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Da Vinci Catapult Kit

Academy Leonardo da Vinci Catapult Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2011 Manufacturer Academy
Subject Da Vinci Catapult Scale N/A
Kit Number 18137 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Fun project that highlights the engineering genius of Leonardo Da Vinci Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $19.95

Leonardo Da Vinci developed a number of designs that were well before their time. His vision of vertical flight with his spiral helicopter, paddle wheel-powered vessels, and the early armored car may have been laughable in his day, but were the stepping stones for today's MV-22 Osprey, turbine-powered Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and M1 Abrams tank (and their analogs from other nations of course).

Da Vinci Catapult Kit Da Vinci Catapult Kit Da Vinci Catapult Kit

In the case of the catapult, da Vinci didn't invent the catapult, he came up with a way to make it better. Where catapults typically involve putting tension on the catapult arm so when it is released, it throws whatever is in its basket off toward's its target. da Vinci came up with a method of putting tension on a leaf spring mounted around a drum. The ends of the spring arms were tied with lengths of rope to the drum so that as the drum is turned, the springs tightened. The catapult arm is attached to one end of the drum and when the tenion is released, the drum spins whipping the catapult arm over and sending its projectile downrange.

Academy has released this educational kit of Leonardo Da Vinci's catapult design though it was made to look like the leaf spring design without as much danger in playing with the catapult. More on this later.

Assembly of the is completely snap-together - no glue, paint, or batteries required. This project literally took a few minutes though a careful eye to the instructions is required to ensure that the various parts are properly oriented so that the catapult will work as intended.

Instead of leaf springs for tension and ropes (or string) wrapped around the drum, Academy designed the leaf springs to be fixed and the tension for the catapult comes from rubber bands that replace the ropes. The principal is similar, but the device is safer as it doesn't achieve the projectile velocities that might injure someone. Nevertheless, don't shoot this at anyone!

da Vinci

da Vinci da Vinci

The catapult will look great on your display shelf and even be more of a conversation piece on your desk at work. The catapult has an adjustable stop that will allow you to three positions to select between range and height of your projectile's trajectory. We don't recommend putting these in your cubicles to lay seige on your co-workers as the sight of flinging paperwads might catch the eye of your boss. The kit comes with three plastic projectiles that are safe to use against inanimate objects, but don't shoot these (or any other hard projectile) at any person or pet!

This is a nice-looking model that is a snap (pun intended) to assemble and will be fun for your child to learn a little history or as a nice conversation piece on your desk at work or at home.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!