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Trabuco, the Howitzer of the middle-ages

The Trabuco is a type of seige weapon, which was popular during the middle ages. It was designed to pulverize walls and masonry by launching heavy projectiles from distance. Mobile on wheels, these enormous machines could be positioned in the vicinity of enemy walls and fortresses.

The Trabuco was originally conceived in China according to Europeans adopted the design during the crusades, and it was considered a truly efficient and terrifying weapon.

In contrast to ballistae, mangonels and catapults, and similar projectile weapons, the trabuco did not use any kind of complex mechanical engineering. It became popular due to its easy manufacture and simple maintenance. The trabuco was also able to launch projectiles which were much heavier and at greater distance than the similar arms of the time.

A counterweight is used as a means of storing gravitational potential energy, on one side of a fulcrum. On the other side is the “payload” to be launched against enemies, which was tethered until required. Once the payload side of the fulcrum was untethered, the counterweight would fall to ground, propelling the payload. The Trabuco design is often used by teachers as a means of explaining concepts such as potential energy, kinetic energy and potential difference. The heavier the counterweight, the further an object can be launched.

The first traction trabucos were operated by manpower on The short end of the beam was made to be moved by a group of men pulling it. The largest documented example of a trabuco is described by Wu Jing Yao de Zong, in his military treatise, as being loaded by more than 250 people, and hurling a 140-pound stone a distance of 80 meters. This type of large machine was quite rare due to the complicated logistics of controlling large teams of operators.

The Trabuco was capable of firing up to 4 large projectiles per minute, although impressive for the time, and even comparable to some modern artillery, the applications of the weapon were ultimately limited. Organizing the manpower to operate the machines proved to be difficult. Also, pulling the strings such that the Trabuco would launch each shot with equal force was near impossible. As such, the Trabuco fell out of usage sometime in the 11th Century according to