The scientific tourist #194 — da Vinci’s tank

This week’s image is from a traveling exhibition in Florence, Italy — it’s a model of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Armored Car” (tank) concept:

Armored Car (i.e., tank)

The idea of an armored vehicle for warfare goes back to at least the middle ages — but da Vinci’s may well be the first nearly-practical one. In this incarnation, the machine would have been moved by men working cranks, with some other crew members firing (and somehow reloading) the craft’s breach-loading weapons.

This model was built by an Italian family-owned company under the banner of “Le Macchine di Leonardo,” billed as the world’s largest collection of da Vinci machines. But you can likely find a similar (if less comprehensive) exhibition in any of a number of places — I’ve seen life-size versions of this craft that you can climb into. Well worth a look, if you get a chance!

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