Union (DropShip class)
|Tech Base||Inner Sphere|
|Drive System||Star League V250|
|Safe Thrust||1.5 g|
|Max Thrust||2.5 g|
|Fuel (tons)||215 tons|
|Fuel (days)||116.8 days|
|Escape Pods/Life Boats||7/0|
|Heat Sinks||90 (single)|
The Union is the archetypical DropShip, widely used in military and civilian roles and described as the yardstick against which all other DropShips are measured. The vessel's official mass, originally 3,500 tons, was retconned to 3,600 tons (see Notes below).
The ubiquitous example of the company-sized BattleMech combat transport, the Union class is a venerable and capable member of the DropShip unit type. Capable of carrying twelve 'Mechs and two aerospace fighters (a standard 'Mech company including one air lance under classic SLDF doctrine), it is among the smaller dedicated military deployment vehicles, dwarfed by its larger cousin Overlord and especially the massive troop transports such as the Excalibur, Lee, or Colossus. The smaller but much more numerous, and implicitly also more cost-efficient and easier to manufacture, Union class weathered Lostech throughout the Succession Wars era better than the much larger vessels, and has been in continuous production ever since its inception.
The ship was designed as a 'Mech deployment vehicle, not for prolonged comfortable travel. The interior personnel spaces aboard the Union are infamous for being very cramped on most Unions, and the air circulation system is often found lacking.
The command and control facilities aboard Unions consisted of a Tactical Operations Room (TOR) sufficient to operate as a coordination point for smaller lance-sized combat transports partaking in company- or larger-sized operations. Likewise, it operates well in larger operations, where it may conduct missions of a surprise, diversionary or raiding role. The TOR was frequently removed from Union-class DropShips during refurbishment by the Clans.
The Union, while not as heavily armed as Assault DropShips, carries a formidable array of weapons. The semiautomated weaponry is significant enough to defend the ship from light ground forces and give single and paired aerospace fighters pause.
The bulk of its firepower is provided by six LRM-20s backed up by six large lasers and three PPCs. Six AC/5s and twelve medium lasers round out the normal weapons loadout. The Union also features good armor protection, allowing it to deliver or retrieve its payload while under fire.
A common design in use across the Inner Sphere, there are many variants of the Union, customized or as factory variants. Common variants include:
- Cargo Hauler
- Due to the availability of the design and spare parts, the Union has proven a popular choice for merchants and traders, who strip out all twelve 'Mech cubicles to free up more than 1,500 tons of cargo space.
(It should be noted that the civilian Danais-class cargo vessel is visually very similar to the Union, to the point where they could be confused; this in turn might have created the impression that cargo hauler Unions are much more common than they actually are.)
- Fighter Carrier (also colloquially known as "Union CV")
- Unions have been known to be refitted into aerospace fighter carriers, implicitly removing their 'Mech cubicles.
- 3055 Upgrade
- First launched in July 3055 by Federated-Boeing Interstellar, the upgraded modern Union boasts a return to Star League-era facilities with comparatively luxurious double and single occupancy berths and an improved air-filtration unit. The weaponry is also upgraded, trading the six autocannons for three Gauss rifles, switching to ER PPCs and ER Large Lasers and adding Artemis IV FCS to the LRM launchers. Cargo capacity is reduced to 72.5 tons, and armor is also reduced slightly. BV (1.0) = 5,091; BV (2.0) = 4,977.
- Jihad Era Upgrade
- Introduced during the Jihad and deployed by 3070, this version of the Union seems to be an evolution of the 3055 upgrade. The changes are comparatively minor, restoring armor to previous levels and exchanging the LRM launchers for MML-9 launchers with Artemis and AMS. BV (2.0) = 5,094.
- Pocket WarShip
- A refit developed by the Word of Blake, the Pocket WarShip variant of the Union attracted infamy for its shock appearance during the Jihad. Based on the upgraded model, the medium lasers have been replaced by ER medium lasers and the armor switched to thirty-three tons of Ferro-Aluminum plating, but the design appears otherwise visually identical. It's only when the two bow-mounted AR-10 launchers fire that the differences become apparent. The 'Mech bays were gutted to provide the space required for the Capital Missile Launchers and four Killer Whale, six White Shark, and ten Barracuda missiles. The fighter bays are retained while two Small Craft bays have been added to carry four squads of battle armor troops for boarding operations. BV (2.0) = 7,935 or 6,450
- Danais/Trojan - The Danais was based on the Union-class DropShip, albeit slightly smaller. It was originally designed as a civilian freighter that disarmed Periphery nations were allowed to build to haul cargo during the Star League Era. A militarized variant of the ship was the Trojan blockade runner. The Danais/Trojan is visually similar enough to be mistaken for a Union, and some vessels even deliberately pretend to be Unions to scare off potential attackers.
- Union-C - With a large number of Unions accompanying the Exodus fleet, the Clans refitted them to carry fifteen 'Mechs as per Clan military structure, eventually resulting in 2829 in a heavier 4,000 ton redesign designated the Union-C. BV (1.0) = 7,875; BV (2.0) = 7,955
- Union-X - Called the "Extended Union" (Union-X), this evolution of the Union design was developed in 3065 as part of a diversification effort by Shipil Company of Skye. The slightly heavier Union-X strips out four 'Mech cubicles in favor of two additional fighters and berths for five squads of battle armor troops, its revised weapon array consisting of six ER PPCs, two Gauss Rifles, six Artemis enhanced LRM-20's, ten ER Large Lasers, fourteen ER medium lasers, and four Ultra AC/5s. BV (1.0) = 6,106; BV (2.0) = 7,356
- Earlier sources described the Union as massing 3,500 tons, but Technical Readout: 3057 Revised changed that to 3,600 tons, stating in its preface that the earlier sources were found to be riddled with errors. (Changes to the spacecraft construction rules had necessitated new stats for several established spacecraft designs.)
- The name of the Union may have been inspired by the (nonfictional) Soviet Soyuz ("Union") spacecraft/rocket system, one of the premier ground-space transfer vehicles of its time around when BattleTech was created.
Original Union-class DropShip (with 'Mech silhouette for scale) from TRO:3025
Original Union-class DropShip from TRO:3025 Revised
Illustration of Union from DropShips and JumpShips: ComStar Intelligence Summary
Union from TRO:3057
Pocket WarShip-variant of Union from TRO:3075
Cutaway of Union 3055 Upgrade from TechManual
- DropShips and JumpShips: ComStar Intelligence Summary, p. 17
- Handbook: House Davion, p. 181
- online date for the Union (DropShip class)
- Technical Readout: 3057 Revised, pp. 28–29: The preface on p. 4 states that previous sources, namely DropShips and JumpShips: ComStar Intelligence Summary (aka ComStar's FB-60 file) and Technical Readout: 3057, contained numerous errors that Technical Readout: 3057 Revised corrected
- AeroTech 2 Record Sheets, p. 221
- Technical Readout: 3057 Revised, p. 28
- Technical Readout: 3025, p. 136: CSR-V12 Corsair entry: "Battle History"; Fourth Succession War Atlas Vol. 1, p. 25
- Technical Readout: 3057, p. 26, and Technical Readout: 3057 Revised, p. 24: Intruder DropShip entry
- AeroTech 2 Record Sheets, p. 222
- HexPack Promotion 1, p. 16
- Technical Readout: 3075, p. 108
- Record Sheets: 3075 Unabridged - The Cutting Edge, p. 224
- AeroTech 2 Record Sheets, p. 226
- Record Sheets: 3067 Unabridged, p. 303