UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Powered By Google Custom Search Vintage Radio Service Data

Go Back   UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum > General Vintage Technology > General Vintage Technology Discussions

Notices

General Vintage Technology Discussions For general discussions about vintage radio and other vintage electronics etc.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 24th May 2020, 7:46 pm   #1
dave walsh
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ramsbottom (Nr Bury) Lancs or Bexhill (Nr Hastings) Sussex.
Posts: 4,771
Default Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

Bank Holiday Monday viewing tomorrow at 7pm on BBC2. A Time Watch film, first shown October 2011 then October 2012! Not Enigma but Hitler's personal system. Features Bill Tutte and Tommy Flowers from the GPO. Not so well known a story then and probably now.

Dave W

Last edited by dave walsh; 24th May 2020 at 7:54 pm.
dave walsh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th May 2020, 9:58 pm   #2
Radio Wrangler
Dekatron
 
Radio Wrangler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Fife, Scotland, UK.
Posts: 14,539
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

I can only add what a superb experience a trip to Bletchley park is for anyone who hasn't been.

Hitler's personal system... more rotors worth of encipherment, teleprinter so recipients got hard copy and they knew that he knew that they'd got it.

A special shouty typefont and redundancy in the form of lots of spare exclamation point keys to take over as he wore them out?

David
__________________
Can't afford the volcanic island yet, but the plans for my monorail and the goons' uniforms are done
Radio Wrangler is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 24th May 2020, 10:23 pm   #3
SiriusHardware
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
Posts: 4,234
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

I saw this, rather annoyingly chopped up into pieces around adverts on Smithsonian channel recently. Work a look, especially in its original uninterrupted BBC format.

Thanks Dave for the heads-up, I will record it this time.
SiriusHardware is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th May 2020, 11:05 pm   #4
Craig Sawyers
Nonode
 
Craig Sawyers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Oxford, UK.
Posts: 2,529
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

The Lorenz SZ42? Bill Tutte's heroic solo effort with two messages to work out the logical function of the machine, then Flowers at the GPO Dollis Hill championing Collossus?

It was only when Kesselring's comms convoy was intercepted and an SZ42 was brought to BP that Tutte, Flowers etc saw a machine in the flesh, as it were.

Craig
Craig Sawyers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 12:27 am   #5
dave walsh
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ramsbottom (Nr Bury) Lancs or Bexhill (Nr Hastings) Sussex.
Posts: 4,771
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

Thanks for the responses chaps. It's good to know that there is someone out there My records suggest that I didn't record the program in 2011 but it could be on VHS which I still used for recording after MY DVD Revolution in 2009 as I only had one DVD Recorder. I did get it on DVD in 2012 so fear not!

I could [perhaps/maybe] do more technical stuff but it's the overall history that really interests me and as you get older it's probably a good idea to prioritise the time you still have available [ie not enough]. I realised tonight, for example, that [I think] Tommy Flowers was brought up in Plaistow, where my daughter used to live when at Uni! See the fascinating thread started by Brunel on May 14th " Bletchley Park "The Parts That The Public Do Not See". I'm on the posts at 12/15/ and 17. You can see that it coincided with a few things for me and the thread is still open
[LA

I've responded to the current [latest] threat to the BBC4 channel by pointing out, to the Guardian and Radio Times, that everything in the NationaL Audio/Video Archives, Public or Private should be much integrated [like the Smithsonian perhaps?] As other have said-that might solve some of the problems on the Bletchley site.

Dave

I've also got "Behind The Scenes At The Museum" astounding! They have to meet sealed in the Pope Mobile Exhibit for security but 2001's HAL isn't reading their lips [as far as I know anyway!]

"Open the Pod Doors please HaL"

Last edited by dave walsh; 25th May 2020 at 12:51 am.
dave walsh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 7:14 am   #6
eddie_ce
Pentode
 
eddie_ce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: nr. Hannover, Germany
Posts: 225
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

The sad thing is that many of those involved did not get the public recognition they richly deserved due to the Official Secrets Act. At least not while they were still alive.
__________________
Eddie
BVWS Member.
Friend of the BVWTM
eddie_ce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 10:40 am   #7
dave walsh
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ramsbottom (Nr Bury) Lancs or Bexhill (Nr Hastings) Sussex.
Posts: 4,771
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

Yes indeed Eddie, too little too late although there was a belated recognition in the end. I witnessed some of the residual nervousness in people who began to speak out about wartime events in the mid seventies, so that's one "Official Secrets" explanation. Other's have suggested that there might have been a class element ie Mr Flowers was "only" a GPO engineer. There could be some documentation not yet yet revealed but Churchill appears to have been very concerned to "clear the decks" as we entered the Soviet Era, so our technology did not fall into the hands of others. We seem to be back in that sort of a situation again, here in 2020

Dave W.
dave walsh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 10:49 am   #8
RogerEvans
Pentode
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Wiltshire, UK.
Posts: 224
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

If you want to know more about details of the tunny code breaking effort and Colossus internals then I can recommend the book 'Colossus' by Jack Copeland and others. Astonishing details including how Bill Tutte deduced the SZ42 internals, the extreme reliability of the (I think EF50s) in Colossus and the tiny differences from randomness in the teleprinter code that had to be exploited to get the initial wheel settings. And it was all only possible because of the catastrophic error of procedure in the two messages that Craig referred to which were not only sent with the same initial wheel settings, but in the early days of the SZ42 some of the initial wheel settings were sent in plain text at the start of the message. The buterflies wings ...!

