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17 September 2014
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War machines
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When Leonardo offered his services to the Duke of Milan, one of his selling points was his ability to build machines of war. This page shows two of his most famous designs.

His armoured car was designed to go into battle ahead of foot soldiers. Its shell was re-enforced with metal plates containing holes that the occupants could fire weapons through. The machine was powered by eight men, who moved cranks to turn the wheels. Leonardo also toyed with the idea of using horses to drive the machine, but decided they would panic in the enclosed space.

One interesting feature of this design is that it contains a flaw. As Leonardo has drawn it, the wheels would have turned in opposite directions, making the tank undrivable. This could have been because Leonardo was a pacifist, and did not want to see his ideas put to use, or it could have been to stop other people stealing his idea. On the other hand, it could simply have been a mistake.

The other sketch on this page shows one of Leonardo's designs for a scythed chariot. The blades were intended to slice the limbs from its victims.
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War machines
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Look For - The dismembered corpses that surround Leonardo's chariot. It was typical of him to include such figures in his drawings of war machines.

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More from

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Go further

Leonardo: The Man, His Machines
About Leonardo's Tank

Leonardo: The Man, His Machines
About Leonardo's chariots

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