La Mort Qui Marche


The Combat Walker in 2300AD



Combat Walkers, or CWs, are best thought of as one man infantry combat vehicles. They are perhaps the major combat system evolved in the 23rd Century and perhaps only now reaching design and doctrine maturity. While they can be seen as a relatively minor weapon platform when compared with hovertanks, gunships and other systems, Combat Walkers have a strong hold on the public imagination and are featured strongly in the popular media. This article seeks to trace the evolution of the combat walker as a weapon system and describe the current state of play.     



Captain ‘Mas’ Ishii led his four paramilitary Jikishidan walkers down the main road at a sprint. They weren’t soldiers, but policemen from the Tosashimizu Police Special Duties Section. With the alien Bakemono assaulting the city and killing indiscriminately there was no such thing as a non-combatant. Ishii was a veteran of the Central Asian War and so were some of his policemen and they had taken to their more violent role with aplomb.


The Jikishidans they were using were equipped with jury-rigged 5.5mm machine guns slung under the chins. They were light weapons, with limited traverse and only minutes worth of ammunition. When that ran out they had only the grenade launchers, but for those they had only riot gas and solid baton rounds. If that failed it was on to the sonic stunners. It was not the sort of armoury to make the Bakemono quail. For the hundredth time that day he thought of his family, hoping they had gotten clear.


Nevertheless the militia platoon manning the barricades were more than pleased to see them. Ishii felt a bit like a fraud and put in another urgent call to the command post to send reinforcements, hopefully the big Type-3 walkers of the 3rd Colonial Independent Regiment which could make mincemeat out of the aliens. The Bakemono rushed the defences and Ishii drove the walker into a position on the barricade and opened up.


The firefight lasted for nearly a quarter of an hour and the sonic stunners, even on maximum charge were no damn good. The Bakemono breached the barricade and Ishii dashed in, using his armoured body to bowl over the first few, he cursed the lack of controls to make the walker kick out. Trying to use the spindly arms in close combat was like getting a hen to peck the alien to death. Suddenly the walker was down, a leg blown off by a satchel charge, toppling stately to the ground. Ishii was finished.


Then the counter attack came in. The militia soldiers charging in screaming with bayonets fixed and throwing the aliens back for just long enough for Ishii to escape from the pod, scrambling back with the soldiers dragging their wounded behind them. Firing his pathetic 9mm pistol and cursing as he went.          







Role and Tactics



Famous Units

CW Aces

CW Designs

Appendix 1 - Alternate Designs
Appendix 2- Combat Swimmers

Appendix 3 - Design Notes





If most modern weapon systems, such as the tank, VTOLs and aircraft, have been developed by the Western world, the Combat Walker is very much a product of the East. Japan and Manchuria have led the way in fielding CWs and developing the technology and doctrine to use them effectively. Indeed most Western nations have been left trailing and have only now closed the gap with their Asian counterparts.


Japan began producing effective walker vehicles in the early 2200s, building on their strong robotics experience for both industry and exploration. The initial Japanese walkers fulfilled two roles; explorative and policing. The Japanese Space Agency was looking for a system that would give additional robustness and durability to exploration teams on non-Earthlike worlds. The Japanese National Police Agency on the other hand was looking for a highly mobile platform that could conduct crowd and riot control duties on the tight streets of Japan’s cities. These initial systems were relatively slow and cumbersome but set the stage for further development.


Manchuria quickly followed the Japanese lead, seeing walkers as effective means of increasing the effectiveness of the police patrolling their teeming cities. Indeed it was the Manchurians who first adapted their law enforcement walkers for combat duties, dispatching some modified units to Han Shan for use against hostile local fauna during expeditions beyond the walls or in case of breaches of the hill top perimeters. These first armed CWs provided the spur for small units of CWs to be formed in the Manchurian Army. Manchuria was also the first nation to begin exports of paramilitary walkers selling early models to Korea and Canton.


In the West however walkers were seen as unreliable and impractical. Most military opinion held that walkers were ‘too small to fight, too big to hide, too slow to run’. Their role in policing aroused some interest but most forces preferred to stay with the old combination of men with shields and horses. The exploration role was one that was taken on, with some acquiring Manchurian designs, but this was always a very low-volume field.


General perception of the value of combat walkers changed as a result of the Slaver War of 2252-55. Manchurian and Canadian space combat operations against the Sung were a virtual massacre, but then human ground forces landed on the Xiang homeworld to destroy Sung bases and liberate the Xiang. Forward looking Manchurian commanders were well aware of limited starlift available to them which would constrain the number of conventional AFVs which could be landed. Instead numbers of the heavy Type-1 and smaller Type-2 CWs were deployed to take part in the fighting.


These units were drawn from both Earth and Han Shan based formations and had little time to train together and often fought alongside units who had no experience of CWs. In addition the Type-1 and Type-2 CWs proved to be prone to break down, lacked robustness and had limited combat endurance. However when used in combination with other arms the CWs were battle winners on several occasions and on most others reduced the number of casualties sustained by the infantry. The impact of the CWs was multiplied by the near blanket coverage they received in eagerly devoured news reports. Indeed one French reporter labelled them ‘La Mort Qui Marche’ or ‘walking death’.


These high profile Manchurian operations spurred some previously sceptical militaries into developing their own CW programmes. The Canadians were first, purchasing Type-2s for their Special Service Force in operation in the Slaver War. The Bavarians, then cooperating with Japan in colonial exploration were able to do a deal to obtain Japanese walker technology. The Bavarians were somewhat slow in developing their CWs, but this would eventually bear fruit in the late 2280s. Some nations remained resolutely opposed to the concept, the British in particular studying CWs but not introducing them into service for several decades.


The French turned to their own robotics industry to produce the first of a series of CWs. The French rapidly embraced the concept developing their walkers for use in the colonies, and then later for urban operations. In developing their own domestic designs the French were predominantly behind the state of the art in Manchurian and Japanese CWs. However the French ultimately began operating CWs on a scale matched only by the Manchurians and rapidly developed a strong body of operational experience and an effective doctrine.   


The aftermath of the Slaver War brought about a rapid influx of CWs into armies across Earth and in the colonies. However the limitations of these early CWs rapidly became obvious. Sensor packages were poor, armour was thin, weapon loads only slightly bigger than those of an infantryman and cross country mobility was limited by poor movement algorithms and low power. Many armies brought CWs into service en-masse and then later thinned out their numbers as the realities of CW operations became apparent.


The next major use of CWs came during the Cantonese-Indonesia War of 2264-68. With the threat of Indonesian annexation of Indochina imminent Canton deployed forces into Vietnam. Indonesia responded by deploying into Thailand. Cantonese forces included several combat walker units integrated into infantry and military police formations. These operated initially in the cities where there was some unrest and even attacks on the Cantonese by pro-Indonesian factions. Later as the conflict escalated, with clashes in Laos and Cambodia developing into a fully fledged campaign, CWs began to be used in the interior with its paddy fields, forests and mountainous terrain.


The Cantonese deployed a mixture of old Manchurian Type-1s and more modern Type-3s coming into service with elite units. Operations away from the urban coastal strip had a steep learning curve for the Cantonese CW units. The environment proved very testing for the CWs and the maintenance demands increased significantly. In particular the ageing Type-1s were unable to perform to an acceptable standard and were relegated to second line duties. The more powerful Type-3s were, once modified for the conditions, to give increasingly useful service in rural operations. Some units used the Type-3s to ‘jungle bash’ although it was noticeable that losses of CWs to ambush in these outfits were high.


For their part the Indonesians had few CWs, mostly a small number of decade old Type-1s. The Indonesian CW community had relatively little influence but had some adherents amongst elite Indonesian units. Consequently Indonesian CWs took part in some notable small unit actions, but were rarely influential in the wider conventional war. Indonesian attempts to purchase newer CWs were stymied by their international isolation over the war.


Cantonese victory brought the war to a close in 2268. For many observers the Canton-Indonesian War was a relatively obscure conflict conducted largely away from the media gaze. However most of the regional powers had observers present and the Manchurians even had some Banner units serving with the Cantonese. Consequently the war was rather influential for military professionals and in particular both France and Manchuria modified their CW doctrine in the light of Cantonese experience.


The third bout of fighting between Brazil and Argentina for regional superiority in South America occurred between 2275 and 2297. CWs played only a minor role, although Argentine walkers were prominent in the breakthrough of the Brazilian border defences and in later actions on the streets of Brazilian towns and cities. The performance of Brazilian CW units was generally deemed to be poor.  


The Central Asian War at first seemed like a war where the CW would not be a major factor; the wide open steppe seemed unsuitable for CWs. However as the war went on increasing numbers of CWs were committed. Elite light infantry units on both sides began to rely on the supporting firepower that CWs could bring them. In addition the retaking of Alma Ata was strongly marked by the use of CWs in both assaulting units and rear-guards. There after CWs became increasingly common across many non-mechanised units.


Manchuria initially had the advantage with her Type-4 CW developed from the experience gained in the conflict in South East Asia while the French were equipped with the BH-18 but were developing the successor BH-21. Manchuria brought in several crack colonial units with CW experience, most notably the 621st Infantry Regiment from Quanti, while many of their home grown units were no slouches. In general the Manchurian’s more heavily armed and more numerous units held the advantage over their French opponents.


