Foul Play at Foul Bay

Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the south-eastern corner of the island is the Barbados Super Gun, a rusting piece of artillery fast disappearing into the undergrowth.

The HARP (High Altitude Research Project) gun was the brainchild of ballistics engineer Gerald Bull, who wanted to develop gun-fired satellites. It’s a monument to early space age technology and Bull himself, a shadowy figure gunned down in a James Bond style killing.

Barbados Super Gun

Firings took place from the early 1960s as often as eight times a night. Tremors were felt across Barbados. More than 300 Bajans worked on the HARP gun.

The missiles were named Martlets, after the mythical bird on the crest of McGill University, Canada, which administered the Barbados super gun project.

In 1963, a new world gun-launched altitude record of 92 km (58 miles) was set by the gun, which would eventually reach 120 feet in length and over 16 inches in diameter. You can wander today among the guns and discarded barrels. The gun still points out to sea, over the path and cliff top.

Barbados super gun

Saddam’s hired man…

Much later in his career, Bull went on to work for Saddam Hussein, helping the Iraqi dictator develop the long range Scud missiles.

Bull was assassinated in Brussels in March 1990. The finger of blame points at Iran’s secret service, agents from Israel’s Mossad and the CIA. As you gaze in awe at the gun, remember, Gerald Bull’s killers are still at large…

How the mighty fall

Space satellites, missiles and Superguns have given way to tiny splatters of colour. The HARP gun is now a paintballing venue and, as a result, best avoided on the weekend.

Barbados super gun

How to get there

Walk from Long Beach, though this route is at least four miles return and takes you across a live firing range. (It’s not the HARP gun anymore, just small arms, but a bullet is a bullet).

Head to Gemswick and Rock Hall. Keep the airport on right then turn right at a red rum shop. Right again, follow the road round to the left. Take first right, carry on until green rum shop. Turn right on track, park and walk down slope. Turn right – gun is on cliff top.

Or catch the Sam Lord’s Castle bus from Bridgetown, via the south coast road. It will drop you near the red rum shop. Follow directions above.

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