Weapons in Marathon

'Cause I got a shotgun, and you ain't got one.

Over the last few years lots of interesting things have been discovered about the weapons in Marathon, so much so that it was about time they were all compiled into one section. So if you're looking for the tru7h about such diverse things as the Tech.50, the elusive M1A2.75 BR, or the legendary "Wave Motion Cannon" the chances are you'll find it here... or maybe not.

So where to start? Well a trawl through the 700 odd pages at the Story site revealed a variety of tidbits. It seems weapons featured heavily in the Questions of the Week Competition way back before the release of Infinity.

There was Leela's comment about the M-75 Assault Rifle/Grenade Launcher on "Bigger Guns Nearby":

There is an M-75 Assault
Rifle/Grenade Launcher and
ammunition at this location. 
When firing on the fully
automatic setting this weapon
is highly inaccurate, but the
grenades hit hard and it's the
best we can do right now.

The fact that Leela says "When firing on the fully automatic setting" implied that there was another (semi-automatic?) setting which would have made the Assault Rifle more accurate. As a Security Officer on board the UESC Marathon you should have been familiar with all the weapons listed in the Defence Planning Commission Report 1359-F - Militia Supply Supplement. Strange how you could never remember to fire the Assault Rifle on any other setting other than fully automatic.

Then there was the Alien Weapon with its strange system error 0xfded

Was this a reference to an old Apple II error message?

Oh and there was that eerie similarity between the shapes of the Alien Weapon and the Alien Musical Instrument in Pathways Into Darkness mentioned by Jim 'Von' Mitchell <BobJam@aol.com>.


And why could nobody ever find the real Muller?

And what about the .45 Magnum Mega Class? Your trusty sidearm. Or was it a .44? The Marathon 2 manual even had this to say on the subject.

.44 Magnum Mega Class A1
The new standard issue sidearm for all field personnel doesn't look much like your old .45 MMC, does it?

It sure doesn't... then again all I had was an old .44 MMC. I wonder who swapped pistols with me when I was daydreaming?

hey you, the bob carrying my 2nd pistol! - let's go!

But then again maybe Durandal's external redundant SPU cache field was a little fuzzy.

Weapons even appeared in the What's in a Name section. There was the issue of the level name "Bigger Guns Nearby". Why guns (plurial)? Was it because, as Brian Harriss <brianh@gcctech.com> pointed out, there were two weapons on this level in the Marathon Demo but when the Tozt-7 was removed in the final game the level name wasn't changed to gun (singular)? Or was it the case, as Aaron Snyder <wittnietz@datatek.com> pointed out, that the assault rifle might be considered a two-in-one weapon (rifle and grenade launcher)?

Tozt-7 Backpack Napalm Unit or Tozt.25 Flame Unit. Why the name change? Oh! of course the seven... how silly of me. To find many of the weaponary 'sevens' we had to raid the Marathon Vidmaster's page... that den of idle iniquity. There you'll find the following:

In Marathon 2 it takes 7 energy bolts or 3 high energy bolts from the Fusion pistol to finish off a Pfhor Hunter on Total Carnage. Seven and Three ;-)

You can carry two magnums with 8 shot clips. 8 + 8 = 16 = 1 + 6 = 7

M.75 Assault Rifle fires a standard clip of 52 .75 caliber shells. 52 = 5 + 2 = 7. The M.75 also holds a clip of 7 grenades.

Tozt-7 Naplam Unit (formally the Tozt.25 = 2 + 5 = 7) discharges a stream of fire 7 yards (20 feet) long, continuously for 7 seconds.

SPNKR-X17 SSM Launcher (Lazyboy).

KKV-7 SMG Flechette.

Hmmm... Twenty feet is about 7 yards! Sounds very much like what Dan Rudolph <rudolph.family@mcleod.net> said on the Sevens section back in Nov 2, 1996. Plagiarism perhaps?

And what's about THIS! Again taken from the Marathon Vidmaster's page. Vidmaster's need only reply.

On Total Carnage how many hits can you take from a Purple Fighter before you die?

1. I don't know I never play on Total Carnage.
2. Die?! What's that?
3. Six... on the Seventh you die!

On Total Carnage how many punches does it take to kill Purple Fighters?

1. I don't know I never play on Total Carnage.
2. Purple Fighters?!  Hell!... they run the other way when they see me.
3. Three (run punches).

Let's not forget the hi-tech Tech.50 Fusion Pistol... err... Zeus Class Fusion Pistol sorry. You picked up the Zeus on "Cool Fusion" and even if you didn't Leela wouldn't display her "Unfinished" message:


You have not retrieved the Fusion Gun. Return when you have done so.


Oh well!

Then there was SPNKR-X17 SSM Launcher, with the enigmatic nickname "Lazyboy". But what's this? The nickname was dropped in Marathon 2. A whole generation Marathoner's growing up without knowing the SPNKR's nickname. If I Had a Rocket Launcher, I'd Make Somebody Pay! In Marathon 2 the rocket launcher was updated to the SPNKR-X18 SSM Launcher or the SPNKR-XP SSM Launcher depending on who you believe. Weird stuff. But then again... a cigar is just a cigar... isn't it?

But let's not forget that masterpiece of engineering the WSTE-M5 Combat Shotgun. Poetry in motion... particularly its reloading mechanism. Whole usenet threads have been devoted to that mystery and there was even a web page created to discuss it. But as Durandal said:

...your primitive mind could never grasp its complex nature.

You never had a shotgun in the original Marathon, though Durandal said he had one! Why? In the resource fork of the game Jason Jones wrote the following:

PS. In case you were wondering, you can't ever find the pirated copy of Copland in Marathon. That item used to be a weapon that we took out late in development (the copy of Windows NT was it's ammunition) but that will find it's way into the Network Upgrade for Marathon.

Jason later revealed in the Marathon Scrapbook that this weapon was in fact a shotgun. So was Durandal's reference to having a shotgun more than just a joke? Could Durandal have been giving you a clue as to the existance of a shotgun on "Blaspheme Quarantine"? He mentions the shotgun in the first message of terminal 2 on "Blaspheme Quarantine":

You shouldn't ask yourself such worthless questions. Aim higher. Try this: why am I here? Why do I exist, and what is my purpose in this universe?

(Answers: 'Cause you are. 'Cause you do. 'Cause I got a shotgun, and you ain't got one.)

And in the second "secret" message on this terminal Durandal refers to a hidden stash of ammunition left there by Martian insurgents. And if you look carefully you'll find it. Indeed you'll find two secret ammo caches on this level. Could one of them have contained a shotgun in an early version of the game and although the shotgun was removed late in development the reference to it in the terminal remained? A legacy of sorts.

The shotgun was scheduled to appear as part of the 20/10 Scenario Pack. But this was eventually turned into Marathon 2. Dual shotguns were destined to rule the Halls of Carnage.

Also in Marathon's resource fork was a reference to a "Wave Motion Cannon". But the least said about that the better. ;-)

With Infinity came the nasty (chin mounted) KKV-7 10mm SMG flechette. Back in June 13, 1996 Ty Klein <mrenigma@earthlink.net> provide some background to this new weapon:

The term Flechette round was invented around 40 years ago (or around that time). A Flechette round is a very small almost dart like bullet that can penetrate body armor. It used to be used in shotgun-like artillery rounds that would be fired and burst in the air over enemy troops. The Flechette round was outlawed by the Geneva convention somewhere around 20-30 years ago because it was considered "inhumane". A Flechette round will go through a bullet proof or flack vest due to its small size and its high speed. Since it's very long and skinny, after it entered the body it would break into lots of pieces and basically shread someones internal organs. But what made them inhumane is that most people don't get killed right away from them. They are seriously wounded or maimed, and if you study military tactics you will find out that it's better to severly wound or maime an enemy soldier then to kill them (a dead soldier can be buried on the spot, but an injured soldier requires medical care, transportation, slows down troop movement, takes up food and other supplies etc.).

Mentioned along side the KKV-7 was the mighty M1A2 .75 BR. Mike Phillips <venom@silcon.com> first drew attention to this along with a number of other interesting things about Marathon's weapons. Mike wrote:

According to Durandal in M2, his S'pht disassembled the weapons and ammunition you brought with you from Tau Ceti in an attempt to mass-produce them. In doing so, several of the weapons were radically altered, at least outwardly. Durandal even states in the description of the new .44 Magnum Mega Class that it "doesn't look much like your old .45 MMC, does it?", and states this is because it has been "built for a single purpose, by a dedicated people" (the S'pht, one would assume).

The SPNKR, TOZT, and Zeus-Class Fusion pistol also boast new looks, although the S'pht's mass-produced batteries are "a little fuzzy. One might even say unstable." But the most puzzling change is in the assault rifle. Durandal tells us that our old M.75 "was a ridiculous toy designed to impress aging pompous generals." And of the new assault rifle: "Gone are the preposterously short barrel and the prodigious recoil that made firing the weapon akin to wrestling a greased pig." The MA-75B has a much longer barrel, true enough, but its recoil is NO better than the M.75's, and neither is its aim. If the M.75's horrible accuracy was due to a _documented_ "manufacturing defect," as stated in the _UESC Marathon Defense Planning Commission Report 1359-F - Militia Supply Supplement_ (or the M1 manual for those of you I've completely lost ;) ), it seems odd that a technologically advanced race like the S'pht could not have easily corrected this known defect.

Yes odd indeed. Mike continues:

Wouldn't Durandal want you to have the best available weaponry to complete his tasks? By the weapons' altered appearances, we can assume that the S'pht are not limited to duplicating weapons *exactly*. Could this be an oversight on their part (we know the fusion batteries are imperfect), or can it even be attributed to Durandal's rampancy? We already know he may very well have lied to us about the fusion pistol not being ready yet at the end of "Slings & Arrows..."

Ah yes the mysterious fusion pistol on "The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune".

