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Hagelin C-36
Pin-and-lug cipher machine

The C-36 is one of the first mechanical pin-and-lug cipher machines developed around 1939 by the Swede Boris Hagelin and sold by his company AB Cryptoteknik in Stockholm (Sweden). It is larger than its predecessor, the C-35. There are versions with movable and fixed lugs. The C-36 would eventually evolve into the C-38 and M-209 — the workhorse of the US Army during WWII.

Like the C-35 it has five pin-wheels, but the distribution of the lugs is slightly different. The respective wheels have 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25 pins, that can be configured by the user, giving a maximum cipher period of 3,900,225 [1].

The initial version of this machine has fixed lugs on the bars, but there were also versions with movable bars, such as the one shown in the image on the right, with serial number 8-122. It demonstrates that the machine was constantly being improved at the time and that different versions were supplied to different customers.

A later version of the C-36, designated C-362, was an improved version of the machine. The machine contained a number of changes, but the most imported difference was the fact that the lugs had been made movable, like in the later C-38/M-209, making it more secure. This brings the C-362 closer to the M-209, whilst the C-36 is closer to the design of the earlier C-35.

C-36 in brown wrinkle-paint case
Front view
Operate knob
Printer with print wheel
Right view
C-36 with accessories
C-26 with open case
C-36 with open case - right view
1 / 8
C-36 in brown wrinkle-paint case
2 / 8
Front view
3 / 8
Operate knob
4 / 8
Printer with print wheel
5 / 8
Right view
6 / 8
C-36 with accessories
7 / 8
C-26 with open case
8 / 8
C-36 with open case - right view

The diagram below provides a quick overview of the features of the C-36. The device is shown here with its cover open and with the hinged case lid also open. At the front right are the five pinwheels that normally protrude the case lid. At the rear is the drum, which has either fixed or movable lugs, depending on the version. At the front left is the A-Z letter selector/printer.

According to the number tag on the cover, the machine shown here is a C-36. However, it has movable lugs, which would normally be a feature of the C-362. This device was used by the French Army, during the Algerian War from 1954 to 1962 [5]. After the war it ended up in the office of the French military attaché in Gabon, who gave it as a present to a civil servant in 1967.

Versions and variants
As with all Hagelin cipher machines, the C-36 was available in a number of different versions and variants, sometimes customised for a particular client. This C-36 shown above, is significantly different from the one below, and both machines are different from the one on Wikipedia [1]. So far, the follow differences have been recorded (in no particular order or combination):

  • C-36
    Initial version
  • C-36A
    Small manufacturing changes
  • C-362
    Movable lugs
  • C-362A
    Small manufacturing changes
  • Enclosure: red/black or military green wrinkle paint
  • Cylinder or cross-type lock.
  • Knob or lever operated
  • Fixed or movable lugs
Differences with C-35
  • Different distribution of the lugs on the bars
  • Slightly larger more rounded case
  • Device
    Portable mechanical cipher machine
  • Class
    Pin-and-lug (pin-wheel)
  • Inventor
    Boris Hagelin
  • Manufacturer
    AB Cryptoteknik
  • Model
  • Year
  • Country
  • Predecessor
  • Successor
    C-37, C-38 / M-209
  • Pin-wheels
  • Segments
    17, 19, 21, 23, 25
  • Period
  • Lock
    Cross, or cylinder
  • Operation
    Knob or lever
  • Lugs
    Fixed (movable on the C-362)
  • Colour
    Red/black or (military) green
  • Dimensions
    183 x 137 x 78 mm
  • Weight
    2524 g
  • Quantity
  1. Wikipedia, C-36 (cipher machine)
    Retrieved May 2012.

  2. Remmelt Warries, Hagelin C-36A cipher machine - THANKS !
    Crypto Museum, February 2009.

  3. Jerry Proc and contributors, Hagelin C-35 and C-36
    Retrieved December 2019.

  4. Jerry Proc and contributors, Hagelin C-362
    Retrieved December 2019.

  5. Wikipedia, Algerian War
    Retrieved December 2019.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Wednesday 05 August 2009. Last changed: Monday, 15 January 2024 - 15:15 CET.
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