A catapult is a ballistic device used to launch a projectile a great distance without the aid of explosive devices—particularly various types of ancient and medieval siege engines.Although the catapult has been used since ancient times, it has proven to be one of the most effective mechanisms during warfare. In modern times the term can apply to devices ranging from a simple hand-held implement (also called a “slingshot”) to a mechanism for launching aircraft from a ship.
An aircraft catapult is a device used to launch aircraft from ships, most commonly used on aircraft carriers, as a form of assisted take off. It consists of a track built into the flight deck, below which is a large piston or shuttle that is attached through the track to the nose gear of the aircraft, or in some cases a wire rope, called a catapult bridle, is attached to the aircraft and the catapult shuttle. Different means have been used to propel the catapult, such as weight and derrick, gunpowder, flywheel, air pressure, hydraulic, and steam power. The U.S. Navy is developing the use of electromagnets with the construction of the Gerald R.Ford class aircraft carrier.