Project Babylon and Superguns – A Modern Ahab Tale

Born in 1928, Gerald Bull was part of a large Roman Catholic family of 6 brothers and 3 sisters in Ontario Canada.

Exceptionally intelligent, Gerald graduated from the Toronto University at the Engineering Institute of Astrophysics and received his PhD in 1951. He then became an Associate Professor at Laval University.

Later he went to McGill University as a Professor of Engineering Science in 1961 at the age 34, the youngest full professor ever appointed by McGill.

While at McGill, he developed an interest in high altitude research and the space program of the United States and the Soviet Union. A Soviet cosmonaut had just become the first man in space and the United States was heavily expending resources in the Mercury-Redstone program.

While current in technology, Canada had a limited budget, nowhere near what was being spent by the Americans or Russians.

So how could Canada possibly have begin to develop such a program without the needed resources?

Gerald came up with an ideal solution to this complex problem, a talent that Gerald Bull was starting to get international recognition for.

Instead of using a rocket to launch a satellite, why not use a gun? Just shoot the satellite into space from the barrel of a cannon.

Had there been any other possible design attempts tried before?

Yes,. Nazi Germany had begun work on the ultimate Vergeltungswaffen or Vengeance Weapon, the V-3.

V-3 Tunnel off the northern coast of France


With the work of thousands of slaves, toiling endlessly at Fortress de Mimoyecques in France, the Nazi attempted to build 50 such V-3 cannons.

Upon completion, shells would be launched from the coast of North France all the way to London at the rate of 300 per hour. Fortunately, the weapons program was never completed.

Section of Nazi V-3 cannon. Note electrically activated angled side chambers


In 1944, RAF Lancaster bombers from 617 Squadron (the ‘Dambusters’ Squadron) carpet-bombed a hillside on the French northern coastline, thinking that it was a huge underground railway system.

When the Allies finally overran the site later and realized what it was, British troops blew it up again.

Now jump ahead 20 years, Gerald Bull is searching for any information on this Nazi terror weapon and discovers a long lost Nazi report forgotten in a military warehouse. With this beginning and the absolute brilliant ballistic engineering of Gerald, he began to make many advances.

He proceeded with high-profile research in gun-launched projectiles, which would be known as the High Altitude Research Projectile project (HARP), with a firing range located in Bermuda.

On November 18, 1966, Gerald Bull designed a cannon that fired a Martlet shell to a height of 111 miles, establishing a world record for the next twenty-five years. The record shot was achieved at the American Army’s firing project at Yuma, New Mexico.

Harp cannon preparing to fire Martlet shell

But in 1967, Canada suddenly cut the budget for the Harp program.

Distraught, Gerald Bull took his expertise and technology to start a new company, the Space Research Corporation (SRC) with financing from the Bronfman family of Seagram fame. His plan was to commercialize this cutting edge technology of long-range artillery into the weapons industry.

All of the artillery assets were then given to SRC at the main facility, a 6,000 acre complex straddling the Canada – United States border.

By this time, Intelligence agencies from every major military power in the world were well aware of the brilliant ballistic work of Gerald Vincent Bull and the military potential of his ballistic research and concepts.

He was now seen as a major scientific figure by Defense Departments from the Far East to Washington, D.C. He was even made a honorary citizen by the United States

Without a doubt, he was the genius, a superstar of sorts, of present day and future military utilization of super-gun theory and projects.

In the late 1970’s, he designed a weapons system for South Africa to be used as a destabilizing agent for Angola revolutionaries being trained by Cuba.

A hot spot during the Cold War, on one side you had the United States, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Africa supporting the FNLA and UNITA. On the other side, you had the Soviet Union and Cuba supporting the MPLA.

With the blessing and help from the CIA, he proceeded to deliver his weapon designs to then Apartheid South Africa.

But things can be very treacherous in the International Arms Market.

His shipments were discovered to be in violation of international sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid policy.

The CIA had already established plausible deniability of any help. Gerald Bull was left out to hang by himself. He felt that he was being used as an expedient scapegoat by then President, Jimmy Carter, and the changing international political landscape.

Sentenced to 1 year in prison, he served 4 months and it affected his life profoundly. He lost his company, went bankrupt, had a major illness, and eventually had a nervous breakdown. From this, he developed a hatred and distrust of the United States and even Canada, who had revoked his citizenship.

Vowing never to set foot in the United States again, he moved to Brussels and started a new weapons design company. During the 1980’s, he built up a huge corporation but with his idea of a satellite super-gun always on his mind. A dream or more likely…an obsession.

In the late 1980’s, the concept of a super-gun seemed to be close to a possibility. He was now internationally recognized and held in the highest esteem by his fellow scientists and major players in the murky governmental world of international military economics and politics.

But what country would finance his super-gun folly? Iraq and Iran were at war at the time and Saddam Hussein, then an ally of the United States, made contact with Gerald to construct his super-gun.

Rumsfield greets Saddam Hussein in 1983

Saddam’s super-gun would be called Project Babylon and it would completely tip the balance of power in the region.

Capable of shooting a shell weighing 1300 pounds over 650 miles, Iraq could devastate Iran with continuous bombardment or even launch a orbital satellite into space for less than a million dollars.

Incredible when you consider NASA spends about a million dollars just for a fully installed anti-gravity toilet.

The Project Babylon gun would have a barrel 511 feet long with a 3.5 foot bore.

Like the V-3 the gun would be built in segments. 26 sections would make up the barrel, with a weight totaling 1510 tons. Added to this would be four 220 ton recoil cylinders, and the 165 ton breech.

The recoil force of the gun would be 27,000 tons – equivalent to a nuclear bomb and sufficient to register as a major seismic event all around the world. Nine tons of special super-gun propellant would be used to fire the shell.