One participant with no real CW combat experience were the Bavarians who were equipped with the Kz-IV, an ageing system built around mid-2250s Japanese technology. The Bavarians had used these CWs primarily for colonial duties and initially suffered serious casualties when their units deployed to Central Asia. The Kz-IV, although agile was badly outmatched and were replaced as a short term measure by French CWs. However the failure of the Kz-IV would lead to the development of the interim Kz-VI and ultimately the excellent Kz-VII. The Bavarians would develop a forward looking and innovative doctrine for their CW units during the course of the war, a fact recognised by all participants by the war’s end.


Along the Chinese Arm during the war there were several attempts to use CWs in the orbital raiding role. In particular several raids were launched by crack French units against isolated Manchurian outposts. These prompted Manchurian units to attempt to reply in kind and a Guides Banner unit was involved in attacking a number of French or French owned installations in this area of space. CW equipped French units were also involved in the Elysian revolt.


The Japanese brought their advanced CW designs into action for the first time during the last year of the war and proved very competent indeed. However the armament of Japanese designs was seen as somewhat under powered when compared with heavier Manchurian designs and the French BH-21.  


It is often said that the CW came of age in the Central Asian War. While the conditions were certainly not ideal for the employment of CWs they were deployed in increasing numbers and proved themselves in many roles. In terms of technology CWs made great strides, especially in armament, sensors and communications packages. Reliability and mobility also came in for significant improvements. In general the move from the BH-18 and Type-4 to the BH-21 and Type-6 by the major protagonists marked a step change in capability. The French in particular took measures to increase the proportion of CWs in their formations.  


The Franco-German War of 2292-93 saw CWs again employed in large numbers and in increasingly influential roles. The initial fighting was concentrated in the urban sprawl of the Rhineland, terrain ideal for the employment of CWs. The French deployed large numbers of walkers, mostly in the hands of conscript infantry units. The Germans used far fewer CWs, with most concentrated in Bavarian formations.


French CWs suffered heavy casualties in the fighting, primarily falling victim to opposing infantry units. This was largely as a result of poorly thought out training of the French conscripts which had concentrated on the employment of CWs as a single arm and cooperation with infantry had received a much lower priority. Consequently the French CWs were frequently vulnerable to ambush when not closely supported by their own infantry. This elementary lesson was learned the hard way and towards the end of the fighting cooperation was greatly improved. In some of the better French units such as the Légion, Marines and Zouaves these problems were less prevalent.    


Bavarian CWs on the other hand worked in well organised combined arms teams and proved much less vulnerable. The main CW used was the Kz-VI with small numbers of Kz-VII entering service in the last weeks of the war. The other German States had much less experience with CWs and many had only just introduced them and consequently were notably less effective than the Bavarians and often making similar mistakes as the French. German CWs were also involved in some of the assaults in the III Korps offensive through the Ardennes to Picardie and proved useful in reducing French strongpoints. 


Pure walker-on-walker actions were relatively rare, but when they did occur the results were often in the favour of the French, although in these engagements the skills of the CW pilots counting for more than the type of CW they used. Several CW aces emerged during the war and were celebrated in the press. French CWs would play a limited but vital role in the Battle of Picardie, aiding the defence of the village strongpoint pivots that formed the framework of the French defences.


There was relatively little time for the evolution of CW technologies and operations during the War of German Reunification but it did confirm several lessons of previous conflicts and cement the position of CWs in the orders of battle. It also identified future improvements in the next generation of CWs, although with the French having large numbers of BH-21s and Germany just having introduced the Kz-VII these improvements were not immediately implemented. 


The next big challenge for CWs was the Kafer War. The French deployed two battalions, some 250 BH-21s, to the world of Aurore to help defeat the alien invaders. These highly trained units performed excellently. They often operated on their own in raids against Kafer rear areas, but more frequently worked with conventional infantry units. Indeed French battle schools were soon set up to train militia and other troops in CW operations. CWs were soon shown to be effective battle winners against the Kafers.


The 2301 Kafer offensive into the French Arm brought more and more CWs into action, in particular on Kimanjano, Beta Canum and Joi. The Japanese deployed large numbers of CWs on Joi to counter the Kafer invasion in the hands of the marines, militia and the paramilitary police. British regulars took their capable new Bowman CWs into action on Beta Canum for the first time and coped with a steep learning curve. In turn American Marines deployed their license built BH-21s in action alongside their French allies. Every major nation deployed hundreds of CWs against the Kafers with even more flooding into the French Arm with the Liberation. CWs have become a mainstay of the lingering and bloody effort to remove Kafer remnants from all of the previously occupied human colony worlds. 


New walkers are coming into service with many nations. The French are finally adopting the BH-25, the Germans have their Project Zerstörer ready to succeed the Kz-VII Aufs B and the Manchurian Type-7 is set to take over from the Type-D6. Older models are being handed down to colonial forces in many places.


Over the past 50 years the CW has evolved from a marginal but glamorous combat system to an integral part of most light role dismounted close combat operations. Thanks to the experience of recent operations CWs have developed into a mature and well regarded weapon system.







It is generally accepted that there are four generations of combat walker designs.


The 1st Generation includes Manchurian Type-1s and -2s. These were the earliest designs with limited mobility and combat power. These designs were also notable for their relatively poor reliability.


The 2nd Generation includes French BH-21s and Manchurian Type-3s and -4s. These are much more capable designs with weapons capable of engaging light AFVs and superior mobility and decent armour. These were also the first designs with enhanced communications and sensor capabilities.


The 3rd Generation are the French BH-25, Manchurian Type-6, German Kz-VII and British Bowman. These generally carry multiple weapon systems and have enhanced mobility, including the ability for exos to crawl.


The 4th Generation are designs still on the drawing board or at prototype stage. These include the Type-7, Zerstörer and other designs which look likely to make a step up in capability over those already in service.




The one common denominator of the Combat Walker is that is has legs as its main source of mobility. These are however two main types of CW chassis; known as ‘Exos’ and ‘Pods’.


Exos are exoskeleton type designs in which the pilot stands or sits inside the walker. The pilot controls the walker by moving his own limbs which are slaved to the walker’s limbs. In general the pilot’s arms and legs protrude only into the upper limbs of the walker outside the main body. Exos are most common in Western militaries, although most Japanese designs are also Exos. In general the Exos have a smaller profile than Pods and are capable of more precise control; however they are notably more tiring to operate over prolonged periods.


Pods are walkers where the pilot is enclosed entirely in the central hull or Pod. The limbs are controlled by the pilot manipulating conventional vehicle controls; these inputs are interpreted by the control system and acted on by servo motors. Typically pods are more comfortable and easier to operate and can be better armed and armoured. They are usually larger and are capable of less precision than Exos.




CWs require a power supply to operate, powering the drive train as well as sensors, life support and weapons systems. The vast majority of CW designs use internal rechargeable battery cells for their powerplant. These can be recharged in-place although many designs have removable cells that can be swapped out for a more rapid turn around.  


Current military CW powerplants are in the 1-5kW range, or 10% or less of the power used in the average Hover APC or half that of a Range Truck. Powerplants are becoming increasingly powerful to cope with the additional armour, weapons and sensors used as well as more powerful power trains.


There are other sorts of powerplants, although these are less widely used. The Australians use a flywheel system to power their Cassowary design. Heavier commercial walkers have been known to have more powerful fuel cells and some racing walkers on Syuhlahm have even been known to use MHD turbines. However these sorts of powerplants are not in common military service, although it is rumoured the next generation of Manchurian CWs may introduce these powerplants. Although bulkier MHD powerplants could allow the installation of ACV style jump jets to enhance mobility.    




Mobility for CWs is obviously reliant on their legs. Powered by the powerplant they are moved by the drive train, which is a combined drive and suspension system including servos and shock absorbers. The advent of Beanstalk materials technology has meant that the drive trains in third generation walkers are becoming increasingly powerful. 


The speed of exo type walkers is constrained by the physical constraints of the pilot. The stride is longer and so covers ground faster; however running will tire the pilot. Most modern walkers are set up so the effort taken to move the CW is actually less than walking normally, although when moving across harsh terrain or when the system is damaged it can become very tiring. The great benefit of exo type walkers is that a human remains in the control loop and can use his own sense of balance to aid the movement of the CW. This is especially useful when crossing uneven ground or operating inside a city when the extra agility reveals itself.  


The speed of pod systems is limited by the power of the CW and the control algorithms for the legs. Consequently pods are generally faster than exos and can maintain this speed as long as the power holds out. However the pod CW is reliant on its own sensors and control programming for feedback to maintain balance and mobility, and most have low power LIDAR or radar scanning the ground ahead of it. This means that pods are much less agile and handle more like conventional vehicles. They can be particularly sluggish in severe terrain, and boggy ground in particular can be a bane for pods.  


A small number of larger walker models have been designed with four, rather than two legs. Generally known as spiders they have seen service as heavy weapons platforms and are classed as pods. Four legged designs are not seen as offering much more than conventional vehicles and so are not common. However those that do exist are notably more powerfully armed and better armoured than two legged CWs.    


Since the introduction of CWs people have looked for ways to increase their mobility. The main way is in adding a second movement system, most normally wheels, for greater speed on suitable terrain. However this has not proved particularly successful so far as the second system inevitably increases complexity, breakdowns and power usage. Also increased speed has proven to lead to CW instability thanks to high centres of gravity. Recently Syuhlahm based walker manufacturers have developed a system for pod based designs which crouch and lock in position for a much lower CoG. This has yet to reach mainstream military CWs however.




