What are seemingly jet-propelled cats and birds doing in a 16th century German artillery manual?
Mitch Fraas of the University of Pennsylvania says, "I had never seen anything like this before."
Recently digitized by the University of Pennsylvania, the fanciful illustrations caught the attention of Penn researcher Mitch Fraas (frahs'). He set out to unravel the mystery of the so-called "rocket cat."
Fraas says the manual's German-language text advises military commanders to use cats and birds to deliver explosives to enemy territory.
Frass explains, "There are these basically explosive satchels you'd strap to a cat or a bird, light a fuse, and then send them on their way into a besieged city in the hopes it would set the city on fire. Sort of a harebrained scheme."
So were weaponized cats and birds actually used in early modern warfare?
Fraas responds, "I really doubt this was ever put into practice. It seems like a really terrible idea."
It appears rocket cat and rocket bird never got off the ground!