Catapults are stationary weapons from which heavy objects such as stones or bolts are fired. They were mainly used in sieges of castles and fortresses to destroy or bring down the enemy's walls.
The first catapults were probably in the 4th century BC. developed and used by the Greeks. The first mass use of these weapons was carried out by the Roman legions. Here also the development of the catapults forked into the areas of the heavy catapults for the shooting of stones or similarly heavy and the small to middle ballists, with which bolts and arrows were fired. A well-known example of this are the Roman "scorpions". The types of construction also differed in two areas. While the small and medium ones are mainly based on the principle of spring force, the large catapults were operated by the traction force. In the case of the spring force, a tendon is tensioned and tensioned, similar to the crossbow. The bolt or arrow is then placed in the launcher and, by operating the launching mechanism, the string is released and the bullet is fired. In the principle of traction, the launch is triggered by a counterweight.
In the Middle Ages, mainly heavy catapults were used to storm castles. Here also fire bullets were used for the first time. In some cases, the catapults also served as an execution item by shooting down the prisoners. Also, first people and / or animals were shot over the enemy walls for demoralization, some of these were burdened with the pest or the like.
With the end of the Middle Ages and the development of cannons disappeared the use of large catapults. The last missions of small catapults were still during the First World War for firing hand grenades into the so-called "no man's land" and in World War II for street fighting.
You can find the right literature here:
Ancient and Medieval Siege Weapons: A Fully Illustrated Guide To Siege Weapons And Tactics
In this richly illustrated guide, author Konstantin Nossov masterfully analyzes and recreates the weaponry, tactics, and stratagems of the ancient world. He offers first a comprehensive history of siege warfare in Ancient Egypt, Assyria, Judea, Persia, Greece, and Rome as well as Gaul, the Byzantine Empire, the Muslim world, and Medieval Europe. Discover, among other weapons, how scaling ladders, battering rams, borers, siege towers, throwing machines, and finally cannons developed over time. Numerous charts, illustrations, photographs, and tables explain how engineers constructed and adjusted these weapons and how warriors employed them on the battlefield. Chapters on methods of attack and defense show the weapons in action and reveal the various strategies used to implement and to overcome them. Based on an in-depth analysis of the work of ancient engineers, historians, and generals—including Apollodorus, Herodotus, Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci, Livy, Plutarch, Thucydides, Vitruvius, and others—Ancient and Medieval Siege Weapons not only shows you how to recreate the siege weapons themselves but provides a deeper, clearer picture of the history of war.
The Catapult: A History
The most recognized military device of ancient times and the source of continued fascination and popular appeal, the catapult represented a major shift in the conduct of warfare. In The Catapult: A History historian Tracey Rihll uses ancient sources and the latest archaeological findings to tell the story of this first machine of war. Dispelling any notion that the catapult was precision engineered in the modern sense, the author explains how a robust formulaic design allowed a variety of machines and missiles to be built and used for particular battlefield conditions or military tasks. Complete with original illustrations, maps, and two appendices detailing both the formulas for catapult construction and known catapult remains, The Catapult is essential reading for those interested in the history of warfare and technology.
The Big Book of Catapult and Trebuchet Plans!
This book is a compilation of step-by-step instructions for how to build nine different types of catapults and trebuchets, including plans for: A PVC Pipe Trebuchet, A Tabletop Trebuchet, The World Famous Floating Arm Trebuchet, The Historical WarWolf Trebuchet, A Rat-Trap Catapult, The Mangonel (or Onager), The Greek Ballista, a Petraria Arcatinus And the Scorpion II. Each set of instructions include dimensional drawings of all wooden parts, lists of required hardware and sources, an abundance of photos, diagrams and detailed descriptions of the assembly process. Additional sections include historical notes for the different types of machines, warnings and safety suggestions, tuning tips, notes on scaling, tools and techniques and additional notes on even more kinds of catapults.
The Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets, and More Ancient Artillery
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.