Diving Gear

Diving equipment had been fascinating inventors long before Leonardo came up with his ideas. Early inventors designed various impractical diving bells while the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries saw diving suits starting to appear. As early as 1447 divers were used to raise sunken Roman galleys.

Leonardo worked to improve on what was already around and several of his designs were quite modern in appearance. Of course, his thoughts were how this equipment could be used in times of war, rather than peace. Alongside his famous diving suit he drew a device intended for holing enemy ships. The suit itself had a coiled armour plate designed to prevent compression of the chest; this was attached to a sealed tunic.

Elsewhere are drawings for a suit of boots and trousers, with the necessary built-in 'convenience'. Breathing gear consisted of a floating dome of cork which served as a buoy; from this strengthened tubes led down to an intake/outake valve. Leonardo also came up with webbed gloves which are very similar to the flippers now used by frogmen.

Water Floats

Leonardo also searched for efficient buoyancy devices, designing a set of shoes and sticks which are similar to modern day skiing equipment. He thought they would allow men to walk on water, however Leonardo was not thinking in terms of a leisure time activity. Rather, his consideration was their potential during wartime, when soldiers needed ways to cross small bodies of water.