Fog of War

Illustration from 16th century German munitions handbook 'Feuer Bech'.

Illustration from 16th century German munitions handbook ‘Feuer Bech’.

We’ve all heard of the fog of war. It seems to me, however, that the following illustration demonstrates how the imaginations of mediaeval German military engineers once got totally out of hand. Appearing in a 16th century handbook on explosives–in which canon-loading and munitions are amply illustrated–this drawing was laconically titled ‘Cat and Bird with Rocket Packs’ by researchers…

Would you be afraid if you saw one of these headed your way? Or would you be laughing too hard?

See the rest of the illustrations from this University of Pennsylvania digital manuscript (pro tip: use the ‘Illustrations’ drop-down navigation menu!)

7 thoughts on “Fog of War

    • I know! It reminds me both of the ancient tactic of driving burning pigs at elephants to spook them (which is horrible) and the (equally horrible) attempt by US forces in WWII to use bats with bomb-laden waistcoats to attack Japanese cities! (The rational was that they would be released near settled areas near dawn and the bats would be forced to roost before detonation.)

      Thankfully, most of the animal-attack attempts I know of (the Russians also tried to train dogs to blow up tanks) backfired rather satisfyingly on those who attempted them.

      • I cant remeber which saga it was, but wasn’t there one wehre a viking queen waged a campaign against russia, and she had her men catch sparrows during the day, tie hot embers to thier feet then send them home to roost in the city at dusk so they set fire to the place?

  1. I just find it extremely horrifying. If humans want to make war, go ahead. Why involve innocent animals in it? As it is, accounts of horses and elephants in war make me teary eyed. They did not choose to go to war, so why did they suffer so much? It’s just horrible!😦

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