The Cold War was the first war fought over intelligence. The two newly minted superpowers following World War Two, the US and the USSR, struggled to understand how to address an enemy with the power to, for the first time, eradicate all life.
In such a scenario direct conflict was all but impossible. The 50 years of the Cold War instead saw a series of proxy wars with the superpowers supporting opposing sides but refraining from direct contact with each other.
Other more subtle methods were also used to weaken and disarm the enemy, and in this department the CIA boys at Langley were extraordinarily creative. They needed to know what the enemy was doing, when they would do it, and if possible they needed to stop it.
With covert intelligence, the unexpected is a powerful ally. If you have thought of something your opponent has not, then they will be unprepared for your infiltration. And so, armed with this knowledge, the CIA set to work creating the most outlandish devices imaginable in the service of gaining an edge over the Soviets.
Here are eight of their most creative tools of spycraft.
1. The Microdot Camera
2. Body Worn Surveillance Equipment
3. The Pigeon Camera
4. The Insectothopter
5. Charlie the Robot Fish
6. The Audiodrill
7. The Pipe that Talks
8. The Inflatable Plane
Top Image: In searching for an edge over their Soviet opponents, the CIA had to use some truly unexpected approaches in their gadgets. Source: Anelo / Adobe Stock.
By Joseph Green