|This article, D4 Beetle, was written by Actene. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
- "I remember back when these things were in circulation at the space ports in the colonies. I drove one for ten years, never had any operating problems or maintenance issues once. Guess no one ever thought the Innies would start using them as tanks..."
- ―Benjamin Myers, dockworker
The D4 Beetle was the last in a series of heavy load lifting vehicles designed and produced by the hardware corporation Kashim Manufacturing. Built principally as a rugged, simple-to-operate load lifter, the Beetle saw heavy use in both the colonies and the UNSC military during the Human-Covenant War. It was praised for its tough exterior, reliabiltiy and efficient, low cost power output, which led Kashim manufacturing to mass produce it and distribute it throughout UNSC space, where it became a common sight within many labor tasks. However, during the Second Mamore Insurrection following the end of the Human-Covenant War, hundreds of Beetle models were acquired by the Insurrectionist factions on Mamore. The Insurrectionists modified the Beetles for a combat role and outfitted them as mobile heavy weapons platforms to make up for their lack of traditional main battle tanks. Although the UNSC eventually repressed the Mamore insurrectionists, the combat Beetles gained fame during the fighting as effective analogues for mainstream military vehicles and were produced by more Insurrectionist groups in different areas of human space. Faced with bad press and at the official behest of the UNSC, Kashim Manufacturing discontinued the Beetle line and recalled all models for scrapping. But many of the larger Insurrectionist groups continued to produce their own models and the Beetle remains a staple of both Insurrectionist forces and mercenary groups.
Kashim Manufacturing designed the Beetle to be extremely resilient so as to handle the constant threat of damage from heavy objects in the field. Its hull was built from cheap but effective armored plating that could withstand large amounts of punishment without causing damage to the Beetle's simple electronic systems. The large windshield was designed to provide the operator with as wide a field of vision as possible, especially since the vehicle lacked much in the way of sensors to help determine its position. Apart from some rear-view cameras linked to the driver's cabin, the only other systems the Beetle featured were short-range radios and some calibration settings linked to the vehicle's twin arms.
The arms were only designed for vertical movement and allowed for only basic flexibility in both directions. The could bend at the joint and be raised out away from the vehicle's body and were meant primarily for moving large crates and equipment In spite of their limited flexibility, the arms were able to lift massive loads with relative ease and were controlled by twin joysticks in the driver's canopy that guided their movement. Their three-fingered "hands" could be rotated and were capable of grasping large objects. They were occasionally fitted with specialized utility use for construction and repairs, but these tasks were usually left to pedestrian workers due to the Beetle's difficulty with precision tasks.
The driver's canopy, which supported the arms, was able to rotate 360-degrees on the three-wheeled base. The base efficiently distributed the canopy's weight and was able to make surprisingly precise maneuvers for a vehicle of its size in the hands of an experienced driver. This made it invaluable for steering around crowded areas and large warehouses. While the vehicle's powerful electric engine and efficiently designed wheels were capable of remarkably high speeds, Kashim Manufacturing installed safety features that limited the vehicles overall speed to about fifty MPH. Despite these limitations, the Beetle's overall maneuverability was not significantly diminished.
Combat Design and Usage
- "It might not match a 'Hog's speed or a Scorpion's firepower, but it can outgun the 'Hogs and outmaneuver the Scorpions. Seems like a fair trade to me"
- ―Erwin Zhou, Insurrectionist Beetle driver
The rebels who modified Beetle units for combat on Mamore may have been inspired by stories of UNSC forces mounting weapons on civilian vehicles and turning them into "technicals" during the battles of Reach and Earth. Although their successes against the corruption-wracked Mamorian governments had allowed them to capture many military vehicles and hardware, the Mamorian colonial forces had been underfunded and had either destroyed many of their vehicles to avoid just such occurrences or had reserved them in their last remaining holdouts on the planet. With a force comprised mostly of poorly equipped and trained infantry and a UNSC counterattack imminent, the Insurrectionists needed a way to bolster their miniscule armored forces. Thousands of Beetle models were scattered across the planet and Kashim Manufacturing had several factories in different cities, so the now-famous Beetle was selected to improve their arsenal.
One of the main reasons for the Beetle's success with rebel forces was that it actually required very little modification to become combat effective. Once the safety limitations on its speed were removed, it was already a highly mobile vehicle that bore effective armor. Additional sensors and longer-ranged radios were often installed inside the driver's cockpit to improve the driver's situational awareness and communications, and depending on the availability of resources, additional armored plating was sometimes welded onto the Beetle's frame to provide additional protection against explosives and other heavy ordnance.
One major problem with the Beetle was the central canopy itself, with its large window that left the driver heavily exposed to enemy fire. Since it would have been too expensive to seal off the cabin with armor while providing better cameras and sensors for the interior, most Insurrectionist engineers simply reinforced the glass with bulletproof material. While this countermeasure protected the driver from most small arms fire, the windshield could still be breached with ease by a heavy weapon or even by concentrated fire from high-calibre machine guns and rifles.