In the early 2030s the US Army, Coast Guard, and Marines invested in a project that came to be universally called the US H2A1 Schwarzkopf, a hover tank design that would see extensive service with all three branches of the military mentioned. In it's early career the H2A1 saw service along the American/Mexican border in a number of minor border skirmishes. As the years wore on, five different variations of the Schwarzkopf came into existence, with the H2A2 being the most widely used. Although retired from large scale service by the 2080s, the classic Schwarzkopf saw service in dozens of small countries up until the cataclysm.
A LARGE number of the original Schwarzkopfs still exist and can be found as rusty gate guardians in front of old military bases, in front of VFWs, and similar locations. A handful may be found along the shores of the Amazon in use as converted transport vehicles minus their turrets on most occasions. A dozen H2A5s were discovered in the arctic region of Canada, that were used in the time before the RIFTS as ice breaking hover craft, and patrol craft, which had only a pair of machine guns for light combat. These are currently in use by the Tundra Rangers as patrol and rescue vehicles, and are now outfitted with a pair of laser cannons. A cache of twenty four moth balled H2A2s were discovered by Golden Age Armaments in Kentucky, and were repaired before being put up for sale, and still more are discovered all the time. Approximately 4,600 were constructed before the time of the RIFTS and it is likely that close to a hundred have survived the cataclysm - a testament to their rugged design.
S-Mart began producing this venerated design shortly after it's founding, as a high speed Attack Vehicle, or light hover tank. One of their first major customers being the N.O.M.A.D. Military, and then second, the Wa-Daisho Armored Units. They are good for quick strikes, but are not powerful enough to make stand up fights against any heavier vehicles than a few lightly armed and armored vehicles at a time. Even skirmishes against fast and versatile power armor like the CS SAMAS are not recommended. When used in it's element however, the Zipper as it has been named in Desert Star is a versatile weapon of war.
The capabilities and history of the vehicle type draw a great number of Mercenaries to purchase this vehicle type, with even small mercenary units adding one or two of them to their arsenal. This sincerely enrages and baffles Northern Gun & the Manistique Imperium. What they fail to realize is that the market has become so saturated with the Robots & Power Armor theory, that many people have become fed up, and realize that vehicles other than these do indeed have strengths over and above those commonly used in combat!
The vehicle type is commonly used in Desert Star as a scout vehicle for Stonewall equipped units. Up until 117PA through to the early months of 118PA, Wa-Daisho's Armored Units also used a large number of Zippers, which they code named, "Battlewagons". The last unit in Wa-Daisho to be equipped with these vehicles, is the Tenzan Elite's Armored Company which has 45 of them left in their inventory. (40 on active duty, 27 of which are assigned to Operation: Garlic, and 5 more retained as spares.)
Model Type: US H2A1 Schwarzkopf - prototype form of the vehicle, armed with only a 30 mm cannon, US H2A2 - most prevalent design, armed with a 30 mm cannon & a missile launcher at side of turret, H2A3 - sea combat version, carries two undersurface pylons that carry either depth charges or torpedoes, plus the equipment to utilize these weapons accurately, H2A4 - Improved electronics & weapon systems, later canceled with only a few being modified - due to a new design becoming available, H2A5 - Scout & Security vehicle, armed with 2 50 caliber machine guns in it's turret, & S-Mart Zipper-A.
Class: Hover Tank.
Crew: 3; the Driver, Gunner, and Tank Commander.
M.D.C. by Location: (See the note below.)
Medium Range Missile Pod - 50.
Turret - 150.
RFFC-16 (1; turret mounted) - 75.
*Skirt (30 sections) - 30 per section.
**Main Body - 300.
Reinforced Pilots Compartment - 100.
* If more than four sections of the skirt are depleted the hovercraft's belly will begin dragging on the ground. Maximum Speed is reduced by half, and to continue moving beyond this will damage the hovercraft beyond repair within 1D4x10 miles of dragging. Making the hovercraft worthless beyond being that of a parts donor.
** Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body means that the vehicles hull is in tatters, and for safety measures all systems will shut down. Once this is done the vehicle is next to useless, except for as a parts donor to other vehicles.
Note: The Zipper utilizes a Pre-RIFTS armor covering called Reactive Armor, which protects the Zipper from shaped charge weapons; (ALL missiles, explosive cannon shells, etc.) Inflicting only 1/2 damage! The way this armor "functions" is that, it's made up of a series of hollow panels with the interior lined with a layer of an explosive substance and when a missile or shape charged cannon shell strikes this protective armor, it detonates outward in response to the attack, thereby destroying the offending missile or shell!
Maximum Speed: 200 mph over land or water.
Maximum Altitude: 5'.
