In early 1947 Soviet intelligence obtained valuable information: the United Kingdom had put into service a modern anti-aircraft weapon that could be found in a military warehouse in Italy. As a result, the USSR decided to launch the Boi operation – 'combat', in Russian – with the aim of obtaining all possible information about the device.
British engineers began to develop the projectile during World War II, while German troops bombed the territories of the United Kingdom. His intense work culminated in the creation of an electronic anti-aircraft projectile incredibly accurate for that time. The weapon was stored in warehouses in the United Kingdom, and several units rested in the ammunition depots created by the coalition allies against Hitler in Italy after they ceased their offensive against Nazi Germany.
After signing the peace agreement with Italy in Paris, the governments of the United Kingdom and the US practiced a policy that sought to attract Rome into its orbit. That is why it could not be ruled out that they could have delivered to the armed forces of the country not only old military equipment, but also new weapons, according to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service on its website.
At that time the USSR already had a developed agent network in Italy, highlights the Russian journalist Gueorgui Zotov.
"Soviet intelligence felt at home in the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and even recruited young women who worked as typists and printed secret documents. They were nicknamed Daria and Marta. However, he decided to involve another agent, known by his pseudonym of Rey, so as not to compromise his spy network, "recalls Zotov.
Rey discovered that the British Ministry of Defense had sold several copies of those projectiles to Italy. The weapon, according to spy data, could be found in a city not far from Rome.
Upon arriving at that location, Rey established close ties with several engineers and technicians in the warehouse where British shells were stored. The agent was commissioning certain jobs to see if I could count on any of them To reach your goal. In the end, the Soviet agent managed to buy from several warehouse employees not only the units of the new British weapon, but their sketches and the respective technical documentation.
Although today there are few data that are known about that operation, journalist Zotov recalls that the agent sometimes used in his work quite trivial methods.
"King led the lifestyle of a playboy and very often he attended the parties of British and American entrepreneurs who supplied weapons as intermediaries. They were people who regularly spent leisure hours in the company of prostitutes, where there was plenty of wine (…) With these ties it did not take much work to get the necessary information, "notes the journalist.
In September 1947 another spy who had also participated in the operation, Nikolai Gorshkov, sent in parts to the USSR the weapons that Rey had obtained.