Ballista Plans – Greek Ingenuity At Work

Ballista plans range in complexity from the very basic to the very involved. Materials lists range from those keeping in tune with their ancient roots with great attention paid to authentic reconstruction to those requiring more modern materials such as plastic and bungee cords.

Believed to have been created in the 300s BC by engineers in the employ of Phillip of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great, ballistas mark the beginning of catapult-type machines of war. They were followed by ever improving models created across the globe.

These machines dominated the siege scene well into the 14th century. In fact, a later advancement on the original ballista, catapult concept, the trebuchet even had a version commissioned by Napoleon III in the 1800s.

The earliest plans called for models that could shoot simple, lightweight items such as spears, and other projectiles, across distances humans could not throw. Ballista plans are very similar in theory to that used in designing a bolt-shooting crossbow.

Ballista plans whether complex or simple, generally call for a model similar to that credited for the Greeks.

To create a ballista, or ballista-type launcher, plans call for tightly twisted ropes, or in some modernized plans bungee cords. Regardless of the actual rope type called for, ballista plans, if true to initial design, call for the ropes to be tightly twisted to create a tension force known as torsion to assist in the launch of the projectile of choice.

In Greek type plans, two wooden arms are constructed and inserted horizontally into the tightly twisted ropes. Most plans call for some type of platform, either stationary or mobile.

Once a base and the ropes and arms are in place, a cord is attached to both arms and is used to pull back against the force of the ropes. Some ballista plans call for more modernized triggering mechanisms, some even suggesting common fence gate-type latches.

Once construction is complete, a ballista will hurl a projectile, such as a spear, through the air by the force created when the tightly wound ropes are released.

In addition to complexity, plans also vary for the size of the finished product. Available blueprints range from those that would result in full-size models true to historic form to desktop, scaled-down models even some made out of toothpicks.

Ballista plans are readily available on the Internet, some coming at a price, others offered free of charge for scaled down versions, such as those created in school projects.

Whatever their complexity or completed size, ballista plans when followed create replicas of the mighty machines that dominated siege warfare for centuries. The basic concept behind the ballista and other catapults has been honed and improved since its creation to birth such later models as the trebuchet and even more modernized versions based on similar principles, such as the modern air-craft launcher.


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