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A Zeus Assault class BattleMech depicted on the cover of Maximum Tech, an advanced BattleTech rulebook.

BattleMechs (often abbreviated 'Mechs) are large walking war machines that feature prominently in the fictional universe of BattleTech. 'Mechs, which are generally either bipedal or quadrupedal in configuration, are controlled by human pilots and can thus be classified as mecha.



BattleMechs debuted in FASA Corporation's BattleTech, a board game of futuristic armored combat played with dice, counters and paper record sheets on a map of hexagonal territories. The game's first edition in 1984 was titled BattleDroids and featured mecha based directly on those in the Japanese animated television series Macross and other Japanese animation from the late '70s and early '80s. Legal impediments with George Lucas over the use of the term "droid" forced the name of the game to change in the second edition to BattleTech. This, combined with legal troubles with Playmates, led FASA in the 1990s to remove all images of these early designs from subsequent published material. Since FASA retained the rights to all aspects of the 'Mechs except for their visual depictions, they continued to use the 'Mechs and their stats, but did not print images of them until Technical Readout: Project Phoenix canonized new artwork for the designs. This fact led fans to dub these early 'Mechs the "Unseen," while their new look is colloquially referred to as the "Reseen."[1]

'Mechs in BattleTech vary from one another in many ways, including mass, speed, chassis configuration, armor and armament, resulting in a practically limitless array of legal 'Mech designs. FASA and its successors WizKids, FanPro, and Catalyst Game Labs created hundreds of official BattleMechs to complement the game, the majority published in a long-running series of "technical readouts". The game's detailed construction rules, which allow players to create legal custom units of their own, has also resulted in untold thousands of additional designs, some published in magazines, on websites, and in various other fan media.

As the BattleTech franchise has grown, BattleMechs have increasingly appeared beyond the confines of the board game. A line of figurines, a collectible card game, and numerous computer simulation titles feature the machines; 'Mechs also feature centrally in a prolific series of novels set in the fictional BattleTech universe, as well as an animated spin-off television series.


In the BattleTech universe, the first BattleMech ever developed was the Mackie MSK-6S, described as a 100 ton box with legs. It was developed in 2439 by the Terran Hegemony, first deployed in 2443, and produced throughout the rest of the Inner Sphere after its construction plans were stolen in 2455. Significant development and refinement of the technology followed through subsequent centuries.

'Mech advancement in the Inner Sphere crested during the reign of the Star League, but slowly degraded during the protracted conflicts of the Succession Wars. Much of the infrastructure and expertise necessary to produce the most advanced models was lost, with the result that, by the early 31st century, most Great Houses were fielding models that were centuries old.

Star League-era BattleMech technology was preserved during this period of decline by a military faction later known as the Clans. Absent from the Inner Sphere for centuries, they returned in 3050 fielding 'Mechs of considerable sophistication and power. The first confirmed sighting of a Clan 'Mech by an Inner Sphere observer was that of a Timber Wolf (called the Mad Cat by Inner Sphere observers) by the legendary Phelan Kell of the Kell Hounds mercenary unit.

The Clan invasion triggered a resurgence of BattleMech-related research and development, both in the Inner Sphere and among the Clans, leading to many new models being introduced during the 3050s and '60s.

After the collapse of the 2nd Star League in late 3067, most Battlemech manufactures were damaged or outright destroyed by the Word of Blake Jihad (Holy War). Smaller factories retooled and began manufacturing ancient designs dating back to the Age of War when Mackie was first introduced. The creation of hybrids from these ancient designs and new technologies again led to a slow progress in 'Mech development, despite the return to all-out war and the use of nuclear weaponry.[2]

However, the collapse of the hyperpulse generator network in the early 32nd century disrupted 'Mech advancement.

