Inner Sphere Classified Files: Battle Mech Overview
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Short for Battle Mecha Machine. A Battle Mech is huge human/alien/being controlled robot. They appear in a great many Japanese Manga (Gundam etc.) as well as some American, European etc. cartoons, and are quite popular in games. The game I draw my knowledge from is the Battletech/Mechwarrior universe.
History of the Battle Mech
First incepted in 2349, the Battle Mech changed the face of combat for Humans. For many centuries now, Mecha Mining Machines had been used by Humans for increased efficiency in mining, as well as the ability to mine in environments without an atmosphere. These such Mining Mechs were converted to Battle Mechs by the Free Worlds League. They added conventional, light weight weapons to these Mechs, simple machine guns, STA Missiles and STS Missiles, as well as armor several inches thick. Thise was more than sufficient, as all the other Houses were still utilizing the old Human war machines such as tanks and infantry. One Battle Mech with its imposing height and inches thick armor could annihalate and entire army, although it was not long before the other Houses developed their own Battle Mechs out of sheer neccessity. As the Houses competed for the best Battle Mechs, the conventional weapons were lost and more and more Battle Mech specific weapons were devised.
Lance (four Battle Mechs) warfare was universally different to conventional warfare, and as such new tactics and weapons were forged in the heat of battle. Added to the standard array of weapons on the Battle Mech was the laser, and building upon the older weapons, ballistic (machine guns, cannons etc) and missile weapons were modified and improved. Lance Warfare often lasted days and weeks without access to supply lines, as such ammunition concerns became a problem. In the face of this problem the Mech laser, which required no ammo, was developed. Conventional ballistic weapons mainly consisted of varying calibres of machine guns, which were only effective against infantry and lightly armored war machines, which immediately excluded Battle Mechs. While retained as a weapon, the machine gun was outdated by the more modern Autocannons. The third class of conventional weapons, Missiles, provided a long range solution to the other two classes, however the older missiles were dimunitive, as such they had a short range and low damage against heavily armored war machines. Thus, missiles were re-developed for Battle Mechs, making them larger with longer range and much more explosive power.
Battle Mechs started out as very light machines (for a Battle Mech) weighing less than 20 tons. They were flimsy (compared to modern Mechs), easily knocked over, slow and near impossible to control, as at this time they were controlled by levers, switches and buttons, not the more modern method. This was, at first, acceptable as all Houses had to contend with this, and Battle Mechs were few and far, only used as support for conventional armies. As Battle Mech technology improved, however, it became more lucrative to use Battle Mechs more and more. Soon enough a conventional army was tagged onto several lances of Battle Mechs, and eventually the conventional armies became support for the Battle Mechs. By this stage the cumbersome nature of current Battle Mechs had to be updated, and so several major advances were made. In 2575, the major Mech chassis producer, Defiance Industries, which had a partnership with the major Mech engine producer, Mitsubishi Motors produced the first modern Mech still used today, the Jenner. It weighed an immense 35 tons, housed 8 inches of armor, an engine capable of propelling it at over 100 kms/hr, a greatly improved balancing system using Gyros and, most importantly, the Neuro-helm Control System. This was the pivotal point in Battle Mech manufacturing which ushered in the new age of Battle Mechs.
For a full list of modern weapons, see Mechwarrior Weapons.
The Neuro-helm Control System
The most influential improvement of the Jenner was the Neuro-helm Control System. The old control system of levers and buttons meant that a highly skilled pilot with many hours of training was required to pilot the Battle Mech. There were very few who could do this, and the condition of the old Battle Mechs meant that those who did become MechWarriors died a short time after. This, as well as the loss of an incredibly expensive Battle Mech, meant that the Houses spent unacceptable amounts of funds into their Battle Mechs. The Neuro-helm Control System saw no levers or buttons, required little training for the Warrior and greatly improved balance. A MechWarrior simply required a Neuro-implant and then, once in the cockpit, to wear the Neuro-helmet. The Battle Mech now became the MechWarrior. If the MechWarrior thought about moving his arms, the Battle Mech would do so, walking and the Battle Mech would do so. Balance was improved as the Neuro-helm used the MechWarrior's natural balance to balance the Battle Mech, as well as coupling it with the effects of the Gyro Balance System. Now it was possible for Battle Mechs to run, walk, jump, kick, punch, pick up objects and much more. This system was, when first released, incredibly expensive, although it was cheaper than continually replacing older Battle Mechs, so the system was adopted. All modern Battle Mechs use this system.