Roger
RogerEvans is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 11:10 am   #9
SiriusHardware
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
Posts: 4,234
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

And not only for that, but for everything to come together all at the same time... for the original messages to be intercepted successfully and recorded faithfully, and then for their significance to be noticed. A lot of things had to go exactly right for all of what followed to happen.
SiriusHardware is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 11:28 am   #10
barrymagrec
Heptode
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Morden, Surrey, UK.
Posts: 753
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerEvans View Post
If you want to know more about details of the tunny code breaking effort and Colossus internals then I can recommend the book 'Colossus' by Jack Copeland and others. Astonishing details including how Bill Tutte deduced the SZ42 internals, the extreme reliability of the (I think EF50s) in Colossus and the tiny differences from randomness in the teleprinter code that had to be exploited to get the initial wheel settings. And it was all only possible because of the catastrophic error of procedure in the two messages that Craig referred to which were not only sent with the same initial wheel settings, but in the early days of the SZ42 some of the initial wheel settings were sent in plain text at the start of the message. The buterflies wings ...!

Roger
Mostly EF37s, I think - (pedant mode)
barrymagrec is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 11:34 am   #11
Peter.N.
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Charmouth, Dorset, UK.
Posts: 3,417
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

If anyone is interested I have two books that I inherited 'The Enigma Symposium' 1998 and 1999. You can have them for the cost of postage - they are quite heavy!

Peter
Peter.N. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 12:01 pm   #12
n_r_muir
Hexode
 
n_r_muir's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Edinburgh, UK.
Posts: 321
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

Hi Peter PM Sent re books
n_r_muir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 12:26 pm   #13
greg_simons
Heptode
 
greg_simons's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Evesham, Worcestershire, UK.
Posts: 796
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerEvans View Post
If you want to know more about details of the tunny code breaking effort and Colossus internals then I can recommend the book 'Colossus' by Jack Copeland and others. Astonishing details including how Bill Tutte deduced the SZ42 internals, the extreme reliability of the (I think EF50s) in Colossus and the tiny differences from randomness in the teleprinter code that had to be exploited to get the initial wheel settings. And it was all only possible because of the catastrophic error of procedure in the two messages that Craig referred to which were not only sent with the same initial wheel settings, but in the early days of the SZ42 some of the initial wheel settings were sent in plain text at the start of the message. The buterflies wings ...!

Roger
Yes indeed roger, we must be eternally grateful not only to the brilliant minds at the park but also to the unintended sloppiness of some german signals operators who gave our codebreakers something to latch onto that helped the decoding process along.
Greg.
__________________
Picture, sound?, DOOR.
greg_simons is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 2:14 pm   #14
merlinmaxwell
Dekatron
 
merlinmaxwell's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK.
Posts: 9,407
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

Ever since "The Ultra Secret, Winterbotham" https://books.google.co.uk/books/abo...er&redir_esc=y came out I was (am) fascinated by the whole thing. Some of the maths is a bit tricky, worth getting to grips with. And some of it is still secret. There is an American paper "A general report on Tunny" here http://www.alanturing.net/turing_arc...portindex.html Turing didn't have a lot or anything to do with Tunny though.
__________________
Cats have staff, it's dogs that have owners.
merlinmaxwell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 8:35 pm   #15
Craig Sawyers
Nonode
 
Craig Sawyers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Oxford, UK.
Posts: 2,529
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

I can't remember whether I mentioned it before, but I restored BP's Lorenz SZ42 (the one they kept showing in the programme) to full functionality.

It was fascinating for a number of reasons. First was the selectors were Teletype manufactured, and many of the fixing screws were US thread. In fact before Teletype was Teletype it was the Morkrum-Kleinschmidt company and had strong links to Germany. So the SZ42, that caused so much hard work at BP had many parts that were made in the USA. Another quirk was that the transformer and choke were wound with SWG wire guage, for reasons I never found out.

I knew Tony Sale very well, and his charming wife Margaret (who sadly died in February this year).

Tony arranged a Cipher Challenge in around 2008. I went out to the Heinz Nixdorf museum in Paderborn with the SZ42 as the German end of this. We sent real codes from the SZ42, and the local ham radio club sent the cipher text using the correct modulation scheme and transmitter power. The challenge was for someone to intercept the transmission and break it before it was recieved at TNMOC on AR88's, converted manually to punch tape and broken with Colossus. A guy in Bonn broke in 20 minutes whereas Colossus took 40 minutes.

Last time I got my hands on the machine was just before the cipher challenge. I was working on a bench behind the thyratron counting rings, taking the entire cipher wheel assembly to pieces and re-greasing it. That rack of valves is like sitting behind an electric fire!