But as Ben Semmler <semmm@aol.com> put it sometime ago:

Perhaps there was an evil S'pht who leaked the beta for the fusion pistol. You never know... :D

Yup... you never know. ;-)

But lastly back to Mike who remarked:

But what I _really_ want to know is what it's like to wield the "mighty" M1A2 .75 BR (as alluded to in the Infinity manual) ;)

The WHAT???!!! Mike wrote:

Look in the description of the _flechette gun_ for that reference... something about the SMG having armor-piercing capabilities rivalling the "mighty M1A2 .75 BR".

So what ever happened to the "mighty M1A2 .75 BR"?

Another mystery perhaps?

Ty Klein <mrenigma@earthlink.net> followed up on this:

The designation for the US military main battle tank is M1A1 (it may be up to M1A2,though I'm not sure). Maybe Bungie was alluding to the 120mm main gun on it.

Mike Phillips <venom@silcon.com> replied:

When mentioning the M1A2 .75 BR I somehow doubt that Bungie were alluding to a 120mm tank gun -- considering only that most weapons are given their barrels' dimensions by the number proceeding a decimal point, and both the MA-75B and and mysterious M1A2 .75 BR are 75mm guns, not 120mm.

Ty Klein <mrenigma@earthlink.net> wrote:

When the number is proceded by a decimal point is generaly refers to the calibre. A 75mm gun is the size of a small tank cannon,which the MA-75B most definitely is not.(the grenade launcher is 40mm) I don't think Bungie was alluding to the actual size of the M1A2 .75BR, but to underscore how powerful of a weapon it is.

David Aitken <d.aitken@silvermills.co.uk> wrote:

75 mm? Just to nitpick, if the .75 referred to calibre it would be in inches. If it was in mm I assure you a figure would precede the point modern standard rifle and machine-gun calibres are 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm respectively. The latter roughly equates to the old rifle calibre of .303 inches, which is a large bullet, so I agree that the .75 is highly unlikely to refer to calibre.

Mike Phillips <venom@silcon.com> now writes:

.75 HAS to refer to calibre. What else can it be?? Note that the Magnum is .44 calibre also. And yet, the SMG is listed as being 10mm, with the flechette projectile itself having a 4mm cross-section. I'm unsure now if this is a strange discrepancy(sp?) in measurement types or if we're talking about two different things.

Brendan Ebner <bebner@ida.net> writes concerning the KKV-7 SMG flechette:

Two things, first when Bungie said that the KKV was 10mm and then that the projectile was 4mm in cross-section, they may have meant that the projectile was 10mm long and 4mm in diameter. However this would be a SMALL round though (1/2 inch long, 1/6 inch cross-section). Secondly, US forces used flechette weapons in Vietnam. Artillery shells were packed full of thousands of steel darts. When fired point blank at attacking infantry, this weapon was EXTREMELY devastating. When US Firebases were attacked by NVA and VC, they suffered huge losses due to these shells.

Mike Phillips <venom@silcon.com> writes concerning the SPNKR's nickname "Lazyboy":

One wonders why they originally called it that... maybe it's because if you're lazy and don't want to aim you can just catch everything in the SPNKR's one, big explosion? ;)

Gabe Rosenkoetter <gabe@colby.tjs.org> writes:

I think it's partly that and partly that the physical shape of the original SPNKR (with it's cushioning and all) actually _looks_ like an overstuffed chair. (This is especially apparent in the pict that goes in the player's HUD in M1).

Incidentally, there has been some discussion in a.g.m about just why a rocket launcher provides kick (it really doesn't make a whole lot of sense, considering rocket launchers are built to be open on both ends for loading purposes and to let the back blast from the rocket itself fly out the rear end rather than throw the launcher's wielder back a few yards). The SPNKR X-17 (M1) seems to have something to funnel this backblast _down_ (look at the graphic in Pfhred to see what I mean), whereas the SPNKR X-18 (M2 and Infinity - it's identical) would appear to be open on the back in the items on the ground shot and have something remotely similar to a fusion back attached on the back when a Marine is carrying it. Interesting to note that the X-18 mysteriously changes color from a dark grey to a silverish hue when it's picked up. The X-17 was a side loader (you can see the missiles in the players view, and one dissappears when you fire it - a nice feature, I always thought), whereas the X-18 has no apparent loading mechanism (maybe it works the same way the WSTE-M does ;^>).

Gabe also writes:

You might want to include that string I found in Infinity's resources (STR# 137, string 9), which comes after "WSTE-M COMBAT SHOTGUN", before "KKV-7 10MM FLECHETTE SMG", and reads "(somehow related to time of applicability)". (Punctuation outside the quotes, even though it's grammatically incorrect in my nation - I think it's correct in yours, so it's clear exactly what the string is.)

Dan Rudolph <rudolph.family@mcleod.net> writes:

The reason the M1 rocket launcher was called Lazy Boy is its shape. It is like a seat that the missle sits in until fired. The M2 one has been redesigned and doesn't look like this.

William Spencer <williamspencer@hotmail.com> writes:

I'd like to point out that guns CAN fire in vacuum with no special modifications. Modern explosives (actually, most explosives in this century) do not require oxygen to explode; plastique, for example, can be shot, burned, stomped on, cut, poked, or eaten, and nothing will happen. But add an electrical charge, and BOOM! Even napalm will work in vacuum; it contains its own oxygen supply, making it VERY nasty, as you can't easily extinguish it. So if guns can fire in vacuum, why can't the MA-75 or the TOZT-7? And why can the Troopers' gun, "similar to your own", fire in vacuum? Guess the UESC and the S'pht do shoddy work. The only pseudo-scientific explanation I can come with is that the MA-75 is made of cheap plastics which can't handle the temperature stresses in vacuum; maybe it's water-cooled, and the water boils off and breaks the gun. Or something. I don't know.

Richard Williams <opus@world.std.com> writes:

The attached picture is of Sega's Stunner, a "light gun" for arcade style shooting games. I've always thought they looked just a bit similar...just put a tiny telescopic sight on the Stunner, and make it just a wee bit shorter and stubbier and disproportionate (and paint it black), and voila...you have a Marathon .45. Well, sort of. If anything, they share that mixed revolver/automatic style of look.

Virtua Cop was the first game to use the Stunner, and I think it came out in arcades first sometime around mid-1995 (I could be way off here, though).

Max Lieberman <Lieb6@aol.com> writes:

I believe that the Wave Motion Cannon (a weapon listed in the resource fork of Marathon 1 but apparently dropped during the mysterious beta period) may hold clues to the evolution of Marathon's plot. The only "Wave Motion Cannon" reference still in the final game, as far as I know, is found in STR# 150, and reads as follows:

[27]    THE PLANS

This latter string is of note because, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the Marathon 1 convention is to list a weapon name first and then to list the ammunition which enables the player to fire that weapon. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine whether "THE PLANS" were intended to allow use of the "WAVE MOTION CANNON" as these strings appear at the end of the resource, among the item name strings, which have (obviously) no such convention. This is the full resource text, which will hopefully give you some idea of what I am talking about:

[1]     FISTS
[4]     .44 CLIP (x8)
[5]     .44 CLIPS (x8)
[10]    MA-75 CLIP (x52)
[11]    MA-75 CLIPS (x52)
[12]    MA-75 GRENADES (x7)
[13]    MA-75 GRENADES (x7)
[15]    SSM MISSILE (x2)
[16]    SSM MISSILES (x2)
[27]    THE PLANS

The numbering is added for purposes of identification within the resource fork. As you can see, the "PIRATED COPLAND BETA" and "COPY OF WINDOWS NT" also appear here, although out of order if indeed the convention is weapon- ammo, which it is in every other case. I say that because, as has been discussed on your page, these two items were originally to be a shotgun (the beta) and shotgun ammo (appropriately, the copy of Windoze NT).

I suspect that the Wave Motion Cannon originally played some role in allowing the player to save the Colony from destruction, perhaps back when Bungie intended to make the game truly nonlinear. The implications of this early goal are discussed in the Facts and Puzzling things about... The Colony section, of course, as the primary evidence that one of Bungie's original goals for Marathon was true non-linearity is the odd placement of the text fragment "The colony has been wiped out. Phhht! Just like that." in the data fork of the game, rather than in the appropriate term resource.

One other interesting thing about the WMC is that it, and The Plans, appear just after the Alien Energy Converter in the item list. In the terminal which instructs the player to pick up the Alien Energy Converter, Durandal tells us that it will allow us to "slay more Pfhor". There has been some speculation about just what the AEC does, and about how it allows the player to slay Pfhor, but IMHO no satisfactory conclusion has been reached. The best guess at the moment seems to be that the Alien Energy Converter does exactly what it says, and allows us to use energy-related Pfhor technology, meaning pattern buffers and rechargers. While that makes perfect sense in and of itself, the only way in which such a device could be useful in killing Pfhor (assuming the player does not chase some poor fighter down the hall beating him over the head with it) is indirectly. Would this term not make a great deal more sense if at some point the "device" on this level was a weapon of some kind? Due to the location of the names of the Cannon and Plans in with the item names, however, as well as the lack of beta screenshots showing anything which could be a Wave Motion Cannon, I have some doubts about whether this was a weapon which the player was meant to wield. Perhaps Leela or Durandal would have us install it somewhere, instead... But wouldn't we need plans to understand that kind of work?

Will the mystery of the Wave Motion Cannon ever be revealed?

Jonathan Merriman <jmerrima@ix.netcom.com> writes:

First of all, I'd like to say that the list convention isn't weapon-ammo, it's weapon-ammo-ammo (plural). I'd also like to mention is that when I used Marathon Cheater (I haven't touched it in a year. You're supposed to be proud of me :) ) to max out all my weapons, I noticed that in my ammo display I had 32767 clips of Pirated Copland Beta. This is probably a bug in the game where Marathon is following that weapon-ammo-ammo (plural) convention and it thinks Pirated Copland Beta is the ammo (plural) part (and therefore when I only have one clip of alien ammo left it will be called A copy of Windows NT, but I beat the scenario before I got that far.).