CW control systems are inevitably sophisticated and complicated, relying on powerful computing systems regardless of whether they are for exo or pod types. Control systems are being constantly evolved and improved and a good CWCS can make all the difference between a mediocre and a world leading CW design. The more advanced the CWCS the faster reacting the CW is and the more precisely it can manoeuvre.   


As well as controlling movement these electronic systems integrate sensor and communications functions as well as weapon systems. Most walkers have back up ROM systems to provide redundant movement capability should the main control system be knocked out.


The fire control systems are naturally very important and combine sensor data with weapon performance parameters. To get the best out of these systems they must be boresighted and zeroed on a fairly regular basis. Failure to do this will result in a decline in accuracy. In combat adjustments can be made to ‘combat zero’ the weapon’s fall of shot, however this is obviously far from ideal as the first few shots are the most important. 


Sensors and Communications


The enhanced combat power offered by the CW is due as much to the package of sensors and communications that it carries as to its weapons loads. A CW can carry sensors that are just not available to the average infantry soldier. These include high magnification optics with thermal imaging and image intensification, millimetre wave radar, LIDAR and many other systems. The CW can ‘see’ far beyond the ordinary infantry and almost as far as conventional AFVs.


Similarly communications are much enhanced with long range radio communications systems and datalinks while some CWs can carry satellite communication systems. Many walkers are equipped with a range of Electronic Warfare systems such as ECM, ECCM and ESM. Each CW becomes a node in the wider battlenet and most are set up to act as relays for nearby communications systems.  




The survivability of CWs is largely a function of their profile, agility and armour. Although usually above 3 metres in height CWs can vary dramatically in their signature thanks to clever design and use of masking. Much thought is given to emission control and heat venting to reduce thermal profile, in addition most CWs can be well camouflaged with conventional materials.


Agility is very handy when in close combat where many of the more dexterous CWs can dodge into cover with the ease of a, somewhat large, infantry soldier. CWs can be much less vulnerable than conventional vehicles when operating in close terrain. In turn pod systems can often crouch very low to reduce signature, a factor that is useful when fighting on the defensive in open ground from prepared positions. The pod can ‘pop up’ to a hull down position, fire and then crouch to avoid any return fire very rapidly.


CWs have become increasingly heavily armoured. Early walkers carried little more armour than the average infantryman. This increased on 2nd generation CWs but still left them vulnerable to some infantry carried weapons, while most modern designs are now vulnerable only to heavy weapons. Current armour systems include ceramics, ballistic liners and diamond meshes. Armour coverage concentrates on the vulnerable central hull while lower limbs are designed with easy replacement in mind.


Walkers rarely carry supplementary appliqué armour kits due to the increase in loading and stress this places on the chassis and drive train. However some have been seen carrying lightweight reactive armour packs to increase main hull protection against HEAT weapons.


The CW also enhances the survivability of the pilot by offering integral NBC protection in addition to food, water and bodily waste disposal.


Auxiliary Systems


Most CWs are equipped with arms which can be used either for manipulation or as weapon mounts. Manipulation tasks require an external robotic hand which is usually controlled by the pilot via waldo devices or control macros on conventional controls. Arms can be heavy duty systems used for moving heavy equipment or capable of close combat while others are small and intend only limited use such as opening doors.  


Some CWs are capable or being dropped by parachute. This can be achieved either by placing the CW on a specially designed high impact pallet or by having the CW equipped with hard points and reinforced lower limb shock absorbers. 


Similarly some CWs can be modified to allow scaling of vertical surfaces such as buildings or cliffs. This usually requires the installation of load carrying points, winches, harpoons and special foot and hand modifications. Except for highly specialised vehicles such as the Japanese ‘spider’ this should not be undertaken without the aid of non-CW mounted climbers or mountain leaders. 




Like humans CWs can travel significant distances on their feet alone. However this can result in excessive tiredness for the operator as well as wear and additional maintenance on the walkers. As a result to be completely effective most CW units include external transportation platforms. Most often these are simple un-armoured ‘low loaders’ which the CWs can mount and dismount from easily. However being un-armoured they are not suitable to take into combat environments.


There are more specialised vehicles for moving CWs into areas where direct fire attacks are likely. These are predominantly converted Hover APCs which have been modified with back mounted racks to allow CWs to walk onto the APC. The CWs are usually external as getting CWs quickly inside even large APCs can be very problematical.


CWs can be relatively easily moved by transport aircraft and even landers, but their size makes them rather difficult to quickly embark and disembark from conventional medium lift VTOL transports. However some transports, like the German Vampir deep assault X-wing, have been specially designed to embark a number of Kz-VIIs and their supporting infantry. In general the transporting and rigging of CW for movement on aircraft is a fairly specialist skill.


When specialist vehicles have been developed this usually fixes the dimensions of the CWs for a number of generations. For example the Vampir was designed initially for the Kz-VI and the succeeding Kz-VII was developed on the same chassis. One of the problems slowing the development of the Zerstörer has been its increased size which would require modifications to the Vampir and LkPzKzTr-VII CW carriers.





Direct Fire


Almost all walkers have direct fire weapons as their main armament. Early generation walkers tended to have only a single weapon and as infantry were the main target these weapons were usually medium to heavy calibre machine guns or grenade launchers. The latter system was also popular for paramilitary walkers as it allowed the firing of riot gas and baton rounds for crowd control.


The Manchurians were first to introduce more advanced weaponry installing Type-62 20mm Storm Guns on their Type-3 CWs. The success of these weapons would ultimately lead to the short lived adoption of man portable Storm Guns. The Type-62 gave the first dual role armament effective against infantry and light vehicles at extended ranges.


Plasma weapons were the next step forward in CW weaponry coming in during the Central Asian War. Originally in the 10-20MW power range these systems were initially relatively unreliable and offered little increase in performance over more conventional systems. However rapid wartime experimentation meant that by the end plasma weapons were recognised as the primary weapon system for combat walkers.


The first of the 3rd Generation walkers the Kz-VII brought in the current fashion for carrying multiple weapon systems in addition to pioneering a laser armament. Lasers were originally shunned by designers as they would impose a heavy drain on the walker’s power supply. However with more advanced models available and main armament becoming increasingly powerful there was a niche for an accurate precision weapon as a secondary weapon. However lasers have yet to achieve universal acceptance, with some nations preferring to retain machine guns for suppressive effect.


The current standard of weapons is for a plasma gun in the 20-30MW power range as the main armament for engaging armoured targets or fortifications. Secondary weapons are generally either lasers, machine guns or grenade launchers for suppression of infantry. However there are a number of countries who have more idiosyncratic weapon mixes.  


Weapon mountings vary with the chassis type. Exo walkers usually carry weapons on their arms or on the shoulder. Arm mounted weapons have a better arc of fire but shoulder mounts are more stable and are better for heavy weapons. Pod walkers can mount weapons is a turret on the top of the hull, providing excellent arcs of fire. Other mounts can be on the ‘chin’ of the walker or arm mounted if the arms are robust enough, which is not always the case with pod walkers.


Guided Weapons


Guided weapons have been frequently used on CWs to increase their versatility and the range of targets that can be engaged. For several years these were usually wartime expedient modifications but increasingly they are an integral part of the weapon system.


Fixed rocket pods were popular during the 60s and 70s as a method of providing increased firepower capable of taking on heavy targets over a short duration. These unguided rockets were usually in the 60-90mm calibre range fired from packs of 4-8 rockets although larger, single shot rockets were available. The main limitation was accuracy as the pods were usually fixed to the main hull and aiming was often problematical. As more versatile weapons came into service rockets were phased out.  


Infantry guided LAWs were also popular early additions. Although relatively short ranged they could be easily integrated into the CW’s combat system and were cheap and readily available. These have largely been replaced with dedicated anti-tank guided weapons with greater reach and punch. It is usual for these weapons to be mounted on specially modified fire support walkers or with 3rd Generation CWs in specialist weapon packs.


Lastly anti-aircraft missiles have also been known to be carried, although these are very much specialist walkers. Almost uniquely the Japanese Ground Forces uses the Type-5 Air Defence Walker for its dedicated short-range air defence units in combination with conventional vehicles.   


Indirect Fire


Indirect fire weapons are not commonly used with CWs. In general only those equipped with grenade launchers are capable of short range indirect fire. There have been some CWs modified to carry light and medium automatic mortars, however the high centre of gravity means the walker must be stationary and crouched to fire these effectively. The CW also doesn’t carry sufficient ammunition to be an effective mortar platform, although some nations do have specialist CW mortar carriers.   


Auxiliary Weapons


In addition to the weapons mentioned above some walkers have additional systems. These include smoke grenade launchers, smoke generators and anti-personnel mines attached to the hull for close combat. Paramilitary walkers have been known to be equipped with electrified hulls and sonic stunners to assist in riot control.


Walkers with hands can also carry additional weapons, including conventional infantry weapons if the hands are of the correct dimension. Hand carried weapons pods have been a feature of the Kafer War but have not gained widespread acceptance. Due to the relatively unsecured mounting they lack accuracy and are difficult to effectively tie into the combat system. However area weapons, such as flame thrower packs, have proved useful on occasion.   


Close combat weapons such as batons, staffs and even edged weapons can also be used, but these weapons are usually ad-hoc additions grabbed in the course of battle. One exception are the ‘tiger claws’ used by the Armoured Commando on Crater in close combat with Kafer infantrymen, but even these are of dubious effectiveness and used more to enhance the unit’s media image.



