Science Behind Catapults
In the handout above, we discuss the science behind one type of catapult, the trebuchet. The trebuchet made its first appearance on the battlefield during the middle ages, between 800 and 1400 AD. They soon became a staple of siege warfare due to their ability to send heavy objects long distances, very effective for bombarding a fortified city. The actual mechanics are extremely simple and based upon the first type of ranged weapon, the sling. The trebuchet itself simply takes the idea of a sling, whirling a stone around your head quickly in a pouch then letting go to fire, and makes it very very large. Think of the counterweight as your muscles, the firing beam as your arm, and the catapult pouch as a personal sling.