Bad ‘Mechs – Hornet


Courtesy of EldoniousRex

It looks like an egg,” griped corporal Sumners sullenly. 

Lieutenant Garcia sighed. Losses had been heavy on Misery, and Sumners busted up Stinger had been replaced by an HNT-151 Hornet. She knew it wasn’t exactly an upgrade, but she hadn’t expected Sumners to be quite so morose about the assignment. 

“It looks like an escape pod that grew legs,” Sumners said when Garcia failed to respond. 

Garcia sighed again. “Your complaint has been noted, corporal.” 

“It looks like an angry peanut that’s trying to steal barrels of other peanuts so nobody can eat any peanuts.” 

“Sumners, I understand you had a rich and storied history with that Stinger, but you’re a soldier in Wolf’s Dragoons and you’ll pilot whatever the quartermaster damned well provides. Are we clear?” 

This minor dressing down did nothing to improve Sumners’ mood. “Yes ma’am.” 

“Good. We need everyone out there to meet the Third Ryuken regiment, and that includes you in your shiny new peanut-klepto metal egg.”

This managed to get a wry smirk from Sumners, who finally picked his head out of his hands, saluted, and trotted away from Garcia and off to the small ladder that would lead him to the Hornet’s cockpit. Now that she was looking at it, Garcia thought the Hornet really did look like an angry egg.

Following the success of the Crusader, which had gone on to become a workhorse of the SLDF, Kallon Industries started eyeing more niche defense manufacturing contracts. One of those was for an urban scout ‘Mech, a role that was becoming increasingly important in the fighting on Periphery worlds. However, Kallon’s proposal was a design that even on paper seemed ill-suited for the role. At 20 tons, with a top speed of 86 kph and armed with a single LRM-5 launcher and a medium laser, the Hornet was at best a light support unit masquerading as an urban scout. With little interest from SLDF procurement for a ‘Mech that didn’t even meet the most basic of requirements for urban combat, the initial HNT-171 Hornet variant was shelved for over two centuries.

As the Succession Wars finally began to ebb, Kallon Industries rediscovered the Hornet blueprints in the ruins of an ancient factory and decided to put the design back into production. Unfortunately, much of the advanced technologies used in the HNT-171 were no longer available, such as the Endo Steel chassis, Ferro-Fibrous armor, and anti-missile system. The downgraded HNT-151 Hornet was introduced in 2990 and sold on the open export market where it was advertised to mercenary units as a light support ‘Mech.

One of the initial buyers was Wolf’s Dragoons, which purchased a significant portion of all Hornets ever produced. There the Hornet served with distinction during the Battle of Misery, although the Hornet‘s success is perhaps best attributed to the battle acumen of Wolf’s Dragoons officers and MechWarriors than the ‘Mech itself. That said, the Hornet briefly became a favorite with the Federated Suns where it replaced ancient Stingers, Locusts, and Wasps with March Militia units. The Ceti Hussars and the Deneb Light Cavalry also equipped themselves with Hornets, but by the time of the second Star League and the FedCom Civil War, the Hornet had long been surpassed by superior designs in every role. 

Besides an almost ludicrous design that provides very little protection for the pilot, the MechWarrior suffers from the typical flaws of a light ‘Mech that sacrifices speed for a meager increase in armor and firepower. Although the extra armor allows it to withstand strikes from similarly light ‘Mechs such as the Locust or Stinger, and its LRM-5 launcher allows it to engage at distances typically reserved for much larger units, the Hornet lacks the speed to disengage when it’s confronted with a superior force. Jump jets only partially solve this issue, and commanders fielding Hornets were encouraged to use terrain wisely in order to provide a secure line of retreat for Hornet pilots. Note that this tactic didn’t save those Hornet pilots if the enemy force also had jump-capable ‘Mechs.

In an urban environment, the Hornet was at a strict disadvantage as it loses the benefit of the LRM-5’s longer range. An anti-missile system provides some additional protection from shoulder-fired missile launchers, but the closed-off spaces sometimes didn’t provide enough time for the anti-missile system to react to new threats. 

The Hornet was better employed as light support to heavier fire support ‘Mechs where it could add its long-range fire to whatever target the primary units were engaging while simultaneously defending them from return fire using their anti-missile systems. Jump jets and a medium laser provided some defense against armored infantry, but the Hornet‘s lack of arms made defending against Elementals difficult.