Clan Trueborn Warriors
The Clan Trueborn Warriors were MechWarriors bred in breeding vats with pre-programmed genetics and brain wavelengths which naturally were picked up by the Neuro-helm, meaning that Trueborn Warriors did not require Neuro-implants. This gave the Trueborn Warrior a natural affinity with the Battle Mech, and this, coupled with their war-bred genetics and war saturated lifestyle, made the Trueborn Warriors deadly opponents. All Trueborn Warriors matched and surpassed the best of the Inner Sphere's (the Houses') warriors.
The OmniMech was originally a Clan inception. It was built with the intention of overcoming the restrictions of hard points and creating an easily adaptable Mech. Hard points were the areas in a Mech that the weapons slotted into, and traditionally there were specially designated areas for each weapon type (laser, ballistic, missile). This meant Mechs had to be specially tailored for certain roles, but the Clans developed OmniSlots which could accept any of the categories. Clan Mechs still had designated hard points, but there were always at least two OmniSlots on a Clan Mech, allowing it to quickly change roles. Until recently, this technology has been beyond the Inner Sphere, but the new Black Knight and Hauptmann both integrate OmniMech technology.
Battle Mech Components
A Battle Mech is a complex war machine with zillions of components, however these compononents can be filtered down to the twenty main components (list aquired from BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception; Advanced Gyro acquired from Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries):
- Antennae Mount - This is where everything to do with sensors is mounted. The antennae is mounted on every Mech, and some Mechs include a BAP(Beagle Activation Probe), ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) or IFF Jammer.
- Armor Plating - The thick metal, and later ferro fibrous, plating around the Battle Mech. Depending on the tonnage of the Battle Mech, the tonnage of armor varied. There are four types of armor plating. The original was titanium compound metal, but this proved too stiff for full control with the Neuro-helm, so the more modern Ferro-fibrous armor plating was implemented. The Clans introduced two more Ferro-fibrous armor types, the Reactive and Reflective armor types. While weighing much more than standard Ferro-fibrous, they had their purposes. Reactive had a chemical layering that reacted with solid objects, and as such Ballistic weapons did not fare well against this armor. Reflective had a sheathing of laser reflective armor and, thus, laser weapons did not fare well against this armor.
- Balance Strut - This was the original means of balancing the Battle Mech, one strut was placed in each of the forearms, and as long as the arms were aligned with the Battle Mech, it would be balanced. This meant that the arms could not be moved, and this system needed to be changed for the Neuro-helm. Thus, the Balance Struts now are used only as calibration and support for the Gyro balancing system.
- Collective Strut - Another new addition to the balance system, the collective strut is placed in the rear of the Battle Mech and is used to calibrate and support the Gyro system when the Battle Mech's arms are out of alignment.
- Elbow Actuator - Also known as Lower Arm Actuator. The mechanical equivalent of the tendons that move the elbow joint. This is not a standard on all Battle Mechs, and did not exist on older Battle Mechs. It simply allows movement of the elbow, which is useful as a mobile arm is harder to dismember than an immobile one.
- Foot Actuator - This actuator is for the ankle, and although almost essential it is still not a standard on all Battle Mechs. Some Mechs walk flat-footed and as such do not require the movement of the ankle, however these Mechs have significantly reduced balance as a result. Older Battle Mechs did not include this.
- Foot Casting - Modern Battle Mechs included a foot casting rather than having inches thick armor over the foot. This meant that foot size was not restricted by the amount of armor on the Battle Mech, a small Battle Mech could have a large foot if it was intended to do alot of mountain climbing, or a large Battle Mech could have a smaller foot if it was intended for more speed and mobility than anything else.
- Foot Unit - Modern Battle Mechs with Foot Actuators had such complex tasks that a foot unit was added. This was a processing computer for the foot itself. While the main torso mainframe carried out all the orders, it no longer carried out the finer details of the foot. The torso mainframe ordered the foot to move, while the foot unit ensured that the foot landed flat, and, if it became unbalanced, that it was level.
