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Old 03-26-2011, 10:30 AM
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Cool Tools of Tradecraft: More Spy Gear From the CIA, Others

Tools of Tradecraft: More Spy Gear From the CIA, Others
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Every good spy story needs a sequel.
Last month, we published a gallery of CIA spy tools that was so popular, we decided to publish a follow-up with more gear.
We've expanded the rogue's gallery of ingenious spy gadgets with a raft of devious tricks from the former Soviet bloc and other countries, including a lipstick gun, shoe bug and a seriously savage rectal Houdini kit (you'll understand it when you see the pic). We hope you like these as much as you liked the others. All images are courtesy of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
Above:
Kiss of Death

For the spy-op gone bad, or simply for any Natscha who found herself out to dinner with the date from hell, this Cold War-era KGB lipstick gun delivered the kiss of death with a single 4.5mm shot.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum
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Button Cam

Ajax was the codename for this hidden coat camera issued by the KGB around 1970. The lens was embedded in the double-breasted jacket's right middle button.
To snap a surreptitious picture, the spy would squeeze a shutter cable hidden in the coat pocket, triggering the fake button to open for the lens. This was one of several models of buttonhole cameras widely used in the Soviet Union, Europe and North America.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Spy Umbrella

Perfect for a mad Mary Poppins or a gentleman assassin, this KGB-issued umbrella could retard rain or fire a poison pellet. A similar device was used to kill Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov on the streets of London in 1978.
Markov was waiting for a bus to go to work when he felt a sting on the back of one leg and turned to see a man lifting an umbrella from the ground. He died three days later of poisoning from ricin. An autopsy uncovered a pellet the size of a pinhead embedded in his leg.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Seriously Savage Rectal Houdini Kit

It's a toss-up which would be worse, getting caught by the enemy or having the cap on this rectal escape kit pop off unexpectedly in a spy's caboose. The kit was issued by the CIA in the 1960s.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Cyanide Specs

Choosing death over torture, a captured spy in the 1970s could chew on the tip of these CIA-issued spectacles to get at a cyanide pellet hidden inside.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Cyanide Gas Gun

A gas gun similar to this one was used by KGB officer Bogdan Stashinsky to assassinate two Ukrainian dissidents — Lev Rebet and Stepan Bandera — in Germany in 1957 and 1959.
The gun, which Stashinsky concealed in a rolled-up newspaper, exploded hydrogen from a crushed cyanide capsule into the victim's face, causing him to go into cardiac arrest.
Stashinsky later defected to Germany and confessed to the crimes.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Shoe Bug

Spy games weren't just for the big superpowers. This shoe transmitter was used by the Romanian Secret Service, or Securitate, in the 1960s to 1970s to spy on American diplomats.
Diplomats, reluctant to purchase clothing locally, would have dapper shoes flown in. The spy agency would intercept the shoes at the post office and install a bug and transmitter in the heel to monitor the diplomat's conversations. The transmitter wouldn't be detected during an electronic sweep of the diplomat's office for bugs unless the diplomat was in the room at the time the sweep occurred.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Turd Transmitter

This CIA turd transmitter, issued around 1970, was actually a homing beacon that transmitted a radio signal to pilots overhead to help direct them to bombing targets and reconnaissance sites.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Pipe Pistol

Issued by British Special Forces during World War II, this pipe could fire a small projectile designed to kill a person at close range. The weapon fired by twisting the bowl while holding the stem.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Steineck Watchcam

This Steineck watchcam, a product of post-World War II Germany, allowed an agent to snap pics while appearing to check the time — no easy feat since there was no viewfinder on the device. The film disk, about an inch across, could produce eight exposures.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Tree Stump Bug

In the early 1970s, U.S. intelligence agents concealed a bug in an artificial stump and planted it in a wooded area outside Moscow to eavesdrop on radar and communications signals of a Soviet missile system.
The intercepted signals were stored and then transmitted to a satellite passing overhead, then passed to a ground site in the United States. The top of the stump appeared to observers to be opaque, but was actually transparent so that sunlight could filter through and charge the device's solar batteries.
The KGB eventually discovered the bug.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Fountain Pen Camera

When even a pocket camera was too conspicuous, this fountain pen camera did the trick. Issued by the CIA in the late 1970s, this fountain pen was one of three different designs created to conceal a Tropel lens. The others included a key chain and a cigarette lighter.
Designed specifically for photographing documents, devices like this were used by Aleksandr Ogorodnik, codenamed Trigon, who was a senior Soviet diplomat recruited by the CIA in the 1970s. Ogorodnik passed on hundreds of classified documents to the U.S. before he was caught by the KGB. He committed suicide using a poison pill from the CIA before the KGB was able to force him to sign a confession.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Coin Cache

Issued by the KGB beginning in the 1950s, this hollow coin could conceal microfilm and microdots. It was opened by inserting a needle into a tiny hole in the front of the coin.
Photo: Courtesy of the International Spy Museum




Coal Bomb and Camouflage Kit

This lump of coal, issued in the 1940s by the Office of Special Services, precursor to the CIA, concealed explosives that, when shoveled into a boiler fire, would explode.
The accompanying camouflage kit allowed an agent to paint the coal the same color as local coal in order to blend in.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Glove Pistol

Issued by the U.S. Navy during World War II, this pistol allowed an operative to take out the enemy without ever removing his gloves. To fire the pistol, the wearer simply pushed the plunger against the victim's body.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Canteen Bomb


This World War II-era canteen from U.S. Army intelligence concealed explosives that could be used by resistance groups to sabotage encampments behind enemy lines. Photo: Courtesy of the International Spy Museum




Pigeon Spy Cam

Cameras were used widely to photograph troops and fortifications for the first time in World War I, allowing spies to study enemy weapons and generate topographical maps.
But how to get a camera into enemy territory without endangering the life of a pilot? Enter patriotic pigeons outfitted with tiny cameras that could swoop over military sites and snap photographs without being noticed.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Cufflink Cache

Issued by the KGB in the 1950s, the hollowed base of these cufflinks could be used to smuggle microdot film across a border.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Smoking Kills

The Surgeon General was right. Smoking can be hazardous to your health. Particularly when it involves this pack of smokes issued by the KGB in the 1950s, which in reality was an assassination tool.
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum




Fly Button Compass

This button compass, sewn onto the fly of a pair of pants, could help a spy navigate his way to a border. The face of the compass spun on a pin to indicate north (the two dots) or south (one dot).
Photo: Courtesy International Spy Museum

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