Role and Tactics


Infantry Support


For most operators the raison d’être of the CW is to support the infantry soldier. In many ways a similar role to the original Tanks of World War 1, to operate in close proximity to the infantry and provide them with intimate fire support. CWs are able to bring a high volume of fire on to any target holding up the infantry advance. Similarly in a retreat CWs are able to put down accurate fire and move quickly from position to position.


In essence in the infantry support role CWs are fire support platforms. They will generally not close completely with the enemy but leave it to the infantry to clear the actual positions. The CWs also have an advantage with their height which enables them in many cases to fire over the heads of the infantry being supported. Generally the CWs will be at least one ‘tactical bound’, a distance dependent on the ground and situation, behind the lead platoon.


CWs are not ideal for all infantry support tasks. Mechanised and hovermobile infantry generally get very close to enemy positions before debussing and rely on the fire support from their APCs, supporting AFVs and artillery. In this sort of organisation CWs are of marginal value, not least as they are quite difficult to move and debuss from AFVs. Light infantry on the other hand, lacking a large scale of AFV support and relying on the weapons and ammunition they are able to carry, can gain much from the presence of CWs. Not only can CWs provide fire support and excellent sensors, but they can also being forward ammunition for the infantry and also bring casualties away.     


The actual organisation of CWs in the infantry support role varies significantly from army to army. Some users of CWs such as the French and Manchurians use CWs organised into discrete battalion sized units. Other forces include CWs as a part of their fire support assets integrated into a battalion organisation. Finally there are a few that have CWs integrated down to the lowest levels of company, platoon or even squad in a few circumstances.


The level at which CWs are organised has some effects on the way they are tactically deployed. CWs integrated at a lower level tend to be handled in a way that is more efficient for minor combined attacks. Organisation at a higher level allows the CWs to be more easily massed and applied at the point of ‘main effort’ for operations.


In any event the basic operational unit of the CW is the pair or binom, two walkers operating together as ‘wingmen’. Higher formations such as the squad, platoon or company vary between armies. For example a British CW platoon is roughly the same size as a French CW company.  


Assault and Raiding


As well as routine infantry support duties CWs can be utilised in assault and raiding operations. In these the CW’s mobility, armour and firepower are combined to spearhead attacks on key enemy locations. Missions of these kinds require superior troops to be successful as well as detailed reconnaissance, planning and preparation. They are often marked by heavy casualties; either on the defenders part if the mission goes well or on the part of the attackers if things go badly.


The French have specialised in using CWs in raids behind enemy lines and have carried out these missions against Manchurian, German and Kafer forces. Many commentators have questioned the utility of the somewhat ponderous BH-21 in this role; however the crack French troops assigned to this role have managed so far to overcome the limitations of their machines while waiting anxiously for the new BH-25s.


The Germans on the other hand have used some CWs in the assault role as part of their ‘Sturmtaktiken’ approach. CWs usually form the second wave of any assault to follow up the lead assault troops and provide a counter-attack reserve. Manchurians also have been known to use large numbers of CWs to spearhead attacks in broken terrain, in the CAW sometimes up to 200 CWs were massed against Allied defences.


CWs used in the raiding role are often deployed from air or through the interface, in the later case either by lander or by dead drop capsule. In the former case CWs are often para dropped as most tilt-rotor transports are too small to carry significant numbers of CWs which are difficult to load and unload.    


Urban Operations


CWs are ideal for urban operations. They have the agility to operate in tight urban spaces, carry sensors needed to pick out concealed enemies and the weaponry needed to destroy them. However CWs are in turn vulnerable to attacks if not protected by infantry, and urban operations are very much a combined arms environment. The CW is not only a good fire support platform but can also perform as an excellent 'door knocker' to aid the entry of infantry teams into buildings, being able to kick in walls or even as an impromptu assault ladder.


Hostile Environments


CWs also perform well in hostile environments and on worlds with differing gravity levels, although some calibration is required for total mobility. The most notable example of this has been British CW operations on Crater where CWs have been used almost in the conventional infantry role. The use of CWs in space should also be noted. In these cases CWs have stepped beyond the limitations of their normal infantry support remit.    


Riot Control


Internal security or riot control duties are not particularly enjoyed by soldiers but they can be often called upon to perform them. CWs can prove very useful in giving focus to the baseline as well as providing useable firepower if equipped with tear gas and baton round dispensers. They can also be used to break up demonstrations if used with care, if care is not used people can be killed very easily. However foot soldiers like the reassuring presence of CWs in the baseline if only because they draw most of the stones and Molotov cocktails that would otherwise be thrown at them. Paramilitary walkers are properly equipped for these missions but military walkers can often be called out to support them.


Special Operations


Special forces have been relatively slow to bring CWs into their organisations and many feel cumbersome walkers have little to bring on covert missions. However some have found that certain missions are suitable for CWs, such as support to counter-terrorist missions which could involve point attacks, in support of isolated units such as pathfinders and as Quick Reaction Forces. CWs in this role are very much cutting edge designs deployed in a limited fashion in support of operators on the ground.   





There are a myriad of different orders of battle for combat walkers, the following is just a small sample. While the army is usually the main user of CWs other services often have numbers of walkers in the security role.  




Manchuria is by far the largest user of combat walkers, which are commonplace in the military and police across Manchuria and its colonies. French intelligence estimates 10000 CWs in frontline units as an absolute minimum, some analysts put their top limit at five times that number. Many of these are, however, deployed for internal security duties.


In the army CWs form their own ‘Armoured Infantry’ branch in both the Banner Army and Green Standard People’s Army. The main organisation is the niru a formation commanded by a ‘Major’ and halfway between a company and battalion.


The typical CW niru contains 50 CWs. It has a two CW HQ and four 12 CW platoons as well as support elements. The platoons are divided into three 4 CW squads, one of which is commanded by the platoon commander. The Manchurian system includes a vast array of modifications of this basic system and it is not unusual for infantry or AFV platoons to be included in nominally CW niru. Similarly CW platoons can be task organised into other sub-units.


The highest recognised CW formation is the Regiment which can include 10-15 combat niru of various organisations. The regiment can then organise ad-hoc operational groupings of around battalion strength for different missions. For example the famed 621st Infantry Regiment had 9 CW, 1 reconnaissance, 3 mechanised infantry and 2 heavy mortar niru. 




French army combat walkers are generally organised at the battalion level and are considered as being part of the infantry. There are French navy, airforce and space navy CWs but these are organised at lower levels than the battalion and are generally used for security purposes. Officially part of the army the Gendarmerie Nationale has a number of CW units for public order and special operations support tasks.


The typical French CW battalion has no fewer than 125 CWs, of which 25 are held in reserve as replacements for casualties. The battalion has four CW companies, each with 24 walkers, broken into two platoons and a HQ. Each platoon has 10 walkers, organised into 2 squads of four and a HQ of two. The lowest level is the two walker binom. In addition to the CW companies the battalion includes a command and support company to get the best out of the walkers. 


Army CW battalions can be found in a range of formations, from crack light units of the FAR and TIS, to high intensity warfare specialists in the Armée de Manœuvre’s Divisions Blindée, through to soldiers in the Divisions d’Infanterie of France’s regional armies. The frontline army CW strength is in excess of 6000 walkers deployed across the Empire.          




The deployment of CWs within the Bundeswehr is still in a state of flux. Prior to the Reunification only Bavaria and Westphalia had a significant CW programme, with the Bavarians using CWs in expeditionary units and the Westphalians concentrating them in urban combat units. Today the Bundeswehr has CW units in its crack light infantry units and Sturmtaktiken formations. The Bavarian and Westphalian State Armies also retain their CWs, a decision to equip other State Armies with CWs has yet to be taken. The Wachregiment Berlin, however, has some CWs for ceremonial purposes.


All Gefectspanzergrenadier and Gebirgsjäger units as well as the Jäger units of IX Korps share the same CW organisation. Each battalion has a Kampfanzugjäger platoon which is a combined arms formation in its own right. Each platoon has fours sections comprising eight teams, and each team comprises two CWs and four foot infantrymen. There is a two CW HQ making a total of 18 walkers and 36 infantry. The inclusion of foot soldiers can somewhat reduce the mobility of the walkers action en-masse but means the platoons are very well coordinated and practised in drills.


Luftangriff and Fallschirmjäger units have a Kampfanzugjäger platoon assigned to each company group as close support assets. Lastly infantry units assigned to heavy Panzer brigades have two CW-Infantry platoons assigned to each battalion’s fire support company. The Wachregiment Berlin has three pure CW platoons each of 18 walkers, these are older Kz-VIs are maintained in a superb state of repair and turn out.              


The Jäger battalions of the Westphalian and Bavarian State Armies have more conventionally organised platoons, as these are largely reserve formations. They have just 18 CW assigned to work with infantry on an ad-hoc basis. Some of the Westphalian units have only just replaced their BH-21s with surplus Kz-VIs. In total there are some 1600 CWs in service with the Bundeswehr.




Britain was a relative newcomer to the use of combat walkers, gaining its first units only in the mid 2290s. Britain has a conservative approach to CW employment using them primarily in the infantry support role, however its capable Bowman walkers have done well against the Kafers and CWs are expected to become more important in the years to come. Currently the regular British Army, excluding colonial forces, and Royal Marines have just under 700 CWs.  


British light role infantry battalions have a CW platoon integrated into their Support Companies, although in practise these are dispersed in support of the rifle companies. A British CW platoon has 24 walkers, with four 6 CW sections of which one is the HQ Section.


