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Skipping sidearm catapult

Defending Constantinople!
  [vote for,

I saw a guy skipping stones on TV. He was unable to skip a big stone. I suspect it was because it was bigger than he could fit in his hand and so he could not impart spin and velocity properly. I have always been fascinated by accounts of forts which would shoot cannons at a low angle, counting on the ball skipping along and hitting wooden ships at the waterline. I would not pick a cannonball shaped stone for a skipper, nor would I think that a cannon would impart the sort of spin optimal for skipping.

But what about precannon days? Could one use skipped projectiles and pregunpower technology against wooden ships? I propose a catapult contest (maybe in the Connecticut Yankee Steam Engine Challenge series) in which preindustrial war machines are created to throw a projectile of a given weight (maybe 10 kilos) such that it skips across the water. There would be dummy ships full of malevolent dummy Vikings to use as targets. Contestants could determine their own projectile shape and composition within weight limits.

bungston, Sep 23 2011

tangentially related Giant_20Frisbee_20Warfare
[FlyingToaster, Sep 23 2011]

Optimal skipping ordinance design http://simscience.o...red/DamBusters.html
[Whistlebritches, Sep 24 2011]

This only big, wooden and ancient looking http://www.google.c...s:6&biw=812&bih=509
[doctorremulac3, Sep 25 2011]


       [+] I stand in awe (or duck as the case may be).
FlyingToaster, Sep 23 2011

       yes- this sounds really cool! +
xandram, Sep 23 2011

       Projectiles [+].   

       Basically, a huge clay-pigeon trap, designed to fling a discus-sized metal plate, with serrated edges ?
8th of 7, Sep 23 2011


       This is outstandingly.   

MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 23 2011

       Barnes Wallis lives !
8th of 7, Sep 23 2011

       but how to avoid collateral damage on the innocent Viking dummies?
not_morrison_rm, Sep 23 2011

       We aren't as dumb as you think. Or as innocent.
Alterother, Sep 24 2011

       Or as Viking.
mouseposture, Sep 24 2011

       Remember that when we're raiding your village. It should come as some comfort to know that the tall, blonde, red- bearded lunatic swinging a Clontarf sword at your head is not as Viking as you think he is.
Alterother, Sep 24 2011

       The last time our village was raided, the rapists and murderers were actually more Viking than we thought they were. But last time, we were armed with farming implements: that situation has changed.
mouseposture, Sep 24 2011

       Yes, the farm implements are long gone. As have the fire pokers and the clothesline-props.   

       Your best chance is probably going to be try and sharpen a point on your umbrella…
8th of 7, Sep 24 2011

       Yes, yes... Sharpen your umbrellas. Make your preparations. Take all the time you need. We Heathens enjoy a challenge...
Alterother, Sep 24 2011

       Re: [Whistlebritches]' link:   

       The dambuster (or skip-bomb) was launched from underneath an airplane, not from the side, and the bomb itself was drum-shaped, not a disc. Totally different concept, methinks.
Alterother, Sep 24 2011

       //sharpen a point on your umbrella// Good idea. Now, where did I put that bottle of ricin ...?
mouseposture, Sep 24 2011

       At the end of the War, it was discovered that the Germans had been developing a Bouncing Dam, which they planned to drop on British munitions factories.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 24 2011

       The Greeks (of all people) took the technology and developed it int the Bouncing Cheque, designed tio inflict the maximim damage on all major European economies, and the french as well.   

       [Alt], DMWD (q.v.) worked on a tube fired "skipping mine" for anti-ship use as a "one shot, one kill" weapon against major surface units that could be fired from an MTB, but WW2 ended (i.e. just after the Americans showed up) before development was complete.
8th of 7, Sep 24 2011

       Interesting. I'll have to check that out.
Alterother, Sep 25 2011

       I think this would be pretty easy to achieve. You'd have your launching arm modeled after the skeet thrower shown in the link. The movement of the arm with a slot in it would impart forward movement and spin at the same time.   

