Brasilia Design Works HR-32 Flash Clapper Hovercycle
by: Tim Wing, with Robert Morgenstern, Peter Walker and Pieter Thomassen
- HR-32 Hovercycle reference file
- HR-32 Hovercycle gallery
The Brasilia Design Works HR-32 Flash Clapper Hovercycle was a one man scout reconnaissance vehicle designed for the Brazilian Army and later adopted by the United Earth Defense Force.
- Role: One man, high-speed scout/reconnaissance vehicle
- Designer: Brasilia Design Works
- Manufacturers: Brasilia Design Works, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
- Weight: 200 kg. (dry) 320 kg (combat)
- Introduced: November 2015
- Retired: 2032
- Primary users: Brazilian Army (Exército Brasileiro), United Earth Defense Force, Reconnaissance Expeditionary Force
- Number Built: Approximately 1200
- Unit Cost: $43,000 (cost in adjusted 2070 International Credits.)
In the years Following the Zentraedi Holocaust, the Brazilian Army (Exército Brasileiro) had a need for a fast, one person scout / reconnaissance vehicle. Deciding on to off-road motorcycle, the Land Operations Command (Comando de Operações Terrestres) issued a request for proposals (ROB # 05/14) to local and international defense contractors and commercial vehicle manufacturers. Of the submissions received, the Brasilia Design Works “hovercycle” what the most radical. Instead of a Conventional diesel-powered dirt bike, the hovercycle was a ground effect vehicle capable of up to 200 kph over any terrain, to include water. This was a major advantage, as improved surface roads were at a premium in the decade following the end of the First Robotech War.
The end result was the HR-32 Relâmpago Estrondo (Literally “Lightning Sound” in Portuguese, but translated as Flash Clapper when accepted into service by the UEDF). It was designed around a Volkswagen FG75 4-cylinder 750cc diesel engine providing 100 hp at 7000 rpm. This engine, in turn, powered four Pratt and Whitney built hover fans, providing a combined total of 600 kilograms of thrust for ground effect lift and 150 kilograms of thrust for forward movement. With a dry weight of only 200 kilograms (320ish with rider, fuel and equipment), the Flash Clapper had a thrust to weight ratio of roughly two to one. Peak hovering performance was 1.1 meter altitude. The downside to this high performance hover vehicle was its sound signature, which was load and unique.
The ergonomics of the HR-32 are interesting in that they provided the rider with low riding position, forward set foot pegs and high mounted handle bars. This was much akin to a long distance cruising motorcycle from the era, such as a Harley Davidson or any other motorcycle which was trying to affect the “classic American cruiser” style. This was done in an attempt to improve rider comfort over long distances, at the expense of the overall controllability of the bike.
The hovercycle was first accepted into service by the Brazilian Army in 2015. The first unit to be equipped with this type was the 72nd Motorized Infantry Battalion, which used it to patrol the vast wastelands of the Caatinga. Shortly thereafter, the Brazilian Army began to issue it to reconnaissance units operating in the Zentraedi Control Zone. In this theatre, the HR-32 proved itself to be highly adept at traversing terrain that would normally be impassable to anything other than a man on foot, or a full sized Destroid. (Obviously, a Destroid made for a poor scout vehicle.) It was also common for scouts to use the many rivers crisscrossing the Amazon as high speed transit routes into and out of contested territory.
When the Brazilian Army merged with the UN Spacy and other United Earth militaries under the 2017 treaty of the Southern Cross, the resultant United Earth Defense Force inherited around 400 hovercycles. At first, the UEDF had little use for what it considered a novelty vehicle of little combat utility. But soon, as non-Brazilian troops began to rotate through the former Brazilian Army units who were now organized under the UEDF, attitudes began to change. By 2023, the UEDF decided to put the Flash Clapper back into production under the HR-32 mk. III designation. These bikes equipped units in the Tactical Corps Reconnaissance Division and Desert Division, the Global Military Police and the Alpha Tactical Armored Cavalry. These units used the HR-32 in the scout roll as was originally intended, and as a general non-tactical vehicle.
The HR-32 also found a niche in the REF (later UEEF) as a scout vehicle. This was largely at the behest of officers that had served during the Malcontent Uprisings. The HR-32’s success with Scout Infantry units during the Sentinels Campaign led to the eventual development on the VR-series Veritech Motorcycles and the concept of Light Mechanized Motor Infantry which has become a mainstay of modern militaries.
During the Invid occupation, resistance fighters heavily favored the HR-32 due to its ability to sneak past Invid Patrols in broad daylight without attracting their notice! (It was later discovered that this was due to the fact it did not run on Protoculture, but rather an internal combustion engine.) Attrition was high, however, and by the 2040s most had been lost due to combat, accidents or lack of spare parts.
The HR-32 was a non-armored tactical vehicle constructed from aluminum and high strength steel. The HR-32 did not have a high enough thrust to weight ratio to accommodate a soldier wearing Second Robotech War era plate body armor, without significant degradation of range and performance. As such, the HR-32 was of limited utility in a combat environment. The fuel tank of the HR-32 was self-sealing however, making it resistant to fires caused by solid projectiles.