The British have only recently experimented with larger scale organisations, first with an OPFOR company of three platoons and then with the Provisional Battlegroup on Crater which had no fewer than eight platoons in three companies. In response to the success of CWs on the French Arm a brigade of Territorial reservists is forming in Britain comprising four battalions each. This will ultimately add almost 900 CWs to the total, but with the Kafer War on going supplies of CWs are growing only very slowly.




Brazil’s Army CWs are, somewhat unusually, a part of the cavalry arm rather than the infantry and are designated Dragões Blindados, or Armoured Dragoons.  Brazilian experience with CWs has been driven by the experience in the 3rd Rio Plato War when many CWs were committed to action in the Amazon and others saw action on the southern front against the Argentines. Neither experience was an entirely happy one, while proving of some use in the Amazon reliability was frankly appalling, especially in comparison with Cantonese experience. Against the Argentines the then current CWs proved of little use against the Argentine blitzkrieg and were regularly outclassed by Argentine CWs when they came into contact.


Consequently the Dragões Blindados have concentrated on achieving three main aims; achieving reliability, developing tactical methods for the defeat of hovertanks and achieving a 1-on-1 superiority over their Argentine rivals. The first has been gained by a relatively conservative procurement policy and concentration on evolution of existing systems rather than the development of bleeding edge designs. The second two aims have led to the establishment of two tactical courses of international renown within the Centro de Instrução de Dragões Blindados; the Curso de Tática ‘Forcado’ and Curso de Tática ‘Centauro’.  


Tactical deployment of CWs in Brazilian service is relatively conventional and on a large scale. All light and medium role brigades have a CW regiment attached, these units have a mixture of license built BH-21 ‘Zumbis’ and Mitsuboshi Jikishidans ‘Dendaras’. The Brazilians use a system similar to the French with 24 CWs in a squadron, with medium units there are only three squadrons making up a regiment whereas light units have four squadrons. All regiments have two squadrons of Zumbis and either one or two of the heavier Dendaras. There is also a full regiment assigned to the support of the Cacadores Para-quedista although there have been rumours that the Dragões Blindados are pushing for a stand alone CW special forces unit. 




The Australian Defence Force's Field Command divides combat walkers into two categories; combat walker, assault gun and combat walker, assault pioneer. Each infantry battalion has an assault gun platoon as part of its fire and mobility support (FMS) company. Each platoon is equipped with eight combat walkers and used by the battalion commander for fast reconnaissance, direct fire support, anti-tank fire and air defence. The platoon is divided into four sections, each with a pair of combat walkers, the platoon commander and deputy commander each command one of these sections. Both mechanised and airmobile infantry have a platoon of combat walkers but some lower priority infantry battalions and the militia territorial defence units are still equipped with small, tracked assault guns.


The principle users of combat walkers in Field Comand are the divisional assault battalions. These units are specifically organised and trained for conducting attacks on fixed defences and in urban environments. They are organised into three assault company groups each with eight combat walkers, assault gun and another eight combat walkers, assault pioneer. These combat walkers are combined with foot infantry and pioneers to create specialist clearance, fire support and mobility groups within the company grouping. Pioneer combat walkers are also found in some numbers in the assault pioneer platoons and brigade engineer units of airmobile infantry brigades. The special units of the Australian SAS are also believed to utilize several combat walkers on a as needs basis. Total in service combat walker numbers in Field Command are estimated as around 1,600 combat walkers, assault gun and 800 combat walkers, assault pioneer.





Training for Combat Walker pilots varies from armed force to armed force. Some regard combat walkers as a separate arm of service while others treat them as specialist branches of existing arms such as the infantry or cavalry.


Typically however CW pilots will undertake basic training similar in most ways to every other soldier who joins the military. They will then be taught CW operations as ‘special to arm’ or ‘military occupation speciality’ training. This training will produce soldiers who are competent to operate, maintain and fight a CW at a basic level sufficient for most forces. More advanced training is then conducted inside the unit and on courses. 


Some military forces insist that their CW pilots must already be qualified and trained infantry soldiers before being trained in CWs. Forces that take this approach include the French Troupes de Marines, US Marines and British Army and Royal Marines. This approach generally develops soldiers with much greater awareness of combined arms problems and experience, but who are usually less technically adept than the pure CW specialist.     


Almost all nations have a series of centralised courses to develop doctrine, examine technical problems and spread best practise. However each nation tends to concentrate on slightly different aspects of combat operations. The Brazilian ‘Forcado’ course stresses anti-hovertank operations, the American ‘Gunfighter’ pure tactical awareness in the CW on CW battle while the German Kampfanzugjäger Schule teaches the combined arms approach to anti-CW operations.    


Simulation plays a key part in training for CW operators allowing a great deal of systems related work to be done cheaply and efficiently. However like their infantry counterparts there simply is a lot of training that can only be done out on the ground. For many reservist CW pilots there are plenty of commercial CW games available that rival anything the military can provide. Indeed the US Army is still slightly embarrassed that the highest scoring pair of pilots ever to go through ‘Gunfighter’ were Sergeants Juan Jones and Benjamin Smith, two unemployed, overweight and socially challenged CW pilots from the Illinois National Guard. Modestly Smith and Jones credited their success to long hours playing the popular game ‘Walking Death: BH-21, Tanstaafl Thunder’.



Famous Units


621st Infantry Regiment


The 621st Infantry Regiment is part of the Manchurian 62nd Infantry Division recruited from the colony of Quanti on Syuhlahm. Syuhlahm is a world where walkers have taken over many of the roles of conventional vehicles and are very common. When the Central Asian War broke out the 621st Regiment was chosen to fight on Earth and was reorganised as a combined infantry-CW strike unit. Equipped with the then standard Type-4 the innovative colonials soon modified these walkers to more potent configurations.


The 621st didn’t see action until 2283 but soon made a significant impact. The battalions of the 621st operated independently along the front and gained a reputation as always being where the fighting was hottest. If they lacked the fanaticism of the Han Shan colonials the 621st were famous for their professionalism. The French paid them the ultimate compliment of dispatching their own crack RPIMa CW units to counter the 621st whenever they appeared in the line. Two battalion groups of the regiment were the Manchurian spearhead at the Battle of Omsk.


After the war the 621st returned to Syuhlahm to great acclaim. The regiment is still in existence and has become a centre of excellence for Combat Walker operations on the Chinese Arm. There was some thought given to sending elements of the regiment to fight against the Kafer War on the French Arm but this has not yet occurred.


I Bataillon 8e Régiment Parachutiste d'Infanterie de Marine     


The I/8e RPIMa were one of the first French battalions to convert to the operation of CWs. Professional soldiers of the Troupes de Marine, they quickly mastered their new role and fought throughout the Central Asian War even when their parent Division wasn’t deployed to the CAR. The RPIMa CW battalions were among the few Allied CW units who could live with the cream of the Manchurian forces.


After the war I/8e RPIMa were assigned to the new Troupes d’Intervention Spatial who were assigned the colonial troubleshooting role. They took part in a number of raids on Bavarian/German colonies on the French Arm during the war with German in the early ’90s handily enhancing their reputation. They were dispatched to Aurore in 2298 in response to the Kafer invasion and were the first French CW unit in action against the Kafers.


After two years on Aurore the battalion was returned to Earth where it took on the responsibility of being the first French CW unit to convert to the new BH-25 walker which it then took into action on Kimanjano. I/8e RPIMa are a hard, highly professional unit with decades of CW experience.  


The Armoured Commando  


The arid, dusty world of Crater and with its beating sun and thin air proved an excellent theatre of operations for CWs. The British used CWs in large numbers in mopping up Kafer forces on the Dayside following the liberation. They were grouped into the ‘Provisional Battlegroup’ including platoons from several units. When the British redeployed their forces they raised a new CW unit of seconded British personnel, contract mercenaries and local Craterans known as the Armoured Commando.


The Armoured Commando quickly learned its trade, matured as a unit and began to get the best out of its second hand Bowman CWs. The commando is a flamboyant unit which is frequently in action against the Kafers remaining in concealed strongholds in the Dayside. It has six combat Troops with a total of around 150 CWs, a substantial grouping of combat power. The commando has evolved some innovative techniques and tactics for operations in this harsh environment. 


Left Wing Armoured Infantry Company, Banner Guides Corps


The Manchurians have by far the most numerous CW force of any nation with the DGSE estimating a force numbering into the tens of thousands of walkers. Many of these are operated by the Banner Army as well as the regular Green Standard People’s Army, but perhaps the pinnacle of this force is the two Niru of combat walkers of the elite Guides. These soldiers of the Guides are handpicked from the wider Banner community and provide the Banners with an elite light infantry strike force.


The Left Wing Company provided raiding forces for assaults on French political and commercial interests on the Chinese Arm. It is also rumoured that the Left Wing provided a team for covert action on Elysia in support of the rebels but this team was intercepted by French special forces. In the last year of the Central Asian War the Left Wing undertook several daring raids deep inside Russia which were successful but at the cost of their almost total destruction.


The Left Wing and their colleagues in the Right Wing, remain a shadowy but very highly respected part of the Manchurian CW community. They are at the forefront of small unit tactical development and are called upon to test much of the new equipment being developed. It is rumoured that the 50 walkers used by the Left Wing are the most advanced anywhere, surpassing even ultra-modern Japanese designs.


Kampfanzugjäger Schule   


The Bavarians had a rather shocking introduction to CW warfare in the Central Asian War. Their walkers and doctrine were far outclassed by their French allies and Manchurian opponents. In response the Bavarians developed a tactical doctrine that revolved around an integral combined arms approach at small unit level to counter Manchurian CWs. Following the war this approach was formalised with the establishment of the Kampfanzugjäger Schule near Neustadt on the Danube.


