One of the main responsibilities of spy organizations is to devise and design gadgets that will help spies perform their tasks as efficiently as possible. Even though spy movies tend to exaggerate a lot, some of the real-life gadgets actually come close to the ones used by fictional agents.
The spies from World War 2 and the Cold War were equipped with high-tech devices that were way ahead of their time.
These are some of the most innovative objects used in espionage.
This is a standard umbrella — the only difference is that you will find a slow-acting poison, ricin, on its top. Ricin is derived from the Ricinus plant, and a milligram of it can cause poisoning and death. This deadly umbrella was first used in 1978 for the execution of a Bulgarian dissident, Georgi Markov, in London. While walking across the Waterloo bridge, Markov felt tingling in his leg as a stranger passed him by. Four days later, he was dead. 30 years after the murder, Bulgarian secret service documents exposed one of the most enigmatic crimes of the communist era.
Miniature cameras that could be placed in buttons on coats or jackets were largely used during the Cold War era. They were activated through a switch hidden in the pocket. The CIA camouflaged similar cameras and mini microphones as necklaces and brooches.
Pigeons equipped with automatic spy cameras were used for mapping military targets in World Wars 1 and 2. They could fly over enemy territories at a much closer distance than planes and take hundreds of photos. It is a known fact that animals can play an important role in the world of espionage.
A spy microcamera in a wristwatch is a part of an espionage starter pack. They were first devised in the 1940s in West Germany. The camera lens was used instead of the clock face, and under it, a microfilm roll was positioned. Eight photos could be made. The upgraded model of such a watch is used even today.
During the Cold War, female KGB spies used lipsticks with tiny, 4.5mm-caliber guns hidden inside. One such lipstick is kept in the International Museum of Espionage in Washington, D.C.
Insectothopters were miniature unmanned aerial vehicles camouflaged as dragonflies. They could be controlled remotely, and they were developed by the CIA in the ‘70s. The main purpose of these gadgets was to collect confidential information. Unfortunately, due to their mobility issues, they were never used in a real mission. Still, they played a very important role in the development of aerial spying.