by Peter Walker and Pieter Thomassen, with Robert Morgenstern
edited by Tim Wing
- HWR-03 reference file
- HWR-03 gallery
Designation: Bofors HWR-03 Mk. I/II/III Thundercracker (colloquial nickname: Little Monster) Heavy Weapons Robot
- Height: 9.5 meter
- Width: 7.7 meter
- Hull length: 8.3 meter
- Total length: 16.4 meter
- Dry Weight: 71.6 metric tons.
- Three man, all-weather, tube artillery and specialized assault Destroid mecha.
III. Service History:
- Mark I: Served with the REF/UEEF Tactical Corps from 2022 until upgraded to Mark II or Mark III standard by 2028.
- Mark II: Served with the REF/UEEF Tactical Corps from 2022 until 2048.
- Mark III: Served with the UEEF Tactical Corps and Marine Corps from 2025 to 2040.
- Two RRG MRF-25 fusion reactors with protoculture energizer; combined output, 550 MW.
- 16 standard canisters of protoculture.
- Fuel: 30 liters D20 of reactant for the fusion reactors and protoculture cells.
- Maximum speed: 60 kph.
- Fuel: 6 months operational use.
- Life support capability: three weeks.
- Westinghouse APG-307 medium range (up to 50km) UWB phased array spherical pulse-Doppler, for detection and tracking of targets, and with battlefield surveillance modes.
- Phillips AllView multi-band digital camera system, for medium range all attitude infra-red imaging, optical and ultra-violet band detection and tracking;
- Thompson LT-5 multi-frequency laser ranger and designator.
Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS):
- Elettronica Radar Warning Receiver (RWR);
- OlDelft Infra-red Warning Receiver (IRWR);
- Westinghouse ALQ-250(V) active sensor jammer;
- chaff dispenser;
- 1 x RRG HM-6 launcher. A total of 6 General Dynamics/Euromissile Derringer missiles were located in a chin pod. The missiles are guided by a combination of optical, IIR and active radar systems and have a range of 70 km (nuclear version) or 130 km (conventional versions). Due to the tasking of the HWR-03, the missile usually carried was the nuclear Derringer-C with a maximum yield of 100 kT, though generally lower yields were dialed in (typically, 20 kT) to limit collateral damage.
- 5 x Rheinmetall 155 mm L52 autoloading, liquid fueled cannons. The cannons, three mounted on top of the mecha and one on each arm, can the full range of 155mm artillery rounds. The maximum range of the gun is 30 km with the standard round, about 35 km with base bleed rounds, and at least 60 km with assisted projectiles. The cannons can also fire directly at the enemy if there is a line-of-sight. The internal magazines carry a total of 180 rounds for the three main guns, and 40 rounds each for the arm mounted cannon. Provisions in the rear of the main body allow for magazine replenishment while in operation.
- 3 x Rheinmetall 155 mm L52 autoloading, liquid fueled cannons. The cannons, three mounted on top of the mecha, can the full range of 155mm artillery rounds. The maximum range of the gun is 30 km with the standard round, about 35 km with base bleed rounds, and at least 60 km with assisted projectiles. The cannons can also fire directly at the enemy if there is a line-of-sight. The internal magazines carry a total of 180 rounds for the three main guns. Provisions in the rear of the main body allow for magazine replenishment while in operation.
- 2 x PBC-20 liquid-cooled electron beam cannons. Each fired 45 MJ of particle energy at 20 blasts per minute with great accuracy and to long ranges, atmospheric conditions permitting. Each arm consists of one cannon. The maximum effective range of this weapon was 6 km, in optimum atmospheric conditions.
- 5 x RRG BFG-5 particle cannons, two in the arms and three on top of the hull, all firing in the forward arc. These cannons have been designed to fire continuous salvo’s of 100 MJ particle energy per second to a range of up to 8 kilometer.
