Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions - War machines

Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions - War machines

Leonardo also designed a wide variety of artillery weapons.

Visual Arts

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  • barrel mouth
  • barrel
  • adjustment arch
  • pivot
  • crank
  • rope
  • anchor
  • leather cover
  • metal balls
  • base
  • trestle
  • projectile

Mortar (around 1504)

The mortar was not invented by Leonardo, it had been in military use for centuries previously.

The novelty of Leonardo's mortar was that he designed a leather sac filled with metal shrapnel or metal balls to be used as a projectile. When the leather sac explodes, its contents would scatter over a much larger area, causing greater damage in the ranks of the enemy.

Multi-barrelled machine gun

  • operating T-bar
  • main rotating mechanism
  • wheel
  • barrel
  • loading door

Multi-barrelled machine gun (around 1482)

Among Leonardo's sketches of military equipment there are several plans for rapid-firing weapons. One of these was a fan-shaped, multi-barrelled machine gun. According to the master's plans, projectiles could have been fired from the barrels one by one or all at the same time.


  • barrel
  • projectiles
  • horizontal adjustment plate
  • carriage
  • elevation adjustment frame

Spingarde (around 1482)

Many of Leonardo's military inventions were cannons. One of the most important (although less spectacular) sketches was that of a breech-loading cannon. Leonardo's innovation was its greater mobility and an adjustable carriage.

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Cannon operation (18th century)

The cannon was an important type of firearms at the beginning of modern history, widespread both on land and water.

Naval cannon (17th century)

Cannons also appeared in naval warfare.

Wheel of fire

The defenders of Eger Castle invented a lethal weapon, a water wheel packed with gunpowder and oil, which proved effective against the Ottoman besiegers in...

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