Cold War Cipher Machine Goes on Display

The Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency at Joint Base San Antonio added a Cold War Soviet cipher machine to its display of cryptologic devices. The M-125 Fialka, meaning “violent” in English, is a 10-rotor cipher device used in the former Soviet Union from the late 1950s until that country’s collapse in 1991. It joined Nazi Germany’s Enigma and the United States’ Sigaba machines on view in the agency’s Heritage Center, making that display the only known public place where these three devices are co-located. “I didn’t find any museum, not the Imperial War Museum [in London], not the Smithsonian, that had these three machines on display,” said Gabe Marshall of the AFISRA history office. The agency unveiled its new addition on Sept. 22. It’s on loan from the National Cryptologic Center Museum at Fort Meade, Md., just like Enigma and Sigaba. (Lackland report by Wayne Amann)