Designer:LostInSpace / Armory:Caldarium Arms
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SOLARIS7: SPACESHIP TECHNICAL READOUT: ARCHIVE ID #960
THURSDAY, JANUARY 03, 2008
Grackle Assault Dropship
Grackle Assault Dropship
Mass: 8500 Tons
Type: Military Spheroid
Power Plant: Standard
Safe Thrust: 5
Maximum Thrust: 8
Armor Type: Standard
1 Killer Whale Launcher
12 Magna Hellstar PPCs
32 Lushann Redbeam Large Lasers
40 Armstrong J11 AC-5s
8 SarLon MaxiCannon AC-10s
4 Doombud LRM-20s
4 Shigunga LRM-15s
24 Bical SRM-6s
Manufacturer: United Outworlders Corporation
Primary Factory: Ramora
The Grackle is one of the few new dropship types to appear in the Inner Sphere since the Star League era. Named after a particularly gregarious breed of blackbird common to Terra, the Grackle is aptly named given its medium-range weaponry and attendant "flock" of fighters. A later product of the Outworlds Alliance, the first Grackle class assault dropship left its production line in 3064 as one of a new breed of "pocket dreadnoughts." While not as powerful or modern as other craft in its role, such as the Draconis Nekohono'o or the refit Overlord A3, the Grackle provides ample regional defense for the Alliance at a relatively low cost.
The Grackle is largely a product of compromise, but most military experts agree such compromise worked well in this case. Originally intended to boast a maximum thrust of 4.5Gs, cost-cutting dropped the thrust to a still-repectable 4Gs. Its fighter compliment, intended to be two full squadrons, was sacrificed in favor of a larger weapons load and it now carries only a reinforced squadron. In addition, the weapons are outdated Succession War-era models, but the Alliance could not obtain or even maintain upgraded weapons on this large of a platform. In fact, the craft is mostly tried-and-true technology save for its double heatsinks and Killer Whale missile launcher. Even with outdated weaponry, the Grackle is loaded for bear.
Designed not only for regional defense but also as a pirate-hunting craft, the Grackle had to mount more weapons than any other dropship it would be facing. As most pirate groups can field nothing larger than an aging Overlord, this craft truly excels at its role. Outworlds Alliance naval experts theorize that four Grackles and their fighter squadrons could possibly challenge a small corvette; fortunately the Alliance has never had to test this theory and it is likely more wishful thinking than fact.
Although heavier, the Grackle boasts a fat profile akin to the Union, albeit with a flattened nose housing its forward weaponry. Twelve Magna Hellstar PPCs and four Doombud LRM-20 racks form a ring around the single Killer Whale launcher, providing a tight spread of medium- and long-range firepower. Sprinkled about the sides of the craft are 40 Armstrong AC-5s, 8 SarLon AC-10s, and a myriad of large lasers and SRM-6 racks. Aft defense is adequate, with four imported Shigunga LRM-15s and eight Lushann Redbeam lasers holding down the fort. Although the Alliance spared no expense importing its heatsinks the Grackle can still only fire roughly 80% of its weapons at one time, a supposed flaw that has yet to cause problems in an actual battle as commanders of the craft often assign some fighter escorts to the fire arcs expecting the least fight.
Unlike other pocket dreadnoughts, the Grackle likes to fight in-close due to it's prolific expanse of medium-range weapons. A thick shell of armor and a reinforced structure ensures that such tactics are not a mistake, and the Grackle carries an entire platoon of marines for defense as well as boarding operations. Of the two small craft it carries, one is usually a battle-taxi or armored shuttle, while the other is used for more mundane duties. Another excellent design feature is the over-sized fuel tanks it carries for extended-range operations. With a full load of supplies, the Grackle can keep itself and its fighter compliment fueled for nearly half a year of independence.
