Trailers – an underutilized vehicle

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04/03/19 03:26 AM

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Question, I have been looking for construction rules regarding trailers, does anyone know of any?

Ie is there different rules for 2 wheel axle or 4 wheel axle? does it affect the speed of the vehicle?

What I am thinking about is having a trailer that could be used for the following roles for my infantry …. for any era - especially for 3025 / invading with large infantry units ...

1. Field Kitchen / Refrigeration etc.;
2. Ammunition / other transport:
3. A MASH unit that is right on top of the Battle – that is stabilize as best you can – get them on a chopper and to local MASH they then fix them up and then send them on to a proper Hospital;
4. A mobile radar (Air and ‘Mech) / sensor station / communication station / Military Drone Station – move and park anywhere – limited range but could watch the flank, early warning aero-space fighter attack at the min.;
5. Mobile weapons platform – ie. OS missile launcher linked to a sensor suite – fire – they investigate in the wrong direction – ie. used to confuse / be the bait for the enemy – put them in a kill box without even knowing it;
Or. As a heavy Infantry support weapon(s) platform;
6. Firefighting equipment (or other specialized equipment to fit a particular role) (Think TB2 pod);
7. Taking out other vehicles for your infantry to use – quad bikes – Motor X bikes – jump packs - how about even a Boomerang Air surveillance plane? take off / land almost anywhere as a recon element that most would not even contemplate ; etc
8. Any other role you could think of that you could attach to your APC / long distance scout vehicle.

Edited by Requiem (04/03/19 03:53 AM)
04/03/19 04:56 PM

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Reasons for considering the introduction of a military trailer ….

With the reduction in technology (prior to approx. 3050 – starts to be reintroduced sometime during the 3rd SW onwards) vehicles are even becoming harder to fix (spare Parts) I believe there is an argument for the humble trailer to become an asset once more on the battlefield by allowing a trailer within your mobile infantry the infantry units receives a degree of multi-tasking that it cannot have on its own.

If not within the IS House units then what about within the periphery states?

As their level of technology is in a greater state of decline at this stage of IS history.

Also infantry within the periphery may have “something on the side” thus the need to transport their goods ….. or act as “tax collectors” thus the need for the trailer …..

Also, what is the mentality of the IS military at this stage?

Consider the FS reintroduction of the idea regarding the RCT form semi-permanent role to permanent role – the need for vehicles once more upon the battlefield ….

The overarching priority is the distribution of necessities (food – fuel – ammunition) the ability to keep the military in the filed longer. Then to increase the number of roles they can perform

Increase their ability to conduct reconnaissance sweeps via the use of different vehicles, the use of sensor equipment when available), and the use of a large communications suite etc.
Denying territory to the enemy – mines – LRM missile platforms artillery / battery units etc.

If there are no rules I was thinking something on the line of the following ….

When we look at the J-27 Ordinance transport we have a ten ton tracked vehicle with twenty tons of ammunition on the trailer (dual axel) and the mass of the trailer plus load is twenty five tons and there is no change in speed due to the addition of the load …

So we have the following
Vehicle – 10 tons
Trailer – 5 tons (includes ½ ton of armor) – so 4 ½ ton trailer
Load – 20 tons

So if we take this as the base rule ….

“A vehicle’s (wheeled or tracked) trailer … for a wheeled or tracked vehicle (Nt. A tracked vehicle can pull a wheeled trailer but a wheeled vehicle cannot pull a tracked trailer / ie. wheeled only)
The minimum mass of the trailer (without reducing the speed of the vehicle) equates to 45% of the mass of the vehicle (you can build a bigger trailer for a bigger load - for every 50% tons of vehicle (refer below) extra load above the 250% cap you must add 1 ton to the trailer.
The maxim load of the vehicle (without reducing the speed of the vehicle) is 250% of the mass of the vehicle (trailer plus load)

Armour points rule unchanged as per mechs etc ….
Enclosing the trailer (aluminium / sides etc) equals to 0.25tons
Specialised Vehicle / other holding bays (such as Infantry jump packs) to a maximum of 0.25 tons

The remaining tonnage is as per construction rules for what-ever you want to put on it!

