Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A Trebuchet Is

Not A Catapult: You can tell the difference by the sound it makes when it is fired: Whoosh. A catapult, on the other hand, goes Boing.


The website TimeRef.com offers a more complete description.

The trebuchet was a wooden siege engine designed to destroy castle walls by throwing large rocks at them. 

The engine was constructed using a sturdy base, a long throwing arm and a bucket to hold weights. The projectile was connected by a rope to the end of the throwing arm while the bucket at the other end of the arm was filled with a heavy material. 

The arm was winched down lifting the bucket into the air and secured in place while the projectile was attached. The projectile rested on a flat piece of wood. The projectile was connected to the arm and the firing mechanism released. 

The weight of the bucket brought the other end of the arm down and sent the projectile flying into the air. At the top of the arc the projectile was released and sent speeding to hit the castle wall. 


The direction of the projectile could be controlled by moving it left and right on the board. 

The distance could be controlled by altering the shape of the release pin on the end of the arm, the amount of weight in the bucket or the weight of the projectile itself.


Trebuchets came in many shapes and sizes, some having wheels so they could be moved around the siege landscape. 

Trebuchet Kit

Trebuchets were built as kits that could be assembled and disassembled and transported in sections to where they were needed. All the pieces slotted together and were fixed with wooden or metal pegs.

Rocks were not the only things that were thrown by trebuchets. 

  • It was common to throw urns filled with flammable material into the castle where many of the buildings were made of wood. The urn had a lit fuse that would have ignited the material when the urn broke. 
  • Dead animals were another type of projectile thrown into castles. Animals that were diseased were preferred as they could spread disease if they landed in the castle's water source.

Being constructed of wood made trebuchets vunerable to attack by fire and had to be protected from this danger.

Now, if you're a former engineer like Abq Jew - first of all, his condolences. Life in the high-technology mines of Silicon Valley, TPC (The Phone Company), and Big Pharma, Abq Jew recalls, was nothing - absolutely nothing - like Workin' In the Coal Mine. Or like Workin' On a Chain Gang.

One of the perpetual residual effects of an engineering career, it appears, is a fascination with, you should certainly not excuse the expression in our current anti-science climate ... 

The Way Things Work
The Way Things Work

Which fascination is more than shared, Abq Jew is happy to report, by the Israel Defense Forces and (see January's Building The Iron Beam) the entire robust Israeli defense industry. 

Israeli Trebuchet

In fact, NBC News (et al) reports:

Israeli troops use medieval-style trebuchet weapon in fighting at Lebanon border

A trebuchet is a medieval siege weapon made of wood with a long arm that, when released, catapults a projectile — in this case, a fireball — at its target.

TEL AVIV — Israeli troops stationed on the Lebanese border fired a medieval-style siege weapon known as a trebuchet amid recent fighting against Hezbollah militants, an Israeli military official confirmed to NBC News.  

Video of the weapon hurling a fireball emerged Thursday, sparking equal measures of confusion and amusement in Israel, even as Israeli troops and Hezbollah were locked in some of the most intense fighting of the war. 

The six-second video shows Israeli troops looking on as the trebuchet — which largely disappeared from the battlefield in the 15th century — fires a flaming projectile over a fortified wall. One soldier is seen holding a fire extinguisher in case something were to go awry.  

An Israeli military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said the weapon is not part of the IDF’s standard arsenal and is believed to have been built by reservist soldiers stationed on the border.  

Am Yisrael Chai

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