Ah yes the famous 32767 ammo number... reduces to... but you all knew that. ;-)

Since the alien weapon 'clip' discharges in about 3 seconds it would take roughly 27.3 hours to discharge 32767 Pirated Copland Betas (excluding reload time). And yes... as Jonathan predicts guess what appears when the penultimate Pirated Copland Beta is spent. Try it and find out. :-)

Of course this raises an interesting question. Jason Jones (Bungie Software) wrote in the Marathon resource fork:

PS. In case you were wondering, you can't ever find the
pirated copy of Copland in Marathon. That item used to be
a weapon that we took out late in development (the copy of
Windows NT was it's ammunition) but that will find it's
way into the Network Upgrade for Marathon.

Yet the order in which these two items appear in the resource fork is


This does not follow the weapon-ammo-ammo (plural) listing convention. The COPY OF WINDOWS NT should follow after the PIRATED COPLAND BETA.

As the weapon was taken out late in development we can speculate that the strings COPY OF WINDOWS NT and PIRATED COPLAND BETA were used to simply cover up the original weapon and ammo names.

If the weapon-ammo-ammo (plural) listing convention held true for this weapon then did someone type in the wrong strings or did Jason make a mistake in his comments in the resource fork.

Furthermore the Marathon Scrapbook revealed that the weapon was in fact a shotgun yet there is only one slot for its ammo. Technically the shotgun would have needed 2 ammo slots - one for SHOTGUN SHELL and the other for SHOTGUN SHELLS (plural). Yet there is only one slot listed - the singular COPY OF WINDOWS NT. Should there not have been a slot for COPIES OF WINDOWS NT ?

Yet another Marathon mystery.

Concerning the apparent lack of a 2nd slot for shotgun ammo in the Marathon resource fork (see above) David Martin <dkm125@psu.edu> writes:

...the graphic for the current shotgun ammo is two shells clustered together, and they're fired in pairs, so perhaps the original said (accurately, though stiltedly) "1 SHOTGUN SHELLS" or "[many] SHOTGUN SHELLS".

Ian James <ian@darkside.eemsd.wustl.edu> writes:

Even though the shells may be fired in pairs, it doesn't make sense in the English language to say "1 shotgun shells". They would instead be referred to as "2 shotgun shells" and increase by twos. However, as far as I know there is no way to make the engine do this.

Perhaps the alien weapon was originally the shotgun, and the two slots were for singular and plural ammo. When they scrapped the shotguns there was an empty slot, and so they put something simple that had no ammo into it. Of course, then there could only be one shotgun since there's no slot for shotguns (plural).

Gabe Rosenkoetter <gabe@colby.tjs.org> writes concerning Ian James' suggestion above:

This sounds very plausible.

Interesting to note, then, that the alien weapon in M2 and Infinity is, according to Forge (an original Bungie product, as opposed to Anvil, which was outsourced to Michael Hanson) the "alien shotgun."

Richard Williams <opus@world.std.com> writes:

Quick note about the 10mm/4mm discrepency with the flechette gun ammunition. A simple solution to this mystery: discarding sabots. Sabots are used to case a projectile smaller than the bore width of the barrel. Imagine trying to blow a pin through a straw. The pin is way too small to collect any of the pressure behind it. But if you were to encase the pin with a piece of tissue paper, you'd fill the straw diameter, and be able to blow the pin out. That's what sabots do for projectiles in weapons; it encases the smaller projectile so that it can gather enough pressure behind it to be flung out of the weapon. The sabot itself breaks up and/or is discarded by the main projectile soon after it leaves the barrel. So the combined diameter of the sabot and flechette is 10mm...the flechette itself is 4mm (this also makes a lot of sense. 10mm would be pretty big for a flechette). You can see this in quite a few modern weapons today: anti-tank cannon projectiles, some shotgun munitions (one BIG slug instead of hundreds of tiny slugs), and other muntions for pistols and rifles. This also allows the full diameter of the barrel to be used to fire other munitions. So concievably the KKV could fire other, "normal" types of ammuntion.

Nathan Scheck <SScheck@aol.com> writes:

While looking through the Infinity shapes file with Anvil, I notieced that just about all the names of the objects in the "Items" section had names you would not expect. Including "Mr. Spaceheater" (the flamethrower), "Le Superior Assault Rifle", "De Great Plasma Pistola", "The Lost Zip Disk" (data chip), "The Ventilator" (shotgun), and "Anti-Barney Particle Weapon" (alien weapon). The "Items" section seems to be the only one that does this.

Aaron Freed <aaron@packet.net> writes:

Other items of interest: "Don Pistola" (the .44 magnum), "Spankdaddyo(tm)" (the rocket launcher ammo) "Dor Ky" (the door key), "Superthrust 9000(tm)", the Flechette, "Gassage for De Heater" (flamethrower ammo) "I'm Blue, Are You?" (the night vision, which makes almost everything on the screen blue), and "Trip-O-Vision" (the @#$%&* extravision powerup that makes everyone misjudge distance). There are a few other noticable names, too, but I won't spoil them. I think Bungie wrote all of them tongue in cheek.

Tucker Berckmann <tdb9999@prin.edu> points out that in the new Ambrosia Software game Mars Rising there is a reference to a Wave Motion Gun. Part of the blurb for the game reads:

The vertical-scrolling game puts one or two players in the pilot seat of the prototype Vac-Fighter. Armed with a Wave Motion Gun and a bottom-mounted explosive payload delivery system, the Vac-Fighter is one hot piece of hardware - the perfect fighter-bomber for settling interplanetary disputes.

Tucker wonders if this is another allusion to Marathon.

Possibly but the origin of the Wave Motion Gun predates even Marathon. It seemingly first arose in the 1970s Japanese cartoon series "Space Battleship Yamato" (Starblasers, in the US). The Starblazers FAQ has this to say on the subject of Wave Motion.

What is Wave Motion?

A Critique of the Star Blazers|Yamato Energy Source

According to the translation, the two energy sources used by used by the Argo and the Earth Defense Force are solar power and "Wave Motion" energy. This discussion focuses on the latter source -- wave motion energy. In Japanese, this is "ha doo", literally "wave motion". Hence we have the "ha doo ho" (the wave motion gun, also misguidedly called the undulation cannon) and the "ha doo enjien" (wave motion engine). But, what is this magical wave motion energy source?

The term "wave motion" is used to describe one attribute of the energy source. In reality, most forms of energy we know of have an attribute of wave motion. Sound, light, and electricity all travel in waves.

The Earth Defense "wave motion" energy systems take inert space matter, such as dust and gas, and convert it to tachyon particles (energy). A tachyon particle is a sub-atomic particle that moves faster than the speed of light (as opposed to slower particles which are collectively called tardyons). Modern physics tells us that it is impossible to /accelerate/ a tardyon past the speed of light. If tachyons really exist, they must /already/ be moving at speeds greater than that of light. But, in the Star Blazers universe, dust and gas is not accelerated, but rather somehow electromagnetically compressed until it breaks into tachyon particles. This is about as plausible as harnessing antimatter in a fashion as it is done in /Star Trek/. But, being in the realm of science fiction|fantasy, we accept this feat without much further scientific protest.

Jeremy Parish <ejp95w@timon.acu.edu> writes:

...the Japanese term "ha dou" also appears in the Street Fighter series for several character's "fireball" attacks (listen - they shout "Hadouken!" or "Wave Motion Fist!"). But if you look, they're not throwing fireballs at all - it's a form of projected "ki," that oh-so-important spiritual energy exploited by all sorts of martial arts fantasy. The fireballs are actually a projected image of the fighters' fists.

Now, there was an obscure (and not too great) corridor shooter based on the M2 engine a couple years back called ZPC. Interestingly, the basic attack in that game was a "Hadouken" style attack, a projected form of energy based on a punch attack.

Aaron Snyder" <wittnietz@datatek.com> writes:

...Tucker Berckmann wonders if the "Wave Motion Gun" reference in Ambrosia Software's *Mars Rising* is a reference to *Marathon*. I would guess that it is, as Ambrosia has made reference to *Marathon* before, in *Escape Velocity*: many of the Bungie crew have their own ships, and when one lands on Tau Ceti, the description says that Tau Ceti was visited by the colony ship Marathon long ago. I also noticed that the alien ships that show up during gameplay look suspiciously like Pfhor ships. No word on *Bubble Trouble*, though. ;) I would recommend looking for more references to *Marathon* in *Mars Rising*, as the objective of the game is to put down a rebellion instigated by Martian colonists (sound familiar?).

Yes indeed. :-)

Dennis Nedblake <NedblakeD@umkc.edu> writes:

There's some discussion about why the KKV-7 is a 10mm weapon when it fires 4mm flechette ammunition. I had always assmed that this was because each shot fires a bundle of 4mm flechettes that come in a 10mm casing (much like a shotgun, only with needles instead of shot).

This would fit with the KKV-7's ammo casing pics.

Bradley Attfield <trsurmap@spots.ab.ca> writes:

A while back I alerted the page to a Marathon-like symbol at kalashnikov.guns.ru. Following up on this, I did some more research on the subject of Russian small arms and found that in '94, the Russian military adopted a new rifle for future use. The AN-94 (Avtomat Nikonova model of 1994) replaced, or is meant to replace, the AK-74 which the Russian military supposedly realized was the end of the practical development life of the AK series.

The reason I bring this up is this, the KKV-7 10mm SMG Flechette and AN-94 share a number of similar characteristics:

1. They both fire TWO-ROUND bursts. (Prior to now, I've NEVER heard of a tactical arm that fires two-round bursts.)

2. They are both much more accurate than the weapons that they succeed. (The MA-75B in the case of the Flechette and the AK-74 in the case of the AN-94.)

