Register Register

Author Topic: The M^3 Support Track  (Read 1037 times)

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 907
The M^3 Support Track
« on: 15 November 2021, 12:54:30 »
The M3 ("M-cubed") support track is a cheap and effective means to handle all aspects of unit support including maintenance, medical, and morale.  Any thoughts on how to improve or viability?

Somewhat counterintuitively, the best platform for this goal seems to be a combat vehicle rather than a support vehicle since they require less transport tonnage. 

The M3s centerpiece is a mobile field base, able to support maintenance and light repairs on any unit.  The limiting factor on use is time.  In a maintenance-only environment for example, it can comfortably maintain 5 assault mechs in 8 hours, although more are needed to handle repairs.  In addition, a MASH unit provides advanced medical care to 25 injured warriors in the field. The M3 also features an integral battle armor point.  Aside from use for security or cargo lift, this provides a means to maintain and repair many more battle armor in the field without taking up valuable mobile field base time.  The M3 can also slowly carry 50 tons of additional cargo.

The obvious drawback is that the vehicle is totally unsuited to combat---it's slow, has no weapons, and has only minimal armor.  That's ok for the role---it's meant to be delivered near (but not in) a combat zone via a smallcraft and exit in the same manner.

The Morale aspect is handled by the associated smallcraft which can function as a field kitchen.
Code: [Select]
M^3 Support Track

Mass: 50 tons
Movement Type: Tracked
Power Plant: 100 Fusion
Cruising Speed: 21.6 kph
Maximum Speed: 32.4 kph
Armor: Standard
Armament:
Manufacturer: Unknown
     Primary Factory: Unknown
Communication System: Unknown
Targeting & Tracking System: Unknown
Introduction Year: 3145
Tech Rating/Availability: E/X-X-X-D
Cost: 980,000 C-bills

Overview
The M^3 is quite slow, which is fine for it's intended use as a small craft carried mobile force repair system.  It need only exit the smallcraft to begin force support activities.

Capabilities
The M^3 is an all-in-one support system for all aspects of a small ground  force.  A mobile field base enables maintenance and repair of mechs, vehicles, ASF, and smallcraft.  A MASH theater provides advanced medical care for injured warriors.  A battle armor bay provides the ability to support and maintain infantry.  The smallcraft which carries the M^3 can also function as field kitchen providing some much-better-than-MRE meals.  A small amount of additional cargo provides storage for whatever supplies are most needed and the M^3 itself can carry it's own weight in cargo or damaged units.

Type: M^3
Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Standard)
Movement Type: Tracked
Tonnage: 50
Battle Value: 287

Equipment                                          Mass
Internal Structure                                    5
Engine                        100 Fusion            4.5
Cruising MP: 2
Flank MP: 3
Heat Sinks:                   10                      0
Control Equipment:                                  2.5
Power Amplifier:                                    0.0
Armor Factor                  96                      6

                          Internal   Armor 
                          Structure  Value 
     Front                   5         28   
     R/L Side               5/5      24/24 
     Rear                    5         20   


Weapons
and Ammo                     Location    Tonnage 
MASH Equipment (1 theater)     Body        3.5   
Mobile Field Base              Body        20.0   
Battle Armor (8 tons)                 Body        8.0   
Cargo (0.5 tons)               Body        0.5   

Edit: shifted from truck to track, shifted infantry bay to supporting small craft, and upgraded engine to 2/3.
« Last Edit: 19 November 2021, 22:33:02 by Lagrange »

Sabelkatten

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 6253
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #1 on: 15 November 2021, 15:59:53 »
Given it’s (nonexistent) speed, it arguably makes more sense to just put everything straight into i smallcraft...

If you're making it a vehicle it really should be faster. Unless it’s really intended to be a trailer?

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 907
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #2 on: 15 November 2021, 18:58:30 »
Thanks for this.

Given it’s (nonexistent) speed, it arguably makes more sense to just put everything straight into i smallcraft...
That would be nice, but the Mobile Field Base can only be mounted on a Combat Vehicle, Support Vehicle, or Mobile Structure. 

