THE KIDNAPPING OF THE LUNIK

Created: 12/1/1967

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THE MDNAPLNG OF TIDE LUNIK Sydney Wesley Finer

A number of yean ago the Soviet Union loured several countries with an exhibition of its industrial and economic achievements. There were the standard displays of industrial machinery..soft good^and nottb of power station, and nuclear equipment Of^CTSeS were apparent models of the Sputnik and Lunik spaceteUigence twice gained extended access to the Lunik, the second tirne by borrowing it overnight and returning it before the Soviets rnissedhis is the story of the borrowing, which required the erJorts of many people and close cooperation between covert and overt mteUigence components.

On View Abroad

The Soviets had carefully prepared for this exhibition tour; most Of the display material was shipped to each stop welldvance. Hut as the* technicians were busily assembling the various items in one exhibition ball theyall informing them that another crate had amved. They apparently had not expected this Item and had no idea what it was. because the first truck they dispatched was too small to handle the crate and they had toecond.

The late shipment turned out to be the last-stage Lunik space veh.de, lying on it, sideabindikc crate approximatelyeet ong and II feet wideoof abouteet high at the peak It was unpacked and placededestal. It had been freshly panned, and three inspection windows cut in the nose sectioniew of the payload instrument package with its antenna. It wasock-up made especially for the exhibitioo; the Soviets would not be so foolish as toeal productioa item of such advanced equipment to the prying eyes of imperialist Intelligence.

Or wouldumber of analysts in. community suspected that they might, and an operation was kid on to find out After the exhibition closed at thisroup of intelligence officers had unrestricted access to the Lunik for someours. They

found thai it wasroduction item from which the engine and most electrical and electronic components had been removed. They examined it thoroughly from the viewpoint of probabletaking measurements, determining its structuraland wiring format, estimating engine siie. and so forth.'

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copied from the Lunik during this operation, but not with sufficient detail or precision toefinitive identification of the producer or determination of th^LH^ system used It was therefore decided to try to get another accessactory, team.

' For the ultimate contritxiUoa of this tafonnationketch of tha LunCk tee -indulgence for the Spacey Albert D. Wbeelon andeal, ini, Ui particular

Plans and Problems

As the exhibition moved from one city to another, an intercepted shipping manifest showed, an item oiled "models ofwhose dimension* were approximately those ofni crate. This information was sent to the CIA Station nearest the destinationequest to try to arrange secure access if thehould appear On the basis of Our experience at trade fairs and other exhibitions, wc in factory markings preferred access before the opening of an exhibition to the alternatives of examining ithe exhibition hall or after it had left the grounds for another destination.

Soon the Lunik crate did arrive and was taken to the exhibition grounds. The physical situation at the grounds, however," access to it prior to the shows opening. Then during the show the Soviets provided theirhour guard for the displays, so there was no possibility ofurreptitious night visit. This left only one chance; to get to it at some point after it left the exhibition grounds.

In ihe meantime our four-man team of specialists from the Joist Factory Markings Center had arrived. We brought along ourphotographic gear and basic tools. We each went out andomplete set of local clothes, everything from the skin out Weciies of meeting* with Station personnel over the course ofweek, mutually defining capabilities snd requirements. Uytei plans for access and escape, and determining what additionalwe would need. The Station photographed the Lunik crate repeatedly so we wouldetter idea of its corutruction. The photographs showed that the sides and ends were bolted together from within, the only way to get inside was through the roof. We therefore bought more toolsail puller, drop lights, flashlights, extensioninchet of metric wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers.

After the exhibition the displays would be carried by truck from the exhibition groundsailroad station and loaded onto freight cars for their next destination. For the interception we had to choose between the truck run and the rail haul. The initial preference was for the latter; it seemed the freight car carrying the Lunik might most easily be shuntediding (preferablyarehouse)ight and resume its journey the nextetailed check of our assets on the rail line, however, showed no good capability for

doing thiS. Careful examination of the truckage to the ttation. on the other hand,ossibility.

Lunik on Loan

As the exhibition materials were crated and trucked to the railoviet checker stationed at the yard look note ol each item when it arrived. He had no communications back to his colleagues at the fair grounds, however. It was arranged to make the Lunik the last truckload of the day to leave the grounds. When it left it was precededtation car and followed by another; their job was to determine whether the Soviets were escorting It to the railhen It was clear that there were no Soviets around, the truck'v/ks stopped at the last passibleanvas was thrown over the crate,ew driver took over. The original driver was escortedotel room and kept there for the night

The truck was quickly drivenalvage yard which had been rented for the purpose. This yard was open to the sky butfoot solid wood fence around k. With some difficulty the truck was backed inarrow alley and the gates closed; they Just cleared the front bumper. The entire vicinity was patrolled by Station cart with two-stray radios maintaining contact with the yard and the Station.

