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 Appendix   >  Book of the Crossbow    >  Ancient Projectile Engines    >  Catapult Sling   > p.11

Table of Contents List of Illustrations Index Appendix

 The Catapult (With a Sling)

The medieval 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 page.).

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 slings 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 decreased.

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).

3 The Crossbow , etc.


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