       This would be an amazingly effective ship killer for several reasons. One, you're only worried about getting one trajectory line straight, the horizontal one from the launcher to the ship as apposed to getting an arc and landing point just right. Yes, it could skip over the target but I don't think that heavy stone would be bouncing very high. Two, you're hitting the ship low where it's going to do the most damage and three, you're punching a wide horizontal gap in the ship, not a hole. Even if it's above the water line, any movement of the ship is going to let water pour into this slot very quickly.   

       This is one of my favorite Halfbakery ideas. If this had been thought up in ancient times I think it most definately would have been built. Making one and testing it as discussed would also make a great tv reality show episode.   

       Just a thought, I'd make the disk out of wood and just have heavy stones around the perimeter. This would make it go further and you'd still get most of the damage not to mention it being a lot easier to make.   

       Bravo! [+]
doctorremulac3, Sep 25 2011

       /make the disk out of wood and just have heavy stones around the perimeter/   

       I envision stones arranged as a beard and hair, with a few in the center to fill out the face. If it missed, maybe the disc could still help by floating around and gurning at the ship.
bungston, Sep 25 2011

       Mythbusters should build one of these.
RayfordSteele, Sep 26 2011

       This idea keeps popping into my head. It's just too cool.   

       They could be crafted as metal banded casks like disc shaped whiskey barrels full of sand or pitch.
If the discs could be spun up to speed prior to launch then a normal catapult or trebuchet harness could be retrofitted for even greater range.

       Can we build one? huh? Puhleeeeeeease, can we ?!   

       fun Idea, I had a similar contest where two teams would build trebuchets and attempt to hit a target "wall" at some distance say 200-400 yards. First team to hit the opposing teams wall would win.   

       difficulty would be no electronic devices or machines not availble to medieval times. Aka no laser range finders, or windage meters.
metarinka, Sep 28 2011

       I think its called Istanbul now.
pashute, Sep 28 2011

       The one problem I see is that skipping objects is much harder on the ocean, where the rock is far to likely to either nose into a wave and stop, or skip upwards off the face and come down to steeply on the next skip.   

       With a sufficiently large rock sufficiently small waves could be ignored, but at some point rough seas are going to be a problem.
MechE, Sep 28 2011

       I think you underestimate the scope of the term 'sufficiently large'. A discoid stone with a diameter of, say, 1,000 yds should skip fine on a 60 ft swell.
Alterother, Sep 28 2011

       What is this tagline $#!t everybody's hyped up about all of a sudden?!
Alterother, Sep 28 2011


MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 28 2011

       Oh, okay, cool. I totally misunderstood that. Thanks for not calling me an idiot.
Alterother, Sep 28 2011

MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 28 2011

       There's that idiot I called for you.
rcarty, Sep 29 2011

       It should perfectly obvious, a row of high. extremely long slides, curving to finish flush with the sea. Economics dictate that they be built along seaside town beaches to offer a diverse form of income during the off peak Viking invasion season. Other types could be huge reusable swings with the added advantage of the stone being returned. Or the merry go round where the stones are swung around to be hurled continuously at the enemy. One drawback would be deposits of chewing gum left by last seasons visitors.
Ah Supp, Oct 01 2011

       // during the off-peak Viking invasion season //   

       Good point. Shore-based artillery, no matter how wacky and/or innovative, won't deter us. We're far too clever for that. Plus, not many of us use longboats to invade other countries nowadays.
Alterother, Oct 01 2011

       I am working on a device for use against Air Danske smuggling in Viking insurgents. Might call it a Shotsling.
Ah Supp, Oct 02 2011

       Expand your scope. Due to both an abundance of inherited Skymiles and lax policies regarding the checking of longswords as carry-on articles (turns out they qualify as 'religious icons'. Who knew?), my clan typically flies Delta.
Alterother, Oct 04 2011

       So that's what those religious icons really are. All the timeI believed they were shaving gear.
Ah Supp, Oct 05 2011


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