After the first few years of the Reconstruction Era, Task Force Southern Cross was operating an odd mix of conventional armor and a several old destroid designs. They expected the destroids to reach the end of their service life sooner than anticipated, and they would need replacement. Those destroids which had low service hours were going to be refit and taken with the departing ships of the Pioneer Expedition. Also, the Southern Cross Command decided that the larger destroids were too conspicuous and vulnerable to standoff missile attacks to be fully effective. A smaller battloid would have better survivability since it would be harder to see and hit as well as being more agile due to the reduced mass. This smaller and more agile mecha could also better adapt to a variety of operating environments.
From this situation, the battloid concept evolved: a smaller, more agile, multi-purpose robot. To decrease the size and provide operational flexibility, the primary weapons shifted to an assortment of gunpods instead of the slow to reload integral weapons. Most importantly the smaller battloids were much simpler and cheaper to manufacture than the new Robotech Expeditionary Force (REF) destroids, allowing the depleted Southern Cross armies to rapidly rebuild a cohesive fighting force after the departure of the main flotilla of the Pioneer Mission and their assignment of most of Earth's existing mecha forces.
Technology and Combat CharacteristicsEdit
The Salamander was the first Southern Cross battloid designed purely for combat and patrol activities. The Southern Cross development group, with assistance from the Proteus Design Committee, took lessons learned from the Dryad and Satyr designs as well as historical information from the early destroid to develop the Salamander. The Salamander was viewed as a downscaled version of the Spartan mecha. It was a high mobility mecha, with prehensile hands. To further keep costs down, the cockpit suite was designed to be modular so that only a subset of the mecha had the extensive C3I gear needed to command larger units. The basic unit had a cockpit suite sufficient to maintain battlefield awareness of its immediate surrounding, without the need to coordinate between numerous units. Officers received the complete electronics suite, and non-commissioned officers received a slightly reduced-functionality version due to the smaller units involved. When operating as a unit, the Salamanders and other mecha would share battlefield information, so that each mecha would have a complete picture of their environment.
Another big cost saving came from the fact that unlike the large, older destroids or the newer REF destroids, the basic Salamander did not need to be space-capable. The large, older destroids had a full thruster/venier suite to allow them to operate in space, as they did from the decks of the Super Dimension Fortress-1 Macross (SDF-1) during the First Robotech War. The Southern Cross decided it would be more cost effective to simply put more AAA batteries on their capital ships and keep the battloids on the ground. The Salamander could operate on the moon and on Mars thanks to a sealed cockpit module, but it was devoid of all the expensive systems seen on the Destroids which made them truly SPACE capable. All in all, the ASC saved 25% per unit, and were thus able to field more units.
The Salamander had three different modular head styles for enlisted, non-commissioned officers, and officers. Models could be interchanged in just a few hours by swapping head units and cockpit avionics units. NCO and officer models (B, and C) have a heavier and more expensive E-5 head laser system for improved performance. Costs prohibited widespread dissemination of the system and as such was restricted to more senior personnel. The B-model has an improved array for the radar as well as an upgraded combat suite. The C-model carries a more sophisticated communications, sensor and control suite to assist in monitoring the battlefield situation. This is readily identifiable by the 'V' angled dual array in the head of the C-model compared to the flat, square array of the B-model and flat, circular array of the A-model.
A specialized version was built for the TC-Lunar Division, called the MBR(S)-13. It was little more than a standard Salamander with enhanced environmental systems optimized for a vacuum environment, as well as additional vernier thrusters for maneuverability. Its thruster and venier system allowed it to operate in free fall, much the same way that the older and larger destroids could. This system allowed it to make short flights when operating in the Moon's weak gravity field for increased mobility. If long duration operations or free space operations were needed, a strap-on pack system was designed for enhanced vernier operation and to extend the fuel supply to a reasonable level for zero-gravity operations.
Of the SC battloids, the Salamander was the most widespread in use. Designed and produced by the Proteus Group. A variety of gunpods were used throughout its service life. The GU-13 was the model used when the Salamander was introduced, but eventually replaced with the more durable and less logistically demanding energy weapons. The EU-10 and EU-11 were preferred when penetration was important. The EU-22 was used when damage potential was more important.
Deployed shortly after the introduction of the SRB-9 Satyr, the Salamander became the symbol of the Southern Cross from its inception in 2013 until the defeat of the UEF at the hands of the Invid in 2031. It served with both the Army of the Southern Cross and a few of the ships belonging to the Pioneer Expedition Ground Forces in both dedicated mechanized and mixed infantry/battloid units.
Built for speed, agility as well as decent armor protection, the Salamander represented the balance between all the various competing battle doctrines. Not as fast as the Cyclops nor as armed as the Basilisk, it is nevertheless the best suited Battloid for front line combat. With a powerful jump pack and fast land speed, the Salamander can quickly engage enemies at close ranges (with rocket propelled grenades) or at longer ranges with its gun pod. Like all the mecha of the United Earth Forces, its intended enemies were not invading or rebelling Zentraedi but the Bioroids of the Robotech Masters.
Sadly, the Salamander proved ineffective in its role against the Bioroids and suffered egregious losses during the Second Robotech War. Against the Invid, it proved effective until the United Earth Forces were overwhelmed.
- First appeared in Episode 38: False Start in Robotech: The Masters.
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