Burr's Black Cobras

Insignia of Burr's Black Cobras
Burr's Black Cobras
Formed 3058
Disbanded 3145 (destroyed)
Previous Designation(s) Black Cobra Regiment

Westrick's Black Cobras

Affiliation Mercenary
Parent Command Crater Cobras


Once part of the Crater Cobras, the Black Cobra Regiment separated with their parent unit in 3058 after centuries of service as Burr's Black Cobras. They worked for every Successor State except the Draconis Combine. They fought the DCMS several times, and the 30th Dieron Regulars twice. In the second encounter with the Thirtieth Dieron Regulars, they inflicted heavy losses on the Combine unit.[citation needed]

Fourth Succession War[edit]

Known at the time as Westrick's Black Cobras, the Black Cobras were garrisoning Deneb Kaitos in the employ of the Federated Suns when Operation RAT began.[1]

Both regiments of the Crater Cobras were assigned to take Sarna by the Capellan Operations Command (COC), the senior military Headquarters in the Capellan March; the lead formation in the attack on Sarna was the Fifth Syrtis Fusiliers RCT, supported by both of the Crater Cobras regiments, the Second Screaming Eagles and fifteen conventional regiments. The capture of Sarna was intended to serve several purposes; the COC were keen to impress First Prince Hanse Davion with their initiative, due to their perception of the Prince being largely unimpressed by the COC up to that point in the war; Sarna was also believed to be ideally located to act as a logistics center and jumping-off point for future invasion waves.[2]

Unfortunately for the Federated Suns forces, their information on the military defenses on Sarna was six months out of date. Sarna was a tricky target to begin with; although Operation RAT was proving to be a great success, Sarna was still three jumps from the front lines, and would require the invasion forces to stop and recharge twice in barren systems. Sarna also held little military value beyond being the administrative capital of the Sarna Commonality, and the COC didn't count on the rash actions of the Fifth Syrtis Fusiliers, who were angry over being left out of the earlier stages of Operation RAT and who were increasingly obsessed with exacting vengeance on the Capellan Confederation for the execution of Duke Michael Hasek-Davion by Chancellor Maximilian Liao earlier in the war.[2]

Sarna had diminished in importance during the Succession Wars as its industry and population dwindled, and at the time of the invasion, the population numbered a mere two billion, compared to the nine billion residents at the height of the Star League era. The Cobras and the other elements of the invasion forces based their initial drop zones on the information available, which indicated that only two of the five continents on Sarna — Jacarlos and Canoshal — were of any military importance, due largely to the bulk of Sarna's remaining industries being located on those two continents. At the time of the invasion the weather on both continents was hot and humid, and the marshes on Jacarlos had become pits occupied by predatory reptiles and hungry insects. The Cobras were assigned two drop zones, codenamed "Nova" and "Supernova"; Nova was a drop zone on Canoshal, near Nito City and a major communications area, while Supernova was close to the eastern coastal mountains on Jacarlos close to Canoshal. The Supernova drop zone was intended to place the Cobras south of the city of Catalonia and near Svoboda, an industrial center. The Screaming Eagles were assigned a drop zone named "Blackhole" near the city of Backtal, north of Nova on Canoshal, while the Fifth Syrtis Fusiliers were assigned their requested target — Drop Zone "Pulsar," close to Sarna, the planetary capital city.[2]

The attack on Sarna began inauspiciously when the Invader-class JumpShip FSS Nigel suffered a jump drive failure in the second barren system the invasion force were navigating en route to Sarna. The DropShips transported by the Nigel had to be reassigned to other JumpShips, and engineers from other vessels transferred to the Nigel to help with repairs. The invasion force pressed on towards Sarna, leaving the Nigel behind to catch up later, and didn't learn until months later that the Nigel was lost in an explosion that killed all those still aboard her.[2]

