Golden Age Weaponsmiths M109A6 “Paladin” Self Propelled Howitzer:
The M109 Howitzer served the United States military for many decades and was upgraded multiple times during it operational career. It was operated by the United States Army as well as being exported to multiple countries including Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, and Taiwan. The artillery system was a bit lighter than those built by other nations but was still quite effective.
The M109A6 “Paladin” version of the Self Propelled Howitzer was an upgraded version with a longer barrel, higher survivability, better top speed, and improved electronics. The United States Military upgraded all of their M109 Howitzers to the M109A6 configuration but other nations purchased new “Paladin” Howitzers. These upgraded Howitzers formed the mainstay of the United States military's self propelled artillery during the start of the Twenty-First Century.
Because artillery never really goes out of date, a surprising number of M109A6 “Paladin” Howitzers survived in National Guard armories until the coming of the Rifts. It is believed that they were retired to the National Guard when the Mega-Damage revolution made all military hardware outdated. Some of the “Paladin” self propelled howitzers were converted using new armor materials. Even though a replacement vehicle was developed, they were never operated in large enough numbers to completely replace the Paladin. The converted vehicles were only retired when the Galahad was developed as a replacement for both vehicles. Some of these Nation Guard armories were in well protected and out of the way areas and survived the coming of the Rifts. Golden Age Weaponsmiths has found a good number of these units and have refitted them and sold them. While most mercenary companies prefer missile type artillery, the higher payload and lower cost per round makes them attractive to many companies and they usually sell quickly when they are available. Iron Heart Armament designed up a new self propelled howitzer design based on their light tank design.
The most important problem to be solved is that the vehicles are very vulnerable to weapons fire from post rifts weapons. The solution was to add modern external composite armor to the vehicle. Weaponry is unchanged with the exception that they now use post rifts ammunition types. The 39 caliber 155 mm howitzer uses standard artillery rounds and the 50 caliber machine gun fires ramjet rounds instead of standard rounds. These Howitzers carry limited amount of ammunition so they are normally escorted by trucks or other vehicles that carry additional ordinance. One of the improvements in the M109A6 “Paladin” is that the vehicle can begin firing after only about one minute of setting up. This is designed to protect the vehicle from counter battery fire. As well, the howizter has a semi automatic loading system to retain a higher rate of fire. Purchasers of the vehicle often add an additional weapon with mini-missile launchers for short range protection being the most common.
While the electronics are not to the standards of later military vehicles, the M109A6 has a fire control computer to increase the accuracy of the main gun, night vision electronics, and special data link gear to enable the vehicle to received targeting information from another position. The howitzer has an inertial positioning and navigation system which is integrated with the automatic fire control system. The M109A6 also includes protection against chemical, nuclear, and biological attacks.
Model Type: GAW M109A6 “Paladin”
Vehicle Type: Self Propelled Howitzer
Crew: Four (Driver, Gunner, Loader, and Commander).
M.D.C. by Location:
| Tractor Treads (2):||45 each|
|Support Feet (4)||20 each|
|12.7 mm Machine Gun (right side of turret):||20|
| Main Body:||280|
 Depleting the M.D.C. of a tread will immobilize the Howitzer until it is replaced. Replacing a tread will take 1D6x10 minutes by a trained crew (2 replacements are carried on board) or three times as long by the inexperienced. Changing the tread is only advisable when the vehicle is not under attack.
 If all the M.D.C. of the main body is depleted, the vehicle is completely shut down and is unsalvageable.
Ground: Cruising speed on land is 35 mph (56.3 kph) on roads and 30 mph (48.3 kph) off road maximum. The vehicle is designed to traverse virtually all terrain and can climb at up to a 60% grade although at a much slower speed (About 10% of maximum road speed). It can also climb barriers and ford trenches. The vehicle can also handle side slopes of up to 30%.
Maximum Range: 213.7 miles (344 km)
Height: 9.2 feet (2.8 meters) without machine mount and 10.6 feet (3.236 meters) including machine gun mount
Width: 10.3 feet (3.15 meters)
Length: 20.3 feet (6.19 meters) for main body and 32.2 feet (9.8 meters) with gun forward:
Weight: 26 tons (23.6 metric tons) empty and 31.7 tons (28.74 metric tons) combat loaded
Power Source: Diesel Engine (Detroit Diesel Model 8V-71T developing 440 horsepower).
Cargo Capacity: Minimal, enough for equipment with crew
Black Market Cost: 175,000 Credits. If fitted, any extra weapons systems will add to the cost of the Howitzer.
- 155 mm / 39 Caliber Howitzer: Very powerful and long range
weapon that is capable of 360 degree rotation and the barrel can elevate
up to 75 degrees and depress down 3 degrees. The M109A6 must plant before
firing its howitzer (takes one minute to set up). It fires standard artillery
and is normally fired indirectly on the target but can be fired as direct
fire if necessary. The cannon is partially automatic but uses a gunner
so the gun fire will slow down eventually. While the cannon is original,
it uses modern Rifts artillery rounds and can use both non rocket assisted
and rocket assisted rounds.
Maximum Effective Range: 14.9 miles (24 km) for non rocket assisted and 22.6 miles (36.4 km) for rocket assisted projectiles.
Mega-Damage: By artillery round type (Go to Battlefield Artillery for Rifts for details: Fragmentation 2D4x10, High Explosive 2D6x10, Armor Piercing 3D6x10, Plasma 4D6x10, and has a vast number of other type of rounds as well).
Rate of Fire: Burst fire of 3 rounds in 15 seconds, 8 rounds per minute (2 per melee) for three minutes, 1 round per minute (4 melees) for 60 minutes, and 1 round per 3 minutes (12 melees) after that.
Payload: 39 rounds but can be loaded from exterior to retain rate of fire.
- 12.7 millimeter Machine gun: Located outside of self propelled
howitzer on the right hand side. The gunner (The commander) must be outside
of the turret of the Howitzer and be exposed to fire when using the machine
gun. The machine gun's main purpose is against attacking aircraft but is
also useful against infantry. Golden Age Weaponsmiths uses WI-20 Heavy
Ramjet rounds to make the machine gun more effective.
Maximum Effective Range: 3,000 feet (914.4 meters)
Mega Damage: Single shot does 1D4 and 40 round burst does 5D6.
Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of gunner
Payload: 1,000 rounds (25 bursts).
- NBC Protection: While not full life support, the Armored vehicle is equipped with protection for the crew from most gas, radiation, and biological attacks
- Datalink transmitters: A powerful battlefield management communications system. Allows the howitzer to use targeting data from scout vehicles for firing the artillery rounds, and to provide targeting data to other vehicles. Bonus varies on the quality of the data being provided, but all data would allow the tank to fire over obstacles if the scout vehicle is in the right position. The normal effective battlefield range is 20 miles (32 km).
- Combat Computer: Gives +2 bonus when targeting with main gun
- Nightvision Optics: Range: 2,000 ft (609 m). Uses light amplification to make a picture. Emits no light but will not work in absolute darkness. System can be dazzled by sudden bright lights but does not physically blind the pilot.
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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).
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