During the “cold war”, the Royal Air Force had at its disposal, the most efficient, versatile and mobile reconnaissance system in the world.
Peter Lewer began his career as an air photographer and an air gunner and commissioned in 1942. He was worked in India on air surveys, designing and installing reconnaissance systems in Liberators for long range operations. Some of the work involved clandestine operations for intelligence acquisitions over the Indian Ocean. It was during this time that among his many achievements he started to apply himself to the production of environmental control systems for reconnaissance exploitation laboratories. In 1945 he achieved a rare distinction in being appointed to command the Reconnaissance Systems Development Flight in Ceylon, equipped with Mosquito aircraft. His work included design of reconnaissance systems and the use of infra red and colour separation principles.
After the war he worked on design systems for Lancaster Aircraft covering the African Surveys to develop high altitude and long range surveillance cameras. The introduction of the Canberra PR 3, 7 and 9 followed. In the 1950’s he designed and produced a fleet of mobile imagery exploitation laboratories. During the Malaysian and Borneo campaign he co-operated in the development of imagery exploitation systems. As Wing Commander in 1960 he returned to Germany, providing technical support for its mobile exploitation laboratories. He oversaw the acceptance trials of the new low level, high speed cameras using auto exposure control and image movement compensation. Four years later he was on the staff of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations) and undertook to re-organise the photographic reconnaissance system and support services in the RAF. Promoted to Group Captain in 1967 he was the first Deputy Director of Engineering (Photo Technology) (RAE). In 1969 he became the Commanding Officer of No 4 School of Technical Training . This culminated in a move to HQ Training Command responsible for dealing with 500 courses in ten schools of technical training and the RAF College, Cranwell. He retired from the Royal Air Force in 1973.