compiled overview of the 80 ton Salamander 'Mech, from various BattleTech novels and game sourcebooks:

"Radical designs for radical times" is the slogan that hangs on the wall of the PPR-5S Salamander production line at the Defiance Industries plant on Hesperus II.

The Salamander weighs 80 tons and is as fast as most 'Mechs in its class. The 'Mech can achieve a maximum speed of 65 kph but cannot jump. Because of its role as long-range fire support, however, movement is actually of little concern.

The radical design of the torso houses two Doombud LRM-20 Racks that promise to wreak utter devastation upon an enemy. By removing the actuators and hand in the 'Mech's left arm, a third LRM-20 rack was installed, giving the machine a strange, bulging appearance. Each launcher has three tons of ammunition for a total of 18 volleys. Backing the missile systems are a pair of Defiance B3M Medium Lasers straddling the cockpit.

Presently, only nine Salamander assault 'Mechs have been produced by Defiance Industries. The remaining 'Mechs in the initial order will be finished within six months. The production of the oddly shaped machine is somewhat slower than normal, primarily because of the unusual arm infrastructure. The nine produced so far have been assigned predominantly in areas near the Jade Falcon Occupation Zone border with the Federated Commonwealth.

Note: Information used here was the domain of FASA before they split the rights between Wizkids LLC and Microsoft (table-top gaming and video games respectively). Copyright of the fluff text is in limbo, but names of persons, places, & things are without any doubt the property of Wizkids LLC. Use of any terms here related to the BattleTech trademark are not meant as a challenge to Wizkids LLC's rights.

One piece of equipment you will find in a restaurant kitchen, but which you rarely see in a home kitchen here,* is a salamander broiler. A salamander is a metal box with an opening about three feet wide, usually installed up on the wall above a range or grill. It has a grid to put plates of food on, above which several gas burners combine to create a rolling sheet of blue flame, which is used to glaze, carmelize, brown or simply melt cheese on a dish just before serving.

During my youth I worked in several fine restaurants in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In New Mexico we used the salamander a lot for the local cuisine: burritos and flat enchiladas, smothered with red or green chile and piled high with grated cheese. An industrial-strength salamander radiates a lot more heat than the broiler in your home oven (66,000 BTU/hour). The salamander quickly melts and browns cheese without overcooking the dish underneath. It works so quickly and intensely, on just the surface of the food, that you can actually serve the food right out of the salamander: the plate underneath will cool to a safe serving temperature in a minute or two.

I'm told that a salamander will make a crisper Welsh Rarebit or crème brûlée than is possible with an ordinary broiler or kitchen torch. I've wanted one for a long time --I found it soothing, particularly on high-stress shifts when I was the only cook on the line, to gaze at the flame and feel the heat against my face-- but they don't make them for home use and they are expensive: in the range of US$1,200 to $2,500.

I have been unable to verify the origin of the name. Salamanders, of course, are associated with fire. Folk-lore held that the little red woodland amphibian could be burned up in a fire and arise from the ashes, like a phoenix.

Long before the gas broilers that we now call "salamanders" were invented, the term was used for am implement for toasting or glazing foods, consisting of an iron pan or disk on a long pole. The disk was placed over a fire or stove and heated until it was red-hot, then held over a dish to toast or glaze it. This reference was found by wertperch in Lark Rise to Candleford, a book written by Flora Thompson in 1945 and set in 19th century Oxfordshire:

...thin slices of bacon or ham were spread out on a large plate and taken to the smithy, where the plate was put on the anvil. The smith then heated red-hot one end of a large, flat iron utensil known as the "salamander" and held it above the plate until the rashers were crisp and curled.

*In the United States. morven says "A lot of people have them in England -- anyone with a gas stove can have one, though they generally call it an 'eye-level grill' or something like that".

Salamanders are amphibians which look kind of like lizards with tails and short legs, but unlike lizards they have no scales or claws and have smooth moist skin. There are 200 species of salamanders found throughout temperate environments, mostly in North America.

Most salamanders are terrestrial, living near water or in moist vegetation, but some make their homes in water, trees, burrows, or caves. Most are nocturnal and eat insects, worms, snails, and other creepy crawlies. Like geckos, they can grow back a lost leg or tail.

Though mostly terrestrial, salamanders generally breed in water at big hootenannys: they gather in large groups, dance the dance of love, and mate like the animals they are. The females store the sperm deposited by the males until their eggs are ready; the eggs are fertilized internally and then laid in small bodies of water like ponds or brooks, unless they are one of the more rare types that breed on land, in which case they'll deposit the eggs under rotten leaves and other vegetation.

In the egg the embryos generally go through a gill stage, so when they emerge they are basically little adults. Most salamanders have lungs, but there's a large family of the lungless (Plethodontidae) that breathe through their skin and throat lining. There are a few neotonous varieties that do not metamorphose into lunged adults, and the gilled juvenile form can reproduce: the sirens (Sirenidae) and mud puppies (Protidae) of the southern United States and the Mexican axolotl.

Other notable salamanders include the large family of newts and the blind salamanders that live in underground caves with skin covering their eyes. Though most are under 6 inches (15 cm) long, the giant salamander of Japan can reach 5 feet (1.5 m) in length, which sounds rather daunting.

See also fire salamander for fascinating lore about why legend has it that salamanders can be reborn from fire.

Sal"a*man`der (?), n. [F. salamandre, L. salamandra, Gr. ; cf. Per. samander, samandel.]

1. Zool.

Any one of numerous species of Urodela, belonging to Salamandra, Amblystoma, Plethodon, and various allied genera, especially those that are more or less terrestrial in their habits.

⇒ The salamanders have, like lizards, an elongated body, four feet, and a long tail, but are destitute of scales. They are true Amphibia, related to the frogs. Formerly, it was a superstition that the salamander could live in fire without harm, and even extinguish it by the natural coldness of its body.

I have maintained that salamander of yours with fire any time this two and thirty years. Shak.

Whereas it is commonly said that a salamander extinguisheth fire, we have found by experience that on hot coals, it dieth immediately. Sir T. Browne.

2. Zool.

The pouched gopher (Geomys tuza) of the Southern United States.


A culinary utensil of metal with a plate or disk which is heated, and held over pastry, etc., to brown it.


A large poker.

[prov. Eng.]


5. Metal.

Solidofied material in a furnace hearth.

Giant salamander. Zool. See under Giant. -- Salamander's hairwool Min., a species of asbestus or mineral flax. [Obs.] Bacon.


© Webster 1913.

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