Vickers plc M12 Centaur Veritech Hover Tank

M12 Centaur Veritech Scout Vehicle  Hover Tank 1

ROBOTECH Technical Files

Designation: Vickers plc M12 Centaur Veritech Hover Tank

by Peiter Thomassen, Rob Morgenstern and Tim Wing, with Peter Walker

Origin and Type:

  • Design: Vickers plc.
  • Builders: Vickers, ENGESA
  • Type: Armored 2-mode hover battle tank/scout vehicle
  • Crew: 2, driver and commander/gunner

Dimensions:

  • Length: 6.7 meters (tank), 6.2 meters (Centaur)
  • Width: 4.0 meters (tank), 5.0 meters (Centaur)
  • Height: 2.3 meters (tank), 4.5 meters (Centaur)
  • Weight: 38 metric tons.

Service History:

  • M12: Served with the UN Spacy from 2004 until replaced by the -1A1,
  • M12A1: Served with the UN Spacy from 2008 until replaced by the -1A2,
  • M12A2: Served with the UN Spacy from 2015 until 2018, with the UEDF Tactical Corps from 2020 until the Invid invasion, and with the REF/UEEF from 2020 until 2036.

Propulsion:

(M12)

  • Main powerplant: 1 x Allison/Rolls Royce Hercules IV 1750 hp multifuel gas turbine in the main hull with four separate exhausts (see propulsion installation) and a 600 hp alternator to provide power for the lift fans.
  • powerplant: 1 x Perkins Engines (Shrewsbury) Condor CV-8-II TCA diesel auxiliary power unit supporting the alternator when the main engine is off.
  • Lift engines: 4 x Rolls Royce/Turbomeca Adour 950 providing a maximum of 95 kN of ground-effect thrust each through 3 primary vents. Auxilary vents are provided to assist in breaking actions and light accelerations. The engines are fed warm air from the main engine exhaust. The turbines are spun by electric power from the main alternator.
  • Propulsion installation: Four exhausts fed from the main gas turbine, with two main exhausts located at the rear of the mainhull/’back legs’ and two secondary exhausts located behind and below the turret.
  • Fuel Capacity: 900 liters diesel or petrol fuel for propulsion engines and powerplant.

(M12A1, -A2)

  • Powerplant: 3 RRL-1 protoculture energizers.
  • Lift engines: 4 x Rolls Royce/Turbomeca Adour 950 providing a maximum of 95 kN of ground-effect thrust each through 3 primary vents. Auxilary vents are provided to assist in breaking actions and light accelerations. The engines are fed hot air from the fusion turbines. The fans are spun by electric power from the protoculture energizers.
  • Propulsion engines: 1 x Rolls Royce/Turbomeca FFG Kestrel fusion turbine, located in the main hull with four separate exhausts, two main exhausts located at the rear of the mainhull/’back legs’ and two secondary exhausts located behind and below the turret.
  • Fuel Capacity: 12 standard canisters of protoculture. 16 liters D2O reactant for the fusion turbines.

(All)

  • Stabilizers: Assorted gyroscopes.
  • Emergency brakes: 4 x Grappling hooks and line capable of launching from the four corners of the tank to provide emergency breaking action.

Performance:

  • Typical Hovering height: 0.5 m

(M12)

  • Maximum speed, Tank Mode: 150 kph
  • Maximum speed, Centaur Mode: 120 kph
  • Maximum range, diesel: 550 km
  • Maximum range, petrol: 480 km

(M12A1, -A2)

  • Maximum speed, Tank Mode: 165 kph
  • Maximum speed, Centaur Mode: 140 kph
  • Protoculture supply: 150 hours operational use.

Electronics:

(M12)

  • Hughes TWG-22 X-band pulse-Doppler radar with battlefield surveillance mode.
  • Thomson DOS-2000 multi-band motion-stabilized digital camera system, for medium range forward looking, elevation traversable UV, infra-red imaging and optical band detection and tracking
  • 3 x Thomson LT-4 multi-frequency laser ranger and designator. One is mounted with each secondary weapons cluster and on the main turret.

(M12A1, -A2)

  • Hughes TPG-115 X-band pulse-doppler phased array radar with battlefield surveillance mode.
  • Optical tracking:
  • Thomson DOS-2500 multi-band motion-stabilized digital camera system, for medium range 360 degree, elevation traversable UV, infra-red imaging and optical band detection and tracking
  • 3 x Thomson LT-8 multi-frequency laser ranger and designator. One is mounted with each secondary weapons cluster and one on the main turret.
  • Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS):
  • OlDelft Infra-red Warning Receiver (IRWR)
  • Westinghouse APG-500 active/passive sensor jammers.

