Despite some previous whining and moaning on the subject of UNSC inefficiency, I happen to like the Scorpion Main Battle Tank. Though it may be a little slow when compared to modern day tanks like the Challenger 2 and the Abrams, it does provide plenty of bang for buck. But despite plenty of plus points such as firepower and versatility, it does feature some overwhelmingly bad design flaws for a tank.
Modern tanks are based around three main principles: Speed, protection and firepower. These design principles are used because they have been proven as the main strong points of armoured warfare. If a tank possesses excellent speed and firepower but virtually no protection, then any hit will most likely result in a disabled tank, a dead crew or both. This obviously renders the tank useless as a battlefield asset. The same works in reverse. Superior firepower and armour are great, but if your tank can only manage three miles per hour, then you’ll be hard pressed to outflank or surprise the enemy or keep up with your own army. So all three are a major factor in design.
Two modern day tanks, the Abrams and the Challenger 2, used by the US and the UK respectively are excellent examples of tank design. Both can achieve a decent speed that allows them to not only keep up with the remainder of their respective armies, but to lead them as well. Both are well armoured, utilising the British made Chobham armour, which is a unique composite that provides superior protection when compared to standard steel plate armour, especially against HEAT (High Explosive Anti Tank) warheads. And firepower is also an area where both vehicles excel. Both can use a variety of ammunition types, including the infamous SABOT round, which is basically high velocity fin-discarding dart. It’s extremely accurate and can penetrate a plethora of different armour types.
Besides the usual list of requirements in tank design, the Abrams and the Challenger 2 also feature several other key design factors. Both are fitted with a coaxially mounted machine gun as well as a separate machine for the vehicle commander to use if required. Both also feature advanced targeting equipment which can detect and adjust to the speed of the vehicle, the wind, temperature, range, the temperature of the gun itself and the speed and position of the target vehicle. Add this to the already impressive design of each tank and you have a very deadly combination.
The Challenger 2 and the business end of its 120mm rifled gun
When it comes to the UNSC Scorpion, there’s one thing we can be sure of, it can gut a Wraith effectively and efficiently and with pinpoint accuracy. Compared to the Scorpion, the Wraith is fairly inaccurate at range and has a dreadfully slow rate of fire, especially when you factor in the flight time of each plasma mortar. So clearly the Scorpion comes out on top in a straight fight. Another advantage is the crew count. Scorpions require a maximum of two crew-members–one driver/gunner and one machine-gunner, half the crew complement of any modern tank. So for the cost of four trained personnel you can have two Scorpions laying down fire. Though if you remove the more exposed machine-gunner you can up that count to four tanks.
Scorpions also feature advanced armour, titanium to be precise, which is normally reserved for frigates and cruisers. This ensures that any Covenant troops who feel brave enough to take one on will quickly discover that their plasma rifle, usually capable of burning through personal body armour with ease, has almost no effect on the bulk of a tank. Obviously another advantage that any Halo player will be familiar with is the effect it has on the Covenant Phantom–three or four high velocity rounds and the occupants of the Phantom will quickly find themselves splashed to the four winds. So as a standing defensive platform the Scorpion excels. But the Scorpion’s true advantage lies in another area, production. The UNSC were more than capable of manufacturing a vast amount of Scorpions, which would normally go a long way to affirm humanities’ place on the battlefield but unfortunately the UNSC never took advantage of this factor to its fullest effect.
When it comes to mobility and offensive capability, the Scorpion is, sadly, let down. For a tank, the Scorpion is dreadfully slow, and though it may be capable of traversing difficult terrain with ease it simply can’t move fast enough to be a frontline thunderstorm. And this leaves it vulnerable to flanking manoeuvres and aerial assault. But even more disappointing is the delivery method for the Scorpion as it relies heavily on frigate drops and pelican delivery. This means only a handful can be delivered within a timeframe that would or could allow dozens or even hundreds to be placed in combat. And the Covenant certainly made sure that frigates and other UNSC fleet assets could not deliver their payloads of troops and tanks.
And without that vital ground support and firepower most UNSC assaults faltered, falling victim to orbital engagements, instead of being a deciding factor in the war effort to repel an invasion.