The Hornet did make a comeback in the later years of The Republic with the HNT-181 variant produced by Coalition Armory Inc. under license. Upgraded with an XL engine, Compact Heat Sinks, an MML-5, and a Small Re-Engineered Laser, the HNT-181 Hornet provided additional versatility without sacrificing performance, although the performance of the Hornet already left much to be desired. This cheap but modernized design was perfect for periphery militias to protect against bandits and pirates but failed to stand up against more threatening designs. 


And finally, there’s the issue of the Hornet’s looks which were comical even for ancient Star League designs. I mean, just look at the thing. It looks like a soybean cosplaying as The Rocketeer

As always, leave a comment with your opinion of the Hornet below along with your suggestion for the next Bad ‘Mech.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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About Sean

Hooked on BattleTech at an early age, Sean honestly can't remember whether it was the cartoon, the serial novels or the short-lived TCG that did him in. Whatever it was, his passion for giant shooty robots never died, so now he writes about the latest and greatest in 'Mech related news.

37 thoughts on “Bad ‘Mechs – Hornet

  1. Hailey

    Honestly, no comment I can think of will top the ‘soybean cosplaying as The Rocketeer’ remark. It shares the same load out as the Thorn, just placed in a walking Easter egg.

    1. El Suscriptor Justiciero

      “I’m not complaining, Sir, I’m just pointing out that it looks like an Urbanmech except ugly.”

  2. Vermonster

    So it is a bad mech because it is goofy looking? Some of the criticisms are semi valid, but they would apply to the Thorn or even Valkyrie. Sure, the Hornet doesn’t get spoken of like other bug mechs, but it isn’t bad. Not good either. I can think of a lot of mechs that are iconic but just OK.

    Out of bad mechs already, and just going the meh ones? You haven’t even touched on the Hussar. Or the Fireball. There, two articles that any tabletop player would probably agree with.

    1. Xariama

      Hussar is far from bad. Engaging at long range, and able to disengage from all but the fastest units? I’ll take that.

    2. Michael

      I’d much rather take a Thorn over a Hornet almost every time. Most Thorns have better ground speed, slightly better armour and carry 2 medium lasers to the Hornet’s 1. I would missing the jump jets, but it’s such a step up in effective firepower.

      I am going to be a bit of an odd-ball, but I am going to defend the fireball. I’m not going to say that it’s a great design and the stock variant is massively undergunned, but the rest of the variants are solid. But that speed! It can max out it’s defensive movement modifier while walking! As long as you hold ot back in initiative, it will never have issues getting behind a target to rip away at the thin rear armour and that speed makes it shine in more objective focused environments.

      1. Daniel Levy

        As I pointed out, nominating the Fireball previously though – The stated mission was Elemental hunting, yet might lose in a shootout with one. Weapons range is the same, and/or LESS firepower then a single Elemental (let alone a point) Pretty terrible loadout. Sure, you can modify it but we are normally looking at stock here. Strip it and give it 4 basic Meds? Sure then it can kill a couple per volley. But stock? Was Kali Liao on the design team?

  3. Mattias42

    Honestly, I kinda like it in a ‘function over form’ sort of way? Almost outright ugly-cute.

    That standard load-out sounds like a complete neither fish nor fowl compromise, though, even by Light Mech standards. Like, not nearly long-range enough to harass properly, nor with the close-range punch for urban jumping and blasting.

    With the exception of the anti-missile system. I could see the tactical & strategic draw in having one of those in a mech that’s slightly cheaper than an Urbie, but faster, and thus can act as a ‘shield’ for more expensive units. That one makes a ton of sense for urban fighting, and in a niche not already covered by our beloved trashcans.

    Makes a lot of sense that half the variant list can be summed up by: ‘Switched the missiles to SRMs,’ to me at least. More close range punch, to make those urban fighting capabilities shine more, but doesn’t seem like an outright BAD mech. Just a goofy, love or hate design.

    1. Chaos_noise

      Even switching to SRMs it’s still just a worse Javelin in urban environments.

      It’s ugly and it does it’s job poorly, but sometimes you need something cheap enough to fit in that BV hole. Also it’s reputation as a junker can serve it well on the tabletop when people ignore it far long than they should.

      1. Matt Bowden

        It’s also 50% smaller than a Javelin – why are you surprised that the bigger, more expensive mech performs better.

