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The Mangonel

The Romans used the mangonel, although they referred to it as an onager - meaning "wild donkey", after the bucking action when fired. When the throwing arm flies forward it hits against a leather buffer on the heavy upright framework. This is wasteful of much of the energy and causes the entire engine to rock on its framework.

Like the ballista, the mangonel uses torsional energy stored in twisted rope. A large skein like this generates an enormous force on the sides of the mangonel, requiring a heavy and cumbersome framework to avoid the sides being pulled in.

Mangonels are often depicted as having a spoon-shaped extension to their throwing arm. These spoons tended to throw their projectiles high into the air, wasting much of the energy. The example here uses a rope sling, like the perrier, giving a flatter and faster trajectory.

The mangonel is quite an inefficient weapon. Despite being so large, it only throws a small projectile, perhap 6lbs. Their main use was probably to hurl incendiaries; Burning pitch, or a napalm-like substance known as Greek Fire. In classical times, onagers were mounted on ships and used to set fire to opposing ships in naval battles.

The Perrier

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