In fact the ladies who used to operate the 5 colossus machines used to strip down to bra and knickers in the summer to keep cool. The blokes used to draw straws to decide who took in the punch tape for the next machine run.

In point of fact the SZ42 you saw in the programme was still at TNMOC and fully working. But as part of the Paderborn trip, the mains transformer burnt out (it was already I replacement I had had wound earlier). I had it remanufactured a second time, but before I could fit it BP took command of the SZ42 from TNMOC and put it in a glass case. I still have the transformer, and the WWII original fittings on the top of my wardrobe.

TNMOC now have a partial SZ42 on loan from Norway. But they have absolutely forbidden any restoration. Even though the (ISO standard!) bearings are pretty much siezed, they viewed the old tar like grease as being an historical artifact. Weird, but there it is.

Craig
Craig Sawyers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 9:07 pm   #16
Craig Sawyers
Nonode
 
Craig Sawyers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Oxford, UK.
Posts: 2,529
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

These documents were not available when I worked on the SZ42. It would have made things a whole lot easier had they been!

https://www.cryptocellar.org/Lorenz/

Which has a complete description of the machine including drawings, service schedules and timing diagrams.

Craig
Craig Sawyers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 9:33 pm   #17
dave walsh
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ramsbottom (Nr Bury) Lancs or Bexhill (Nr Hastings) Sussex.
Posts: 4,771
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

On viewing this again-

1. Craig that story about minimal clothing chimes with the comment in the
Documentary that the Nazi mind set meant that anyone different to a perceived
normality was excluded, while the British had a tradition of eccentricity that
often included brilliance! The Nazi attitude isolated them from that resource, plus their coding
groups fought each other. They would certainly have gone in for more exposed bodies, only
privately [like the Victorians] but it was 1940!

2. I noticed the comment that the Russians were suspected of using Lorenz
after the war which, again, explains Churchill wanting to destroy all the
physical evidence and keep the encoding info under wraps in case of a Nuclear Attack
threat. The Chain Home listening stations here on the South Coast [eg Wartling] were quickly
converted into a defence against our former allies in the 1950's. Some people were reluctant to
talk about that just twenty years ago. It was all still "Need to know". It's clear that Winston
quickly recognised the threat from the Soviet block as he had with Germany in the 1930's.


3. We've discussed variations of the AR88 [AR80] on here recently and it's
predecessor the AR77. Interesting but not at all similar. I presume the first
on site Bletchley Radio Listening Room [shown at the beginning] was actually a
reconstruction? There was an AR77 in the corner. Is that accurate? It fits in with the time-line!

Dave W

Last edited by dave walsh; 25th May 2020 at 9:57 pm.
dave walsh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 9:58 pm   #18
m0cemdave
Heptode
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, UK.
Posts: 881
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

"Codebreakers" (ed. Hinsley & Stripp, O.U.P. 1993, ISBN 0-19-820327-6) contains four chapters about Fish & Tunny, written by members of the original WW2 decryption group. Well worth a read if you can find it.
m0cemdave is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th May 2020, 11:08 pm   #19
Craig Sawyers
Nonode
 
Craig Sawyers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Oxford, UK.
Posts: 2,529
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

I missed the AR77. But the main bank of receivers are definitely (currently) AR88's. They have a bunch of old boys there who know AR88's forwards and backwards that keep them going and restore replacements when needed.

They have replicated the "undulator". That produced a printed trace of the incoming morse stream from the intercept. Almost looks like a continuous oscilloscope trace on a long strip of paper. A group of women then interpreted the undulator paper tape and typed out the Baudot punched tape needed for Colossus. All labour intensive - but anything to do with code breaking was tough in one way or the other.

There has long been a suspicion that there are more SZ42's out there. The only known complete ones are the BP one, and one at the National Cryptologic Museum in Maryland USA. The only partial one I know of is the Norwegian one currently on loan to TNMOC. And the suspicion is that they are some in the ex-USSR, probably now owned by rich oligarch collectors. But there never was many made or used. The German standing order was that if you anticipated capture, destroy the machine. Throw it in the sea, or blow it up. So a relatively small number was reduced further.

I have a paper somewhere written by a German comms unit officer. The Russians were just about to take over that area. So he put his SZ42 in a bomb crater, packed it with explosives and lit the fuse. He then has to stop anyone diving for cover into that particular crater!

Craig
Craig Sawyers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th May 2020, 10:48 am   #20
dave walsh
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ramsbottom (Nr Bury) Lancs or Bexhill (Nr Hastings) Sussex.
Posts: 4,771
Default Re: Code-Breakers:Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

Thanks for that Craig. Not many AR77'S have been spotted in the UK. I'm interested in the AR88's [as used at Bletchley] for a variety of reasons one being that my set is labelled Slave 31, clearly part of a Diversity "set" up!

Dave
dave walsh is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 12:36 am.


All information and advice on this forum is subject to the WARNING AND DISCLAIMER located at https://www.vintage-radio.net/rules.html.
Failure to heed this warning may result in death or serious injury to yourself and/or others.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2002 - 2020, Paul Stenning.