|Manufacturer||General Motors, Ceres Metals Industries|
|Tech Base||Inner Sphere|
|Communications System||Dalban Micronics|
|Targeting Tracking System||Dalban AQ|
|Jump Jets||Whitworth Jetlift|
The Blackjack was designed by General Motors in the decades before the fall of the Star League, as seditious revolutionaries began popping up while the League's authority was eroding, mainly in the Periphery. To combat the increasing threats of the separatists, the League contracted for a medium BattleMech to be built with anti-insurgency and fire-support capabilities. General Motors' original prototype was equipped with a large fusion engine supplying increased speed and endurance and flamer weapons, but these were eventually replaced with more reliable autocannons and a smaller engine supported by jump jets. The final production model met all of the production requirements and by all accounts was destined to be regarded as a good, reliable 'Mech.
General Motors was blindsided by the bad press the Blackjack received upon its introduction. Chief among its critics was the charge that the StarGuard II armor was brittle and tended to fall off, and that its footpads were too narrow and made it susceptible to falling. None of these claims were ever substantiated, but the damage was already done. The Blackjack quickly fell out of favor and only spent a few years in service to the Star League. It wasn't long before production was halted altogether and those still in service were either given to Terran Hegemony militia units or sold off to the Member States. When the Star League was eventually dissolved and the Succession Wars began, few shed a tear as the Blackjack production line on Kathil was destroyed in 2796.
While all the Successor States had Blackjacks the majority ended up with the Capellan Confederation and Federated Suns, and all but the Suns largely abandoned the design based on its reputation. Tinkering with the 'Mech, Davion techs soon discovered that the reputed claims about the Blackjack's flaws were without foundation, although it was still largely relegated to the March Militias. It wouldn't be until 3022 that the myth received its first mortal wound on Xhosa VII. In battle for control of the planet the infamous Tai-i Mercer Ravannion attempted to test his "Horde" tactic against the local Davion garrison. The garrison's Blackjacks took the brunt of the Kuritan attack, destroying wave after wave of light 'Mechs attempting to overwhelm their position, and earned great honor for their successful defense.
In the aftermath of the battle other Davion units began to take renewed notice of the Blackjack, and even Hanse Davion was sufficiently impressed with their performance on Xhosa VII to commission new variants be built. For their part the Confederation continued to treat the design with utter contempt, although the breakaway nation of St. Ives Compact couldn't afford to be as discerning and adopted the Blackjack, experimenting with new variants of their own. These efforts culminated with the introduction of the BJ-2, built by Davion techs using newly-recovered lostech, which was first a refit kit before limited production restarted at General Motor's Kathil plant in 3054. Further variants would continue to be produced by both St. Ives and the Federated Suns, and eventually a new OmniMech version of the Blackjack was completed in 3058.
Weapons and Equipment
The Blackjack carries two Whirlwind-L Autocannon/2s in either arm for long range, direct fire support. While these autocannons provide excellent reach and were sufficient for combating mostly non-'Mech insurgents, they lacked the firepower to deal with well-armored targets. Both weapons are fed from a single ton of ammo located within the center torso. For close combat, the Blackjack has four Intek Medium Lasers, one in either arm and one in both left and right sides of the torso. These lasers, when combined with the Blackjacks maneuverability, make the 'Mech very dangerous and an entire lance or company of Blackjacks can lay down impressive firepower.
A Whitworth Jetlift jump jet in either leg give the Blackjack a jumping distance of 120 meters. These were added late in the design's development, compensation for using the GM 180 fusion engine which was smaller than in the original. Eight and a half tons of armor protect the Blackjack while eleven heat sinks keep it cool during combat.
- Early Blackjack prototype differed from the production model significantly. It was armed with twin GM Flashpoint flamers and additional heat sinks in place of each autocannon and was powered by a VOX 225 power plant allowing it for greater speed than the later models, but lacked the jumpjets.