Crew quarters aboard a Grackle-class dropship are comfortable, if spartan. Only the marines are quartered in steerage bunks and the rest of the living quarters are roomy enough to fight off cabin fever. The Grackle even boasts a common room and recreation area where the crew can mingle, creating some of the tightest-knit units in the Inner Sphere. None of these vessels is old enough to develop the "funk" so common with Unions and Overlords, and standard maintenance practice includes an airing-out period while they are planetside.
The Alliance maintains four Grackles at this time and two more are in production. Of the four, the original Grackle and it's sister, the Quiscalus, are assigned to Scout class jumpships on rotating pirate-hunting tours. The other two ships, the Lyrebird and Corvida, are stationed on Ramora and Alpheratz respectively as regional defense. The next two Grackles will likely be assigned to Lushann and Praxton. It is unlikely that the Outworlds Alliance will construct any other vessels of this type due to the large investment in resources and capital they represent.
The namesake Grackle has participated in several battles against pirates. Of note is one particularly vicious fight above Praxton in which the Grackle, with it's four Shilones and Seydlitz fighters, destroyed two Union-class dropships and four fighters, and captured the pirate's jumpship. Although an extreme case, it outlines the capabilities of this excellent combat craft.
As only four Grackles have left the assembly line by the time of this writing, no known variants have appeared. A future planned refit includes the replacement of all autocannons with Gauss rifles and installing ER PPCs instead of the older models to increase the effective combat range.
This dropship was constructed largely by hand using Tech Manual and probably won't conform to older build systems. The BV may be slightly off due to the fuzzy TM heat inefficiency rules, but I think I got it right. However, I'm fairly certain that it is weight correct within TM rules.
Grackle Assault Dropship
Technology Base Inner Sphere Level 2 8500 tons
Cost: 561,120,000 C-Bills
Hull Type: Military Spheroid
Structural Integrity: 24 408.00
Power Plant: Standard 2762.50
Safe Thrust: 5
Maximum Thrust: 8
Heat Sinks: 259 (137 free) Double 122.00
Fuel and Fuel Pumps: Fuel Tonnage: 500.00 510.00
Bridge and Controls: 64.00
Armor Factor 1472 - Standard 86.00
Left/Right Sides: 375
Equipment and Options Mass
8 Fighter Cubicles (4 Doors) 1200.00
2 Small Craft Cubicles (1 Door) 400.00
Cargo (1 Door) 321.00
Lifeboats 18 126.00
Nose Fire Control 15 Weapons 27.50
Fore L/R Fire Control 26 Weapons 73.00
Aft L/R Fire Control 22 Weapons 27.00
Aft Fire Control 12 Weapons 0.00
Crew and Passengers
Officers 8 80.00
Crew 8 56.00
Gunners 28 196.00
Passengers 0 0.00
Marines 30 150.00
Bay Personnel 26 0.00
Weapons and Ammo Location Heat Mass
1 Killer Whale (15 shots) Nose 20 900.00
12 PPC Nose 120 84.00
4 LRM-20 (120 shots) Nose 24 60.00
10 AC-5 (300 shots) Fore L/R 10 95.00
4 AC-10 (120 shots) Fore L/R 12 60.00
6 Large Laser Fore L/R 48 30.00
6 SRM-6 (180 shots) Fore L/R 24 36.00
10 AC-5 (300 shots) Aft L/R 10 95.00
6 Large Laser Aft L/R 48 30.00
6 SRM-6 (180 shots) Aft L/R 24 36.00
8 Large Laser Aft 64 40.00
4 LRM-15 (120 shots) Aft 20 43.00
Nicely fluffed, and looks dangerous. Good Periphery flavour, too.
I suspect the single extra lance of fighters would cover any 'threatened' arc, as the fluff suggests?
