John Inglis and Bren Production

If I say “John Inglis”, the first two things that probably come to mind for a gunnie are High Powers and Bren guns. Inglis was a Canadian company that made a huge proportion of the Bren guns used during WWII, as well as other munitions. At its peak, Inglis employed 17,800 workers…and yet in 1937 the company was bankrupt and in receivership, employing all of three maintenance caretakers. The story of how the firm went from broke to wildly successful is a story of deft maneuvering by a small group of businessmen – such deft maneuvering that it led to official investigation for corruption in 1938.

Veronica Foster - "Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl"
Veronica Foster – “Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl” – was an assembly line worker at Inglis who was made the subject of a PR campaign during the war.

We have a copy of the formal Report of the Royal Commission on the Bren Gun Contract available for download for anyone who is interested in reading all the details (it’s both pretty dry reading and a complete bureaucratic soap opera). The short version is that an enterprising Major J. E. Hahn (formerly of the Canadian Expeditionary Force) became aware of plans for the Canadian military to adopt the Bren, which it had no domestic capacity in place to manufacture. He put together a group of financial backers along with local politician looking for employment in his district. The collapsed John Inglis company (which had been making steamship turbines among other things until the Depression) was available for purchase, offering Hahn and his backers the illusion of actually being a sound business enterprise.

Hahn was able to adroitly work the War Departments on both sides of the Atlantic to get himself a contract to supply the Canadian army with all its Bren guns and also serve as a backup supplier to the British army. His political connections in Canada made him sound official to the British, and by combining the two orders together he was able to offer the Canadian government a better quantity discount than they could potentially get anywhere else. If the Canadian government somehow wound up under the (mistaken) impression that the British War Department would only be willing to work with the John Inglis Company, and thus it wasn’t worth sending the contract out for competitive bid, well, he didn’t know anything about that.

The Royal Commission that investigated the events didn’t actually find any evidence of corruption or illegal dealings. As far as I can tell, Hahn was both lucky, very skilled, and in the right place at the right time. His investment in Inglis (bought from its creditors for twenty cents on the dollar) became a gold mine, as Inglis grew into a huge industrial concern, and transitioned into household appliances after the war. And to be fair, there were never any major complaints (that I’m aware of, anyway) about the quality of Inglis guns.

Worker welding a Bren magazine at Inglis
Worker welding a Bren magazine at Inglis (much of the work was done by women, as the men who would normally hold these jobs were serving in the military)

You can see many more photos of the Inglis plant both during the war and after at this outstanding archive. The full PDF of the Royal Commission inquiry is here:

Report on Royal Commission on the Bren Machine Gun Contract (English, 1939)
Report on Royal Commission on the Bren Machine Gun Contract (English, 1939)

41 Comments

  1. This was a bit of history of great interest to me, the BREN was among the finest weapons of the infantry, yet it required top quality machinery and techniques to make it the effective weapon it was.
    As a retired Marine, I believe too much has always been made of politics and war manufacture, and rather than long reports, commissions, and hearings, an investigation should be made, facts brought to the forefront, and anyone involved in “Gerrymandering” arms, weapons and support regarding war should be tried by a military court and if found guilty, hanged.
    While I am never ceased to be amazed by how effectively some civilians understand the necessity of going “whole hog or stay home”, and gather intel, a group of like minded patriots, and find what is always there, a place needing be saved, which fits the bill perfectly, and then dive into getting the job of supplying the forces with winning arms and equipment, in almost every case similarly delved into has turned out to be very much as this one did.
    When nations are at war, one is a patriot, in every way one’s principles and morals allow, or one is an enemy, because war is the question of whether your society, your principles, are sufficient to make your Nation impregnable, and even the “conscientious objector” can honorably serve, as so many have proven out, as Quakers, serving as hospital corpsmen, and as so many others of differing principle have found because they love their Country, their People, and their way of life.
    I wish you would provide an in depth look as John Inglis and the Hi-power, as well. I suspect that is a similarly interesting story. Thanks much for this bit of history, I’ve owned a couple of “Inglis” Bren parts kits in my time, and they show the skill, quality of workmanship, but most importantly for this day and age, they demonstrate the remaining real capital that existed and was expertly exploited to make a real difference in the world war.
    Semper Fidelis,
    John McClain
    GySgt, USMC, ret.
    Vanceboro, NC

    • It is uncommon to hear from distinguished American serviceman such recognition and praise of Canadian made equipment. Very much appreciate it!

