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Just a couple hundreds of years ago, they didn’t have laser injectors, tractor beams, and shock-wave cannons. In history, you were lucky to get your hands on a crappy, single-shot rifle. But throughout most of human history, the ancient weaponry you usually found yourself with in battle was maybe a sword or a bow.


That is, unless you lived in the 1300’s in China. If you did, you might find yourself being shot with a semi-long range exploding missile. Sure, the missile was made out of bamboo and monkey bones or something, but they actually did make and successfully a missile-type thing back then. And no, no one has a picture of it.

ancient missile
But we hope it looked like this

They called it the Flying Crow with Magic Fire. Their inspiration came from fire-birds, which were literally just birds with bags of burning embers. When the birds were released near enemy cities or encampments, the embers would burn through the bags and start massive fires.
As you might imagine, using birds as your primary source of military offense had its drawbacks (bird poop). So the Chinese went ahead and made their own birds. They actually did disguise them by making them in the shape of birds. Although if something is on fire and blasting toward you out of the sky, were pretty sure you would figure out its not actually a bird.

 

burning house

“What a peculiar bird! It flew straight into my house and exploded in flames”

The missile was actually made out of bamboo frames and paper skin, and each one contained an explosive fire-thing. They could launch them into the air like a rocket, and they had a range of about 1,000 feet, which is pretty decent for 700 years ago. This technology wouldn’t be used again for another 600 years, and nobody has made a bird-shaped missile since.