Terminology and nomenclature

The term "'Mech" broadly applies to all mecha within the BattleTech universe. BattleMechs, those that are intended for combat or related operations, are the predominant variety, with the result that the term is frequently applied to all BattleTech mecha. Non-combat models do exist, however, and are generally referred to as WorkMechs or UtilityMechs. These models tend to be specialized to perform a particular task such as harvesting, lumbering, scavenging, repair, etc.

OmniMechs are a sub-class of BattleMech that mount weapons and equipment in modular "pods". The pods are easily swapped or changed, enabling engineers to customize an OmniMech's components for any given mission.

With few exceptions, every major model of BattleMech bears both a name and an identifying code. Codes generally use letters from the 'Mech's name, followed by an alphanumeric reference to the submodel or variant. For example, the base model of the 70-ton Warhammer is WHM-6R, with variants WHM-6X, WHM-7A, etc. A single letter is normally used to indicate common variants of an OmniMech.

Clan 'Mechs are sometimes known by two different names, one assigned by its Clan creators and one by Inner Sphere observers. An example is the 75-ton Clan Timber Wolf, known in the Inner Sphere as the Mad Cat. This practice generally ceased after the mid 3060s.


BattleMechs range in height from 7 to 17 meters (23 to 56 feet) and mass from 20 to 100 tonnes (22 to 110 short tons) in five-ton intervals, with some capable of ground speeds in excess of 150 km/h (90 mph). Mechs have a torso that can rotate to either side independently from the legs, but few can do a complete 360 twist. Their power is drawn from fusion reactors and are best suited for ground combat, although they are also capable of limited performance underwater and in outer space.



The majority of BattleMechs are bipedal and can be classed as either humanoid or reverse-joint ("chicken walker"). Humanoid-type BattleMechs are the most common and include the iconic Atlas and Summoner (Thor). Reverse-joint 'Mechs are slightly less common on the field of battle, but include such famous models as the Marauder, Catapult, Timber Wolf (Mad Cat) and the awesome Dire Wolf (Daishi). There are a few, however, with "dog legs" that have a raised ankle and stand on their toes, like the hind legs of a dog, cat, etc. Examples include the Thanatos and Nova Cat.


Four-legged "quad" 'Mechs constitute a small segment of official designs, and while they lack the flexibility of bipedal designs, they are considerably more stable. Though often maligned, quads experienced a bit of a renaissance in the years after 3060 with several new models released. Notable quad designs include the 25-ton Tarantula, 55-ton Scorpion, and 70-ton Barghest.

Land-Air 'Mech (LAM)

LAMs are an extremely uncommon form of 'Mech capable of transforming between BattleMech and aircraft configurations, an ability that conveys great speed and flexibility at the cost of power and protection. The design of these LAMs, as well as several other 'Mechs, were leased from mecha designs used in The Super Dimension Fortress Macross and other anime series (see variable fighters); resulting real-world legal conflicts ended their official existence within the franchise. The Wasp, Stinger and Phoenix Hawk are the only published LAMs, found in the unrevised edition of Technical Readout: 3025, along with the other "lost" or "unseen" BattleMechs such as the Marauder, Crusader, Warhammer and the non-LAM versions of the Stinger, Wasp, and Phoenix Hawk. The most current rules for the LAM system are in the out-of-print BattleTech Tactical Handbook.[3]


For a list of Mechs that feature in various games go to List of BattleMechs


Light 'Mechs are those that weigh between 20 and 35 tons. They often serve as scout 'Mechs, fire-support 'Mechs, and anti-personnel units, are generally quite fast, and tend to mount light weapon payloads or electronics and ECM equipment. Some can be quite formidable despite their small size.

Iconic light 'Mechs include the Locust, Raven, Cougar, Adder (Puma), Commando, Wolfhound, Hollander, Stinger, Wasp, Panther, Owens, and Uller (Kit Fox).


Medium 'Mechs weigh between 40 and 55 tons and are very versatile. Some, such as the Hellspawn, have significant electronics payloads and are used as scout 'Mechs; others like the Hunchback carry powerful weapons and can serve as front-line or fire support units. In the BattleTech universe, the medium 'Mech is the workhorse 'Mech of most armies. Those that max out the engine can serve as useful recon units.