After arriving in the Sarna system, the aggressive behavior of General Gordon Hartstone, the combat commander of the Fifth Syrtis Fusiliers, combined with a lack of military intelligence about the garrison on the planet cost the invading Federated Suns forces dearly. Hartstone had his DropShips accelerate towards Sarna at high speed, faster than the DropShips transporting the other forces, intent on arriving two days early and thereby giving his Fusiliers the chance to make their mark in the invasion. What the invasion forces were unaware of was that all four regiments of McCarron's Armored Cavalry were on Sarna, and the Fusiliers dropped in their midst. The initial landing zone was intended to be just north of the Gray River, but the proposed landing site proved untenable due to heavy mud and floodwater left over from local flooding, forcing the Fusiliers' DropShips to ground on higher ground to the northwest. As the Fusiliers deployed, the empty DropShips in orbit detected more than a hundred aerospace fighters converging on the Fusiliers position, forcing the DropShips in orbit to land on Sarna after destroying the defending AFFS aerospace fighters. Despite this, Hartstone sent coded messages back to the JumpShip flotilla that all was proceeding according to plan, releasing the JumpShips to leave system for other assignments and stranding the entire task force in system. The Capellan fighters then began an intense strafing and bombing campaign, savaging the Fusiliers attached aerospace wing and ground forces. The Second and Third Battalions of the Fusiliers were subjected to intense fighter attack with heavy casualties, while the First Battalion was harassed by fast-moving Savannah Master hovercraft. Even with supporting fire from the grounded DropShips, the Fusiliers losses were catastrophic; after shattering the three 'Mech battalions with aerospace forces and ambushes and leaving just a company of Fusilier 'Mechs fleeing into deep forest under the cover of forest fires behind them, the Big Mac used their aerospace fighters to destroy the bulk of the Fusiliers ten supporting regiments, with just two regiments surviving. Ten of the twenty DropShips that transported the conventional forces to Sarna were destroyed; the crews of six of the destroyed DropShips, the FSS Calona, FSS Deborah, FSS Hasek, FSS Haversham, FSS Minos, and FSS Parker, could have survived if they had abandoned the Fusiliers, but instead chose to fight until destroyed.[2]

The Cobras and the Screaming Eagles were still on approach to Sarna when the Fusiliers were destroyed, and were faced with an invidious choice; Sarna was obviously a brutal trap, but aborting the invasion would leave them in breach of contract, placing any future employment in jeopardy. The commanding officers of the three regiments including Westrick decided to press ahead with the invasion, but to alter the plans given to them by the COC in the hope that they could hold out long enough for reinforcements to arrive. All three regiments dropped at the Blackhole DZ, 200 km away from where the Big Mac had destroyed the Fusiliers, after their DropShips made multiple in-flight course corrections to confuse the Big Mac's fighters. The drop was successful, with the mercenaries arriving on Sarna on 29 May and swiftly destroying the local militia forces near Backtal, securing the landing zone to enable their attached conventional forces to deploy. Narrowly avoiding a hidden minefield, the Black Cobras secured a weapons factory near Backtal after surprising the defending militia forces before the munitions stored there could be destroyed. Fighters from the Big Mac subsequently destroyed the factory complex, but not before the Black Cobras had secured significant quantities of autocannon ammunition and vibrabombs.[2]

With ComStar enacting a communications interdiction in response to the invasion of Sarna, the other DropShips and JumpShips in the system that had transported the invasion force acted on the last messages they received — false messages apparently indicating that everything was proceeding according to plan — and left the Sarna system, leaving the mercenaries unsupported. The Big Mac, believing that the mercenary drop was a decoy intended to lure them away from the capital, maintained a cautious defense until August, when it became apparent that the mercenaries were unsupported. In late August the four regiments of the Big Mac arrived near Backtal, where the Cobras and Eagles had been nervously awaiting a rapid demise; with the Big Mac finally attacking, the two mercenary commands elected to make their last stand in a region known as Graves Hollow, a forested valley some twenty kilometers in length, with numerous locations where strongholds could be fashioned or ambushes launched.[2]

The Black Cobras were the first unit to engage the Big Mac, battling the Third McCarron's Armored Cavalry after the Third stumbled across the defensive positions put in place by the Second Capac Infantry regiment. Colonel Westrick moved his forces swiftly along two parallel roads before dispersing them into the woods when the Third noticed them, turning the battle into a deadly free-for-all amidst the forest, where the two 'Mech forces fought amidst the huge trunks of the Saman Pine trees. Westrick's tactics allowed the Black Cobras to hold out long enough for the First Kluane Assault Tank Battalion to join the fray, with the Demolishers and Manticores of the First persuading Colonel Linda Chandrasekar of the Third to order her regiment to retreat.[2]

