Mecha are among the largest, most complex military machines made. This comes at a cost, maintenance. To handle the routine work from changing lubricating fluid, replacing damaged components, major overhauls and computer diagnostics, most mechs have a base that they call home. Unlike tanks and aircraft of previous generations, the mech isn't just parked and worked on, the massive machines require special maintenance equipment. Scaffolding and gantries hold a machine in place while a leg is disassembled. Overhead cranes and other gear are needed for heavy work like swapping engines, replacing large damaged components, like arms and legs or heavy weapons system.
For every hour a mech spends stomping around the battlefield, it has 30 hours its spends in maintenance and support. But that isn't very exciting for the holovids.
Industrial mecha have a slightly better than 1:30 hour ratio, but the parts that require the most maintenance on the machines aren't the guns, its the chassis members, the joints and actuators and all the parts that rattle around while the machine moves. Unlike military mecha that have dedicated military bases, most industrial mecha have an informal mechadrome usually attached to an industrial complex.
Industrial/Commercial mechadromes are still able to fully service military mecha, but do so 50% less efficiently, requiring a 1:45 hour ratio to maintain 100% operational status.
The core of every mechadrome is the hangar complex. This fully enclosed building is full of walkways, catwalks, overhead cranes, gantries, and pre-assembled scaffolding. Mechs usually walk into the Hangar and into individual alcoves where technicians start the long process of inspection, repair, and replacement of parts inside the machine. The hangar is predictably a large building, with the smallest facilities large enough to handle 2 mechs at a time, to the average holding a dozen.
Inside the hangar, often under the main level, the magazine hold ammunition and live fire weaponry. In military zone mechadromes, the magazine is accessed through a large freight elevator that is able to move ammo up briskly and efficiently to keep the war machines armed and dangerous.
Typically attached to the Hangar, the barracks house the technician crews, pilots, and security personnel. Very few facilities have all three groups together, and most have separate facilities for each group. Pilots tend to have the nicest accommodations while base security people have the most cramped.
The common name for the parts department, a good depot has all the parts needed to keep a machine running smoothly, while a bad one encourages the use of duct tape and cutting torches.
Each proper mechadrome has a thick reinforced ferroconcrete apron around it. Mecha are heavy, and they have a habit of tearing up the ground when they walk across it. Most mech time is spent on the apron or in the hangar. Contrary to the holovids, a medium mecha can rip standard concrete and asphalt to bits by doing anything more than a cautious walk on it. On tarmacs less than a foot thick even walking can cause severe damage to the surface just with the mech breaking through by sheer weight and the relative small size of the foot actuators.
Some mechadromes utilize cargo crawlers to carry the mecha around. The crawlers spread their weight out across two to eight sets of treads and by doing so increase their weight distribution enough that they don't destroy anything by just moving across it.
The center of operations in the Mechadrome is the Terminal. The Terminal contains the base computers and information systems as well as functioning as the command information center. Most terminals are located on top of the Hangar, or in a tower attached to the structure. Terminals in military zone mechadromes are either armored, or are buried underground and rely on electronic observation equipment to keep track of events on the base.
Not all mechadromes are dedicated facilities. It is common for a mechadrome to also double as a motor pool for military vehicles, a mechapool for power armor infantry, a proper aerodrome for aerospace craft, and least commonly, as an attachment to a spaceport or other ship handling facility.
Most mechadromes have walls low enough the mechs can step over them. This presents a passive defense to basically keep pedestrians from walking into an area where they can be stepped on. Most mechadromes have their own defense systems that are more active. While all bases have security personnel and observation points, some have actually firepower. The main threat to mechadromes comes from aerospace craft, so it is common for the hangar and terminal to have early warning systems, anti-missile and missile interceptor systems and anti-aircraft weapons like long range missiles.
Major mechadromes in contested areas will often equip fixed gun emplacements in the hangar, on towers, and even deploy military crawler vehicles for point defense. Aside from sneak attacks, few mechadromes are targeted for military action. They are generally tough enough to repel attacks long enough for reinforcements to arrive.
Location, Location, Location
In the modern era, the Mechadrome is a non viable idea. In the Cosmic Era, locations requiring active defense are small and very dense. The distance from an arcology to the outer edge of the urban rim might be no more than 10 miles. Beyond that, the terrain falls off into rural or minimally used acreage. A squadron of mecha, supported by armored vehicles (no tanks) VTOLs operating from the arco itself, and rapid response aerospace fighters are more than capable of defending an urban area from incursion.
Many military bases have the mechadrome integrated into a demi arco, with the hangar functioning as the ground level of the building and the rest of the CIC, barracks and other base functions being placed in the decks above it. This isn't a popular arrangement as mecha are heavy and loud, and generally make sleep difficult if not impossible at times.
Most arcoplexes and major urban centers have at least a minimal mechadrome, a permanent structure that functions like a mobile base (below) with slightly better facilities. These satellite dromes are generally associated with a major hub base that handles the heavier work rather than building a massive refit and repair facility at every city.
The Pre-con tactical base has an available configuration that is a mobile mech bay. The most common use of the pre-con base is to serve as a temporary hangar and command terminal. The normal pre-con base can be deployed almost anywhere, but mecha bases require a concrete pad or dense rock support. The mobile bay is generally inferior to the fixed structure, since it is open air, and only has limited ability to repair mecha.
Aquatic mecha typically take back seat to dedicated miniature submersibles and marine power armors. The marine base is either on the edge of the water where the mecha can remove themselves from the water for maintenance or are completely underwater. The fully underwater facilities are rare, given the time it takes to operate airlocks the size of a mech.
Role in the Cosmic Era
The concept of the mechadrome is laughable in the era of smart weapons and nuclear bombs. Placing all the machines in one location, with all of their supplies is just putting all the eggs in one easily smashed basket. In the Cosmic Era, atomics are no longer used. The societal ideals of collectivism and pragmatism don't allow for the machines to be scattered around the country in revetments and hidey holes like tanks and military aircraft today. The mech requires extensive machinery and manpower to keep it on it's feet. This equipment can't be faked in a handy barn or superstore.
Mechadromes are the most prominent military bases in the Cosmic Era. The public image of the mech is very positive, and the pilots enjoy a high degree of public support. An ace pilot can expect a lucrative career after the military in the entertainment business or in the government/public sector.
The mech is very frequently treated like a tank with legs, and this isn't really fair to the machine. The battlemech is a pinnacle of technology and a very complicated machine. Rather than being tanks with legs, the mech is a fight jet that has traded wings for arms and legs. Rather than large depots or motorpools, the mech is serviced in the WWI-esque mechadrome.
Walkers are the mechs that are tanks with legs, but compared to the traditional mecha, the walker is the sibling everyone forgets.
Not Registered Yet? No problem.
Do you want Strolenati super powers? Registering. That's how you get super powers! These are just a couple powers you receive with more to come as you participate.
- Upvote and give XP to encourage useful comments.
- Work on submissions in private or flag them for assistance.
- Earn XP and gain levels that give you more site abilities (super powers).
- You should register. All your friends are doing it!
? Responses (6)-6
Seems like a massive operation and a lot of expense just for operational mechs! Where do you find your pics? You always find very fitting and relevant images for these posts :p
Think of how much maintenance goes into keeping all of the tanks and aircraft we have now and them add legs, lol.
Pics are targeted searches through Google Images, Battletech, pacific rim, robot jox, mecha, repair yard.
Good point! I remember playing the original Mechwarrior with a joystick on computer back when I was a pup, so I approve of this sub on principle :p
A great article really :)
Thought-provoking. One doesn't really think of the little people who do all the hard-work fixing the things the famed pilot wrecks. And its an excellent point that these mechs would need a hangar to care for them.
My question is how big are the mechs. Are they like suits that fit around a human's body, or does the pilot fit comfortably inside the very tip of the head?
The average mecha is large, in the 30-40 foot tall range. The pilot typically sits in the top of the torso, with the 'head' being a mobile cluster of sensors and such. Why put the pilot of the machine in a place that snipers instinctively shoot at?
There are power armor suits that are worn like conventional but oversized armor, and there are Large Power Suits where the pilot is folded into a small cockpit/harness in the torso and their limbs do not fit into the arms and legs of the machine they operate. These machines are only a few feet taller than a conventional power armor, 9-10 foot versus the usual 6-7 foot