If your trailer plus load goes above this the vehicles speed is reduced by 1MP for every 50% of the mass of the vehicle

Ie. in the case above … for ever 5 tons extra reduce MP by 1

So for a vehicle of 10 tons
Up to 25 tons MP unchanged - trailer equates to 4.5 tons
25 – 30 tons MP reduced by 1 - trailer equates to 5.5 tons
30 – 35 tons MP reduced by 2 etc. - trailer equates to 6.5 tons

Or we need a sliding scale on a graph, going up by each 5 tons of Load plus trailer
Thus, where the tonnage of the load equates to a minimum tonnage trailer
20 ton load equates to 4.5 ton trailer - total approx. 25 tons minimum vehicle (no change in MP) 10 ton vehicle
20-25 ton load equates to 5.5 ton trailer - total approx. 31 tons minimum vehicle (no change in MP) 12.4 ton vehicle
25-30 ton load equates to 6.5 ton trailer - total approx. 36.5 tons ton minimum vehicle (no change in MP) 14.6 ton vehicle

(I think this sliding scale needs a little tweaking! but you should get the underlying idea)

You can then assign a vehicle and if the trailer plus the load is above 250% of the mass of the vehicle you have a change in the overall MP of the vehicle used to tow the trailer

Remember a trailer is the first omni – you can put a new box on it with new equipment as per mission requirements - that is unless you have specialised the trailer from the get go as it were.


Edited by Requiem (04/03/19 05:21 PM)
04/03/19 08:43 PM

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and then we need to consider two other vehicles

the Standard 'Mech Recovery Vehicle
50T mass
can take at a max 60t 'Mech
Speed 6/9 MP - fully loaded speed 5 MP

and the Heavy 'Mech Recovery Vehicle
70T mass
can take at a max 100t 'Mech
Speed 4/6 MP - though with a 100t 'Mech speed is reduced to 3 MP for any 'Mech above 30t

so the overall rules may be more complicated ... you may assume that with the Heavy speed would not drop off unit (I would assume) the 70t range and not at mere 30t Mech. when you compare it with the standard.
04/04/19 02:18 AM

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First opinion is do not use choppers to move wounded. Anything flying should be shot at almost immediately.
Second is being able to fit this on ships that are used. Most would be pure combat vehicles taking up most space. Maybe something that can be stored outside a unit bay.

I would think militia and garrison units would rely on trailers to move things more often then front line units, as they would probably be pushing to save as much as they possibly can outside of combat. So going a bit slower to tow things, would be more cost effective then getting a whole new fuel guzzling unit to move essential, but not the top of the supply needs to some remote location. Even if it is just to train in the area.
And that is not to say you can't place disposable units in the field. Ammo truck that is rigged to explode once your units pull back comes to mind. The portable PPC for infantry as well as howitzers should be another. Hook up to the back of a jeep and go.
04/04/19 06:56 AM

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Consider the following trailers are created like a flat-bed so that when stored within a dropship “six” (an arbitrary figure to be determined in the future) trailers can be stored one on top of another and will thus be classified as one vehicle.

Then like a clan weapons pod - trailer boxes can be taken out of a Drop-ship’s Cargo area (as they are just a large rectangular prism) and then placed upon the trailer – hitched to the vehicle and off it goes into battle.

Thus each unit could have large numbers of trailers, and each one could have multiple different kinds of pods to be utilized.

Thus back in 3rd Succession War onwards the birth of omni vehicles …… Ha Ha Ha Ha ……
04/04/19 09:55 PM

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Folding cargo containers, or have them filled with supplies, so you aren't really taking up cargo space. Maybe removable axles on the trailers themselves comes to mind.
The container walls and top would fit in between the flatbeds stacked on each other. Origami concept here.

The game doesn't seem to have the capability to do so. Might make a great house rule, or maybe something to add into future rules.

