As mechs began to sweep the battlefield, defeating older generations of hardware with their incredible agility and versatility, many factions struggled to deploy countermeasures, especially those still playing catch-up in the development of humanoid armor systems. Many of these focused around further development to older generations of armor, the venerable tank, in all its forms.
Cheaper and able to bear heavier armor than the mech, many saw avenues to fight back with the older technology, despite the maneuverability and offensive deficits.
One such vehicle, fielded by the Hierarchy of Nauq in the early 2320s in its struggles against the mechs of the Marnak Republic was the SPC-19. Developed on a compressed schedule, on a war-time footing, the SPC-19 was designed for a specific purpose, rather than general combat duties, and it was also determined that certain flaws could be tolerated. Mostly, there was no time to fix them.
The silhouette of the SPC-19 is a sloping, curved one, its sparse armor carefully designed to present few flat surfaces to the enemy, deflecting attacks away rather than absorbing them whenever possible. Later generations are highly reflective in the ultraviolet portions of the spectrum, lending further defense against the high energy lasers of the battle field. Yet, this slope is broken by a single, forward placed long barrel, and the rear is dominated by tremendous radiators, an obvious weak point in the armor.
A Self Propelled Cannon, rather than a true tank, the SPC-19 is essentially an enormous, heavily armored gun that can be driven around the battle field by its three man crew. That gun, the protruding barrel nearly 10 meters in length, is a simply designed rail gun, with a 185 mm bore diameter. Ammunition can be either a solid slug of hardened steel, rarely used, or more commonly, a ‘wad’ of armor piercing rods, about the length of a human hand, twice as thick as a finger, made of tungsten alloy, and packaged in a steel breakaway container, very similar to a shotgun. With the massive gun capable of launching those armor piercers at velocities of well over 100 km/s, the SPC-19 is able to turn even the hardest of targets into sponges.
With only approximately twenty degrees of elevation available to the gun, due to the geometry of the design, with one end rooted deep within the vehicle, the SPC is only able to reach the vitals of distant mecha. When employed in closer combat, however, another target is close at hand. Or perhaps, close to foot, for many war machines have found themselves with amputated legs from the crews of the SPC, earning it the nickname ‘Kneebreaker.’
However, despite the resounding effectiveness of the SPC, many armor crews dreaded drawing the assignment. While the light armor of the SPC would have provided adequate protection in previous eras, it proved wholly unable to survive the onslaught of the new energy weapon systems. Further, the SPC was slow, despite its miniaturized fusion plant, the majority of output from the generators going not to operation of the undersized motor, but to charging the triple bank of capacitors required to fire the main gun. More, this bank of capacitors generated tremendous heat, requiring a significant cryogenic cooling system to operate - and a way to dump the heat to outside, necessitating a complex and large radiator system, dangerously exposed, despite the armored grill work.
The gun itself also suffered its flaws. Tremendous recoil met with the metallurgical flaws of factory worlds under siege, more than a few of the light vehicles tearing themselves to shreds by firing the main cannon, as metal fatigue set in. So too were the rails of the main cannon prone to buckling, jamming and even destroying the weapon, if not the entire tank itself. Finally, the SPC suffered from rate-of-fire issues, able to rapidly discharge three shots from the main cannon, before the long charging cycle was required. Later models would mount secondary weapons on pintles for defense against troopers armed with shaped charges, but these were only rarely put to use. As commanders became more skilled at the use of the weapon, the tank saw little direct combat, being used to ambush at mechs and opposing tanks from heavy cover, running up its kill count despite its vulnerabilities.