Icarus Industries M46 Hover Artillery "Hog":

War in the future is a job for professionals, professional mercenaries. One of the most feared mercenary companies is Hammer's Slammers. The company is based from New Friesland and was founded by Colonel Alois Hammer. Colonel Hammer started the tradition that officers lead their troops from the front instead of just simply giving orders. "Spit and Polish" are not important qualities for the soldiers of Hammer's Slammers. Still, the mercenary soldiers are well trained and equipped with some of the best equipment available.

Hover Artillery is an important component of Hammer's Slammers and they operate two main types of artillery. One is the 10 cm L 71 Mortar which is normally mounted on a hover jeep. The other is the 20 cm AL 27 Howitzer which is mounted on the M46 Hover Artillery which uses a hover tank chassis and is often called a "Hog" by crews. It superceded the M18 Hover Artillery which mounted a 15 cm weapon and was mounted on a combat car chassis. The 15 cm hover artillery is still widely used in other mercenary companies and militaries. Early models of the M46 "Hog" also mounted the 15 cm Howitzer.

Like most of Hammer's Slammers main combat vehicle, the "Hog" is built by Icarus Industries, whose main offices are located in Hamburg, Terra. The hover artillery design is based on the older M1 Hover Tank with most being conversions from refurbished tanks although some are new built hover tanks. The M1 Chassis is modular which made for easy conversion. The M46 is in service with a relatively few mercenary companies and armies due to being relatively costly compared to other artillery designs. Other companies also use heavy rocket launchers which are much less expensive. Icarus Industries also has developed a fully armored version of the "Hog" based on the M2 Hover Tank Chassis. This design is fully armored but has a reduced ability to carry ammunition and is more cramped than the M1 based hover artillery.

Armor is reduced on the M46 hover artillery compared to the M1 hover tank especially in the turret. The theory is that artillery units should not be involved in close fighting. Of course, the theory is often disproved by real world events. Even so, the "Hog" is reasonably well armored and captains will usually move after they have fired a burst of artillery shells. Combat "Hogs" are armored with aluminum and ceramic composites. The number of fans is reduced to four from eight mounted on the M1 Hover Tank although they are more powerful units. The speed of the "Hog" is only slightly reduced compared to the M1 Tank due to this and the fact that the hover artillery system is might lighter due to the reduction in armor. Compared to 130 tons for the M1 Hover Tank, the M46 weighs only around 60 tons.

Top speed is around 110 kilometers per hour under ideal conditions such as roads although under less ideal conditions, a top speed of around 60 kilometer per hour can be maintained. The standard M1 Hover Tank's top speed was around 120 kph. Like the Hover Tank, the hover artillery only hovers a few inches above the ground and cannot hover over open water due the vehicles reduced lift even though it is much lighter than the M1 Hover Tank. Like with most hover tanks, power is provided by a fusion power plant embedded deep in the hull of the vehicle. Due to the low power to weight compared to the combat car, the "Hog" is harder to pilot than the combat car and requires skilled drivers.

Crew for the "Hog" is nine, a driver, a commander, a gunner, and six loaders. All eight of the gun crew can be accommodated in the turret but the turret is very cramped. Two seats are in the hull beside the driver which allows for a less cramped turret when the hover vehicle is moving. Due to the large crew, space for gear is at a premium and the hover artillery does not have a turret bustle which would impede the loading of ammunition. Racks are provided outside of the vehicle for crew kits. A powerful artificial intelligence computer is used in the hover artillery. The system is used for the targeting of artillery shells as well as being able to control the defense systems. The system is less powerful than the computer system carried in the M2 Hover Tank. The driver, commander, and gunner have extensive sensor systems. These include radar, infra-red sensors, ultra-violet sensors, light enhancing optics, highly sensitive sound amplification systems, and neutrino to detect other vehicles powered by reactors. As important as the advanced sensors is that the vehicles operated by Hammer's Slammers have data link systems to allow a virtual free flow of information. The hover artillery is fitted with advanced life support systems although it cannot keep up with the fumes produced by the main cannon being fired for the crew manning the turret.