Armament:

(All)

  • 1 x ROF L16 152mm (6 inch) rifled motion-stabilized rocket cannon. Can fire a conventional low-velocity round with a semi-combustal case or a Saracen anti-mecha guided missile. Feed is automatic via an autoloader, firing at a sustained rate of 20 rounds/minute, faster for short periods. The sub-turret magazine stores up to 48 rounds for the M12 and 54 for the M12A1/A2. The mix of shells is mission-dependent; a typical anti-armor load is 10 APERS, 10 HESH, 4 WP, 24 Saracen. See the addendum for listings of the shells. Maximum effective direct-fire range for conventional rounds is 1.6km, 6.3km for the Saracen missile system. This weapon is fully recoil compensated.

M12 Centaur Veritech Scout Vehicle  Hover Tank 3(M12)

  • 1 x 12-tube rocket-propelled grenade launcher located in the front of the main turret. The usual payload is primarily smoke grenades with occasional anti-personnel rounds.
  • 1 x Astra TZ-I Weapons cluster mounted on the left arm in Centaur mode and stowed in tank mode. This weapons cluster primarily provides anti-personnel capability to the tank and is controlled by the driver. The Mk-I weapons cluster includes the following weapons:
  • 1 x M19 40mm Grenade Launcher. This launcher is capable of firing a grenade up to 800m and has a ammunition capacity of 25 grenades in a side-mounted ammo drum.
  • 1 x Browning M-2 Heavy Barrel 12.7mm machinegun. The machinegun has an ammunition capacity for 200 rounds.
  • 2 x M240 7.62mm machineguns. Each machinegun has an ammunition capacity for 500 rounds.
  • 1 x Astra TZ-IB Weapons cluster mounted on the right arm in Centaur mode and stowed in Tank mode. The Mk-IB weapons cluster includes the following weapons:
  • 1 x Browning M-2 Heavy Barrel 12.7mm machinegun. The machinegun has an ammunition capacity for 200 rounds.
  • 1 x flame thrower. This weapon is capable of launching napalm up to 20m and has a storage capacity for 30 seconds of flame.
  • 2 x M240 7.62mm machineguns. Each machinegun has an ammunition capacity for 500 rounds.

(M12A1)

  • 1 x 12-tube rocket-propelled grenade launcher located in the front of the main turret. The usual payload is primarily smoke grenades with occasional anti-personnel rounds.
  • 2 x Astra TZ-II weapon clusters in the left and right arm with:
  • 1 x Oerlikon KCN-V 25mm firing APHE (Armor Piercing High Explosive) or HEI-T (High Explosive Incendiary – Tracer) rounds at a maximum rate of fire of 200 rounds/minute. The ammunition supply is 150 rounds.
  • 1 x RRG mk3 light laser. This laser 3 MJ pulses up to 60 times/minute.
  • 1 x M19 40mm grenade launcher. This launcher fires HE (High Explosive), FRAG(Fragmentation) or HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) shells out to 800 meters and has an ammunition capacity of 25 grenades in a side-mounted ammo drum.

(M12A2)

  • 1 x 12-tube Viper 75mm x 400 mm short-range missile launcher located in the front of the main turret.
  • 2 x quad Smoke launchers attached to the sides of the turret.
  • 1 x Mauser EU-11 laser cannon mounted in the right arm for Centaur mode and stowed in tank mode. This gun pod fires laser pulses of up to 12.5 MJ laser energy per blast. Pod can fire up to 50 times/minute.
  • 1 x Oerlikon PP36 triple-barrel 36mm plasma pulse cannon in the left arm (available only in Centaur mode). The weapon fires bursts of plasma annihilation discs, the typical energy expended in a burst is 5 MJ. Enough plasma for ten bursts is stored in a plasma bottle, and the mecha can generate 20 seconds worth of plasma per minute. The cannon is powered directly from the protoculture cells of the vehicle.

Armor:

The armor on the M12 is composed of a standard Chobam laminar developed in the late 20th century and improved with the materials science advances made during the Robotech era. This armor was mainly designed to defeat projectiles and other kinetic weapons. Its forward turret armor is composed of a standard Chobham laminar.