Action was suspended for half an hour. Everything remained quiet In the area, and there was no indication that the Soviets suspected anything amiss. The Soviet stationed at the rail yard waitedhort time to see whether any more truer,loads were coming then packed up his papers and went to supper. After eating he proceeded to his hotel room, where he was kept under surveillance all night

The markings team, in local clothes and without any identification, were cruisingar some distance from the salvage yard. We were now given the all clear to proceed to the yard and ifart work We arrived. and were let Inwo-man watch-andeccrunurtkations team from the Station They had put all our equipment and tools in the yard, and food and drink for the night.

Our first task was to remove enough of the crates roof to get in. It was madench tongue-and-groove planks nailed downnch spikes. Two members of the team went to work on these, perspiring and panting in the humid air. The effort not to leave traces of Our forced entry was made easier by the tact that the planks had been removed and put back several times before and so were already battered.

The lunik

While <hii Wll going on thereather unnerving Incident. When we had arrived at (he salvage yard it was dark; the only lights were in the salvage company's office. Now. with two men on top of the crate prying up planks, sheet lamps suddenly came on. flooding the place with light. Weew annous moments tints) we learned this was not an ambush but the normal lamp-lighting scheduled for this hour.

photographcri at Work

The other two of us were meanwhile assembling the photographic gear and rigging up the drop lights with extension cords We had ladders up at each end of the crate, and when the planLs were off we dropped another Udder inside each end.nik in its cradle was almost touching the sides of die crate, to we couldn't walk from one end to the oilier inside.

Half the team now climbed into thewith one set of photographic equipmentrop light. They pulled the canvas back over the opening to keep the flash of the strobe units from attracting attention. They removed one of the inspection windows in the nose section, look off their shoes so as to leave no telltale sears on the metal surface, and squeezed inside. The payload orb was held incentral basket, with its main antenna probe est ended more than ball way to the tip ol the cone. They filled one roll of film with close-ups of ma/tings on it and sent this out via one of the patrolling can for processing, to be sure that the camera was working properly and the results were satisfactory. The word soon came back that the negatives were fine, and they continued their work.

We on the other half of the team had tackled the tad section Our first fob was to gain access lo the engine compartment bythe Lunik's large base cap; this was attached to its flange byquare-headed bolts. We removed theseetric wrench and byope sling moved the heavy cap off to one side.

Inside the compartment the engine had been removed, but its mounting btackets, as well as the fuel and oridueT tanks, were roll lo place. At the front end of the compartrraent, protruding through the centeraffle plate that separated the nose section from the engine, was the endod which held the payload orb inour-way electrical outlet actingut screwed onto the end of this rod wai keyedire whose ends were encasedlastic sealoviet stamp. The only way to free the orb so as to

let the nose team ii.io (he basket in which it rested was to cut this wire ami unscrew ihc outlet.

We checked with Station personnel and were assured they could duplicate the plastic, stamp, and wire. So we decided to go ahead and look for markings in the baiket area We cut the wire and passed it to one of the patrolling cars The pair in the nose section photographed or hand-copied alln the basket area while we did those in the engine compartment The Soviets, in removing all electrical connections and gear, had overlooked two couplings in the basket; these we took back to headquarters for detailed analysis. Before we had finished, the newplastic, anddelivered to the yard.

Returned in Good Condition

The esploitation of the Lunik was now complete; all that remained was to put things back together and close up the crate. The first fob, ii- terming the orb in its basket, proved to be the most ticklish and time-consuming part of the whole nights work. The baffle plate between the nose and engine compartments prevented visual guidance of the rod Into position, and the rod was fust long enough to screw the outlet on beyond the baffle plate. We spent almost an hour on this, one man in the cramped nose section trying to get the orb into precisely the right position and one in the engine compartment trying to engage the threads on the endod he couldn't see.umber of futile attempts and many anxious moments, the connection was finally made, and we all sighed with relief.

The wire was wrapped around the outlet and its ends secured In the plastic. The nose and engine compartments were double-checked to make sure no telltale materials such as matches, pencils, or scraps of paperen left Inside The inspection windowreplaced in the nose section, and with some difficulty the base cap was bolted into position. After checking the inside of the crate for evidence of Our tampering, we climbed out. The ladders were pulled up, the roof planks nailed into place, and the canvas spread back over. We packed Our equipment and were picked up by one of the cars0 am

0river came and moved the truck from the salvage yardrearranged point Here the canvas cover was removed, and the original driver took over and drove to the rail yard. The Soviet who had been checking items as they arrived the previous day came to the yard0 am and found tho truck with the Lunik awaiting

him- no surprise, cheeked (he ciate in, and watched m

loadedatcar. In due course the train left To thii day therr hat been no indication the Soviets ever discovered that the Lunik war borrowedight.

The tciujts of analysis on the data thus collected were publlibed^Mtt^aav*':hey included probable Identification of the producer of this Lunik stage, the fact that it was the fifth one produced, identification of three electiical^Dnaducerswjhoiupplird components, and revelation ol the system ^sananMBaVLv "jr was used here and conceivably for other Soviet space hardware. But perhaps more important in the long term than these positiveresults was the experience and example of fine cooperationob between covert operators and essentially overt collectors

of*

Spare Vchxtt, SECRET

the Sorter

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