The Scorpion

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.

Though outnumbered, these Scorpions stand a good chance of gutting the enemy

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.

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7 thoughts on “The Scorpion

  1. I think most of the draw backs of the scorpion are based on gameplay. It sucks to get DMR’ed to death, but an unstoppable killing machine would break the game. One thing i would question though is the turret size. Its much smaller than that of any modern tank i’ve seen, which is understandable considering the crew only sits in the body of the tank, but how much ammunition can the scorpion be loaded with? It’s a smaller 90mm gun, but considering the space armor takes up and the coaxial machinegun as well the the built in electronics and the auto loader (not sure if that’s the right word for it), it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of room for ammo, which would be a serious problem in any protracted engagement.

    I’d also like to point out that the Reach scorpion’s driver side hatch has window on three of its sides. windows are weak points, but in the event of an emp (which is probably very likely due to the covenant’s plasma weapons), The driver wouldn’t be blind. It may be a weak point by necessity or maybe it’s just cosmetic.

  2. I’m sorry. I’m in EOD school, and so once I read the mistake about the Sabot rounds, I kinda stopped reading. And It’s not a big deal, honestly, I’m just OCD when it comes to EOD related things.

    Sabot rounds don’t discard the fins. They’re stabilized by the fins. Without fins they wouldn’t be able to stay in the air, they’d tumble and be ineffective. Sabot rounds are called “sabot” because they utilize a “sabot”, an item which allows the small diameter fin-stabilized projectile to fit in the large diameter barrel. After the sabot round is fired the “sabot” falls off the round, leaving a fin stabilized dart, which travels at supersonic speeds.

    Fins don’t discard. XD

    • You’re completely right, Grantix. Not sure what compelled me to write fin-discarding SABOT round. Though I do write a lot of fiction as well. But yes, the fins stay very firmly attached to the round. My bad.

  3. I’ve done enough world building for other people that I’ve gotten used to being handed a pile of garbage and being forced to make something sensible out of it. Please, by no means take the musings that I’m about to have as me disagreeing with you. Instead, just think of me as playing Devil’s Advocate.

    Let’s face it, titanium isn’t exactly as common as some of the other metals traditionally used for armor out there. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why Reach was so important — it’s abundance of the stuff in a position that’s easily mined. However, given its relative scarcity as compared to say, iron, it makes it that much more expensive to mine.

    Before, we touched upon the fact that the UNSC was concerned with cost. This is, surprisingly, a valid concern. Martial law had already been declared. There was a continual influx of survivors from colonies that had fallen to the Covenant. Taxes from these colonies had been lost. So you have an increasing number of displaced people, lesser amounts of income to sustain the war effort, and a general tax of resources that are already wearing thin. (I’ll avoid the moment of sheer stupidity of having a major breadbasket world at the edge of your territory for another conversation.)

    Simply put, you have to continue to give troops pay. You have to pay the mining companies so they can pay their workers so you can get your titanium. Though Reach may have the most easily mined sources, the UNSC is probably getting it from multiple worlds, many of which are more difficult to mine the stuff, meaning that pay has to be higher.

    Now, think about what would happen if you suddenly can’t afford to pay your troops or the folks supplying you with raw materials? Or, perhaps even more importantly, can’t afford to meet the rising demand of food coming in from the few breadbasket worlds still alive. (Food rations worked in no small part due to patriotism; I can’t honestly see it happening in the modern day, and the signs advertising the civilian Warthog lead me to believe that capitolism is still alive and well despite the war.) Cutting costs where you can, therefore, is important. This includes not crafting a massively powerful engine whenever possible.

    In fact, it might have even been a tactical consideration.

    There is the entirely real possibility that the Scorpion was never meant for rapid deployment. The name of the game doesn’t seem to be “destroying all the Covenant on planet to keep the planet safe.” With those big cruisers orbiting a planet, that’s pretty much impossible. Instead, the name of the game seems to be “evacuate the planet and make the Covenant hurt as much as possible.”

    Surprisingly, in this scenario, the Scorpion isn’t as bad a weapon as you might think.

    You already touched upon the fact that the ground forces will go from pleasantly tearing through troops and less heavily armed vehicles to suddenly needing a change of underwear when they shoot the Scorpion and it not only survives, but even guts their Wraith. But with a slow top speed, that doesn’t put it on the front lines. Instead, it puts it in a more defensive role… Say, protecting civilians as they evacuate.

    In this role, the Scorpion could excel. Mobility isn’t the name of the game, it’s forming a wall that the enemy has to fight through. A wall that fires HEAT rounds, and has a machine gun to force the enemy to put their head down long enough for the turret to point into their ugly faces.

    There’s one more thing that you should keep in mind: Pelicans can fast deploy Scorpions with little discernible change in their speed. Though, true, it makes it hard to flank an enemy once it’s (I never can tell if I should be using an apostrophe “it is”) on the ground, getting it into position to roll up an enemy isn’t as hard as you might think. In fact, one could almost see a leapfrog tactic with Scorpions: Thin out the ground forces enough for Pelicans to deploy a line ahead, then come back around, pick up the first line, and deposit them in front of the advanced line. This would allow a rapid deployment that a ground vehicle just can’t match.

    These are just BS “Why do you have to make me justify this steaming pile of crap” bits of logic. Feel free and tear them apart as you see fit.

    • The problem with the pelican is that it can only deliver one Scorpion at a time. What the UNSC needed was mass deployment in a short space of time–a rapid response force if you like. The scorpion overall isn’t a bad vehicle. In fact it does work extremely well as a weapons platform in a defensive picket, but the ineffective means of deployment were a major drag.

      Imagine the difference a bespoke UNSC assault carrier would make during ground operations. Once the local defences have been neutralised the carrier could make a rapid drop, full of troops, tanks and automated defences such as turrets and drones. The Covenant would be in for a surprise.

      • I can’t argue with that in the slightest. I was simply working with what we’ve seen in-universe. The only other two delivery systems that I’m familiar with are the Albatross dropship and the unidentified drop ship in Halo Wars. With so little information on the latter, I ruled it out quickly. The Albatross requires the landing site to be secured better than what a Pelican requires due to their size — the Albatross is a much, much bigger target.

        I’m not sure what the ideal deployment method for Scorpions would be in this scenario, to be honest. Yes, deploying a lot of them would be best, but you have to manage the size of the craft you’re using. An Albatross is an easy target, being unarmed, large, and comparatively slow moving. The Pelican is fast and armed, but with the drawback of only being able to carry one. Probably something that could be argued about forever, in all honesty.

  4. i have to agree with all of you. but if all of what you were saying is true than a scorpion tank would be one of your greattest assets. if you do a forward attach (in the game like reach.) with all the people you can carry its also a transport, and the people on the tank could cover it from being out flanked so its more effective than you think. you cant forget there troops on there. because they can be a big factor that is frequintly over looked

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