The 20 cm howitzer fires rocket assisted rounds with an incredible range. Range is around 130 kilometers with standard rounds and 170 kilometers with extended range rounds. Of course, extended range rounds have a reduced payload compared to standard rounds. Rounds use a rocket motor fueled by powdered beryllium and ramjet sustainer combination to achieve a velocity of around 880 meters per second depending on warhead type. Th rounds are usually self guided although there have been incidents where rounds will seek the wrong targets. Warhead types include nuclear, nerve gas, high explosive, incendiary , illumination, smoke, electronics jamming, anti-armor, cluster munitions, flechette, AFPFDS, and of course practice rounds. Flechette and AFPFDS are meant as direct fire rounds used as a last resort. Normal Rounds weigh between 110 kilograms and 180 kilograms depending on type. Rounds are coded with colored bands depending on type. There are two special rounds which can be fired from the 20 cm howitzers. These are low level satellites for communication or reconnaissance. These are of short duration and can be injected into orbits between 25 and 45 kilometers. A total of twenty-eight rounds are usually carried with six in a ready drum. All six rounds can be fired within fifteen seconds but normal rate of fire is ten rounds per minute. The "Hog" does not have to plant before firing the main gun and can even fire while on the move. Often, "Hogs" are accompanied by support vehicles which carry eighty additional rounds with vehicle and weapon spares as well. The "Hogs" turret has two, full height, horizontally split doors in the rear. When the loading system is in used, the doors are left open with the lower door as a ramp and the upper as overhead armor for the loading system.

Secondary weaponry is reduced compared to the standard M1 hover tank. In most models, a 2 cm Tri-barrel Powergun is mounted in a cupola over the main turret is mounted but it is optional and some "Hogs" don't even carry it. The weapon works by the same principles as the main weapon of the M2 tank but is a Gatling type weapon to prevent the barrels from overheating. Power guns fire cartridges holding copper-cobalt atoms in a polyurethane matrix that are converted into plasma when fired. This plasma travels at the speed of light and while it does not penetrate deeply, it does immense damage. As a result of their incredible speed, the plasma bolts have an extremely flat trajectory. Payload is reduced in all models compared to most tanks. The "Hog" retains explosive strips similar to the modern claymore mines similar to those which protect most hover tanks although numbers are reduced. The Hover artillery does not mount a mine clearing net launcher. This job is usually performed by escorting combat cars.

Model Type: M46 Hover Artillery "Hog"
Vehicle Type: Hover Artillery
Crew: Nine (Driver, Gunner, Commander, and six loaders).

M.D.C. By Location:

Howitzer Weapon Turret:250
20 cm Howitzer Barrel (In Turret):120
Cupola (Above Main Turret):100
2 cm Tri-Barrel Power Gun (In Cupola)75
[1] Fan Ducts (4 - Top of Hull):120 each
[1] Armored Skirts:200
Pilots Compartment100
Rear Turret Loading Hatches (2)100 each
Crew Hatches (2 - Top of Hull and Turret)100 each
[2] Main Body:1200

[1] These targets are difficult targets to hit and are a -3 to strike. If the skirt takes over 50% damage then reduce speed by 25% with a -2 to dodge and if the skirt takes 75% damage then reduce speed by speed by 50% with a -4 to dodge. Destruction of two Fan Ducts or the armored skirt will ground the hover tank. Skirt damage can be temporarily repaired by simply placing a piece of plastic or flexible metal inside of the holes.
[2] Destruction of the main body will cause the vehicle to crash. All systems will not function. All energy weapon hits on the main body, the turret, or the main cannon are reduced by half due to the refractive properties of the iridium armor.

Hover Speed: Can hover at ground level at from a hover to up to 68.4 mph (110 kph) over paved surfaces / level roads and up to 37.3 mph (60 kph) over level ground and 18.6 mph (30 kph) over rough terrain. The hover artillery cannot hover over open water. The hover artillery has a maximum hover altitude of 0.32 feet (0.1 meter), but can clear obstacles up to 3 feet (0.9 meter) in height to deal with rough terrain.
Maximum Range: Effectively unlimited (Fusion reactor with a 10 year duration)

Statistical Data:
Height: 10.5 feet (3.2 meters) to top of turret.
Width: 15.7 feet (4.8 meters) for hull
Length: 31.5 feet (9.6 meters) for hull
Weight: 44.1 tons (40 metric tons) empty and 66.1 tons (60 metric tons) fully loaded.
Power Source: Westal AE5 fusion power plant (10 year duration)
Cargo Capacity: The "Hog" has a small storage space for crew. This includes weapons, armors, and emergency supplies. The crew usually store additional gear on the engine deck and on the sides of the vehicle.
Market Cost: 35 million credits.

