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Old 07-30-2012, 06:46 PM   #1
TheAzn
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One Thing That I Think Tolkien Did Wrong and Jackson Did Right

At first, I thought that the Movie Section would fit this topic better, but most of the information that I used came more from the book. This is my first post here and I apologize if I do anything wrong.

When I was reading the Return of the King, there was always one part that bothered me the most about the Siege of Gondor.

Quote:
Siege of Gondor

Busy as ants hurrying Orcs were digging, digging lines of deep trenches in a huge ring, just out of bowshot from the walls; and as the trenches were made each was filled with fire, though how it was kindled or fed, by art or devilry, none could see. All day the labour went forward, while the men of Minas Tirith looked on, unable to hinder it. And as each length of trench was completed, they could see great wains approaching; and soon yet more companies of the enemy were swift setting up, each behind the cover of a trench, great engines for the casting of missiles. There were none upon the City walls large enough to reach so far or to stay the work.
Now let’s look at the map below:



As you can see, the furthest distance from Minas Tirith to Rammas Echor would have been about 10 miles. So there is indeed probably enough space for the 40,000 Mordorians (conservative estimate) to dig in without putting themselves within range of the Gondorians. The problem begins to arise when Mondorians advanced to attack Minas Tirith.

Before I continue on please appreciate my beautiful drawing below. The drawing is based on my accurate estimates in physics.:




The Gondorians did not lack any “great engines”; Professor Tolkien merely stated that they did not have one large enough to reach the trenches. The “great engines” of the Mordorians being safe behind the trenches is not what I have problem with. What does not make sense is when the Mordorians began advancing with their engines to shoot heads and fire bombs into the White City itself without the Gondorians apparently retaliating.

When a small artillery fights against a bigger artillery at equal ground level, the small artillery would of course have smaller range.
But when the small artillery is placed 100 to 200 to 500 to 800 feet above the bigger artillery, the bigger artillery should have been
outranged by a very wide margin. That is, unless the Gondorian artilleries were very crappy, which is very un- Gondorian and does not make sense at all.

This is the part where I think Peter Jackson might be more correct than Professor Tolkien. In the movie, the Gondorians kept on destroying the Mordorian artilleries until most of the Gondorian artilleries have been destroyed by the flying Nazguls. With the Gondorian artilleries being incapacitated, it made sense that Grond can then be moved forward.

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Old 07-30-2012, 06:59 PM   #2
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I don't know but I doubt that drawing is very accurate.
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:11 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by TheAzn View Post
At first, I thought that the Movie Section would fit this topic better, but most of the information that I used came more from the book. This is my first post here and I apologize if I do anything wrong.
Hello TheAzn! Welcome to the Downs!

Nice first post. I'm going to give it some thought, and will reply sometime soon.

Just so you know, it's hard for me to admit that PJ got much right - he did! - it's just a personal bias.
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Old 07-31-2012, 07:55 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by TheAzn View Post
What does not make sense is when the Mordorians began advancing with their engines to shoot heads and fire bombs into the White City itself without the Gondorians apparently retaliating.
Well, first observation is that Tolkien says "As soon as the great catapults were set {ie, behind the fire pits} they began to throw missiles ... some burst into flame .... another hail more horrible {ie, the heads}"

They didn't "advance" to shoot, and so come into range of the city's catapults.

Later "in the middle night the assault was loosed... on they came reckless of their loss as they approached".

So, when they did finally advance, they did come within range of catapult and bow and did take heavy loss.

Which all seems to make sense as Tolkien wrote it.
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:54 AM   #5
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You raise a good question. Welcome to the Downs!

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Originally Posted by TheAzn View Post
That is, unless the Gondorian artilleries were very crappy, which is very un- Gondorian and does not make sense at all.
The Mordorians were probably better, seeing as Sauron (and Saruman) were very much into nasty technology and Gondor's glory days were gone anyway. Still, they couldn't have been much worse, so I guess it doesn't matter.

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Originally Posted by Mumriken View Post
I don't know but I doubt that drawing is very accurate.
Accurate or not, TheAzn's point about the placement of the small artillery holds.
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Old 07-31-2012, 11:24 AM   #6
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Hello TheAzn! Welcome to the Downs!

Nice first post. I'm going to give it some thought, and will reply sometime soon.

Just so you know, it's hard for me to admit that PJ got much right - he did! - it's just a personal bias.
Hey Alatar, thank you for the complement and welcoming.

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Old 07-31-2012, 11:25 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Aganzir View Post
You raise a good question. Welcome to the Downs!


The Mordorians were probably better, seeing as Sauron (and Saruman) were very much into nasty technology and Gondor's glory days were gone anyway. Still, they couldn't have been much worse, so I guess it doesn't matter.


Accurate or not, TheAzn's point about the placement of the small artillery holds.
Hey Aganzir, nice to meet you. Thank you for the welcoming and for defending me.

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Old 07-31-2012, 11:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mumriken View Post
I don't know but I doubt that drawing is very accurate.
Hey Mumriken. Yes, it is true that my drawing is not entirely accurate, but accuracy was not the main point in my drawing. Instead, the main point was to demonstrate how, based on the placement, the Gondorian artilleries should have ended up with a very large range. The drawing was just an estimate.
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Old 07-31-2012, 11:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Puddleglum View Post
Well, first observation is that Tolkien says "As soon as the great catapults were set {ie, behind the fire pits} they began to throw missiles ... some burst into flame .... another hail more horrible {ie, the heads}"

They didn't "advance" to shoot, and so come into range of the city's catapults.

Later "in the middle night the assault was loosed... on they came reckless of their loss as they approached".

So, when they did finally advance, they did come within range of catapult and bow and did take heavy loss.

Which all seems to make sense as Tolkien wrote it.
Hey Puddlglum. The problem with this argument is that it creates more problems. If the Mordorians can reach the inside of the White City from the trenches, then the Gondorians - contrary to Professor Tolkien's description- should have had no problem tearing down the the workings of the trenches from the beginning. No matter how bad the Gondorian artilleries were, the Mordorians should not have outranged the Gondorians due to the sheer height advantage of the Gondorians.

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Old 07-31-2012, 03:31 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TheAzn View Post
Hey Mumriken. Yes, it is true that my drawing is not entirely accurate, but accuracy was not the main point in my drawing. Instead, the main point was to demonstrate how, based on the placement, the Gondorian artilleries should have ended up with a very large range. The drawing was just an estimate.
Well I made a little simulation, sorry for the low resolution. It was just something quick.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdH1_JVdONw
Your drawing seems a bit off, like for example the catapult that sits the highest won't reach the longest. The range would be much better for the mordor forces below. I could switch it around and show you how they would smash into the walls if you want xD

EDIT: Or actually I can't cuz I deleted the file.
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Old 07-31-2012, 05:31 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TheAzn View Post
Hey Puddlglum. The problem with this argument is that it creates more problems. If the Mordorians can reach the inside of the White City from the trenches, then the Gondorians - contrary to Professor Tolkien's description- should have had no problem tearing down the the workings of the trenches from the beginning. No matter how bad the Gondorian artilleries were, the Mordorians should not have outranged the Gondorians due to the sheer height advantage of the Gondorians.
I'm not sure the math works out quite like your picture suggests. In an optimal trajectory the angle of the projectile will be at about 45 degrees so an elevation of 700 feet (even assuming the Citadel wall was manned by catapults - which Tolkien never wrote) would give an extra 700 foot range (plus or minus) - that's less that 2/10 of a mile. All Sauron has to do is move his catapults back a couple of city blocks.
And note that the 1000 foot elevation is only from the top of the White Tower - where Denethor had his special viewing chamber with the Palantier - definitiely not big enough for a large number of catapults.
Look at it this way.
  1. Denethor has catapults - but how big does he have them built. Maybe he should have built ones big enough to lob big rocks 10 miles - but he clearly didn't.
  2. Sauron, planning his assault, has excellent spying ability with *HIS* Palantir and so can easily know what size catapults Denethor *does* have.
  3. Sauron then builds larger catapults, capable of throwing 1000 feet further than Denethor's.
  4. By the time Sauron starts his attack, it's too late for Denethor to build new and larger catapults.
  5. Sauron just sets down out of range of Denethor's 'pults and lets loose.
Also, remember that Sauron's catapults did not need to be able to hurl large Truck-sized rocks. Just human heads and other shot that was incendiary.
He had no plan to try and batter down the walls - that was only in the Peter Jackson adaptation, not in the books. Lighter shot requires a smaller catapult to be hurled large distances.
Thus, for example, Sauron could observe Denethor had catapults capable of hurling 1-ton boulders, say, 1 mile - and counter by building catapults capable of hurling 10-pound shells & heads 1.2 or 1.3 miles. And, because of the weight differential, his would be far more portable. Then he sets up his trenches 1.2 miles from the wall (1 mile plus the added range from a 700 foot elevation difference) and starts lobbing.

