Gerald Bull

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Person.png Gerald Bull   SourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(engineer, scientist)
Gerald Bull 1964.jpg
Creator of the Supergun and designer of Project Babylon
North Bay, Ontario
Died1990/03/22 (Age 62)
Brussels, Belgium
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
SpouseNoemi "Mimi" Gilbert
Victim ofassassination
SubpageGerald Bull/Assassination
A Canadian engineer and developer of long-range artillery. Best known for his involvement in the Iraq 'supergun' project.

Gerald Vincent Bull (9 March 1928 – 22 March 1990) [1] was a Canadian engineer who trained at the Canadian Armament and Research Development Establishment (CARDE) and went on to develop missiles and extremely accurate long-range artillery. It was Gerald Bull's ambition to launch a satellite using a huge artillery piece, the Supergun, to which end he designed the Project Babylon for the Iraqi government.[2]

Gerald Bull was assassinated inside his apartment building in Brussels, Belgium on 22 March 1990 as he was opening his appartment door on the 6th floor.[3][4][5] It is commonly thought that he was killed by the Israelis, a view promoted with near unanimity in the western commercially-controlled media and which therfore renders it suspect. An alternative theory, based on suppressed evidence, is that his assassination was a covert British intelligence operation. [6] Three weeks after his death, British Customs seized the final eight sections of the Project Babylon gun.

On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, precipitating the Gulf War which ended Western covert sponsorship of Iraq.[7]

Space Research Corporation

In 1967, Gerald Bull set up a new company, Space Research Corporation (SRC), which was incorporated in both Quebec and Vermont. Bull became an international artillery consultant with a number of contracts from both the Canadian and US military research arms helping the company to get started. At SRC Bull continued the development of his high-velocity artillery, adapting the High Altitude Research Program (HARP) smoothbore into a new "reverse rifled" design where the lands of a conventional rifling were replaced by grooves cut into the barrel to make a slightly larger gun also capable of firing existing ammunition. Normally artillery shells are sealed into the rifling by a driving band of soft metal like copper, which demands that the shell be shaped so that it balances at its widest point, where the band is located. This is not ideal for ballistics, especially supersonically where a higher fineness ratio is desirable. Bull solved this problem by using an additional set of nub "fins" near the front of the shell to keep it centred in the barrel, allowing the driving band to be greatly reduced in size, and located wherever was convenient. Re-shaping the shell for better supersonic performance provided dramatically improved range and accuracy, up to double in both cases, when compared to a similar gun using older-style ammunition. He called the new shell design "Extended Range, Full Bore" (ERFB).

GC-45 howitzer

Starting in 1975, Gerald Bull designed a new gun based on the common US 155/39 M109 howitzer, extending it slightly to 45 calibre through modifications that could be applied to existing weapons, calling the resulting weapon the GC-45 howitzer. Bull also purchased the base bleed technology being developed in Sweden, which allowed for further improvements in range. With the ERFB round the GC-45 could routinely place rounds into 10 metres (33 ft) circles at ranges up to 30 kilometres (19 mi), extending this to 38 kilometres (24 mi) with some loss in accuracy. The gun offered ranges far in excess of even the longest-ranged heavy artillery in a gun only slightly larger than common medium-weight guns.

ERFB shells for Israel

SRC's first major sales success was the sale of 50,000 ERFB shells to Israel in 1973 for use in American-supplied artillery pieces. The Israelis had successfully used a number of 175 mm M107 guns in the counter-battery role against its Soviet counterpart, the 130 mm towed field gun M1954 (M-46), but the introduction of long range rockets fired from Lebanon outranged them. The ERFB shells extended the range of the already formidable M107 to as much as 50 kilometres (31 mi), allowing the guns to counter-battery even the longest range rockets. Bull was rewarded for success of this program by a Congressional bill, sponsored by Senator Barry Goldwater, making him retroactively eligible for a decade of American citizenship and high-level American nuclear security clearance. He was only one of three people ever granted citizenship by an Act of Congress.[8]

Arms to South Africa

Another early success for SRC was the sale of 30,000 artillery shells, gun barrels, and plans for the GC-45 howitzer to Armscor in apartheid South Africa. The South African Defence Force's arsenal of vintage howitzers - antiquated by the UN arms embargo - had been outperformed by BM-21 Grads during Operation Savannah in Angola in 1975. In order to counter the modern Soviet artillery deployed in Angola, South African officials began seeking longer-ranged weapons systems and were referred to SRC. Armscor trialled the GC-45 with a new mounting to allow for increased powder loads and installed an auxiliary power unit for improving mobility in the field. The resulting G5 howitzer was vital to South African campaigns against Cuban expeditionary forces in Angola, allowing them to target infrastructure and personnel with phenomenal accuracy.[9]

American policy on arms sales changed dramatically with the assumption of office of Jimmy Carter in 1977. Combating communism was no longer the primary consideration, and South Africa's poor human rights record under apartheid became a major concern. Enforcing rules that had always been "on the books", Gerald Bull was arrested for illegal arms dealing in violation of the mandatory UN Security Council Resolution 418. Expecting a slap on the wrist, Bull was surprised to find himself spending six months in the US Federal Correctional Complex, Allenwood, Pennsylvania in 1980.[10] On his return to Quebec he was sued and fined $55,000 for arms dealing.

Moving to Belgium

Gerald Bull decided to leave Canada and moved to Brussels, where a subsidiary of SRC called Poudreries Réunies de Belgique was based. Bull continued working with the ERFB ammunition design, developing a range of munitions that could be fired from existing weapons. A number of companies designed upgrades to work with older weapons, like the M114 155mm howitzer, combining a new barrel from the M109 with Bull's ERFB ammunition to produce an improved weapon for relatively low cost.