Some notable medium 'Mechs include the Centurion, Wolverine, Shadow Hawk, Hunchback, Uziel, and Griffin.


Heavy 'Mechs mass between 60 and 75 tons. They're versatile like medium 'Mechs, but generally have much heavier weapon payloads. These 'Mechs are large enough to mount weapons like Gauss Rifles and heavy autocannon, but are still light enough to have decent maneuverability and attain speeds of up to 90 km/h. Many of the most famous and popular designs are heavy 'Mechs.

Some notable heavy mechs are: Warhammer, Orion, Summoner (Thor), Catapult, Marauder, Axman, Timber Wolf (Mad Cat), Archer and Mad Dog (Vulture).


Assault 'Mechs are the heaviest class of BattleMech in Classic BattleTech, weighing in between 80 and 100 tons. Some of these huge 'Mechs can mount weapons and armour of a greater tonnage than some entire medium 'Mechs. The trade-off is in speed and maneuverability, as assault 'Mechs are generally very slow.

These 'Mechs are often used as command units, heavy assault platforms and heavy fire-support. Some common Inner Sphere command 'Mechs are the BattleMaster and Cyclops, which both have above average electronics while maintaining heavy weapon payloads. Clan assault 'Mechs are the most fearsome weapons in the entire BattleTech universe, and include the Warhawk (Masakari) and Dire Wolf (Daishi).

Iconic assault 'Mechs include the Dire Wolf (Daishi), Warhawk (Masakari), Kodiak, Blood Asp, Atlas, Marauder II, Zeus, and BattleMaster.


Colossal BattleMechs are a latest and experimental category, massing over 100 tons and manned by a crew of three — a pilot, a gunner and an engineer. Only four Ares class 135-ton 'Mechs occupy this category, each with a different set of primary weapons. The variants are Hades, Hera, Zeus, and Poseidon. Poseidon is the newest of the four, and is an improved version the earlier variants. This class introduced in 3130s, in game system MechWarrior: Dark Age[4].

This class is no longer produced and generally not considered canon.

Utility Mechs

Utility Mechs, also known as WorkMechs, IndustrialMechs or Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Mechs, though far less glamorous than their war-faring counterparts, are very important in the everyday life of the BattleTech universe. There are ForestryMechs, MiningMechs, AgroMechs and many other types for many different industries. Many of these 'Mechs use an internal combustion engine, usually diesel, due to the high cost of fusion reactors. Utility Mechs have been modified for war when normal 'Mechs are out of reach, most often in the Mechwarrior: Dark Age saga; the general consensus is that a modified Utility Mech is less capable than a BattleMech of the same tonnage, though some field-modified Utility Mechs using ballistic weaponry can compare favorably with older melee-weapon-equipped BattleMechs such as the Hatchetman.

BattleMech Construction

BattleMechs are initially made up of a series of internal structure "bones" which are connected together to form a skeleton of the 'Mech. An electroactive polymer called myomer, which contracts in the presence of an electrical current, is then wrapped around these bones. This powerful myomer transmission system is what gives BattleMechs their speed and agility in even the roughest terrain.

The necessary electrical current for the myomers is provided by a fusion reactor mounted in the torso. This artificial skeleton and musculature, combined with a powerful gyroscope provide stability for the BattleMech. The entire system is controlled by a pilot wearing a neurohelmet that effectively links the 'Mech's central computer to the pilot's sense of balance and nervous system. The movement of a 'Mech is controlled by a combination throttle, joysticks, and dual pedal system.

Each of the bones features a series of different size and capacity rated hardpoints for the attachment of critical systems such as life support and cooling equipment. In addition, weapons and armor plating is also attached to these points to give the 'Mech its offensive and defensive capability.

External links


  1. ^ Randall N. Bills (2007), Record Sheets: Phoenix Upgrades, InMediaRes  
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^


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