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Marconi SCIMITAR Fill Gun
Key transfer device

The SCIMITAR Fill Gun is a small ruggedized electronic storage device, developed in the late 1970s by Marconi Space & Defense Systems in Portsmouth (UK). It was used for transferring the cryptographic keys and Frequency Hopping (FH) tables to the SCIMITAR V series of secure radios.

The device has two push-buttons. A green one on top, marked FILL, which is used to initiate the transfer. It can easily be operated by, say, the thumb of one hand. A red button, located at the rear, is used for zeroizing the device in case security is compromised. It is marked as ERASE.

The image on the right shows a typical SCIMITAR fill gun, with its 6-pin military connector, that is used as data output as well as data input. Note that this socket is different from the American U-229 standard, which is also used by NATO on most modern radios and encryption devices.
Scimitar Key Fill donated by Barry Wels [1]

SCIMITAR radios were developed and built by GEC Marconi with Private Venture Capital funding, and were not adopted by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for its Clansman Combat Net radio communications network [2], although some units were reportedly used by the British Army [3].

SCIMITAR was also used by the armies of Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and Jordan, with prices of a single radio in the GBP 8000 range [3]. As SCIMITAR radios feature strong encryption – even by today's standards – potential foreign customers had to obtain a licence from GCHQ.

At present, no further information about this fill gun is available. If you have additional information about this device, please contact us.

Marconi SCIMITAR V fill gun Protective cap removed SCIMITAR Fill Gun Initiating a key transfer The red zeroize button
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Marconi SCIMITAR V fill gun
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Protective cap removed
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Initiating a key transfer
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The red zeroize button

  1. Barry Wels, SCIMITAR fill gun - THANKS !
    Object kindly donated by Barry Wells. February 2011

  2. Joe Bell, G4PMY, Clansman Harness Interface II
    The VMARS Newsletter, Issue 41, June 2005. p. 7.

  3. The Royal Signals, Other communications systems
    The Bristish Army. Website for UK defense information.
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Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 07 February 2011. Last changed: Saturday, 24 February 2018 - 14:15 CET.
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