Design Updated on 1/3/2008 5:537 PM
SOLARIS7: BATTLEMECH TECHNICAL READOUT: ARCHIVE ID #12289
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2009
Saker Second Line
Saker (Second Line)
Rules Level: Tournament Legal
Technology Base: Clan
Chassis Config: Biped
Production Year: 3059
Extinct By: Never
Chassis: Olivetti Stage 5 Endo-Steel
Power Plant: Magna 260 Fusion Engine
Cruising Speed: 43.0 km/h
Maximum Speed: 64.5 km/h
Jump Jets: Standard Type A1
Jump Capacity: 120 meters
Armor: Compound Alpha Ferro-Fibrous
1 Series XIIIc Large Pulse Laser
1 Type DL Ultra AC/10
2 Pattern JVI Streak SRM-6s
4 Series I ER Small Lasers
Manufacturer: Olivetti Weaponry
Primary Factory: Sudeten
Communications System: Squackbox 3.59
Targeting and Tracking System: Olivetti Pinpoint II
FROM: Scientist Culey
TO: Khan Martha Pryde
DATE: October 12, 3059
SUBJECT: CB-K-H6 Project Saker
Pardon my impudence. I have avoided the normal channels of communication per your expressed personal interest in this project.
When you originally posed the question of what our glorious Clan should achieve with the 437-count Magna 260 fusion reactor piles taken as isorla when our warriors captured Sudeten, I admit I was apprehensive. A 260-rated standard fusion engine is only suited to powering two specific BattleMech chassis' at given speeds; there are no other combinations of chassis and speed that can be used efficiently. Not wishing to waste my Khan's valuable time, my team and I immediately dispensed with the lighter and far less effective combination, instead settling for the larger machine. As a standard engine would be used we designed the machine with our second-line warriors, and their over-riding mission, in mind.
My team and I have dubbed this BattleMech Saker after the Terran heirofalcon of Middle-Eastern origin. The name is a misnomer; the bird is a grasslands predator while the BattleMech is specifically designed for use in rough terrain. Still, the name has stuck within my team and the database entries refer to Saker. Should you wish, I can easily update our technical archives and the associated blueprints with a more apt name as this is simply our internal name for the project. We would never presume to name a BattleMech for our warriors.
Please review the attached file. I have sent only an overview of the machine, but I have also provided hooks to our technical database should you desire more information about a particular component of the design. We have designed the BattleMech using tried and true components proven in countless battles in the interests of simplicity and ease of maintenance. While the Magna engine is reliable and tough it is slightly out of date; we have improved safety margins by nearly 0.87%. As these engines have (understandably) lain quiescent for nearly seven years, they will require special care. Fortunately, updating these engines is a simple process and will not significantly impact the cost of this project.
Although we had considered mounting an active probe of some sort we would have had to reduce the combat capabilities of the BattleMech in one way or another, whether armor or weaponry, and as such the equipment was deemed superfluous; the Saker is already well-equipped for combat against Spheroids. However, it is prone to overheating in tight situations, especially if the MechWarrior is light on the trigger, and requires a special care to maintain effectiveness.
Per my immediate superior's orders, we have proceeded with construction of a prototype and have concluded production only this night. After final safety checks have been finished the machine will be ready for combat trials. I estimate two full days to complete the machine. You are invited to inspect Saker at your convenience in Hanger 6, Building K, Olivetti Weaponry Complex B.
My team and I hope you find the Saker a worthy addition to the touman.
Project Lead, Scientist Culey
The Saker's inception dates back to October 3050 when the 124th Striker Cluster managed to drive the Gray Death Legion from Sudeten undeterred by the mauling they had taken. After mopping up what little resistance was left on-planet, the 124th took stock of the isorla they had won. Among the supplies were some 437 Magna fusion reactors, an older type manufactured for the Thunderbolt. Not seeing any need for the piles, the Falcons sequestered them to storage where they rotted for nearly seven years.
