Customs officials discover supergun parts
Dr. Gerald Bull was like a figure in a spy novel, designing arms for some of the world's harshest regimes. With no shortage of possible enemies, he died at the hands of an unknown assassin. But the Canadian-born artillery expert was also a brilliant scientist with a dream: to launch a satellite with a giant gun.
. Whether Iraq actually planned to use the supergun to launch a satellite or for a more sinister purpose is unknown. Some point out that a huge, immovable gun would make an easy target and therefore isn't much use as a weapon.
. A smaller prototype, nicknamed Baby Babylon, was built in 1989. It was 45 metres long and had a barrel width of 350 millimetres, while the big Babylon gun was to be 156 metres long with a one-metre bore. Baby Babylon blew up on its first test.
. The Iraqis at first denied that the pipes were destined for Project Babylon, but in July 1991 they finally admitted they were parts for a supergun.
. The Baby Babylon gun, parts of the bigger gun and supergun propellant were destroyed by UN teams following the Gulf War in 1991.
. In 1992 a British parliamentary inquiry into the affair learned that British intelligence officials knew about the supergun project well in advance of its discovery. There's also evidence that the United States and Israeli secret services knew about it as well.
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: April 12, 1990
Guest(s): Henry Dodds
Host: Alan Maitland
Reporter: Dale Goldhawk
Last updated: February 7, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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