- The 1DB Blackjack is a Federated Suns variant intended to increase the 'Mech's lethality. Introduced in 3022 after the BJ-1's success on Xhosha VII, one ton of armor along with the arm-mounted autocannons and lasers were replaced with two Large Lasers and six extra heat sinks added to the design to handle the extra heat load. BV (1.0) = 881, BV (2.0) = 1,015
- The 1DC Blackjack is another variant inspired by the Xhosha VII battle and was introduced a year after the similar 1DB. Rather than replace the arm-mounted weapons the 1DC sacrifices the 'Mech's jumping ability in order to add two Small Lasers and an additional heat sink to deal with the extra heat load. BV (1.0) = 718, BV (2.0) = 917
- The BJ-2 was introduced in 3052 by the Federated Suns as the new production model of the Blackjack, based on earlier experimental designs. It upgrades the 'Mech with two Diverse Optics Sunbeam ER Large Lasers in place of the autocannons and removes the medium lasers for four Hovertec Streak SRM-2 launchers, two each in the left and right sides of the torso. One ton of ammo for the launchers is kept in the left torso while the standard heat sinks were upgraded to double heat sinks. [note, the BJ-2 was errata'd to use double heat sinks by FASA Corporation after its release] BV (1.0) = 858, BV (2.0) = 1,148
- Built by the Capellan Confederation on St. Ives during the Fourth Succession War, this 'Mech was probably the first in decades if not centuries to feature Double Heat Sinks, a revolutionary re-discovered technology. It is implied that the heat sinks were actually stolen from the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth, but in any case the BJ-3 was the first regular variant to employ them again as part of its standard loadout (as opposed to field refits or ancient Star League era 'Mechs). The superior heat dissipation allowed the 'Mech to be equipped with two Ceres Arms Smasher PPCs and four medium laser]]s. The majority of the BJ-3 models were turned over to the Federated Suns by the St. Ives Compact after the Fourth Succession War, following that state's secession from the Confederation during the war, but production continued domestically within the St. Ives Compact, predominantly but not exclusively for St. Ives Compact forces, afterwards. BV (1.0) = 1,099, BV (2.0) = 1,271
- Many Blackjacks in the Federated Suns were upgraded to this model during the FedCom Civil War. A half-ton of armor is removed, though it is upgraded to Light Ferro-Fibrous, resulting in almost the same amount of armor protection. All the weapons of the BJ-2 were stripped out and a Light Fusion Engine was included to free up additional mass. Each arm mounts a Light Autocannon/5 and an ER Medium Laser, while two tons of CASE-protected ammo in each torso allow the BJ-4 to make use of special munitions. A Targeting Computer makes all the weapons more accurate. BV (1.0) = ??, BV (2.0) = 1,063
- Record Sheets: 3039, 2nd Ed., p. 48
- MUL online date for the Blackjack (BattleMech)
- Combat Operations, p. 126
- Record Sheets: 3039, p. 110
- Technical Readout: 3025 Revised, p. 46-47
- Technical Readout: 3039, p. 128-129
- Technical Readout: 3050 Upgrade, p. 46-47
- Technical Readout: 3058, p. 88
- Record Sheets: 3039, p. 111
- Record Sheets: 3039, p. 112
- Record Sheets: 3145 New Tech, New Upgrades, p. 111
- Proprietary short story
- Battlepack: Fourth Succession War, p. 37 "New 'Mechs - BJ-3 Blackjack"
- Record Sheets: 3039, p. 113
- Objective Raids, p.148
- Master Unit List: Battle Values, p. 73
- Combat Operations
- Master Unit List
- Master Unit List: Battle Values
- Record Sheets: 3050 Upgrade (Inner Sphere)
- Technical Readout: 3025
- Technical Readout: 3025 Revised
- Technical Readout: 3039
- Technical Readout: 3050
- Technical Readout: 3050 Revised
- Technical Readout: 3050 Upgrade
- Battlepack Fourth Succession War
- Record Sheets: 3145 New Tech, New Upgrades