This armor was designed to defeat projectiles striking the forward surfaces of main battle vehicles, and is also effective against beam weapons. The armor on the Centaur stops all small arms and heavy infantry weapons fire, provides good resistance to light mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Zentraedi 22.3mm HE autocannon round, and fair resistance to medium mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Valkyrie’s 55mm APFSDS round. The armor on the front of the turret stops all small arms, heavy infantry weapons fire, and light mecha-mounted weaponry, and provides excellent resistance to medium mecha-mounted weaponry, and fair resistance to heavy mecha-mounted weaponry. The commander’s canopy is vulnerable to heavy infantry weapons and greater, and hence his seat can drop, allowing an armored panel to slide over the cupola hatch for additional protection. When buttoned up, the cupola’s armor is nearly equivalent to the armor on the rest of the turret’s upper surface.

When the revised Centaur was devised for the competition for the next UEG hovertank, significant advanced in armor technology were applied to increase the protection to the crew. The armor on the M12A2 is a new development in low-mass composite-materials Chobham plating that became the standard for all Terran mecha after its application to the VQ-6A Vandal. Aside from the respectable protection provided against projectiles, missiles, and other kinetic weapons, this armor is also resistant to plasma globes (annihilation discs), lasers, and to a lesser extent, particle guns, owing to the fact that the armor can flake off and evaporate in layers under fire from such high-energy weapons, taking much of the weapon’s energy and converting it into the latent heat of sublimation in the armor. The armor stops all small arms, heavy infantry weapons fire, and light mecha-mounted weaponry. It provides good resistance to medium mecha-mounted weaponry from the front and fair resistance to medium mecha-mounted weaponry and poor resistance to heavy mecha-mounted weaponry from the sides and rear. The top armor of the tank has been reinforced over the M12 and the commander’s cupola is significantly uparmored at the expense of visibility.

The Centaur provides full protection from nuclear, biological, and chemical hazards, using an overpressure cockpit environment activated by radiation and hazardous chemical sensors, or manually when biological warfare conditions are anticipated. The internal consumables supplies can provide atmosphere for one day maximum.

M12 Centaur Veritech Scout Vehicle  Hover Tank 2Development:

In its earliest attempt at designing a reconfigurable ground vehicle, the UN Spacy developed the Centaur Hovertank in 2002. This vehicle provided hovering capabilities to overcome harsh terrain within two operating configurations. Tank mode used a conventional tank shape for basic operations and fast transportation. Centaur mode provided the tank with a means to raise the turret for increased range and visibility and the capability to operate better behind cover of hills, since the tank could literally lift its turret above a hillside to fire, then lower itself behind cover to reload and locate a new target. The increased tranversability of the thrusters provided significantly increased maneuverability in a combat situation while in centaur mode. This mode also made the secondary weapons “arms” available.

The original, internal combustion powered, M12 mounted a set of Astra TZ-I weapons clusters. These clusters carried one 12.7mm machine gun each for light anti-armor and two M240 7.62mm machine guns each for anti-infantry, as well as a grenade launcher on one side and a flame thrower on the other. However, the 12.7mm machine guns proved to be insufficient for dealing with most Terran light armor of the time and the other systems were just plain overkill when it came to dispatching personel. Another weakness was the vulnerability associated with the pressurized napalm storage tanks. One stray 12.7mm AP round was sufficient to detonate these, which could disable the vehicle. As such, many crews tended not to fill the napalm tanks, thereby circumventing the problem. Some variants are known to exist that replaced the flame thrower with a two-shot in-line Scorpion launcher and replaced its storage tanks with expanded ammo capacity for the 12.7mm machine gun.

The next version, the A1, made use of gun clusters similar to those found on the successful Main Battle Robot destroid series. These clusters provided the tank with a significant advantage over conventional tanks by giving it two 25mm guns which were sufficient for light armored IFVs, and later the Zentraedi battle pods it would face. For anti-personnel it carried two lasers and two grenade launchers. The mix was well-liked by all, providing the unlimited ammo of energy weapons and the reliability of conventional grenades.

The mounting of the large 152mm rocket cannon was one of the more controversial decisions made by the design team at Vickers. It was a development of an old 6 inch (152mm) cannon, which fired the Shillelagh anti-tank missile, developed by the old United States of America in the middle 1960s. The gun/rocket system was mounted on the M551 Sheridan and the M60A2 main battle tank, but proved to be an utter failure. Due to the fragile nature of early guided missiles, the system suffered from poor reliability in the field, and never lived up to the high expectations held for it. The more robust nature of the Saracen anti-mecha missile solved some, but not all, of these reliability concerns. However, it was a compromise that had to be made. It was impossible to fire a normal high velocity gun, such as the German 120mm, from a hover vehicle while moving. The recoil was such that it would have propelled the Centaur backwards! The Saracen, however, can be fired on the move, though all other conventional rounds can only be fired from Centaur configuration when the mecha is firmly planted on the ground. This gun system was a thorn in the side of its crews throughout its service history.

