All-Terrain Armored Transport

Imperial Ground Vehicle used to move Imperial Storm Troopers safely through hazardous terrain, and making a big mess of any resistance that would stand in the way of the tactical goal.

Used on the Ice Planet Hoth, when the Imperials stormed the Rebel Base. (The Empire Strikes Back)

The Imperial All Terrain Armored Transport is the quintessential personification of the Galactic Empire's design philosophy for military vehicles. It's huge, lumbering, obscenely powerful, and as close to invulnerable as it was possible to build it. The intention was obviously to minimize Imperial losses while demoralizing the enemy with an unstoppable, relentless, beastial, all-terrain walking tank.

But for all its strengths, as was typical with single-minded Imperial designs, it had obvious flaws that were compensated for with heavy armor and support vehicles. While the AT-AT did have massively powerful forward-mounted blasters that could devastate enemy buildings and ground vehicles with ease, it was slow, had poor maneuverability, and most glaringly, an approximately 300° blind spot. It could neither see nor attack anything that wasn't almost directly in front of it, limited by a "neck" that gave the cockpit a limited ability to look around in a narrow cone in front of it. Besides the forward-mounted heavy blasters, its only other attack was a stomp, which, while undoubtedly devastating due to the incredible weight of the 75 foot tall walker, was impractical against anything other than fixed emplacements or immobilized vehicles which should have been destroyed before the AT-AT got that close in the first place.

Standard deployment apparently called for the AT-AT to compensate for these weaknesses with support vehicles such as the AT-ST, as seen in the Battle of Hoth. The quicker, but less heavily armored, scout walkers could protect the AT-AT's (in)vulnerable flank from ambushes and provide a measure of anti-aircraft and anti-personnel defense, tactics for which the AT-AT was virtually useless. Clearly, as seen in the Battle of Hoth, these measures were not adequate to protect the lumbering giants. The very idea that a single soldier, Jedi or no, was able to climb underneath one and toss a thermal detonator inside was inexcusable.

There can be no doubt that the AT-AT needs at least one additional weapon for anti-personnel and light vehicle defense. To fill this role, I propose a gun turret, slung underneath and to the rear of the AT-AT, between the hind legs.

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(ASCII art by "Row" modified from http://www.asciiartfarts.com/star_wars.html)

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