The MASH and battle armor bays could be mounted in a small craft.  However, since we are forced to use a vehicle and the minimum vehicle bay size is 50 tons there's a bunch of use-it-or-lose-it tonnage around.  Using it on MASH and battle armor bays seems reasonable. 

There's another effect which is important here---a smallcraft carrying a vehicle with a mobile field base can be maintained by the mobile field base and can maintain the vehicle itself out of the vehicle bay.  A smallcraft carrying a mobile field base could not (in my understanding) maintain itself, so you would need to deploy such a smallcraft in pairs, substantially increasing cost.

If you're making it a vehicle it really should be faster. Unless it’s really intended to be a trailer?
The plan is to deploy by smallcraft with the smallcraft parked about 30 meters away.  When it's time to go, you just roll on and take off.  Aside from an exit, the smallcraft also provides an additional 50 tons of cargo for the M3 to draw upon in effecting repairs.  The extra cargo capacity seems fairly important for repairing large units, and so it's really about the smallcraft/vehicle pair operating together.

Daryk

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 24301
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #3 on: 15 November 2021, 20:15:29 »
If that's the intent, then I think some more thought should be given as to what exactly is installed on which vehicle...

idea weenie

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 3530
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #4 on: 15 November 2021, 21:08:20 »
I'd be tempted to go with a single hull and make variants of that truck:
Truck #1 - Mobile Field Base = 20 tons
Truck #2 - Medical/Eatery = 1 Core Component (2.5 tons), 5 Operating Theaters (5 tons), Infantry Compartment for medical personnel (3 tons), Field Kitchen (3 tons), 6.5 tons cargo (medical supplies and food)
Truck #3 - Battle Armor = 2 @ 8 tons/, and 4 extra tons for cargo
Truck #4 - Cargo (20 tons)
By splitting up the responsibilities this reduces the necessary space from 35 tons to 20 tons, allowing you to put in a 230 rated Fusion Engine to give the vehicle a speed of 5/8 and still have half a ton available for the crew's personal gear.

The cargo version of this will cost 1,128,333 C-Bills, as I couldn't find the options in MML to let me add the Mobile Field Base to a Wheeled Combat Vehicle, or make the base Chassis as Omni.

So just the cargo version will cost over twice as much as your all-in-one version above, but with 5* the base speed it will be able to keep up with formations much easier.

Daryk

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 24301
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #5 on: 15 November 2021, 21:15:00 »
Your Truck #3 is an APC, not a truck really...

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 907
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #6 on: 15 November 2021, 22:03:01 »
If that's the intent, then I think some more thought should be given as to what exactly is installed on which vehicle...
Suggestions?

I'd be tempted to go with a single hull and make variants of that truck...
From a force design perspective, I'd like to support the smallest set of units possible without a high overhead since that enables more operations at a smaller scale.  When you factor the functionalities into multiple vehicles, you end up with a large overhead when supporting a lance or company scale unit.  For a lance, you might need 5 trucks (1 of each and 2 of cargo), plus the means to deliver them (3 smallcraft?), costing much more than the lance itself.  Naturally the overhead declines as you operate at larger scales, but I expect you'll be hard pressed to reach an average of 1 smallcraft and 1 truck per lance with this approach because having a smallcraft carry a vehicle which carries cargo is fundamentally less efficient than having a smallcraft which carries cargo. 

In contrast, I'm hoping the M3 with a transporting smallcraft can be a complete support package for something like like a Lance/Star/Level II at a cost lower than the supported units.
So just the cargo version will cost over twice as much as your all-in-one version above, but with 5* the base speed it will be able to keep up with formations much easier.
Speed didn't seem like much of a concern when you can just roll onto a smallcraft and fly.  Is there a situation where that doesn't work?

idea weenie

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 3530
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #7 on: 15 November 2021, 23:19:44 »
Speed didn't seem like much of a concern when you can just roll onto a smallcraft and fly.  Is there a situation where that doesn't work?

Ah, I was thinking deploying them from Light Vehicle Bays from Dropships, not from Small Craft bays.  That is a nice idea as it allows you to send the maintenance/repair and medical setups anywhere on a planet, or faster response than if a vehicle had to drive.  It also lets you send out the support based on the size of the response needed, instead of an all-in-one Dropship delivery, plus Small Craft have a smaller Landing area needed.