      It is definitely a fact that there had been lots of shadowy dealing in war contracts. There are theories as much as sound interpretation of that. And so it is understandable that many feel, that war is the best business there is. It will probably stay that way for some time, before people find how to deal with each other by alternate means.

  2. Another very interesting in-depth look behind the scenes at the often convoluted processes of arms procurement. In this case, it was just as well that it worked out the way it did in spite of the implied machinations, because John Inglis & Co. contributed significantly to the Allied war effort with weaponry that was well-made and reliable.

  3. When I stepped off the plane in Kandahar in late 2009 as part of the 1 PPCLI battle group, I was issues a minty 1945 5T series Inglis Hi Power fresh out of war stores, complete with Lend / Lease decal in English, Chinese and Russian. No complaints about quality!

  4. This is very well researched article. Although by age I do not have any relation to John Inglis Gun Company I feel special affinity to it. Not just as (oh well) adopted Canadian but also because of guns they were making. At one point they made and sold (mostly to China) over 100,000 of Brens. Later, when I worked for a company here I came to touch with Browning Hi-Power pistols. J.I. Company made couple of thousands of them for Canadian military and they serve faithfully to this day. They are what I consider to be one of best sidearms ever.

  5. @ John McCLain, Nick & Denny :

    Excellent points and comments all. I have always felt that there has been a regrettable tendency to neglect the topic of Canadian-made firearms and the generally high quality of same, FW and its contributors collectively being one of the few exceptions.

    • If I may toe into your point Earl, I find that some Americans do don share such generous and hospitable view of Canadian contribution for whatever the cause might be. (I go on occasion into other blogs so I have a comparison) You seem to reflect on that quite appropriately.

      Of course, one thing to consider is relative size of industrial potentials of say Canada and United States. Besides, my feel is that Canada had been contributing responsibly and fairly, sometimes even disproportionately well, starting with WWI to last central Asia Missions.

      • Quite so. Not enough people seem to understand or appreciate this, and some are, frankly, parochial jackasses when it comes down to it — fortunately, at least the knowledgeable and critical-thinking FW crew know better.

    • Peter, that’s a unique and really intriguing piece of information. I wonder what the legal processes are for the sorting and disposal of such weapons caches? They would obviously vary from country to country, depending on national and local laws.

      Forgive me if I am assuming wrongly, but are you from Denmark? If so, what did the authorities end up doing with the guns in question?

  6. The Inglis factory also built Boys .55 calibre anti-tank rifles, Polsten 20mm anti-aircraft guns (similar to the Oerlikon, but much cheaper to make), and Browning machine guns (I believe these were the .303 aircraft version).

    Lee Enfield rifles and Sten SMGs were made at the Long Branch arsenal (Small Arms Limited) on the west side of Toronto (Inglis was more towards the centre).

    Canada made the full spectrum of weapons in WWII, including small arms, artillery, tanks, aircraft, and ships. However, not many of these were domestic designs, but rather Canadian industry acted as additional sources for the British Empire.

    The Canadian government worked hand in glove with private firms to assist them in producing arms (as well as some of the arms factories being government owned). It’s a policy which is still in effect today. I very much doubt that Canadian government officials were in any doubt as to the status of the Inglis company and the people backing it, although it’s quite possible that a few rules were bent by the government in an effort to ensure that the whole thing happened. With war looming, setting up Bren gun (and other small arms) production would have been a very high priority for the government of Canada and I would expect the cabinet was paying very close attention to this.

    Canada has a fairly substantial arms industry today, but the companies tend to keep a fairly low profile with minimal publicity outside of the arms trade. The majority of the exports in fact go unrecorded in official publicly available records because of special sales arrangements with customers such as the US.

