Leach trench catapult

The Leach trench catapult (sometimes called a Leach-Gamage catapult) was a bomb-throwing catapult used by the British Army on the Western Front during World War I. It was designed to throw a 2 lb (0.91 kg) projectile in a high trajectory into enemy trenches. Although called a catapult, it was effectively a combination crossbow and slingshot.[2] It was invented by Claude Pemberton Leach as an answer to the German Wurfmaschine, a spring-powered device for propelling a hand grenade about 200 m (220 yd).[1]

Leach trench catapult
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1915–1916
Used byUnited Kingdom
WarsWorld War I
Production history
DesignerClaude Pemberton Leach
Unit cost£6 17s 6d
ProducedMarch–October 1915
No. built152[1]
Effective firing range200 yd (180 m)

The design was a Y-shaped frame with natural rubber bands pulled taut by a windlass and held in position by a hook release. They were manufactured by the Gamages department store in Central London and cost £6 17s 6d to make.[1] In tests, the Leach catapult could propel a golf ball 200 yd (180 m), and a cricket ball or Mills bomb 120–150 yd (110–140 m).[1] However, with new rubbers it was reported to be able to propel a jam tin grenade or No. 15 ball grenade up to 200 yd (180 m).[3]

The first was produced in March 1915 and by October of that year over 150 had been made. Twenty were allocated to each division.[1] From the end of 1915 they were replaced by the French-made Sauterelle grenade launcher, and, in 1916, by the 2-inch medium trench mortar and Stokes mortar.[3]

Copies of the Leach catapult, made locally by the Royal Engineers, were used in the Gallipoli Campaign.[4]


  1. Gary Sheffield (2007). War on the Western Front: In the Trenches of World War I. Osprey Publishing. p. 201. ISBN 978-1846032103.
  2. Arthur G Credland. "The Crossbow and the Bow in Modern Warfare". Arms & Armour. 7 (1): 53–103.
  3. Hugh Chisholm (1922). The Encyclopædia Britannica: The New Volumes, Constituting, in Combination with the Twenty-nine Volumes of the Eleventh Edition, the Twelfth Edition of that Work, and Also Supplying a New, Distinctive, and Independent Library of Reference Dealing with Events and Developments of the Period 1910 to 1921 Inclusive, Volume 1. Encyclopædia Britannica Company Limited. p. 470.
  4. Stephen J. Chambers (2003). Gully Ravine. Leo Cooper. p. 81. ISBN 978-0850529234.
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