DevianID

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 944
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #8 on: 16 November 2021, 01:01:45 »
My main issue is the lack of a lift hoist.  A lift hoist array would allow a 50 ton vee to lift a 100 ton unit, right?  So the advantage of that is if you use a 100 ton small craft, you can move your small craft!  Or, pick up a damaged atlas for repairs, which also is important I guess.

EDIT: looking at the rules, you would need 12 tons of lift hoist to carry a 100 ton something.  Im not sure if you can combine lift hoist and regular lifting, as then if you get a 2/3 engine you can carry 50 tons by moving 1/2, plus another 50 tons with 2x3ton lift hoists for 'just' 6 tons.  This fits with a MASH, mobile field base, and 7 tons cargo.  This only leaves 2.5 tons for a 28 man tech team, 4 tons for 4 BA exoskeletons for repairs, and .5 tons for supplies, and only 2 tons of armor.  Its not easy to squeeze everything into 1 50 ton vehicle, but it is possible with compromise, IF lift hoists stack with standard carrying rules.
« Last Edit: 16 November 2021, 01:12:06 by DevianID »

Daryk

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 24301
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #9 on: 16 November 2021, 04:38:13 »
The MASH definitely needs to be on the ship to avoid unnecessarily moving casualties.  As I recall, a Field Kitchen can't be installed in the ship, so  that has to go on the vehicle, along with the MFB.  Since they're only supposed to operate together, I'd keep the infantry bay(s) on the ship too.  That should make enough room for the Lift Hoists DevianID proposes.

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 907
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #10 on: 16 November 2021, 08:35:17 »
...
Thanks :-)
My main issue is the lack of a lift hoist...
One alternative to a mobile field base is a 'dedicated maintenance vehicle mounting a salvage arm, lift hoist, and so on'.  Aside from the vagueness of what 'and so on' means, this is self-contradictory as vehicles are not eligible to mount a salvage arm.  It would be great to figure out how to actually use that line though.  Does anyone know?

There seem to be two issues with the lift hoist proposal: Does cargo capacity stack, and how do you repair/maintain Battle Armor?  Do you see a way to resolve either question?
The MASH definitely needs to be on the ship to avoid unnecessarily moving casualties. 
I'm not sure the smallcraft moves appreciably less than the vehicle it carries?  But let me play with it.
As I recall, a Field Kitchen can't be installed in the ship, so  that has to go on the vehicle, along with the MFB. 
Looking into it, it appears the Field Kitchen is a freebie from the smallcraft.  It says:
Quote from: TechManual
Small Craft ... count this feature within the tonnage reserved for crew quarters.
That's great---it means every Small Craft has a field kitchen by default with no extra crew required.
Since they're only supposed to operate together, I'd keep the infantry bay(s) on the ship too. 
Infantry bay on the ship is a good idea.

CVB

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1379
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #11 on: 16 November 2021, 11:58:35 »
That's great---it means every Small Craft has a field kitchen by default with no extra crew required.

The wording seems a bit unclear if it actually contains a full capacity field kitchen for several hundred customers or just enough to cater to the crew members actually hosted in the quarters.


In general I dislike combining MASH units with other logistical functions, as it might forfeit the protection under the Red Cross or even subject you to accusations of misuse of the RC sign (which might be a war crime in itself). A field kitchen for the patients and medical staff is ok, but armed frontline troops streaming in for chow are a legitimate target. Repairing and reloading combat units at a hospital is out, as well.

"Wars result when one side either misjudges its chances or wishes to commit suicide; and not even Masada began as a suicide attempt. In general, both warring parties expect to win. In the event, they are wrong more than half the time."
- David Drake

I'm willing to suspend my disbelief, but I'm not willing to hang it by the neck until it's dead, dead, dead!

Daryk

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 24301
  • The Double Deuce II/II-σ
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #12 on: 16 November 2021, 19:22:57 »
You are correct that misusing a protected symbol is a war crime.  It falls under "perfidy".

