Scythed chariot - by Leonardo da Vinci

This is one of Leonardo's most famous war machine drawings, in pen and ink and wash, which foresees the advent of the tank or armoured car. The scythed chariot is reminiscent of Boadicea and her chariots, but vastly more sophisticated. The four whirling scythes in front of the horses would render infantry ineffective to attack or stop the chariot. The wheels and scythes behind would wreak havoc and protect the rider from attack in the rear. It was quite a deadly war machine, but was probably never made.

The tank is even more fascinating. The sloping armour was to prevent missiles from damaging the machine. As there was room for eight men underneath to drive it and fire through the portholes, it would have been difficult to stop and almost impossible to attack the crew. It was designed to break up enemy formations, which no doubt it would have succeeded in doing. Military interest in this particular form of armoured car did not revive until World War I. Once again Leonardo puts new ideas together that demonstrate his understanding of how; to harness knowledge for practical purposes.