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January 25, 2007

Roman self loading ballista

The Mainz museum of Antique Ships also has this superb recreation of a self loading cross-bow or ballista. Until the Gatling gun came along this must have been about the most devastating semi-automatic weapon in anyone's arsenal. I have no idea what its rate of fire would have been, but I don't think I'd have enjoyed facing one!

The self loading ballista mounted on the Roman Patrol Boat.

A working model that young visitors are encouraged to operate - without the bolts!

As the winch mechanism is turned the bow string is drawn back, and as this passes a predetermined point on its travel, a bolt drops from the 'magazine' above into the guide channel. At the fully wound point, the winch is tripped and the bowstring released, shooting the missile at the target. Looking at it this thing could probably fire six or seven times a minute in trained hands. Probably lethal too against packed groups or ranked enemies. Especially if you've never encountered one before!

Posted by The Gray Monk at January 25, 2007 06:16 PM

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