Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets, and More Ancient Artillery

( 5 )

Overview

Whether playing at defending their own castle or simply chucking pumpkins over a fence, wannabe marauders and tinkerers will become fast acquainted with Ludgar, the War Wolf, Ill Neighbor, Cabulus, and the Wild Donkey—ancient artillery devices known commonly as catapults. Building these simple yet sophisticated machines introduces fundamentals of math and physics using levers, force, torsion, tension, and traction. Instructions and diagrams illustrate how to build seven authentic working model catapults, ...

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Overview

Whether playing at defending their own castle or simply chucking pumpkins over a fence, wannabe marauders and tinkerers will become fast acquainted with Ludgar, the War Wolf, Ill Neighbor, Cabulus, and the Wild Donkey—ancient artillery devices known commonly as catapults. Building these simple yet sophisticated machines introduces fundamentals of math and physics using levers, force, torsion, tension, and traction. Instructions and diagrams illustrate how to build seven authentic working model catapults, including an early Greek ballista, a Roman onager, and the apex of catapult technology, the English trebuchet. Additional projects include learning how to lash and make rope and how to construct and use a hand sling and a staff sling. The colorful history of siege warfare is explored through the stories of Alexander the Great and his battle of Tyre; Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Third Crusade; pirate-turned-soldier John Crabbe and his ship-mounted catapults; and Edward I of England and his battle against the Scots at Stirling Castle.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This book combines the history of catapults with detailed instructions on how to build working models of seven historic weapons with evocative names like Ludgar the War Wolf, God's Stone Thrower, and the Wild Donkey. One model becomes a game, "Basket-Pult." Catapults have been studied for many years by both scientists and historians in order to try to understand the whys and wherefores of ancient wars. The Syracusean Greeks must have shocked their enemy when they changed the face of warfare by using the first known catapult in battle in 399 BC. The catapult took on many forms in succeeding centuries as soldiers strove to improve its destructive capabilities. It was used to hurl at the enemy a variety of things from stones to burning tar to dead cows to dung to messengers' heads. Eventually when cannons became effective weapons, catapults were no longer useful. Along with telling the stories of catapults' ingenious use in warfare, this book, discusses the principles of physics that make catapults work. It also gives the reader clear, detailed instructions with a series of exploded diagrams for making working models of catapults. The first chapter lays out the principles of safety that should be followed by anyone attempting the projects and each set of directions contains cautions as well. The book features a time line, drawings, maps, glossary, bibliography, and index. The author is a professional engineer who has been researching and building model catapults and ballistic devices for more than 20 years. 2004, Chicago Review Press Incorporated, Ages 12 up.
—Janet Crane Barley
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-This collection of 10 working catapult projects offers a fascinating look at world history, military strategy, and physics, related with an engaging yet lighthearted touch. This historical context makes the projects all the more interesting. The working model of the Macedonian Ballista is cool, but even more so when one learns the role that catapults played in the campaigns of Alexander the Great. Instructions are clear, with full materials lists, helpful diagrams, and no skipped steps. Saw and drill are often required, along with hardware store purchases such as PVC pipe or specifically sized wood. Some of the finished results are large, such as God's Stone Thrower, a 5' x 5' construction with considerable flinging power, while a couple are smaller, tabletop-sized models that still propel successfully. Since the ultimate object is to fling things through the air, there is repeated emphasis on safety, including a first chapter entitled "Always Be Careful," an "adult supervision required" statement for every construction, and repeated warnings within the text. As for projectiles, water balloons, peanuts, and plastic cows are mentioned among "suitable ammunition," rather than the venomous snakes, cattle manure, or severed heads referred to in the historical portions. There's excellent booktalk potential here, and lively reading even for those who never get around to constructing a catapult.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556525261
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/28/2004
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 283,995
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.75 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

William Gurstelle is the author of Absinthe and FlamethrowersThe Art of the Catapult,  the bestselling Backyard BallisticsBuilding Bots, Whoosh, Boom, Splat, and Notes from the Technology Underground. He is a professional engineer who has been researching and building model catapults and ballistic devices for more than 30 years. He is a contributing editor at Make magazine and writes frequently for Wired, The Rake, and several other national magazines. He can be contacted at nfttu.blogspot.com.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Time Line x
Introduction: The Days Before Gunpowder xv
1 Always Be Careful 1
2 The Science of Siege 5
3 Catapults Around the World 17
Spring Engine Catapult 29
Viking Catapult 37
4 Shooting Snakes in a Barrel--The Catapults of Alexander the Great 47
Alexander's Artillery: The Macedonian Ballista 60
The Slings of the Ancients
A Ballearic Hand Sling 70
A Thracian Staff Sling 73
5 A Black Flag Flies over Acre--Saladin, Richard, and the Third Crusade 77
God's Stone Thrower: A Traction-Style Catapult 83
6 Cabulus, the Great Horse Trebuchet 95
Cabulus, the Great Horse Trebuchet 104
7 John Crabbe--Tinkerer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy 115
Making Rope 124
Wild Donkey: An Onager Catapult 127
8 The Hammer of the Scots 137
Ludgar, the War Wolf 145
9 The Sun Sets on Catapult Warfare 155
Basket-Pult 158
Glossary 165
Bibliography 167
Index 169
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Customer Reviews

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