S-Mart Skytruck

By Edward A. May

      In 114PA the newly formed N.O.M.A.D. Air Force submitted a requirement for a new medium transport aircraft. The exact specifications of the aircraft were that it should have a useful load of 14-16 tons, it must possess Short Take-Off or Landing capabilities, and have a maximum speed in excess of 550 mph.

      S-Mart, realizing the sales potential for an aircraft in this class, quickly allocated a vast amount of their resources towards the development of this product. Very quickly, S-Mart was given access to a handful of pre-cataclysm designs from which an adequate prototype could be selected. Unfortunately none of the designs preserved by Project Archive, the still secret source of Desert Star's pre-cataclysm technologies, fit the profile. Still, Sade Kerron a new arrival at S-Mart's prestigious R & Department, deduced that they could, however, base the fuselage design on the mid-21st century JFSSMT (Joint Forces Short-Strip Medium Transport) aircraft. This decision cut at least six months off of the conception to production timeframe. Soon thereafter Mrs. Kerron was promoted to the senior engineer of the aeronautics division of S-Mart's R & D Department.

      Under S.E. Sade Kerron the new project aircraft was beginning to take a radical shape. First, a forward swept high mounted main wing was drawn up, with 90 degree upward turned wingtips, to be used in conjunction with all-moving canard wings. Finally, a controversial decision to outfit this new commercial production transport aircraft with 15 degree pitch vectored thrust was announced. The media had a field day with this aircraft, dubbing it the Leatherwing of S-Mart, after an extremely ugly reptillian creature common throughout the American West. Despite the controversy, newly appointed Senior Engineer Sade Kerron kept her held held high and only commented to the press; "Wait until you see her fly."

      Six months and twelve days after the requirements were first placed with S-Mart by the N.O.M.A.D. Air Force, the so-called Leatherwing of S-Mart was unveiled for the first time, at Desert Star's newly constructed inner city airport. The aircraft was indeed hideous looking. It's broad flat bellied fuselage, strange wing, absurd engine accessories, and strange proportions made many people very skeptical of the show they were about to see. Test pilots, Lieutenant Jeremiah Asp and Sergeant Candice Qualey of the N.O.M.A.D. Air Force climbed into the aircraft with a rougish grin and a wave to the press. After a brief delay while the two pilots strapped in and conducted their preflight checks, the engines whirred to life. Soon after the pilots maneuvered the ugly craft away from the hangar out onto the taxiway and came to an inexplicable stop. They vectored the thrusters towards the ground, stood on the brakes, and began spooling up for take off - not on the runway - but on the taxiway. The onlookers began to panic and the press began to speculate on where the planning for this first flight may have gone wrong. All at once, the pilot released the brakes. Tooling down the taxiway, the aircraft quickly approached the edge of one of the two main airstrips of the airport at around 50 mph, opposite of which were the corrugated steel structures of the garages for stowing air port crash trucks and emergency vehicles. A tragic collision seemed inevitable but just then, the aircraft gracefully leaped into the air and easily cleared the structures opposite of the runway. A moment or two passed before thunderous applause was heard for the spectacular demonstration. The take-off run was a scant 1,800 feet, roughly half of what a traditional transport aircraft in it's class would require to take off. A subsequent interview revealed that the forward swept wings, canard wings, upward turned wingtips, vectored thrust, tailwheel undercarriage, and the lifting body fuselage design were all factors in the remarkable Short Take-Off display. Also revealed in that interview was that STOL performance was only moderately effected by the carriage of a load of up to 8 tons or 82 passengers, while a useful load of 16 tons could be carried and still achieve lift off within 3,200 feet of runway - well within the required parameters for a STOL design.

      Testing of the prototype continued for a period of two months. Contrary to suspected design engineering faults, very few serious errors or problems were discovered during this period. As a result, S-Mart approved the design as ready for production, and opened a limited production line in the west plant.

S-Mart Skytruck-A

      These new aircraft received the designation of Skytruck-A, to represent differences between these aircraft and later models of the type that would follow. The first two aircraft of this type were produced in January of 115PA and were delivered to the N.O.M.A.D. Military the following month. Following this initial delivery were four successive deliveries to the N.O.M.A.D. Military, of the same number, interspaced with various commercial and foreign military orders.

