|Faction||Atomic Kingdom of China|
|Included In||• Deep Strike Squadron|
• Freighter Squadron
|Secondary Ability||Disembark Passengers|
"We are go!"
- -Thunderbird Dropship pilot
- Wasteland Air: Thunderbird Dropships are fast, effective transports, designed to provide rapid aerial transportation across the Chinese wastelands for Atomic Kingdom infantry.
- No Luxury Features: Be warned; the Thunderbird is lacking in armour plating; this renders it highly vulnerable to being shot down by enemy anti aircraft weaponry.
- Eject! Eject!: Fortunately, Thunderbirds are equipped with heavily armoured drop pods; should the dropship be shot down, this pod is ejected and crashes into the ground before letting its passengers out. The Thunderbird can always disembark its passengers without crashing, of course.
- Replace With New Pilot: Like all Atomic Kingdom units, the Thunderbird Dropship does not gain veterancy, and is furthermore lacking in any sort of armament.
"Quick! Quick! Eject!"
- - Passenger onboard a badly damaged Thunderbird Dropship
Fast, reliable transportation across the Chinese wastelands can be a very finicky thing. Bandits, mutated beasts, radiation and all sorts of other dangers and horrors are prolific in China. For most, an abandoned military vehicle is good enough for their needs, providing shelter and a means of defence against the outside, so long as one can scrounge up the fuel to keep it working. Of military vehicles there are no shortage; certainly not after an abundance of such vehicles were produced during the Civil War.
Military vehicles that could serve as transports are common enough. Air transportation is another thing entirely. While fast and effective, helicopters and fixed wing airplanes are a rare sight, if only because most of the working aircraft have been flown away from the wasteland and to safer places by desperate survivors. What this means is that air transportation is hard to come by, except for the Atomic Kingdom.
For the Atomic Kingdom, effective air transportation was important. While teleportation provided a quick and effective means of getting around, there was the need to quickly extract survivors and bring them to safety. In addition to this, there was the need to transport cargo that was too large to fit into a teleporter. This led to the commissioning of a new air transport for that purpose.
This air transport became the Thunderbird Dropship, a speedy if fragile aircraft that could hold up to several passengers. Piloted by a single clone, the Thunderbird mounted two nuclear thermal engines; though dangerous, the engines allowed the Thunderbird great speed and effectively unlimited range. Impressed by its great speed and low material cost, the design was quickly waved through, not just for rescue purposes but also for military service.
The Thunderbirds worked well for a short while, at least until one transport was shot down by a Gatling Crawler, whose hungry driver had guessed correctly that the dropship had passengers onboard. Unfotunately for the driver and the passengers, the resultant fireball incinerated the entire dropship, killing half a dozen survivors.
An investigation quickly revealed that the design of the Thunderbird was very vulnerable to anti aircraft fire, and worse still had a tendency for its nuclear engine to destroy itself spectacularly in crashes; this was unacceptable, given the risk of more survivors being shot down en route and being killed. Clearly, something had to be done about this deficiency. The solution that was eventually accepted was to turn the passenger section into a heavily armoured drop pod that was to be ejected if the dropship was about to crash; the drop pod would almost guarantee that the passengers would survive the initial crash, while a radio beacon would broadcast the drop pod’s location for other Atomic Kingdom forces to pick up. The modification could be easily done without compromising the Thunderbird’s capability, since the passenger section was already heavily armoured to protect against radiation from the engines. No such dispensations were made for the pilot, of course, given that the pilot was a clone and thus expendable, not to mention not radio-programmed in the use of weaponry and thus useless in fighting (and therefore an unnecessary drain on the rations stored inside the drop pod).
The drop pod soon proved useful for other purposes than just surviving a crash; Atomic Kingdom officers soon came to not that it was extremely useful for “combat dropping” squads of clone infantry on top of the enemy, and have come to abuse this function increasingly in battles.