Leonardo’s inspiration for the design of, for want of a better word, a tank, was the shell of the great turtle.
The tank’s cover, vaguely reminiscent of a turtle shell, was reinforced with metal plates slanted to deflect enemy fire. The sighting turret coordinated the firing of the cannons and the steering of the vehicle.
His invention, designed to move in any direction, as long as it was on even ground, was equipped with light cannons arranged on a circular platform on wheels to allow for a 360-degree firing range. Eight men inside could turn cranks to spin the wheels. Leonardo considered using horses but feared the animals might panic in a confined space.
The cranks went in opposite directions making the tank unworkable. It is inconceivable Leonardo was unaware of the engineering flaw. It was almost certainly intentional. A pacifist, he might have sabotaged his design to discourage the war machine from being built.
Visitors can go inside a life size mock up when they visit Château du Clos Lucé, Leonardo’s old home.
Read more about Leonardo da Vinci and his connection with the Loire Valley in Leonardo da Vinci: The Amboise Connection (available from Amazon).
The book was written to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death in 1519 at Clos Lucé, Amboise, France where he spent the last three years of his life.
Leonardo’s life began with his illegitimacy in Florence, fame and success in Milan, public humiliation in Rome and ended as the close friend of the most powerful king in Europe.
Post by Pamela
Pamela, a Graduate and Tutor in the History of Art, trained as a magazine journalist at the London College of Printing and has been a freelance writer for over twenty years. She has a passion for history and has published several books on various subjects. Click hear to see all of Pamela’s books.