Combined Cipher Machine (CCM)
Allied communication during WWII
During WWII, the Amerians and the British each used their own
for high-level communication. Whilst the Americans knew their
M-209 could be broken by the Germans within
a few hours, they used the highly secret SIGABA for
messages at the highest level (TOP SECRET).
As far as we know, SIGABA was never broken in operational context.
For messages at this level, the British Government
which was in fact inspired by the
German Enigma machine.
In 1943, the need for secure communication between the US and the UK
began to emerge, but it appeared difficult to decide which machine
had to be selected for inter-Allied communication. Although the Americans
knew every aspect of the British Typex, details of their SIGABA
machine were kept secret. At the initiative of the
it was then decided to modify both machines,
in order to make them interoperable. As a result,
there are now two different CCM models:
This version is based on a modified version of the American
SIGABA (ECM II) cipher machine,
in which the rotor basket was swapped for
an alternative one. Known as ASAM 5, CSP-1600, CSP-1700, CCM Mark I
and CCM Mark II.
This version, which is also known as Typex Mark 23 was basically a
modified Typex Mark 22,
to which an NSA-supplied rotor basket could
be attached. Also known as BID/08/3 and CCM Mark III.
The conversion kits for both machines were developed and
supplied by the NSA.
Once converted, the machines each had five SIGABA cipher wheels,
and were fully interoperable.
The modified machines were used from November 1943 onwards.
As far as we known CCM was never broken.
The SIGABA machine (ECM Mark II)
was modified by removing
the standard rotor basket (with 15 cipher wheels) and fitting
a drop-in replacement with five cipher wheels in its place.
The modified machine was known as CCM Mark I or CSP-1600,
and could still be reverted to a standard SIGABA.
A later variant was CCM-only, and could not be reverted
to SIGABA functionality. It was known as CCM Mark II (CSP-1700)
and was used by NATO.
The machine shown on the right is of this type.
➤ More information
In the UK, several versions of the
Typex cipher machine were
used, but the most common one was the Typex Mark 22, which
features two large cylindrical printers and two plug-boards.
This machine is also known as BID/08/2 and was also used
to emulate the Enigma cipher machine.
The Typex Mark 22 was modified in such a way that
an external NSA-supplied rotor basket with five SIGABA cipher wheels
could be fitted on top. In CCM mode, the standard Typex cipher
wheels were bypassed and the NSA basket was actuated directly
by Typex' main shaft.
The modified machine was designated BID/08/3 or Typex Mark 23 or
CCM Mark III,
and could still be used as a standard Typex machine.
➤ More information
- CCM Mark I
Standard SIGABA (ECM Mark II) with alternative rotor basket ASAM 5.
Also known as CSP-1600.
- CCM Mark II
Later variant with fixed 5-rotor basket.
Could not be converted back to SIGABA.
Also known as CSP-1700 and as SIGROD.
- CCM Mark III
British Typex Mark 23 (BID/08/3) with NSA-supplied BID/08/3A rotor basket.
In the years following WWII, the alliance of West-European states,
known as the Western Union (WU), used the remaining Typex and CCM
machines for communication between the member states.
The WU was dissolved into the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
In the early years of the NATO,
the links between NATO headquarters and the UK
mainly consisted of Typex machines, whilst CCM machines were used for
communication between the other member states and NATO.
The following types of CCM were recognised by NATO :
- CCM Mark III - Typex
This version is a modified British Typex BID/08/3 1 with
CCM adapter BID/08/3A.
These machines were distributed to the Navies of the NATO member states.
- CCM Mark II - CSP 1700
This is the CCM/SIGABA shown above, but unlike the CCM Mark I
(which was basically a SIGABA (ECM-Mark II) with an adapter,
the CSP-1700 could not be converted back to a SIGABA as the
contacts and wiring for the additional wheels had been removed.
These machines were distributed to the Navies of the
- CCM Mark II - SIGROD
This is basically the same machine as the one above (CSP 1700) 2 ,
albeit with an Army designator (SIGROD) rather than a naval one (CSP 1700).
These machines were distributed to the Armies and Air Forces of
the NATO member states.
Although all CCM types were used by NATO until at least 1955,
it was known by US and British cryptanalists as early as 1948 that
the security of the CCM was rapidly declining .
Several improvements were suggested, such as the addition of
conditional reverse wheel stepping and the
development of a BRUTUS rotor basket ,
but eventually the events were overtaken by the adoption
of the AFSAM-7
(later renamed KL-7
or TSEC/KL-7) by NATO and its member states.
The original document 
identifies the CCM/Typex as BID/08/6,
but we believe this to be an error. BID/08/6 referes to the
British Rockex machine.
The Typex variant that was modified
for use with the BID/08/3A adapter, was designated BID/08/3.
In some literature, it is suggested that SIGROD was a different machine
that was considered as a possible replacement for the
SIGABA ECM-II. However, we have found no evidence to support this claim
and the NATO designation CCM Mark II clearly confirms that it is basically
the same machine as the CSP 1700.
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© Crypto Museum. Created: Saturday 12 November 2016. Last changed: Sunday, 25 February 2018 - 15:48 CET.