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M-125   Russian version
Russian variant of the M-125 Fialka - this page is a stub

M-125, codenamed Fialka, was the original Russian version of the basic Fialka cipher machine, on which all later country-specific variants are based. It was used in the Soviet Union (USSR) throughout the Cold War from 1956 onwards, and was superceded in 1965 by the M-125-3.

For a long time it was assumed that none of the original Russian Fialka machines had survived, but in 2017, two original machines turned up: the M-125 shown here, and an M-125-3 which is now in the collection of the Crypto Museum.

The image on the right shows the M-125, which should be regarded as the ancestor of all other Fialka cipher machines. It is currently held by an anonymous collector, who was so kind to send us the images that are shown here [1]. A unique feature of this machine is that is has only one letter of the Cyrillic alphabet on each key.
Original Russian M-125 cipher machine

Unlike the later bi-lingual country-specific Fialka versions, it does not have a switch to toggle between Russian and Latin. Furthermore, the print head only has 30 characters of the Cyrillic alphabet at its circumference. This makes the machine suitable for the Russian language only. Apart from Russia, the machine was probably also used in the other countries of the Soviet Union, such as Belarus and Ukraine. For the countries of the Warsaw Pact, the Latin alphabet was added.

The machine featured here, was given to a high-ranking KGB official on his retirement, and has turned up in Western Europe in 2017, together with an original M-125-3M. As both machines came with a complete set of Russian PROTON-2 cipher wheels, we were able to trace the wiring.

Original Russian M-125 Original Russian M-125 cipher machine Original Russian M-125 keyboard Top view Inside the dust cover Tape reader and serial number tag Printer Cipher wheels installed in the M-125
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Original Russian M-125
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Original Russian M-125 cipher machine
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Original Russian M-125 keyboard
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Top view
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Inside the dust cover
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Tape reader and serial number tag
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Cipher wheels installed in the M-125

The keyboard of the Russian M-125 is different from all other Fialka keyboards. It is has rounded keys, just like the other M-125 models, but has only one character on each key top. There are 30 keys, each of which holds one of 30 characters of the Cyrillic alphabet. Note that the Й at the top left is red. This is done because it is shared with the space bar. For that reason it can not be used in the cleartext, but only in the ciphertext. In cipher mode, this key is blocked.

Layout of the keyboard of the Russian version of the M-123-3M

  1. Anonymous collector, Fialka M-125 with serial number 31109
    Personal correspondence, December 2017.
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Crypto Museum. Created: Saturday 23 December 2017. Last changed: Friday, 23 February 2018 - 20:42 CET.
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