16 January 2017

Shen Zhuan Huo Qiu Che (神轉火毬車)

Ming Chinese Da Vinci Tank
Drawing of a Shen Zhuan Huo Qiu Che, from 'Yu Zi Shi San Zhong Mi Shu Bing Heng (《喻子十三種秘書兵衡》)'.
Shen Zhuan Huo Qiu Che (神轉火毬車, lit. 'Divine spinning fire sphere wagon') is a ridiculous-looking war wagon designed to offer complete protection to its passenger. It is presumably a normal, four-wheeled wagon covered by a dome-shaped outer shell made of hide- or felt-covered wood. The surface of the dome is painted with the likeness of tiger on four sides, and contains numerous coverable gun loops, peepholes as well as sharpened spikes, plus a curtain that is hanged from the dome to cover the wheels. As the wagon does not contain any entrance, one must crawl under the curtain in order to ride it.

Shen Zhuan Huo Qiu Che is equipped with numerous firearms, flamethrowers, and smoke launchers to be used as a intimidate/psychological weapon. Owing to its relatively small size and concealed wheels, it can also be camouflaged with hay or mud and employed in ambush.

One notable feature of Shen Zhuan Huo Qiu Che is that it is powered by a hand-cranked mechanism from the inside, effectively making it a Chinese answer to the world famous Leonardo da Vinci's Tank. Unfortunately, this also means that the weapon is about as practical as Leonardo's design (which is to say, not very much).

Da Vinci Tank
Leonardo da Vinci's armoured wagon, from 'Codice Arundel'.

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