      In February of 116PA, with the largest concentration of CS forces the Kingdom of Tolkeen had ever witnessed standing virtually at their doorstep, King Creed dispatched an ambassadorial mission to the Kingdom of Desert Star. After establishing diplomatic relations, talks quickly turned towards lucrative trade agreements, specifically those involving wares produced by Capos Industries and S-Mart. Among the first products sought was a significant number of S-Mart Skytrucks, which fit the profile of a service aircraft that could reliably deliver supplies to the numerous short airstrips that were interspaced around the Kingdom of Tolkeen. Deliveries of the Skytrucks to Tolkeen began that very same month and continued at a rate of two a month until 32 had been delivered in June of 117PA. A follow up order was discussed in August, but by that time, Tolkeen was in far greater need of combat aircraft to keep up with attrition than transport aircraft.

      Aside from the N.O.M.A.D. Military & the Royal Tolkeenite Air Force, other users of the Skytruck-A include a civilian airline/air transport company in Desert Star called Skyline, that operates a half dozen Skytruck-As in routes that travel to and from Hope Barony, Silvereno, El Paso, Hope Barony, Clarksdale Confederacy, and New Hope. Kingsdale has purchased two of their own and have modified the design with gun emplacements for self defense purposes as executive transports for members of the Senate and the Dictator. Larsen's Brigade purchased four aircraft that also received gun emplacements for defensive purposes. One is used exclusively as a med-evac aircraft while the other three are situated for troop and cargo transportation. (All four saw heavy service during the Tolkeen War, resulting in one of the three cargo/troop transport models being cannibalized for parts to keep the other three in flightworthy condition.) An additional dozen have been sold to various small governments and mercenary organizations as well as those mentioned above. All told, 68 Skytruck-As have been manufactured, as of February 2nd, 118PA with production planned to continue well into the 20s, as various customers place orders for these versatile aircraft.

S-Mart Skytruck-B

      Soon after serial production of the Skytruck-A began, design work commensed for a second version of the Skytruck, that would turn the versatile STOL transport aircraft into a capable float plane transport. This process proved difficult, since the floats and bracing would have to be lightweight so as to not hinder the maximum cargo capacity by too great a margin, yet had to be sturdy enough to sustain the high loads of a heavily laden aircraft on choppy waters and the high speeds the aircraft could attain in the air. The initial prototype of the Skytruck-A was retained for experimental purposes and was later converted into the first Skytruck-B. Over the course of the following year, four different float and brace configurations were experimented with before a set of aerodynamically sheathed heavy duty struts supporting non-retractable streamlined floats was chosen as the final design. Production was finally cleared to commense in August of 116PA. Twenty of these aircraft were immediately procured for the Imperial Kyatashiro Navy, most of which are used under the Allied Naval Fleet command structure. Six were purchased by the Wa-Daisho Navy, two others were purchased by Airlift Inc., a cargo/passenger transport line that operates out of Wa-Daisho City between routes to Angel Peak, Taylorville, Avery, New Hope, and Desert Star. An additional Skytruck-B was purchased by Skyline specifically for a route from Desert Star to Wa-Daisho. As of February 2nd, 118PA a total of 34 Skytruck-B aircraft have been delivered to customers. Though it was the second of the Skytruck model lines, it was not the second one to enter production, that distinction fell to the Skytruck-C.

S-Mart Skytruck-C

      In January of 116PA, a second limited production line in the west plant opened to allow two more Skytrucks per month to be manufactured. Production of the first aircraft on this line was delayed however, due to special modifications required in the first four month batches. These aircraft were eight Skytruck-A aircraft modified for carrier operations in the Allied Naval Fleet. These modifications included folding wings, folding canards, a hinged nose section just aft of the canard wings, self compressing main gear units, and a dorsal gun position. After the first pair were completed in April, the type was classified as the Skytruck-C, to escape overwhelming confusion with the already discussed currently developing Skytruck-B.

S-Mart Skytruck-D & -C/D

      The most recent model to be developed, began to take shape immediately after the Skytruck-B's float configuration was settled upon. This new design would turn away from the design's original purpose and intent as a cargo and passenger transport, to use it's generous cargo capacity to carry around a significant amount of fixed electronic gear for military service. In this capacity this aircraft could serve several roles. First it could serve the role as an aerial radio communications relay post, relaying pertinent data from one unit to the next, thereby achieving a greater range of long range communications than typically available to ground based units. Second, it could act as an early warning aircraft, capable of detecting targets at longer ranges than conventional military radar, and with enough power to burn through most forms of ECM. Third, it could act as an ECM Warfare platform, jamming radio communications and radar sensors within a modulating range of effect. These features combined make the new model Skytruck an ideal aerial command and control post during times of conflict. The Skytruck-D, as it became known, entered extremely limited production in November of 116PA, producing only two 'from the ground up' Skytruck-Ds, for N.O.M.A.D. Military service. Subsequently, four of the Allied Naval Fleet Skytruck-Cs were returned to S-Mart for conversion to this type, while still retaining their carrier modifications. (These are commonly referred to as Skytruck-C/Ds.) In February of 117PA, with the war for Tolkeen heating up, Tolkeenite's ambassadorial mission to Desert Star placed an order for four of these aircraft. Only two were ever produced, however, and the remaining two on the order were cancelled. Counting the four conversions, only 8 Skytruck-Ds have been manufactured to date. With Desert Star's strict policy on regulating the release of stealth and electronics warfare military equipment, the Skytruck-D is presently only available for sale to Lazlo, Wa-Daisho, and Kyatashiro.

Model Type: Skytruck-A, Skytruck-B, Skytruck-C, Skytruck-D, & Skytruck-C/D.
Class: STOL Medium Transport Aircraft (A), Floatplane Medium Transport (B), Carrier Based Medium Transport (C), Airborne Command Center (D), & Carrier Based Airborne Command Center (C/D).
Crew: Skytruck-A, B, & C: 2; A pilot and copilot. When configured for passenger transportation, it can accomodate as many as 80 comforably. When configured for utility/cargo it can carry up to 44 passengers on folding benches lining the cargo compartment. Skytruck-D & CD: 8; A pilot, copilot, navigator, radar equipment operator, target designation coordinator, ECM equipment operator, communications equipment operator, & military intelligence liaison.
M.D.C. by Location:
    * Wings (2) - 275 each.
    ** Canard Wings (2) - 75 each.
    *** Turbines (2) - 200 each.
    ** Vertical Stabilizers (2) - 50 each.
    **** Main Body - 500.
    Reinforced Pilot's Compartment - 150.

* Destroying a wing will result in the loss of control and a subsequent crash.
** Destroying one of the canard wings or vertical stabilizers will effect the aerodynamics of the aircraft drastically, resulting in a penalty of -30% due to yaw and pitch instability. Destroying both canards or vertical stabilizers will result in a total loss of control, and a subsequent crash.
*** Destroying one of the turbines will result in a 50% reduction in the maximum speed of the aircraft. Trim adjustment can counter the yawing effect to a small degree, but a -15% penalty will be imposed on subsequent control rolls. Destroying both turbines will result in a total loss of power, forcing the pilot to conduct an emergency landing at a penalty of -40%.
**** The M.D.C. indicated is the total structural integrity of the aircraft and does not imply a heavily armored aircraft. Thus damage of 30 M.D.C. or more may inflict grievous damage to internal components causing other effects. (See Rifter 33 for details.) Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body means that the aircraft's fuselage is completely in tatters, and for safety measures the power systems have shut down. The pilot can attempt a dead stick landing, at a -40% on level ground, or can opt to eject.

Maximum Speed:
    Skytruck-A: 600 mph empty, 520 mph when fully loaded, 475 mph when overloaded. Cruising speeds are 450, 390, & 360 mph respectively.
    Skytruck-B: 500 mph empty, 430 mph when fully loaded, 395 mph when overloaded. Cruising speeds are 375, 320, & 295 mph respectively. (Speeds are considerably less, thanks to the drag and weight imposed by the floatation gear installed on this model.)
    Skytruck-C: 540 mph empty, 470 mph when fully loaded, 425 mph when overloaded. Cruising speeds are 405, 350, & 320 mph respectively. (Speeds are considerably less, thanks to the additional weight and aerodynamc drag caused by carrier modifications installed on this model.)
    Skytruck-D: 520 mph, while cruising speed is considered 390 mph. (Speeds are considerably less, thanks to numerous antennae, bulges, and fairings on the airframe for the electronics equipment carried on board.)
    Skytruck-C/D: 430 mph, while cruising speed is considered 320 mph. (This model is the slowest of the type, given the additional weight and drag imposed by the carrier modifications in addition to the modifications carried for the electronics equipment carried on board.)
Maximum Altitude:
    Skytruck-A: 36,000 feet.
    Skytruck-B: 29,500 feet.
    Skytruck-C: 32,800 feet.
    Skytruck-D: 31,000 feet.
    Skytruck-C/D: 28,200 feet.
Maximum Endurance: The electro-magnetic propulsion system driving the turbines are very reliable and well cooled. At cruising speeds, the Skytruck in all its varieties can fly for up to 20 hours before requiring a 20 minute cooling period. At speeds above cruising, or when overloaded, flight time is generally limited to 10 hours before requiring a 20 minute cooling period.

Statistical Data:
Height: 14'6" for the A, C, C/D, & D models. 22' for the B model floatplane.(On the C & C/D models, the main gear units can self-compress their shock-absorbing oleos to reduce the overall height to a more manageable 13'2".)
Wingspan: 89'3". (On the C & C/D models, the main wings fold just outboard of the engine nacelles, reducing the deck-space required by this carrier based aircraft to a modest 49'3".)
Length: 72'6". (On the C & C/D models, the nose section of the aircraft is hinged just aft of the folding canard wings, thereby permitting the nose to be folded to permit the aircraft to fit on the Dalmir class carrier's elevator to the flight deck. Total length when folded is a modest 53'8".)
    Skytruck-A: 32 tons when empty.
    Skytruck-B: 36 tons when empty.
    Skytruck-C: 33.5 tons when empty.
    Skytruck-D: 42 tons.
    Skytruck-C/D: 43.5 tons.
Maximum Cargo Weight:
    Skytruck-A: Typically 14 tons, but overloaded, the aircraft can carry up to 18 tons.
    Skytruck-B: Typically 10 tons, but overloaded, the aircraft can carry up to 14 tons.
    Skytruck-C: Typically 12.5 tons, but overloaded, the aircraft can carry up to 16.5 tons.
    Skytruck-D & C/D: Aside from survival equipment, two 4 person rafts, and a small footlocker for each crewmember's personal items, none per se.
Market Cost:
    Skytruck-A: 26.4 million credits.
    Skytruck-B: 28 million credits.
    Skytruck-C: 32 million credits.
    Skytruck-D: Available only to Free Nations Alliance government purchasers, at a cost of approximately 105 million credits.
    Skytruck-C/D: Available only to Free Nations Alliance government purchasers, at a cost of approximately 110.6 million credits.

Systems of Note:

1. Military Radio & Scrambler: Typically a 500 mile range; twice that with the Skytruck-D & C/D models.
2. Radar & Target ID: Typically a 50 mile range and is programmed with most aircraft on RIFTS Earth current to 115PA, as well as most common types of star fighters available on Phase World. Additionally, it is programmed to recognize the signature of several species of flying monsters/D-Bees. Can track up to 36 targets simultaneously. The Skytruck-D & C/D models carry a 250 mile range radar with tracking capabilities for up to 150 simultaneous targets, with full look down capabilities up to 50 miles out.
3. Inertial Navigation Computer: This system uses the gravitational forces of the earth, to plot out the exact location of the aircraft down to the nearest hundred yards. Adds a +20% to the aircrew's navigational skills.
4. Laser Detector: This system sounds an alarm every time a laser tracking, distancing, or weapon laser paints/targets or strikes the aircraft.
5. Radar Detector: This system sounds an alarm every time a distancing, tracking, or targeting radar, or microwave weapon paints/targets or strikes the aircraft.
6. Ejection Seats: The pilot and copilot each have an ejection seat and chute for use in emergency situations, the Skytruck-D & C/D model includes chutes and escape plans for the other crew members, but they do not have ejection seats.
7. Chaff/Flare Dispensers: This dual system is designed to negate the effectiveness of missiles without resorting to dangerous maneuvers when carrying delicate or sensitive cargo. If the incoming missile is Radar Guided, the Chaff has an 80% chance of throwing it off course, if it is Optical or Heat guided, the flare has a 90% chance of knocking it off course. Carries 40 Chaff/Flare bundles.
8. Electronic Counter Measures Suite: This system, exclusive to the -D & -C/D models, can jam radar, radio, and radar targeting units at an 85% rate of efficiency over a 200 mile radius of effect.
9. Electronic Counter-Counter Measures Suite: This system, exclusive to the -D & -C/D models, is a frequency booster that allows the communications and sensory systems on board to continue to operate effectively 80% of the time even when in an ECM intensive environment.
10. Electro-Magnetic Pulse Capacitor: This system is patched into the electronic systems of the aircraft to diffuse electro-magnetic pulses before causing serious damage to sensitive electronic systems on board. Even still there is a 15% chance that any electronic system on board will cease to function after an EMP attack.

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