Unlike the American Army’s ‘Gunfighter’ programme which concentrates almost entirely on CW vs CW engagements, the Kampfanzugjäger Schule is open to students from all arms not just CW pilots. Students are shown the strengths and weaknesses of CWs in theoretical and practical exercises. Attendance at the school is aimed at junior leaders and is highly prestigious. While Germany now has some excellent CWs, the school is credited as being responsible for Germany’s success against French walkers during the war.   



Combat Walker Aces


The CW has always had a profile much greater than it perhaps it warrants by its military significance. The nature of the weapon system has meant that media and PR are more than willing to profile the equipment and its pilots in great detail. Even though the CW is a weapon best used in combination with other arms there is great interest in the relatively few walker-on-walker actions that occur.


CW Aces are routinely lionised in the popular media and can go on to have successful media careers outside of the military. Some on-line military affairs forums are often dominated by juvenile ‘who is a better ace’ conversations.    


Zhou Huifeng


Zhou Hifeng was the most famous Manchurian CW pilot of the Central Asian War. Although often assumed to be a Bannerman he was actually a regular member of the Green Standard People’s Army. Zhou was one of the leading pilots of the 131st Infantry Regiment, born in Beijing from Han parents he had an unremarkable childhood and a technical education. He joined the army following his time at university and went into the armoured infantry branch and was a JNCO on the outbreak of the war.


Zhou was blessed with exceptional situational awareness and was notable for his excellent selection of ground. He always picked and chose his fights with care, his most well known combat was against Caporal-Chef Eric Bernet an ace of the French 1/8e RPIMa. Zhou and his wingman ambushed Bernet’s squad of BH-18s and the combat came down to a one on one fight between Zhou and Bernet which Zhou won, killing the Frenchman.


Zhou found himself feted in the Manchurian media and went on to rack up over 20 CW kills, in addition to destroying numerous vehicles. Zhou was commissioned in 2285 and moved to an instruction position at a CW battle school. He made a small fortune from publishing his memoirs and later became a consultant for Wu-Beijing’s CW programme. It is believed that Zhou became a covert supporter of the Provolution movement in the 90s but this has never been confirmed, however he certainly fell from grace and he today lives in gentile obscurity in a Beijing suburb.


Nand Singh   


Nand Singh is reputedly the highest scoring CW ace ever to see service. Nand Singh was a non-commissioned CW pilot for most of his career with the 11th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment of the Khalsa Dal, the army of Punjab. Singh has seen repeated action in Punjab’s border wars against soldiers from Pakistan, India and Rajastan as well as insurgents from Punjab’s Muslim minority. Singh retired in 2297 after no fewer than 30 years service, of which 25 were with operational units.


Nand Singh is a small man for a Sikh, but was early marked out for his intelligence, charisma and physical courage. His small stature led him to be streamed into combat walkers as 11 SIKH became the Punjab’s first walker unit equipped with Manchurian Type-3s. Nand Singh quickly excelled and was sent to Manchuria for more in-depth tactical and technical training. On his return Singh was soon in action in a clash with a Pakistani CW unit in the Kashmir border region. In his first fight he destroyed 3 Pakistani Type-3s and began the start of a legend.


Over the years Nand Singh repeatedly lead his soldiers of 11 SIKH into nearly hundreds of small scale battles. The mere presence of Nand Singh on a front would boost the morale of the Punjabis. On several occasions in these border skirmishes opposing commandos sought to ambush and kill Singh but these never succeeded. In total Singh has been credited with 64 CW kills but he has not always been popular with his superiors who resented both his popularity and his egotism. However his rapport with the common soldiers and Punjabi public has never declined and even in retirement he is frequently mobbed when on the streets of Lahore.


Richard Rancoule     


Richard Rancoule was one of the pioneers of French combat walkers operations, although not the highest French ace he is regarded as the influential ‘father’ of the combat walker arm. As a young officer at St.Cyr Rancoule chose to join the Troupes de Marine’s I/6e RPIMa, one of the new combat walker battalions. I/6e RPIMa was an elite unit with a hot house atmosphere and a reputation for innovation. Rancoule would go on to spend time as an observer with Cantonese CW units during the war against Indonesia, learning much of practical benefit.


At the outbreak of the Central Asian War Rancoule was a company commander in I/6e RPIMa, responsible for 25 BH-18s and their pilots and support crews. His handling of his company attracted great praise and he was hand picked to establish a CW battle school for French, Russian and Allied pilots in the western CAR. Following this posting he was responsible for raising the 346th Assault Battalion, the CAR Army’s first CW unit and leading it in combat for five months. In this period he displayed exceptional leadership from the front until he was finally seriously injured resisting a Manchurian assault. Only a spontaneous counter-attack by his men saved him from being taken prisoner.


Rancoule’s recovery and rehabilitation was followed by a time serving on staff at the Ministry of Defence developing doctrine for CW operations and preparing for the entrance into service of the BH-21. Rancoule ended the war in command of I/6e RPIMa, where he again won plaudits for his conduct. Rancoule was an outspoken member of ‘les colonels’ and scathing of French political leadership of the war and a keen supporter of the junta. In the late 2280s and early 90s Rancoule was the inspector of combat walker forces, the perceived failure of the French CWs in the war with Germany combined with his support of the military government ended his career when Ruffin came to power.


Rancoule remained unrepentant about his views and has carved out a niche for himself as an outspoken right wing military commentator and analyst and has written several well received books on his experiences.


Julio Luiz Jacobs


Julio Luiz Jacobs had only a short career as a CW pilot but remains one of the most famous Argentine pilots. Jacobs was born in Rosario and grew up to be a football protégé playing for Boca Juniors, however these skills did not mean he escaped conscription into the Ejército Argentina at 22. He served initially in the infantry of the IIIer División de Monte but the outbreak of the 3rd Rio Plato War meant that demobilisation did not come as soon as he expected. He transferred to the Compañía de Cazadores Blindada 3 equipped with IMCA-1 CWs, license built Manchurian Type-4s.


Jacobs took part in the IIIer Div Mte’s key breakthrough attack into the Brazilian frontier defences. In combination with dismounted infantry and artillery support Argentine CWs were used to collapse key Brazilian strong points. It was reported in the press that Jacobs was responsible for knocking out several pillboxes while later destroying a number of counter-attacking Brazilian CWs. However later investigation of the battle reports would suggest that these CWs were knocked out by other Argentine CWs and infantry.


After the war Jacobs returned to Boca Juniors and later their arch rivals River Plate, although he would never quite regain his early initial impact on the ‘beautiful game’. Jacobs featured for a while in Ejército advertising although he would later become more famous while dating a string of high society women before retiring from the game. Jacobs has gone a little to seed but lives in his plush villa on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.



Combat Walker Designs


Wu-Beijing Type-D6


The Type-6 was the first Manchurian 3rd Generation walker. It was developed during the Central Asian War but only saw service with only a few selected units before the end of the war. The Type-6 was developed from the combat tested Type-4 with much of the evolution done by a design team brought in especially from Syuhlahm. The result was a middleweight pod design with, at the time, unprecedented mobility, armour and firepower.


The Type-6 has proved impressively modifiable and has gone through four upgrades since being brought into service and is only now in line to be replaced by the evolutionary Type-7. The current model in service with Manchurian forces is the D6. The D6 has an improved weapon load including a coaxial 7.5mm machine gun in the main turret and provision four missile tubes, two on each side of the hull. It also has an overhauled drive train, new sensors but retains its original armour configuration.  


The D6 retains the classic ‘clamshell’ design which allows easy access for the pilot. With the legs retracted close to the hull the Type-6 is rather compact and easily handled for transportation. The D6 is one of the fastest walkers currently in service and is also one of the easiest to operate.


Country: Manchuria
Weight: 510kg
Crawl: Not allowed Walk: 25m Trot: 40m Run: 70m
Power: Internal Rechargeable Batteries
Endurance: 20 hours (at walk, trot drains 2x faster, running 3x faster)
RF Bonus: +2

Initiative Penalty: -2
Armament: 1 Type-17 25MW High Energy Plasma Gun with 40 cells, Type-382 coaxial 7.5mm Machine Gun with 650 rounds. External racks for 4 Type-3 ATGW (use Panzerfaust 93 stats).  
: 1
Protection: All, AV=9
Sensors: 9km (+1)
Est. Cost: Lv35,000


Brandt-Hausmann Mle.21 BH-21


The BH-21 is a French lightweight exo design. It is the grande dame of Western CWs, having entered service in the closing years of the Central Asian War and is still in frontline service over a decade and a half later. It has seen widespread export success as well and is in the inventories of America, Brazil and several other states.


The BH-21 is perhaps the definitive 2nd Generation CW design, derived from the BH-18, and has not been without its critics. It is ponderous in comparison with more modern designs, and has a strictly limited weapon payload. While it gained a good reputation during the Central Asian War it has long since been outclassed by other models of combat walkers.


The BH-21 does have its strong points though. It is very stable and is relatively easy to pilot for an exo, it is easily modified and there are many variants in service. When used correctly in a combined arms environment the BH-21 is perfectly adequate. Indeed it has been the human CW most used against the Kafers and has performed very well against the aliens. The BH-21 is due for replacement but the sheer numbers in service will mean it will continue to solider on in second line units for many years to come.  