3. They both apparently exhibit less recoil than the weapons that they succeed. (The AN-94 doesnāt actually have less recoil trigger-pull for trigger-pull, it just fires the two-round burst so quickly that you only feel the recoil of one shell.)

However, I don't know if the AN-94 is recommended for firing under-water/in vacuum or if it has a flechette shell made for itās unique 5.45mm bullet. I do know that the AN-94 does apparently have the ability to accomodate the standard grenade launcher used with many of the older Russian martial arms. ;-)

Ben Reiter <reiterbe@pilot.msu.edu> writes:

I feel compelled to comment on the AR-75's bore-diameter debate because one thing has always bothered me: the gun's apparent wimpiness. I can't find my copy of the M1 manual to double-check, but I've always thought it said that the AR fired a .75 caliber shell... and that's the part that bothers me.

Yes the Marathon manual says that the M.75 Assault Rifle with Grenade Option "fires 600 rounds per minute of .75 caliber shells. Standard clip holds 52 rounds of high velocity ammunition" [Hamish]

Ben continues:

To set the record straight, whenever modern firearm bore diameters are measured with a decimal preceeding a number, that means that it is being measured in caliber, which is a decimal portion of an inch. For example, our .45 MMC (or .44?) is .45 hundredths of an inch, almost a half-inch in diameter. That's a pretty big shell, and in late twentieth-century thought, it's (arguably) the prime "one-shot stopper", with something like an 80 percent chance that someone shot in the chest with it won't get back up and attack you, but ponder the fragments of his spine stuck into the wall. Of course, we all know that one shot never stopped a BOB, but that just makes them more fun to shoot :). When a bore diameter is given in integers or numbers greater than one (ex: 9mm, 7.62), it almost invariably refers to millimeters. Stopping power being mainly a function of diameter, a slower-moving, heavier bullet will work better (in theory), since you WANT the shell to stop inside, that means it's transferred all its energy into a bigger wound channel and heavier shockwave. Here's where the .75 caliber shells from the AR bug me: a .50 caliber rifle is almost invariably one of two things: a massive bolt-action deal, heavily muzzle-ported (holes bored into the end to vent gases) so that the recoil doesn't injure the wielder too badly, or a bipod-mounted chain-fed fully-automatic gun. The one-shot stop percentage of the .50 is invariably 100%, since there has never been a human alive that can survive loss of 1/3 of the solid mass of his chest (unless said human were a cyborg... hmmm...). No feasable body armor has been devised to protect against it; it was used in the defensive guns of the B-17 bomber during WWII to shoot down Nazi aircraft. Yet when I fire .75 (that's THREE FOURTHS OF AN INCH in diameter for those keeping score; an order of magnitude more powerful than a gun used to SHOOT DOWN AIRPLANES IN FLIGHT), caliber shells at a BOB, he goes "ugh" and twitches. In fact, it takes more .75 caliber shells to kill a BOB (or anything else) than .44! Normally, I'd shrug it off with, "it's just a game", but this is Bungie! Because of their attention to realism in unreal situations, I have to point this impossibility out.

In reference to firing guns in vacuum, this is absolutely correct; all modern cased ammunition (the bullet fits snugly into a (usually brass) casing) is "vacuum enabled"; the powder and air are contained and all oxygen needed for the powder's combustion is right there (and can't get out). Perhaps the AR uses some kind of compressor to overpressurize the shell to promote combustion (like a turbocharger)? The shotgun being unable to fire in vacuum I can totally understand. Shotgun shells are merely crimped at the end to keep the shot from falling out; sometimes they're waterproofed, but I don't think that'd hold up in vacuum. BTW, gunpowder does not technically explode. It burns (very quickly) and the pressure of the gases produced force the bullet out of barrel. I know I'm being pedantic here, but when compared to other "true" explosives, gunpowder is downright sluggish.

Mark Levin <mglevin@uiuc.edu> writes

The recent mention of the AN-94 reminded me of an article I saw in Popular Science a few months ago; unfortunately their web site doesn't archive the actual article. (And I don't have the magazine with me so all this is from memory.) The article in question was about a new rifle being developed by the US Army, possibly to be deployed in the early 21st century, It's an assault rifle with a built-in grenade launcher! Designed to replace both the M16 rifle and M209(?) grenade launcher, it can fire traditional 7.62mm bullets at rates and accuracy matching the M16, and 20mm high-explosive rounds through an upper barrel (controlled by a second trigger). These shells can be timed using the sophisticated scope/rangefinder, so that one can precisely set up the round's behavior during flight (i.e. detonate just after going through a window). The scope itself could be compared to the Hypervision powerup, with zooming, IR night vision, rangfinder, laser sight, and it may be able to integrate downloaded tactical data into the view (tinting friends yellow and enemies red perhaps? 8) ).

Dan Hembry (email withheld for security reasons) writes:

Was reading the Weapons in Marathon page under Facts and Puzzling Thing About... and I came across the mention of the OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon) sent in by Mark Levin. I have some info I would like to add:

It was in the July 1998 issue of Popular Science. It fires standard 5.56mm NATO ammo (the same stuff the M16 uses) from a 20 or 30 round magazine and 20mm round (six in a magazine) which is programable (basicly you can set it for an air burst, impact detonation, or a few seconds after detonation) via the sight (which has a laser range finder, 6X zoom lens, and a video camera which can be connected to a helmet mounted video screen or a wrist watch type thingy, it also has an IR nightvision mode). Another thing is that the weapon can be split in two and you can use both separately. Also the gun is accurate to 1,000 meters ('bout twice the range of most infantry rifles). It weighs 14 pounds and costs $15,000. The U.S. Army will replace the M16 and M203 grenade launcher with the OICW for two soldiers per squad.

I don't know why but this sounds sorta Marathonish. First there's the "integral grenade launcher". Well actually it isn't really a grenade launcher, it's more like "a combination explosive and impact projectile weapon". And then it has that sorta tough plastic/metal look.

Dan Hembry <durandal_777@yahoo.com> writes:

I found some webpages a few days ago about the OICW and I thought you might like to see them (some of the prototypes look like they were right out of a movie)


Tucker Berckmann <cybertuck@novagate.com> writes:

A few interesting things about marathon weapons I noticed: In the original marathon manual, the poor accuracy of the MA-75 is credited to "manufacturing defect" When the sph't rebuilt all of the weapons in M2, why wasn't this "manufacturing defect" ameliorated? Perhaps Durandal was adding an extra challenge :-).

Also, the caption with the Tech.50 fusion pistol in the manual describes the each of the bolts as having 5.85 Terawatts of power. The significance of a watt in physics is one Newton meter per second. (meaning a watt of energy can move a newton one meter in one second) I assume an electrical watt would translate roughly to a newton meter per second since they both have the same unit. A terawatt is a billion watts, so why isn't the effect of a fusion bolt on a bob (or a window, for that matter) complete and utter disintegration? ( since a bob only weighs about 500 newtons) Perhaps Bungie inflated their numbers slightly.

Aaron Davies <agd12@columbia.edu> writes:

...from Bungie's page about Infinity, check out this description of the KKV-7:

"Here's a cool new weapon for you. The KKV-7 10mm Flechette SMG. The weapon is hyper accurate and fires at a higher rate than the Assault Rifle. As an added bonus, the second trigger fires a burst underwater!"

Second trigger for underwater? Were the two triggers originally supposed to do different things?

James Lanfear" <jclanfear@presys.com> writes:

A terawatt is actually a _trillion_ watts. Assuming the pistol takes about .3sec per shot (sorry, can't remember how quickly it shoots) the pistol's output is 5-9x the total _world_ energy output! (I have this terrible feeling it's exactly 7x ;-)

(Numbers used for the calc are extrapolated from the 1997 World Almanac)

A tera is a trillion or a billion? Well it depends on what country you are in!

Mike Ash <mikeash@csd.uwm.edu> writes concerning Bungie's description of the energy bolt of the Fusion Pistol:

Actually, this entire description is a bit off. You would expect a bolt to have a certain amount of *energy*, yet a watt is a unit of power *consumption*. For example, take a standard 60 watt light bulb. This means that it uses 60 joules of energy for every second that it's running. But let's forget about all of this, and assume that the watt rating of a fusion bolt is referring to the rate at which it transfers power to the subject it hits upon impact. Now, we can do a few very rough calculations to give us a feel for how much energy we're dealing with.

Let's assume that it takes a mere one millisecond to discharge a bolt. 5.85 terawatts over one millisecond yields us 5.85 billion joules of power. Converting to calories, we get a bit over one billion calories. Coincidentally, a billion calories is defined as one ton of TNT (I forgot my reference for this!). So, based on these assumptions, one fusion bolt should explode with the rough explosive force of one ton of TNT upon impact with an unsuspecting target. That figure seems to indicate a bit more force than we experience in the game....

Henry Fok <spectre@startrekmail.com> writes:

Regarding the posts re: the MA-75B.

As I was taught, with firearms, accuracy depends on three things - the operator, the weapon, and the ammo. The most likely cause of inaccuracy is, of course, the operator. Given that we're probably the tenth Mjolnir, that's not likely. The next most probable cause of error is the weapon. A poorly designed, built, or maintained weapon is not going to be very accurate. This isn't the case with the 'B, however...

"Gone are the preposterously short barrel and the prodigious recoil that made firing the weapon akin to wrestling a greased pig."

One assumes that relatively simple metalworking and plastic fabrication isn't a big problem for the S'pht, considering they did make the new Fusion pistol and the new MMC's. I think it's safe to assume that Durandal made the rifle more intrinsically accurate.

That leaves poor ammunition quality (which would also explain why the thing is as inaccurate on singleshot as it is at full auto.) Gunpowder is a very precise science - and the S'pht had cartridges that were at least 17 years old, if not older (perhaps the amm dated from the launch of the Marathon; we don't know). Stored gunpowder does eventually decay/degrade and become inert. In bullets, as far as I can recall, firing old (but good condition) rounds can cause radically decreased accuracy. Remember, the S'pht aren't terribly good at copying things in large quantity (fusion batteries?) and if they had a poor example (a degraded cart) they might not have known any better and produced large numbers of "new" degraded cartridges.

