# What’s the difference between a catapult and a trebuchet?

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Both throw something heavy a long distance but what separates the two?

In: 5

The trebuchet is invented later, instead of winding a rope around a spindle (catapult) a trebuchet has a counter weight that is heavier than the thing your throwing.

The trebuchet uses gravity against the counter weight to give the thrown item momentum.

Finally the trebuchet has far greater range but has to be setup and disassembled if it has to move. A catapult can fire and move quicker.

Trebuchets use a counterweight to throw stuff and catapults use a spring mechanism. There are different mechanism designs for both but that’s the main difference.

Catapult is actually a generalized term that includes trebuchets, but we generally differentiate the two. It also includes ballistas (big ass crossbows)

When you think “Catapult” you are probably thinking of a [torsion catapult like an onager](https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a3/Onager_with_sling.png) where slightly stretchy ropes are twisted really tight around the throwing arm. The throwing arm is brought down which twists the ropes even more, and when its released as the twisted tension (torsion) in the ropes pushes the arm back upright with a lot of force.

The common [trebuchet](https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b2/Trebuchet_Castelnaud.jpg/1280px-Trebuchet_Castelnaud.jpg) is gravity powered. It is a big tower with the projectile at one end of a long arm and a heavy counter weight at the other much shorter end. When released, gravity pulls the counter weight down and because the projectile is on a much longer arm it accelerates quickly and throws a heavy stone quite a distance. You can scale trebuchets up stupid high as long as the arm is strong enough and the tower is tall enough to let the counter weight fall. [Warwolf](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warwolf) was probably the biggest trebuchet and was probably 400 feet tall when fully assembled.

Imo a trebuchet is a variety of catapult, but a catapult is not a variety of trebuchet.

The mechanism is different like others pointed out but the purpose is the same.

A catapult is a Greek weapon frequently used frequently in medieval warfare.

A trebuchet never gets used because it’s handler surrenders before battle begins. (Bad French joke, sorry).