Gerald Bull was a famous artillery man and major proponent of superweaponry. His attempts with Project Babylon to build a stationary launcher capable of striking practically any site on Earth were met with suspicion and ultimately led to his assassination by unknown agents.
Gerald Bull was born in Ontario, Canada in 1928. Originally intending to study medicine, he entered the University of Toronto, but quickly switched to engineering. At the bright young age of 23, he walked out with a Ph.D., the youngest person ever to do so at the school.
His first job was with Canada's military research and development unit CARDE, where he first conceived the idea of using a large gun to fire models into the air at supersonic speeds and measure their effect. While the project showed promise, the space race had intensified, and thus his project was cancelled and he was moved to the aerospace unit of CARDE, where he eventually became chief officer. However, Bull's arrogance and intolerance of interlopers led to his dismissal from the agency in 1960.
Making A Name For Himself
He quickly took up a post at nearby McGill University where his military research attracted interest from the Pentagon. He began developing several high altitude guns for the Canadian and United States Army. His HARP guns on the island of Barbados became heavily used to deploy meteorological craft high into the Earth's atmosphere for information gathering. At one point he achieved sending a satellite over 60 miles up, nearing orbital space. However, the United States Army saw Bull's work in a different light: the use of such high-powered rocketry could provide the US with the most powerful artillery in the world. So important was Bull's expertise to the American effort in Vietnam War that in order to cut red tape and expedite arms sales with Bull's Space Research Corporation the eminent Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater had him named as American citizen by an act of Congress - an honor previously only bestowed to the Marquis de Lafayette and Winston Churchill. Despite the hawks' best efforts, the deal to buy and fund HARP guns fell through.
At that point, Bull decided it would be better to go private, and so he took his knowledge and work to Vermont. During the war he worked patiently and furtively on a number of arms contracts until 1973, when he was contracted by the CIA to deliver large amounts of artillery - and some improved Howitzer weaponry - to South Africa in its battle against Angola. When President Jimmy Carter learned of Bull's and the CIA's activity, he had the engineer thrown in jail for illegal arms trading.
Even this didn't stop the cavalier Bull, who proceeded to finish most of final design approvals for his new Howitzer cannon from inside his pentitentiary cell. By the time he was released, the Howitzer G5 was on the battlefield, capable of sending an artillery shell over 30 miles. It was the most powerful cannon of its day and remains one of the gold standards of high altitude artillery delivery mechanisms.
Bull's name was as famous (or infamous, if you like) as it would ever be, and his services were requested by the likes of Russia, China, Iraq, and Germany. Having set up shop in Belgium after yet another illegal arms dispute with North American officials, Bull began developing a relationship with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and helped provide much of the munitions capabilities in the Iran-Iraq War of the mid Eighties. He convinced the leader that Iraq needed satellite launching capabilities to remain a technological force in the Middle East, and he could build the artillery launcher required to do it. He began work on his opus magnum: Project Babylon.
The first step, Baby Babylon, was formed as a prototype for the final launcher. Even so, properly mounted it could send a payload 400 miles in any direction. Upon its completion, Bull began receiving threatening calls to cease his work, and his apartment in Belgium was broken into several times. Ignoring these warnings, the headstrong man so aptly named continued work on Big Babylon, which would be capable of delivering satellites into orbit, even after his benefactor invaded Kuwait in the early 1990. Suddenly Bull and his weapons knowledge became the subject of intense international scrutiny. When the obvious warnings went unheeded, decisive action was taken: while returning home one night in March of 1990, Bull was shot 5 times in the back of the neck.
The most commonly claimed perpetrators are Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, although others have alleged that it was the CIA covering its own tracks, Iran as revenge for his participation in the Iran-Iraq War, or possibly Hussein himself, suspecting treachery by the distant and untrustworthy Bull.
Despite Bull's career of militarism and arms trading, he was not particularly hawkish or even patriotic. His major aim was to gain the prestige of the scientific community for his unique and ingenious work in the field of aeronautical engineering. Like his predecessor Werner von Braun, the ethics and application of his life's work did not interest or concern him, and like von Braun, his name is forever tarred by this callous approach to such a potentially dangerous and devastating field.