    Oh, and Ronnie Foster was a professional model who did a lot of propaganda work for the company, but I’m not sure that she was a genuine production line worker.

    • This is a plausible view of Canada’s gun making policy. From what I know I tend to agree of that gov’t-private sector close cooperation. What we have left today is Canadian Colt division (one time Diemaco) in Ontario and cartridge maker plant in province of Quebec. There is occasional short message for public, but most dealings are out of sight.

      When you talk about Long Branch, that is pertinent and relating subject. When I arrived,, the building was still standing. Now all is gone, land resold and developed. I wonder if there is any trace of this history other than in public archives. It is fair to say that Canada is not very showy about her armament industry; there is no museum (except perhaps War museum in Ottawa) to remind public of this past.

      • The twists and changes in Canadian defense and defense procurement policy have been interesting. I’ve been struggling to make a post about Canadian aerodynamicist and artillery expert Jerry Bull. One reason Bull “went rogue” is that Canada rejected him, rejected the idea of a Canadian space program, and pulled the plug on CARDE and the idea of independent Canadian R&D on defense matters.

        I believe it was before his stint at CARDE that Bull had been involved in the ill-fated Avro CF-105. Most of his Canadian engineering classmates had already seen the writing on the wall and emigrated. Most of the CF-105 team followed. Canada still trains engineers for US firms. (Thanks – Merci).

        Many Canadian governments have dismantled Canadian defense over long periods, but it’s hard not to see Diefenbaker and Trudeau as particular villains. In world War II and in the 1950s, Canada was quite literally a major power, despite having fewer citizens than New York City.

        I worked at one time for a machine tool firm that had supplied Inglis with some of its machinery. There were lots of photos of Bren gun and HP setups in the files. I believe all that stuff was thrown away some years later when the plant closed.

        • Yes Kevin, this is the way it had been. I do not subscribe this state of affairs to particular slate of politicians, rather this had become (unfortunately) part of Canadian liberal (even Conservatives are liberal) culture. Nobody wants to touch (except of people who go to shooting clubs) on subject of firearms. Who does so regardless, is risking of being looked as unworthy weirdo.

          Gerry Bull was and outstanding figure, totally unfit to this culture. I know quite a bit from what I had heard by people I worked with him. Bull was completely isolated from interest of politics and their implications and sought only his objectives alone. This attitude brought him his American citizenship, but sadly also led him to path of his untimely death.

          When reminiscing the work enthusiasm put into various project by people involved, the sacrifices they had to make in process, the destinies of their own lives and all this coming to vain, bunch of rubble, you must be nothing else than sad.

          • My previous quote:
            “I know quite a bit from what I had heard by people I worked with him.”
            Should read:
            I know quite a bit from what I had heard by people I worked with and who worked for him before.

          • Gerald Bull’s involvement in artillery began because he came up with a plan to fire aerodynamic test models out of a large cannon as a cheaper and more practical alternative to supersonic wind tunnels. He was working for the Canadian government at the time doing aerodynamics research for military aircraft applications. Later developments in wind tunnels made this unnecessary.

            The whole “fire satellites into orbit with a cannon” idea was mainly a cover story. While some people were indeed interested in doing this, his main source of funds came from people (i.e. the US government) who wanted to use it to test the aerodynamics of nuclear warhead re-entry vehicles. Later advances in testing technology made other methods more practical, which is why the program was dropped.

            Bull did later go on to revolutionize conventional artillery before being murdered by (allegedly) the Israelis.

            As for the CF-105 cancellation, that was by Diefenbaker (Conservative) over both cost, and due to pressure from the US who wanted to sell nuclear missiles to Canada instead (those were the days of air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles with nuclear warheads).

            As for the current Canadian arms industry, most of the companies don’t make things that go bang. The big money these days is in things like sensors, satellites, electronics, and gear like that. Most of that stuff is either secret, or it ends up as components in systems made by other countries. Small arms is small beer in today’s arms industry.