Bull also continued working with the GC-45 design, and soon secured work with the People's Republic of China, and then Iraq. He designed two artillery pieces for the Iraqis: the 155mm Al-Majnoonan, an updated version of the G5, and a similar set of adaptations applied to the 203 mm US M110 howitzer to produce the 210mm Al-Fao with a maximum range of 56 km (35 mi) without base bleed. Although it appears the Al-Fao was not put into production, the Al-Majnoonan started replacing Soviet designs as quickly as they could be delivered. When deliveries could not be made quickly enough, additional barrels were ordered from South Africa. The guns were built and sold through an Austrian intermediary.

Bull then 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 2,100 tonnes, with a bore of one metre (39 inches). It was to be capable of placing a 2,000-kilogram projectile into orbit. The Iraqis then 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 agreed.

Construction of the individual sections of the new gun started in England at Sheffield Forgemasters and Matrix Churchill as well as in Spain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.


Full article: Gerald Bull/Death

On 22 March 1990 Bull returned from his Rue de Stalle office to his 6th floor luxury apartment home in nearby Avenue François Folie. He had been driven there by his secretary Monique Jamine who dropped him off at the entrance to the apartment building. A few minutes later, after exiting the lift on the 6th floor and as he was unlocking his apartment door, he was shot 5 times in the back of his head and neck. He died immediately. Nobody heard any shots. Gerald James has claimed that Stephan Kock was involved in his assassination.[11]

Doomsday Gun TV Film

Doomsday Gun is the title of a 1994 television film produced by HBO [12], dramatising the life of Gerald Bull who as a child was fascinated with large-bore guns, inspired by Jules Verne's novel "From The Earth To The Moon". [13] When Bull's career as a successful large-bore gun designer takes a turn as he is defunded by the U.S. Army, he then produces weapons for China, Israel, and ultimately South Africa which results in his arrest and conviction for illegal arms dealing. After his release, Bull promotes his Supergun idea to Saddam Hussein, and, with funding through BCCI, begins design work on the top secret project, "Babylon". Bull solves several manufacturing challenges by forging and assembling it in sections which are bolted together by flanges, and lining the relatively soft barrel material with an alloy sleeve to reduce wear on the barrel. British and US government agencies are shown to be aware of Bull's activities, but do nothing to stop him. The Israeli Mossad tries to dissuade Bull, and goes so far as to threaten his life, with no effect. As the "Baby Babylon" version of the gun is assembled and tested successfully horizontally in Iraq, Bull's second in command, Cowley, quits after a roadside run-in with Mossad agent Dov, who also shadowed Bull.

The Iraqis demand an additional, 45-degree, test of the prototype gun, using threats to coerce Bull into compliance. That completed test firing results in a direct hit on a target 100 miles away, and Bull brags that the full size "Babylon" gun can fire "ten times as far."

As production of the full-size sections of the gun continues in England and elsewhere, falsely documented as oil pipeline parts in order to evade export restrictions, the film depicts increasing threats to Bull's life from Hussein, and the Mossad agent Dov. Agent Dov notes that assassination of Bull will happen one way or another as he has too many enemies and not many friends: a threat to Iran, the Iraqis due to his knowing too much, Syrians, Saudis and the South Africans; an embarrassment and liability to the UK; and, there is also the US. As the gun nears completion, Bull, while returning home, is gunned down at his apartment, where his body is discovered by his wife.

The end text crawl states that Dr Bull's murder was unsolved, and that the US contributed over $3 billion to Iraq in the years preceding the first Gulf War.[14][15]

See also


Documents by Gerald Bull

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)
File:LetterGeraldBull-PhilippeGlibert311089(2).pdfletter31 October 1989Arms-to-Iraq
File:LetterGeraldBull-PhilippeGlibert311089.pdfletter31 October 1989Arms-to-Iraq


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Asil Nadir: another victim of the arms-to-Iraq conspiracy?articleDecember 2013Andrew RosthornCommentary on evidence suggesting that Asil Nadir is the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice in furtherance of the continued high-level cover-up of the 'Arms-to-Iraq' scandal through the 1980's
Document:CIA Research Paper SW91-10076X - Intelligence SummaryResearch paperNovember 1991CIATranscription of the unredacted 'Intelligence Summary' (pages 22-26) of CIA Research paper SW91-10076X titled 'Project Babylon' which names two ex-SAS soldiers as having been contracted to eliminate Gerald Bull
Document:Project Babylon and the still smoking Iraqi supergunarticle2 May 2014Andrew RosthornA startling account of the murky dealings of the British political establishment and security services surrounding the Arms-to-Iraq affair in general and the legal proceedings against Asil Nadir in particular
File:CIA Research Paper SW91-100076X Redacted.pdfResearch paperNovember 1991CIARedacted CIA Research paper SW91-10076X titled 'Project Babylon' as it appeared on the CIA web site in July 2012
File:CIA Research Paper SW91-100076X summary.pdfResearch paperNovember 1991CIAUnredacted 'Intelligence Summary' (pages 22-26) of CIA Research paper SW91-10076X titled 'Project Babylon' and naming two ex-SAS soldiers as having been contracted to eliminate Gerald Bull
File:CIA Research Paper SW91-100076X un-redacted.pdfResearch paperNovember 1991CIAUnredacted CIA Research paper SW91-10076X titled 'Project Babylon:The Iraq Supergun' (pages 1-21)
File:NYT Man Behind Iraq's Supergun.pdfarticle26 August 1990New York Times
File:TheBrusselsTrip.pdfletter6 March 1990Astra Defence Systems Ltd
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