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Geococcyx Speedytank Momentarily Ignores Gravity by TheCentipede Geococcyx Speedytank Momentarily Ignores Gravity by TheCentipede
Generally, things exist for a reason but there is no guarantee that they exist for good reasons. TME Industries' Geococcyx fast scout tank certainly existed, but there was probably little to no good reason for it to do so.

The Geococcyx owes its existence to one of TEAM MELTA's more libertine 'design parties,' events where the entire development group would get together and 'bond.' Often times, these design parties indeed engendered useful, novel, and marketable solutions to various problems put before TME Industries' Engineering Directorate. Other times, though, a random idea would get lodged into the team's collective consciousness. While more sober minds generally filtered these ideas, TME Industries' doctrinal tendency towards higher and faster being better introduced notable imperfections into this filter. What failed to be filtered in the Geococcyx's case was the phrase "wouldn't it be cool if we built a tank that could go 250 kilometers per hour?"

Everyone agreed that this would indeed be cool and thus, via a short-circuit in the usual TME Industries' development vetting process, the "speedytank" won approval as a side project. TEAM MELTA was not only permitted to use corporate resources on their spare time to develop the tank (this much was common); they were also promised that if they could come up with a technically viable solution that it would be fabricated and tested. Since the involved engineers and technicians wouldn't have to dip into their own fabricator budgets to build their pet project, this amounted to official support for what was by every meaning of the phrase a spur-of-the-moment concept.

It was no effort at all for TEAM MELTA to make "Speedytank" technically viable. Starting with an unusually-sized eight-ton target mass, a 120-class engine would get it to the desired speed. An internal combustion engine would result in either no payload or no armor, and a standard fusion engine would only leave sufficient mass for a single medium laser. Several engineers noted that this made the "Speedytank" a faster, better-protected, and hardier version of a Savannah Master and so the conventional fusion engined model was filed as "Speedytank-0." Extra-light fusion engines were by definition shinier and, the argument went, the additional ton so gained in payload mass would give "Speedytank" a much more reasonable mission as a rapid scout if it were equipped with an active probe. This variant became known internally as "Speedytank-A." With these broad decisions finalized, the detail work generally took the path of least resistance. "Speedytank's" blocky hull consisted of an aft engine module and a forward crew module, connected by a small adapter module. The engine module of course contained the reactor and drive unit; the crew module carried the one-man cockpit, and the adapter module not only kept the two together but overhung both to provide structural support for the armament and equipment. The suspension for such a fast tank over rough terrain posed a challenge; after considering Christie bell-crank suspensions and bogie suspensions, TEAM MELTA finally decided upon conventional torsion bar suspensions in bottom-hull blisters since suspension height and volumetric restrictions were rated as more important than minefield survivability. The tracks could afford to be relatively thin thanks to the tank's low mass; for retention, the inboard and outboard edges of each track plate curved inwards so they could slightly wrap around the wheels in a more conservative version of the Bulldog's ill-fated track-retention scheme.

With all the numbers checked and a solid engineering plan in place, Management approved a "Speedytank" chassis for production and testing. For cost and risk purposes, they chose "Speedytank-0" variant thanks to its standard fusion engine. This turned out to be prescient.

During its initial trials, "Speedytank" Article 001 did indeed break the 250 kph barrier when pushed to full throttle, outrunning many combat helicopters. In rough terrain, however, the gentle curvature of the track retention mechanism turned out to be insufficient when "Speedytank" Article 001's tracks slipped slightly, got caught in the wheels, and flipped the tank back-over-front again and again until it finally came to rest upside-down. After a few minutes, the dazed driver kicked open the bottom escape hatch and crawled out no worse the wear minus a few severe bruises from the aerospace-grade pilot restraint system. Article 001's armor amazingly kept its internal structure intact and so after a quick swap of plate it returned to action. An unidentified wag in the technical crew crudely spray-painted the legend "Flippytank" onto the side and refused to come forward even after this became Article 001's new name--more than one official testing report identified it as Flippytank.

