Vanguard Industries Z-500 "Rhino" Hover Mule:

"The Rhino, the toughest beast in nature. The Z-500 Rhino, the toughest hover mule ever built"

- Vanguard Industries advertising slogan.

"So we get ten of these new Rhinos as replacement for our trusty T-250 hover mules. It is not four weeks and almost half of them are out of commission. Our transport unit goes off-line while we are waiting on parts from Vanguard. I could have fabricated the parts for a T-250 if I needed."

- Private First Class Cynthia Wilson, Consortium Army Mechanic

Vanguard Industries is one of the largest Mega-Corporations within the Three Galaxies with its main corporate offices located within the Consortium of Civilized Worlds. It controls several planets which are almost exclusively devoted to manufacturing and support industries and agriculture. There are dealerships on center and many other important planets. The company manufactures mostly civilian surface and atmospheric vehicles. Anything from small compact hover cars, high speed hover sports, to heavy hover trucks. One of their most famous products is the Phantom Hover Sport.

Hover Mules are one of the most common hover craft designs throughout the Three Galaxies. They often operate in a role similar to early Twenty-First Century pickup trucks and light duty work / cargo trucks. One might expect with heavy cargo shuttles that ground designs would not be needed but that is anything but the case. Most cargo shuttles are too huge to perform light duty cargo runs. They are also extremely expensive compared to the much smaller hover mules. The mule is a low level craft and has a similar low powered contra-grav drive system to many gravity hover tank designs. Speed is also limited compared to other hovercraft designs.

The "Rhino" is the best selling hover mule produced by Vanguard Industries and is selling extremely well. The company has offered excellent incentives for large companies and government organizations to purchase it in large numbers. If effect, the company is trying to replace the old T-250 model with the Z-500 Rhino. While executives rarely take it into account, many operators of hover mules prefer the older Tragun model over the new Vanguard Industries' hover mule. The Rhino is considered by mechanics to break down far more often and is far harder to work on.

The Rhino is faster than the T-250 with a top speed of around three hundred kilometers per hour with a maximum altitude of 500 meters. Similar to the T-250, the Rhino can carry loads of up to two metric tons in its cargo bay and a variety of covers are available including a "camper" which has a sleeping compartment and a small living area including a mini-kitchen unit. Unlike the older T-250, the Rhino is available from the factory with a fusion planet instead of an electrical power system with a high capacity batter. The fusion powered version is far more expensive but has virtually unlimited range while the battery model is limited to about 3,000 kilometers.

Like the T-250 hover mule, models of the Rhino are available with space for the pilot and a single passenger or an extended version with space for a total of four passengers in addition to the driver pilot. One advantage that the Rhino does is that it has full life support in the crew compartment. This allows the vehicle's crew to operate in toxic atmospheres and airless moons without the use of protective suits. As standard, the vehicle is outfitted with light amplification systems and a short range navigation system. The navigation system includes an automatic pilot system and avoidance software to prevent collisions. On most planets, there are navigation beacons for auto-pilot systems. A wide variety of additional options are available as far as electronics. This can include improved communication systems and increased sensor capability.

There has been a large push to sell these vehicles to the military although many smaller militaries are resisting "upgrading" to the Rhino. Still, large numbers have been purchased by the Consortium Military. Because few have yet found their way into the hands of paramilitary organizations, few if any have been upgraded with additional weaponry or armor.

Model Type: VI Z-500
Vehicle Type: Contra-Grav Hover Craft (Cargo)
Crew: One (and one passenger) for standard model or One (and four passengers) for extended model (does not include cargo bay / six to eight can ride in the cargo bay comfortably)

M.D.C. By Location:

[1] Hover Unit:100
[2] Main Body:300
Cargo Bay:60

[1] Destruction of the hover unit will cause the vehicle to be no longer under the pilots control.
[2] Destruction of the main body will cause the vehicle to crash.

Driving on the Ground: 124.3 mph (200 kph) maximum. The hover craft can make sharp turns and float over any obstacle. Note: The maximum top speed can be actually higher than this, but that is under ideal conditions, like straight roads and flat terrain. The low level terrain avoidance systems cannot operate properly at speeds faster than this.
Atmospheric Propulsion: Maximum cruise speed is 186.4 mph (300 kph), due to being a low powered Contra-Grav system, altitude is limited to 1,640.4 feet (500 meters.)
Maximum Range: With electric power system has a 1,864.1 miles (3,000 km) range and with fusion has effectively unlimited range.

Statistical Data:
Length: Standard Cab: 21.00 feet (6.4 meters) Extended Cab: 23.29 feet (7.1 meters)
Height: All Models: 6.56 feet (2.0 meters)
Width: All Models: 7.55 feet (2.3 meters)
Weight: Standard Cab: 6,613.8 lbs (3,200 kilograms) empty. Extended Cab: 7,275.3 lbs (3,300 kilograms) empty
Power System: Two versions. Advanced Fusion with a 20 year fusion reactor or Electric with a high capacity battery.
Cargo: Minimal Storage Space in crew compartment (Extended versions have additional space behind driver seat) Cargo bay can carry a maximum of 4,409.2 lbs (2000 kilograms)
Market Cost: 80,000 credits for a new model with an electrical power plant and 220 credits for a fusion powered version. Additional packages (Sensors and communications can add 10,000 to 50,000 credits to the cost)

None standard.

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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2011, Kitsune. All rights reserved.