Campaign of the Month: June 2014
Battletech : The Farscape Campaign
Mercenary Smuggler's DropShip
“The Betty” – DroST IIA-Class Light Bulk Dropship
Type : Aerodyne DropShip
Use : Civilian Cargo Transport
Tech : Inner Sphere (Age of War)
Introduced : 2442 (Hull Laid Down 2579)
Mass : 5300 tons
Length : 73.2m
Height : 80.5m
WIdth : 31.2m
Engine : Kapesen Revised
Fuel : 200 tons
Tons/Burn-Day : 1.84
Safe Thrust : 5
Maximum Thrust : 8
Heat Sinks : 86
Structural Integrity : 16
Armor : Inner Sphere Standard (33.5 tons)
Nose : 160
Front-Sides : 160
Aft-Sides : 120
Aft : 40
Bay 1 : Small Craft (2) – 2 Doors
Bay 2 : Cargo (3 Light Armor Lances : 600 tons) – 3 Doors
Bay 3 : Cargo (6 Infantry Platoons : 1200 tons) – 3 Doors
Crew : 10 : 3 Officers, 4 Enlisted, 3 Gunners, 290 Bay Personnel.
Base Crew : 7 : 1p, 2e, 4se (Bridge – 1p,1se; Engine – 1e, 1se).
Escape Pods : 1
Life Boats : 2
Three (3) AC/5s
Three (3) Large Lasers
Five (5) Medium Lasers
Ammo (AC/5) : 3 tons.
When Fleet Admiral James McKenna formed the Terran Hegemony in the early 24th century, he embarked on a campaign that aggressively reunited scores of worlds with Terra, in the process creating the need for fleets of landing craft and DropShips to carry his armies to the stars. The Hegemony commissioned dozens of different DropShip classes throughout the 24th century, many of which were all but disposable ships that could only be used for a handful of combat landings before the combined stress of high-G insertions and combat damage relegated them to the scrap heaps or sale as surplus. As military technologies matured in the Age of War, the Hegemony Armed Forces (HAF) started looking for DropShip designs that were hardy enough to last through decades of combat operations. The DropShip-Tank, or DroST-series of ships was the answer in the early 25th century.
The DroST IIa was the continuation of the popular Series-I ships. Utilizing an aerodyne configuration both for the ease of piloting as well as loading/off-loading operations using a large aft combination roll-on/roll-off ramps/bay door, it could carry two companies of heavy armor or a battalion of light armor (up to 2200 metric tons of cargo), as well as crew, support personnel and supplies. The boxy interior cargo bay is divided into two stacked decks, with access to the top deck provided by a ramp at the aft end of the deck; unfortunately, deploying an upper-level ramp cuts off access to the lower level, as there is no easy way to transfer cargo between decks without opening the bay doors. Moreover, there are no dedicated vehicular maintenance bays, while quarters for vehicle crews and mechanics are little more than tightly packed infantry bunk cubicles set into the sides of the cargo bays, and their recreation, mess and common areas for such personnel in whatever remaining space they can clear. Meanwhile, the ship’s ten-person crew, and up to ten paying passengers, occupy the two decks below the cargo bays.
Unique in its time period, the ship utilizes a pair of combination drives mounted outboard that rotate through 90 degrees depending upon whether accelerating for intra-system transit or maneuvering tactically. The first Series-II ships suffered numerous problems with the original Kapesen engines, leading to the Series-IIa ships which corrected those fatal flaws. The Hegemony built thousands of these hardy ships, each expected to serve twenty solid years of hard military use, selling the majority to civilian markets after they reached their service dates (it was politically and economically more expedient to build new hulls than to overhaul existing ones). This gave the Series-IIa ships new lives in civilian service, where their resilient structure and heavy armor proved they could survive literally centuries longer through the efforts of a competent crew (“…treat her proper, she’ll be with you for the rest of your life…” was a not-untrue common sales pitch, despite the obvious and oft-repeated comeback “…because she’s a deathtrap…”).
The Hegemony stopped DroST production during the Reunification War, instead favoring the more capable dedicated Mech and vehicle carriers that debuted shortly thereafter. The DroST-Series ships refused to die out, though; a handful of original IIa ships, as well as countless clones of this venerable design, still ply the shipping lanes throughout known space.
