Campaign of the Month: June 2014
Battletech : The Farscape Campaign
Infantry Support Weapon, Semi-Portable
The M56A2 “Smartgun”, is a Semi-Portable Man-Pack Particle Cannon (or M-PPC), a man-sized version of the traditional vehicle-deployed Particle Projection Cannon (PPC). Because of the M-PPC’s size and power output, there is no particle dispersion at the closer ranges, as with the larger version PPC.
Tech Level : Inner Sphere
Equipment Rating : D/C-F-D/E
AP/BD : 4E/8S
Range : 60/225/475/1200
Shots : 10 PPS
Cost/Reload : 7000 Cs/*
AFF : Inner Sphere, Federated Suns
Mass/Reload : 40kgs/*
Notes : Crew 2 (or 1 w/ “Waldo” ); Recharge : 1 Turn. Traditionally, the unit uses an attached power generator from a fixed position, but in need can use military-grade power packs (TOW p306).
The Smartgun is a man-potable infantry support weapon, constructed largely from molded carbon fibers and light alloy ceramics, though some interior parts are made of high-strength plastics. The weapon’s barrel is easily replaceable and air-cooled, although an additional heat sink attachment can be jacketed onto it to further improve sustained fire capabilities. The M56A2 is 122 cm long, incorporating a 54.5 cm barrel, while the entire gun assembly, including the harness and a fully charged battery, masses 39.82 kgs.
Unusually, the M56 incorporates two different firing mechanisms in its design — firing is controlled either by depressing a red “fire” button mounted on the forward hand grip, or by lifting a firing handle mounted beneath the rear grip. A selector on the forward grip switches the weapon between its Safe, Burst and Autofire settings. The Burst setting will fire four-round bursts, while the Autofire setting will continue to fire the weapon at its full cyclic rate so long as either of the triggers remains depressed. Clicking off the safety will also automatically charge the weapon (provided there is not already a fully charged series of rounds awaiting firing), although veteran troopers prefer to recharge the gun using the manual handle on the right side.
While the operator is standing, the gun is held and steered by its fore and back grips. The gun can also be fired from a prone position although, owing to the weapon’s unique design, this entails the operator lying on their back. When prone, the gun is controlled with the fore-grip and the charging handle, the latter of which must be locked forwards for this purpose.
M56A2 Man-Pack Particle Cannon in live-firing operations.
The M-PPC cannot normally be used by a single soldier. Though it is a small particle cannon, it is not small enough to be carried and fired in combat. The operator must wear either an industrial exoskeleton or the special M56A2 Combat Harness, or more commonly known as the “Waldo”. The Waldo harness connects securely to the operator through a stabilized articulation arm, attached to the left hip of the harness and connected via a coaxial cable the to processors and power outlets on the chest plate. The system’s Head Mounted Sight is also connected to the infrared targeting & tracking system and communications systems in the chest plate. Powered by a simple micro-battery, the entire system’s components are easily accessible and can be repaired in the field.
The Waldo costs 1000Cs, weighs 5kgs, and allows its wielder to maneuver the gun as though it were a regular rifle. The Waldo comes with its own power supply (unlimited for combat purposes), and requires a minimum BOD 6 to use properly. In the absence of either unit, the M-PPC gun can be mounted on a simple tripod, and be deployed as a static emplacement support weapon.
Production of the Waldo, however remains very limited, and is rarely encountered, due to its high technological needs, and the fact that most lines that could produce it have long since been militarized into other production. The M-PPC’s size and cost, however, make it impractical for most normal trooper units to employ, though it is common in garrison forces close to its source of manufacture on System – New Syrtis. Many elite commando units, however, often keep them as a support weapon.