Catapult Plans from Middle Age Models to Modern Toys

Catapult plans are as diverse as the great weapons of siege themselves.

From basic toy, sling shot-type catapults to replicas of the great trebuchets, the plans vary in complexity, but the result is generally the same – providing the ability to propel objects over distances.

Plans for catapults are readily available on the Internet and range from those that would result in tiny, toothpick models, to those that would serve a reenactor well. Catapult plans, too, can easily be found for creating science or history projects. These scaled down models offers a great illustration of the larger versions used in warfare for centuries.

For the smaller catapults, all that’s necessary is a small amount of materials, including rubber bands, a few pieces of wood, nails and string.

Life size replicas of the actual siege engines are a bit more complex. For example, catapult plans for a ballista, an early Greek catapult thought to have been invented in the 300s BC, would call for rope, lots of wood, nails, nuts, bolts, a triggering mechanism, a cord and, of course, a projectile or two.

In the ballista, plans would require the ropes to be twisted heavily to create a propulsion force known as torsion. This model operates similar to a crossbow in that two wooden arms are inserted horizontally into the twisted ropes with a single cord attached to both arms, which is used to pull back the arms against the force of the ropes. When loaded and released, the ballista can shoot an object, such as a spear, a greater distance than a human thrower.

Similar in design to the ballista, catapult plans for the mangonel operate with the use of tightly twisted ropes. The mangonel, however, only requires one wooden arm. The arm of this catapult is inserted vertically into the ropes. To operate, the arm is pulled down, loaded and released. Catapult plans for the mangonel, if historically accurate, would also call for a wooden barrier to be built. The arm, when pulled down, hits the barrier and causes a projectile to be released. This model, due to the barrier design in its catapult plans, is not renowned for pinpoint accuracy.

Catapult plans for more complex models, such as the great trebuchets require either human muscle or counterpoise/gravity propulsion. Trebuchets call for a long wooden arm to rest on a pivot point, which acts as a large lever. A projectile is placed on one end of this catapult, and people pull on ropes attached to the other end to essentially swing the arm around and hurl the stone.

More advanced catapult plans for a trebuchet call for a counterweight rather than muscles to provide the energy. In these versions, people pull down against the counterweight, load the missile and release the arm.

Whatever type of catapult plans a person may desire, there is a wealth of information available on the Internet and in books on their varying designs.


More information related to the subject catapult plans:

Go to the main Medieval Catapults page.

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