March 31, 2014


Exhibit alert: Spy Gadgets. One of the most celebrated conventions in spy fiction is the use of gadgets. We've enjoyed countless adventures by James Bond, John Drake, and Napoleon Solo, where a bit of ingenious technology often meant the difference between mission-accomplished and mission-impossible. Whether your vibe is the rolling arsenal of an Aston Martin DB5, Lotus Submarine car, or the camera/radio concealed in a pack of cigarettes, these marvelous screen toys added much spice to the often-grim world of espionage. Readers of Keith Melton's book, The Ultimate Spy, and visitors to the International Spy Museum may be familiar with some of the gadgets used by real-life spies; items like gas gun pens, bugged shoes, poisoned coins, and the pick that killed Trotsky! A new exhibit opened on Saturday at the Pacific Science Center that spotlights rarities from Melton's collection and from the archives of the CIA and FBI. According to the press release below, viewers will be given unprecedented access to items seldom seen by civilians. The animal-themed artifacts below are definitely worthy of Q branch. Show runs through September 1st. Images from the Pacific Science Center. More below.

SPY: The Secret World of Espionage offers guests the first-ever public exhibition of treasures from the collections of the CIA, the FBI, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and H. Keith Melton, the renowned author, historian and international authority on spy technology. Guests will see real gadgets and real artifacts from spies and spy catchers. They will observe real spy technologies, and learn the real tools-of-trade, some recently declassified. Photos of sample artifacts follow below with descriptions. See additional images at the Seattle Times here. 

Highlights include:
*Peek into the cockpit of the supersonic A-12 Oxcart Spy Plane from 1962, one 
  of only nine remaining in the world, designed to defeat Soviet air defenses by  
  cruising at more than three times the speed of sound.
*See the Bulgarian Assassination Umbrella that fired a poison ricin pellet into 
  the leg of BBC reporter and Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov’s leg while he  
  was waiting for the bus.
*Navigate your way through the perilous complexities of an actual laser field 
  without tripping a circuit!
*Come face-to-face with KGB surveillance photos taken during the Cuban 
  Missile Crisis.
*Discover the art of steganography, the art of hiding secret messages inside 
  the pixels of innocent-looking digital photos.

*Peer into the Minox IIIs Camera that Oleg Penkovkiy used to photograph 

During World War II, the German military and intelligence services used Enigma cipher machines to create what they thought were unbreakable messages. The Enigma offered 150,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible solutions to any one enciphered message. Yet the Allies were often able to find the right solution and read German secrets. In doing so, they created the world’s first electronic computer, Colossus. This intelligence coup shortened the war by an estimated two years.

This remote-controlled robotic catfish was spawned in the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology. The goal was to explore the use of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) for aquatic missions. “Charlie” swims in a realistic manner thanks to a pressure hull and ballast system in its body and a propulsion system in its tail.

Invented in the 1970s by the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology, this robotic dragonfly was the world’s first miniaturized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). A tiny liquid-propellant engine drove its wings up and down. The “Insectothopter” ultimately proved unstable in crosswinds, but its fluid dynamic technology inspired further research into miniature platforms for spy cameras and audio sensors.

Developed by Lockheed under the ironic codename OXCART, the A-12 cruised at more than three times the speed of sound, creating such friction against the atmosphere that the air surrounding the plane often reached 400°F. Its camera could photograph the ground from 90,000 feet above. A-12 pilots wore a type of protective pressure suit with thermal insulation, pressure control, cooling, and a life support system. The suit offered protection from heat radiating through the windshield and from cold and low pressure in the event of a high-altitude bailout.

Developed by the CIA in 1970, the aim was to capture film footage of sensitive areas during low-level flights by pigeons. Pigeons! 

Spy Vibe is having a spring sale on eBay. New items added very few days and include rare Beatles, James Bond, books, music, and comics. Details here

Recent Ian Fleming posts on Spy Vibe: Fleming Letters MysteryAppropriating BondDouble 007 Book Designs,  Double 007 designs IIrare Ian Fleming editionBook Design DopplegangersTurkish Bond designIan Fleming LettersErno GoldfingerNoel CowardWhispering Jack SmithHawaiian GuitarJoe Fingers Carr, new Ian Fleming CatalogJon Gilbert interview, Double 007 Designs, Bond audio book reissues, discovery of one of Ian Fleming's WWII Commandos, James Bond book covers, Ian Fleming's Playboy interview for Kindle, Spy Vibe's discovery of a rare Ian Fleming serialization, rare View to a Kill, Fleming's Royal gold typewriter, Ian Fleming's memorial address, Spy Vibe's Ian Fleming image archive.

Recent Spy Vibe posts: Sylvia AndersonAppropriating Bond Exhibit, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton,  Solar & Bionic Man ReturnThe Saint Library ReleasedDC Fontana Prisoner VideoJames Bond Comic EventTurkish James Bond DesignEdward Gorey's 1960sIpcress File cinematography007 SOLO cover designsBatman Valentines cardsSaturday Cartoons: Marine BoyMary QuantPatrick Macnee, Gloria Steinem and Denny O'Neil on MOD Wonder WomanWin Scott Eckert interview, Siegel and Shuster's SPYDavid McCallum: Son of BatmanJon Gilbert talks FlemingBarbarella TV seriesMeet the Beatles 50thWonderwall comes to Blu-rayBatman StripsDavid Bowie at 67Kevin Dart talks Ringo & Powerpuff GirlsSherlock ExhibitFu Manchu history panelAndy Warhol box set, Six-Million Dollar ManStriped Light NudeBuckminster FullerDylan at NewportJane and SergeThe Goldfinger VariationsMod Tales InterviewDavid Tennant's Ian Fleming audio books, Atomic ArtShane Glines Batman.

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