The Refusal War, and the subsequent ravages inflicted upon the Falcon touman, changed the Clan's outlook with regards to the older Spheroid equipment. Direct experience with Spheroid tactics during the great raids into Lyran space during 3058 helped solidify the decision to develop a new second-line 'Mech for use in the Inner Sphere holdings of the Clan. In November 3058, Scientist Culey of Sudeten and his team were given orders to make use of the old Magna reactors in a creative manner. Given free reign, but expected to produce results, Culey's team spent nearly a year designing and prototyping the new machine. The 'Mech that walked out of hanger 6 of Olivetti Weaponry Complex B's building K under the Magna's power on October 15, 3059 would be hailed by Clan Jade Falcon's second-line warriors as a god-send.
Designed explicitly for second-line units operating in built-up terrain, the Saker mounts an interesting and surprising (to its opponent's, at least) array of weaponry intended for complement rather than contrast. Although it is rather easy to overheat a Saker in the thick of combat, the options available to its pilots also endears it to them in spite of the "built-by-committee" feeling of the layout. For its main armament the 'Mech boasts a Type DL Ultra AC/10 and a Series XIIIc large pulse laser, each weapon mounted in an opposite arm for maximum arc. The main backup weaponry consists of two Pattern JVI Streak SRM-6s in an over-under configuration in the right-side of the torso, providing reliable and ammunition-conservative firepower. Lastly, four Series I extended range small lasers were placed in gimbal mounts facing to the rear of the machine; these seemingly paltry lasers can flay any opponents who think they have the drop on a Saker and can also be used in the thick of a melee should zellbrigen be broken.
Power for the machine comes from the reliable Magna 260 fusion engine found on the Spheroid TDR-9S Thunderbolt, albeit heavily modified by Jade Falcon scientists. Safety margins were increased only marginally; the Magna is a proven reactor from the Star League days and many quirks and kinks were worked out early on. Despite the track record of the Magna Clan scientists performed a complete refit of the coolant exchanger to upgrade the venerable power plant to double-strength heat sinks on all of the examples they had captured. While this would be a major undertaking if the reactor was already installed on a 'Mech the cost was negligible in regards to the Saker.
Although it is a well-known fact that BattleMechs carrying ammunition underneath their reactor are particularly vulnerable, the Saker proved to be a special case. Originally, mounting its dual Streak SRM-6 systems in opposite sides of the torso allowed for a looser clustering and prevented premature detonation of the missiles upon launch. After combat trials a fatal flaw in the frontal armor was discovered that, if properly exploited by an attacker, could detonate the ammunition for the two launchers. Because the ammunition was not only directly underneath the fusion pile but also behind the primary heat exchanger, ricochets or vaporizing metals near the forward vent could potentially cause a fatal heat spike from the exchanger, overheating the already volatile ammunition store.
To prevent such a catastrophic explosion technicians redesigned the machine to place the two Streak launchers in the right side of the torso and moved the ammunition from underneath the main pile next to the stores for the Ultra autocannon. The left side launcher was moved because an ammunition feed that ran under the reactor, and behind the heat exchanger, would be just as vulnerable as the entire lot of missiles. While this arrangement increases the likelihood of an explosion from a penetrating hit in the right side of the torso, such an explosion does not pose a risk of complete annihilation to the 'Mech and can be handled normally by the blow-out system. The missile launchers are mounted in a high/low configuration, with one under the shoulder and one over, to deal with the original clustering issue. The compromise has so far worked well.
Also notable on the Saker are its four Standard Type A1 jump jets which give it excellent mobility in its chosen terrain. Vital in ambush and close-combat situations, the Saker's 120 meter jump distance can unbalance enemies as the fusion turbines are cleverly hidden behind flapper valves on the rear of the torso and not readily apparent to opponents. Aside from its tough endo-steel skeleton and standard fusion engine, the 'Mech carries 10 tons of Compound Alpha ferro-fibrous armor, enough for nearly 91% coverage. The armor thickness alone is very welcome to Falcon second line troops but it can also be said that, despite the low cost of the unit, the touman would have felt every loss at the time of the Saker's production, even those in second-line units.