Country: France
Weight: 380kg
Crawl: Not allowed Walk: 10m Trot: 20m Run: Not allowed
Power: Internal Rechargeable Batteries
Endurance: 24 hours (at walk, trot drains 3x faster)
RF Bonus: +2

Initiative Penalty: -4
Armament: 1 Quinn-Darlan Mk-4A1 20 MW PGCW with 30 cells. 

Signature: 2
Protection: All, AV=8
Sensors: 6km
Est. Cost: Lv17,000


Brandt-Hausmann Mle.25 BH-25


The BH-25 is the 3rd Generation successor to the BH-21 and shares its general layout and exo design. Although it has had a prolonged gestation period it is finally reaching frontline units and is proving an excellent CW. It is a vast improvement over the BH-21 being superior in all regards. It has only one integral weapon and relies upon a modular weapon system which allows a tailored armament package depending on the threat being faced. Currently only limited numbers of BH-25s are in action but these are with the best French units are achieving notable results. (More)



Country: France
Weight: 550kg
Crawl: 3m Walk: 12m Trot: 30m Run: 60m
Power: Internal Rechargeable Batteries
Endurance: 24 hours (at walk, trot/ crawl drains 3 time quicker, running 5 times.)
RF Bonus: +3
Initiative Penalty: -1
Armament: 1x 20MW Plasma Gun with 60 cells, 2 weapons hardpoints.
Protection: All, AV=24
Signature: 0
Sensors: 10km (+2 bonus)
Est. Cost: Lv 45,000


Kampfanzug-VII Aufs B


An early 3rd Generation design, the Kz-VII Aufs B is the current service CW with German Bundeswehr. It also serves Argentina as the IMCA-2. It achieved iconic status due to its role in the War of German Reunification and the ascendancy it achieved over the French BH-21s. The Kz-VII was developed ultimately from Japanese walker technology obtained by Bavaria in the mid-2250s. For a long time Bavarian CW design languished with the Kz-IV being particularly underpowered and vulnerable, however it came spectacularly good with the Kz-VII.


The Kz-VII is an exo style walker with a ‘stand-in’ control arrangement for the pilot. This means that the Kz-VII is very responsive but quite tiring and difficult to master. The Kz-VII introduced a multi-weapon armament and has a precision laser rifle the right arm and a 30MW plasma weapon mounted in the shoulder. The Aufs B has introduced a modular missile mount capable of firing Panzerfaust 93 missiles as well as several electronic and systems upgrades.   


Country: Germany
Weight: 470kg
Crawl: 2m Walk: 15m Trot: 30m Run: 50m
Power: Internal Rechargeable Batteries
Endurance: 18 hours (at walk, trot/ crawl drains 3 time quicker, running 5 times.)
RF Bonus: +2
Initiative Penalty: -3
Armament: 1x 30MW Plasma Gun with 40 cells, 1 x 35-01 laser rifle. 2 x Panzerfaust 93 ATGW.
Protection: All, AV=10
Signature: 1
Sensors: 8km (+1 bonus)

Cost: Lv 33,000


Project Zerstörer


Project Zerstörer, or Destroyer, is Germany’s project to replace the Kz-VII. Zerstörer will be a 4th Generation CW and this step up in technology and capability has not been easy to achieve and the project is behind schedule. Zerstörer builds on the success of Kz-VII however it has been developed with an entirely new chassis and drive system.  


Zerstörer has as its main aim to produce a versatile weapon system capable of engaging the whole range of targets. Explicitly it has to be able to contribute to the destruction of enemy Hover AFVs. Consequently there are two main models being developed, one equipped with a medium ATGW system and the other with a more versatile armament.   


Country: Germany
Weight: 700kg
Crawl: 3m Walk: 20m Trot: 30m Run: 60m
Power: Internal Rechargeable Batteries
Endurance: 36 hours (at walk, trot/ crawl drains 3 time quicker, running 5 times)
RF Bonus: +3

Initiative Penalty: 0
Armament: 1 x 80-01 laser rifle. And either 4 x Luchs ATGW or 1 x 40MW Plasma Gun with 80 cells and 1 hardpoint.
: 0
Protection: All, AV=25
Sensors: 12km (+2)
Est. Cost: Lv80,000


Mitsuboshi Jikishidan


The Jikishidan is a pod style walker developed as a follow on for the Japanese Type-1 and -2 CWs, however the ultimate contract went to a more conventional design which became the Type-3. Mitsuboshi received permission to market its design overseas and attracted a large order from the Brazilians to license build the Jikishidan as then new Brazilian support walker. The first CWs were delivered in the early 2290s. Further export orders followed and many were procured by the Japanese police.   


Known as the ‘Dendaras’ in Brazilian service the Jikishidan has similar characteristics as the Manchurian Type-6 but has a more angular, streamlined pod. The CW is somewhat less mobile than the Type-6 but has a more advanced control system and electronics. Differing weapon systems can be installed on the Dendaras but as these are not modular this takes no little time. The standard load is a 30MW plasma weapon in a mini-turret and six missiles in a vertical launch rack on the rear of the hull. A lightweight machine gun has been added in an external chin mounting.   


Country: Japan/Brazil
Weight: 465kg
Crawl: Not allowed Walk: 20m Trot: 30m Run: 60m
Power: Internal Rechargeable Batteries
Endurance: 24 hours (at walk, trot drains 2x faster, running 3x faster)
RF Bonus: +3

Initiative Penalty: -2
Armament: 1x 30 MW High Energy Plasma Gun with 45 cells, 5.5mm Machine Gun with 500 rounds. External racks for 6 Type-13 ATGW.
: 1
Protection: All, AV=12
Sensors: 10km (+2)
Est. Cost: Lv45,000


Vickers-Royal Ordnance Bowman


The Bowman is Britain’s first general service CW and it is a highly capable 3rd Generation design which shares many characteristics with the earlier German Kz-VII and near contemporary BH-25. Bowman has a heavier armament including integral ATGWs and a heavy machine gun in addition to the same 30MW plasma weapon as the Kz-VII. Bowman has performed excellently against the Kafers, however it is significantly more expensive than its nearest competitors. (More)  


Country: United Kingdom
Weight: 650kg
Crawl: 3m Walk: 20m Trot: 30m Run: 60m
Power: Internal Rechargeable Batteries
Endurance: 20 hours (at walk, trot/ crawl drains 3 time quicker, running 5 times)
RF Bonus: +3

Initiative Penalty: -1
Armament: 1 Green Hunter missile launcher with 2 missiles, Royal Ordnance 7.5mm MG with 3200 rounds, Royal Ordnance L-647 30MW Plasma Gun with 80 rounds
: -2
Protection: All, AV=20
Sensors: 10km (+2 bonus)
Est. Cost: Lv90,000




Appendix 1 - Alternate Designs


Vacuum and Zero-G


The use of CWs in space was a logical outgrowth of their use in hostile environments. Properly modified CWs could provide the pilot with much greater endurance outside a ship or station while its armour provides them with greater radiation protection. Initially space CWs were usually specialist designs, however it wasn’t long until conventional CWs were modified as well. This allowed them to be used with equal facility inside spin habitats on stations or ships as well as externally.


This modification usually required the fitting of special zero-G manoeuvring systems and overhauling the life support system. The French were first with their BH-21C variant which proved itself invaluable when supporting US Marine Raiders in their mission to Station Arcture in 2300. Other types have followed such as the BH-25S and Bowman-E, although some nations continue to use specialist designs.     


Combat Swimmers


Combat swimmers should not be confused with so-called 'combat waders' which are waterproofed conventional CWs which can operate underwater to limited depths but are reliant on their legs for movement. Combat Swimmers are highly specialised walker designs which can operate amphibiously or down to respectable crush depths. CS are self-powered with water jet propulsion which allows them to 'swim' underwater with a high degree of manoeuvrability.


Combat Swimmers have a dual role as close support for maritime special forces operating in the littoral environment or in support of operations against deep sea platforms. Combat swimmers have evolved from powered hard-suits into streamlined pod style designs in the last few decades. CS are very specialised designs and generally in service only in small numbers with navy divers or maritime special forces. (See Appendix 2).




The Spider, or rather the Type-10 Urban Combat Walker, is a highly experimental Japanese CW which is nevertheless in operational service with the Japanese police and reputedly the Lion Guard. The Spider is a lightweight but very powerful four legged pod design with two small manipulator arms, while the pilot has a gimble mounted chair in the main pod to ease his orientation problems. At the ‘foot’ of each leg are a four ‘spinners’ which extrude beanstalk material and catalyst spray which dissolves the material. These are used to anchor the spider to any surface and allow the CW to literally walk up walls or even on ceilings, should they be strong enough to support it.


The Spider is currently armed with two high powered laser sniper rifles, one dorsal and one ventral, which allow the CW to get a shot off no matter what orientation it is in. Currently the Spider is most notably in service with the Tokyo Police’s Special Duties team and is used as a surveillance and sniping platform in support of armed police units. The Japanese military is taking great interest in the design which could prove very handy in Japan’s urban sprawl. 




The used of walkers for engineering tasks has been commonplace in Asia for many decades. This has spread to Manchurian, Japanese and other military engineering units. Engineering walkers are able to handle powerful tools and aid in construction tasks that require brute strength. They can also come in handy when building fortifications. Many forces see them as not giving much advance over conventional engineering equipment for much greater cost, however they can still be found in small numbers in many units.




