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February 3, 2013, 3:58 am

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The Last Tank


A man:machine:moment article regarding the tank in the Cosmic Era

Lt. General Georgette McCutchin commanded the 181st Mobile Armor Brigade. The Brigade was deployed during the years of the Petroleum Era, and was equipped with what is likely to be the most awesome fighting vehicle produced during that age, the M-4R3 'Winson' main battle tank. The Winson would earn it's place in history during the bloody and violent St. Louis riots.

A Time of Turmoil

The United States of America was entering into dire straits in the last years of Resource Wars. Despite winning several wars, the military and government had failed to protect the nation, and had also failed to secure adequate resources to sustain the federal superstate. Sections of the nation were clamoring for action, others for aid, and everyone agreed that nothing was being done right. The nation had believed that it would go untouched by the descent into chaos and war that had surrounded it and had spent years focused almost entirely on media entertainment and minute costs such as GB cost of data or electric KwHs. The Rights obsessed superstate was hamstrung by it's own laws and policies and in several instances riots erupted and instead of being suppressed, they were either contained or simply allowed to run their course. History is mocking, claiming that the arrogant Americans simply didn't know how, or were simply unable and unwilling to confront civilian disobedience or unpopular action.


Gorgeous Georgette McCutchin

Georgette McCutchin was a Wisconsin native, and a proud member of the US military. She served in the armed forces for almost thirty years, starting as a foot soldier and working her way up. She moved into armor and quickly made a place for herself as a competent and physically attractive commander. She served three tours of active duty before coming back to the US to serve as a base commander and tank brigade instructor for the next group of armor crews. 

In public she was respected by the media and the military and many expected a political career after she decided she was done with tanks. In private she struggled with alcoholism, depression, and PTSD from her time at war. Her tank group had participated in horrific acts, exterminating disloyal population centers, killing surrender soldiers, and blowing up things and other general acts of crimes against humanity. It was an ugly war, and no one cared, except for the cost on the budget, the drain on the economy and the ongoing rise in the cost of data. 

The St. Louis Riots

For three consecutive days, riots for food and fuel had rocked the city of St. Louis. There was no federal aid coming, and the local police and special law enforcement agencies were unable to contain the spreading anger and violence. Fires were started, businesses were looted, and a large number of people were injured and a few were killed. This was not the first instance of rioting in the city, and a military combat brigade, the 181st had been stationed near the city. It was expected that the military presence would keep the population in check.

It did not.

When soldiers marched into the city, they were met with gunfire and home made explosives. This prompted McCutchin's infamous line: 'If they were hungry, they would make cake, not explosives'. Most of the rioting had centered itself around the Academy neighborhood, a predominantly African area. This had turned most of Academy and the surrounding areas of Visitation Park, Lewis Place, and the Central West End into an armed warzone/ghetto. The leaders of the riot factions were sequestered in Academy and McCutchin, having spent her last tour of duty in the Congo decided that the best way to deal with this sort of insurrection was a show of irresistible force supported by taking out the leadership of the opposition. 

It did not go well.


The M-4R3 Winson

The finest tank manufactured during the Resource Wars, the Winson was a 122 ton beast built around a powerful hybrid drivetrain (flexfuel turbine feeding a generator) and the first generation magnetodynamic rail gun. Winsons had seen action across the American SW border, and in it's wars in Africa. The large tank had not done well in South America, but the rail gun had been a stunner of a success. The tank mounted the impressive rail gun in an unmanned robot turret, and a small crew of 2. Almost every function of the Winson was automated, save for starting the vehicle and manually firing the gun, these tasks could have been automated, but several laws forbid the use of drone tanks. 

The Winson also mounted an anti-aircraft missile system, as well as an area denial/saturation automatic mortar battery. This secondary weaponry made the tank a monster. It's armor was in some places almost 22 inches thick, making it invulnerable to almost all heavy weapons. Finally, it was controlled by a non-sentient computer system, the AR3-3 Metal Motion and Targeting system. The Winson selected it's targets and assigned weapons to them, including firing orders, sequences, and timing variables. The tank could select up to 32 targets after assessing 300 target potentials, and with the push of one button, the tank could execute up to 32 different targeted attacks.