- Gyro Housing - One of the most essential modern components, the Gyro was the ultimate improvement in balance. The Gyro proved to improve balance three fold, and, when coupled with the effects of the stabilizer, allowed a Battle Mech that was off balance to recover.
- Advanced Gyro Housing - Inner Sphere scientists integrating Clan technology produced the Advanced Gyro in recent times. The Gyro was made far more stable, severely reducing shakes and bumps as the Mech moved, thus vastly increasing accuracy. It also reduces the "whiplash" effect of being hit by a heavy weapon and finally reduces chance of being knocked down.
- Heat Sink - All Battle Mechs use Heat Sinks to divert as much of the immense heat as possible before relying on the Inter Cooler and the venting system. The amount of heat sinks on each Battle Mech varies.
- Hip Unit - Modern Battle Mechs gained the ability to torso twist, and rather than add another complexity to the torso mainframe, the balancing and control systems of the torso twist was entrusted to the hip unit.
- Intercooler - As the name suggests, it cools down the other components. When a Battle Mech is in battle, its weapons generate extreme amounts of heat, enough to melt through the very armor that protects it - and before that happens barbequed MechWarrior would ensue. Thus, an intercooler was required. They worked with heatsinks to better disipate the immense heat.
- Jump Jet Intake - As the name suggests, these allow the Mech to jump (fly) for a short period of time. Not a standard on all Battle Mechs, this is largely due to the amount of Jump Jets required to lift Battle Mechs. Light Battle Mechs, especially Scout Mechs have low weight, and as such only require one or two tons of Jump Jets. As you reach the heavier chassis, however, the requirements become much larger and as such, most Heavy and Assault chassis do not include jump jets. One exception is the Clan Mad Cat Mk. II, although it does require a massive 6 tons of Jump Jets.
- Leg Mainshaft - The leg. A standard on all Battle Mechs because... its the leg.
- Myomer Bundle - This is the bundle of components that converts the MechWarrior's brain waves into electronic signals for the torso mainframe to interpret and relay to the rest of the Battle Mech's body. It is the most integral part of the Mech and, as such, is located deep within the Battle Mech beneath layers upon layers of armor.
- Shoulder Joint - Also known as Upper Arm Actuator. This is a rather uncommon addition to a Battle Mech, and even Battle Mechs with Elbow Actuators do not always include Shoulder Joints. It simply allows movement of the Upper Arm and is only useful for punching and picking objects up.
- Stabilizer - A modern addition that allows a Battle Mech to recover if it becomes unbalanced. It also helps to improve balance.
- Torso Mainframe - Although the MechWarrior is the Battle Mech's brain, it would be braindead without the Torso Mainframe. The Torso Mainframe relays all of the MechWarrior commands to other components of units, and also controls alot of the complexities such as electronic maintenance and computer system upkeep.
- Venting - The Venting System works in three ways. Firstly, it vents cool air from outside (if there is any) to help cool the Battle Mech slightly. Secondly, when heat levels begin to reach critical it vents steam from inside the Battle Mech outside to help reduce heat. Lastly, when an internal ammo explosion occurs, it can be programmed to vent the explosion (thus reducing damage caused) with a C.A.S.E. computer.
- Weather Seal - One of the oldest components, even included on the original Mining Mechs. The Weather Seal simply helps to regulate the temperature on the inside of the Battle Mech and keep oxygen inside and unbreathable chemicals outside. This is under many layers of armor and as such is rarely breached.
The Modern Battle Mech
The Modern Battle Mech has come along way from its original state, Battle Mechs now weigh up to 100 tons and sport over ten weapon arrays as opposed to two arrays the original Battle Mechs carried. The following is a list of Battle Mechs still in production in the Inner Sphere (list aquired from Mechwarrior 4: Black Knight):
Medium Chassis (40 - 55 Tons)
- Light Chassis (20 - 35 Tons)
Heavy Chassis (60 - 75 Tons)
Assault Chassis (80 - 100 Tons)
There you are, a brief overview
of the Battle Mech. Hope you enjoyed