As a package, the Saker is a low-cost compromise that has so far made a favorable impression on the Falcon touman for its reliability and toughness.
During the FedCom Civil War Clan Jade Falcon attacked the Lyran Alliance en force with the intent of territorial gain. Naturally, the Saker was brought along for the ride.
During the battles on Ballynure against Roman's Bar Hounds, veterans of the Clan Front, Lambda Galaxy's 24th Provisional Garrison Cluster would put the Saker through its paces in its intended role. Although the Bar Hounds would use hit-and-run tactics for the majority of their time on-planet, one notable engagement involving the Saker took place near the end of July 3064.
Mechwarrior Roy, assigned to Shield 2 Trinary Bravo of the 24th PGC (L24B Shield 2), the last member of his unit still alive after two months of attacks by Roman's Bar Hounds, was assigned garrison duty at a rather insignificant staging depot in the highlands of the third continent. Although Roy had already done his best to distinguish himself during the Ballynure affair his assignment was not a matter of honor, but rather of logistical expediency; the rest of Trinary Bravo needed their full strength for their current hunting mission and his was the only 'Mech that could be spared. Stationing Roy and his Saker at the depot was perhaps the wisest choice Roy's commanding officer could have made that day.
Desperately low on supplies, elements of the Bar Hounds in the area skirted the hunting mission and homed in on the depot. The raiding party consisted of a full lance of light and medium 'Mechs, most sporting newer technology and in full repair. Mechwarrior Roy spotted the raiders as the Bar Hounds approached the depot and sprung into action.
Knowing that zellbrigen was out of the question with these mercenaries, Roy placed his Saker behind a hill and opened up with his Type DL and Series XIIIc, taking the easiest shot first and concentrating on that particular 'Mech until the others began to target him. From that point on, what transpired could be considered a furball. When the Bar Hounds had reached a distance of 300 meters Roy charged into their ranks, using his jump jets, rear lasers, and Streak launchers to maximum effect against his agile opponents. Having used the hill for cover, Roy's 'Mech was only lightly damaged when he entered the fray and this helped him as the damage began to pile up. But the Bar Hounds would not take isorla from Roy that day; he managed to core two of their 'Mechs in short order.
Having seen two of their number destroyed the other Bar Hounds began a retreat to lower ground, but their lack of jump jets hampered their maneuverability and Roy was able to maintain contact, even if such contact was fleeting due to the heavy terrain. Eventually Mechwarrior Roy managed to land a jump between the two Bar Hounds and, taking advantage of this good fortune, unleashed the full firepower of his Saker into the unfortunate mercenaries, killing the pilot of one with a well-placed burst from his Type DL. Roy turned to the surviving Bar Hound, his 'Mech almost in shambles, and asked for the Hound's surrender. It was granted.
Having taken a bondsman, and having successfully defended the staging depot against a larger force, Mechwarrior Roy had brought honor back to Shield 2 after their deaths at the hands of the Spheroids. Although he has not been considered for advancement beyond his Star, Roy and his actions are a source of some pride for the 24th PGC.
As a second-line 'Mech, the Saker features most prominently in Solahma and Garrison clusters within the Jade Falcon touman. Although Clans Wolf and Ghost Bear have both expressed some interest in the design, neither have offered Trials of Possession for the rights to the machine as of 3062.
Still recovering from the Refusal War, the Gyrfalcon Solahma Cluster has received the lion's share of Sakers, being stationed on Sudeten, although their slowly rising manpower often means they must give up any new machines to other garrison clusters.
The Jade Solahma Cluster has received a number of Sakers but, like the Gyrfalcon Solahma, are unfortunately not able to make use of them due to a lack of manpower.
The Saker is also seen on occasion with Lambda Galaxy, being used mainly for anti-pirate duties and in garrison units along the Periphery Corridor. Lambda Solahma Cluster boasts some 13 Sakers.