            If you want somethings closer to things that go bang, then you can go down to London Ontario and see manufacturers of wheeled armoured vehicles, add-on armour systems, and remote control weapons stations (just as examples of three different companies). You won’t see them though, as they’re not going to let you in the door and hanging around outside would not be a very good idea either.

            Generally though as I said, the industry tends to keep a low profile. There’s not a lot to interest historical firearms collectors though, unless for example you were filling out a collection of British weapons with examples from different countries.

        • Hi, Kevin :

          Interesting that you should mention the ill-fated Avro CF-105 Arrow programme. Noted aviation author Bill Gunston covered an in-depth history and general analysis of the CF-105’s design and development ( as well as its unfortunate demise and the convoluted politics surrounding the programme ) in his book, “Early Supersonic Fighters Of The West” ( Ian Allan Ltd., London ).

          • There are a few good books on the CF-105. Many years ago I met a Briton who had hit the trifecta — he got laid off from the CF-105 in Canada, the TSR-1 in Britain, and the Manned Orbiting Laboratory in the USA.

          • I think you meant the “TSR-2”. As for that trifecta, it must have been a rather dubious honor — yikes!

      • I believe that Canada is pursuing a program for a new pistol, but the condition on the deal is that it must be manufactured at the Colt Canada (Diemaco) plant in Kitchener (they make more than just rifles there, by the way). The plan was to license an existing design from another company, not a new one. The idea is to get CC into the military pistol business. This is a plan by the government, which has selected CC to be their agent in this. It sound reminiscent of the old Inglis deal.

        I don’t know what has happened with this plan lately, it’s quite possible that it’s been cancelled for budgetary reasons.

        The Canadian government has or had a program where they would pay half (or more) of the cost of the manufacturing equipment if the equipment was critical for important arms production. The company could use the equipment for non-military contracts if military demand was slack, but military contracts took precedence if there was a national emergency. I don’t know if this arrangement has recently been cancelled, but I do recall reading in the news about companies who had taken advantage of it. It’s example of the government operating behind the scenes. A private company may nominally own a particular factory, but who actually owns the equipment in the factory is another question (and not one you may not easily get an answer to). The actual arrangements between the Canadian government, Diemaco, and Colt Canada are a very interesting question.

    • Ah, the 20mm Polsten cannon. There was an excellent automatic cannon that has been grossly under-rated. Simpler, lighter and easier to maintain than its Oerlikon forbears, but just as accurate and hard-hitting, and probably even more reliable to boot. The original design team comprised some really talented engineers and technicians from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Great Britain, and they did a very good job.

      There are several websites devoted to the Polsten available on the Internet, and a few of them are as follows :

      1. http://www.anti-aircraft.co.uk/polstenquad.html

      2. http://www.hmvf.co.uk ( these guys are serious collectors of militaria — check out the forums on the Polsten cannon and other weapons and vehicles )

      3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KS7QFJ2M1CA ( this is a short clip of a restored trailerized quad mount from a military museum, probably either in Canada or the UK ).

      I’ve also noticed that the Polsten is often featured in a lot of history-based wargaming and is of interest to many scale modelers too.

      • There was a version of the Centurian tank where a Polsten was mounted coaxial to the 20 pdr main gun. It wasn’t widely adopted, as it took up space in the turret and there weren’t a lot of worthwhile targets for a 20mm.

        • Good point. Yes, I remember looking up the details of that particular installation on the Centurion a long time ago. The French persisted with the idea of a relatively large-caliber co-axial automatic weapon with the AMX-30 MBT ( which also had a 20mm co-axial cannon, except that it was a Hispano gun ). Like virtually every other Western and Eastern Bloc MBT, the AMX-30’s present-day successor, the AMX-56 LeClerc, is fitted instead with a machine gun in the co-axial position ( in this case a 50-cal. M2HB ).