In its final configuration, the HR-32 mk. IV had an integrated AN/ARC-426 VHF FM band, single-frequency and frequency hopping mode radio. This could be monitored by the rider via a head-set or a simple hand set. Earlier versions had no built in radio equipment.
By MSG Richard Barshney (retired)
I had the good fortune of being with a unit that was issued the HR-32 while deployed to the Congo Quadrant Disputed Zone in 2021. The hovercycle had not yet been put back into production, so we were using older Mk. Is left over from the Brazilian Army. When we first arrived in country, none of us knew what to think of the “Easy Rider” as we quickly began to call it, but we quickly fell in love!
I was handpicked, along with eleven other Cav Scouts from the 3rd Squadron of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment of the Reconnaissance Division. I would like to say it was due to our outstanding soldiering skills, but in reality we were picked based on previous experience as motorcyclists. The twelve of us formed the Motor Scout Platoon of Headhunters Troop. We thought it was a bit of a boondoggle, as we had no idea what use an unarmored bike would be in a non-permissive environment such as the Disputed Zone.
We called the HR-32 the “Easy Rider” or “Sleazy Rider” due to its chopper-esc style and riding position. The thing really looked ridiculous, like something out of a West Coast custom bike show. My buddy, Specialist Perry, even decided to paint his tank in the red, white and blue motif of Peter Fonda’s bike from the movie! Top (the Troop 1st Sergeant) quickly put the kibosh on this, but fuck him if he can’t take a joke!
They picked us because of our motor cycle riding backgrounds, but they may as well not have bothered. This thing did not ride like a conventional bike. Instead of counter steering, you would actually turn in the direction of the turn… a thing that took some getting used to for us who had been riding for a long time. Also, it was very unstable. It had none of the electronic stability controls of a modern hover vehicle, it was very analog. As such, the rider was very busy, constantly feeding in corrections and keeping it on a steady course. Plus the ergonomics were shit. The bars were set so high, they were like ape hangers. At top speed, if you dared to go that fast, you were flapping like a sail on a clipper! A more conventional, upright riding position would have been a major improvement. Still, after a few months, you kind of got used to it.
We quickly found the hovercycle to be an effective tool for moving around the rough terrain of our AO (Area of Operations). With its speed and ability to traverse any terrain we could throw at it, we were able to strike deep into the Zone, far away from our BOO (Base of Operations). The usual mission profile was to operate at night, ranging as far as two hundred clicks from the BOO. Once we were two to five kilometers from the objective, we would normally dismount and walk into the target area. (The Easy Rider was fast, but it was also VERY LOUD! It had a distinctive combination of fan whine and engine noise that could be recognized from kilometers away.) After we completed the mission, we would then of course have to walk back to where we parked the bikes. Missions included simple reconnaissance, counter RSB (Road Side Bomb) sniper ambushes, kill or capture of HVIs (High Value Individuals) and whatever else they could throw at us!
The great thing about the bike was that it allowed us to be anywhere, anytime, within our AO. It cannot be stressed what an effective tool this made us! Think about it: Malcontent Zentraedi in our AO knew that if they were within 200 kilometers of our BOO, on any given night we could show up at their doorstep. This was huge. Helicopters can be seen by radar. Destroids and heavy armor can be seen from kilometers away, and move slow over rough terrain besides which. Dismounted infantry and scouts can only cover twenty clicks or so in a night, and it takes them forever to get there. Us? We could literally be anywhere within our AO inside of two hours. This inspired our Platoon Moto: Strike Anywhere!
- Brazil – Brazilian Army (Exército Brasileiro) 2015-2018
- United Earth Government – United Earth Defense Force 2018-2032, Reconnaissance Expeditionary Force / United Earth Expeditionary Force 2018-2034
- Crew: One rider, no passengers possible
- Width: 800 cm
- Height: 1100 cm
- Empty weight: 200 kg
- Max combat weight: 350 kg
- Fuel capacity: 20 liters of Diesel or JP-8
- Speed: 200 kph
- Range: 400 km
- Max altitude: 7 meters pop-up, 1.1 meters sustained
- Engine: Volkswagen do Brasil Ltda FG75 4-cylinder 750cc diesel engine providing 100 hp at 7000 rpm.
- Thrusters: Three P&W HJ-200 hover jets for vertical lift with twin directional output vents, max. output 200 kilograms of thrust each, driven by the diesel engine and one P&W HJ-150 hover jet for forward thrust through a single vent, max. output 1.5 kN.
- Power-source: Alternator with backup auxiliary power unit (12v battery).
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (R) is the property of Big West Advertising, Tatsunoko Studio and Ammonite studio. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.
Original artwork by: Kogawa Tomonori, Hiroyuki Kitazume, Miyo Sonoda, Hiroshi Ogawa, Hirotoshi Ohkura and Takashi Ono.
Acknowledgement is extended to Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide. Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern are given credit for all quotes and paraphrasing of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide that has been utilized on Robotech Illustrated.
Content by Tim Wing, Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Rob Morgenstern
Copyright © 2013 Tim Wing