Saddam's Supergun And Verne's Columbiad

Baby Babylon, a prototype gun approximately forty meters long, was constructed in the late 1980's in Iraq for Saddam Hussein. The intent was to launch weapons into space.


("Baby Babylon" Supergun prototype)

According to General Hussein Kamel al-Majeed, who defected from Iraq:

"It was meant for long-range attack and also to blind spy satellites. Our scientists were seriously working on that. It was designed to explode a shell in space that would have sprayed a sticky material on the satellite and blinded it."

Although this seems to be a science-fictional project at best, it was designed by a Canadian-born astrophysicist named Gerald Bull. Bull had worked on the High Altitude Research Program (HARP), which eventually resulted in a thirty meter-long gun that succeeded in firing a 185 pound projectile to an altitude of 180 kilometers.

Bull was hired by Saddam Hussein to work on larger and more powerful projectile-hurling guns in 1981. From then until he was assassinated in March of 1990 (probably by Israeli intelligence), he continued his research. He designed two advanced self-propelled artillery systems for the Iraqis: the 210-millimeter Al Fao and the 155 millimeter Majnoon. The Al Fao, weighing 48 tons, can fire four 109 kilogram rounds a minute for 35 miles from its 11-meter barrel. The Iraqis claim that the Al Fao and Majnoon can attain a top speed of 72-88 kilometers an hour on the road.

The Baby Babylon project pictured above was finally installed at Jabal Hamrayn, ninety miles north of Baghdad, in central Iraq [Jabal Hamrin MTS]. The gun was positioned along a mountainside at an angle of about 45 degrees. It was never used during war, and was destroyed after the Gulf war by UN teams. They also destroyed parts of a 1000 mm diameter supergun and propellant loads.

In his blockbuster 1867 novel From the Earth to the Moon, the Baltimore Gun Club creates an enormous cannon called the Columbiad to fire a projectile large enough to allow men to travel into space.

"You know," said he, "what progress artillery science has made during the last few years, and what a degree of perfection firearms of every kind have reached. Moreover, you are well aware that, in general terms, the resisting power of cannon and the expansive force of gunpowder are practically unlimited.

"Well! starting from this principle, I ask myself whether, supposing sufficient apparatus could be obtained constructed upon the conditions of ascertained resistance, it might not be possible to project a shot up to the moon?"
(Read more about Jules Verne's supergun)

Find out more about the supergun here and .

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/12/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Weapon ")

Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.' - Keith Laumer, 1976.

Railguns For Surface Ships
'It was simply a long solenoid that threw little steel bullets...' - John W. Campbell, 1933.

DIY Armed UAV (Toy)
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...' - Larry Niven, 1972.

Taser Drones Now Legal In North Dakota
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...' - Roger Zelazny, 1966.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

TALOS Exoskeleton Development Proceeding
'Suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla...'

Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'

SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
'The window cleaners, with large padded feet...'

Pangorin Restaurant Service Robots
What'll you have? Jawa juice?

Drug Creates Real Melanin Tan
I've used them all my life...

Medical Drones Hover Like Angels Near You
'The death-reversal equipment is on its way...'

SkEye Amazing Israeli Gigapixel Drone
'An eye that could not only see, but fly...'

How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
'Do I know protocol? Why, it's my primary function.'

'Liquid Light' Flows Around Corners
Light as a superfluid.

Unrolling The Filmy Materials Of Space Tech
'When unfolded and unrolled... it became a tough, gleaming film.'

Buddy Companion Robot Your Bulbous Friend
'Nanny was built in the shape of a sphere, a large metal sphere, flattened on the bottom...'

Poli-X1 Prototype Bee Pollinator
Is there anything drones can't do?

Bake in Space Bake-Off... In Space!
'A joyous condition commenced for the cook in the electric kitchen...'

DeepMind AI Baffled By Homer Simpson, Needs Human Help
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off...'

Does Earth's Middle Mantle Hold Oceans Of Water?
Al Gore, you have no idea.

Vaccine Blocks Heroin High
'You're biochemically incapable of getting off...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.