          Apart from space issues and considerations of available ammunition supply with the 20mm cannon, a 12.7mm or 7.62mm ( or equivalent ) MG is more versatile in the co-axial role, able to function as a ranging MG as well as an offensive / defensive weapon with a wide range of readily available ammunition that requires no special handling or logistical arrangements ( and the MG ammunition is nearly always interchangeable with the ammunition used by the infantry for their MG inventory, greatly enhancing logistics ). On-board ammunition supply is obviously much greater with the smaller rounds, and the MG is more useful and efficient against a wider range of targets as the tank’s secondary weapon than an automatic cannon. General reliability is usually better and maintenance requirements are also much simplified.

  7. Inglis made guns for CIA boss William Colby for the Eureupean Stay bihind system in the 50ties. A hidden depo, was recently found in a hidden cellar 50 Km from Copenhagen. There was canadian made stenguns, Iglis High Powers, all wraped in linnen, diped in liqid rubber, all in hundreds. Many of theess depos, still exists all over Europe. In many instances the caretakers, are dead, so they are only found by chance

    • Sorry, my reply to you was accidentally posted to Fidel Feederle. If you may, please look at the post dated August 3, 2013 / 4;47 A.M. Thanks!

    • The stay behind program was very broad (from Norway to Greece), completely independent of NATO (it included at least three non-NATO nations I’m aware of), and very, very secret. Some individual local and national networks were compromised after the fall of the Iron Curtain. (For example, the Gladio circuit in Italy). The stay-behind nets in Holland and Scandinavia were also formally decommissioned, AFAIK.

      Most of the guys undergoing SF weapons training in the 1970s through the early 90s had no idea why so many obsolete weapons and oddball weapons were emphasized. It’s because things like BARs, MP40s, Madsens and Suomis were well represented in the strategic caches which, again, were emplaced in NATO nations, nominally neutral nations, and in a couple of cases in what became Warsaw Pact nations.

      In addition to these caches, other caches were laid down by foreign elements. For example, the Soviets had their own strategic caches for future partisans and/or intelligence officers to exploit in wartime, and Nazi leaders emplaced caches both for the Werwolf program and on the individual initiative of local Gauleiters in the waning days of the war.

      It was not unusual to get a cache-servcicing mission and find that your 10-digit grid coordinate was now under an autobahn interchange or pharmaceutical factory. It was also not unusual to pull a cache and discover that water intrusion had damaged, even ruined, the equipment. Properly prepared weapons caches can last a very long time, but communications gear and medical equipment don’t. (To put it another way, a BAR has more combat utility today than an SCR-11).

      As far as I know, caches that were now in what had become denied area (for example, Bohemia) were still kept on file but were not serviced for obvious reasons.

  8. Once again my congratulations for the results of your research; being a former gm in various companies and being a specialist in marketing research, I have no words to express my wonder about the way (and the efforts) it takes to carry out such reports…
    All in all, I wish to add that Bren was a fantastic LMG supported by:

    Bren= Brno-Enfield, the Czech firearms genius significantly contributed to the development of this LMG which has served in the British Forces until a very short while ago

    I do not know how many of you N.American fellows are aware of the Czech ability (best in the world) to steel hardening, but the legend says that Bren barrels, which steel alloy was made and hardened by Czechs, allowed gunners to cool down the barrel in whatwever was there i.e. water, snow, ice and keep shooting…
    despite of the various machine guns needful to change the barrel after a number of rounds shot…

    Two years ago my dearest friend past away, he was 89 (I am 55 now) he was born 1922 in Pola, Istria peninsula, founded by venetians like myself 5 centuries ago; in 1922 Istria was Italian territory, his father still born there in 1900 when it was Austria. His father was enrolled in the Austrian-Hungarian Imperial Navy the last months of WW1 and told me so many stories about the Imperial Navy Arsenal (refurbished from pre-exhisting Venetian’s); one of these stories was told about the hardening of the steel plates used to reinforce the side-walls of the heavy battle-ships: the “Boehms” (Czechs – or Slovakians) were called for this hardening !
    As soon as the “Bohems” arrived in the melting pot room in the foundry, they poured a powder in the melting pot (a giant one) causing a huge smoky cloud, everyone would flow out, whilst they remained inside, doing the job and just leaving afterwords a secret processing !

