HMGCC to partner TNMOC in reconstructing the missing German wartime cipher machine motor
The complete set of equipment from Encrypt to Decrypt
is on display daily in TNMOC Colossus & Tunny Galleries
A radio appeal has found a crack team to reconstruct the missing motor of an extremely rare Lorenz SZ42 on long-term loan to The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC). The Museum is eager to display the Lorenz with its reconstructed motor alongside the reconstructed British equipment that demonstrate how the most complex cipher used by Hitler and his High Command was routinely broken at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.
The partner reconstruction team is from Her Majesty’s Government Communications Centre (HMGCC) and will be able to offer support in the wider context of the reconstructed motor. HMGCC believes that the project will provide valuable and relevant experience and learning for some of its apprentices. Drawing on college training, the team will work under the guidance of senior HMGCC staff and restoration specialists from TNMOC.
The Lorenz SZ42 at TNMOC is one of only four Lorenz SZ42s still known to be in existence. During the war up to 200 were in use and the one at TNMOC was used at the German HQ in Norway. It has been given on long-term loan by the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum who have had the machine in storage since 1973 when it was given to them by the Norwegian secret services which had in turn seized it at the end of the war.
Andy Clark, Chairman of TNMOC, said: “It is very fitting to have HMGCC, an organisation originally set up in 1938 to address the needs of the government to maintain global communications, as a partner in the reconstruction of the Lorenz SZ42. Thanks to the BBC Radio 4 broadcast by Paddy O’Connell, we had a number of very generous offers to reconstruct the motor. The multi-skilled engineering capabilities and the HMGCC history clinched the decision for us.”
An HMGCC spokesman said: “Based at Hanslope Park near Bletchley Park, HMGCC has a long history in the design and manufacture of secure communications equipment. The wartime work at Bletchley Park, including breaking the Lorenz cipher, was instrumental in the birth of modern computing and the development of what we now call cyber security. HMGCC looks forward to its young apprentices reconstructing this machine in support of TNMOC's wider work to explain why Bletchley Park's legacy still matters today."
The team will start work very soon and hopes to have the reconstruction ready in summer 2017. John Whetter, TNMOC volunteer who was instrumental in securing the loan of the Lorenz SZ42, is excited about the prospects: “The latest technology will be used to recreate the 75-year-old Lorenz SZ42 motor. The HMGCC team will take three-dimensional images of an existing Lorenz motor and then reconstruct it using 3D printing techniques. Externally, the motor will be almost indistinguishable from an original.”
Erling Kjærnes, head of the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum which has loaned the Lorenz, said “We are very pleased that the loan of the Lorenz SZ42 to The National Museum of Computing is turning out to be quite an adventure. We very much look forward to seeing the reconstruction of this part of the equipment.”
Notes To Editors
A Brief History of HMGCC
Her Majesty’s Government Communications Centre (HMGCC) of today has its origins in a wartime organisation which was created in 1938 to address the needs of the government to maintain global communications, through the use of wireless telegraphy, in the likely event of a European war. From an initial staff of seven it grew into a significant organisation by the end of the war, carrying out a variety of technical functions.
With a central base at Whaddon Hall in Buckinghamshire it was a mainly military organisation. The non-militarised element, responsible for the design and manufacture of wireless communications equipment and the building of a number of radio stations, was known as HMGCC.
With the end of the war, the organisation reduced in size considerably as many of the functions were no longer required. However, the need to maintain secure worldwide communications was seen as key and elements of the organisation were reorganised to establish the Diplomatic Wireless Service (DWS) at Hanslope Park, as an arm of the Foreign Office, on 1 April 1946.
HMGCC continued, as part of DWS, with a limited number of staff to provide mainly communications related engineering solutions to a variety of UK government departments. As the years passed the work placed with HMGCC grew and more staff, with a wider variety of skills, were recruited. This established the basis of the multi-skilled engineering organisation of today.
Though the ties with DWS continued, the increasingly diverse range of Government Departments served led to an increasing degree of separation.
Following a number of Government reviews, this was recognised in the mid-1960s when HMGCC was established as the distinct organisation we recognise today, working alongside DWS to serve departments across UK government.
About The National Museum of Computing
The National Museum of Computing, located on Bletchley Park, is an independent charity housing the world's largest collection of functional historic computers, including the rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer, and the WITCH, the world's oldest working digital computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.
The Museum runs a highly successful Learning Programme for schools and colleges and promotes introductions to computer coding amongst young people to inspire the next generation of computer scientists and engineers.
Sponsors of the Museum have included Bletchley Park Science and Innovation Centre, Bloomberg, CreateOnline, Ceravision, Fujitsu, InsightSoftware.com, Ocado Technology, FUZE, 4Links, Google UK, IBM, NPL, HP Labs, and BCS.
Outside the long school holidays, the whole Museum is open to the public from 12 noon - 5pm on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, spring and summer Bank Holidays and during long school holidays. The Colossus and Tunny galleries are open daily. Public and private Guided Tours are available and bookable online – see the website or the iPhone app for details. Educational and corporate group visits are available by prior arrangement.
For more information, see www.tnmoc.org and follow @tnmoc on Twitter and The National Museum of Computing on Facebook and Google+. A TNMOC iPhone App is also available from the iPhone App Store.
Stephen Fleming, Palam Communications, for The National Museum of Computing