Monday, August 4, 2008

What's The Difference Between a Catapult and a Trebuchet?

Don't deny it. You've been sitting there for hours, possibly days, wondering what the difference is between a catapult and a trebuchet. It has consumed you, turning you into a hermit, and your friends and family are concerned. Well load the stones and grease the gears, and I'm here to help! Here is the difference, basically:

- Catapults are any device that throws an object, although it commonly refers to the medieval siege weapon.

- Trebuchets are a TYPE of catapult, using gravity (with a counterweight) or traction (men pulling down), to propel the arm and often employing a sling at the end of the arm for greater distance. This is different from other catapults in that it doesn't use built up tension for it's throwing force.

I know, I know, there's more to it, Mr. Fancy Pants. This is a just quick fix - I'm trying to save you from a life of hermitry.

Here is a cool animation of a trebuchet -

If you want to see different types in recent films, watch the Return of the King - during the siege of Minas Tirith the Orcs use tension catapults (mangonels for the nerds) and the men use trebuchets. Also, in "King Arthur", the woads use traction trebuchets (men pulling down) - plus Keira Knightley is in a leather strap outfit (who needs historical accuracy?).

So now you know. Try not to launch pianos into your neighbor's lawn.

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kat said...

Very cool and informative. I did not know anything about trebuchets. Fun annimation to watch, and good to know where to see catapults and trebuchets in action. I guess the folks who made them for the films got to show how they work and see Keira!?kat

Anonymous said...

Here are some great kits, simulators and plans-

Awesome machines!

Steph said...

Thanks! Excellent concise explanation. By the way, I live in the Shenandoah Valley, too. :)

Anonymous said...

cool thanks for the info

Anonymous said...

Your site was a great help as I was discussing this with my wife as we were watching "Wrath of the titans". Thanks!

TheBigOne said...

One thing that bothers me is that a lot of fantasy films get Trebuchets and Catapults confused where they show the Trebuchets being movable when in fact they are not BUT Catapults are movable but throw regular sized rocks MUCH smaller then the boulders hurled by Trebuchets.

Trebuchets are built on site and you can only get one or two shots due to taking a VERY long time to reload however they hurl boulders the size of you're SUV into castle walls and are mainly a Muslim invention though it did make it's apperences into parts of Europe but England never got them but what they did get was the mortar cannon and pikers that tore thru horses.

Pikers would form a wide V shape with these long funny spears and (enemy) horses would be slaughtered immediately who can't get out of the way in time.

Catapults are what most are familiar with in Midevil weaonary and films often get these confused.

Sorry but I am not feeling good right now with headaches adn cannot spell right.

I am usually agood spell but have been on my *stupid* side and need warm dry weather to clear the crap out of me which refuses to happen. :(

PamAnne said...

Oddly enough, I was watching Return of the Kings and it was the difference between catapults that made me look this up in the first place. I was happy to see that my initial identification of the Gondor engines as trebuchets was correct.