01 – Da Vinci’s Tank Design and Story

Lazy to read? Watch my 3D animation here.

About Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo di Ser Piero da Vinci was a gifted Italian architect, sculptor, painter and inventor. He was a versatile genius with a wide range of interests and knowledge, as evidenced by the fact that he helped, among other things, to develop scientific disciplines such as anatomy and astronomy.

As no one is born a master, even a gifted genius like da Vinci makes mistakes and military technology evolved hand in hand with other science. Let’s take a look at one of them now. And that’s DaVinci’s tank.


This model was created according to the original DaVinci drawing while maintaining the original proportions.

Since there are no dimensions given by DaVinci, I chose the crank as the starting point and I adjusted the size of the tank so that the soldier was able to turn it.

It’s not perfect, but it is the best size if I didn’t want to change the original proportions of the tank.

I know two facts about the number of soldiers needed to move the tank. One is that da Vinci needed four soldiers, two on each of the two cranks. The second variant speaks about 8 soldiers, 4 on each of the two cranks. Based on the weight of the tank, even 8 soldiers wouldn’t be enough, but based on the size, we must go with two soldiers on each crank.

Da Vincis Fighting Vehicle Poster Wallpaper
Da Vincis Fighting Vehicle Poster Wallpaper


The chassis and drive mechanism weighs about one ton. According to the original drawing, the tank has 32 cannons, that together weigh more than 8 tons. Cannons from this time period were loaded from the front, so it would be impossible to load them during battle. Therefore, let’s assume that they are loaded and only four artillerymen are enough to fire them. The crew also doesn’t need to carry cannonballs and gunpowder, which saves weight. The roof of the tank weighs about 800 kg. So together the weight of the tank including the crew is about 10 tons.

Drive Mechanism

Design Flaw

Another problem is the overall design of the drive mechanism. According to the original drawing, the wheels would rotate in opposite directions. Experts on da Vinci’s work assume that he drew it that way on purpose so that his invention would not be misused by the wrong people.

Da Vincis Fighting Vehicle design flaw

Let’s look at ways to fix this.

Solution 1

Cut the handle, which would allow each wheel to turn independently. But this is not the same as when two soldiers control two wheels together. The problem is the loss of power due to poor synchronization and the increased possibility of one wheel getting stuck on an obstacle. In our case, this is still just a theoretical possibility, because two soldiers will not fit on one crank.

Da Vincis Fighting Vehicle design flaw solution 1

Soilution 2

The second option is to narrow the front axle and turn the wheels the way that the drive wheel of the transmission powers the driven wheel from the opposite side, thus achieving the same speed for all wheels.

Da Vincis Fighting Vehicle design flaw solution 2

Solution 3

The easiest and fastest way to fix it would be to extend the rear of the axle to reach the correct part of the wheel.

Da Vincis Fighting Vehicle design flaw solution 3


Another problem is darkness. Almost nothing is visible in the interior. The only source of light at that time was a fire. I don’t know about you, but I really wouldn’t want to be on the battlefield in a wooden tank lit by candles or torches.


This battle machine has many problems, some can be fixed, some cannot. It should be kept in mind that da Vinci has built more complex machines. This is just a sketch and he didn’t actually build the tank. He probably knew that it didn’t make sense, because at that time there was nothing that could power something so large and at the same time be hidden in the bowels of the tank and safe from enemy attacks.

Author: shubol3d