Notable 'Mechs and Mechwarriors
Roy has the unfortunate distinction of being the last surviving member of his Shield (Star), the others having been killed off during the Ballynure attack by various raiding elements of Roman's Bar Hounds. Despite the dishonor of his Star, Roy pushed on in the stubborn fashion of his Clan and managed to regain the lost honor of his Shield later on Ballynure. Being the only member of the Shield, he has been promoted to Star Commander and should soon see some new warriors to fill out his Shield.
While Roy is an unassuming, underachieving man, there is something to be said for him making the grade as a warrior, and it is not from lack of trying. His superiors hope that his recent battle and promotion will spur him on to greater deeds.
Technology Base: Clan 65.00 tons
Chassis Config: Biped Cost: 6,711,110 C-Bills
BV2: 2,021 Tech Rating/Era Availability: F/X-X-D
Internal Structure: Endo-Steel 3.50
Internal Locations: 1 CT, 1 LT, 1 RT, 1 LA, 1 RA, 1 LL, 1 RL
Engine: 260 Fusion Engine 13.50
Walking MP: 4
Running MP: 6
Jumping MP: 4 Standard
Jump Jet Locations: 2 LT, 2 RT 4.00
Heat Sinks: 11 (22) - Double (10 in engine) 1.00
Heat Sink Locations: 1 LT
Gyro: Standard 3.00
Cockpit: Standard 3.00
Actuators: L: SH+UA+LA+H R: SH+UA+LA+H
Armor: 192 points - Ferro-Fibrous 10.00
Armor Locations: 1 HD, 1 CT, 1 LT, 1 LA, 1 RA, 1 LL, 1 RL
CASE Locations: RT 0.00
Head: 3 9
Center Torso: 21 25
Center Torso (rear): 10
R/L Torso: 15 22
R/L Torso (rear): 8
R/L Arm: 10 20
R/L Leg: 15 24
Weapons and Ammo Location Heat Criticals Tonnage
Ultra AC/10 RA 3/shot (6 max) 4 10.00
Large Pulse Laser LA 10 2 6.00
2 (R) ER Small Lasers RT 4 2 1.00
2 Streak SRM-6s RT 4 4 6.00
2 (R) ER Small Lasers LT 4 2 1.00
Ammo Streak SRM-6 (15)
2 Ammo Ultra AC/10 (20)
I'm glad you pointed out the story of Roy. I have this bad habit of skipping over long fluff, but the battle history is well worth the read.
I love the fluff and the mech. <3
To all: Thanks for the kind words. I was a bit worried about this guy since this is the first time I have tried to write Clan fluff seriously (the fluff was a month in the making, most of it written in my head), I have the Jade Falcon, FM: Crusader Clans, and the FedCom Civil War books to thank.
Ice: I've used this one in MegaMek to great effect, the "battle report" featuring Roy is based on my own testing (although I killed all four 'Mechs. ). It's a lot of fun!
5 Ice Hellion
Simple yet efficient.
A rather surprising design that I like.
I might add it to my Clan lists.
Good fluff and a pretty deadly design. While the speed is a bit slow for a Clan heavy, even a second-line machine, it does have that excellent survivability of the standard engine. Just a bit concerned at the lack of range of the rear mounted ER small lasers, but the damage they put out is pretty nice.
Fluff alone rates a 5.
Oh yes, a Clan 'mech I can really get behind! Classic second line machine, tough as nails, manoeuvrable, very threatening weaponry wise and with decent heat management.
Cracking fluff as well - brilliant all round!
A Conjurer with an attitude problem. Excellent.
This birdie's got quite a set of beak and talons, and wings, too!
Quite a tough customer, and its heat is just barely controllable!
Interesting and effective. A variant could be easily seen as removing the small lasers and upgrading the UAC to a Gauss.