LEGO Enigma machine
Posted by Steve • 5th January 2021
One of my favourite ever bespoke LEGO builds is this replica of an Enigma Machine. Very few of my models are built life-sized, mainly because much of my work is architectural, and so the challenge I set myself here was to make it as accurate as possible. If at first glance you think its the real thing, then I have achieved my goal! There are more pictures of the LEGO Enigma Machine here.
This model was commissioned as part of a wider exhibition about human progress and ingenuity, currently housed at the Centre for Life in Newcastle. Representing a turning-point in World War II, the deciphering of the seemingly-uncrackable encrypted messages produced by the Enigma machine was a phenomenal achievement by some of Britain's brightest minds, including of course Alan Turing, based at Bletchley Park.
The model is made entirely of LEGO, with no bespoke parts or glue, as is my usual approach. The lid is hinged, as is the front panel which reveals the plugboard. The plugs themselves can be taken out and moved. The keys can be depressed and use LEGO Technic shock absorbers hidden underneath. The internal section also lifts to reveal the lightbulbs which light up the letters above, and the all-important rotors themselves.
The model is based on one held at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle (though they were all very similar), and the number printed on it (A11395) references that. That printed metallic-silver tile and all the letters were printed by Fab Bricks.
I discovered during the creation of this that Thomas Brown of North Shields (where I live and where my LEGO Studio is!) was one of 3 people (and the only survivor) to swim to a sinking U-boat in 1942 and recover an Enigma code book that was invaluable to Bletchley Park code-breakers.