Black Magnum Artillery Group
Black Magnum Artillery Group is a modest sized military industrial supply company that is infamous for very immodest military gear, the largest self-propelled guns in the Cosmic Era.
Black Magnum earned it's start in the tumultuous years of the Second Dark Age, where they had the advantage of having industrial facilities capable of producing large bore, long barrel, naval artillery pieces. They also suffered the disadvantage of not having a navy in need of guns, as most all war was local, domestic, and on the ground. What they did have was the ability to build industrial vehicles, and a demand for artillery from ground forces. The solution was inspired by a piece of military history, the 1963 M110 203mm howitzer. The M110 was an 8 inch naval cannon mounted on a heavy motor carriage. Black Magnum took their ability to build cannons and attach them to industrial tractors.
The first years of Black Magnum saw them apply what they had to the problem at hand, and that resulted in the creation of three important vehicles: the Gladiator, the Spartan, and the Highlander.
The Gladiator was the most heavily produced of the Black Magnum vehicles, and was a naval twelve inch cannon mounted on a fifty-five ton tractor. The Gladiator had minimal armor, no secondary weapons and an internal magazine of six rounds. Most gunnery crews knew it as the Gunslinger, and the vehicle earned a reputation as a killer of early mecha and bunker buster.
The Spartan mounted the unpopular fourteen inch naval cannon on a seventy ton tractor. Like the Gladiator, it had minimal armor, no secondary weapons, and could only carry a single shell. It was dependent on support vehicles, including a loader, which was a twenty ton wheeled vehicle with a pair of loader arms that kept the Spartan in a fight, unless something broke. Spartans are a major component in third world nations and terrorist arsenals due the use of fourteen inch shells for static smoke, exotic rounds, and the devastating W109 nuclear shell.
The Highlander was the most popular vehicle Black Magnum made, but it was also the largest and the most expensive, and the most popular target during wars. It carried the potent sixteen inch naval cannon, the same as the 1940s Iowa class battleships. This massive cannon was mounted on a hundred and five ton tractor, complete with a ten round magazine, autoloader and the ability to be resupplied on the go.
The motor carriages Black Magnum produced were solid state designs, having robust electric motors driving caterpillar tread assemblies. Their overall speed was low, but this wasn't consider a major problem, given the size of the artillery pieces they mounted. Most had onboard generators for power, but all could be linked to a vehicle known as a the GONK which supplied them with all the power they needed, removing the need for power saving modes, or using high speed rather than cruising.
The firepower of each of the naval autocannons was impressive, with ranges out to thirty kilometers, and able to deliver enormous shells with modest accuracy. With spotters, a Black Magnum Gladiator could devastate a target, crack bunkers, and even drop medium mecha with a single shot. Specialty rounds like smoke, chemical, and atomics made the guns even more dangerous.
The largest hurdles for the Black Magnum company were basic, getting the raw materials to turn cannon barrels, and the components needed for electric drive trains. These didn't overlap with aerospace or mecha needs, but did conflict with heavy industry and construction.
The second hurdle was public opinion. The Black Magnum weapons were stop-gaps, tools thrown together from what was on hand to deal with a variety of threats. Some chided the use of the big gun as pretending firepower could overcome any threat so long as there was enough of it. Detractors actually ended up helping Black Magnum as their complaints pointing out that the vehicles were nothing more than antique battleship cannons on tracks highlighted that buyers were literally getting battleship cannons on tank tractors.
Support and Maintenance
The Black Magnum artillery systems did require a large amount of support an maintenance. Considering the size of the ammunition, the vehicles themselves were not able to carry a measurable amount, and required support vehicles like ammunition trucks, and crews to man loading mechanisms to move rounds that weight hundreds or even over a thousand pounds each. The same applied to keeping the guns equipped with black powder bags to fed the breaches. In combat action, a Black Magnum vehicle can go through an astounding amount of ammo in a relatively short period of time. The counterpoint of that was that being on the receiving end of battleship grade artillery was something few things were built to consider.
The GONK was a unique vehicle created for a single problem, and became more popular than the vehicle it was intended to support. A GONK is a wheeled heavy vehicle that is functionally a fusion reactor connected to banks of capacitors, wrapped in armor. Electric vehicles need access to heavy voltage to operate, and recharge, and the GONK delivers. GONKs remain in production and service, and are used for everything from power armor support, to being workhouse vehicles in mechadromes and aerodromes, to being part of rescue and disaster response forces.
During the Second Dark Age, Black Magnum vehicles were used across North America, and Europe, through data sharing and licensing options. The big guns were useful in breaking defensive formations, and scatter attacking armor formations. Even advanced armors were never intended to survive a hit by a half ton shell. The Black Magnum tractors were the most active during the period of military conflict were things close to be land battleships were the norm, beasts like the Cataphract Assault Platform and the TOG mark 7 were rolling. Often the only thing that could turn such beasts away was massed naval grade artillery, and attacks by power armor troops and early model mecha. Such battles were shrapnel and scrap factories.
During this period, every commander had a use for a couple of the big gun tractors.
There weren't many variants of the Black Magnum tractors created, the design was simple, and simplicity sold. There were variants that toyed with replacing the treads with wheeled systems to make them faster, but wheels were more vulnerable, and had issues with raising the center of gravity, increasing problems with the recoil of the big guns when they fired.
There were long combination vehicle models created, adding a command tractor to the front, followed by the gun carriage, and followed by GONK carriages, ammunition carriages, and even some defensive options like infantry carriages or point defense gun carriages.
The last generation of Black Magnums used Chem-Jet cannons, adding linear accelerators to the barrels, and either firing more economically, reaching the same range and velocity with less propellant, or in magnum mode, adding range and velocity. The Highlander II 400mm chem0jet could reach nearly fifty miles with a regular round. By the time the heavy chem-jets were sorted out, most of the world was moving on to full magnetic weaponry, high and low energy beam weapons, and mecha were considerably more capable.
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