Work began on actual manufacturing of the huge super-gun, with orders spread throughout the world to avoid attention. The barrel segments would be for a established front company as petroleum pressure vessels with other parts manufactured by factories in England, Spain, Holland and Switzerland.

But the tolerances and quality of machining attracted attention and the scrutiny of intelligence agents, in particular Israeli Mossad.

Section of the Babylon Super-gun kept at the Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson

For several months, Gerald got strange phone calls. The furniture in his Brussels apartment would be rearranged without a single thing stolen. Complaining to friends, once his entire glassware and silverware had been exchanged for a completely different brand.

Were these meant as warning signs to the path that he had taken? Perhaps so…

On March 22nd, 1990 as Gerald was unlocking the door to his Brussels apartment, unknown assassins walked up behind him and fired three shots into his back and pushed him into his apartment. Although he was dead, the killer didn’t flee. Instead, he leaned over and placed the pistol – a 7.65-millimeter automatic with a silencer – against the back of Gerald’s neck and fired 2 more shots.

But who were the assassins? During the investigation it was discovered that three months before Bull was murdered, two men rented an apartment opposite his and paid three months’ rent in advance, only to vanish 10 days later.

However, to get the electricity connected in the apartment, one of the men had to present identification at the utility company’s offices. Tracing this back to his entry into the country, the police discovered that the other man had entered with a false passport, and was an Israeli.

Brussels investigators have publicly expressed the belief  that Israeli Mossad agents were responsible, but who knows for sure? To this day, no charges have ever been filed.

“Swerve me? The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents’ beds, unerringly I rush!” Captain Ahab –  MobyDick

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Posted by on January 9, 2011. Filed under Commentary,Political. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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11 Responses to Project Babylon and Superguns – A Modern Ahab Tale

  1. cory Reply

    January 8, 2011 at 8:23 pm


    For some reason I am reminded of the censoring of Wilhelm Reich.

    • Krell Reply

      January 9, 2011 at 2:37 am

      Reich was a pioneer psychoanalyst along with Freud.

      To me, some of his ideas seemed quite strange. But instead of allowing them to be tested and fade away he became the victim of book burning of his journals, etc. Later arrested and convicted of fraud for selling “Orgone energy booths”. By the way, his son wrote an excellent book about his father and the relationship they had..”A Book of Dreams”

      You were probably reminded of Wilhelm because of those super-gun pictures and his “Cloudbusting” machines.

      • cory Reply

        January 9, 2011 at 12:12 pm

        That’s it! That’s exactly what it was. I was trying to figure it out, thought it might have been a deeper connection (secretive running off? governments meddling in the affairs of scientists? etc.) but no, it was probably just the cloudbuster/space-gun/phallic-structure-pointing-into-space thing.

  2. oso Reply

    January 9, 2011 at 1:50 am

    Krell,tremendous and well researched post.As I began to read I recalled the supergun and was going to comment on it,till I read of the sentencing and knew where the tale was leading.
    I’d read of the Mossad assassination before too, they seem to leave clues behind as well as mixing in mammoth screw-ups along with their disruption and targeted killings.Somewhat paralleling the CIA no?

    • Krell Reply

      January 9, 2011 at 2:56 am

      Ahab had his event, maiming by the white whale, that overtook all rational thought and became his single purpose.

      When Gerald had his one event.. arrested, convicted, bankrupt, nervous breakdown,etc… along with his sense of betrayal, his dream of the super-gun became his obsession.

      The guy was brilliant. I’m sure that he was quite aware of the consequences of what he was doing. I didn’t put it in this post but later he actually debriefed several intelligence agencies of his project.

      Perhaps that was the reason for the strange warnings that he got.

      But like Ahab, he was not going to let anything or anyone surrounding him to change his mind.

      I’m going to refrain from commenting about the Mossad.

  3. Holte Ender Reply

    January 9, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Excellent. Remember reading about the V3 several years ago, what I recall is that Barnes Wallis developed a bunker buster bomb for the raid, just like he did for the Dambusters Raid, the bouncing bomb.

    Hitler’s obsession with the Pas de Calais as a potential Allied invasion site (nobody would be stupid enough to attack Normandy) made sure the V3 launch sites (5 of them) were built there, he wanted to reduce London to rubble and pepper any amphibious invasion force he was sure was coming to that narrow stretch of the English Channel. My memory tells me that the RAF knew what they were bombing.

    • Krell Reply

      January 9, 2011 at 11:20 am

      You are probably right about the RAF knowing something was up with the site. Although the Nazi had some “innovations” in the V-3 development, it was doomed to failure but Hitler clung to it in desperation. The picture of the V-3 cannon that I included shows one of those ideas. The side ports would have Hydrogen gas that acted as pressure relief but also fired as the shell went past, greatly increasing the force but in a more even manner.

      Wernher (I aim for the stars but sometimes it hits London) Von Braun was furious that resources were wasted on this and not applied to the rocket factory at Peenemünd.

    • Krell Reply

      January 9, 2011 at 11:37 am

      On a side note, I have always felt that it’s not possible to overvalue the role of the RAF in WW2.

      Incredible bravery against impossible odds….. Include the role of the development of radar at the time and it was a finest hour for changing the course of the war.

      • Holte Ender Reply

        January 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm

        Agreed, especially 1940-43, my father was in the army and stationed in Kent, southeast England, he witnessed the Battle of Britain from the ground.

  4. A Michael J. Scott Reply

    January 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    This is an outstanding post. I have read it several times and learn all over again. Great job.

    • Krell Reply

      January 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks, Mike. Sort of an obscure subject but hopefully interesting.

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