When initially discovered the Kafers had no equivalent to human CWs and often suffered very serious casualties when they encountered them. With firepower, armour and good sensors CWs could cause immense damage in the initial exchanges and then snuff out Kafer infiltration counter-attacks. However in the autumn of 2302 the human resistance on Dunkelheim reported encountering some presumably experimental Kafer CWs. These reputedly included a four legged open topped weapon carrier and an enclosed two legged design. Human scientists and intelligence personnel wait impatiently to more closely examine these vehicles.


Two Man Walkers


The vast majority of CWs are single man designs, however there are a number of experimental designs which can carry two personnel. The main leader in this field is the Syuhlahm based Chyuantii Defence Systems which draws upon experience in designing civilian walkers. The concept behind these designs is that the second pilot handles command or communications functions. So far, however, these CWs have proved to be too heavy and underpowered to be effective combat machines. Nevertheless Manchuria continues to support the project expecting great dividends as the technology matures.


Appendix 2 - Combat Swimmers


Several different design approaches are possible with Combat Swimmers, two of these can be seen in the British Seatech Systems Selkie and the German Kaiser Industrie Seehecht.


The Seehecht is used by the German Navy's small SF unit, the Panzerkampfschwimmer Kompanie, whose main speciality is littoral raiding. PzKfSchw Kompanie's peacetime CS strength was two 10 swimmer platoons, KampfanzugSchwimmer Zug 1. and 2. on Germany's Baltic Coast and KfSchw Sektion 3. and 4., each of 5 swimmers, assigned to BCV and Joi respectively. During the Invasion KfSchw Zug 2. is known to have been brought forward to Alicia as part of the German expeditionary force while the Joi team is known to have relocated to BCV by means which are still unclear and integrated with the survivors of KzSchw Sektion 3. in the trinational Trident raiding unit.


Because of the primarily littoral focus of the KSK and the very limited number of abyssal German sub-surface facilities the Seehecht is essentially a rather thorough waterproofing of the Kz-VII to Lloyds DSV Class 2 rating for operations anywhere on the European continental shelf. Even this degree of adaption, barely taking the Seehecht out of the combat wader category, means there are almost no mechanical parts in common between the Seehecht and its progenitor. The Seehecht retains the Kz-VII's laser and plasma gun as its primary weapons, although the laser is retuned into the blue-green spectrum to give limited underwater functionality, primarily against unarmoured targets such as divers. The main sub-surface weapons are two lightweight torpedoes, derivatives of the Bundesmarine's standard point-defence torpedo, carried on the back of the walker for use against enemy combat swimmers and sub-surface vehicles. Propulsion is provided by a waterjet integrated into the spine of the walker, giving it a notably hunchbacked look and its 'Buckliger' nickname.


The Selkie, by comparison, reflects the UK's maritime focus. The Selkie shares some electronic systems with the Bowman, but is otherwise a completely new design, intended for abyssal rather than littoral operations and a pod rather than an exo. The pod design is a direct consequence of the abyssal environment, being a single person life-support environment rated at Lloyds DSV Class 7, capable of operations almost anywhere in the world's oceans. The UK is rumoured to have procured a very limited number of Selkies rated to Class 10, which would be capable of operations even at the deepest points of the Marianas Trench. Situated behind the seated operator are both the fuel cell and thruster used for normal operations and a small vortex combustor, capable of powering the pod at up to 50KpH for an hour. Armament consists of 4 missile tubes, located immediately below the cockpit, each capable of holding either a Green Hunter missile or a lightweight torpedo. The primary armament however is the multi-role 30mm 'shotgun' mounted atop the pod. This feeds from three magazines, one holding the same super-cavitating projectiles used in the RN's sub-surface point defence system for open ocean offensive and defensive use, the second holding standard 30mm rifle grenades for surface use and the third a low velocity cannister round intended for use inside sub-surface facilities.


The Selkie is deliberately designed to be as compact as possible and is one of very few pod designs capable of a true crawl, allowing it to pass through the Lloyds standard 2.5 metre corridors used by many underwater habitats (tight corners remain a problem). Selkies are used by both the RN's Fleet Clearance Diving Teams, who essentially use them as a well-protected work platform in support of deep water mine clearance and other activites, and by G 'Gironde' Company, Commachio Group, Royal Marines. G Company has a strength of 2 15 CS troops and 2 15 CW troops equipped with Bowman-Bs. In addition it is thought that the SBS Regiment has at least an overstrength troop of Selkies.


Gironde Company is a shared asset between Commachio Group and the wider Royal Marines, with both raiding and abyssal CTW taskings. The Company is based at HMS Sealion, the RN Base at Lyonesse, the UK's largest undersea habitat perched at the edge of the West European Basin southwest of the Scillies, but normally has one troop detached with the RM Armoured Support Training Wing at their base at Poole in Dorset while the abyssal CTW ready team is stationed at RNAS Culdrose for rapid access to air transportation. G Company also exercises regularly with the submarines and Walrus subfighters of the SF-tasked 4th Submarine Flotilla. Operational responsibilities rotate among the Troops.


All G Company swimmer pilots are graduates of the Army's Combat Walker Wing and the RM's Armoured Support Wing, while a number of them have passed the Swimmer-Canoeist course. G Company also generates a small number of 'bricks' (four swimmer sections) for operations in the colonies, the most famous being that assigned to Naval Party 8901 on BCV, which became the core of the Trident raiding unit during the occupation. Typically the SBS keeps tight control over knowledge of its internal organisation.


Seehecht Combat Swimmer


Country: Germany

Weight: 655kg

Crawl: 1.5m Walk: 10m Trot: 20m Run: 35m Swim: 10m

Crush Depth: 1000m

Power: Internal Rechargeable Batteries

Endurance: 12 hours (at walk, trot/ crawl/swim drains 3 time quicker, running 5 times.)

RF Bonus: +2

Initiative Penalty: -3

Armament: 1x 30MW Plasma Gun with 40 cells, 1 x 35-01 blue-green laser rifle. 2 x Panzerfaust 93 ATGW or Seelöwe Ultralightweight Torpedo.

Protection: All, AV=12

Signature: 1

Sensors: Surface: 8km (+1 bonus), Subsurface: 2Km

Cost: Lv 62,000


Selkie Combat Swimmer


Country: United Kingdom

Weight: 950kg

Crawl: 1m Walk: 5m Trot: 10m Run: 30m Swim (thruster): 15m Swim (Combustor): 75m

Crush Depth: 7000m

Power: Internal Rechargeable Batteries

Endurance: 18 hours (at walk, trot/ crawl / swim (thruster) drains 3 time quicker, running 5 times, Swim (Combustor) uses a separate fuel system with 0.5 hour endurance, treat as walk for purposes of Endurance)

RF Bonus: +3

Initiative Penalty: -2

Armament: 4 launch tubes for Green Hunter missile or Dace Ultralightweight Torpedo, Crabbe Dynamics L-666 30mm 'shotgun' with 30mm Supercavitating HEAP Grenade * 40, 30mm Canister * 25, 30mm HV Rifle Grenade * 15)

Signature: 0 (surface) -1 (subsurface)

Protection: All, AV=30

Sensors: 10km (+2 bonus) Surface, 12Km Sub-surface (+2 Bonus)

Est. Cost: Lv200,000  




Appendix 3 - Design Notes


Combat Walkers, under a variety of names, have been a staple of military science fiction since Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers was published in 1959 and retain their popularity in Western and Asian sci-fi to this day. Combat Walkers were not a major facet in GDW’s concept of 2300AD but this is perhaps realistic in the view of the overall value of CWs in the 2300AD military milieu, unlike other game systems were such systems have become the leading combat systems. So what are the closest analogies to 2300AD CWs?


At 10m tall the Mechs and Destroids of Battletech, Robotech and Macross are patently too large. The Gears of Heavy Gear or Labors of Patlabor are also too large and too powerful, although as pod style vehicles could be examples of one route CW evolution might take. Similarly powered body armour of classic Traveller, the novel Starship Troopers, or as described in CJ Cherryh’s Rimrunners are too small and perhaps too agile to be CWs. 


Perhaps the best fit for 2300AD CWs are the basic Landmates of Masmune Shirow’s Appleseed or the powered armour of the RPG Living Steel.


The evolution of CWs in 2300AD canon is somewhat confused. In the Equipment Guide CWs are presented as being very much a system of the Central Asian War, and the evolution of the various systems is somewhat confused. The Colonial and Earth/Cybertech Sourcebooks both place the earliest CWs are being in-service around the middle of the 2200s. The CWs presented, excepting the Kz-VII, are relatively basic weapon systems not showing the sort of evolution one would expect from a 50 years of experience.


I have attempted to reconcile this in the history by introducing CWs in the 2250s, but not having them come of age as weapon systems until the CAW. I have taken the designs presented as being representative of CAW and WoGR designs coming to the end of their service and being replaced by more modern and versatile types.





Japanese governmental agencies are by Edward Lipsett. Manchurian military structure has been taken from work by Kenji Schwartz. The Kz-VII, BH-21 and Type-A6 are detailed by GDW in various sourcebooks. The Japanese Type-3 & 5 are by Andrew Moreton, the Cassowary and Australian organisation by Abraham Gubler, the BH-25 is by D Hebditch and Laurent Esmiol and the Bowman is by D Hebditch and Bryn Monnery. Thanks to Bryn Monnery, Laurent Esmiol, and James Boschma for feedback especially to James for Brazilian thoughts and Sgts‘Smith and Jones’.


Copyright D Hebditch and David Gillon, 2004