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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
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.
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.
Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.'
When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
'The curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio...'
LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.'
Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
'Nothing... left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'
Wearable MRI Is Former Occulus/Facebook Exec's New Project
'Your cephalochromoscope... that you always turn on and play when you get home...'
Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer
'He proudly indicated his Buick... Almost as good as the original it was printed from...'
The Space Suit As Personal Spaceship
'Darn clever, these suits...'
Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.'
Robot Strolls Field, Examines EVERY Plant
'The great machines that did the work ... required but a few dozen men to cultivate an entire county.'
Sweden Outlaws Drones
'An eye that could not only see, but fly, roam, travel at speeds and in directions to suit its operator...'
Wear Your Self-Powered Generator
'It's basically a micro-sandwich...'
TITAN-III Spider Robot Is WAY Too Quick (Video)
'My little friends can find you wherever you go!'
Bill Gates Suggests Tax On Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot that 'appears or pretends to be human' had to be compensated...'
Handle, New Wheeled Hopping Robot
'the hopper sprang thirty feet into the air...'
Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!
Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories