The Catapult (With a
catapult was usually fitted with an arm that had a hollow or cup at
its upper end in which was placed the stone it projected.1
I find, however, that the original and more perfect form of this engine,
as employed by the Greeks and ancient Romans, had a sling
, made of rope and leather, attached to its arm.2 (Fig. 1. opposite
The addition of a sling
to the arm of a catapult increases it power by at least a third. For example,
the catapult described in Chapters LV., LVI., of my book,3 will
throw a round stone 8 lbs. in weight, from 350 to 360 yards, but the same
engine with the advantage of a sling to its arm will cast the 8-lb. stone
from 450 to 460 yards, and when its skein is twisted to its limit of tension
to nearly 500 yards.
If the upper end of the arm of a catapult is shaped into a cup to receive
the stone, as shown in figs. 187, 192, pp. 267, 277 of ' The
Crossbow ', the arm is, of necessity, large and heavy at this part.
If, on the other hand, the arm is equipped with a sling
, as shown in fig. 1, opposite page, it can be tapered from its butt end
upwards, and is then much lighter and recoils with far more speed than
an arm that has an enlarged extremity for holding it missile.
When the arm is fitted with a sling
, it is practically lengthened by as much as the length of the sling attached
to it, and this, too, without any appreciable increase in its weight.
The longer the arm of a catapult, the longer is its sweep through the
air, and thus the farther will it cast its projectile, provided it is not
of undue weight.
1 See The
Crossbow , ect., Chapters LV., LVI., illustrations 193 to 202.
2 In medieval
times catapults which had not
cast great stones, but only to a short distance in comparison with the
earlier weapons of the same kind that were equipped with slings. I can
find no allusions or pictures to show that during this period any engine
was used with a sling except the trebuchet, a post roman invention. all
evidence goes to prove that the secret of making the skein and other important
parts of the catapult was in great measure lost within a couple of centuries
after the Romans copied the weapon from their conquered enemies the Greeks,
with the result that the trebuchet was introduced for throwing stones.
The catapult was gradually superseded as the art of its
construction was neglected, and its efficiency in sieges was therefrom
The catapults of the fifth and sixth centuries were inferior
to those described by Josephus being used at the sieges of Jerusalem and
Jotapata (A.D. 70, A.D. 67).
Crossbow , etc.