The AS3-3 system was fully capable of working with other Winson tanks, and the first step in combat was typically forming a TankNet LAN and allowing the computers to sort out targets for maximum effect. The efficiency, speed, and brutality of the Winson made it a paragon of armored combat.

God Bless America.

Wydown Showdown

McCutchin's Winsons and supporting infantry crossed through the Wydown neighborhood on their way to a large park in the city. The brigade planned to form up and cordon off the riot afflicted area of the city and systematically force the populace to retreat and surrender their positions and weapons.

The showdown occurred as a council of elderly men and women held hands to make a human chain to stop the tanks. The men and women were representatives of factions working to peacefully end the rioting and violence in the city, and were working with both the rioting leaders, and the leadership of the city itself. The tanks were running on autopilot and had their terrain scan set to active/engaged while the drivers merely sat in the driver's seat doing nothing. Rebel broadcasters streamed the showdown out to the watching world. The Winson's computers ignored the people in front of the tanks and just ran them down. Millions of people watched as two dozen senior citizens were crushed or injured by the tanks rolling through. It was a horrific failure, a bloody sequel to Tiananmen Square.

The Winson's assembled and started the advance towards Academy. Before reaching the area, the tanks encountered fortified positions (concrete highway dividers, tipped over buses and heavy contracting equipment). The tanks registered enemy light arms fire, as well as being illuminated by targeting lasers. The lead Winson was hit with several RPGs and improvised explosives, startling the crew and starting a panic.

The Fatal Call

Faced with stiff opposition dug into a fortified position, McCutchin had to make a call. In hindsight, calling back the tanks would have been the best idea. The presence of the military emboldened many rioters as they expected the tank crews and infantry to understand their plight, and rights as American citizens. McCutchin made the call, execute Lumberjack Ops.

The tanks registered their new command and started systematically targeting the support structures of buildings throughout the area. The rail guns started firing special cluster rounds. These cut pillars and load bearing structures inside the buildings and caused them to fall like cut trees. 9,000 people were killed as building was dropped on top of building. The city was covered in a pall of concrete dust and ash, and fires burned wildly.


The Aftermath

The St. Louis riots were suppressed but at a terrible in cost in life. Almost 10,000 people were killed, and another 40,000 suffered injuries, most related to dust and smoke inhalation. The public outcry was immense as the image of the Winson crushing an old black woman in church clothes became the image of the riots. More riots broke out, and military personnel and their families were often specific targets of this violence.

McCutchin was arrested and court martialed for her actions in command of the 181st. She was found guilty, and after a 4 day waiting period, was hung.

The 181st was disbanded and it's colors stricken from the books. The 12 Winsons were split up and attached to other combat brigades.

The McCutchin Scandal proved to be a final straw, and the collapse of the American Federal Superstate quickly followed. It was not anarchy, rather it was an east/west split. In less than a decade, the once superstate would consist of 22 different self proclaimed sovereign countries.

The Fate of the Tank

The tank is an anachronism on the Cosmic Era battlefield. It would be a very effective and very powerful weapon in the hands of any military on the planet. But by the same logic, mustard and chlorine gas are some of the most effective anti-infantry weapons, as are city-buster nuclear weapons. Like the other weapons of mass destruction the public's opinion of the tank rapidly fell. 12 tanks had just racked up a 9000/1 kill ratio, and in most people's books that made them stop being main combat vehicles but weapons of mass destruction.


 The Last Tank

The Winson was the last major production tank in the West. The ability to produce tanks would eventually end with the loss of electricity to power the factories, as well as the steady flow of materials to make the tank. Each Winson required 2700 pounds of zinc flux soldering material to be welded together, and it was just not coming in anymore. Once the Second Renaissance arrived, the thought of the amount of raw materials required to build a tank was almost as obscene as the public opinion of the tyrannical human crushing hate machine.

The tank was not defeated by the battlemech.

The tank was conquered by public opinion and bad publicity.

Additional Ideas (1)

To underscore the core of the submission, this is the reason that there are mecha. Without this banning of the tank, the battles of the Cosmic Era would be fought with tanks and NOT mecha. But the mech (in the Cosmic Era few weigh in at more than 50-55 tons) is publicly acceptable as a tool of war.

Nations who use tanks are considered barbaric. 


2013-02-03 10:57 AM » Link: [7202#85064|text]
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Comments ( 10 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

February 3, 2013, 4:40
You know, the reason I find myself so attracted to the Cosmic Era and subs such as these is that you can actually see these things happening. The only real question I have is how were these tanks able to still be operable when the cost of fuel would be so high? Or have I missed something?
February 3, 2013, 10:40
You ask a very good question, and by the time of the St. Louis Riots, the price of fuel was so high that food trucks were starting to sit because there was no gas (diesel, biodiesel, ethanol) to move them. The military has always gotten the first choice, so the tanks would have fuel. Just another reason the riots got worse, the govt has gas for a dozen super tanks but not for a food truck? Screw those guys!
February 3, 2013, 10:51
Also: the end of the Petroleum Era is a slight misnomer. The production of actual petroleum spikes and then rapidly starts to decline before the end. There is certainly development of alternative fuels and power sources but there isn't an alternative liquid fuel (ethanol, alcohol, biodiesel) that is able to be produced in the quantities needed. Ethanol is good, but we can't produce 20+ million barrels of ethanol a day. Electric cars suffer from battery issues, and the electric grid itself simply cannot support the demands of an electric vehicle fleet.

This also shouldn't be surprising, while the fuel supply is shrinking like a noose around a neck, conservation has totally failed. Fuel saving technology is present, but not appreciated. The collectivism of the Arcology projects are decried as communist, socialist, and elitist. Rail systems fail in massive nations, massive infrastructures collapse because there simply isn't money to fix them. Instead of consumption slowing down, it spikes at the end, because everyone wants to make sure they get their fair share.

And then it's gone.
Voted caesar193
February 3, 2013, 10:47
Did you get that cake line from Marie Antoinette? I liked all of this. The pics adds the entire thing. Did you design the Lego tank yourself, or was it with instructions? But now, I just can't help but wonder about the weapon that's being built in the Inuksuk arco that Brian and the rest of the party are exploring, and pondering tanks...

Anyways, jolly good sub!
February 3, 2013, 10:53
You are correct, and instead of cutting off her head, she was hung in front of the peasant masses. I did some google searching for exotic tanks, and came across that thing and I really liked it. The Winson needed a face. I do want the kit to built it.
Voted Ted
February 3, 2013, 16:47
I found the cake line broke the immersion for me.
February 3, 2013, 19:02
Thanks for answering that Scras. I forgot all about the National Defense Fuel Supply which is HUGE compared to the daily intake of the population. I disagree with Ted on this. You would think that maybe Gorgeous had a sort of misapprehension for what was going to occur and thus the quote.
Voted Strolen
February 18, 2013, 10:28
Like reading a news article right out of your cosmic era. More like an underground paper that tries to tell the history without embellishing while the main media outlets would continue to sensationalize everything.
Voted axlerowes
March 27, 2013, 6:55

The ordering of the facts in this paragraph is of questionable taste

"When soldiers marched into the city, they were met with gunfire and home made explosives. This prompted McCutchin's infamous line: 'If they were hungry, they would make cake, not explosives'. Most of the rioting had centered itself around the Academy neighborhood, a predominantly African area. This had turned most of Academy and the surrounding areas of Visitation Park, Lewis Place, and the Central West End into an armed warzone/ghetto. The leaders of the riot factions were sequestered in Academy and McCutchin, having spent her last tour of duty in the Congo decided that the best way to deal with this sort of insurrection was a show of irresistible force supported by taking out the leadership of the opposition. "

I am not quite sure where the authors sympathies rest, there appears to be a slightly different tone in the first third of the piece than in last two thirds of the piece. But you tell a compelling story, and as RPG tool this is a piece of back story that could be shared by all PCs, something they could make allusions too.

Overall though this is good "essay" concise and with a narrative construction.
Voted valadaar
November 21, 2013, 20:48
A great sub, even if I personally disagree with the premise that tanks would go out of use but mechs would be. I think Mechs would be chosen due to the preponderance of Urban battlefields requiring mobility beyond what Tanks can achieve, especially when warfare is less frequent between full nations and more between corporate armies.

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