Monday, 5 November 2012

The Real Q-Branch Part II

...Yes, as Part I saw a staggering 106 viewers - not that my viewers stagger - I thought I'd follow up this indescribable success with some more spy malarkey...
Thanks to my diligent research and selflessness you can save yourself the long hours trawling the web and simply pinch the piccies from me. Why not?, I stole every last one of them... hey, it's only a crime if someone stands to lose votes or money, right?... Henjoy!.

aka the whoops-a-daisy and the oh-sod-it-I'm-fired this beauty was paraded on the World's media, to the chagrin of Britains SIS - formerly MI6 - when it was discovered by the Russians. Previous items used to conceal equipment include - believe it or not - Garfield the cat car window ornaments; those fluffy stick-on things every one seemed to have with their 'Baby on Board' signs... The placement allowed for easy transmit-receive facility through the glass of the vehicle when driven at reasonable speed past British embassies and the like. Agents could pick up and drop off information undetected - if not escaping embarrassment.

SOE/OSS BUTTON COMPASS - World War Two saw a demand for easily hidden escape gear, such as these clever navigation aids. In a variety of forms, the idea was basic as basic gets; balanced on the pin, the top button - they really are buttons - is magnetised ; two dots equals North. Or was it South?....
SOVIET ERA SPETSNAZ SPRING-LOADED KNIFE - BaLOODY Hell! - Yes those cheeky funsters in Redland really liked an edge - these charmers took all a man's strength to reload - range was reputed to be thirty metres (I'd guess lethal range at fifteen metres. I'm not offering to test that theory.) Spetsnaz were basically Soviet special forces, recruited from airborne troops and trained to a fairly high standard. The Soviet Navy had their own Spetsnaz, but overall these units were over-rated - possibly by intelligence officials with budgets to consider. As a rough equivalent, think US Marines/British Parachute Regiment in terms of toughness, capability and ethos. (Contrary to popular belief, comparisons with Delta Force, Navy Seals, SAS and the like are not supported by fact.)
THE GALLERY - SOE - The British Special Operations Executive - our answer to America's OSS - was basically the department responsible for training, deploying and outfitting covert agents into occupied territories during WWII. From false passports and identification papers to packs of cigarettes and locally-made clothing, if an agent needed it the SOE either supplied it or a copy. If an agent were to be stopped by the Germans they faced an anxious time to say the least - think of the outcome if their overcoat had a Jermyn Street label or, if asked for a cigarette, they produced a pack of Players. The Gallery was SOE's workshop - the real Q-branch...
KGB HEEL TRANSMITTER - Apparently designed to be covertly fitted to a surveillance target's shoe whilst not being worn, this device was presumably lightweight. (That, or they had to add weight to the other heel...)
SOE LAPEL DAGGERS - Designed to be sewn inconspicuously into the clothing of agents and WWII SAS men, these daggers, also known as thumb daggers were deadly weapons. (These are from a company advertising replicas - and with Christmas coming up...)
KGB CAMERA RING - And you thought a Spy Ring was some dodgy blokes in long macs whispering odd phrases to each other at train stations. Apparently capable of five piccies - probably just the one - these gizmos would require a steady hand, not to mention a credible excuse for pointing your fist at someone for long enough to produce a decent exposure. Perhaps this inspired the similiar device used by Roger Moore in A Few Too Many Thrills...
KGB ATTACHE CASE MOVIE CAMERA - This one raises a few questions (Not the least being, when is a case Attache and not just Brief?), not the least being how noisy this one was in operation/what light levels did it require and where are those, presumably saucy films now?... Cold War spies must look at today's equivalents with their I-phones and laptops and grind their remaining teeth... 
CIA FOUNTAIN PEN CAMERA - One from the 1970's, designed to hold a Tropel camera. In a rare moment of guilt I decided to post a link to the image owner-their site is wonderful, educational and entertaining to boot;

1990's ERA MILITARY PC - Yes, at last the childproof PC... although not strictly speaking a spy gadget, speaking strictly its an example of a 'ruggedized' computer - made to withstand the knocks and splashes out in the field. With a secure transmission system and some encryption these would have made life much easier for the operative than the old 'one-time-pads' and radio gear from the Cold War era.
CIA LETTER OPENER - I use a butter knife myself, but these sneaky-beaky devices made it child's play to read someone's mail without resorting to steam. Other methods involve a commercially-available spray that - temporarily - renders envelops transparent, as well as simply opening the letter and replacing it in an envelope carefully prepared to appear identical to the original.
CIA ISSUE GLASSES - 1970's - Depending on your level, you'll either be going 'wow' / 'cool' or be quietly horrified at this one. The ear-piece can be broken open to reveal a cyanide pill - yes, a suicide pill.
Oh, sod it; lets get over-dramatic - an agent, sweating with fear in the bathroom of their rented flat, with the front door being kicked in by the secret police facing certain torture and death would be looking in the mirror as they took off their glasses for the last time. Swallowing their suicide pill their last fifteen seconds of life would be a spasm of agony - probably dying far from their home in Anytown USA and the wife or husband that they told not to worry about them... Perhaps worth a thought the next time someone in your local spouts off about big-brother and human rights. Perhaps?.
COLT .12 caliber gun - WWII
Not much detail here - .12 calibre/er must be tiny - this was issued by the OSS in the Second World War for their operatives. Actual practicality must have been limited, possibly this would have formed the basis for a concealment weapon such as the pipe gun featured in Part I.

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