"Quick and dirty" recon Mustang: RAF Mustang I camera mount type suitable for bubble canopy P-51s?

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Staff Sergeant
Nov 3, 2022
Mansfield, Ohio, USA
I wonder what challenges that would represent, such as how such a mounting would work as far as fitting, and if the canopy would cause too much image distortion to be useful?
Just wondering if such a thing was possible/doable, or would it not be worth it? I know that even early on the F-82 was intended to carry cameras in a pod for recon use (though it was never really used for such).
USAAF developed and deployed a 'quick and dirty' modification to allow a K.24 reconnaissance camera to be fitted to P-51Ds with USAAF Fighter Groups in the ETO to allow post strike photos to be taken of attacks on airfields, transportation, etc. Photography obtained from the camera was to help substantiate claims being made by pilots following attacks on ground targets. It involved fitting a second arched support behind the pilot's seat attached to the lower metal section of the sliding canopy section and fitting the camera to a mount sitting between the two arched supports. The second arched support sat aft of the arched support normally fitted. Yes, they had to be careful about the degree of distortion caused by the canopy, but the images obtained was good enough for the purpose. Attached marked up photo gives an idea of the placement of the second arched support and where the camera sat under the canopy.

P-51D Strike Camera.jpg
Could fitting the TP-51 canopy have helped with the distortion issue? I'm also wondering about if the USAAF wanted a F-6 version of the P-51H, since they doesn't seem to be a very good place to mount a camera internally on it.
Doesn't matter which one of the 'blown' P-51D canopies you fit, or P-51H if you want to go that path, you will get potential for distortion in the 'blown' plexiglass. A simple solution would be to make a cutout in the plexiglass in the area in front of the camera lens, and insert a framed segment of optically flat glass. It would limit to some degree the offset angle the camera mounted behind the pilot's seat could be placed, but it would resolve the potential for distortion. If they wanted a recce version of the P-51H, they would have found a way to make a camera or cameras fit in locations that produced good photography and allowed proper access to the camera(s) for servicing, etc.
Problem is that looking at P-51H cutaways, I don't see a good place to install one, especially a vertical camera. Could a pod (like envisioned for the F-82) work? Or was the USAAF starting to lean towards using twin engine aircraft as recon platforms back then?

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