In life, we sometimes come across people who excel at most everything, and Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most incredible examples. Talented artist, ingenious inventor and revolutionary scientist are just some of the titles the great Da Vinci held during his 67-year long life.
And while Da Vinci lived a handful of centuries before we were even thought of, it is many of his forward-thinking prototypes that have provided the foundation for the most innovative inventions in recent memory.
Forever fascinated by the possibility of flight, Da Vinci spent much of his time thinking up ways to get mankind in the air–and perhaps more importantly, how to get them back down safely. Eventually, he came up with the first-ever parachute; a wooden pyramid structure draped with a piece of cloth that would slow down a person’s terminal velocity as they fell to earth. As Da Vinci himself wrote, it allowed man to “throw himself down from any great height without suffering any injury.”
A razor-sharp mind might be a nation’s best national defense mechanism, so it should come as no surprise that Da Vinci’s was employed by the military to find ways of increasing its chances in warfare.
Originally designed as a way of warding off invading ships, Da Vinci’s diving suit would allow men to engage in a little underwater sabotage by cutting holes in the bottom of the enemy’s hull. Unfortunately, the design, complete with breathing hose and glass goggles, wasn’t needed at the time and would only find itself submerged in planning stages.
Yet another of his dastardly warfare designs, Da Vinci was the first person to design an armored tank. While working for the Duke of Milan, he created an armored war machine, complete with 36 guns to be driven by eight men. In theory, it was virtually invincible.
However, the diagram contained an error: the gears caused the front and back wheels to move in opposite directions. Incredibly, historians doubt that it was an error made by mistake; rather, they believe it might have been a strategic design tactic that rendered Da Vinci himself as the only person who could properly assemble the tank, thus keeping the tank out of enemy hands.