Leopard (DropShip class)
Majesty Metals and Manufacturing
|Tech Base||Inner Sphere|
|Drive System||Star League V84|
|Safe Thrust||2 g|
|Max Thrust||3 g|
|Fuel (tons)||137 tons|
|Fuel (days)||74.5 days|
|Escape Pods/Life Boats||2/0|
|Heat Sinks||80 (single)|
A simple and easy-to-maintain design, the Leopard quickly became the standard lance-sized 'Mech carrier for the original Star League and the Great Houses. Its relatively low operating costs and abundant existing replacement parts (with the exception of the drive system) has allowed it to not only survive the Succession Wars as a ship class, but become the predominant entry vehicle for 'Mech recon, objective raid, and special operations missions.
Four 'Mechs and two aerospace fighters constitute a so-called AirLance under SLDF doctrine, where one in three lances was an AirLance. The fighter cubicles are often repurposed for cargo storage or other uses instead.
In reference to its layout and allegedly also to its atmospheric handling, the Leopard is widely known by its nickname, "Brick".
The Leopard has an impressive weapons loadout for such a small DropShip, most useful to defend against aerospace fighters. It can be easily overwhelmed, however, if swarmed. While it does count on three Long Range Missile racks for heavy hitting, two PPCs, five large lasers, and seven medium lasers give it more than enough combat capability when its munitions run out.
The Leopard can accommodate its regular crew of 9, plus pilots and techs for the vehicles carried. Notably, it does not provide any dedicated extra cargo space.
The venerable Leopard, like many Succession Wars era survivors, has had numerous modifications made throughout the vessel's class, mostly minor differences owing to the numerous manufacturers throughout known space. Beyond production variants, it has been observed that the Leopard can be modified for a variety of purposes ranging from tanker craft to hospital ship. Typical refits or modifications include a tank carrier version capable of carrying 12 light vehicles. Individual ships have also been known to carry an infantry complement, from the context presumably by turning one or both aerospace fighter cubicles into an infantry bay. It is also not unknown for Leopard owners to remove some or all of the 'Mech and aerospace fighter cubicles for 150 tons of cargo space each, to the point of simply using the Leopard as a cargo ship.
Some of the more notable standard variants include:
- Leopard (3056)
- Introduced in 3056, Irian Technologies and Federated-Boeing Interstellar have both released almost identical updated versions of the Leopard, leading to accusations from Federated-Boeing of Irian engaging in industrial espionage. The modern version features improved, though still cramped, crew berths and a more powerful air circulation and filtration system. The Leopard's weapon array has also been refitted, switching to ER and pulse energy weapon and adding Artemis IV FCS units to the LRM launchers, supported by switching to Double Heat Sinks. BV (1.0) = 3,211, BV (2.0) = 3,376
- Leopard PA
- A pirate-created custom variant of the standard Leopard which first appeared in 3075 over Repulse. Intelligence reports on the vessel have shown that the vessel was converted into an assault type DropShip with Advanced Technology enhancements. The ship's principal weaponry includes 5 ER-PPCs mounted in the nose with a PPC Capacitor for each of them. Backing up the PPCs is an LRM 20 with Artemis IV and a pair of Small Pulse Lasers. Mounted in each of the broadsides and aft is a pair of Binary Laser Cannons. Additional LRM-20s are mounted in its broadsides. Mounted on each of the wings, the ship has a pair of Small Pulse Lasers. In addition to the Binary Lasers, four Medium Pulse Lasers are mounted to protect the ship's aft. The ship is covered in 38 tons of Ferro-Aluminum armor, which is concentrated more on the nose. It retains the standard fighter complement, but also has been given two small craft bays that house Battle Taxis. As part of its marine complement, it has infantry bays for 4 platoons of Jump Troops. BV (2.0) = 6,220
- Leopard Pocket WarShip
- Developed by the Word of Blake at Irian Technologies' Clipperton yards, the Pocket WarShip refit features a larger more powerful drive system and fifty-four tons of Ferro-Aluminum armor. The standard weaponry of the upgraded Leopard is retained, but the 'Mech and fighter bays have been replaced by a single teleoperated Killer Whale Capital Missile Launcher and an eleven-missile magazine, making the venerable design a considerable threat during the Jihad. BV (2.0) = 6,607, 7,674
- Leopard (PPC)
- Starting in 2845, the Magistracy of Canopus modified a number of their Leopards, replacing the standard large lasers with Parti-Kill PPCs.
- A modification of the classic Leopard, described as "uncommon" and with an introduction date of 2537 just as the Leopard, that simply reduces the total mass by ca. 470 tons by removing the PPCs, two 'Mech bays and one fighter bay; all other parameters appear unchanged. This stripped-down Leopard version requires only five crew, and can carry two 'Mechs and one aerospace fighter (plus their respective pilots), and has a more streamlined, arrow-shaped appearance (it is in fact represented by the Minerva from the Crusher Joe IP). One such vessel was used for a covert Federated Suns deep reconnaissance mission into the Free Worlds League at some point during Hanse Davion's reign.
- The Leopard CV, a dedicated aerospace fighter carrier, was inspired by the Leopard.
- The Broadsword is a Clan evolution of the venerable Leopard, refitted to carry 5 'Mechs as per Clan military structure.
- Originally, the Leopard was stated to have 1,720 tons of mass (and 1,800 for the upgraded version). However, this does not comply with the most recent construction rules for DropShips. Technical Readout: 3057 Revised and the MUL established the mass of both the standard and the upgraded version as 1,900 tons, overruling earlier publications.
- While the Leopard is among those Aerodyne DropShips to feature a bottom-mounted transit drive, many modern video games such as MechWarrior Online, the BattleTech video game and MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries - all of which use the same model for the Leopard - have conflated this to bestow the class with powerful helicopter-style VTOL capabilities, something impossible under the various tabletop rulesets.
Illustration of Leopard from DropShips and JumpShips: ComStar Intelligence Summary
Original Leopard from TRO:3025
Leopard from TRO:3025 Revised
Leopard (3056) from TRO:3057
"Pocket WarShip"-variant of Leopard from TRO:3075
Conceptual Art of Leopard from MWO
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 DropShips and JumpShips: ComStar Intelligence Summary, p. 17
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Master Unit List entry
- ↑ Technical Readout: 3057 Revised, p. 12
- ↑ AeroTech 2 Record Sheets, p. 202
- ↑ 1st Somerset Strikers, p. 87
- ↑ AeroTech 2 Record Sheets, p. 203
- ↑ Experimental Technical Readout: Pirates pp. 15, 27 - Leopard PA - ship info & record sheet.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Technical Readout: 3075, p. 106
- ↑ Record Sheets: 3075 Unabridged - The Cutting Edge, p. 223
- ↑ Leopard (PPC) MUL Entry
- ↑ Objective Raids, p. 152
- ↑ TCI Model Set #12 - Leopard Class DropShip - Marauder - Crusader
- 1st Somerset Strikers (sourcebook)
- AeroTech 2 Record Sheets
- Combat Operations
- DropShips and JumpShips
- Experimental Technical Readout: Pirates
- Master Unit List
- Objective Raids
- Record Sheets: 3075 Unabridged - The Cutting Edge
- Technical Readout: 3025
- Technical Readout: 3025 Revised
- Technical Readout: 3057
- Technical Readout: 3057 Revised
- Technical Readout: 3075