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Object Title

Arms Equipment - 1000 mm smooth-bore gun tube 'Project Babylon'

Arms Equipment - 1000 mm smooth-bore gun tube 'Project Babylon'

Date

about 1989

Object Number

XIX.842

Provenance

Manufacture by Forgemasters Ltd., Sheffield, England for the Space Research Corporation International in 1988.

Physical Description

A steel tube six metres long with flanges at both ends. These flanges have a number of holes drilled into them so that the tubes maybe bolted together with a gasket or an 'O' ring in between. The lower flange has 32 holes and the upper flange 30. Made from High grade steel HT690.

Techniques

Heat Treatment, Casting, Forging, Machining

Materials

Dimensions

TubeBore1000 mm
TubeLength6000 mm

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number None visible

Calibre

1000 mm

Inscriptions and Marks

Stamp
TDC [Top Dead Centre]
Top of lower flange
Hammered

Notes

This tube would have been number 23 in the line of 26 tubes in total. In addition there would be four recoil cylinders of 60 tons each, two buffer cylinders of 7 tons each and a 182 tons breech. The purpose of the supergun was to launch small satellites into space and was the brainchild of Dr. Gerald Bull. Bull was a mechanical engineer whose specialisms lay in the fields of aerodynamics and ballistics. He had been very influenced by the German's First World War 'Paris Gun' and dreamt one day of using large artillery to launch satellites into space rather than by the more expensive method of rocket launching. Much of his early data was gathered from the HARP (High Altitude Research Programme) using a US Navy 16-inch gun barrel. He also worked actively on improving artillery systems especially ammunition range. To this end he took the previously know concept of base bleed and placed small motors in his 155 mm projectiles to add at least 10 km to the range. His company the Space Research Corporation developed the GC-45 Gun/Howitzer and the GH-N45 Gun/Howitzer. Some of these fell into South African hands during the arms and trade embargo and both he and his company were found guilty in 1990. Bull was sentenced to a year in jail. As a result of the Iran/Iraq War and Bull's ever increased reputation as the world's Mr. Fixit of artillery he was approached by Iraqi representatives to, initially, help them with their space satellite programme. Rather than utilised Soviet Scud missiles to launch a satellite Bull suggested that it be launched from his supergun. They were very interested and approved the scheme for a smaller prototype called 'Baby Babylon' (see XIX.844) and two 'Project Babylon' systems numbering 52 tubes. These plans were considered very worrying by Iraq's enemies despite Bull's assurances that they would only be used for peaceful purposes. Bull was subtley warned by agents unknown and failing to take the hint to drop the scheme was assassinated on 22nd March 1990. Nobody has ever been brought to justice but speculation suggests Mossad, the Israeli Secret Service. Following the Gulf War the remaining tubes were destroyed.

Image of XIX.842, 1000 mm tube, Supergun tube
Image of XIX.842, 1000 mm tube, Supergun tube