The armor on the Thundercracker was a new development in low-mass Chobham plating. Aside from the considerable protection provided against projectiles, missiles, and other kinetic weapons, this armor was also resistant to plasma globes (annihilation discs), lasers, and to a lesser extent, particle guns, owing to the fact that the armor could 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 total protection was formidable, and more than on par with the Southern Cross’ contemporary Veritech Hover Tank. The armor stopped all small arms fire, and had more than excellent resistance to all weapons commonly mounted on combat mecha.
The HWR-03 Thundercracker, or as it is more commonly called, the ‘Little Monster’, is without any doubt the ugliest Terran mecha designed to date (this is debatable –ed.), and the common wisdom places only the Invid Inorganics lower on the aesthetic scale. The Little Monster has an unremarkable boxy body, two overlarge bird- jointed legs, a low mounted missile pod and two large external propellant tanks for the 155mm cannons which give the impression of a thick cheeks and a quivering chin when the mecha is in motion.
The HWR-03 was designed as a more reasonable sized artillery Destroid (at least reasonable in size when compared to the 22 meter tall, 300 ton monster which was the HWR-00 Monster). Though large, the Thundercracker could be transported on the Predator drop ship and was reasonably mobile once on the ground. With five 155mm guns, the Thundercracker had the same fire power as a traditional tube artillery battery.
The HWR-03 Mark III was re-designed in 2024 on Tirol, after the first REF, now redesignated United Earth Expeditionary Force (UEEF), encounter with the force-shield surrounding Invid Hives. The UEEF Tactical Corps had found it almost impossible to breach this defense, causing numerous calls for orbital fire support and even nuclear launches. Committed to a more effective offense in likely future Hive assaults, the UEEF designed the Mark III to breach these Invid force fields. The Mark III replaced the Mark II’s three 155mm cannons and two PBC-20s with the more advanced BFG-5 Electron Particle Beam Cannons. These cannons were of an advanced Tiresian design which required significantly less cooling than the original PBC-20s. Because of this, the original heat sinks combined with an added coolant reservoir in place of the old propellant tankage allowed all five of the BFG-5s to have a sustained rate of fire equal to just the two PBC-20s. The only known method to do this at that time was by a sustained high-energetic salvo, or by numerous nuclear hits directly on the shield. Consequently, the HWR-03 could mount six nuclear Derringer missiles in its chin pod, and had a high generator capacity and cannons designed for sustained high output. The typical deployment would be to advance four or more Little Monsters to within firing distance of the Hive, covered by smaller mecha, and then to open fire with the particle cannons until the Hive shield was locally overloaded. After this assaults directly into the Hive itself could be made to close down the shield completely, and, of course, to defeat the Invid. In case this was not possible, for instance due to time pressures or if the Little Monsters could not close with the Hive, the nuclear missiles would be launched at the top of the force field, where the resulting fireballs would not reach the surface (ie. airbursts) and little radio-active fallout would result. This would usually cause the shield to collapse.
About a quarter of the existing HWR-03s were refit to Mark III configuration from 2024 through 2031. Over all, the Mark III was small in numbers, due to its specialized nature and because research into particle beam systems promised a more elegant solution to the force shield problem (this research eventually resulted into the ‘Destabilizer’ weapons from the mid to late thirties). The total number of mecha produced is 146, which were typically deployed at the Corps level, with 8 to 12 Thundercrackers per Corps. From 2036 on the Destabilizer weapons came in use, and the Little Monsters were slowly withdrawn from service, with the final Tirolian Reserve platoon decommissioning its mecha in 2040. At present, only 9 Little Monsters remain in existence, all in museums or (though disarmed) in the nostalgist Confederated Terran Armed Forces.
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.
Original artwork by: Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd. and 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 in this publication.
Images from – Robotech II: The RPG, Robotech Expeditionary Force Field Guide (March 1989)
Content by Peter Walker and Pieter Thomassen, with Rob Morgenstern, edited by Tim Wing
Copyright © 2000, 1997, 1995 Robert Morgenstern, Pieter Thomassen, Peter Walker; 2016 Tim Wing