    Still now most of the lathe knives sold worldwide are hardened by the Czechs with the famous super-rapid hardening, still secret and said to be carried out with ice…

    I am grateful for this opportunity of sharing with you all a bit of European history.

    Normann
    of Venice

    • Thank you for sharing an interesting story, and I am very sorry to hear about your good friend. I suppose we all have to go sometime, but it sounds as if he lived a long and rich life, which is something to be thankful for.

      I believe there are several of us on this web site who own various Czech-made firearms, and I will personally vouch for their metallurgy, general quality, fit and finish, which is second to none. The Czechs’ technological skills in metal-working and metallurgy for large and small weapons systems, including naval armor, is widely-known and respected.

    • By the way, the tempering process you are referring to regarding knife blades is probably a variation of a cryogenic hardening technique.

    • Great comment, Normann. I recall Pola as the scene of an incredible Italian Naval special operation in World War I that sank the Austro-Hungarian battle cruiser “Viribus Unitis”.

      I concur with Earl on the quality of Bohemian/Czech weapons. My trusty 1980s-vintage CZ-75 is practically a member of the family, as well as a wartime teammate, and still resisting replacement by a Glock.

      The Czechs were the armorers of the Habsburg empire. They also have world-class skills in optics and aircraft design and production.

      • I concur — very observant comments. No offense to all the Glock enthusiasts out there ( it is a very good pistol ), but if I ever chose to replace a CZ-75, I would do so with another, newer-model CZ-75 such as the SP-01 version. Just my personal take.

        And Swarovski optics — expensive as all get out, but they are just about the best of the best.

        The Aero L-29 Delfin? An absolute gem of an aircraft — fast and stable yet supremely maneuverable with a very wide speed range at any altitude, extremely responsive and linear on the controls, forgiving of gross pilot error, rugged, capable of unprepared rough-field operations, simple and easy to maintain with a minimum of support, and supremely adaptable to boot. A very good lesson in aircraft design for anyone who cares to look into it.

        • Interesting discussion on Czech metalurgy and arms manufacture prowess, gentleman.
          Just a small note, Earl: Swarovski is an Austrian company, not Czech.

    • This is quite intriguing reading Normann.

      From what I know as a person originating in that part of Europe is that Czechs were imbued with talents related to arms technology as one of the best in Europe. This was by great deal thru the fact that during Austro-Hungarian Empire they were part of, much of armament industry (e.g. Skoda Plzen) was placed there as well as some steel making facilities (e.g. Poldi Kladno) and these catered to the defence needs of the Empire. Naturally, as the Empire ceased to exist in 1918, the new country afterwards used those skills.

      However, in general overview, I would not subscribed them with some ‘supernatural’ proves – they are just part of larger European tradition. Today, it is mostly in memories of people who in live memory stories like yourself and your dear friend did.

  9. Yes, it is terribly sad and regrettable that so much talent and hard work in a life, any life, could be so wasted because of external forces. Unfortunately, it is, and will probably always be, a part of the human condition. We can only hope to recognize the pitfalls for what they are, and try to prevent, avoid or neutralize them as best as we can.

    It’s also an anomaly that while little is publicly said about the Canadian armaments industry, and that the Canadian Government sometimes goes so far as to disavow said industry ( as you, Kevin, MG and others have mentioned ), on a per-capita basis Canadians are some of the most prolific firearms owners in the world. I know that one major contributing factor is the robust Canadian love of the outdoors, including hunting and shooting, but I think it is still an interesting thing to consider.

  10. Re: Bull. Yeah, he originally had the idea to use the gun to simulate aerodynamics of reentry. Some of that work is probably still classified. (He never had a Q clearance so he never worked on nuclear weapons per se, but he did work on “shapes.”) That’s what got him interested in guns.