Handling: To the surprise of many Hovercraft pilots, the Zipper is one of the best. This vehicle surprises everyone by utilizing cutting edge technologies, developed during the early 2030's, for racing hovercraft. It involves a series of three tilting fans mounted on the bottom of the Zipper giving it awesome maneuverability. This means that the Zipper receives no negatives when making difficult maneuvers such as dodges or high speed turns. When rolls are missed however, reduce the vehicles speed by 30%, and if appropriate the vehicle crashes/slides into something, inflicting 1D4 MD to the hovercraft per 10 mph of speed.
Maximum Range: Unlimited; Thanks to the nuclear power supply. A note towards range is that all vehicles need some degree of maintenance, and a hovercraft is no exception. The skirt along the bottom of the Zipper will wear down from the constant friction it's lower surfaces sustain, plus catching, snagging on objects, and so on. Generally, they absolutely
must be replaced or patched every two or three thousand miles, but it is recommended that the skirt be completely replaced every 50,000 miles.
Weight: 10 tons.
Cargo: The weapons locker has room for five rifles, two RFFCs or Mini-Missile Launchers, and enough other space to carry either a few ammo clips for an RFFC or a small case of twenty mini-missiles, PLUS a casing with room enough for 25 E-clips.
Power System: Nuclear; 20 year average energy life.
Market Cost: S-Mart sells the "Zipper" regularly to customers at a cost of 14 million credits. Repair sections for the skirt cost 800 credits per section, bringing the M.D.C. back up to the 30 count, patches only cost 10 credits, but are S.D.C. patches capable of being blasted away with even S.D.C. firearms.
1. S-Mart RFFC-16 Rapid Fire Field Cannon: In the days of old the H2A2 was outfitted with a high rate of fire, 30 mm cannon. The new versions however, utilize state of the art Rapid Fire Field Cannons. These weapons fire a pair of 20 mm cannon shells, as a normal cannon would - but then further accelerates them along using electromagnetics in the barrel to incredible speed. This gives armor piercing cannon shells even more punch than they would have normally. The RFFC-16 as equipped on the stock available hover tank, is a good weapon with high damaging capabilities due to it's powerful electromagnetic propulsion system. This makes it a very heavy weapon compared to the lighter versions of the RFFC that have come out since - but it is perfect for the Zipper. It's only draw back is perhaps it's range, which is less than that of the C-40R of the CS States. Those vehicles which are in service in Wa-Daisho have chosen to outfit their "Battlewagons" with a much longer ranged Type 13/15 Rapid Fire Field Cannon, but with lesser damaging capabilities. (See the Kamiken Power Armor for details on the Type 13/15 Rapid Fire Field Cannon.)
Primary Purpose: Anti-Armor.
Secondary Purpose: Anti-Personnel.
Mega-Damage: 2D6x10 M.D. for dual shell bursts.
Blast Radius: 4'.
Rate of Fire: Can only fire dual shell bursts.
Maximum Effective Range: 3,000'.
Payload: 300 shells for a total of 150 dual shell bursts.
Weapon Stabilization Bonus: This weapon is stabilized to continue pointing directly at it's designated target even as the vehicle turns, goes over uneven terrain, and the like. As a result this weapon automatically receives a +2 to strike.
2. Medium Range Missile Launcher Pod: A two shot missile pod is mounted along side of the turret to provide the Zipper a sting against enemy targets at significant range. It can also be used by the Zipper when in use as a scout vehicle, to mark targets with smoke missiles - a common use for a Desert Star based vehicle.
Primary Purpose: Anti-Armor.
Secondary Purpose: Target Identification.
Mega-Damage: Varies with missile type.
Blast Radius: Varies with missile type.
Rate of Fire: 1 or 2 missiles at a time.
Maximum Effective Range: Varies with missile type.
Payload: 2 missiles are carried, loaded typically of Armor Piercing or Plasma type. However 4 spare missiles are stored inside the hull as replacements, and typically are composed of two armor piercing, one plasma, and one smoke missile. On special missions, a Zipper may be outfitted with more of one type than the other. Note that the heavy damage capability Plasma missiles are typically reserved for heavy combat situations.
3. Underhull Pylons (2; Optional): Under the skirt of the Zipper is a trio of fans, and a couple of side ridges that act as landing skids, and as a channel for the air to fill the skirt through. However, back in the time before the RIFTS the US Coast Guard and the US Marines made certain that a version of this vehicle could be outfitted with a couple of pylons for a pair of Short Range Torpedoes or for a pair of depth charges. Although these are not typically mounted on the marketed version of the Zipper, it is offered as an add on for 25,000 credits, not including the ordinance to load those pylons. All of Wa-Daisho's "Battlewagons" were outfitted with these pylons.
Primary Purpose: Anti-Warship.
Secondary Purpose: Anti-Sea Monster.
Mega-Damage: See page 117 of RIFTS Mercenaries for Details.
Blast Radius: 5' for the Short Range Torpedoes, or 200' for the depth charges.
Rate of Fire: Can fire one or both at a time.
Maximum Effective Range: See page 117 of RIFTS Mercenaries for Details.
Payload: 1 per pylon.
4. Systems of Note: This vehicle incorporates all the usual environmental features found in robot vehicles including environmental protection, environmental control, air filtration, an independant 12 hour supply of air, heat and radiation shielding. In addition to these features, the Zipper also incorporates a trio of ejection seats for it's crew.
1. Thermal Imaging Optics: This is very similar to Infrared Optics in the sense that it detects heat, but unlike the imprecise nature of infrared optics, this measures the heat signature precisely displaying them in colorful shades of reds, yellows, greens and blues with various degrees of heat. The thermal imaging optics are also far more sensitive than the infrared optics, actually allowing them to see heat through walls of structures at certain distances. The range of this system is 2,000', but it can only see heat through an obstacle such as a brick wall from 100'.
2. Nightvision Optics: This system uses the ambient light from starlight, moonlight and similar to allow a sort of green-tinged vision beyond normal visual ranges for a human. The range of this system is 2,000'.
3. Military Radio & Scrambler: This is the same radio equipment, bolt for bolt, microchip for microchip, as the system found on the USA-G10 Glitterboy. The broadcast range is a modest 50 miles. By resetting the radio transmitter inside the vehicle to an elevated position, however, the same transmitter can achieve a fairly consistent 500 mile range using atmospheric bounce. Atmospheric anomalys can extend this range still further or can completely disable the radio system within a set radius, it just depends on the circumstances. The scrambler system allows the radio signals to be scrambled to all those not equipped with the correct scrambling codes.
4. I.F.F. Transponder System: This system transmits data such as alpha-numeric designation code, course, mission, base of operations, and unit, via radio signal, to other similarly equipped military stations, vehicles, and power armor suits that have been programmed with the correct access codes. This allows a friendly N.O.M.A.D. soldier in an S-Mart Assassin, overflying an armored collumn, to quickly determine who these individuals are. This also allows field commanders to keep far better track of their military assets. A further feature of this system is that it functions well as a distress beacon. A note towards the safety of I.F.F. - is that the codes are very difficult to break. Since the N.O.M.A.D. Military periodically changes their I.F.F. safety codes - attempts to crack the codes that have taken weeks of supercomputer analysis - are for naught. Those Zippers that are sold DO include this system but it is programmed as a civilian system, readily read by N.O.M.A.D. Military programmed I.F.F. transponders.
5. Radar Rangefinders: This is a special form of radar used to aid gunners in ranged combat, providing a bonus of +2 to strike at all ranges exceeding 1,000'.
6. Inertial Navigation Computer: This system assists the vehicle in navigation through the use of three ring laser gyros by indicating exactly how far, in what direction, at what altitude, and at what speed the vehicle has traveled - down to an accuracy of 1/1000 of a mile. If available, coupled with a map of the region loaded into this nav comp, this system becomes nearly fail safe - provided that the crew using the system can read a map. This provides crews with a Navigation skill a +20% to all skill rolls. Every few hundred thousand miles of travel this system requires recalibration, which is easily done by a push of a button inside of the vehicle. S-Mart has maps available of the entire surrounding region (250 mile radius) of each Desert Star, Wa-Daisho, Lazlo, the Coalition States, Northern Gun/Manistique Imperium, and the Colorado Baronies available at a cost of 200 credits per programming package.
7. Military Radar Detector: This system detects radar waves as they pass over the vehicle, indicating to the crew that they have been picked up on radar. It is at least a fairly sensitive system though, that can tell the difference between a low power radar system like those found on most power armor that cannot see through ground clutter, and a true military grade radar that can. The only failing of this system is that if the vehicle is ever attacked by a microwave type weapon it will fry this sensor automatically.
5. Physical Attacks: Like any vehicle, it in itself can be used as a weapon, but it is not recommended as the skirt around the base of the vehicle can potentially be damaged, disabling the Zipper;
Ramming Vehicles/Creatures/Buildings More Than 2 tons: 1D6 M.D. per 10 mph, however at speeds exceeding 150 mph the Battlewagon's skirt will also take half damage inflicted, directly to the front portions of the skirt.
Ramming Vehicles/Creatures/Buildings Less Than 2 tons: 1 M.D. per 10 mph, and typically will run it over. No additional damage is done from the weight of the Zipper unless a malicious pilot decides to set down on top of the target inflicting an additional 3D6 M.D. to the unfortunate individual, otherwise the character/Object will be forced to the ground for the amount of time the Zipper is over them, but the wind will typically scatter items, tear clothing, blow sand in eyes and mouth, etc.
The image above is reprinted, with permission, from R. Talsorian Games Inc. Cyberpunk 2020®'s Sourcebook Maximum Metal. In the sourcebook it is seen as the A-20 ACAV, an air cushion hover tank. All rights remain reserved by R. Talsorian Games Inc., and SirTenzan's RIFTS Gallery acknowledges and respects these rights. This image is reprinted as a means of creating a wonderful new vehicle for RIFTS, using the spectacular artistry of R. Talsorian Games Inc. illustrators.