        For the record, however, the HNT-152 with an SRM4, medium laser and small laser can put about the same firepower as a Javelin 10N so long as you can get the small laser into play.

        1. Some Guy

          If you consider a single ML to be on par with an SRM6, then yes. If you’re looking for a 20 ton package to do a Javelin’s job both the Wasp (1W) and Stinger (3G) have better options, unless you plan to use infernos. At that point I’d consider freeing 5 tons for a Commando. The Hornet has its place, I guess, but the lack of arms, speed, and torso twist makes me prefer almost anything else.

          1. Matt Bowden

            On average cluster rolls, two SRM 6s will do 16 damage (four missiles per launcher x2). Similarly, an SRM 4, medium laser and small laser will typically do 14 damage (three missiles plus both lasers).

  4. Kantoken

    Wait, goofy designs also qualify for this returning thread? I mean, wow, that opens the floodgates…

    But yeah, this angry egg does nothing special, can be replaced by cheaper (and better looking) ‘ mechs which do the same but better… really a ‘ mech of its time.

    I’ve been really enjoying this series, can’t wait for the next one!

    1. Matt Bowden

      You’ll be hard pressed to find a cheaper mech than the Hornet – it’s the flat out cheapest cannon mechs in the game – at least in terms of C-Bills.

      1. Some Guy

        Some of the downgraded Fleas, maybe? The Arbiter comes close but I’d consider it less effective. I now want to run combat between security mechs and a Hornet to figure out which is worse…

  5. Thomas Gebhardt

    Well, it is a 20 t mech that has a 5/8/5 movement profile. It has 4,5 t of weapons and 2,5 t of jump jets, which means it has most likely less armor than the Stinger, and the weapons it has are all over the place.

    Sure you can build something nice, if ugly out of it, but the stock configuration is bad.

    1. Thomas Gebhardt

      Frankly of the bug mechs, I think the Wasp is the best because it can become a killer of Infantry and Tanks by simply loading Inferno rounds. That makes it also extremely dangerous to hot running mechs.

    2. Matt Bowden

      Hornets universally have 64-69 points of armour, so efficient max armour when not actual max armour. This means they have about 40% more armour than the typical Wasp or Stinger and can basically never be significantly outdone for protection by a 20 ton mech.

    1. Eldoniousrex

      Thanks, Pietor.
      It’s always a pleasure to help out with these Sarna articles. I’m always happy to contribute to the best tabletop gaming wiki on the interwebs.

  6. Matt Bowden

    So this is – not right.

    It may look stupid but the Hornet is by no means a bad mech for it’s weight class. It is actually one of the better 20 ton mechs – much better than a Flea, Wasp or Stinger and basically equal to the Thorn. It is also absurdly cheap making it a superb militia mech. Fast lights like the Locust and Mercury are obviously superior, but they perform a very different role.

    Clearly the Hornet suffers for being very light and accordingly fragile, but the same is true of all 20 tonners and at least it has the maximum practical armour protection and can easily generate a good defensive modifier by jumping.

    1. Krulla_Chief

      I diagree on it being one of the better bug mechs out there. Is it better than the Wasp? Yes. Is it better than the Flea or Stinger? From my personal experience using it, god no. The biggest issue with it is that, for a bug mech, it is way, way too goddamned slow for its tonnage and accordingly way too easy to pop. Will say the AMS is nice though, works as a machine gun if you use advanced rulsets, but is also just good defensively. The only issue being that uh, other mechs of its tonage will just go fast enough to not get hit. And if they’re the Flea, proceed to kill a lot of shit.

      1. Matt Bowden

        Defensively. there is no practical difference between a Stinger’s 6/9/6 movement profile and the Hornet’s 5/8/5. Also, I should remind you that the base Stinger 3Rs armament is a medium laser and two machine guns. Couple that with significantly less armour overall and I’m struggling to understand how you could think the Stinger is the superior mech for anything other than anti-infantry duties.

        As for the Flea, are we talking about the version with a large laser but just two tons of armour or the version that can’t shoot past six hexes? If you mean the FLE-16 then that’s exactly the kind of fast mech I said we shouldn’t be comparing the Hornet with.