The battle fought by the Black Cobras was the first of many to be fought between the mercenaries and the various Big Mac regiments, losing roughly a quarter of their forces by early December, whilst inflicting at least as much damage on the Big Mac; despite the lack of word from the COC, the morale on the mercenary side was still high, until the Big Mac managed to slip through a lightly guarded portion of the hollow to surround the mercenary forces. The Cobras and Eagles began what they thought would be the last battle, only to be saved by the appearance of more AFFS forces. Two of the premiere RCTs from the Davion Brigade of Guards, the Davion Heavy Guards and the Davion Light Guards, had arrived with no clear idea of the situation on Sarna until they received frantic messages from the mercenaries. The two Guards regiments skipped the usual planning stages for a drop and left their DropShips on the next orbit, a dangerous tactic that saw many of the Guards' 'Mechs scattered, but with the bulk of their strength behind the Big Mac regiments. With the Guards' conventional forces descending by DropShip, Colonel Archibald McCarron chose to save his regiments rather than try and finish the Cobras and the Eagles, staging a swift, fighting retreat against the vengeful Guards for several weeks before managing to reach his DropShips and escape, less a regiments worth of 'Mechs and personnel. The MAC Second Regiment, under Colonel Marcus Barton, counterattacked the Crater Cobras and Screaming Eagles combined command as they advanced on the MAC's DropShip area, and in one of the most pitched battles of the war, Barton lost over half his forces, but knocked out 2/3 of the Crater Cobras and Screaming Eagles, giving the other MAC units more time to load up and lift off to fight another day.[2]

After the Fourth Succession War ended, the Crater Cobras accepted a contract with the Free Worlds League.[3]

Operation GUERRERO[edit]

After spending twenty years in the employ of the Free Worlds League, during Operation GUERRERO the League assigned the Black Cobra Regiment to assist the Capellan Confederation. For most of the offensive in 3057 the unit was assigned to pacifying FedCom guerrillas on Capellan-claimed world of Zurich, when towards the end of the year they were ordered to reinforce the remnants of Smithson's Chinese Bandits against the Woodstock Reserve Militia on Nanking.[4] Gladly bidding goodbye to Zurich, the Black Cobras never realized that Zurich's guerrillas had planted air pressure triggered detonators in the ammunition stores on their four DropShips. When the DropShip hatches were opened as the Cobras descended on Nanking in September, the munitions exploded and destroyed three DropShips with all hands in midair, the fourth DropShip was crippled but managed to land. The regiment was reduced to just two heavily battered companies.[5]

Unfortunately as the losses occurred outside of combat as defined by the Crater Cobras' contract, Captain-General Thomas Marik refused to indemnify the mercenaries. Enraged, Colonel Burr and his surviving troops broke away from the Crater Cobras and traveled to Outreach to rebuild as an independent unit. Spending the next few years bolstering their forces, the Cobras then completed several short term contracts to earn quick cash.[5]


The Word of Blake employed the Cobras to destroy the Bryant Regulars on Bryant. Supported by Jacob's Juggernauts, they smashed the Regular's lines and captured most of their equipment.[6] To show their gratitude, the Word upgraded about half of their equipment. They were then reassigned to New Home to train the militia units on the world. They spent two years in that role, but in 3068 they received a new assignment.[7]

While in the employ of the Word of Blake, the Black Cobras attacked Dieron in 3068. Fueled by a hatred of the Combine, the Cobras managed to inflict serious casualties on the Tenth Ghost regiment, but this cost them most of their Fang battalion and their commanding officer.[8]

After the battle of Dieron was over, they were stationed on New Earth where they resumed their duties as militia trainers. Their losses were replaced by the Word, and the Cobras expanded to two battalions.[7]

Dark Age[edit]

In 3145, the Black Cobras were destroyed on Tikonov by the Fourth Federated Suns Lancers.[9]


Rank Name Command
Commanding Officers of the Westrick's Black Cobras - Second Crater-Cobras
Colonel Richard Westrick 30253028[10]
Commanding Officers of Burr's Black Cobras
Colonel Richard Burr 30573068[8]
Colonel Dana Burr 3068[7]


The Black Cobras generally use its lighter and faster elements to lure the enemy into a trap and then the assault machines are employed to finish them off. Counterattacks are also a trademark.[5]


