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Modern Uses of Catapult

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Last updated date: 23rd Jul 2024
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What is a Catapult?

A catapult is a device used to throw objects forcefully over a great distance. It uses no gunpowder or other propellants to work. It was mostly used in the mediaeval age. During ancient times, catapults proved to be very powerful weapons that were capable of causing serious damage. The trebuchet, mangonel, onager, and ballista were the most common types of catapults used.

Mediaeval Catapult.

Mediaeval Catapult.

How Does A Catapult Work?

A catapult is a device that is kind of a bigger version of the slingshot. It has a basket at the end of a sturdy arm that slings rapidly with the release of tension to fling the object that is placed on the arm. Springs or twisted ropes are used in the setup to give tension to the pulled-down arm. After the object is placed in the arm, the bindings that hold the arm down are released which causes the arm to move rapidly, thus hurling the object at a distance.

A Catapult is a Bigger Version of a Slingshot

A Catapult is a Bigger Version of a Slingshot

Catapult Facts

  • The heavy crossbow-like weapon as a ballista is also referred to as a catapult. It is used to shoot arrows and darts. It was used by the Greeks and Romans.

  • The Romans did not invent the catapult. They only improved on the design developed by the Greeks in the fourth century BC.

  • The first documented use of a catapult was in the seventh century BC by King Uzziah of Judah.

  • The last use of catapults as weapons on a large scale in military operations was during World War One's trench warfare.

  • Simple catapults are one or two feet tall, but those of the olden times were as tall as a two-story building and weighed a couple of tons.

How are Modern Catapults Used Today?

  • Special variants of catapults called aircraft catapults are used to launch planes from land bases and sea carriers when the takeoff runway is too short for a powerful takeoff or simply useless to extend.

Modern Catapult

Modern Catapult

  • Ships also use them to launch submarines and deploy bombs against submarines.

Learning by Doing

Choose the Correct Answer.

1. The catapult was invented by the Romans.

  1. True

  2. False

2. What is a catapult used for?

  1. Target practice to shoot pigeons in the air.

  2. Takeoff for aircraft.

  3. Launching weapons

  4. All of the above.

Solved Questions

1. How big were the mediaeval catapults?

Ans: Catapults of the mediaeval period were as tall as a two-story building and weighed a couple of tons.

2. When was the first time a catapult was used?

Ans: The first time a catapult was used was in the seventh century BC by King Uzziah of Judah.


Catapults have been replaced by the invention of the air cannon that are used to launch missiles, but the design of the catapult is still applicable to launch planes and bombs, especially in sea carriers. They're sometimes known as catapults, but mostly they refer to a bigger engine that is used to hurl stones from one long arm swinging through the vertical plane.

Mineral Sphalerite

Mineral Sphalerite

FAQs on Modern Uses of Catapult

1. Which is the most popularized use of catapults?

Pumpkin chunking is a widely popularised use of a catapult. People compete to see who can launch a pumpkin the farthest by mechanical means.

2. How were catapults used by kingdoms for protection?

Catapults were set on higher ground or on castle towers to let them shoot to a distance. They shot rocks to break the walls of the castle, or hot tar to set the target on fire. 

3. Where does the word catapult come from?

The word 'catapult' comes from the Latin 'catapult', which in turn comes from the Ancient Greek word 'katapeltēs. Kata means "downwards" and pallō means "to toss, to hurl".