16th-Century Manual Calls for “Rocket Cats”

Bring on the rocket cats!

Fanciful illustrations from a circa-1530 manual on artillery and siege warfare seem to show jet packs strapped to the backs of cats and doves.

Digitized by the University of Pennsylvania, the unusual, full-color illustrations recently caught the attention of an Australian book blog and then found their way to Penn researcher Mitch Fraas, who set out to unravel the mystery.

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He says the manual's German-language text advises military commanders to use cats and birds to deliver explosives to enemy territory.

The idea was to capture a cat from an enemy castle or village, attach a bomb to its back and light the fuse. The cat was then supposed to run back home and start a fire.

Fraas says there's no evidence the “harebrained scheme” was ever used.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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