ballistic device

A catapult is a type of machine used as a weapon to throw rocks, large arrows, or other things such as hot tar, that would cause damage to something else.[1] Often, catapults were set on higher ground or on castle towers to let them shoot farther. They shot rocks to break castle walls, or pitch or hot tar to set the target on fire.[2]

Replica catapult.jpg
Drawing of Roman Catapult, 1581

Catapults use weights and levers to send the rocks or other things into the air.[3] They do not throw as far as modern weapons do, and are not useful in modern warfare. Catapults were common in the past, especially the Middle Ages.[4]

Nowadays catapults are used to study old weapons, and as experiments (for example in physics or engineering classes). Some old ones are kept in museums.

Aircraft carriers use much more powerful steam catapults to throw airplanes into the air.[5]


  1. Hacker, Barton C. (January 1968). "Greek Catapults and Catapult Technology: Science, Technology, and War in the Ancient World". Technology and Culture. 9 (1): 34. doi:10.2307/3102042. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  2. "Catapults". Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  3. Saimre, Tanel (2006). "Trebuchet: A Gravity Operated Siege Engine" (PDF). Estonian Journal of Archaeology. 10 (1): 61–80. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  4. Janin, Hunt; Carlson, Ursula (2014). Mercenaries in Medieval and Renaissance Europe. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-4766-1207-2.
  5. "Launch and Recovery: From Flywheels to Magnets". Naval Aviation News. Retrieved 6 July 2019.

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