Metalworks M-300-HMV “Thunder Rain” Hover Mortar Vehicle:

The “Thunderball” scout is only a recently introduced vehicle but engineers at Metalwork Incorporated already saw a potential new use for the vehicle. This idea was to adapt the vehicle for carrying a light mortar. There are several interesting ways to use it. One idea is to fire several rounds off and while the enemy is trying to find your position, you quickly move to another before firing again. Theoretically, this can be done over again several times. Because it is based on the “Thunderball” scout, the design can keep up with them and fire mortal rounds based on where they are designating as well. The design is believed to have been inspired by some conversions of hover transports with the same weapon. This vehicle is both lighter, better armored, and much faster.

So far, Metalworks has not started production of this vehicle although they have several working prototypes and production is planned to start within a few months. Development of the “Thunder Rain” was considerably reduced due to the use of the already working chassis. In the future, there are considerations on command and control versions of the "Thunderball" but none have even reached beyond drawings of the design. There have been several problems with production and the Thunderball which it is based on has only started production. Customers have been considering the vehicle and there have been some queries about the design. As of yet, there have been no firm orders for the Thunder Rain. It is thought that they might want to see how it works out in actual combat environments before committing to the design.

As the “Thunder Rain” is based on the scout design, top speed is up to around two-hundred and ninety kilometers per hour. Of course terrain may effect the ability of the vehicle to operate at top speeds. Only relatively open terrain can the crew open the vehicle up to full speed. While it can hover at altitudes almost as high as ten meters, that altitude makes it potentially much easier to target than when it hovers closer to the ground. As well, the mortar mounted in the vehicle cannot be fired when the vehicle is more than around a meter off the ground due to stability issues.

Power systems available are the Metalwork Incorporated's "Big Four." This is gas turbine, fusion, electric, and fuel cell. So far, there have been two fusion prototypes and one prototype with each of the other power systems. Usually, the first prototypes are fusion due to ease of operation. Using a medium power armor reactor, fusion powered versions are designed around a fifteen year before needing to be refueled. Gas turbine is a high efficiency engine designed to run on a variety of different fuels although diesel and kerosine are preferred. Of course most of the diesel are various grades of bio-diesel/ Gasoline and Alcohol based fuels can also be run but the vehicle is less efficient and there is more wear and tear on the power systems. The electric system used much of the same system as the fusion powered model but replaces the reactor with a high capacity battery. This does allow for later upgrades to fusion powered by a simple changeover between the battery and the reactor.

The fuel cell system is the most interesting technology in many ways. It is a pre-rifts systems which was virtually lost but was purchased by Metalworks from Archangel Heavy Industries. 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 vehicle is designed for a crew of three with a driver, commander, and gunner. There is an automatic loading system to allow the weapon to be operated by such a small crew. The crew area has full life support and the vehicle itself is fairly comfortable. The sensor suite is identical to the system carried on the Thunderball and includes both long range sensor and communication systems. A general weakness is that with active sensors, the vehicle is easy to detect. As a result, passive systems are generally preferred.

The major change in the vehicle is the replacement of the Vulcan laser mounted in the turret. Instead, the vehicle carries an 81 mm electromagnetic mortar in a turret. The turret is slightly larger than the original turret for the mortar. The weapon can fire about as fast as the gunner can aim and targeting systems make the weapon even more effective. On an individual basis, mortar rounds, even guided ones, are far cheaper than missiles. A total of around one hundred and twenty rounds are carried for the mortar. They can be all of one type or a mixture of types. Maximum range is over seven and a half kilometers.

Secondary weapons are standard to the Thunderball and include a pair medium range missile launchers and a pair of mini-missile launchers. There is some concern that the lack of any energy weapons means that the vehicle could run out of ammunition. A total of twenty-four mini-missiles and eight medium range missiles are carried and those can be fired off in less than thirty seconds. Still, most designs feel the trade off is worth the risks. While they last, the mini-missiles pack quite a punch.

Model Type: M.I. M-300-HMV Thunder Rain
Vehicle Type: Hover Mortar Vehicle
Crew: Three (can be piloted by one but mortar cannot be operated effectively)

M.D.C. By Location:

Weapon Turret:120
81 mm Electromagnetic Mortar100
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). Cannot fire mortar at an altitude over 3.3 feet (1 meter)
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: 7.2 feet (2.19 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: 7.3 tons (6.62 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) if carrying no mortar ammunition.
Market / Black Market Cost: 1.3 million credits with Internal Combustion engine, 2.0 million with Electrical engine or fuel cell power system, and 10.2 million for fusion with a 15 year life.

Weapon Systems:

  1. MI-EMM-80-BL 81 mm Electromagnetic Breach Loading Mortar: Mounted in a turret above the vehicle and replaces Vulcan laser. Unlike conventional mortars, the weapon uses a special system where the range is programmed in instead of propelling charging being used. While the weapon is far more expensive than a conventional mortar, it has an increased range over conventional models. Weapon has a special fire control computer which adds +2 to strike. An obvious advantage is that the individual projectiles are lighter but the weapon also is lighter. Instead of being loaded individually, the rounds are breach loaded by an automated system. Guided rounds and standard rounds can be used. Power is pulled directly from the reactor on fusion powered models and a high efficiency capacitor is used for non-fusion powered models. See Battlefield Mortars for Rifts for more details.
    Maximum Effective Range: 20,000 feet (7620 meters) [Minimum range of 250 feet (76.2 meters)]
    Mega Damage: 1D6x10 for Fragmentation with a blast area of 25 feet (7.6 meters), 2D4x10 for High Explosive with a blast area of 15 feet (4.6 meters), 2D6x10 for Armor Piercing with a blast area of 5 feet (1.5 meters), and 2D6x10 for plasma rounds with a blast area of 25 feet (7.6 meters). The launcher can also fire smoke, illumination, and chemical rounds.
    Rate of Fire: Equal to combined hand to hand attacks of gunner
    Payload: 120 rounds. Fusion powered models do not need a capacitor to power weapon system but non fusion powered models have a capacitor with enough charges for 240 firings.
  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 or twenty-four 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 © 2009, Kitsune. All rights reserved.