CVB

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1379
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #13 on: 16 November 2021, 19:31:18 »
Thanks. I wanted to leave a little leeway since we don't know the exact legalese a millenium in the future...
"Wars result when one side either misjudges its chances or wishes to commit suicide; and not even Masada began as a suicide attempt. In general, both warring parties expect to win. In the event, they are wrong more than half the time."
- David Drake

I'm willing to suspend my disbelief, but I'm not willing to hang it by the neck until it's dead, dead, dead!

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 907
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #14 on: 16 November 2021, 20:36:22 »
The wording seems a bit unclear if it actually contains a full capacity field kitchen for several hundred customers or just enough to cater to the crew members actually hosted in the quarters.
The Rules-as-Written don't appear to make any allowance for limited field kitchens so smallcraft facilities can support up to 150 troops.  That's not super-intuitive, and I can't really speak to what the intention is.
In general I dislike combining MASH units with other logistical functions, as it might forfeit the protection under the Red Cross or even subject you to accusations of misuse of the RC sign (which might be a war crime in itself). A field kitchen for the patients and medical staff is ok, but armed frontline troops streaming in for chow are a legitimate target. Repairing and reloading combat units at a hospital is out, as well.
Oh, an interesting point.  I wasn't planning on using the red cross symbol here, which avoids the "perfidy" situation. 

But, there's an interesting question here: should the MASH functionalities be separated out so that the separated unit is eligible for the red cross symbol?  Given the overhead implied, I'd tend to think 'no' at the lance scale.  We can think of this MASH as similar to the one built into every dropship/jumpship/warship/space station.

I could imagine it making more sense at a regimental scale along the lines of idea weenies Truck #2.  My understanding is that it's important semantically that a dedicated MASH facility treat all wounded.  In contrast, the MASH here is purely for the associated combat unit and hence is not eligible for red cross protection.

BATTLEMASTER

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1514
  • Lightning From Another Zip Code
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #15 on: 17 November 2021, 08:21:00 »
I think this is an interesting concept.  Military application of barely self-propelled vehicles exists IRL, like modified jeeps that are meant as mobile arc welders and just move 30 mph or so to get around the tarmac.  This seems to only need to roll itself off a ramp to do its thing, then fold up and go back on the small craft.

If it weren't already 50 tons, I'd suggest making it into a trailer for a truck or other combat vehicle to pull - perhaps that could be a variant :)
BATTLEMASTER
Trombone Player, Lego Enthusiast, Engineer
Clan Smoke Jaguar, Delta Galaxy ("The Cloud Rangers"), 4th Jaguar Dragoons
"You better stand back, I'm not sure how loud this thing can get!"
If you like Lego, you'll like my Lego battlemech projects!

Lagrange

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 907
Re: The M^3 Support Truck
« Reply #16 on: 17 November 2021, 21:13:45 »
...
Thanks.  Making it into a trailer seems reasonable.

I updated the OP.
  • The associated smallcraft will host the infantry bay and it can apparently function as a field kitchen for free, which reduces overall crew requirements.
  • I looked into putting the MASH in the smallcraft.  Unfortunately, this increases the crew requirement by 5.  Since smallcraft are required to provide quarters for crew, it weighs 28.5 tons on a smallcraft, which is unacceptably heavy.
  • The tonnage freed up by (1) is used to increase the speed to 2/3.  A speed of 2/3 allows the unit to carry 50 tons per TW cargo carrying rules.  This can't carry a 100 ton unit, but I have an alternate plan for that.
  • The design switched from wheeled to tracked.  This costs a half ton (which is available) and increases the price a fair bit.  Nevertheless, the price remains very cheap compared to the combat units supporting it.   The value here is the ability to traverse rubble, rough, and light woods hexes.

Dragon Cat

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 7166
  • Not Dead Until I Say So
Re: The M^3 Support Track
« Reply #17 on: 19 November 2021, 21:48:17 »
I like the idea
Below are links to my fan fiction pages.

https://bg.battletech.com/forums/fan-fiction/alternate-timeline-with-thanks-(full)/

https://bg.battletech.com/forums/fan-fiction/alternate-timeline-with-thanks-full-part-2/

As always please enjoy and if you have any questions about my AU (or want to chat about ideas I could incorporate into it) feel free to PM me.