of appreciation of the extreme importance of aerial photography resulted, during a large part of the war, in the camera installation being neglected until the plane was supposedly entirely designed, and even in production. At that stage the installation could be but a makeshift. Only in the later stages of the war, when plane design became a matter of cooperation between all concerned, were fairly convenient and satisfactory arrangements made for the camera. Always, however, the rapid succession of new plane designs, with various shapes of fuselage and details of structure, made camera installation in the war plane a matter calling for the greatest ingenuity.
The problem was met in part by constructing both cameras and mountings in sections, to be laboriously wormed in through inadequate apertures, in part by later structural changes in the planes, such as the substitution of veneer rings or frames for the tension wires. In certain cases the rear cockpit controls were omitted, thereby freeing accessible and often adequate space for the larger cameras. Rear controls were never used in the German planes, so that their standard practice was to carry the camera forward of the observer. This, together with the general restriction to the 13X18 centimeter size plate, made the installation problem less difficult in the German aircraft than in the Allied.