Weapon Systems:

  1. 20 cm AL 27 Rocket Howitzer: Very powerful and long range weapon that is capable of 360 degree rotation and up to 75 degree elevation. The "Hog" does not need to plant before firing its howitzer and can fire within 15 seconds. It fires standard artillery shells and is normally fired indirectly on the target but can be fired as direct fire if necessary. Most rounds are self guided. The howitzer has a ready magazine of six rounds which can be fired off in only fifteen seconds. In addition, the hover artillery has 22 rounds which can be fired at a rate of ten rounds per minute. The platform can also be loaded externally to retain the normal rate of fire. For game purposes, use Rifts artillery rounds. In addition to being able to fire artillery shells, howitzer can launch low altitude / limited duration satellites for communication or reconnaissance purposes.
    Maximum Effective Range: 80.8 miles (130 km) for standard artillery rounds and 105.6 miles (170 km) for extended range projectiles.
    Mega-Damage: By artillery round type (Go to Battlefield Artillery for Rifts for more information: Use 203 mm artillery - Non-Rocket assisted for standard projectiles and rocket assisted for extended range projectiles; Fragmentation 3D4x10, High Explosive 3D6x10, Armor Piercing 4D6x10, and has a vast number of other type of rounds as well).
    Rate of Fire: 6 Rounds in 15 seconds for ready drum. 10 rounds per minute (2.5 per melee) after that as long as ammunition lasts.
    Payload: 6 rounds in a automated magazine and 22 additional rounds. Can be loaded from exterior to retain rate of fire.
  2. Cupola Mounted 2 cm Tri-Barrel Power Gun (1): The power gun is mounted above the main turret and is useful against both infantry and aircraft. It can rotate up to 360 degrees and can elevate up to 90 degrees. It works by similar principles as the main gun but rotates between three barrels to reduce barrel wear. The cannon can be controlled by the gunner / commander or can be computer controlled. The cannon is usually computer controlled when being used in air defense mode (5 shots per melee / +4 to strike) and can shoot down anti-tank missiles such as "Buzz Bombs."
    Maximum Effective Range: 4.8 miles (8 km)
    Mega-Damage: 10 round bursts inflict 3D4x10 (counts as one blast/attack). Single shot inflicts 6D6+4 per round.
    Rate of Fire: Equal to Gunners / Commanders Hand to Hand.(Under computer control can fire up to 5 bursts per melee)
    Payload: 500 rounds in ready magazine
    Bonuses: Has a special fire control computer that helps to aim the cannon. Gives +3 to strike with the power gun and vehicle does not have minuses to fire when vehicle car is moving.
  3. Claymore Type Anti-Personnel Mines (20): Mounted on the sides of the "Hog", these charges are designed to protect the tank from attacking personnel and can also be detonated to protect the tank against attacking missiles. Five charges are located on each side of the vehicle. In may ways, the weapon system should be considered a last ditch system. Basically, they detonate at the last minute to protect the tank from the missiles. The system is normally controlled by the computer but can also overridden by the vehicle's crew.
    Maximum Effective Range: a cone 50 feet (15 meters) long and 30 feet (9 meters) wide.
    Mega-Damage: 6D6 for targets 30 feet and further away, 1D4x10 for targets closer than that.
    Rate of Fire: One at a time.
    Payload: 20.
    Special: Uses the onboard Artificial Intelligence computer to identify friend or foe, and fire the mines. Computer has a skill of 75%.

Special Systems:
The "Hog" has all systems standard on a robot vehicle (Radar / UV / IR) plus the following special features::
(Note that all optical systems are distributed over the hull through fiber-optics. There are no view slits or visible cameras.)

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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

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