Campaign of the Month: June 2014
Battletech : The Farscape Campaign
Battalion Staple of the Succession Wars
Class-113 Mk Coolant Truck (30 tons)
Power Plant : Tamia 100 ICE
Cruise Speed : 43.2 kph (4)
Flank Speed : 64.8 kph (6)
Armor : Star Slab/3 (Armor Factor 96) : 7 tons
Front – 24
Right Side – 28
Left Side – 28
Rear – 20
Turret – 12
Armament : Two (2) Dragon’s Breath Flamers (Turret)
Ammo (Flamer) : 40 (Body)
Cargo, Insulated : 5.65 tons (Liquid Nitrogen)
Cargo, Insulated : 2.175 tons (LOX)
Manufacturer : Brooks Incorporated of Andurien, Free World’s League; Buda Imperial Vehicles, Luthien
Communications System : Sipher CommSys 1
Targeting and Tracking System : Matabushi Sentinel
Overview : Coolant trucks, known as “coolers” among MechWarriors, station themselves close to the battlefield, where they can be hooked into overheated Mechs to flush away excess heat with super-cold liquid nitrogen.
Originally developed during the Reunification Wars, the need for a mobile means to cool overheating Mech forces, primarily because so many Periphery worlds were water-poor. The Star League was noted to lose many battles simply because they were too overheated to fight at full efficiency. The first coolant trucks appeared on the battlefield in 2588, participating in the Siege of Cerberus, a desert world in the Outworld’s Alliance. Their use doubled the Star League range, and brought a much needed boost to its forces during a dark time in its war.
Coolant trucks are typically issued to regimental supply and maintenance, under the direction of the unit’s Master Tech. A single, well-maintained regiment will typically have six coolers. Traditionally broken into groups of two, they maintain a “convoy” with one pair holding station, while the others are in transit re-filling their tanks and returning to their station again. In this way, Mechs will always have ready access to a cooler.
Slowly following an advance, the vehicles consist of a normal squad of techs; an officer, a driver, a gunner, and four hose-men. Assignment to a cooler is not particularly prestigious, though crews that have to position take a perverse pride in their operation. Known as “Ice Men”, for their stoic behavior while battle rages around them, they remain very popular among battle crews.
Coolant trucks are valued as prizes. If a cooler and its team can be captured intact, they are typically offered conscription. Mercenary units are always on the look-out for seasoned cooler teams, and have been known to offer double normal wages. Failing to win over a cooler crew, the team is often offered up in a prisoner exchange for their own captured personnel.
Mechs are very vulnerable when hooked-up to a cooler. Modern battlefield etiquette has evolved to allow a special “courtesy” to such a Mech, usually ignoring them from combat provided it does not shoot. Once disconnected, and moved away from the cooler by a safe distance, the Mech one more becomes a viable target. Many Mechs will simply surrender if placed in such a compromising position, however.
Capabilities : Mechs have two uses for liquid nitrogen. The first as coolant for its reactors; since Mech fusion engines are twin-jacketed, surrounded by an insulating reservoir of liquid nitrogen. This nitrogen reserve is kept in constant motion, keeping the temperature of the engine constant. When it is exposed to prolonged heat, it expands, and the control system tends to purge the system of nitrogen, to reduce pressure, venting the liquid into the air. Over time, the pilot might be forced to do this numerous times, losing precious coolant in the process. In prolonged combat, Mechs often retreat between battles to nearby coolant trucks. Once attached, the vehicles flush the Mech’s reservoir of lukewarm nitrogen, and replaces it with full capacities of cold nitrogen.
The second reason for liquid nitrogen, is in cooling its actuators and weapons systems. Spreading through the Mech in small tubes, almost like arteries, the coolant passes through these parts and maintains the rest of the Mech along operational temperatures.
Coolant trucks also carry liquid oxygen, which is used to replenish a Mechs’ small jump jet tanks. Pure oxygen is used to supplement normal air passing over the reactor, creating jet propulsion. Liquid oxygen can also be pumped along a Mech’s arteries to cool burning actuators, however its higher volatility makes its use as a coolant only as a reserve when all nitrogen has been used.
Most coolant trucks tend to have the added feature of a pair of turret-mounted flamers. Heat is rarely an issue for coolant trucks, so they can fire the weapons at will, and often become the bane of any infantry that think to capture such a prize. In need, the weapons can be converted to spew liquid nitrogen directly on burning Mechs, dousing the flames in a cloud of super-cooled mist. This tends to be a common conversion in wartime.
Coolant trucks are heavily armored, which is usually because even a single AC round or stray laser puncturing the tanks can be devastating to the vehicle and its crew.
Coolant trucks usually have five receptacles (some versions have four or six) for the long rubber/plastic hoses used to attach to overheating Mechs. The first four dispense liquid nitrogen, while the fifth uses the reserves of liquid oxygen. Most Mechs have only one exterior connection for such a hose, though heavier Mechs can have two, simply because of its sheer bulk and need for improved pressure.
Variants : Many types of coolant trucks exist. Some are hover vehicles, while others use tracked movement. Most carry both liquids, though some only carry nitrogen and dedicate other vehicles to carry the oxygen.
While most coolant trucks are armed, sometimes commands pull the weapons. They usually employ flamers, however, if only for their utility value.
The Class-113 Mk Coolant Truck is an older version built by House Marik, though its construction line on Andurien was lost during the 1st Succession War, and it is no longer manufactured there.
This version typically carries nine tons of coolant; seven tons of nitrogen and two of liquid oxygen in armored tanks. The engines constantly churn its contents to maintain proper temperatures, and avoid rupture of the coolant tanks.
Built for the Draconis Combine by Buda Imperial Vehicles, the Class 135-K Coolant Truck (code-named the “Lifesaver” ) is a typical example of such a unit.