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Gerald Bull

Gerald Vincent Bull (born 1928 Ontario, died March 22, 1990 Brussels) was an engineer who many consider to have developed long range artillery beyond what anyone else has accomplished. He was a driven man, who moved from project to project always chasing his dream of launching a satellite using a huge artillery piece. To this end he designed the Project Babylon [?] "supergun" for the Iraqi government, during which he was killed (purportedly by Israeli Mossad agents) outside his home in Brussels.

Bull graduated from the Aerospace Engineering department of the University of Toronto in 1951 and took his first job at the Canadian Armament and Research Development Establishment[?] (CARDE). In the post-war era CARDE was researching supersonic flight, and Bull suggested the use of a "sabot[?]" type artillery gun to shoot models to supersonic speeds instead of using an expensive supersonic wind tunnel. The system was built and used for research on CARDE's Velvet Glove[?] missile, but when this project was cancelled in 1956 the system fell out of use. Bull then moved on to hypersonics research in the field of balistic missile defense (ABM's), primarily the study of IR and radar cross-sections for detection.

Bull was very outspoken (and tactless) and generally detested by most people at CARDE. However his abilities were obvious, and he was eventually promoted to head of the Aerophysics department of CARDE in 1958. Here he continued to chaffe and spoke to the press about how he'd run the place with more money. Eventually he alienated enough people that he was forced to leave.

In 1960 he left to become a professor at McGill University, where he was soon detested by a new group of people. But he also interested the US in using guns to loft missile components for re-entry research, a task that was otherwise very expensive and time consuming on rockets. With money from the Pentagon he set up Project HARP[?] (High Alititude Research Program) on a large plot of land in Quebec near the US border. There he began working with 5" and 7" artillery pieces

When basic research was completed he transferred operations to Barbados, where shells could be fired over the Atlantic. The new gun was a 16" naval piece, it was bored out to about 17" (40 cm) and the barrel length was extended, using special shells and propellant it could fire a 150 kg projectile at over 10,000 ft/s (3600 m/s).

In 1963 Bull started a series of test-firings using specialised discarding-sabot rounds and then finned projectiles known as Martletts. By June these had been replaced by a dart-like shell known as the Martlett-2, which was soon reaching altitudes in excess of 100 km.

More tests of the Martlett-2 continued in 1964, while work on a rocket-powered projectile started as Martlett-3. At the same time the gun itself was improved with the addition of a second length of barrel welded to the end of the existing one. Extensions like this continued until the gun eventually reached 125 feet in length. With this new gun and the added boost of the rocket engine in the Martlett-3, it was expected to be able to reach orbit.

However funding for the project was cut in 1967 and Bull, now embittered, returned to his Quebec range, having transferred the project's assets to his own company SRC (Space Research Corporation) setting himself up as an international artillery consultant. He worked for a number of governments including China, Chile, Taiwan and especially South Africa. He developed the GC-45 howitzer[?] firing a 155mm round. A new "pointy" shell offered considerably better aerodynamics than the original, and it was spun up by fins on the shell rather than rifling in the barrel, allowing the middle of the shell to be designed for flight rather than "driving". The result was a gun that could outrange the original by up to 50%, while being far more accruate.

The GC-45 work was paid for the South Africans, but it has been claimed that Bull undertook the work largely at the urging of the CIA who saw South Africa as a bulwark against Soviet operations in Angola. Used in South Africa, as the G5, the new guns were put into use in Angola where there was apparently a minor revolution in the war and Anglolan actions were stopped dead. However at this point Bull was arrested for illegal arms dealing after the administration in the US changed, and he spent six months in a US jail in 1980.

Now even more embittered he left Canada and moved to Brussels, where a subsidiary of SRC called European Poudreries Reunies de Belgique was based. He soon secured work with the Chinese, and then Iraq. He designed two artillery pieces for the Iraqis the 210mm Al Fao and the 155mm Majnoonan, an updated version of the G2, the guns were built and sold through Austria.

At this point Bull convinced the Iraqis that they would never be a real power without the capability for space launches. He offered to build a cannon capable of such launches, basically an even larger version of the original HARP design. Saddam Hussein was interested, and work started on Project Babylon.

A smaller 45 metre, 350mm calibre gun was completed for testing purposes, and Bull then started work on the "real" PC-2 machine, a gun that was 150 metres long, weighed 2100 tonnes, with a bore of one metre (three feet). It was to be capable of placing a 2000kg projectile into orbit. However at this point the Iraqis told Bull they would only go ahead with the project if he would also help with development of their longer ranged SCUD-based missile project. Bull, never the politician, agreed.

Construction of the individual sections of the new gun started in England at Matrix Churchill[?] and also in Spain, Holland and Switzerland. Meanwhile Bull worked on the SCUD project, making calculations for the new nose-cone needed for the higher re-entry speeds and temperatures the missile would face. At this point Mossad started "warning" him to stop working on the missiles. Over a period of a few months his apartment was broken into several times but nothing was stolen. He nevertheless continued to work on the project, and in March 1990 he was shot five times in the back of the neck while opening his door.

The supergun project was stopped when its parts were seized by Customs in England in November 1990, and most of Bull's staff returned to Canada. The smaller test gun was later broken up after the Gulf War.

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