The DC-1 DeSoto (Battletech)
A primitive machine almost completely lost to time, the thirty ton DC-1 DeSoto was Tuolumite Industries’ first (and only known) foray into BattleMech design. Born of an age when the Mackie ruled the battlefield and the varied corporate interests of the Inner Sphere were racing to engineer their own competing designs, the DeSoto was never fielded in large numbers. It was only built from 2487 to 2501, when the one and only factory producing the design was attacked and subsequently erased from existence by a thermonuclear self-destruct system. The few DC-1s that remain in existence are now mostly in the hands of collectors, though there is some talk among investors on Solaris VII of financing a limited run of new DC-1 DeSotos as part of a “primitive mech show” where machines with classic, pristine paint jobs are shown off and occasionally pitted against each other in slugging matches the likes of which the Inner Sphere has not seen in six hundred years.
The concept behind the design of the DC-1 DeSoto was simple. Make something fast enough that it would be hard to hit, then tack as much weaponry on it as the reactor could possibly support so it could hit back. The theory put forward by Doctor Eric Dundleman of Tuolumite Industries was that the machine didn’t have to be tough, it just had to be fast enough to dodge most, if not all, incoming fire. As such, even the earliest designs of the DC-1 DeSoto were fitted with a formidable 210 rating fusion engine, allowing it to reach speeds of 112 kph. For weaponry, Doctor Dundleman pushed the design team toward efficiency as a selling point, and so the DC-1 DeSoto was fitted with a trio of primitive (by our standards) medium lasers linked together into a cluster. Theoretically, this would minimize the maintenance costs and field repair requirements for the DC-1 DeSoto, but it also created a number of significant design flaws that had to be ironed out before the mech could go into production. Originally, this trio of lasers was tied directly into the reactor at the machine’s center of mass, but poor heat considerations in the design often caused overloads in the lasers when the machine got up to full speed. The cluster of lasers also made the machine dangerously front-heavy, and when word got out that some of the members of the design team had nicknamed this early prototype the Priapus, Doctor Dundleman quickly took the whole thing back to the drawing board.
In the final design, the DC-1 DeSoto retained the clustered medium laser array, but this weapon assembly was moved as far away from the reactor as the design team could manage in the interests of heat control. The original instability issues from having the cluster mounted low on the front of the mech were ironed out, but the weight of the lasers on the left shoulder of the machine was still enough to make it a bit wobbly and unwieldy while running at full speed. Partly due to this placement, and partly due to the light armor of the mech, the exposed linkages between the reactor and the lasers make the final product very fragile and very prone to being disabled on the first significant hit. Doctor Dundleman’s response to this was, famously, to say “just don’t get hit.”
Though it performed well in initial trials, impressing a smattering of military delegates with its speed, its striking power and its cutting edge hand actuation systems, the initial reaction to the DC-1 was lukewarm. Other up-and-coming designs were attracting more notice, especially those that could wade into battle against a Mackie and hold their own under fire. Exhausted by the recurring question of how well the DeSoto would fare against a Mackie in a stand-up fight, Doctor Dundleman finally (grudgingly) arranged such a battle. Due to a lucky shot from the Mackie’s autocannon, the DC-1 DeSoto fielded in the trial lasted all of sixteen seconds before it collapsed and was reduced to a pile of burning wreckage. Doctor Dundleman’s only comment to onlookers on that day was “well, that was it. It’s all over.”
Doctor Dundleman, Allegedly.
The few orders that came in from those who saw the scouting potential of the DC-1 DeSoto were enough to keep the Tuolumite Industries DeSoto factory open until 2501, when two lances of heavy-weight tanks fielded by a self-styled pirate king of the periphery moved in with the intent of capturing the factory. Instead of letting his design fall into pirate hands, the now elderly (and quite paranoid) Doctor Dundleman activated the thermonuclear self-destruct system he’d had installed in the lowest level of the factory and erased the whole project (and the pirate king) from existence. Only with the release of ComStar records following the Battle of Tukayyid did knowledge of the DC-1 DeSoto become known by historians outside of the order again, much to the delight of those wealthy collectors who have more money and hangar space at their disposal than they do actual need for more of these massive, antique war machines..
Design quirks: Combat Computer, Unbalanced, Exposed Weapon Linkage (Medium Lasers)
What Is This?
There’s something about Primitive Mechs that has always enchanted me. I think that the Mackie, in its original form, is as ugly as sin, but it’s also, in canon, the first BattleMech design, and so it makes sense that it would look like a walking trashcan someone taped a cannon to.
But what about other Primitive Mechs? There are quite a few in the canon, but I also wanted to make one of my own. Actually, I wanted to do more than just make one. I wanted to summon one into being completely.
Thus, the DC-1 DeSoto was born. Not only did I make a backstory for the DC-1, I made a record sheet and a miniature which you can find on Thingiverse here. It’s free to print on your 3D printer at home.
I don’t own anything Battletech, but I do enjoy the universe a lot. This is my little fan contribution to the community. I hope you enjoy!