Nowadays, when America needs to smack down a belligerent country, or maybe just kill some folks who pissed us off, we use drones or stealth bombers. People didn't have those options in the 1530s, so they planned for an alternative: rocket cats.
The Associated Press has a neat story on a recently-discovered 16th century manual on artillery and siege warfare that show jet pack-like devices strapped to the backs of birds and cats, touted as being able to "set fire to a castle or city which you can't get at otherwise."
The manual was penned by artillery master Franz Helm of Cologne and was full of designs for terrible weapons like bombs packed with shrapnel and spike-studded explosives.
The book was recently translated and digitized by University of Pennsylvania historian Mitch Fraas, who said the designs were never actually put to use, but sketched to show their awesome peasant rebellion-quelling and castle-burning potential.
According to Fraas' translation, Helm explained how animals could be used to deliver incendiary devices: "Create a small sack like a fire-arrow . if you would like to get at a town or castle, seek to obtain a cat from that place. And bind the sack to the back of the cat, ignite it, let it glow well and thereafter let the cat go, so it runs to the nearest castle or town, and out of fear it thinks to hide itself where it ends up in barn hay or straw it will be ignited."
You were a sick dude, Franz Helm.
Of course, Fraas said the more likely outcome is that the animals would run away, or possibly come back and set your own camp on fire.
Rocket cats! Can't count on 'em for anything.
Photos credit AP
Hat tip to Muffin!