Which brings me to my next point: Several people have noted that .50 caliber machine guns are used to shoot down aircraft among other things. The .50BMG (Browning Machine Gun) round that is being referred to is around 3 inches long. Lots of gunpowder stuffed in that shell, so, yes, lots of recoil, etc.

On the other hand, may I call your attention to the .50 AE round. Designed for the Desert Eagle series of pistols, the cartridge is just over an an inch long, and the recoil is managable in a heavy frame pistol - and it's more than managable in a carbine (short rifle). It's also NOT terribly useful for shooting down high-flying aircraft. Unlike the .50 BMG.

Judging by the cases that the MA ejects, we're looking at a round that *is* .75 cal, but is also about 1.5-2.25 inches long - more than managable in a battle rifle, especially if the cartridges are light load (not heavily packed with high-efficiency powder).So, it's not as long as the .50 BMG, but longer than the .50AE - thoroughly realistic.

Henry Fok <spectre@startrekmail.com> writes:

Why can't the TOZT and MA75 fire in vacuum?

Well, if you look at the original TOZT, from M1, you see what appears to be the inlet for a fan type compressor. This would explain the "cloud of flame" pattern of the flame thrower.

In the real world, most flamethrowers do not produce a cloud of fire. Instead, they produce more of a funnel or stream of fire. Just watch the old WWI and WWII documentaries and newsreels. An air compressor would be the perfect way to mix the volatile liquids with oxygen, creating a nice, continuous, fuel-air burn, i.e., cloud-o-flame. If it indeed uses an air compressor to eject a fog of flaming chemicals, this would explain why it does not work in vacuum - without oxygen, it can't create said fog. If it is computerized and "smart" it might interpret the lack of incoming oxygen as an intake blockage and shut itself down to avoid damaging itself or the user. The later versions would have a smaller, less obvious impeller/compressor.

As for the MA-75A/B not being able to fire in vacuum, I think I have an explanation here, too. Most current battle rifles utilize some of the gases that propel the bullet to cycle, i.e., slam the bolt back so that it can eject the shell, and use springs or some other method to bring the bolt forward after that, chambering a new round on the way. Okay so far, but what if the MA has (especially the -b) some sort of complex compensator system to reduce muzzle climb and recoil? Current design theory has the compensator ports cut at the end of the barrel. Firearms designers of the future may decide that battle rifles need more power to compensate for recoil and let the compensator ports into the barrel at somewhere between the breech and the muzzle, and not at the muzzle end. This would also further reduce bullet velocity and lower recoil. These ports might have some sort of piping or venting system so that they did not vent onto the user's hands, etc.

What does this have to do with firing in vacuum, you ask? Well, in some gas operated battle rifles, like the AK-47 and its relatives, gas is tapped out of the barrel about 1/3 of the way from the muzzle and used to propel the bolt. If there were ports cut further down the barrel for the comps, the designer might have rigged the system so that there would be sufficient gases at the "operation port" to cycle the action. However, gas expands faster in a vacuum than in an atmosphere - isn't it concievable that in vacuum, the gas would flow out of the early compensator ports at a rate that would leave insufficient charge at the operating port to cycle the action? If this is the case, you could fire ONE shot, then you'd have to cycle the action by hand.

A similar situation would exist for the grenade launcher - extrapolating from current technology, some current aerial bombs and grenades use a small nose-mounted propeller-type or internally (with ducting leading to and from) mounted turbine-type fuses. The prop or turbine has to spin a certain number of times or at a certain velocity before the explosives are armed. No atmosphere, no spinny, and you might as well throw rocks at the Pfhor. Though there are ways to defeat this (notable procedure on the US M79 launcher used in Viet Nam) so that there is no minimum range (put launcher muzzle against the wall or a bush and you get an ugly surprise and a big boom) you probably want to set it so that it won't arm while it's in the barrel. That seems to be what happens here - even if you put the muzzle of the rifle part of the MA against the wall, the grenade launcher has at least a few inches for its round to travel after leaving the barrel.

Eylon Caspi <eylon@cs.berkeley.edu> writes:

There is some empirical evidence in support of Mike Ash's <mikeash@csd.uwm.edu> assumption that a fusion bolt takes 1 millisecond to impact its target. Making a rough estimate from game play, fusion bolts travel at approximately 8 texture-squares per second. If memory serves, each such square ("world unit") is 2 meters wide, making for a lazy muzzle velocity of 16 meters per second. These numbers should be verified by more venerable map makers. Let us assume that a fusion bolt's core is about 1 centimeter in diameter (about 1 muzzle width?), and that the rest of its size is light flare. Then its pulse duration, also the time it takes to impact a solid object, is (1 cm)/(16 m/s) = 1/1600 seconds = 0.6 milliseconds. If a fusion bolt is in fact smaller than our estimate of 1 cm, then the delivered energy would be proportionally smaller.

There is some nagging evidence to suggest that the authors of the Marathon Manual confused the terms "power" and "energy." More than I care to write here. However, if a fusion bolt carried 5.83 TeraJoules of energy rather than the stated 5.83 TeraWatts of power, then it would deliver 1000 times more energy than proposed in Mike Ash's discussion. Equivalent to a kiloton of TNT. Mind you, the "Little Boy" atomic bomb which levelled Hiroshima was only 15 kilotons' worth. So this conjecture is way out of line with the story.

Matt Shears <marful@worldnet.att.net> writes:

This is in regard to the discrepancies involveded with the Marathon weapons:

A about the MA.75 and the MA.75B; The modern assault rifle uses a 5.56mm. round which equates roughly to a .223 caliber round. Obviously a M-16 has more stopping power than a .22 Long Rifle or .22 Magnum round. This is because that the 5.56mm doesn't specify the powder charge associated with the round. A 5.56mm assault rifle cartridge is around 2.5 inches long. Yet the bullet itself is a little bigger than a .22 round in diameter. So the MA.75 might use a .75 caliber round with a short powder charge (maybe reflected in its crappy damage.)

There is one reason that comes to mind why the MA.75(b) would not fire in a vacuum. This involves the process of venting the gas to re-cock the hammer. Maybe the weapon isn't air tight, and that in the vacuum with no outside air pressure, the gas escapes and the weapon doesn't re-cock. The same could be said with the .44MMC which is a semi-automatic pistol and uses a blowback method for re-cocking the weapon. (A note on 7.62mm or .50cal machine gun rounds. A .50cal machinegun round can punch a modern Armored APC at 1000meters. Kill a person inside, and then exit the other side of the vehicle. So the MA.75 must have a small powder charge because it takes half the clip to kill a major pfhor; the purple ones)

Next on my spiel is the KKV-7 10mm Flechette SMG. I personaly think that it uses a sabot (prenounced say-boh). Which explanes the 10mm round size, with the 4mm cross section. Even thought the round is small it is more lethal than most hollow point ammunition. The Steyr Aug, an infamous weapon, also uses flechettes (in an optional configuration). This weapon is feard for the trauma inflicted on fleshy targets. While the flechette itself is relatively small compared to the shotgun shell looking casing it resides in, the weapons deadlieness lies in the kinetic shockwave it causes in the target that makes an exit wound from a .357 magnum hollow point look like a small pinprick. It is really messy.

About the TOZT. I thought it used an aerosol propelant? Why would it need oxygen to fire in a vacuum if it has it's own propelant already?

And lastly, that fusion pistol. 5.58 TERRAWATTS? Holy [censored]! If you were within 10m of a transfer of 5.58 terrawatts you'd be wishing you bought that 5 billion SPF sun screen back at the Tau Ceti space terminal. Well maybe one reason that we don't incinerate ourselves when firing the Fusion Pistol is that the energy dissipates as it travels to it's target. But in a vacuum, particularly space, the energy has nowhere to transfer except the target, and so we don't take any backlash damage.

As to the shotgun, I believe the ammo gets teleported into and out of the firing chamber :P

Don't get me started on the shotgun reload mechanism! ;-)

Liam mac Lynne <liammacl@eden.rutgers.edu> writes:

Was reading through the weapons section, and realized something- the MA .75 may not be able to fire in a vacuum because of something that messed up a few satellites. When something has moving parts and is taken into a fairly good vacuum, the gases which had occupied space betweens the individual moving parts escapes; in some mechanisms, this leads to binding between the moving parts and jamming. It's possible that parts of the trigger mechanism or the bolt action could lock in this fashion in a vacuum; I don't know how long is generally required for the lockup to occur if it's going to. This effect was a major concern for the LANDSAT mission (I believe I've got the right mission) back in the 70's or thereabouts, because there was no way at the time to take the satellite photos without certain critical parts of the camera being able to move, and NASA worried that this kind of vacuum lock was going to scratch the mission. It's also why it's standard practice to minimize or eliminate moving parts in any NASA mission.

On the subject of the TOZT-7, it's possible that whatever system of valves is used to supply the napalm could bind shut due to the pressure differences between the "clip" and the vacuum in the barrel space.

Z. Miller <Mrodar@aol.com> writes concerning Leela's statement about the M-75 Assault Rifle/Grenade Launcher on "Bigger Guns Nearby":

There is an M-75 Assault
Rifle/Grenade Launcher and
ammunition at this location. 
When firing on the fully
automatic setting this weapon
is highly inaccurate, but the
grenades hit hard and it's the
best we can do right now.

and the statement (above) that there didn't appear to be another setting even though Leel's comment would suggest it.

Z. Miller points out two things. Firstly, that it is possible to fire the Assault Rifle on a setting other than fully automatic by "tapping" the fire key rather than simply holding it down. Secondly, on this setting it's just as highly inaccurate as when on fully automatic. Leela was obviously not giving us the whole tru7h! ;-)

Garth Melnick <Garth.B.Melnick@directory.reed.edu> writes:

On the subject of why the MA-75 cannot fire in vacuum, I noticed no one had pointed to the relevant text in the Marathon 2 Manual.

Durandal states in his weapons briefing regarding the MA-75B: (emphasis added) "[...] Still here is the _oxygen-hungry ammunition_ that makes it impossible to fire in vacuum."

So I fear I must submit that the theories regarding a problem with enough gas to cycle the action, while consistent (I certainly think they make), are at least partially inaccurate -- it's the ammo that's the problem. Cycling may well be an issue, but I'm guessing the propellant in the ammunition is of some variety that cannot react without atmospheric oxygen. I'm not a chemist, so I won't theorize futher, but I thought this worth tossing out.

Max Etchemendy <mxetch@yahoo.com>l writes:

I'm writing to just bring up a couple of things about the current discussion of weapons in vacuum.

First of all, the original Marathon manual uses some interesting terminology to describe the weapons. It uses the phrase "vacuum enabled" when talking about the .45 Magnum's ammunition, and "[not] vacuum enabled" for the M.75 Assault Rifle's ammunition. This seems to suggest that vacuum capability is the exception, not the rule, that is, it seems to imply that the pistol bullets have been =actively= enabled.

If the reason for this does lie in the chemical propellant used in the bullets, then there must be some pretty exotic fuel involved! Maybe this also explains why the rocket launcher can't be fired in vacuum--after all, every known form of rocket fuel work in vacuum as well. Why, exactly, such an inferior form of fuel would be used by the U.E.G. (particularly in a setting where vacuum and oxygen-deprived atmospheres will be commonly encountered) is a mystery, unless the fuel is either very powerful (The M.75 is said to fire "high velocity ammunition" in the Marathon manual...) or very cheap, perhaps because it is more readily available on Mars or in the Asteroid Belt whereas other fuels would have to be shipped from Earth. This seems consistent with the obvious cost-cutting and cheap manufacture that went into the creation of the M.75 line, although it is a highly far-fetched idea that reeks of 1940s B-movies--I tend to prefer the former option of a very powerful but "oxygen-hungry" fuel. Then again, maybe the Bungie people just needed a quick lesson in physics/chemistry...oops, did I say that? ;-)

Similarly Bradley Attfield <iku-turso@home.com> writes:

Just wanted to throw in my two cents about the MA-75's ammunition.

Conventional firearm ammunitions do not require ambient gaseous oxygen to operate. All of the necessary chemical components for combustion are built into the propellant. This is what makes possible the firing of +P and other loads in which the cartridge case is mostly, if not fully, filled with propellant.

What this says about the uniqueness of the MA-75's ammunition is not mine to guess, but maybe those cheap, Martian built weapons were the next step in firearms development (though I'd have to say a step backwards if ambient gaseous oxygen was required for operation.)

Brian Dubick <bdubick@hotmail.com> writes:

On the subject of whether or not the MA-75 fires a .75 caliber bullet, I don't think so for three reasons:

1) Not enough damage. I know that this has been argued about a great deal and that a .75 caliber bullet with a really small powder charge (and thus, low muzzle velocity) wouldn't do much damage (mass times velocity equals momentum and momentum equals damage). But the MA-75 supposedly fires "high velocity ammunition", which makes sense since the whole point of a rifle is to fire high velocity shots for better range and impact. Any rifle nowadays that doesn't break the sound barrier isn't worth bothering with. So if the MA-75 has a bullet three-fourths of an inch across (bigger than anything fired by a handheld weapon today) _and_ "high velocity", then it should be ripping holes in the bad guys the size of soccer balls. It doesn't, so obviously the ammo is smaller than that.

2) I'm not sure how trustworthy this is, but in your HUD weapons display you see how many bullets are in your clip, right? The ones for the .44/.45 pistol look a lot bigger than the ones for the rifle. Of course, we don't know that it's to scale....

3) Okay, so the bullets are .75 inches in diameter and there's 52 of them in the clip. That would have to be a _very_ big clip. We don't know the length of the bullets, so we'll put that aside for a moment. But we do know that if you look at them from behind, the back side would be a circle with an area of about 0.44 square inches. That means that the 52 of them would take up 22.97 square inches (and that's asssuming that you somehow manage to stack them so that there's absolutely no empty space in between the bullets, which is impossible). So in practice you'd probably need more like 29.25 square inches, plus the sides of the clip itself and the spring mechanism to move the bullets up into the gun. Now, we get to see the rifle in both the HUD and on the ground before we pick it up, and it's not nearly tall enough or wide enough to accommodate that many bullets of that size. If the MA-75 were a .75 caliber weapon, then it would need to either carry less bullets or feed from a can, like a Tommy gun or SAW.

So I'd suggest that the ".75" after the weapon's name in the manual is either an accidental extra "75" (since that's what the weapon's designation ends with) or else represents something else entirely.

Interesting enough the early concept sketches for the M-75 had a "Tommy gun" like ammo can.

Bradley Attfield <iku-turso@home.com> writes:

I know that this goes directly against the caption in the Marathon manual, but perhaps the 75 in MA-75 denotes a YEAR instead of a caliber. Both the 47 and 74 in AK-47 and AK-74 denote the years that the weapons were respectively adopted by the Russian military - 1947 and 1974. Same goes for the AN-94 that is supposedly being adopted by the Russian armed forces - the 94 stands for 1994, not a caliber. If this is what was originally meant in the name MA-75, then the caliber of the weapon would still be a moot point, but at least we wouldn't have to worry ourselves about the impossibility of .75 caliber shells.

Does anybody know what the MA in MA-75 stands for? In the case of the Russian rifles, the two letters stand for the initials of the designer.

John Rychlik <iamtheone89@go.com> writes:

Bradley Attfield said that 75 probably meant the year it was made. But actually, in the M1 Readme, it says "...fires 600 rounds per minute of .75 caliber shells...", right? So it must refer to the caliber.

Max Etchemendy <mxetch@yahoo.com> writes:

On the topic of that old assault rifle...

We are told my the original Marathon manual that the M.75 Assault Rifle fires .75 caliber bullets. Note also that the original M.75 =did= have a huge ammunition box for a clip. I really have no idea what else that huge ridged box on the bottom of the gun could be.) The MA-75B does =not=, and Brian Dubick's comment about clip size certainly applies here.

But I have searched the text and I believe that in all three games the original manual is the only place where the bore size for the original assault rifle is mentioned. Never is the bore size of the MA-75B mentioned; we just assume, I suppose, that it has the same bore size since it is "version 2.0" of our old AR.

The original Marathon manual also says that the fusion pisol lets off 17.5 terrawatts of power, which as we have discussed, would be the equivalent of nuking everything in the room. My point being that this document--the ONLY place where the .75 caliber bore size of the M.75 is mentioned--is not known for its rigorous realism, unlike most of Bungie's game background. My point being that maybe we can just ignore that one spot.

In further support of Brian Dubick's comments...each .75 cailber round would probably weigh something like half a pound. (Remember, it's made out of LEAD and would probably be about 2.25 inches.) It would be less with plastic-cased or caseless ammunition, but the clip would still weigh in the 15-25 pound range. That's a lot to lug around...

MA-75 Assault Rifle was a dual weapon firing both bullets and grenades one of the boxes below would have been for grenades. Perhaps the other was for bullets.

Garth Melnick <Garth.B.Melnick@directory.reed.edu> writes:

Regarding the discussion of the MA-75 on the Marathon's story page, I've got another possible explanation to offer for the '-75' designator: it's simply a model number, similar to the US system, with no relation to the caliber. For example, in the US system there are the following weapons/calibers: M16 (5.56mm assualt rifle); M14 (7.62mm assualt rifle); M249 (5.56mm squad automatic weapon); M203 (40mm grenade launcher), and so on. The numbers are simply arbitrary. This seems a likely explanation, given the fallacies in the designator-as-caliber argument pointed out by Mr. Dubick.

As to the clip, I'd always assumed that the MA-75 was fed from a drum magazine of some sort, due to the illustrations and the simple fact that 52 rounds is a lot for a conventional clip of any sort. A drum magazine just makes more sense.

Peter Sherk <s22918@rmc.ca> writes

Just a few points regarding weapons, after reading the weapons section, and following my experience with the Canadian C-7 rifle this summer. First, regarding the 10/4mm discussion with the Flechette. Some have suggested it either refers to the length and diameter of the bullet, or a pack of 4mm projectiles in a 10mm shell. However, given a 4mm cross- section, you don't get a very big bullet. SImilar is the C-7, as well as a few American combat rifles. Using 5.56mm NATO shots, you end up with something just larger than a .22 rifle shell. The damage is caused by a very high velocity, rather than a big shell. So you get a 5.56mm bullet in a casing that tapers out to something around 10mm,to fit in more powder. Could the 10/4 refer to a 4mm bullet with a flared 10mm casing? Another interesting note is the high rate of fire of the C-7 and similar weapons. With a r.o.f. in excess of 700 rounds per second, we end up with a weapon similar in many respects to the KKV. On fully auto, it takes less than a second to empty a mag on both weapons.

As well, the bullets used are refered to in at least one mail as being made of lead. Why do bullets used far in the future have to be lead? Already depleted uranium is being used in larger weapons, for it's greater density. Given a much greater time period for weapons development, couldn't the weapons makers of the future have come up with something better? Or in the case of the MA-75B, something lighter, which would make a .75 caliber shell something a soldier could actully carry around a large number of? This could also explain the high-velocity, low damage problem. Why they would do this I leave to other speculators.

Mac Phair <macc@midrivers.com> writes:

The M1A2 .75BR that is allusioraly mentioned in the description of the 10mm KKV-7 (Interesting note: KKV-7 10mm... 3 letters, 7, 10...) has been described as impossibly large to fire, because of its .75 Caliber main bullets. However, and I'm assuming that the rifle is a one-man unit, a .75 caliber bullet isn't that unlikely. Take, for example, the real-life Barret Light Fifty. The gun itself is huge, having a full length of 1.549 Meters, so it is not the most wieldly weapon, but it can be carried by one soldier. The gun is chambered for the .50 BMG cartridge, which has a .510 inch-diameter bullet, and a length of 99mm, so it's obvious that the gun should have an ungodly huge recoil, but the designers anticipated this, and created a recoil-based action, which pulls the barrel back into a shroud, simultaneously running the action and reducing felt recoil to that of a 12 gauge shotgun. Is it possible that the BR was designed with this in mind? The Barret carries 11 rounds in a detachable box-magazine, so assuming the two guns would be about the same size, the BR could carry, oh... accounting for the increased cartridge size, anywhere from 7 to 10 rounds.

The M .75, as the M1 Manual refers to it as, carries "52 rounds of High-velocity, .75 caliber something or other ammunition" (Yes, I'm paraphrasing...). .75 caliber rounds, and 52 in a magazine to boot? Hmm... suspicious indeed. I am more inclined to believe that perhaps it was meant to be 7.5mm instead. But I hear you saying that, even a 7.5mm cartridge would have to have an ungainly long magazine. Obviously you've never heard of "Double Stacking". Basically, this type of magazine widens the box by a small amount so that the bullets can lie diagonally alternating to each other. Pehraps it would be easier to visualize. In any case, you don't have to just double stack things. The Italian Spectre SMG has a uunique, quad-stack magazine that allows the gun to hold 50 cartridges in a space normally associated with 25 or 30. It's possible that the MA-75 actually has a quad-stacked 7.5mm cartridge design. Of course, the original M.75 or MA-75 appeared to have a drum Magazine, which also would have worked.

The WAVE MOTION CANNON: A great weapon, or whatever it was that never saw the light of day, but here's something cool: How to make one:

Open a new physics model in Anvil. Use the Fusion gun as a base. Set the primary and secondary triggers' firing errors to 7 or more. Now open the shots menu, and check the "No horizontal error" and "vertical wander", or choose "No Vertical Error" and "Horizontal Wander". You don't have to use the fusion gun. Sometimes I use the Alien gun. Anyway, just make sure the Shots tags are checked in one of those two combinations. Then, save it all up, and run a test. You get some pretty cool effects.

Bradley Attfield <iku-turso@home.com> writes:

I was reading the weapons in Marathon section over again, specifically Tucker Berkmann's submission about the fusion pistol, when I remembered something from one of my physics courses. The following numbers are all approximate, my Prof has a way of 'approximating' things. ;-)

A question my professor posed to the class was as follows, "If a person were to grab the nodes of a 20kV battery, what current would flow through you and what would this mean in terms of energy?" Doing the math, saying that the power supply had a resistance of 2k ohms and that the person had a resistance of approximately 10k ohms, the amperage flowing through a person would be approximatley 1.67A, which translates into about 33kW of power, or 33,000 joules of energy per second. My prof then went on, using his 'approximations' to tell us that to heat one gram of water to 100 degrees celsius takes about 420 joules and that boiling it (presumably to vapourize it) would take another 2200 joules. In total, this would mean that in one second, 33kW will 'boil' *about* ten grams of water. (The approximations are horrible, yes.)

Extrapolating then, one second of exposure to 5.85 Terawatts of energy would be able to 'boil' about one and a half (nearly two) BILLION grams of water. Reversing the ratio, to 'boil' 100kg of water, (about 220lb, maybe a little heavy for Bob) would take about 5.6 microseconds at 5.85 Terawatts. Of course, this would leave nothing of Bob but vapour, and we all know that when we shoot Bob with fusion that he leaves a corpse, so to bring Bob to 100 degrees celsius (212 F), without vaporizing him, would take about 7 nanoseconds at 5.85TW. Interesting, no?

John "Doombat" Rychlik <iamtheone89@go.com> writes:

I have dicovered another irregularity witrh the MA-75B. The clip would be a source of massive problems. Standard-issue clips for most assault rifles have 30 bullets so that the springs don't wear down. In a clip with 52 bullets, the springs would break, no matter how powerful the spring is or how long the clip is. And at the rate of fire the MA-75B fires at (600 rpm, right?) with a countinuous feed of ammo, the clips would not only break down after the first use, the barrel would melt, no matter how exellent the cooling system is..er..was. Even most light machineguns have issues with sustained fire, and they have massive cooling units (gas packs, water buckets, air conditioning). Once again refering to my grandfather for info, he says that a weapon like the MA-75B would never be issued to troops in any situation no matter what.

David Lund <kismob@hotmail.com> writes concerning the film of the moment:

I recently went to see the movie Minority Report. The films vision of the future really doesn't share anything with our favorite game... one of their weapons, on the other hand, did. A sonic shot-gun of some sort was seen reloaded in a 'twirly' kind of motion, just like those hard to explain ones that we lug around. Just thought I'd bring this to your attention.

Miguel Chavez <bs@bungie.org> writes concerning the WSTE-M5 shotgun:

Just thought I'd add my opinion to the old argument about the shotgun and it's reload mechanism: I would think that when Terminator 2 came out in 1991 and we saw Arnold Schwarzenegger use a shotgun and mimic the same exact 'twirl' reload movement while riding his motorcycle, that we had proof that it was possible for a shotgun to reload in such a way.

Granted, the movie is based on fantasy, so such a shotgun may not exist in real life, but a counter-argument is that it is known that director James Cameron likes to use real or as-real-as-possible guns in his pictures.

My belief, and I'm not a gun enthusiast so I have no proof to back it up, is that such a gun as the WSTE-M5 might not have existed in the public's eye when M2 first came out in '96, and as such spurred alot of conversation at a.g.m, but such a gun probably exists now. Mayhaps more informed readers of your page may be able to shed some light on this?

Going back to Minority Report, the shock-wave shotguns in question, if I recall correctly, required multiple revolutions to 'cock the trigger' so to speak. If I were to postulate their inner-workings, the shock-guns amplify and channel the pressure the wielder creates by 'tightening' or 'compressing' some element in the gun. Pulling the trigger releases this energy as a shock-wave. Mayhaps the number of twirls you impart on the gun increases the force of the blast, exponentially or incrementally.

Having never read the short story the movie is based on, by Philip K Dick, I don't know if this mysterious gun makes an appearance within those pages. If it did, it would be quite interesting, since the book came out in the 50's, many years before Marathon 2 and the dual-shotguns with 'twirly' reload. :)

Finn Smith <fcs[at]modcult.org> makes a valid point when he writes:

My memory of this was triggered by the mention of the reloading in Minority Report. I can hardly believe that no one has mentioned this before, but a Google search of the story page and a perusal of the Weapons in Marathon section turn up nothing.

The shotgun's reloading mechanism in Marathon is clearly a reference to Terminator 2. Early in the movie when the original terminator and the young John Connor are chased by the T-1000 the terminator reloads his own gun several times using the very same circular flipping motion we know and love. I can't imagine that the shotgun reloading in Marathon is anything other than an homage to this.

Noah "migraineboy" Brimhall <noahb@mac.com> writes:

I have something to say in regards to the discussion about the WSTE-M5 shotgun and Minority Report and especially Miguel Chavez's question about whether the "sonic" guns apeared in the short story Minority Report written by Phillip K. Dick (PKD). Well, unfortunately the sonic shotgun is not described in the PKD story. In fact Minority Report the movie only has a passing resembelance to the short story. This is pretty typical of movie versions of PKD stories, but very unfortunate since this is one of PKD's best stories. Just to bring the whole discussion (ridiculously) full circle I thought I would mention that PKD's story "We Can Remeber It For You Wholesale" was the basis for Total Recall which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger who, in his very next movie, proved once and for all that is possible to reload a shotgun with one hand. :)

Jamie Reid <jard@mta.ca> also writes:

About the various posts about the shotgun: the gun in Terminator2 doesn't reload by twirling it, it merely chambers another shell. If Arnie were to use up all the shells in the gun, then he'd have to reload, which involves no twirling and a lot of time. The gun is simply a lever action shotgun. Lots of people have probably seen lever action rifles in Westerns. For the movie, they made the lever loop bigger so that it could be twirled and Arnie could look cool.

In Marathon, the shotgun *reloads* by twirling it. Perhaps it generates electricity to teleport shells into it. Or you're very dexterous. I try not to think about it too much. As Durandal points out, the loading mechanism is far too complex for our puny minds.

The shotgun debate was never really dead was it... it was lurking in the shadows... waiting...

Samuel "Agent Shem" Fletcher <deagol@mac.com> writes:

To get this straight, the Marathon shotgun is absolutely impossible in our world. Look at the pictures of a real shotgun compared to a Marathon shotgun:

You see that in the first, there's a long magazine to hold about eight or nine shots. The second gun's magazine is way too short to hold more than three or four shells, and that's for feeding two barrels. At no time in Marathon are we seen to reload the tube-shaped magazine. As far as we know, the magazine holds as much ammo as it can (which I've gotten up to 50 by being very conservative). That's ridiculous.

The only possibility (Read: Major rationalization) is that the shotgun is not a lever action at all, but that when the cyborg swings the gun around, he is quickly jamming a couple more shots into the barrels. The lever is only to open up the gun's chamber. How does he do this with two guns in his hands? His hands are busy. Maybe there's some kind of teleporter to put shots into the barrel from the cyborg's pocket. "Life in the glorious 28th century..." =^)

Comparing movie guns to real guns is a mistake. I have heard that in one of the Rambo movies, the hero is using a machine gun with a belt-feed. The belt is seen to shrink into the gun, then extend out the other side! Do a search on "guns" and "movie" if you're interested. =^) Guns and movies have a dysfunctional relationship.

Josh Petrie <rainbringer@mac.com> writes:

The sonic shotgun in Minority Report isn't in the original PKD short story. I believe it was, along with the eye-scanning "spyders," a product of screenwriter Jon Cohen's imagination. I may be wrong though, as he did collaborate with three or four other screenwriters. I'll ask him and get back to you; if it was his creation, maybe he can supply some background information on its conception.

On a completely different subject W54S (full name pending) <W54S@aol.com> writes:

Enclosed is a comparison of a hunter and a skull I saw while playing By Committee. The skull is located in the tunnel after the area with the two tank cyborgs after the big area with the mother of all cyborgs. Also, does anyone have a theory on why the gray compilers on Eat The Path (the ones in the room with the light switch, abd the ones in the room with the big window) squeak like mice when shot?

Josh Petrie <rainbringer@mac.com> provides an interesting tidbit from screenwriter Jon Cohen of "Minority Report" fame:

Jon Cohen wrote back to me, saying that the gun came into being after his involvement. The relevant text of his reply is:

"Yeah, that stun gun came after my involvement. I know the next screenwriter didn't think of it. Probably the production designers and futurist gadget guys. I think of it as sending out electric shock waves -- sound wave-looking, but electric. But just a guess."

Michael Ackerman <mackerm@joymail.com> (Members of The Sevens) writes:

Have you compared the gun in "Minority Report" to the "Chi Punch" weapon in the Marathon2-derived game, "ZPC: No Flesh Shall Be Spared"? I'm pretty sure the "Chi Punch" is available in the demo version.

My hunch is that the elusive "Wave Motion Cannon" eventually became the Chi Punch. There is a related mention of ZPC in your "Weapons in Marathon" page.

Evan Rowlands <darakat@mac.com> writes concerning the Marathon shotgun:

I know this is something of an old topic but last night whilst waiting for the late night movie, I switched chanells to discover a weird looking shotgun in the movie deep blue sea. Now the cocking mec seemed similar to that used in Marathon2. I am pretty certine the gun had over weird things about it but this was the most interesting was this dew to my recent readings on the Marathon Story bored. I may be mistaken as you get only about 5 secs to look at the gun before the camera drops to another person. I wonder if anyone has the tape and can confirm this. However it is pretty likely the movies creator has copied something else.

Mike Yocom <pfhreak@mac.com> writes:

Concerning the discussion on Marathon's Story about firing weapons in a vacuum:


"A conventional bullet has oxidizer inside the shell, it does not require atmospheric oxygen in order to fire. However, conventional handgun lubrication oil will boil away in vacuum, leaving a gummy mess. Unless special lubrication is used, the handgun is likely to jam."

Some caveats on the following rambling: I haven't checked on whether or not this statement is true, but I have found everything else on this site to be pretty accurate. Also, I'm no firearms expert, so I don't know if rifles need lubrication oil or not, but I can't see any reason why not. I'm also not sure if it would need special oil, or could use the same oil as a pistol. So this may all be in the same vein as claiming the world is flat...

Maybe not all human weapons have vacuum-friendly oil. It would make sense to put such oil in the .44/.45 Magnum, the standard firearm for the crew of a space ship. The KKV-7 having such oil would also make sense because that would give the crew a fully automatic weapon to use in space if they needed it, if it was on the Marathon. (Did the KKV-7's inclusion in Infinity ever get explained? I know the manual entry for the shotgun mentions that Durandal found its design specs in the Marathon's computer)

Maybe vacuum-friendly oil is expensive enough that it wasn't included on all weapons, including the MA-75, a "... toy designed to impress aging pompous generals."

Andrew Wyatt <Ajwyatt@cox.net> writes concerning the Marathon Infinity assault rifle:

.75 HAS to refer to calibre. What else can it be?? Note that the Magnum is .44 calibre also. And yet, the SMG is listed as being 10mm, with the flechette projectile itself having a 4mm cross-section. I'm unsure now if this is a strange discrepancy(sp?) in measurement types or if we're talking about two different things.

Very often, (especially with single projectile flechettes) Flechettes are smaller than the actual bore size, and shims are placed around them to fill up the space around the flechette so there's no freebore (or empty space around the projectile). The shims collectively are called a Sabot, and the sabot separates from the projectile as it leaves the muzzle. With saboted flechettes, you gain the advantage of high velocity(since the projectile and sabot is light for caliber.), and high sectional density (since the flechette is long and pointy, and reasonably heavy for it's non saboted diameter.) this makes it great for penetrating armor, but not so great for disrupting flesh, since it just kinda keeps going without deforming or stopping in tissue, like a gummy bear getting stabbed with a needle.

Anyway, 10mm would be the bore size, and 5mm would be the flechette size. the 5mm flechette would have a sabot around it which would make its outside diameter match the inside diameter of the bore.

As for the .75 referring to caliber, anything with a . in front of it is caliber, not millimeters.

Unless the .44 Magnum doesn't use Real life .44 magnum ammunition, it's most likely actually .429 caliber, since that's the actual bullet diameter of a .44 Magnum. (almost nothing of a specific caliber is actually that caliber, espeially pistol rounds. .38 is actually .35, and whatnot.)

I hope that was a relatively clear and/or concise explanation.

Henry Fok <85xj6@dallasdrivers.org> writes:

1) Rychlik's take on the MA-75's magazine is good, but it forgets one important development that's been made in the last two decades - the helical magazine.

http://mem.tcon.net/users/5010/5491/m-100.htm http://www.cafeshops.com/cp/prod.aspx?p=calico.1556108&zoom=yes#zoom (scroll down to the picture of the Calico pistol)

A company in California by the name of Calico invented this thing a number of years ago. Essentially, they can get up to 100 9mm rounds into a canister about the size of a can of Pringles. It's certainly possible for a bunch of .75 rounds to be put in a helical magazine that doesn't look all that large. There have even been prototypes of stacked-helix magazines, but they were never (not yet?) developed.

Also, the cooling issues - most light machine guns do NOT have any sort of active cooling system and have not done so since the early days of World War 2. Cooling has been an issue, but this has been addressed by different jacket materials as well as heavier barrel profiles and improved metallurgy. Examples - M60 (except the E3 - they made the barrel too light, and it does start drooping), M240G. Heck, ever since the Germans invented the MG42, the LMG and the GPMG have not needed external cooling systems.

2. Ah, the old "it can't be .75 caliber because _____" issue. Phair raises a good point about the size of the bullets. However, I'll refer back to the .50AE/.50BMG comparison I made earlier. This is a .50AE *pistol* round:


This is a .50 BMG rifle/heavy machine gun round:


Note that the bullet diameter is about .5 of an inch in both rounds, and then look at the case sizes. As I said before, it's probably a short .75, right along the lines of the .50AE pistol round.

As for the high velocity - I'll cover that in "oxygen hungry ammo".

3. Sherk makes a point about the Flechette rounds - I think this point has already been covered. It's a 4mm flechette with a 10mm sabot on it. In other words, it's a smaller version of one of these:


The dart is 4mm in diameter, probably made of some dense or hard metal (depleted uranium or tungsten are popular) with a plastic sabot, or adapter, that enables the cartridge to be fired out of a weapon with a 10mm bore.

This has actually been tried in the US:


It's a 1.6mm flechette in a 5.56mm cartidge.

4. Sherk also asks why depleted uranium wouldn't be used instead of lead - DU is a hard, dense metal and it tends to wear out barrels rather quickly. "Anyone see where I left my spare barrels for the MA-75?"

5. OK, here's the fun one. "High velocity ammo," "oxygen-hungry fuel" and the failure of the MA-75 to operate in vacuum. Melnick points out the fallacy in my "gas-cycled weapon" theory - the Sacred Texts :) say that's not the reason. I think I know what is.

First, let's look at a current weapon, the RPG-7:


This is a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. When it fires, the "stick" part is discarded, and the "cone" streaks downrange on its internal propellants. I suggest that the MA-75 ammo is rocket based with a small igniter charge in the bottom of the "case" to get the rocket reaction started (similar to the RPG-7). It is entirely possible that whatever fuel they chose to use does NOT carry its own oxidizer and thus does NOT work in vacuum. If you were to pull the trigger in vacuum, the ignitor would fire, but in the abscence of oxygen, the solid propellant would not ignite.

As for the accuracy, ot lack thereof, solid rocket propellant is noted for having a limited lifespan. The wild inaccuracy of the weapon could be explained by unstable old propellant burning inconsistently. In the case of the MA-75, it may have very well been notably more accurate on single shot (due to the phenomenon of barrel whip under rapid fire) than on full auto - when the ammo was *new* and the propellant worked consistently. Old propellant would also account for the "high velocity" ammo appearing to be highly ineffective - when new, such ammo could have packed a prodigious punch - note the higher energy density of solid rocket fuels as opposed to gunpowder. I'd also like to note that you could actually make a non-self-oxidizing solid rocket fuel out of components that you are likely to find on Mars or in the asteroid belt, where gunpowder might be a problem to find the components for.

Ah, but you say the S'pht made a lot of new ammo for the MA-75? Remember my earlier post - the S'pht made *copies* of ammo that was at LEAST 17 years old, and they aren't good at making mass copies of anything (Fusion batteries are a notable example). New copies of old, unstable, degraded ammo equals more of the same old thing.

Henry Fok <85xj6@dallasdrivers.org> provides some more interesting weapon tidbits:

The lever action shotgun in Terminator 2 was a Winchester model 1887 or 1901 (which refer to the years they were introduced - they've been around for more than a century now!) that was shortened. These are single barrel weapons that carry their ammunition in a tube under the barrel. The lever serves the same purpose as the pump slide on a pump shotgun.

The Marathon shotguns are break-breach weapons, like traditional side-by-sides.

The Minority Report "shotgun" was most likely a compressed-air weapon - the theory is that a large enough blast of compressed air would act like a massive physical blow.

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Last updated Aug 10, 2003