Also, note that Sauron had no need to try and shoot catapults in the citadel. He was trying to start fires and sow despair. His targets are in the lower city.
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:42 PM   #12
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Nice thread!

I think that the difference between the two powers lay in the false pride of the Gondorians and the superior technology and tactics of Sauron's forces. Let's look...

Quote:
At first men laughed and did not greatly fear such devices. For the main wall of the City was of great height and marvellous thickness, built ere the power and craft of Numenor waned in exile; and its outward face was like to the Tower of Orthanc, hard and dark and smooth, unconquerable by steel or fire, unbreakable except by some convulsion that would rend the very earth on which it stood.
The walls of Minas Tirith are mighty, and believed impregnable. Remember that this is the final sanctuary of Gondor. To get there, any force must first take Minas Ithil and then Osgiliath. The walls are designed to keep forces out at the last. But walls to protect are only as good as the weakness of the force beseiging them. If it's a strong force, then those within can be beaten by other means. And the residents know this:

Quote:
'Nay,' they said, 'not if the Nameless One himself should come, not even he could enter here while we yet live.' But some answered: 'While we yet live? How long? He has a weapon that has brought low many strong places since the world began. Hunger. The roads are cut. Rohan will not come.'
Sauron's force know this. And they have the technology to force the inevitable despair to come on more quickly. Their seige engines and catapults aren't designed to smash or crush, just to fling lighter, and often firey, missiles at a greater height. They also have more advanced weaponry:
Quote:
and as the trenches were made each was filled with fire, though how it
was kindled or fed, by art or devilry, none could see.
Quote:
As soon as the great catapults were set, with many yells and the creaking of rope and winch, they began to throw missiles marvellously high, so that they passed right above the battlement and fell thudding within the first circle of the City; and many of them by some secret art burst into flame as they came toppling down.
The catapults aren't described as small, and presumably with a vast and brutalised army at his disposal, dragging huge war engines across the plain might not be such a problem for Sauron. They are also set up behind those firey trenches so presumably they also do not move once set up.

Therefore, you can assume that Minas Tirith simply did not have catapults which could outmatch them, even given the advantage of height. Why is interesting. Is that because the residents felt safe behind that wall? Perhaps they were unable to place large catapults due to the design of the city (which is very old). Perhaps it was a lack of resources.

The following shows Sauron's tactics again and how they worked. He has ignored the impossibility of breaching the wall and instead used his tech to spread despair and incendiaries over the wall. Some of the garrison have run away sickened at the sight of the heads of their comrades used as missiles, others have had to help put out the raging inferno. There's now hardly anyone to defend the city from those running up to attack it. The only thing that can stop it now is an attack on the rear or flank of Sauron's forces, and nobody expects this.

Quote:
Fires now raged unchecked in the first circle of the City, and
the garrison upon the outer wall was already in many places cut off from retreat. But the faithful who remained there at their posts were few; most had fled beyond the second gate.
Far behind the battle the River had been swiftly bridged, and all day more force and gear of war had poured across. Now at last in the middle night the assault was loosed. The vanguard passed through the trenches of fire by many devious paths that had been left between them. On they came, reckless of their loss as they approached, still bunched and herded, within the range of bowmen on the wall. But indeed there were too few now left there to do them great damage, though the light of the fires showed up many a mark for archers of such skill as Gondor once had boasted. Then perceiving that the valour of the City was already beaten down, the hidden Captain put forth his strength. Slowly the great siege-towers built in Osgiliath rolled forward through the dark.
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Old 08-02-2012, 01:38 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mumriken View Post
Well I made a little simulation, sorry for the low resolution. It was just something quick.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdH1_JVdONw
Your drawing seems a bit off, like for example the catapult that sits the highest won't reach the longest. The range would be much better for the mordor forces below. I could switch it around and show you how they would smash into the walls if you want xD

EDIT: Or actually I can't cuz I deleted the file
Mumriken, there are several problems in your video besides low resolution. First the projectiles seem to shoot too randomly, which should not have happened; ancient artilleries were more consistent than what some might give them credit for. The simulation was so random that the back artillery once hit another artillery on its own side!!! Secondly, although the difference might not be much, air is less dense at 100 ft upwards. Your simulation does not appear to take variations in friction into account. Finally, how in the Bruce Lee's name did some projectiles managed to penetrate all the way to the Underworld!!? All of this makes your simulation even less accurate than my drawing.

I will admit that, even at 700 feet in height, an artillery that is thousands of feet inside the city might not reach the Mordorian lines. However, Minas Tirith had a very interesting landmark, and that would be a giant rock shaped like a bow of a ship.

Since you did not observe this in my first drawing, I will make things more clear and easily understood by drawing a circle. This is, as you would say, for u.


In other words, in order to place some artilleries at 700 feet, you have more options than to place them way back on the Seventh Wall. This Ship Rock reaches all the way forward to the Second Wall. Artilleries can be placed all along the "Upper Deck", with 2 or 3 small artilleries at the tip. Please include this fact on your simulation next time

I did not draw the projectile pathway for these last artilleries because they would probably go beyond the edge of the paper. The point is clear however: the Gondorian artilleries can hover 700 feet above ground at the Second, Third, and Fourth Walls, not only at the last Seventh Wall.

And yes, there are enough space on the "Upper Deck" to place artilleries, as every good sources indicated. The tip might look small, but - based on scale - you can see that several small artilleries can be placedthere.

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Old 08-02-2012, 03:05 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Puddleglum View Post
I'm not sure the math works out quite like your picture suggests. In an optimal trajectory the angle of the projectile will be at about 45 degrees so an elevation of 700 feet (even assuming the Citadel wall was manned by catapults - which Tolkien never wrote) would give an extra 700 foot range (plus or minus) - that's less that 2/10 of a mile. All Sauron has to do is move his catapults back a couple of city blocks.
And note that the 1000 foot elevation is only from the top of the White Tower - where Denethor had his special viewing chamber with the Palantier - definitiely not big enough for a large number of catapults.
Look at it this way.
  1. Denethor has catapults - but how big does he have them built. Maybe he should have built ones big enough to lob big rocks 10 miles - but he clearly didn't.
  2. Sauron, planning his assault, has excellent spying ability with *HIS* Palantir and so can easily know what size catapults Denethor *does* have.
  3. Sauron then builds larger catapults, capable of throwing 1000 feet further than Denethor's.
  4. By the time Sauron starts his attack, it's too late for Denethor to build new and larger catapults.
  5. Sauron just sets down out of range of Denethor's 'pults and lets loose.
Also, remember that Sauron's catapults did not need to be able to hurl large Truck-sized rocks. Just human heads and other shot that was incendiary.
He had no plan to try and batter down the walls - that was only in the Peter Jackson adaptation, not in the books. Lighter shot requires a smaller catapult to be hurled large distances.
Thus, for example, Sauron could observe Denethor had catapults capable of hurling 1-ton boulders, say, 1 mile - and counter by building catapults capable of hurling 10-pound shells & heads 1.2 or 1.3 miles. And, because of the weight differential, his would be far more portable. Then he sets up his trenches 1.2 miles from the wall (1 mile plus the added range from a 700 foot elevation difference) and starts lobbing.

Also, note that Sauron had no need to try and shoot catapults in the citadel. He was trying to start fires and sow despair. His targets are in the lower city.
Puddleglum, this is quite a good post. However, it still contains many large fundamental problems. I will get back to you later.
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:34 AM   #15
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The Azn, I also think your drawing is inaccurate. When looking at it, the catapults higher up shoot a farther horizontal distance - which I believe is your point. But what that drawing shows is not the advantage of height, but rather that the catapults higher up have more power than those down below, which is not the topic here. All catapults, regardless of their height, throw their loads (assuming the loads are the same) the same distance, and from there it's gravity against inertia. In your drawing, your catapults far up shoot a farther horiontal distance than those down below before the inertia vs gravity thing starts (that would certainly take the load forward some more, but more downwards).

It's hard to explain this without a picture, and mine isn't accurate either, but it shows the difference between what it should be and what you drew. The diagram on the left shows three same-power catapults shooting the same loads, and on the right is what your diagram says. Because I know I won't be accurate I did not draw the trajectories all the way, but even so you can see that it's not first and foremost a question of height, but rather a question of the proportion of height against the distance in front of the catapult that is still your own castle. Certainly the overall distance the highest catapult shots is greater than the lower catapults. But the lower catapults have less Minas Tirith to shoot over too.

Secondly, the advantage in height does not mean the catapult has power to shoot farther. It does not come in with the horizontal distance the catapult projects it's load. It comes after, when the load is already losing height. In this matter I think Mumriken has the better illustration of the trajectories. They are all, regardless of height, the same parabola, but the more room they have the farther they can go - but you know that after a certain point a parabola changes vertically more than horizontally.

And lastly, I want to say again this point that is unrelated to diagrams but also important. Minas Tirith probably did not have catapults at its higher levels, especially that jut of rock in the Citadel.
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:49 AM   #16
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the projectiles seem to shoot too randomly, which should not have happened; ancient artilleries were more consistent than what some might give them credit for. The simulation was so random that the back artillery once hit another artillery on its own side!!! Secondly, although the difference might not be much, air is less dense at 100 ft upwards. Your simulation does not appear to take variations in friction into account.
The reason they're so random is because of the friction between the rock and the catapult itself. I made lots of tests to see what the most common result was. As you can see the back catapults hardly reaches the mordor forces. Your drawing makes it look like they would reach far into the lines which isn't true. You could think of the randomness as different sized blocks of stone. Also you can't really say my simulation is more inacurrate than your drawing since it actually uses a real physic model to simulate what would actually happen. Now you could complain about the perfectly round balls or the force the catapults throws the stones away with. But that still doesn't take away from it showing that your drawing is way off.
EDIT: Also I don't think they placed catapults on that stone thing sticking out.

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Old 08-02-2012, 09:15 AM   #17
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Hey Galadriel55 and Mumriken, most of your points would have been covered in what would have been my response to Puddleglum, Lalwende and my post afterwards.

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Old 08-02-2012, 09:21 AM   #18
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Good morning, Puddleglum. As stated, there are many large fundamental problems with your arguments and I will now explain why.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Puddleglum View Post
I'm not sure the math works out quite like your picture suggests. In an optimal trajectory the angle of the projectile will be at about 45 degrees so an elevation of 700 feet (even assuming the Citadel wall was manned by catapults - which Tolkien never wrote) would give an extra 700 foot range (plus or minus) - that's less that 2/10 of a mile. All Sauron has to do is move his catapults back a couple of city blocks.
And note that the 1000 foot elevation is only from the top of the White Tower - where Denethor had his special viewing chamber with the Palantier - definitiely not big enough for a large number of catapults.
Look at it this way.
  1. Denethor has catapults - but how big does he have them built. Maybe he should have built ones big enough to lob big rocks 10 miles - but he clearly didn't.
  2. Sauron, planning his assault, has excellent spying ability with *HIS* Palantir and so can easily know what size catapults Denethor *does* have.
  3. Sauron then builds larger catapults, capable of throwing 1000 feet further than Denethor's.
  4. By the time Sauron starts his attack, it's too late for Denethor to build new and larger catapults.
  5. Sauron just sets down out of range of Denethor's 'pults and lets loose.
Also, remember that Sauron's catapults did not need to be able to hurl large Truck-sized rocks. Just human heads and other shot that was incendiary.
He had no plan to try and batter down the walls - that was only in the Peter Jackson adaptation, not in the books. Lighter shot requires a smaller catapult to be hurled large distances.
Thus, for example, Sauron could observe Denethor had catapults capable of hurling 1-ton boulders, say, 1 mile - and counter by building catapults capable of hurling 10-pound shells & heads 1.2 or 1.3 miles. And, because of the weight differential, his would be far more portable. Then he sets up his trenches 1.2 miles from the wall (1 mile plus the added range from a 700 foot elevation difference) and starts lobbing.

Also, note that Sauron had no need to try and shoot catapults in the citadel. He was trying to start fires and sow despair. His targets are in the lower city.
Quote:
And note that the 1000 foot elevation is only from the top of the White Tower - where Denethor had his special viewing chamber with the Palantier - definitiely not big enough for a large number of catapults.
Yes, I know that, which is why I did not draw any artilleries on top of the White Tower itself. This is also the reason why I put the height of the artilleries as being from 100 to 200 to 500 to 800 feet high out of the total height 1000 feet. I will now revise and say that the maximum height of the artilleries should be about 700 feet. The result came from subtracting the height of the White Tower, which is 300 feet by itself, with the total height of Minas Tirith (around 1000 feet).

Quote:
(even assuming the Citadel wall was manned by catapults - which Tolkien never wrote)
There are no things in Minas Tirith that would inhibit the placement of small catapults on the Citadel Wall, and I would explain more of this later on below.

Quote:
Look at it this way.
  1. Denethor has catapults - but how big does he have them built. Maybe he should have built ones big enough to lob big rocks 10 miles - but he clearly didn't.
Just to clear up any potential misconception, Denethor does not have to shoot 10 miles. As already stated, 10 miles is the maximum distance of separation from Minas Tirith to Rammas Echor. There are parts of the Rammas Echor that is more than 3 to 4 times as close to Minas Tirith when compared to the furthest distance of separation. As you have already known, 40,000 Mordorians is a very conservative number; heck even 80,000 is still considered to be a moderately conservative number. With this in mind, the Mordorians/Morgulians/Haradrims/etc. would have to be far closer to Minas Tirith than 7 miles.

Quote:
Sauron, planning his assault, has excellent spying ability with *HIS* Palantir and so can easily know what size catapults Denethor *does* have.
And the Gondorians have excellent spying ability as well. Some of the examples would be the fact that the Mumakils and the trolls did not escape Gondorian attentions. In fact, in the case of the Mumakils, the Gondorians have enough time to plan and lay a near perfect ambush. Assessing the strength of the Mordorian artilleries is the matter of life and death for the Gondorians. We know that Denethor, even with small hope, prepared extensively for the siege of life and death, even to the point of having some horses. Horses, besides using to send some messages, are essentially useless and served no purpose in siege warfare. If such things of low priority are worked on, one can imagine the attention paid to the most important things beside walls in siege warfare - artilleries.

Quote:
  • Sauron then builds larger catapults, capable of throwing 1000 feet further than Denethor's.
  • By the time Sauron starts his attack, it's too late for Denethor to build new and larger catapults.
  • Sauron just sets down out of range of Denethor's 'pults and lets loose.[/
1. 1000 feet in more range is not an easy feat. If I am not wrong, I believe that the consensus on the Barrowdowns is that, despite outnumbering the Gondorians by a wide margin, Mordor does not have much resources. Mordor might have a million force for the entire Middle Earth, but not tens of millions. The Witch King outnumbered Minas Tirith, but at the cost of emptying Morgul Vale and nearby Haradrims. You can imagine the cost in life for the Mordorians by just transporting -what would have been- a very ginormous machine across broken roads and terrain. Of course, I even doubt that such machinese can even exist, for even the mighty trebuchet of the technologically advanced period of the Middle Ages cannot match archers on the ground - albeit when used to tear down walls.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV1mVWI413M
2. This has already been stated above, but I will repeat it again. Denethor and the Gondorians have every chance to know about the Mordorian artilleries. The Gondorians being cocky enough to think that artilleries cannot throw light objects does not make much sense
3. This has already been explained in #1.

Quote:
He had no plan to try and batter down the walls - that was only in the Peter Jackson adaptation, not in the books. Lighter shot requires a smaller catapult to be hurled large distances.
So you admit that heads were thrown? Good, because heads are not light. An average human head weighs from 8 to 12 pounds, as much as a small size stone*. *Rember what I said about the stone. As for firebombs, fire needs fuel. A mere gallon of oil weighs from 7 to 8 pound. Even though there are some wooden component, most of the city's architecture are made out of stone. To cause such large fires, the Mordorians would need a lot of gallons of oil. Of course, Professor Tolkien could escape this criticism by claiming magic.

Th
Quote:
us, for example, Sauron could observe Denethor had catapults capable of hurling 1-ton boulders, say, 1 mile - and counter by building catapults capable of hurling 10-pound shells & heads 1.2 or 1.3 miles. And, because of the weight differential, his would be far more portable. Then he sets up his trenches 1.2 miles from the wall (1 mile plus the added range from a 700 foot elevation difference) and starts lobbing.
The refutation has already been explained above. Denethor does not have to throw a 1 ton boulder to cause damages. I will admit that the great director, Peter Jackson, does not make much sense here. For the Mordorian machines to throw even light objects much further than artilleries with sheer height advantage, there is no escaping the fact that the machines would have to be very large.

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Old 08-02-2012, 09:37 AM   #19
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Looking at your drawing again, they would probably reach longer if they used one of these.

But still as Galadriel's drawing and my simulation pointed out. The catapult at the back wouldn't reach the furthest into the lines. The height isn't such a big advantage except if the stones were thrown away very HORIZONTALLY and which much greater force. (Like a bullet)

But these are thrown high up in the air and therefore doesn't reach that far. (See simulation for more detail) Also the movie itself confirms the simulation and the drawing so...game over buddy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAW2LxJRLqM
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:17 AM   #20
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I fail to see how the movies got this one right when movies are notorious for hyping up the large battle sequences and getting physics and reality wrong (but that's also part of the appeal to movies). And your other evidence is a faulty drawing of catapult trajectories.

And on another note:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAzn
As you have already known, 40,000 Mordorians is a very conservative number; heck even 80,000 is still considered to be a moderately conservative number. With this in mind, the Mordorians/Morgulians/Haradrims/etc. would have to be far closer to Minas Tirith than 7 miles.
Well, 40,000 is the the low ball estimate, but 80,000 is at the very high end. The estimate for the Pelennor Fields is really 40-65 thousand. Sauron's force coming out of the Black Gate was 70,000 and I haven't seen a case to show his combined Pelennor Fields force would be greater. The movies 250,000 or whatever it was was again, the film business liking the large, epic battles.
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:31 AM   #21
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There is also this point which was mentioned before but not really elaborated on: the Mordor forces were firing heads over the walls of the first couple levels, and some small loads that would explode into fire. Gondorians were most likely firing large blocks such as you see in the movie. A catapult shoots lighter loads much farther than heavier loads. Gondor did not, for a fact, have anything that would equal to Mordor's explosive loads, and what's the point of firing heads at the orcs?

As for the preparation Denethor would have done, remember that Minas Tirith is unassailable. You can't break the walls with catapults. The Gondorians laughed at Sauron's catapults, because they would not do much harm to the walls. Denethor does not need to prepare a defence for a catapult attack, he has one already.

ETA: and yes, as Mumriken said, height could give advantage to, for example, archers, who shoot on a much flatter parabola. But not so much catapults.
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Old 08-02-2012, 11:04 AM   #22
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And...

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Originally Posted by TheAzn View Post
1. 1000 feet in more range is not an easy feat. If I am not wrong, I believe that the consensus on the Barrowdowns is that, despite outnumbering the Gondorians by a wide margin, Mordor does not have much resources. Mordor might have a million force for the entire Middle Earth, but not tens of millions. The Witch King outnumbered Minas Tirith, but at the cost of emptying Morgul Vale and nearby Haradrims. You can imagine the cost in life for the Mordorians by just transporting -what would have been- a very ginormous machine across broken roads and terrain. Of course, I even doubt that such machinese can even exist, even the mighty trebuchet of the technologically advanced period of the Middle Ages, cannot match archers on the ground - albeit when used to tear down walls.
Well what do the resources have to do with anything? And you're not correct here. Mordor had so many human resources it could almost be called an infinite amount. Denethor sees in the palantir that the vast force that stands at his door is but a small portion of what Sauron has, and that is the reason for his despair.

Quote:
2. This has already been stated above, but I will repeat it again. Denethor and the Gondorians have every chance to know about the Mordorian artilleries. The Gondorians being cocky enough to think that artilleries cannot throw light objects does not make much sense
Oh but it does, unless you really want it not to. All your life you know that catapults are used to hurl large rocks to break fortress walls. Well, you happen to live in a fortress that has walls that won't break. Why would you expect the catapults to be used for other things? A light load would not break even weak walls.

Let me give you an analogy. If you write with milk instead of ink, the writing would be invisible until you iron it a certain way, at which point you would be able to see everything. But most normal people would just write like normal people. Would you iron every letter you get to see if there's something written on it in milk? Would you suspect something every time you see milk in the fridge?

How can you assume that the Gondorians would have known that Mordor wants to fire heads of dead warriors at them?

Quote:
3. This has already been explained in #1.
It doesn't have to be a difference of 1000 feet, you know. About thirty is quite enough.
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Old 08-02-2012, 11:13 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Mumriken View Post
Looking at your drawing again, they would probably reach longer if they used one of these.

But still as Galadriel's drawing and my simulation pointed out. The catapult at the back wouldn't reach the furthest into the lines. The height isn't such a big advantage except if the stones were thrown away very HORIZONTALLY and which much greater force. (Like a bullet)

But these are thrown high up in the air and therefore doesn't reach that far. (See simulation for more detail) Also the movie itself confirms the simulation and the drawing so...game over buddy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAW2LxJRLqM
Although I did admit that Mr. Peter Jackson made more sense than Professor Tolkien in this particular scenario, that does not mean that I agree with Mr. Jackson with everything, even in the scene where I agree with him the most. So no, it is not game over yet, good sir.
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Old 08-02-2012, 11:31 AM   #24
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Hey Boromir88, Galadriel55, and Mumriken, I would like to kindly make a request on what I have already implied.

Can you guys please wait until I have adequately respond to those before you before you guys post anything else? Most of your points are pretty much the same, and I my explanations to the other posters could have refuted your arguments beforehand. I think that it would be best to makes my arguments very clear and honest by responding to each and every one of you. However, when you guys keep on adding new posts when I am not even finished, this "duty" becomes quite hard to do.

However, I think that it is also wrong to make you guys wait and I certainly do not have the right to tell you guys to do anything. Since I will be gone for half a day, I will make my revised arguments right now on this very post. I think this post will refute most of the arguments, and you guys can respond to it. I might expand on the arguments later on.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Gondor Can Use Small Projectiles Too!

Denethor and the Gondorians do not need large and heavy projectiles to destroy the engines of the Mordorians.

A stone was hurled (by hand?) from Barad-dur, and it struck an interesting person. That person was no other than Anarion. Being a of royalty he most likely had a very strong armor, and on his head he wore the "Crown" of Minas Arnor, which is most likely a very strong helmet. The (hand size?) stone broke through the helmet and killed the tough man Anarion instantly. Of course, Barad-dur is much taller than Minas Tirith, being at 5000 feet at the top. However, the stone need not be cast down at that height. Still, I will admit that the case is vague.

But thankfully for me, there is a very clear case, and that would be at a place called Isengard. At the Orthanc, Grima Wormtongue became so desperate that he threw the Palantiri at the people down below. Grima Wormtongue is not retarded; though Palantiri might miss, if the stone were to hit anybody that person would die instantly, even the tough Gandalf. You can test this yourself if you don't believe me ( I do not recommend it). The height of the Orthanc is 500 ft AT MOST. Grima Wormtongue probably threw the Palantiri at a much lower level, probably at 100 to 300 ft.

What is interesting is that, strong or weak from demoralization, Grima uses merely his human strength to throw the stone. This means that the stone was not very heavy. Yet, Professor Tolkien rightly implied that such stone, from height, can cause huge damages.
With this in mind, let's talk about Minas Tirith. Like the Mordorians, the Gondorians can also use light projectiles to gain range. At the end of the pathway, the projectile increases in lethality thanks to the acceleration caused by gravity. To clarify: a projectile fired from the bottom wall has about 100 ft of vertical acceleration; a projectile fired from the Second Wall has 200 ft of vertical acceleration; and a projectile fired near the frontline from the "bow of the ship" has about 700 feet of vertical accleration!!!!

As people know, a mere crack in a cannon can make it useless, and requires a relatively long time to fix. If the Mordorian artilleries have just any of their essential parts destroyed, then those artilleries cannot be fired for a while. This is a mighty advantage for the Gondorians.

It is true that Tolkien did not explicitly mention any aritilleries on the jutted rock. However, having artillieries there is the only option that made sense, especially when we are talking about artillieries that are just larger than 2 people.

Examples of portable artilleries built by normal people:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT1Q09BsMBo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsY7a...eature=related

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Old 08-02-2012, 02:39 PM   #25
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Once the Mordor artilleries have fired their explosive loads, quickly followed by the human heads, they've done their job and it doesn't matter who or what hits them. They can go back to Mordor for all the difference it makes.

And once again, because you still refuse to listen even after all those times that all those people told you so, Gondor's catapults could not reach the Mordorian ones!!! Could not. That's that. You say yourself that Gondorians aren't stupid, that they too can use lighter loads, but the situation for whatever reason was such that whatever they did did not help them in time. And that's that. Period. What's your point here?

As for the palantir, it can kill one person when falling from a height. Big deal, when you have many thousand orcs running at you.
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Old 08-02-2012, 03:13 PM   #26
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Sorry, TheAzn, I'm not sure I'm following your recent post. I mean, unless you can please explain the phsyics necessary for how a greater height = greater horizontal distance of the trajectory's endpoint?

I don't see why the Mordor lines could not have been parked out of range, while their own catapults were lobbing in lighter projectiles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by G55
As for the palantir, it can kill one person when falling from a height. Big deal, when you have many thousand orcs running at you.
The Orthanc stone wasn't, but some of the palantiri were quite large...we're talking about multiple people being necessary to transport them. In fact...I think a palantir-wrecking ball would be quite effective and more useful than their spying advantage.
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Old 08-02-2012, 07:57 PM   #27
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Welcome to the Downs, TheAzn.

Your thread is obviously intriguing enough that many have replied and you should be quite pleased with that, even if it is hard to catch up.

I have to say, though, that your thread title certainly seems to wave a red flag at many of us and for that reason I shall be on my best behaviour and not reply.

You've made quite a successful entrance.
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Old 08-04-2012, 06:17 PM   #28
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Eye You say catapult I say trebuchet, lets call the whole thing off

As TheAzn says,

an equally powerful stone thrower in an elevated position could shoot further than one at ground level. However, this increase in range can never be more than half the range on the flat, assuming everything is shot at the most efficient 45 degree angle.

Reconstructed medieval designs for trebuchets can shoot a heavy projectile out to about 300 metres, while with modern materials and improvements trebuchets have been designed that can throw a pumpkin 620 metres.

The question remains as to why Sauron's catapults outranged Denethor's. Of course nobody knows the answer, but a possibilities suggests themselves. First of all the obvious conclusion is that Sauron's catapults were just more powerful, but why could't or didn't Minas Tirith make similarly powerful machines?

First, Sauron was a Maia originally of Aule! If anyone knew how to build a war machine, it was Sauron. Maybe Gondor's machines were just not as technically advanced?

Secondly, the medieval trebuchets were very big, typically they were transported in bits to a siege and constructed on site. It may just be that there wasn't sufficient space on Minas Tirith's ramparts and towers to build a huge enough example to outrange Sauron's.

Thirdly, the Gondorians seem to have considered the main use of catapults as battering down walls and were confident that their walls were un-batterable. So it might have made sense to them to build more smaller 'antipersonnel' catapults to take a toll of any force attempting to scale the walls or use siege towers etc. This of course leaves them open to counter-battery fire. But remember they didn't have Sauron's enormous resources, so may have had to settle for a less than ideal artillery arm.
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Old 08-10-2012, 04:28 PM   #29
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Most of the salient points (Sauron's forces did take massive losses but their driving will and sheer numbers made up for it; available materials might have been lacking in Minas Tirith to gear up any more; catapults might not have been available in large numbers or farther up the walls, etc) have already been covered, but two more clear factors in JRRT's favor should be noted:

1) He specifically stated in The Hobbit of orcs (here under the aegis of "goblins"):

"They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones. . . Hammers, axes, swords, daggers, pickaxes, tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well. . . It is not unlikely that they invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosives always delighted them"

Score one for JRRT giving the Mordor forces a very clear tech advantage in the war machine dep't, regardless of foreknowledge of MT's catapults. That foreknowledge, incidentally, might have been good intel, whether magically gained, or simply via spies; Gondor showed no lack of corruptable characters on the mundane side, and Denethor was using the Palantir, likely giving Sauron a glimpse in.

2) The fell beasts were not usable for overflies of the city, as they were not really armored. They would fall to archers easily. Given the importance of his wraiths, Sauron would not risk them to destroy a few paltry catapults.
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Old 08-11-2012, 02:48 PM   #30
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Silmaril

First, do not take my post too seriously. I'm rather... hmm... well let's say used for lack of other words. Do not let me spoil this debate, though there's something I must add.

Quote:
Secondly, the medieval trebuchets were very big, typically they were transported in bits to a siege and constructed on site. It may just be that there wasn't sufficient space on Minas Tirith's ramparts and towers to build a huge enough example to outrange Sauron's.
Quote:
2) The fell beasts were not usable for overflies of the city, as they were not really armored. They would fall to archers easily. Given the importance of his wraiths, Sauron would not risk them to destroy a few paltry catapults.
Well, these two would be of most importance, from my point of view.

Third would be... a man.

In my lifetime (Which ain't long) I have told a story of cities conquered, or fought for, countless times (let Leggy stand as my witness), (yeah I'm zealous RPG; <DnD> player, but that matters not). Constructing scene with hundreds of thousands involved, you just do not not care about neccesities of physics. Mass. velocity, friction, does that really matter in Middle-Earth? I think it might be the same case with JRRT. He told us about the time, when The World changed. Cataclysm, and no less. Apocalypse, told perhaps by another point of view... But shedding The veil just leads us to another Age. Does it not? And what matters then? Physics? Thought? Conviction? Belief?

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Old 08-12-2012, 06:26 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Ozban View Post
Constructing scene with hundreds of thousands involved, you just do not not care about neccesities of physics. Mass. velocity, friction, does that really matter in Middle-Earth? I think it might be the same case with JRRT. He told us about the time, when The World changed. Cataclysm, and no less. Apocalypse, told perhaps by another point of view... But shedding The veil just leads us to another Age. Does it not? And what matters then? Physics? Thought? Conviction? Belief?
From Letter 210:
The Lord of the Rings may be a ‘fairy-story’, but it takes place in the Northern hemisphere of this earth: miles are miles, days are days, and weather is weather.
From John D. Rateliff, The History of the Hobbit, The Fifth Phase, Timelines and Itinerary, vi. The Wandering Moon, note 2:
Tolkien of course was not alone in creating this shift: Joyce’s Ulysses, where both of the major characters’ actions can be followed hour-by-hour and street-by-street through a single day on a Dublin city map, pioneered this mode in the realistic novel a decade and a half before Tolkien began work on his magnum opus.
But Rateliff exaggerates. In medieval times Wolfram von Eschenbach in his Parzival is obviously working from a conceptual map of places, exact times, and genealogies and in the immense Prose Lancelot large sections are consistent with one another down to counts of days and agreement with what the current weekday names must be in sections hundreds of pages apart.

See Morgoth’s Ring (HoME X), edited by Christopher Tolkien, Part 5 Myths Transformed. Tolkien’s earlier fantasy writing had contained much that could be just put down a pure fancy, not realistic at all. Accordingly Tolkien must now consider that the tales told in the Silmarillion and the Akallabęth are traditions passed down among Men and mingled with inventions of their own. As Tolkien writes:
The High Eldar living and being tutored by the demiurgic beings must have known, or at least their writers and loremasters must have known, the ‘truth’ (according to their measure of understanding). What we have in the Silmarillion etc. are traditions (especially personalized, and centred upon actors, such as Fëanor) handed on by Men in Núnenor and later in Middle-earrth (Arnor and Gondor); but already far back — from the first association of the Dúnedain and Elf-friends with the Eldar in Beleriand — blended and confused with their own Mannish myths and cosmic ideas.
In short, in intent, The Lord of the Rings does not contain anything intentionally not congruent with what is known today of physics, mass, velocity, and friction.
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Old 08-13-2012, 01:59 AM   #32
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Sorry for my week long absence, guys. I have been a bit busy.
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Nice thread!

I think that the difference between the two powers lay in the false pride of the Gondorians and the superior technology and tactics of Sauron's forces. Let's look...

The walls of Minas Tirith are mighty, and believed impregnable. Remember that this is the final sanctuary of Gondor. To get there, any force must first take Minas Ithil and then Osgiliath. The walls are designed to keep forces out at the last. But walls to protect are only as good as the weakness of the force beseiging them. If it's a strong force, then those within can be beaten by other means. And the residents know this:

Sauron's force know this. And they have the technology to force the inevitable despair to come on more quickly. Their seige engines and catapults aren't designed to smash or crush, just to fling lighter, and often firey, missiles at a greater height. They also have more advanced weaponry:

The catapults aren't described as small, and presumably with a vast and brutalised army at his disposal, dragging huge war engines across the plain might not be such a problem for Sauron. They are also set up behind those firey trenches so presumably they also do not move once set up.

Therefore, you can assume that Minas Tirith simply did not have catapults which could outmatch them, even given the advantage of height. Why is interesting. Is that because the residents felt safe behind that wall? Perhaps they were unable to place large catapults due to the design of the city (which is very old). Perhaps it was a lack of resources.

The following shows Sauron's tactics again and how they worked. He has ignored the impossibility of breaching the wall and instead used his tech to spread despair and incendiaries over the wall. Some of the garrison have run away sickened at the sight of the heads of their comrades used as missiles, others have had to help put out the raging inferno. There's now hardly anyone to defend the city from those running up to attack it. The only thing that can stop it now is an attack on the rear or flank of Sauron's forces, and nobody expects this.
Hey Lalwende. This is a good post!!! Thank you for providing quotes from the book.

Quote:
At first men laughed and did not greatly fear such devices. For the main wall of the City was of great height and marvellous thickness, built ere the power and craft of Numenor waned in exile; and its outward face was like to the Tower of Orthanc, hard and dark and smooth, unconquerable by steel or fire, unbreakable except by some convulsion that would rend the very earth on which it stood.
Not greatly fearing the devices, any reasonable person can understand. But to laugh? As shown by the people countering me on this thread, it does not take a physicist to immediately realise that lighter - but still deadly - things can be thrown over the walls. Firebombs that cause raging infernos are one of them. Infected body parts and animal wastes are another. No seasoned, elite soldiers should display such a lack in correct judgement - especially when some of their friends just ate dirt on the Pelennor Fields. Professor Tolkien was not an infallible author, and this is probably another good example of a few things that he had not really thought through.

Quote:
Therefore, you can assume that Minas Tirith simply did not have catapults which could outmatch them, even given the advantage of height. Why is interesting.
This is indeed probably what Tolkien wanted things to be, and he would be substantially mistaken based on the situations that the professor himself created.

Quote:
Is that because the residents felt safe behind that wall?
Unlikely so, as have been discussed above.

Quote:
Perhaps they were unable to place large catapults due to the design of the city (which is very old).
This has been refuted. Between Minas Tirith lacking spaces and having a lot of spaces, there are more evidence for the latter. I will explain more below in what will be my responses to the general arguments made against me.

Quote:
Perhaps it was a lack of resources.
This has also been refuted. Every aspect of the Gondorian military that we have read about has been well maintained. Even horses - useless in siege warfare with the exceptions in communications and rare rescue operations - were kept in great numbers in Minas Tirith ( there were at least 100 mounted Swan Knights of Dol Amroth). Those stables used to housed horses could have been cleared away for more spaces, not that Minas Tirith was lacking in any.

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Old 08-13-2012, 02:02 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
The Azn, I also think your drawing is inaccurate. When looking at it, the catapults higher up shoot a farther horizontal distance - which I believe is your point. But what that drawing shows is not the advantage of height, but rather that the catapults higher up have more power than those down below, which is not the topic here. All catapults, regardless of their height, throw their loads (assuming the loads are the same) the same distance, and from there it's gravity against inertia. In your drawing, your catapults far up shoot a farther horiontal distance than those down below before the inertia vs gravity thing starts (that would certainly take the load forward some more, but more downwards).
Hey Galadriel55. Besides a few things, I pretty much agree with what you said, but there are a few problems. Before expressing your opinion on who is more accurate, please have the courtesy to wait and ask for more clarity. Before I continue, I would like to say that I am at fault also. I should have been more clearer in my OP. As stated in my later post, there is less air friction the higher up you go. My drawing takes this fact into account. But more important is the fact that the catapults in my drawing were meant to not shoot the same loads. I guess I have to make some edits for my drawings.
And yes, I am saying that the Gondorians can use even lighter loads than the Mordorians to bombard , while the Mordorians can only cause “little” damage with their light but still heavier loads. I will explain more below in what will be my great responses to the general arguments made against me.

Quote:
It's hard to explain this without a picture, and mine isn't accurate either, but it shows the difference between what it should be and what you drew. The diagram on the left shows three same-power catapults shooting the same loads, and on the right is what your diagram says. Because I know I won't be accurate I did not draw the trajectories all the way, but even so you can see that it's not first and foremost a question of height, but rather a question of the proportion of height against the distance in front of the catapult that is still your own castle. Certainly the overall distance the highest catapult shots is greater than the lower catapults. But the lower catapults have less Minas Tirith to shoot over too.
If we are talking about the same load, then yes you are quite right. But just to be perfectly clear on one thing, even the catapults placed on the lower wall will have the advantage of height, if Tolkien is consistent with his writing. The advantage will not be humongous, but it will be significant if the height is somewhere around 100 ft.

Quote:
Secondly, the advantage in height does not mean the catapult has power to shoot farther. It does not come in with the horizontal distance the catapult projects it's load. It comes after, when the load is already losing height. In this matter I think Mumriken has the better illustration of the trajectories. They are all, regardless of height, the same parabola, but the more room they have the farther they can go - but you know that after a certain point a parabola changes vertically more than horizontally.
Besides your opinion on the accuracy of Mumriken’s illustration compared to mine, I pretty much agree with you. Yes, after a certain point, the parabola changes vertically more than horizontally.

Quote:
And lastly, I want to say again this point that is unrelated to diagrams but also important. Minas Tirith probably did not have catapults at its higher levels, especially that jut of rock in the Citadel.
This is the greatest problem with your post. The evidence is actually quite to the contrary; catapults, if Professor Tolkien is to remain consistent, would have very likely been placed at the higher levels, and the jut of rock is no exception.
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Old 08-13-2012, 02:06 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Mumriken View Post
The reason they're so random is because of the friction between the rock and the catapult itself. I made lots of tests to see what the most common result was. As you can see the back catapults hardly reaches the mordor forces. Your drawing makes it look like they would reach far into the lines which isn't true. You could think of the randomness as different sized blocks of stone. Also you can't really say my simulation is more inacurrate than your drawing since it actually uses a real physic model to simulate what would actually happen. Now you could complain about the perfectly round balls or the force the catapults throws the stones away with. But that still doesn't take away from it showing that your drawing is way off.
EDIT: Also I don't think they placed catapults on that stone thing sticking out.
Since I have already typed them out, I will repeat what I have said to miss Galadriel55.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAzn View Post
Hey Galadriel55. Besides a few things, I pretty much agree with what you said, but there are a few problems. Before expressing your opinion on who is more accurate, please have the courtesy to wait and ask for more clarity. Before I continue, I would like to say that I am at fault also. I should have been more clearer in my OP. As stated in my later post, there is less air friction the higher up you go. My drawing takes this fact into account. But more important is the fact that the catapults in my drawing were meant to not shoot the same loads. I guess I have to make some edits for my drawings.
And yes, I am saying that the Gondorians can use even lighter loads than the Mordorians to bombard , while the Mordorians can only cause “little” damage with their light but still heavier loads. I will explain more below in what will be my great responses to the general arguments made against me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mumriken View Post
Now you could complain about the perfectly round balls or the force the catapults throws the stones away with
Well, what I am going to do is not really complaining, more like pointing out your mistakes. If you were to think things through a bit more carefully, you would see that the Gondorians would, if Tolkien is consistent, have very likely produced exactly those round stones or any other aerodynamically efficient projectiles - especially if those projectiles are small and thus do not require much resources.

As stated already, just because I agree with Peter Jackson does not mean that I agree with him entirely. I agree with Peter Jackson more than Professor Tolkien on this particular event because it makes sense for Gondor to be able to reach the Mordorian artilleries. I have never claimed that Peter Jackson was right by making the Gondorians shoot boulders against the Mordorians. My original drawing was supposed to portray the flight path of aerodynamically efficient projectiles.

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Old 08-13-2012, 02:15 AM   #35
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My Grand Refutation to the General Counter-Arguments Made Against Me
There are four main points that I would like to make that would refute most of the people’s arguments on this thread. These four points are, in no particular order: (1) Despite having strong walls, the Gondorians still have many overwhelming incentives to use the best artilleries; (2) Gondor can use light projectiles too, and can amazingly still create more damages than the Mordorians; (3) If Tolkien is to remain consistent, then there is nothing in Minas Tirith that would prevent the use and deployment of artilleries; (4) There are limits as to how bad the Gondorian artilleries can be and there are limits as to how good the Mordorian artilleries can be.
Due to the nature of the debate, I will provide multiple pictures. Because there are restrictions on how many pictures I can put down per post, my arguments will come in multiple posts.


Let us now begin. As you can see, the simplified picture below shows a trebuchet-like artillery firing a piece of projectile. The dotted lines represent the forward path of the projectile if it was to be fired from a ground level position. When the projectile crosses the dotted lines, that would have been its maximum range at ground level.


With the basic things - I hope - starting out clearly, let me show you a revised edition of my first drawing. In this revision, you can now clearly see that the parabola is not symmetrical, and the last half of the trajectory tend to drop down faster than the rise of the first half. The walls will not be exactly equal in height, since Professor Tolkien merely stated that each walls were “about 100 feet higher” than the other. This, in case you are wondering, is why the 1st wall is about 70 feet in height in my picture.


As can be seen from the dotted lines, each artilleries on the Gondorian sides are firing the same load. The most interesting question, then, is why are the Gondorians are outranging the Mordorians when the Gondorians have weaker artilleries. There are 2 answers and both should have been easily understood from the beginning. The first answer is that the Gondorians have a sheer advantage in height. Past the dotted lines, the projectiles fired from Minas Tirith was able to gain more range, even when they are going down faster than going forward. This is an advantage that the Mordorians do not have.
The second and more important answer is that the Gondorians are using lighter projectiles, even lighter than what the Mordorians are using. We know that a human head weigh around 8 to 12 lbs. So, assuming that the Mordorians did not fire multiple heads per round, 8 to 12 lbs are the smallest weight of projectile possible for certain Mordorian artilleries that are firing. The firebombs are a bit tricky, since Tolkien can simply invoke magic. However, just in case some people are curious, a mere gallon of “average” oil weigh from 6 to 8 lbs.
The Gondorians can simply respond to this threat by shooting stones weighing from 5 lbs to 4 lbs to 2 lbs. In other words, these stones would weigh- respectively speaking - twice, thrice and six times less than the heads thrown from the Mordorian lines. The Gondorians should have no problem reaching the baddies.

But this begs a question. How can a mere 5 lb - much less a 2lb - stone do great damages? The answer to the interesting question is very clear: please look at the blue lines on the above drawing. The Gondorians have extra help from friendly gravity, something that the Mordorians do not. Of course, lines might be confusing to some people here, so I decided to call for help. The people that I just called are Saruman the White and Mr. Grima, who are now good guys. They will teleport here to the Pelennor Fields, and the Orthanc will come with them. Hi Ho!!!!!! They are here now, in the middle of the Mordorian forces, throwing 5 lb stones from the various heights of the Orthanc.

The picture below shows the Gondorian artilleries from the bottom 3 levels firing 5 lb stones, while Grima, at the same heights, redeems himself by throwing 5 lb stones at another piece of Modorian artilleries.

Last edited by TheAzn; 08-13-2012 at 03:29 AM.
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Old 08-13-2012, 02:20 AM   #36
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My Grand Refutation to the General Counter-Arguments Made Against Me(Cont'd)

The picture below shows the Gondorian artilleries from the upper 3 levels firing 5 lb stones, while Grima, at the same heights, redeems himself by throwing 5 lb stones at another piece of Modorian artilleries.


Can you imagine the sheer speed gained from acceleration at various heights? If you are in awe, then you have reached the right conclusion. A 5 lb stone dropped from 500 feet will gain a speed close to its speed in vacuum - 101 miles per hour.

What can an object traveling at 101 miles per hour do? Below is a video showing what a mere 15 lb wiggly wood, traveling between 70 miles per hour to greater than 100 miles per hour, can do.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8hs1...6157DAE738106D

The holes might look small from afar, but it is actually sizeable. The same force from the stones would have likely created gaping cracks in all of the Mordorian (mostly wooden ) artilleries, rendering them useless.

Of course, there is a limit as to how light the projectiles could go. For the lighter the projectiles the more the air resistance can influence it. However, the shape of an object is more important than weight when it comes to air resistance. A 100 lb Flatboard will not fly as far as a 2 lb Round Stone when fired from the same “source”.
I am also aware that an object in real life cannot accelerate by gravity forever. A dropped object , as you know, accelerate due to the weight of the said object. The lighter the object, the faster air resistance can stop acceleration from gravity. The result is the final velocity called the terminal velocity, and this velocity will not change until the object hit the ground ( and it will change to 0 of course). However, I am willing to say that even a 2 lb stone would still have an amazing terminal velocity when dropped from 400 feet and above.

The Siege of Gondor should have been a bad day for the poor Mordorian siege equipments, with no additional help from gravity. Those heads, with their surrounding soft flesh, can serve not much purpose besides making people sick and tiring their shield arms. Meanwhile, things were very favorable for the Gondorians. Under no circumstances should the Gondorians have any problems using light projectiles to reach the trenches, and then let friendly gravity enhance greatly the destructiveness of the projectiles.

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Old 08-13-2012, 02:29 AM   #37
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My Grand Refutation to the General Counter-Arguments Made Against Me(Cont'd)

Sadly, there are still some counterarguments for my refutations. Since the artilleries cannot destroy the lower Great Wall of Minas Tirith, why would the Gondorians waste time and resources to take care of any artilleries of their own? The correct answer, like always, should have been easily understood to readers from the beginning. Without artilleries, there are still things that are very dangerous in Middle Earth; anything can happen and having extra range, especially in a life or death struggle, is exceptionally necessary. False pride cannot explain Gondorian behaviors, unless false pride means “sub-human intelligence”.

Gondor has been aware of the Haradrims and their Mumakils for an exceptionally long time before the War of Ring. And it was known to most people that the Mumakils were roaming openly in Ithilien, threatening Gondor. Indeed, the Mumakils were one of the animals leading the assault on Minas Tirith. Description for the height of such creatures varies. However, when adding their height and that of the towers on their back, the Gondorian Archer’s advantage in height disappears to nothing. The Haradrims can afford huge casualties; the Gondorians cannot. Thousands of arrows later, and the Oliphaunts might feel a bit irritated. Meanwhile, the Haradrims rained death upon the Gondorians, all before the orcs and trolls even reach the walls. Only Fools do not want artilleries in such a scenario. With artilleries, cheap stones can crack the skull, break the spine, or knock out the pillars supporting the towers of the Mumakil. Sure, I might be overestimating here, and the stone might cause nothing but irritation. But at least the beasts were irritated before the Haradrim can even rain death upon the poor Gondorian archers. The archers of Gondor can then focus on what archery is most efficient doing: killing masses of orcs.

But let’s continue assuming that the Gondorians like to waste arrows. As implied, there is another tough type of creatures, and it would be the trolls. After the Mumakils were finally irritated enough to go insane and trample on some forces of Mordor, the trolls rushed forward. With abundant arrows they are already tough enough to kill,and the poor Gondorians have expended most of their arrows. Although the lower walls cannot be broken, it can be climbed over. Needless to say trolls in close quarter combat, a type of warfare in cities, are very dangerous. If killed, they can still win by collapsing on you. These large creatures could have been shot down beyond arrow range and before they could reach the wall. The incentives for High -Tech Artilleries grow exceptionally strong. To reiterate, only Fools do not want artilleries in such a scenario.

