The trouble with cat rockets

The CIA did not invent the concept of coming up with ludicrous, flaw-filled ways to kill someone. Around 1530, artillery master Franz Helm of Cologne wrote a treatise on gunpowder-enhanced warfare that featured suggestions for (and illustrations of) bombs and rockets carried on the backs of birds or cats. Scholars generally agree none of these ideas ever came to fruition. If, for no other reason, than an animal-carried bomb is liable to set your own camp on fire, rather than that of the enemy.

From the Helm document: "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."

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