To resolve the track retention issue, TEAM MELTA developed two work-arounds. For one, the links between each track foot were redesigned to intentionally fail at a certain overloading tension. Binding in a track would still result in a rough ride, but the track would break apart well before it could force the tank to upend. For the other, the mostly-empty road wheels were opened up and powerful ring magnets installed in them so they could literally pick up the track. While they considered electromagnets for a time, TEAM MELTA eventually decided that the electrical connections simply constituted additional parts that could break and they resolved to use permanent magnets, despite their increased susceptibility to magnetic mines and their tendency to pick up loose bits of metal such as bolts, debris, dropped tools, and the like.

Flippytank continued its testing with these modifications and performed admirably, although the "Speedytank" design had now picked up a tendency to require even more maintenance than was usual for tracked vehicles. All tracked vehicles require at least cursory inspection of their tracks and their tension; for "Speedytank," however, its tracks were comparatively more fragile and far less forgiving: too little tension and the track would work itself off; too much tension and the track would break off on a sharp bump. Tempting fate, the "Speedytank" tests covered the same rough terrain that the Bulldog did; to its credit, the tracks, properly maintained, did not break.

The torsion bars did.

Luckily, when they did they were contained in their blisters--rather than sawing through components or crew--and Flippytank simply instantly bottomed out and skidded until it came to a stop. The post-crash investigations proved that they had failed in fatigue. Torsion bars were fine for heavy vehicles that went over bumps at reasonable rates, but having to constantly twist for a light tank over many sharp bumps destroyed them. A suspension failure threatened to derail the entire project; volume was vital and there simply was no physical room for more conventional systems without resorting to independent bogies which had the dual risk of raising the tank's profile unacceptably and "looking totally uncool." During a panic session where an engineer repeatedly twisted a rubber band around her wrist, TEAM MELTA came up with replacing the conventional torsion bars with helical wrappings of Battlemech-grade fine-control myomer around the suspension bars. The myomer did not need to be powered except to calibrate its resistance against the rotation of the bars and its natural springiness effectively ensured that it would not fail like the torsion bars did.

These final modifications put Flippytank's troubles behind it and, properly maintained, it sped over terrain with ease. Considering it a challenger for the Savannah Master light ultra-fast scout and harrasser market, Management designated the line Geococcyx and offered several models and variants for sale in the 3056 catalog. Geococcyx-00, the budget model, mounted both a standard fusion engine and a standard medium laser, most directly opposing the low-cost hover-harrasser. Geococcyx-01 upgraded the medium laser to an extended-range model to outshoot its competition. Geococcyx-A1's loadout was identical to the "Speedytank-A" proposal, while Geococcyx-A2 mounted a Guardian-class electronics warfare suite in lieu of the active probe. To the surprise of TME's management, only the Geococcyx-0 models sold anywhere near particularly well; the -A models were generally too fragile to justify their expense.
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eltf177 Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013
A most interesting design and a great backstory!
TheCentipede Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! :D
wilhelm1972 Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2013
Much better than the first, though even for all of his woodenness, Duke was missed. The Rock can carry a movie, but this one was...weird, his character is in charge, but he is a high ranked NCO (Sgt. Major I think) rather than an officer, and some of the others are officers, but are repeatedly deferring to him. He BTW, is a combat monster, while they are mostly covert ops types...and the mission is mostly covert ops in nature?!
TheCentipede Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'll classify that as stupid-good.
wilhelm1972 Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013
Reminds me of a Howe and Howe Ripsaw, that light tankette they used at the end of the 2nd G.I. Joe movie, only much more reasonably armed really!

However, I am not sure if this detail is buried in the text or not. How much armor does it have? I would guess 1.5-2 tons, but I couldn't say for sure here?
TheCentipede Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
1.5 tons.

Sometimes I don't state all the stats, so don't worry if you think you've missed some.

I never saw the second movie. Was it any good? Drunken good? MST3K good?
Jim-Prower Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2013
It reminds me a bit of several "Monster tanks" of the 1980s, generally older APCs with the top bits removed and replaced with steel or fiberglass truck, SUV, and van bodies, and large supercharged engines put into place. Vehicles like Bigfoot Fastrax and Trak Attack come to mind most clearly.
TheCentipede Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Interesting. I'll have to look those up.
WebsterLeone Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"Fuck yeah!" is what goes through my head. I like the development story, too.
TheCentipede Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Also, you know the origin (more-or-less) of TEAM MELTA.
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