The final and greatest point on the subject of incentives would be this: round stones are actually cheap to produce and do not require great resources. Please watch the video below. You may skip to 1:34 minutes and watch up to 7:23 minutes.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn2wbZow8cw
As you will see, it requires only one person to carve out a 57 lbs stone in just a few days. Amazingly, a 57 lbs (26 kgs) stone might be even cheaper to produce than a single arrow!!! And no, the artilleries themselves need not be more expensive than bows. Although requiring more materials, certain artilleries can be built within a year, while certain bows needed 2 to 3 years to dry out. The incentives for the Gondorians to prioritize strong artilleries before any other weapons is now indescribable. Only the most foolish of Fools do not want artilleries in such a scenario.
.................................................. .................................................. .

I have pretty much refuted the arguments that, because of their strong walls, the Gondorians have no incentives to build artilleries. When the Gondorians are so stupendously outnumbered, they have every incentive to increase range.


But what about the problem of space? I have to say that this is not a problem for my arguments at all. Most of the population has been evacuated or simply uninhabited from earlier periods. Obviously prudent steps should have been taken by tearing down non-essential buildings. I am not talking only about removing fire threats from the engines of Mordor. There are also accidental fire threats that could happen from the inside as well. Also, if the orcs managed to climb or break in, you do not want these evil beings to be sheltered from the arrows of the above levels. Certainly, some buildings need to be spared, but I believe that a lot of space could be created. Of course, Minas Tirith might not look pretty once Gondor wins the war, but Gondor would have to win first. If artilleries cannot be placed on the walls, then they can be placed on the newly created “ground” of each level. Since the “ground” rises higher at every level, the effect is still the same as the artilleries being placed on top of the walls.

One question remains about the problem of space. Can artilleries be placed on the top of the Ship Rock? Tolkien did not explicitly state whether or not artilleries were posted there. However, the sheer amount of evidence support my position that they were indeed posted there. Before continuing on, let us look at the quote below.
Quote:
Minas Tirith
For the fashion of Minas Tirith was such that it was built on seven levels, each delved into the hill, and about each was set a wall, and in each wall was a gate. But the gates were not set in a line: the Great Gate in the City Wall was at the east point of the circuit, but the next faced half south, and the third half north, and so to and fro upwards; so that the paved way that climbed towards the Citadel turned first this way and then that across the face of the hill. And each time that it passed the line of the Great Gate it went through an arched tunnel, piercing a vast pier of rock whose huge out thrust bulk divided in two all the circles of the City save the first. For partly in the primeval shaping of the hill, partly by the mighty craft and labour of old, there stood up from the rear of the wide court behind the Gate a towering bastion of stone, its edge sharp as a ship-keel facing east. Up it rose, even to the level of the topmost circle, and there was crowned by a battlement; so that those in the Citadel might, like mariners in a mountainous ship, look from its peak sheer down upon the Gate seven hundred feet below.
Other than the problem of space, there is also a concern about whether or not the rock can handle the forces created by the artillery pieces. Thankfully for me, sheer evidence supported the opinion that it most likely can handle the ordeal. The rock was already securely there, and there was also work on it by a mighty craft. These special craftsmen were most likely the same ones that built the mighty Lower Wall.

But even without the explanation of “magical craftsmen”, there are plenty of places in the world today where heavy items are safely placed on what seems like precarious lands. One such example would be Christ the Redeemer, which was built while Tolkien was alive.



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Old 08-13-2012, 02:40 AM   #38
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My Grand Refutation to the General Counter-Arguments Made Against Me(Cont'd)

So there are no problems about the rock crumbling, and now we are back to talking about the issue of space. Thankfully for me again, it is also clear that space is not lacking on the Upper Deck of The Ship. The blatantly obvious clue here is the word “mariners”; even at the very tip of The Ship, there is enough room for multiple persons. Since the rock is described only as the bow of the ship and not as an entire ship (bow and stern), it is obvious that the rock would only widen when you move back towards the Tower of Ecthelion; there can only be more spaces behind the “front tip” of The Ship. Many artilleries can be placed just a bit behind the Second Wall, and they will be 700 feet up in the air.


Indeed, all of the precise replicas of Minas Tirith that I have ever seen shows that many people can be fitted on the Upper Deck. All the things that might hinder the placement of artilleries on The Ship has now been eliminated. If the Gondorians still won’t place the artilleries on such a great height, then they are far below “sub-human” in terms of intelligence. The sheer amount of advantages that they are throwing away is appalling.

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Old 08-13-2012, 02:44 AM   #39
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My Grand Refutation to the General Counter-Arguments Made Against Me(Cont'd)
The only thing left against my arguments now is that the Mordorians simply might have used a far more technologically superior set of artilleries. My refutation to the argument, again, should have been easily understood from the beginning. There is a limit to how powerful the Mordorian artilleries can be. We know that the Mordorians were not using cannons because of several reasons.
1. It said so in the text itself.
Quote:
As soon as the great catapults were set, with many yells and the creaking of rope and winch, they began to throw missiles marvellously high, so that they passed right above the battlement and fell thudding within the first circle of the City; and many of them by some secret art burst into flame as they came toppling down.
2. More importantly, we know that intact heads were thrown. If the heads were fired from inside the cannons, then these projectiles would explode into smithereens before they could even left the barrels.

So the best artilleries that the Mordorians are left with are trebuchets. One of the largest trebuchets, flinging an average pumpkin - about 10 to 20 lbs, almost the same as a human head - has a maximum range of far less than one mile. Here is the record list from Pumpkin Chuckin.
http://www.punkinchunkin.com/current-world-record
Look for a siege engint titled Yankee Siege II.
Here is a Youtube video about it. The first trebuchet shown is Yankee Siege II.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNbIVvtujZA

Of course, it might be that the Mordorian artilleries were enhanced by “magic”. However, I have a refutation to that argument as well. Since I do not have a lot of time left, I will not post my refutation here. You can ask me for it later if you are curious.

Then there is also a limit to how weak the Gondorian artilleries can be. No matter how Gondor was lacking in resources, an entire nation will always have more resources than a middle-income family of modern time. Yet, as seen in many Youtube videos, middle-income families can amazingly build ancient style artilleries that can compete with archery. Yes, some of these scrawny artilleries built by lay people may fall very short of standard, but they are still impressive given their cheapness. Ancient artilleries like ballistas, catapults and trebuchets required many people to operate. If the artilleries are not better than a simple bowman, then there is no point in building them. And I have made a strong point that Gondor MUST have artilleries.

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Old 08-13-2012, 02:50 AM   #40
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My Grand Refutation to the General Counter-Arguments Made Against Me (FINISH)

Some people here might be curious as to why I am a bit serious about this apparently trivial error in writing. I hope that I am able to explain this clearly: the inconsistencies created by this plot hole is largest that I have ever seen in the trilogy.

1.) As the quote explains, the Mordorian trenches were just outside the range of the Archers of Gondor. Being just outside the range of the archers, the workings of the enemies should have been well within the range of any serious artilleries. If Tolkien thought that the Gondorians only have very weak artilleries, then he is terribly mistaken. The inconsistencies of the plot here are horrendous.
Quote:
Siege of Gondor

Busy as ants hurrying Orcs were digging, digging lines of deep trenches in a huge ring, just out of bowshot from the walls; and as the trenches were made each was filled with fire, though how it was kindled or fed, by art or devilry, none could see. All day the labour went forward, while the men of Minas Tirith looked on, unable to hinder it. And as each length of trench was completed, they could see great wains approaching; and soon yet more companies of the enemy were swift setting up, each behind the cover of a trench, great engines for the casting of missiles. There were none upon the City walls large enough to reach so far or to stay the work.
2.) The explanation that the Gondorians have no artilleries is an even worse alternative. If this is what the Professor thought should happen, then he is terribly mistaken. The inconsistencies here are horrendous beyond words.

So why am I excited? I am not just confirming the basic fact that Professor Tolkien, like every human authors out there, are not infallible. What I am excited about is that I believe that I have found one of Professor Tolkien’s greatest writing mistakes; I believe that I have found one of the greatest plot holes in the entire Lord of the Ring series. The Minas Tirith that Professor Tolkien described is being utilized nowhere near its highest potential, very nonsensical when we are talking about preparing for life and death struggles.

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