Project HARP guns dangerously rusting away – all for want of a little paint

HARP Space Gun Gerald Bull click photo for large

Gerald Bull’s invention could be a prime tourist attraction

It has been years, probably over a decade, since I last touched Dr. Bull’s HARP space guns rusting away on our south coast. Ten years ago the guns were rusting, but still I was shocked to see recent photos posted by Slate Magazine showing the advanced corrosion eating away at the support structures. Flakes of rust and dripping rusticles are reminiscent of photos of the Titanic as the ship returns to nature under the sea. The one gun looks positively dangerous as the frame is dripping away in rust chips and has holes eaten in the support.

Everything rusts in Bim. That’s just the way it is. If you don’t use liberal doses of WD40 and keep things painted up the salt air will eat away anything. Laptop computers seem particularly vulnerable to death by corrosion, and anyone who lives on the East (Atlantic) coast either develops a healthy respect for sea air and a preventative maintenance programme or loses all kinds of fixed assets every year. I have personally seen a car run in the surf and not washed… and it lasted another year and that was it.

So the fact that the HARP space guns are rusting is not surprising, but the rate of corrosion is accelerating as the last bits of paint flake away. What a shame to lose such history!

That brings us to the tragedy: if the HARP guns were properly marketed and displayed, I bet we could attract thousands of people a year who would be interested in the story of Gerald Bull and his guns. Barbados was an integral part of this Cold War project, and we shouldn’t forget that Dr. Bull was assassinated while working for Sadam Hussein… probably by the Israelis. That is big time interesting!

But the guns are going back to nature – all for want of a bit of paint every few years and some energy to get out and market this piece of history.

Judging by the state of the supporting structures, the guns might soon be too dangerous to allow tourists near them.

We already own this potential tourist exhibit. What’s wrong with us that we haven’t preserved it and don’t market it?

Sometimes you just have to wonder!


Further Reading

Slate Magazine: Abandoned Space Gun Rusting Away in the Barbados Jungle

Atlas Obscura: Project HARP Space Gun

BFP: We Missed The Anniversary Of Gerald Bull’s Murder

Barbados Author Angela Cole Writes BFP About Gerald Bull, HARP

A Piece Of Barbados History: Dr. Jerry Bull’s Assassination, The HARP Gun, Saddam Hussain and Israeli Intelligence


Filed under Barbados, History

9 responses to “Project HARP guns dangerously rusting away – all for want of a little paint

  1. Pingback: Project HARP guns dangerously rusting away – all for want of a little paint | Barbados Blog !

  2. Mr Coco

    These guns should immediately be moved to the north coast to shell St Lucia, thereby eliminating her as a tourism competitor. Problem solved.

  3. peltdownman

    These guns are peashooters in comparison with the real gun which was removed 30 years ago.

  4. john

    Barbados + History = Oil + Water. Don’t mix, ever.

  5. peltdownman

    Cuddeah John! Why do you always have to be right!

  6. WhatsTheFuss

    WIRIakaWTF – don’t wory about me I’m still here!
    What is it with you? When I post I’m a troll, when I don’t post you miss me?
    What’s the point in posting when if I say anything I’m a liar and insulted?
    Have no interest in debating anything on here anymore!

  7. Gerald Bull

    Peltdownman you are incorrect! the original and largest gun that holds the record is still there the other gun barrel that was removed by coles around 30 years ago was not as long. so check ya facts! if ya dont believe me google the sixe of the gun and go and measure it.

    To the author of this article thanks for showing interest on this project, you are correct it would bring many tourist to the island as i have personally taken at least 10 foreign gun fanatics over the last 25 years to visit it, they need to be sand blasted and welding also needs to be done to save them, but we all know that both of our foolish governments would not understand the importance of saving this site.

  8. Worker

    Totally correct Pelt-down, A paintball company was based there for 3 years and they used the bunkers as a prop for scenarios it was fantastic. Although the Gag order was lifted many years ago. Believe it or not the site is accessible from the Army Base and from Gemswick. The persons who were in-charge of the paintball told the Gun Club on that same Army Base that would be a good site for tourism and they said “Its on a Army Base and wont be a good idea”.. (Smart). We constantly talk about tourism and we have product steep in history and we continue to bitch and complain that it would be a security risk. At lease the National Trust Walkers use it as one of their tours. watch one of the Xtreme paintball videos and see the advertising potential for advertisements, tours and even a movie.

  9. The Watcher

    Interesting read and comments to follow. The gun in the picture is not the actual harp gun. Its one of the remaining cannons that was used in conjunction with the HARP.The HARP itself sits in a fixed turret that cannot be rotated but the gun itself can be raised and lowered in its mount. It looks like a canon with ribs on its outer barrel shell and there are some metal rods (4 if I recall) that run half its length. The cannon that was removed was sold to the Americans if I can recall the news story surrounding it back then and had to be transported at night to the Shallow Draugh where it was loaded onto a barge and sent on its way. If memory serves me correctly, it was a 105mm diameter cannon. Stephen Mendez has some pictured of the actual gun taken in 2006 that can be seen as the following link:

    The reaming guns are rusting of course, but one has to accept that after 30+ years of non-use, these things haven’t fallen down and are still very much intact given the time that they have been exposed to the elements and not maintained.
    The site can be reached from Gemswich and from the Paragon Army base, but I wouldn’t advise the Gemswick route as the Army patrols the area frequently and it may be dangerous to be out there and they not know that you are. Its an ARMY base after all.
    As for the tourist aspect of this site, it may be a workable idea depending on how it is packaged.Remember that to the Jewish community, this was a project that has its roots in their ultimate destruction, so care must be taken to how it is projected.
    I am in full agreement that it should not stay idle and be allowed to run to ruin though, as it is the only one of its kind in the world. If I recall, Saddam was building one in a mountainside in Iraq and the picture that I have seen of this gun show a device which is eerily similar to this gun in basic design, though not appareance. So the historical significance and connection to the sister gun is un-deniable. Barbados has a few “firsts” and “only’s” but for some reason, we don’t or cant seem to capitailse on them. Take for example the screw locks down by the Warf. Apparently, these are the only known remaining ones in the world which are still erect, but we haven’t been able to get them going yet either. I don’t believe that we need some foreign entity to come here and pay oogles of cash to in order for these to work again. I suspect that there’s more than enough local talent available to make these work again. But you know how we are. Some pale faces have to come here for it to be “credible” and viable.
    The tourism product is so null and void of ideas that this one may seen like foolishness to them, so it may never fly. We will keep bringing people here, putting them up in hotels, feeding them the food that they can get where they come from, and expecting the industry to do better.
    I think this is a project we could possibly use to start the catalytic process of diversification. But lets do it quickly, threes still one Barbadian that I know of who is still alive that worked on this project and has a wealth of historical knowledge about it. Grab him before he goes.