When the Centaur was designed, protoculture power systems and how to use them were not fully understood. Because of the inability of the Robotech Research Groups to apply this new technology at that time, an internal combustion engine was chosen as a short-term solution to powering the Centaur. However, due to the perceived advantages of the size to power ratio and the clean operation of the protoculture energizers, it was decided that a modular power plant compartment would be used to provide the capability of upgrading to protoculture cells once the alien technology was better understood. This proved a wise move, as only four years later protoculture came into its own as a useable power source for military applications. Only the first 150 M12 Centaurs were powered by Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) power packs. In 2008, Vickers upgraded the design to M12A1 standard, which had the new protoculture packs and the excellent Astra TZ-II weapons clusters. All the old M12s were sold or leased to national governments.

Due to problems stopping the tanks after the vulnerable forward thrusters were damaged, grappling hooks were added to provide a means to stop the tank without tearing up the underside in a controlled crash. Wheels were also added into the front of the forward thruster sections to minimize damage during groundings in rough terrain since it could help keep the vents off the ground. The primary limitation of the Centaur was the vulnerability of its hover engines to damage, so it relied on its maneuverability to survive more than on its armor against equivalently armed opponents. The Destroid series proved more successful against mecha on the battlefield due to their increased ability to sustain damage, though the Centaur proved valuable in its niche as a scout tank able to cover ground more quickly and easily than the lumbering Destroids. In addition, it was fairly effective against conventional armor fielded by the anti-UN nations of Earth. Its lower price tag also helped make it popular with smaller loyalist nations as well. The system contained a large number of complex and delicate components that required constant maintenance to keep the tanks operating. However, due to the proliferation of the tank with non-aligned and smaller countries, spare parts were abundant.

An upgraded version of the Centaur, the M12A2, was developed and entered into the bidding for the next-generation veritech hovertank for the UEG. The competition required the use of the EU-11, and hence the right side weapons cluster was replaced with an integral EU-11 laser cannon. An Oerlikon PP36 triple-barrel 36mm plasma pulse cannon replaced the TZ-II in the left arm. This weapon was used mostly for anti-aircraft work and as a secondary to the main armament. Due to the weak armor of the commander’s cupola and the vulnerability of the Centaur to airborne attackers, the newer Centaur provided an uparmored cupola and increased the top armor overall to improve survivability against airborne attackers. The leg assembly was beefed up, due to the vulnerability of these components while in Centaur mode. The changes, while not altering the feet, hull or turret, did cause the center hull and turret to sit a little over a foot higher. Other details included a concealed radio antenna, upgraded armor for the turret, and increased armor for the shirts on the feet. The 152mm rocket gun was retained.

The shoot-off originally went well for the fully-enclosed M12A2 Centaur, due to its well-armored crew compartments, until the VHT’s manufacturer announced the addition of an armored cover for the exposed pilot compartment. At this point, the VHT-1 Spartas counterpart provided better firepower in the form of a high velocity 105mm tank gun, possessed a full Battloid mode, and generally had greater operational flexibility in a smaller, lighter package. The VHT-1 also required only one crewmember to operate it, which was beneficial for a manpower-constrained post-holocaust UEG military. The money spent by Vickers was not a total loss, as the Centaurs then in service would eventually be upgraded to A2 standard.

With the progression of the VHT-1 Spartas hovertank line, the Centaur was relegated to more second-line duties, but wound up being used extensively by the Southern Cross Tactical Corps as a cheaper alternative to their battloids, and fought alongside their more conventional Anaconda tanks. Most of the M12A1s used by the Tactical Corps were upgraded to the -A2 configuration to provide better protection in suppression of local uprisings and hostile non-aligned countries. Half of these upgraded -A1s retained the old Astra TZ-II weapons clusters. These versions were known as the M12A1IP (for improved protection). Many M12A1s and -A2s were also part of the first waves of the REF Pioneer mission, though they were largely retired by 2036.

The Centaur gained its main reputation from use by the UN Spacy Ground Component when they were successfully used to maintain order during the tumultuous Malcontent Uprisings. These successes were a major factor in the Tactical Corps’ decision to procure them from the UN Spacy when it was dissolved in 2018. Later, the original M12s proved to be very sought after by the resistance forces due to their non-reliance on protoculture with the internal combustion engine option, though their sheer age and high maintenance needs kept them extremely rare during the Invid occupation.

 


 

 

Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.

Original artwork by: Tim Wing

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

 

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