Metalworks Incorporated M-280-HS “Thunderball” Hover Scout:

Sometimes multiple companies will come up with very similar designs. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes the roles planned for the vehicle dictates a similar designs. Also, sometimes one company will copy another design in order to compete with the original developer. The Metalworks “Thunderball” and Northern Gun “Apache Scout” are great examples of similar designs. It is not likely that either design was influenced by the other company although the companies have accused each other of stealing their designs. Both designs seem to have been developed around the same time and both were developed in comparative secrecy. There is also a comparatively similar Pre-Rifts US Military design which was named the Wolfe and might have inspired one or both of the designs. For the Thunderball, it is likely that the design is a simple development on the line of hover vehicles started with the Zephyr design. Metalworks began the development of the Typhoon hover tank before the Thunderball hover scout although it was ready for testing far earlier than the larger tank design due to having less development problems. Limited production of the hover scout has already begun and there are multiple orders of the new Metalworks design including from both adventurers and mercenary companies. The Thunderball has several different options compared to the “Apache Scout” but is slightly more expensive in some of its models.

One advantage which the Thunderball has over the competing Northern Gun design is that it has a much greater top speed with a maximum speed of around 180 mph. The scout vehicle is actually slightly faster than Metalworks other hover designs in keeping with its main purpose being scouting. While the Thunderball cannot truly fly, it has a maximum altitude of around thirty feet. This allows the hover vehicle to clear most terrain while staying below the targeting systems of most anti-aircraft weapon systems. The hover scout is designed with four different power systems including conventional fuel systems, a high capacity battery driven system, a high efficiency fuel cell system, and with a fusion reactor to provide power. The convention system uses a highly efficient gas turbine which allows the use of multiple types of fuels including diesel, kerosine, gasoline, and even some alcohol based fuels. The battery driven system allows for the vehicle to be recharged from most electrical power sources including fusion power systems from most vehicles. The technology for the fuel cell design was purchased from Archangel Heavy Industries who got the designs of fuel cells from pre-rifts records. The fuel cells operate by pulling the electrons off of an H2 molecule, splitting it into 2H+ molecules and 2 electrons. The electrons pass through the “load” (engines, weapons, avionics, etc.) creating current and powering the systems. Meanwhile, the 2H+ molecules pass from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte. At the other “End,” the electrons then recombine with the 2H+ molecules and Oxygen (from the air) and are release as water from the rear of the hovercraft. Range of fuel cell powered versions is slightly greater that those using conventional or electrical propulsion. As well, fuel cell systems are easily refueled. The fusion powered system uses the same fusion reactor system as several medium power armors and has virtually unlimited endurance.

The Thunderball is well armored and can take a large amount of abuse before being destroyed. The armor is heavier than the standard model of the "Apache Chief" but carries less armor than the up-armored version of the Northern Gun design. The vehicle can be operated by one although normally two crew members is preferred. There is space for two additional passengers behind the driver. Quite comfortable, the crew compartment is designed with full life support systems and the hover scout carries powerful sensor systems. There is consideration being given to developing two additional design with a powerful and long range radar system replacing the main turret in one version and a communication suit replacing the turret in an additional model. Neither of these models has entered anything beyond the drawing room stage and no decision has been made. There is question if the designs would be marketable.

For weaponry, the Thunderball mounts a powerful Vulcan laser cannon as its main weapon. This is a copy of the Vulcan laser developed by Ironheart Industries and is carried on several other Metalworks designs. It is also mounted on the Northern Gun "Apache Chief" design. In the non nuclear powered versions of the vehicle, the weapon has a battery or fuel cell to provide power and has a limited payload. On fusion powered versions, power is drawn from the fusion reactor and gives an effectively limitless payload. Mounted on the sides of the hull are medium range missile launchers to give the scout design an effective long range punch ability. A total payload of eight medium range missiles are carried. Finally, the Thunderball mounts a pair of mini-missile launchers with both being mounted in the nose of the scout vehicle. Payload is limited compared to the other Metalworks hover designs with a total payload of twenty-four mini-missiles. The hover scout does not have gun ports for the passengers to be able to fire small arms.

