The M-32 Flashclapper Light Hovercycle was a standard hovercycle commonly used mostly by the Army of the Southern Cross, though it was also used by several other organizations throughout the universe.
The Army of the Southern Cross (ASC) command needed a personal vehicle for low-risk reconnaissance and policing of the populous. The Brasilia Design Works convinced the high command that hovering vehicles provided many advantages for protectors of the war-scarred earth. Hover vehicles did not have to rely on smooth roads for high speed transportation. Many of the roads throughout the world were destroyed by the Zentraedi Holocaust and precious resources were better spent rebuilding the pockets of civilization than roads to interconnect them to each other and the wastelands surrounding them. For low-risk reconnaissance, it was better to maximize the area to be covered by providing a small vehicle for each trooper. This led to the concept of the hovercycle.
Technology and Combat CharacteristicsEdit
The hovercycle was the mainstay form of personal transportation for the Southern Cross troops. These cycles were used extensively for reconnaissance and patrol duties. All ground forces utilized this popular vehicle. Their total lack of armor tended to discourage its use on the battlefield, but it is an effective vehicle to transport personnel rapidly among the rear eschelon. The conventional internal combustion engine was selected for low cost and because the protoculture engines were reserved for more combat effective vehicles in the ASC arsenal.
The Robotech Expeditionary Force adopted a variant of this cycle in limited quantities for all-terrain reconnaissance by its Army and Marine forces.
Standard features on the Flashclapper were: speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge, engine temperature readout, left and right turn signals, high intensity headlight, as well as video-commlink. Two cargo compartments on either side of the rear end were each: 50.8cm x 30.48cm x 43.18cm.
The M-32 was made up of light ceramic/composite materials capable of providing fair protection against small arms fire, and good protection against small grenade and shell fragments. This body provided virtually no protection against heavier infantry weapons and mecha-mounted weapons, such as a 12.7mm machinegun round and the Zentraedi 22.3mm HE autocannon round. The pilot was unprotected from the environment.
No other vehicle produced after the end of the Malcontent Uprisings was more recognized as the symbol of the average soldier of the United Earth Forces than the Flashclapper. It was mostly used by the soldiers of the Army of the Southern Cross though a number were acquired by the Pioneer Mission. Capable of fast speed and good maneuverability, the Flashclapper was best suited for recon. Acquired in the tens of thousands by the Southern Cross after the departure of the Pioneer Mission, the Flashclapper became the most common form of single person military transportation by the start of the 2nd Robotech War.
Unfortunately for the Flashclapper, with the arrival of the Invid, those models that had survived the Robotech Masters all but disappeared from Earth within a handful of years. This was due in large part to the complexity of its engines and the maintenance necessary to keep this vehicles in the field. The only recorded hovercycle gang during the Invid occupation, The Iron Thunderbolts, were noted for being not only composed former Southern Cross soldiers (mixed ATAC and Recon mostly) turned resistance fighters but for their daring raids against a number of Invid military installations.