Campaign of the Month: June 2014
Battletech : The Farscape Campaign
Planetlifter Air Transport
Conventional Air Transport
Planetlifter Air Transport (50 tons)
Power Plant : GM 200 ICE Turbine
Cruise Speed : 43.0 kph (4)
Flank Speed : 64.4 kph (6)
Armor : Industrial Grade (0.7 – Armor Factor 48) : 3.0 tons
Nose – 22
Right Wing – 7
Left Wing – 7
Aft – 12
Cargo (20.5 tons) – (Body)
Communications System : Irian UHF
Targeting & Tracking System : None
Manufacturer : Imstar Aerospace, Free World’s League
Note : The mass and size of the Planetlifter’s engine-to-frame ratio, allows the machine to haul up to 70 tons of equipment, including vehicles, Mechs, or even another Planetlifter (some machines might need to broken into components first, however). It has VTOL capabilities, and does not require an established airfield to land.
Overview : The Planetlifter is a typical example of a conventional rough field military transport aircraft used by many military outfits. These craft are typically assigned directly to a planetary garrison commander, allowing them to quickly shift combat assets from one battlefield to another. This strategic mobility functions effectively as a force-multiplier, allowing garrison forces to spread across their zones of control for population control, and as a counter to small unit raids but still able to concentrate quickly to blunt major assaults.
Capabilities : The Free World’s League-produced Planetlifter can carry twenty-and-one-half tons of internal cargo in its lightly armored fuselage. Bulkheads dividing the bay are removable, allowing the aircraft to adjust its bay for heavier or bulkier loads that cannot be stored in a single bay.
The Planetlifter’s loading procedures are unique among military transports of its size. Vehicles and infantry can load in the normal manner through the cargo ramps in the tail or nose. Light Mechs can even be stowed quickly and safely, as the entire lower half of the cargo bay can be detached to allow a lying Mech to be secured to its floor of the now-exposed bay, and then the Planetlifter rolls back over the cargo and attaches the bay once more for transport. Experienced crews can land, load a Wasp BattleMech, and take-off once more in under fifteen minutes. Many militia units have “Loader Contests” to compete and win prizes to determine who can load a Planetlifter fastest.
Deployment : Planetlifters can be found on practically every world in the FWL in service to their planetary militia. Due in part to the foresight of most military-minded governors, these heavy lifters become invaluable assets in the infrastructure of its military machine.
Heavy air transports are found throughout the Inner Sphere, though most are not as militarized as the Planetlifter. The Lyran Walrus II – an improvement on the DMIs ancient deathtrap from the late 2300s – holds many basic similarities to Imstar’s Planetlifter. The Davion SuperPelican, a licensed version of the Planetlifter, is under question for its continued production, due to patent issues. The Draconis Combine, surprisingly, has three different air transport designs. Conspiracists theorize all three companies are merely shells for Wakazashi Enterprises.
The Capellan Yangtze design is uninspired, often called a “pucker plane” by AFFS soldiery. Stories continue of pilots of the Yangtze perform shoddy maintenance, developing erratic flight controls, and generally handling like a proverbial brick. Pilots have been quoted as saying flying the plane was like stepping over a cliff with a Taurian parachute, and “puckering up” in anticipation of the potential failure of the vehicle’s controls.
Variants : The most common variant is the SuperPelican (dubbed the “Waddle”), which converts the cargo bay into an air-mobile support platform. This version of the Planetlifter tends to mount an SRM-6 in the nose, and a pair of AC/5s on the wings. Poor ventilation, however, clogs the converted cargo bay with dense, choking smoke after only a few rounds of firing.