M12 'Cummings' Hover MBT
By Jason Weiser
The American M12 Hovertank is in many ways a quantum leap above the M9 it is replacing in US service, but it has been a controversial and at times, endangered project. Fighting on Kimanjano in the winter of 2301 confirmed once and for all the M9ís obsolescence and the M12 was rushed into production. The M12 has been in service with the US Army for less than a year but it has already seen limited action with the 11th Armored Cavalry on the French Arm. It has performed well so far, certaninly superior to the ageing M9 and at least as good as other Allied designs and has been well received by many crews.
The 65mm M755 is based upon the design Dan Hebditch and Laurent Esmiol designed for the AC-12. Thanks to Dan Hebditch and James Boschma for their assistance and feedback. I hope somebody can do some nice 3-D artwork for this vehicle, it deserves it.
The meeting of the US 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and Freihafen's Panzer Kavallerie Regiment Nr.11 was one for military history buffs. The two units had the same roots with an American unit fighting World War III in the south of Germany but had since had 300 years of separate but eventful history. However like soldiers everywhere the troopers were soon chattering away, mostly in French. The purpose of the meeting was to form links between two units that might soon be fighting together in an attempt to liberate the colony of Dunkelheim.
The troopers of the 11th ACR were proudly showing off their new M12 hovertanks to the Freihafeners. They remarked favorably on the sleek, hulking M12s with their massive missile payloads. However the Freihafeners, many of whom had combat experience on both sides of the Reunification War, were concerned about the sheer size of the M12. A young American junior officer shrugged off their worries.
"Sure it's big, but it's designed for a long range stand-off fight. The sensors are state of the art - so well see you early. We're firing Strikers - so we'll kill you before you get into range. We've got two dozen missiles - so we'll be firing for longer than you. We've got the rapid fire soixante cinq for close in work and an impressive defense package - so we're no slouches in a gun fight if we want to fight one."
"She's a damn sight better than the M9 that's for sure!"
The M12ís story began in 2294 when the US Army finally
admitted it couldn't just continue upgrading the M9 Lee and maintain its
armored force capability. South of the border
In the wake of the War of German Reunification, the
Americans noted that neither the Luki-9 or the AC-10 or 12 had been
particularly dominant over each other, even with their divergent design
philosophies. The Americans also noticed that most reported French AC-10
and 12 losses had been by missile kills at long range, a trend that
confirmed Central Asian War experience. This confirmed the concept that
any new design should have an ample internal missile magazine, something
the XM-11 didn't have. In addition a new 75mm MDC was having all kinds of
In 2296 a frustrated US Army scrapped the prototypes
and the whole project sent back to the drawing boards. The 75mm was
canceled and the 65mm French gun seen on the AC-12 was to be
license-produced at the Lima Tank Plant along with the new M-12 once a
design was finalized. That redesign process took no fewer than three
years. In 2299 the new vehicle, dubbed XM-12, left the
The testing cycle took a year and was successful, and Congress authorized an initial low rate of production in 2301 and by 2302 the Cummings was slowly spreading out across the US Army. The USMC hadnít seen any of the 300 modified M12s they had ordered. It took an executive order from the President to get more money poured into speeding up production so that enough were available to reequip the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment's 2d Squadron in time for the Kimanjano liberation and the USMC received a companyís worth in time for Dunkelheim. In both actions, the tank did well, competing well with Kafer designs at range, but proving that human designs had no business closing with Kafer ones. The 11th ACR on Kimanjano had a particularly rude awakening to this fact.
The M12 has proved to be a fine vehicle with only some minor teething problems in the software and the MHD turbine, but it is the equal of the AC-12 or the Luki-9 and will serve the US Army well for the foreseeable future.
Type: Modern American
M755 65mm Mass Driver Cannon
The M755 is a license-produced copy of the Darlan C-16
of the AC-12, with some American improvements, namely to the HEAT rounds
which was until recently, something that bedeviled the French version. It
also has a slightly higher muzzle velocity than the Darlan due to a
somewhat longer barrel that has resulted from developments in the pulse
control systems during testing at
Type: 65mm Mass Driver
Modular Internal Weapons System (MIWS) Launcher
The MIWS launcher is a design that was based upon the MEWS launchers affixed to the sides of the M9 Lee and were designed to extend the service life of the Lee. While they were successful and popular, they did little to assist the M9 in disguising its already significant signature. The US Army liked the MEWS concept, but wanted something internal, thus, the MIWS was born. In the rear deck of the M12 are four 6 round carousel launchers with four launch tubes in the rear, the tubes are a vertical launch system, with Strikers the standard weapon.
The carousels can be removed from the tank by a recovery vehicle and may be loaded with a mix of missiles, including French and German models built to ESA5 specifications. The software needed to accomplish this was the hardest part, especially with some of the German missiles as each model had a different software language. The use of foreign missiles still proves more problematical for the gunnery interface than American munitions. There has also been designed a alternate 'Buffalo Rack' which holds four of the alternate 'Bronco Buster' munitions or some of the larger medium-range SAM designs, these take 15 minutes to swap in or out of the vehicle.
One of the drawbacks of the system is that it takes 5 minutes per carousel for a grand total of 20 minutes, which is a long time when compared to some other designs. Consequently while the M-12 has double the missile load of its rivals it takes considerably longer to replenish.
Selection of missile types and load out aboard can be selected by optical touch screen in the gunnerís compartment. The pupil scanner the gunner wears both is his sighting reticule, as well as his interface device. There are also manual switches and sights should the pupil scanner fail. The Commander also has a pupil scanner setup.
30mm M997 PD Chaingun
The M997 is a new American design that is a Liquid Propellant Chaingun with a top ROF of 750 rpm. Coupled with an autonomous engagement system that will engage targets autonomously if the target velocity exceeds 700m/s or it appears the targetís course will intersect with the vehicle.
The M997 has three engagement modes, fully automatic, semi-automatic, where the system will prompt the gunner and/or commander for permission to engage. Three eye blinks within three seconds will engage the target. Manual puts the system in the hands of the gunner.
Type: 30mm Vehicle Mounted Binary Chain Gun
Action: Single Shots or Bursts
Ammunition: M785 30mm X 150mm Liquid Propellant APHE or M787 30mm X 150mm Liquid Propellant
Muzzle Velocity: 1000 mps
Magazine: 500 round dual feed hopper for a total of 1000 rounds
Magazine Weight: 25kg
Aimed Fire Range: 1200m
Area Fire Burst: 15 (AFV=1.5)
Area Fire Range: 1000m
DP Value: (APHE) EP=2, (Sabot) DP=7
Price: Not Commercially Available
The AFVs other armament is a coaxial Mk2A2 Plasma gun with a 300 round hopper controlled by the same controls as the main gun, plus commanders override
Layout of the M12 is somewhat similar to the M-9 but with a lower profile and a much smaller remote turret. The 3.5 MW MHD turbine is in the rear of the vehicle, sandwiched between the carousels for the MIWS. All three crew are stationed in the hull in shock frame seats than can resist a 5-G acceleration and have the latest crashweb.
The M12 has both blow-away panels for the MIWS setup and an advanced, fully automatic fire suppression system. The M12 is fully vacuum capable and NBC capable, having a well thought out overpressure system.