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Thread: Syko cipher device

  1. #1
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    Default Syko cipher device

    Clearing out my father's home, I came across a canvas bag marked SYKO CIPHER DEVICE, unfortunately no device inside. He was an LAC in the RAF so this was quite a surprise, and I have found very little about who would have been issued with these. Only part of his service I think could relate to this is he was in 58 RSU recovering crashed aircraft in the Western Desert (that was mid 42 to mid 43), though does this mean my father was also the 'radio operator' in the RSU column ? Unfortunately he has serious dementia so I can't ask him, and seaching the web has revealed very little about how many were issued and to whom, and I haven't found any pictures of a canvas bag like this, though I read that Bletchley has a device and its leather case/box.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails SYKO.jpg  


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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Syko cipher device

    It was a simple mechanical implementation of a substitution cipher table see: http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.c...er-device.html, http://jproc.ca/crypto/syko_sd2.html and http://jproc.ca/crypto/syko_manual.pdf - it was used by the RAF - on the same level of (in) security as Army SLIDEX I think

    Hope this helps

    Iain
    Radio callsign G0OZS since 1991
    Land Rover Defender 90 GS 35KL88
    Past owner of a Simca Marmon MH600BS Radio Truck
    Keeper of far too many radios
    http://www.g0ozs.org/

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Syko cipher device

    You are correct about Bletchley Park having a machine:-

    http://www.denniskenny.com/bletchley...-syko-machine/
    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Syko cipher device

    Quote Originally Posted by g0ozs View Post
    It was a simple mechanical implementation of a substitution cipher table see: http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.c...er-device.html, http://jproc.ca/crypto/syko_sd2.html and http://jproc.ca/crypto/syko_manual.pdf - it was used by the RAF - on the same level of (in) security as Army SLIDEX I think

    Hope this helps

    Iain
    Hi Iain,

    Google had already turned that up, and it says "Unfortunately it is difficult to find detailed information on these systems and how they were used during the war." which is why I asked here. I can't even find rough information, let alone detailed, of who they were issued to, what they were used for, etc. For example did all aircraft have them ? Would an RSU have several or just one nominated operator ?

    It seems there is less info on these than on the German's Enigma.

    Steve

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Syko cipher device

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheshire Steve View Post
    Hi Iain,

    Google had already turned that up, and it says "Unfortunately it is difficult to find detailed information on these systems and how they were used during the war." which is why I asked here. I can't even find rough information, let alone detailed, of who they were issued to, what they were used for, etc. For example did all aircraft have them ? Would an RSU have several or just one nominated operator ?

    It seems there is less info on these than on the German's Enigma.

    Steve
    Have you contacted Bletchley Park or The RAF Museum:-

    http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/
    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Syko cipher device

    Good idea. I had thought about contacting Bletchley, but not considered the RAF museum. Haven't visited either as a bit of a long hike from the North West (though have been to Cosford), but Bletchley is on my to-do list sometime this year since discovering my mother worked at the Harrogate listening post. The Bletchley website made me wonder if they have curators or whether all you have is a glorified ticket office, but Hendon has a list of different contacts including curatorial. I will try them first.

    Steve

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Syko cipher device

    18 days and no response to my e-mail enquiry at RAF Museum, Hendon - very disappointing. So I'll try Bletchley and see what they say.

    I did find a little bit more about the RSU radio truck. Although my father can't remember anything post 1950s due to his dementia, he did volunteer some information when I was chatting to him the other day. He was telling me about lone German fighters attacking just about anything on the desert road back during the war in North Africa c1942, and that standing orders was to get behind a sand dune - which he says was pretty stupid as the plane would turn for another run and you would be the wrong side of the dune. But he did say the radio truck in the RSU convoy was a 15cwt, and they had mounted two machine guns in the back. I tried to press him on using code on the radio but he clammed up - he doesn't realise 70 years have passed.

    Steve

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Syko cipher device

    Security is everything! Don't be suprised if your Father does clam up. Most veterans still do. A lot of techniques they pionered are still relevant, pencil and paper tend not to breack down.
    Leading the charge!
    Jeeps posed for pictures Dodges were to busy working. I'm not mad! My voices say I'm sane! And I am not in the pay of Jersey tourisim No longer a 101. Now a Dodge WC54. If there is one thing makes me angry, its all the Incredible Hulk Films!! (Tony Banner)

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Syko cipher device

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheshire Steve View Post
    18 days and no response to my e-mail enquiry at RAF Museum, Hendon - very disappointing. So I'll try Bletchley and see what they say.

    Steve
    Always disappointing when a museum doesn't reply.

    The Royal Signals Museum also covers encryption, interception and spy radio, so maybe worth contacting along with Bletchley.

    http://www.royalsignalsmuseum.co.uk/...ommunications/
    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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