  7. Kage

    I think the LRM was primarily intended for Indirect Fire, which can be extremely useful in city fighting. But the lack of any meaningful Anti-Infantry weapons does detract significantly from its role as a city fighter, and the lack of an Active Probe also limits its role as a scout. Course the former issue is somewhat alleviated with the 152 variant, assuming you carry Infernos that is.
    5/8/5 however is pretty solid, sure it’s not as flashy as 6/9/6 or 8/12 but it gives you more than enough JJs to hit that +3 hit mod, which are more reliable than running, and frees up quite a bit of tonnage for weapons, 4.5t vs 2t or 3t, Stinger or Locust respectively. And all for less than 1.3 mCbills, which makes it a Charge of the Horde quartermaster’s wet dream.
    Really the only notable downside is the lack of torso twist, assuming your using Quirks.

    1. Steve

      Extactly, LRMs are poor in direct urban, but using spotters, they can be effective.

      That said, I would personally take almost any other ‘Mech vs a Hornet, assuming I had the credits to spend and/or the BV points.

  8. CF

    I will concur: _Hornet_s are not good for urban combat. But I have seen them successfully employed as “light artillery” for a light lance; being able to take on the “9-hex wonders” of the world without getting hit in return has its uses. Drop the useless Small Laser for another 5 pts. armor, and it’ll hang in there just that much longer.

    [sigh] Just because a ‘Mech *looks* like a dustbin doesn’t mean it *is* one.

  9. Joshua Bressel

    I don’t know why, but I kinda like the weird little bugger. It just makes sense for a militia mech, and has a cozy home in the Crucis March Militia unit I’m planning. Depending on the configuration, it can fill a lot of different roles, albeit poorly, lol. It’s the little mech that tried, and somehow makes the Urbanmech look like a rockstar, lolol.

  10. Krulla_Chief

    Ah the Hornet. Honestly one of the biggest killers is besides its armament, of which the LRM 5 is not suitable for a city defense ‘Mech of its speed, is that its speed just isn’t. Sure it has practical max armor, but when it comes to Bug Mechs you’ll always want speed. Is it the worst of the 20 tonners out there? Probably not, but it does have a strong argument with a lot of its stock loadouts. Because if you want a Bug Mech that kills stuff, there’s the Flea, if you want a good scout and general infantry hater that can be easily swapped to anti-mech there’s the Stinger, if you want Go Fast in the most classic of forms there’s the Venerable Locust, and if you wanna eat shit because you’re carrying a single SRM 2 there’s the Wasp. But at the very least the Wasp can load up on infernos and make people feel a tiny bit of regret, even if they are mounted weird.

    As for yet another bad ‘Mech? The Cicada has already been mentioned multiple times in the comments and man, is it spectacularly bad. Another one that might be controversial? The Shadow Hawk, specifically some of its earliest variants such as the 2H aka stock, or the 2D which is actually just god awful. The biggest issue the Shad has is that its initial variants try to go for a jack of all trades route, while not really becoming a master of none better than a master of one. They obviously get much better with lostech introductions or even just the Royal Shad, plus it does have the bonus of kung fu action grip, but it has some of the most boring and honestly just not good incomparison to its fellow 55 tonners introtech designs. And if you want to talk about one specific variant that’s bad, go for the 2D. The 2D is just all kinds of terrible I ain’t ever gonna hear compliments given too. Mostly because there’s just way too much ammo in it for what it brings to the table compared to how much armor gets sheared off.

  11. Charon

    So, I’d have to start by saying I don’t have/know which retcon book this came from, looks like the posts unseen 3050. When first introduced in the Wolf’s Dragoons handbook (which I still have umm PART of) it was a bit different, both in history, mystery and set up. As that was before 2750/3050 it’s heavy(er) armor, single Small Laser and Medium made it basically a match for the other “bugs” add in the LRM-5 that almost no other light means could retaliate against – it was a beast! So, when you add in Star League tech, things changed…

    They kinda made the Thorn as an Advanced tech way to bring it mainstream, in my opinion. Not sure where the Urban Scout part came in, the LRM is certainly pretty limited there, but as a budget urban DEFENDER or SIEGE mech, it would be fine, especially with it’s rather silly two tons of ammo, it can stand off for ages. To defend or attack smaller, low priority targets it would be great, in particular as a lance mate.

    Final thought – Even in later years, at it’s price it would make one heck of an infantry support mechanism (I know, trying not to do mods, but lower tech and all) subbing out that anti-missle system for a couple MGs would let it be a mobile, light artillery mech, with anti-infantry and a Med for heavy support. It can get places where infantry can, but vehicles can’t, and can basically keep up with non-hovercraft APCs and troop carriers. Rant over, but once again great article, love the humor and story telling!