    The satellite launch was hardly a cover. In fact, that’s what his two big guns (Babylon Project and Baby Babylon) for the Iraqis were meant to do. They had no utility as weapons (well, maybe as a FOBS launch system, but that’s a technical nut Iraq was decades from being able to crack). The Iraqis had become hooked on satellite intel when the US was sharing it during the Iran-Iraq war; they wanted to launch satellites for the Arab-world prestige, but also to be able to launch LEO ISR satellites. A gun-launched sat has limits, obviously (it must be hardened for acceleration, although acceleration required goes down as gun size goes up, and the satellite must fit the bore). But it also has benefits — rapid relaunches and multiple launches no existing rocket system can do.

    I don’t have my half-written article in front of me but the calibers were, IIRC, 1 meter and 65 cm respectively. Both had orbital potential and used very interesting technology. Both were only partially delivered, and the initial installations were going to be horizontal RDT&E guns.

    With the 7-inch and 16-inch guns he actually fired under HARP, what he could do was replace sounding rockets into lower space, with a high degree of precision in both placing the projo in space and in an impact/recovery area. In the sixties, he never got a rocket-propelled “second stage” going reliably.

    His later artillery work was to pay the bills, but it was quite revolutionary in its own way. Everybody uses ERFB shells now, for example. He had lousy judgment about who to work for, but then again, Canada and the USA rejected him. When the US changed policy vis-a-vis South Africa and Angola in 1977, he wound up imprisoned for something the USG had asked him to do in the first place.

    The satellite launch by gun will not die, because it’s a good idea, but VERY hard to do. (Gun or rocket, suborbital space is easy. Escape velocity is a bear). DARPA spent some $7B on it in the nineties and early oughts. Bull proposed a gun but they went with a different technology (methane/hydrogen gas versus powder propelled) from LLNL instead. They called this SHARP, “Super” HARP. The LLNL gun was a horizontal gun and has been used only for hypersonic research and development AFAIK. It all is built on Bull and Murphy’s math from the early sixties, though. The LLNL guy was running a company trying to fundraise for satellite launch in the early oughts. It appears defunct now.

    As far as the Canadian arms industry — they’re a smaller player than Israel or Austria, countries with less than a third of Canada’s population. They have political issues with export controls, which can go in a single election from much laxer than US or EU to Switzerland-strict. There is a strong strain in Canadian politics which seems to admire Swiss neutrality (and Canada, like Switzerland, has really no worries about external invasion). There is another internationalist strain that puts Canadians in the forefront of trying to right the wrongs in the world. There’s the whole sibling rivalry with the US thing.

    • Yes, it was the Canadian GC-45 howitzer ( and its GHN-45 derivative used by Iraq ) as well as similar or related 155mm howitzers developed for and/or adopted in South Africa, Austria and also possibly Finland and a few other smaller nations that first made successful use of ERFB projectile technology. I seem to recall that the improved ERFB-BB ( Base-Bleed ) and RAP rounds followed fairly soon thereafter, then everyone else woke up and followed suit.

    • I would say that the only misjudgement Bull made in who he worked for, was to work for the US government.

      I think everyone can agree that Hussein was better than what has replaced him.

      South African farmers certainly could do the same.

  11. Apologies for the comment hijack, but here’s a link to a paper, in part by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory guy I mentioned above, John Hunter.
    http://techdigest.jhuapl.edu/td/td2003/gilreath.pdf

    It’s dated (1999) but note that his “distributed injectors” are closely akin to the multiple precisely-timed chambers used in the Hochdruckpumpe or V-3 of WWII.

    Bull used fin-stabilized discarding sabot projectiles to get the MV and BC he needed (he achieved MVs of over 7,000 fps). Because the fins lost their effectiveness as the projectile exited the troposphere, he also used spin stabilization, imparted by a typically Bull low-cost method: a simple bevel on the fins! Evacuating the bore of the 16-inch smoothbore gun produced a small (200 fps) increase in MV. The Hunter design has to have an evacuated bore for other reasons.

  12. @ R. Aballe :

    Thanks for the correction — I really had a blank moment there :)! This is what comes of writing when one is tired. Apologies to all concerned.

    And I forgot to mention the Aero L-39 Albatros — like the Delfin, but even more of the same in a really neat newer-generation design.

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