The “Betty” was produced, and laid down in a Terran shipyard, initially christened “The Auruba” and sent to serve in the Taurian conflict of the Reunification War. It notably survived the Battle of Robsart, though it took severe damage from a Concordat fireship that destroyed its carrier Merchant-Class JumpShip. Slated for the scrapheap, she was mothballed and placed in a parts scrapyard over Robsart, where she rotted for several decades. Purchased at auction and re-fitted, she was renamed “The Betty”, and passed down a line of merchants, smugglers and ne’er-do-wells, until coming into the possession of Captain Frank Elgyn.
Captain Frank Elgyn is a mercenary and a smuggler, whose extensive contacts had allowed him to smuggle weapons and munitions from the black market in Liao space, to pirate and militia forces in the Periphery. He began serving Lord-Marshal “White Death” for a couple years as a gun-runner, shipping munitions and priority cargoes from his holdings on System – Dunkelheim to contacts in the Periphery – traditionally various Shadowports along the Davion frontier. In addition, the crew of “The Betty” often hauled around specialists (such as his personal techs and engineers), various specialty vehicles and other important cargoes when White Death relocated.
“The Betty” was repaired using various cloned components from a FWL manufacturing line (now defunct) produced by Andurien Industries. Although her controls are a little “flaky”, with her hull scarred by over four centuries of hard use, she is still capable of performing quite well. Her upgraded Kapesen engines have recently been over-hauled, providing very good acceleration, thrust and speed.
Originally set-up to haul a mixed recon battalion from the SLDF 9th Division, “The Betty” has its primary cargo bay organized to facilitate two companies of motor/mechanized infantry, and its secondary bay built to haul a company of light armor. The pair of small craft cubicles remains intact, though modified.
The lowest deck contains much of the ship’s power plant, landing gear, and fuel tankage. In a “pod” immediately below the forward weapons turrets and main aero-intake, is the bridge and crew quarters. This “Crew Deck” holds avionics, computers, communications and sensors. The crew quarters are double-occupancy staterooms, located below the troop decks, with a separate mess and recreation facilities. In addition, six small double-occupancy staterooms have been built here to facilitate special passengers, such as battalion advisers. The aft end of this deck, holds waste-processing, ship’s laundry and access to the wings and aerospace bays. The aerospace bays are intact, but one has been stripped and equipped with removable fuel bladders for an extended fuel tankage of 150 tons. The other is empty, though provision has been maintained for docking a landing craft or shuttle, complete with a standard aero bay, but no tools or spare parts. Access to the wing weapons bays and fuel tanks is found on this deck.
The middle deck, or “Armor Deck” holds the secondary bay with a pair of troop bays for its armor crews, each a long and narrow barrack with double-high bunks lining each wall. Between each bunk lies a large personal gear locker. At one end of each bay is a washroom that the entire barracks shares. At the opposite end is the entrance, with a separate room for the company CO and his master sergeant, which contains a double bunk, a fold-down wash basin, and a pair of fold-down tables and benches. The large, single bay intended for use of the armor, lies between these bays, is a large bay intended to house fifteen (15) light tanks, lined end-to-end. Near the aft end of this bay, lies a pair of minor cargo bays, each holding twenty tons of equipment and supplies. In need, these bays can instead hold four (4) light vehicles. Access to all loading ramps is on this deck.
The upper deck, or “Troop Deck”, is also the primary cargo bay; improved with a pair of barracks-style troop bays, it possesses its own mess facilities and small recreation room, but lacks a dedicated training area. This deck also possesses a capable medical facility that can handle up to six emergency cases simultaneously. Towards the forward section of the deck is the officer’s quarters, and housing for the battalion staff. The rear half of the deck has provision for a pair of 200-ton vehicle bays, each capable of holding ten light vehicles (such as APCs or Jeeps), though there is no provision for their repair or maintenance. Each bay possesses a heavy elevator, capable of bringing either a 20-ton vehicle load or a full platoon down from the deck onto the area behind the ramps, for off-loading. Most training occurs on these elevators, though there is very little room.
The vessel fell under * “The Iron Dingoes” control as an auxiliary in its direct service. They have continued to operate as arms smugglers and shippers of rare or illegal contraband on behalf of the Dingoes central command, but also haul troops, regular supplies and munitions, and select personnel when required. Well-paid and able to engage in their own trade from time to time, they receive repairs and parts on a regular basis and in many ways, consider the Iron Dingoes their home.