Trabucos – The Artillery of the Ancient World

Trabuco means a wide-mouthed shotgun or an ancient war machine that people used to throw large stones. It is a siege weapon that warriors used to crush masonry walls or fire projectile stones over the walls. The weaponry was conventional in the middle ages. Sometimes people refer to it as the balancing trabuco in distinguishing it from the traction trabuco that came before it. Brazilians use trabuco to apply to shotguns or revolvers of a large caliber.

The counterweight blunderbuss in the Mediterranean could launch almost 140 kilograms at high speeds to 800 meters away with considerable accuracy. The trabucos played a role in biological warfare where some of the warriors threw infected bodies to the people under attack in a bid to infect them. China invented trabucos in 400 BC, and Europe acquired them in 600 AD. Trabucos were popular because there was no gunpowder. The ease to manufacture and simple maintenance made trabucos gain popularity. Europeans used trabucos as an efficient and terrifying weapon during Crusades.

The mechanism of operation of trabucos lies in their ability to transform potential energy into kinetic energy. The sling is the basis of action. The machine consists of a giant arm mounted on a base or car. A counterweight pulls the long arm by casting a projectile from its resting point in the sling. The counterweight’s size is directly proportional to the projectile’s velocity. Hence, more massive counterweights meant stronger launch of missiles.

The initial models of trabucos were manual requiring operation by human power. People could move the short end of the beam. However, with the limitations associated with the use of human effort in operating the trabucos, the Middle East people invented the hybrid trabuco. Europeans used the first hybrid trabuco in the times of Crusades. With additional improvements to the hybrid trabuco, the machines could hurl boulders to greater distances with enhanced accuracy.

Currently, trabucos still find application as models for the explanation of mechanics basic principles. Besides people use them as a form of recreation. Teachers use trabucos to explain mechanical principles utilizing the relationship between its operation and the physical calculations of kinetic energy, potential gravitational energy, and potential difference. Read more about Trabuco on to know more.