Code Breaking in From Russia With Love – Science Behind Bond

This is my second “Science Behind Bond” post. While I’m trying to post once a week for my James Bond blog series, I find these posts require more research. I enjoy researching and learning new things, but it’s also extremely time-consuming. I wrote this post on Superbowl Sunday, so while everyone is watching Football, here I am writing about code breaking foreign intelligence. In this “Science Behind Bond” post, I’m going to discuss code breaking and the Lektor in From Russia With Love.

The fight scene between Bond (played by Sean Connery) and Red Grant (played by Robert Shaw).

In From Russia With Love, Bond is sent to steal a Lektor cryptography device from the Soviet Union in Istanbul. In the From Russia With Love book by Ian Fleming, Fleming based this device similar to an Enigma machine used in WWII (1). The Enigma machine would encode messages with delicate information such as military plans or other forms of foreign intelligence (2). As the user would type a message, the rotor on the machine would take the message and put it into other letters or numbers, therefore encoding the message (2). For the message to be viewed, the receiving machine would also need an enigma to be able to translate the message (2). The device itself looks like a standard typewriter. The Germans used this in WWII where the Allies would have to break the code. There’s a cool video in the Smithsonian article listed in my sources that I’d recommend watching to discover how the Allies broke the German code.

In the above picture, this is how From Russia With Love portrays the Lektor. This looks like a fancy movie prop than anything else. Based on the information provided, I’m not sure how valuable this would be to the British government. In the previous paragraph, I stated how in order to receive communications and translate them, an enigma would be needed. If the British government was able to deconstruct the machine and figure out what messages were sent, maybe this would have worked. Otherwise, without the corresponding enigma, I’m not sure how quickly the code could have been broken.

From Russia With Love has a bit more accuracy and historical inspiration than Dr. No. Fleming fought in WWII under Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division, so a lot of the inspiration from From Russia With Love comes from previous experience (3). For my next Bond series post, I will write about the Bond women in From Russia With Love.

Sources:

https://jamesbond.fandom.com/wiki/Lektor/Spektor (1).

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/divers-discover-rare-nazi-enigma-cipher-machine-wwii-180976469/ (2)

Source #3 Ian Fleming’s website. ^

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