  12. Random

    The only good way to upgrade a Hornet without upgrading its engine would involve maximizing its jump jets and adding a partial wing. Freeing up the crits would mean scaling back the armor from FF to LFF. Ditch the AMS, ammo, and CASE to rebalance jump jet and wing weights, turn the LRM-5 into an LPPC, and you’ve got a long-range plinker with enough of a jump range (5/8/7) to be interesting.

    Replace the right arm laser with an ERML or SPL to taste.

  13. Ceorl

    No strong opinions on the Hornet as I haven’t used it much, just wanted to say great article. Loved the artwork and the soybean joke. Keep up the good work.

  14. Steel Shanks

    Yeah… the Hornet sucks lol. You want to fill the 20 Ton role, just go Commando ;). Has way more fire power than a Hornet for sure.

  15. James Beard

    I’m still looking for the failure that is the Strider Omni-mech. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, an omni with single heat sinks is a stupid idea. Standard engines, armor, and structural materials do work on omnis, as proven by both the Hauptmann and its Clan successor the Regent, as a way to keep costs down, but single heat sinks lose all the flexibility that omnis were designed for.
    But yeah the Hornet is a slow, unimpressive mech. The only other mech that is the same size and just as slow, that may compete with the Strider as the worst omni, is the Capellan Gun (sorry can’t do those symbols over letters). Just as slow and lightly armored, if it wasn’t designed as anything but fire support for a garrison infantry unit it would make zero sense. They’re so weak that an entire lance was taken out by a Succession war era Centurion.

  16. Andre

    Not even heard of the Hornet before, despite having TRO3050 Upgrade. I must have just skipped it as irrelevant as I set all my campaigns before the clan invasion but don’t follow the timelines on lostech. Even so a 20 ton (I loath 20 tonners, well the Locust is decent in the right terrain if you swap out the MG’s for Med Lasers and shift the armour around a bit to cover the arms more) 5/8/5 just seemed irrelevant to me. I also dislike ‘armless’ mechs. Still I’m thinking with a production start date of the SW’s variant of 2990 I might make something of it for future campaigns. I’ll probably bump the tonnage to 25 and end up with a slightly worse Valkyrie (the VLK in my BTU is rather different to the TRO3025 one, it has two LRM5’s, two ML’s, 10 HS’s and extra ammo as I allow special munitions even in the 3rd SW) but as the Hornet is on general sale so available to buy by anyone it could fill a gap. But as it stands then yeah I wouldn’t use one unless I had to. That said I think there are worse designs that have not been covered yet and the Hornet must be cheap as chips.

  17. Nils

    The Hornet was kind of billed as a cheap garrison mech, which it is. It is the cheapest mech available and against a typical light pirate force of 20 ton bug mechs I’d bet my money on this little thing.

  18. PeaceMaker 03

    The Hornet is not a dueling Mech, but as a militia Mech I can see the worth. A lance of 2x HNT-151 & HNT-152 cheap at <5 million C-bills and enough of a threat in being that a pirate raider has to treat it with respect. So a lance for ~ the price of a 55 ton medium trooper Mech?
    Granted flat open plains will put it at a disadvantage vs hover vehicles or something like a Locust, but I can see the use.

    A lance of medium trooper mechs and two lances of mixed Hornets for a planetary militia becomes a threat. Use one lance of hornets as tacklers to engage any pirate bugs who want to mix it up and the other to flank pirates.

    All that said it is a “bug” which means unless it is a Grasshopper it will get swatted pretty easily against anything but other bugs in combat.

    Not my first choice for a killer lance on lance tabletop game, but to add mass to a militia, add threat to a pirate LZ as a forcing function to make pirates defend their LZ( and limit pirate offensive forces), and allow artillery FO spotting.

    Even facing House raiders a swarm of Hornets will hurt regular bugs, which reduces enemy Eyes on the battlefield. Which means a lance of Hornets can harass enemy lines of communication and rear areas.

    All that being said the Hornet is more valuable as a threat in being( initiative sink in game). Weak against anything but bugs, so use it to flank and plink and use it to take momentum away from the enemy.
    Use them as a lance and it is equal to a faster Archer not something that most people want in their rear arc. Loose a Hornet from the lance getting in the backfield and you have the equivalent of a Trebuchet-J in the rear arc.


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