Model Type: M.I. M-280-HS Thunderball
Vehicle Type: Hover Scout
Crew: Two (can be piloted by one) and seats two passengers comfortably

M.D.C. By Location:

Vulcan laser Turret (Rear):120
Vulcan Laser Cannon:75
Side Medium Range Missile Launchers (2, 2 cells each):50 each
[1] Mini-Missile Launchers (2, sides of cockpit):30 each
[1] Headlights (2):8 each
Side Doors (2):50 each
Pilots Compartment120
[2] Hover Thruster Units:100
[3] Main Body:320

[1] These are small and difficult targets to strike, requiring the attacker to make “Called Shot;” but even then the attacker is -4 to strike.
[2] Destruction of the hover unit will cause the vehicle to be no longer under the pilots control.
[3] Destruction of the main body will cause the vehicle to crash. All systems, including emergency parachute, will not function.

Hover Speed: Can hover at ground level at from a hover to up to 180 mph (289.7 kph) over both land and water. Minimum hover height is 2 feet (0.6 meters) and maximum altitude is 30 feet (9.1 meters).
Maximum Range: With gas or electric, 850 miles (1,367.9 km), with fuel cells, 1,000 (1,609.3 km), and with fusion, effectively unlimited.

Statistical Data:
Height: 6.8 feet (2.07 meters) including turret, 6.0 feet (1.83 meters) not including turret
Width: 6.4 feet (2.9 meters)
Length: 15.5 feet (4.72 meters)
Weight: 7.1 tons (6.44 metric tons)
Power Source: Four versions. Nuclear with 15 year fusion reactor, Electric, Conventional liquid fuel that uses aviation gas, and Fuel cell version that uses Hydrogen as a fuel to produce electricity.
Cargo Capacity: 1000 lbs (450 kg) tons if carrying no troops
Market / Black Market Cost: 1.5 million credits with Internal Combustion engine, 2.2 million with Electrical engine or fuel cell power system, and 10.5 million for fusion with a 15 year life.

Weapon Systems:

  1. MI-44L Vulcan Laser (1): This is a direct copy of the Iron Heart cannon and is quite powerful although much shorter range than some other weapon systems. This weapon is a large turret mounted on the rear of the hovercraft and is operated by the driver or the scout's gunner. The weapon consists of six rotating laser cannons, cycling through bursts of six blasts per second.
    Maximum Effective Range: 4,000 feet (1,200 meters)
    Mega-Damage: 3D4 x 10 M.D. per instantaneous burst (counts as one blast/attack).
    Rate of Fire: Can shoot up to six times per melee!
    Payload: Nuclear Reactor: Effectively Unlimited (Draws Power off the main engines). Electric or Conventional Fuel: Battery is good for 500 bursts. Fuel Cell Version: 200 bursts total. It takes approximately two minutes for a trained crew to change the hydrogen tank that powers the weapon, assuming that a spare tank is available. Untrained crews will take about six minutes to accomplish this task.
  2. Medium-Range Missile Launchers (2): Two side-mounted missile launchers add to the Thunderball's main armaments. Each has two actual launch tubes. Both launchers are usually controlled by a gunner, but can be fired by the driver if the gunner is injured. They are usually outfitted with High-Explosive, Fragmentary or Plasma missiles. The launchers can engage air and ground targets. This design uses an automatic loading system and additional missiles for reloads.
    Maximum Effective Range: Varies with missile types, medium range missiles only (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Mega-Damage: Varies with missile types, medium range missiles only (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Rate of Fire: Can fire missiles one at a time, or in volleys of two (2) or four (4) missiles.
    Payload: 8 missiles, 4 in each launcher.
  3. Mini-Missile Launchers (2): The missile launcher systems are side by side in the nose of the hovercraft on either side of the cockpit. Both launchers hold twelve mini-missiles for forty-eight total.
    Maximum Effective Range: Varies with mini missile types (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Mega-Damage: Varies with mini missile types (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Rate of Fire: Can fire missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), or six (6) missiles. Can be fired equal to the pilots combined hand to hand (usually 5 or 6).
    Payload: 12 Mini-Missiles each launcher for a total of 24 mini-missiles.

Sensory Equipment:

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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2005, Kitsune. All rights reserved.