Though maybe setting up trailers to be omni compatible, so you could just swap out weapons and such like weapons pods. Then you don't have to have a fully dedicated trailer for each item you need to use/move. Even a turret set up, so they can actually use any weapons they are towing/hauling.
Cranes for repairs or even faster load/unload, as well as recovery of items that aren't intact, like parts of a mech that are scattered over the fields or a tank flipped over in a ditch. But this might be getting into recovery vehicle territory. But then if you have this as part of some sort of cargo haulers, then you can remove the need for those heavier, specialized units being hauled with you to a new world.
04/05/19 05:00 AM

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I like where you are going with this train of thought, yes you are correct.

Over time trailers would become as mult-purpose as you can make a new idea about them.

Yes you could even put one on (for example) an 80t Partisan Tank and turn it into a ‘Mech recovery vehicle.

Thus you have one trailer that can fulfil many rolls upon the battlefield – that could even make some support vehicles obsolete.

and at a cost way below that of the support vehicle they were created to replace - and the technology level fits in with the decline in universal technology idea way back at 3025.

Edited by Requiem (04/06/19 02:52 AM)
05/16/19 12:11 PM

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Some of these are good ideas, but in terms of gameplay they have little use, so they just aren't documented anywhere. I'm sure all Battletech eras have vehicles and trailers to do a lot of the home base work like transport, kitchen, reefer, and MASH units, as it makes sense that a lot of these be mobile (and some have even been covered in TROs).

I'm less fond of the idea of a mobile weapons platform on a trailer though - that seems counterproductive to a dedicated combat vehicle or more accepted forms of mechanized infantry. For static defense like protecting your base I guess its fine, but they're ill-suited to an offensive role. To fire a trailer requires crew to get out, set up the trailer, fire on enemy without the benefit of any armor protection, then package trailer and move on to the next firing spot to repeat the whole process. This works for long range artillery which doesn't have to move around (Long Tom carriages for example), but for SRMs I just don't think its a practical as a small tank or more integrated designs like the flat bed, dumptruck, or the little one- and two-man vehicles used by mechanized infantry. Field artillery units towed to the front lines by a jeep or something, unhitched, setup and fired at spot come closest to your suggestion, but those are units specifically designed for a purpose, not a one-size-fits-all trailer.

Other ideas would be sensor and mine dispenser trailers. As your scouts or common small vehicles like APCs are performing recon or patrol duty, they could be dropping sensors or mines along the way. The unit couldn't scout as fast, but it seems like a fair idea to employ if you were expecting an attack (or luring an enemy into one of your own). And if you're ambushed on patrol, you just drop the trailer and hightail it back to base rather than having to haul that extra mass back with you.
05/16/19 12:26 PM

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If you dig through the designs here, you will find many of us have posted trailers similar to your list, as well as for field guns and other types that are mounted on trailers.

Given time and plenty of paper, a philosopher can prove anything.
05/16/19 03:30 PM

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The original pegasus hover tank was supposed to drop sensors on it's route according to the fluff in the tro 3026.

I will also point out that it was trailer tow howitzers that gave a lot of units artillery in the wars here on earth. So for units on a budget, they are used for assaults.
As we are talking the future, who says you can't armor the howitzers? They have auto loaders for them.
I will agree that moving up short ranged weapons in battle isn't the best way to do it, if you do so while the enemy is distracted, then you can add a punch to the offensive. Even limiting the enemy from going that route without being fired on, has it benefits.
Also, having a trailer that moves the slow moving units into battle, like a Behemoth tank, at even 3/5 would be a benefit. It doesn't have to be a weapon based trailer.
And yes, they do have some trailer units. Normally ammo and supplies, with the Command HQ vehicle being the main printed one for that. Coolant trucks being another.

I do have an small issue with just leaving the trailer with equipment behind. An ambush could very well kill you with the first volley, and the mass may slow you down when you flee. But are you going to risk the enemy finding out your frequencies, command codes and such if they get ahold of a trailer full of sensors, or worse. Use any mines you got on it, against you?
If you have the speed, then you take it with you. If you don't, you tend to destroy the equipment before you leave.
But once an enemy knows you will do this, they bleed you dry of money by just having a single squad fire on your unit and watch you take off.

Now a question comes up about how many items you can tow with a single vehicle?
Have several that you tow and drop off in spots for a better fire lane.
05/18/19 07:35 PM

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Well I had intended that your force could reclaim the trailer after battle, but you have a point that its contents could be used against you. In that case, a self-destruct charge, small weapons fire volley (if trailer contents are explosive), or even a simple grenade should do the trick. I'm not sure this would bleed you dry through, after all, the other side has now exposed their position. Your side should counterattack, and if the enemy force escapes, provide escorts for your patrols in that area in case they show up again. Either way, they won't be given another easy chance to blow up your patrol trailers for a while.

Of course, a Q-Trailer would be an excellent decoy for this situation. This might be the only good use for arming a trailer. (Though technically, it should be constructed as a full combat vehicle in its own right and is only disguised as a harmless trailer.)

Regarding how many trailers, the Mobile Long Tom Artillery has already established a minimum of four, as it has the cannon and drivetrain as one unit, and typically hauls behind it up to two support and two ammunition carriages. Technically speaking the amount of mass or number of trailers is a matter of torque, not horsepower - the engine ratings in BattleTech line up better to horsepower than torque so you can kind of make up whatever you want, so long as its reasonable or explained. (A 5 ton unit could haul a 100 ton trailer, slowly, if it had enough torque and a strong enough drivetrain to not blow itself apart trying, and enough grip to the ground to not spin in place.)
05/18/19 10:41 PM

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One thing I will point out to the escort issue, is how many units do you have, that you can divert some to escort duty?
Then if you have extra, why weren't they on escort duty to begin with?

A simple squad of infantry throwing a grenade each, then firing their guns into a unit that is towing something, may be the only ambush units there. So counter attacking them, may well be useless, as they destroy what is left, and run.

The idea of bleeding you dry comes from the thought of limited supplies. How many towed sniper units do you have? And how many jeeps or whatever do you have to bring in another? Even the ammo on them may represent what little you have left, as you were going to use it in an assault or defensive position. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking they have all the supplies they need for things like this. Yet it seems very few actually have anything down on what they really have.

Of course, a Q-Trailer would be an excellent decoy for this situation. This might be the only good use for arming a trailer. (Though technically, it should be constructed as a full combat vehicle in its own right and is only disguised as a harmless trailer.)
In situations where guerilla forces are using what ever they can, the idea of mounting a machine gun to the bed of a pickup truck, would well get someone to mount something like that in a trailer. Maybe a SAM launcher that needs to be moved, or anything like that.
As for a house unit, it is very unlikely they would use something like this. So I will give you that.

Gameplay is not set up to give you limited resources and you have to use what you have, as that is boring to most. They just basically let you get what ever you want, and only the group limits it.
05/20/19 04:34 PM

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Towing your field artillery around without escort isn't such a good idea as they are combat units. They've also been "trailorized" for an entirely different reason - to support ground infantry rather than the towing vehicle. I was referring more to patrol and picket units such as sensor dispensers and minelayers, for which the reason a trailer is possibly superior to that of a integrated unit is a greatly reduced cost per unit, and the increased likelihood of survival of part of the unit under ambush rather than full loss.

Ideally you'd provide escort for all units, but if you don't know from which direction the enemy may attack, your escorts may be thinned out. Once they've tried to ambush you once, you have a better idea of which direction they may attack again, and can better focus your escorts to that direction. This is why the bleed you dry tactic may not be feasible. (And if it were so, you'd still be worse off having your expensive integrated units repeatedly lost to ambush than the cheaper truck+trailer combinations.)
05/20/19 10:25 PM

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Towing them around normally means they have the gun crews and the support units and their protection with them, that is if folks are following a TO&E and not thinking the game is just about mechs bashing the snot out of each other.

Given time and plenty of paper, a philosopher can prove anything.
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