Prior to Operation Guerrero, the Cobras had four Overlord-class DropShips: the Sea Snake, Boomslang, SideWinder, and Mamba. The last one appears to be the one to land, but severely damaged. It doesn't appears than that DropShip can be recovered.[11]

Immediately in the wake of their break from the Crater Cobras and the losses on Nanking, the Black Cobras lost all their transport assets and a number of technicians who refused to follow Colonel Burr, but the remaining technical staff can handle most of the daily repairs with ease. By 3067 the unit possessed the Overlord-class King Cobra and a Union-class Asp for its transport needs, salvaging both ships after their capture of Bryant.[7]

Dragoon Ratings[edit]


Dragoon Rating: C–[12]


Dragoon Rating: C


Dragoon Rating: Wanted

Composition History[edit]


Westrick's Black Cobras (Regiment/Regular/Reliable)[13][10]

Regimental Battle Group
(1 assault lance, 1 infantry lance, 1 armored truck company, 1 hover lance, 1 light artillery lance, 2 heavy artillery lances)[10]
Support Battalion
(1 recon company, 1 tank company, 1 security company)[10]
First Battalion
(1 medium company, 1 heavy company, 1 assault company)[10]
Second Battalion
(2 medium companies, 1 heavy company)[10]
Third Battalion
(3 assault companies)[10]

Note: At this point in time the unit was stationed on Deneb Kaitos.


Burr's Black Cobras (1 Battalion/Regular/Questionable)[5]

  • CO/First Company: Colonel Richard Burr
  • Second Company: Major Johnny Swift-Eagle
  • Third Company: Major Helen Schappel

Cobra's Hood (Reinforced Wing)/Veteran/Questionable)

Note: At this point in time the unit was stationed on Outreach.[14]


Burr's Black Cobras (1 Reinforced Battalion/Regular/Questionable)

  • CO: Colonel Richard Burr
  • Aide: Captain Dana Burr
  • Hood Company: Major Samuel Adams
This company contains agile medium 'Mechs for flanking maneuvers.
  • Strike Company: Major Johnny Swift-Eagle
This unit includes all light 'Mechs.
  • Fang Company: Major Helen Schappel
The command element, is also an assault force.


  • Fang Battalion
Built up to battalion strength in 3067. The assault 'Mechs are a force to reckon with.
  • Hood Battalion
The unit now contains vehicles and also 'Mechs for flanking maneuvers.
  • Strike Company
The company contains air elements (2 Yellow Jackets + 1 Mosquito IX plane), infantry platoons and artillery tubes as support for the front line elements.

Color Scheme[edit]

Burr's Black Cobras employ a scheme of black with a yellow trim on their equipment.[6]

Other Appearances[edit]

Apocryphal Content Starts

The information after this notice comes from apocryphal sources; the canonicity of such information is uncertain.
Please view the reference page for information regarding their canonicity.

  • Burr's Black Cobras appear in the MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries PC game as an enemy that Spectre and his crew face on Halloran V and Talon/Werkne. Depending on Spectre's decision to kill or spare Lt. Dunman's Lance, they will have a vendetta with his company. However, Spectre has the option to fight or avoid them depending on the choice to forgo the Werkne/Talon Campaign.[15]

Apocryphal Content Ends


  1. NAIS The Fourth Succession War Military Atlas Volume 1, p. 12: "Operation RAT"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 NAIS The Fourth Succession War Military Atlas Volume 2, pp. 44–51: "Sarna"
  3. 20 Year Update, p. 57
  4. Bred for War, p. 319
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Field Manual: Mercenaries, p. 48: "Burr's Black Cobras: Iron Will"
  6. 6.0 6.1 Field Manual: Mercenaries, Revised, p. 52
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Mercenaries Supplemental Update, p. 38
  8. 8.0 8.1 Jihad Turning Points: Dieron, p. 5: Burr's Black Cobras
  9. Field Manual: 3145, p. 73
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 NAIS The Fourth Succession War Military Atlas Volume 2, p. 101: "Black Cobras (Second Crater-Cobras)"
  11. Bred for War, p. 365
  12. Field Manual: Mercenaries, p. 114: "Mercenary Employment Roster - Non-Contracted Mercenaries - Burr's Black Cobras"
  13. House Davion (The Federated Suns), p. 149
  14. Field Manual: Mercenaries, p. 114
  15. MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries