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Marconi SCIMITAR Fill Gun
Cryptographic key filler

The SCIMITAR Fill Gun was a small ruggedized electronic device that was 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 image on the right shows the 6-pin connector of the fill gun. Although it is a typical NATO-type connector, it is different from the fill devices used by NATO, which are all of the U-229 type. This particular filler was probably designed exclusively for the SCIMITAR series. Only a single connector is present, making it the input as well as the output.

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.
  
SCIMITAR Fill Gun
Scimitar Key Fill donated by Barry Wels [1]


The SCIMITAR radios were developed by Marconi with Private Venture Capital funding (PV) and were not adopted by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) [2] . It was however used by the armies of Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and Jordan. Futhermore, some units are known to have been in use with the UK Army as well [3] . As SCIMITAR radios feature a very advanced cryptographic system, even by todays 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

 
References
  1. Barry Wels
    Donator of the Marconi SCIMITAR Key Filler featuered on this page.

  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.

Further information

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Crypto Museum. Last changed: Friday, 25 March 2011 - 13:40 CET.
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