COLD WAR M-125-3 CIPHER MACHINE CODENAMED "FIALKA"
Russia, circa 1956
serial number 98-70913 punched to inside of lid and red painted to exterior, two complete sets of wheels: an operational one in the Fialka itself and a spare one inside the metal cover. -- with Russian telegraph key and power supply with serial number 98-70925 black painted, privately printed English-language manual, and a punched programming card.
13 x 10½ x 8½in. (33x 27.5 x 22cm.) the largest
From a Private Collection
Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.
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Like the Enigma, the FIALKA uses a number of electromechanical cipher wheels to scramble the letters typed on the keyboard. With each key-press, the wheels move into a new position, thereby effectively changing the wiring and, hence, the alphabetical substitution for each letter typed on the keyboard. And that's where the similarity with the Enigma ends.
Rather than presenting the output on a lamp panel, the Fialka prints the coded letter directly onto a paper tape. At the same time it can punch the letter into the same paper tape in a 5-bit digital code much like the baudot code of a teletype machine. In addition, the Fialka contains a paper tape transmitter which can be used to transmit or duplicate a message. The Russians clearly drew cautions from the flaws in the Enigma's design and its operating procedures when they designed this sophisticated machine.
The Fialka was first introduced in 1956 and soon became one of the favorite machines of the Warsaw Pact and some allied nations, such as Cuba. It remained in use until very recently. The machine is similar to the American Sigaba and the KL-7.
At the heart of each Fialka machine is a drum with 10 different cipher wheels (rotors) that move in an irregular manner when a message is entered. Each wheel has 30 contacts at either side and is identified by a letter of the Russian alphabet. The 10 different wheels are placed on a spindle in the order dictated by the daily key in a manner similar to the wheels of an Enigma machine. The spindle is then placed inside the Fialka machine and then the entry disc and the reflector are locked in place. After setting the wheels to their initial position, the machine is ready for use.
The adjustable wheels in this Fialka have 30 disc-shaped contacts on the left side and 30 spring-loaded contact pins on the right side. Inside the wheel, the 30 contacts on the left are connected to the contacts on the right by a removable wiring maze wheel. This maze wheel can be removed and reinserted into the rotor in a total of 60 orientations. This gives each rotor a total of 60 different internal wiring configurations as compared to the single possible wiring configuration in an Enigma rotor.
At the outer rim of each wheel are a number of metal pins. These pins control the irregular stepping of the Fialka rotors and are called the Advance Blocking Pins. Each wheel has a different number of such pins at different locations.
In addition to defining the settings of the wheels, the daily key setting also involved the insertion of a unique key card in a drawer on the left side of the machine. The key card in the Fialka replaced the plugboard of the original Enigma design. The card allowed for additional letter scrambling beyond that of the rotor sets.
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