Cryptologic Bytes

"On This Date in History" Calendar

1942: German Navy introduced 4-rotor Enigma

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

1 February 1942: The German Navy introduced the 4-rotor Enigma enciphering machine device to their U-Boats. The German Navy's 4-rotor Enigma gave U-boats a great advantage in the Atlantic, since the Allies could not read 4-rotor messages. U-boats ruled the seas again...until Joseph Desch at the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio, designed the U.S. Navy Cryptanalytic Bombe in 1943.

Learn more about the Enigma exhibit at the National Cryptologic Museum or read the NSA publication, "Solving the Enigma," by Jennifer Wilcox via the links at the bottom of this page. You can also read about the 4-rotor Enigma via the site (a virtual museum) - see link below.

Excerpted from NSA:

"Possibly the most well known of all cipher machines is the German Enigma. It became the workhorse of the German military services, used to encrypt tens of thousands of tactical messages throughout World War II. The number of mathematical permutations for every keystroke is astronomical. However, the Enigma is not famous for its outstanding security, but rather for its insecurities. Allied forces were able to read most of the Enigma encrypted messages throughout most of the war as a result of the tireless effort of many Allied cryptologists."

Excerpted from the site:

"In the U-boats, the Enigma was usually located in the radio room, although in some cases it was carried out to the captain's quarters, e.g. in case of a double encipherment (Sonderschlussel M). Most U-boats even had two Enigma machines available to cope with different keys around the switch-over point at midnight. One Enigma would then be left with the settings of the previous day, whilst the other one was configured with the settings for the new day. As some messages were received with a delay, they could quickly be tried with both keys. "


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