The T-160 Thunderbird (pictured here with pilot Capt Penny Bowman) was
an experimental fighter developed by the Palladite Republic. The
Palladites, renowned for their inventive but impractical ideas fitted
the fighter with twin Arc guns, each one housed in an electrically
insulated nacelle at the front of the plane. Each Arc gun was powered
by its own generator capable of creating 12,000,000 volts. Although
the gun had a range of well over a mile, the weapons were very
difficult to aim and pilots eventually resorted to dive-bombing their
targets at high speed and firing their weapons when in close proximity
to ensure a hit. When they did hit, the Arc guns would cripple their
target's electronics, sometimes electrocute the crew, and occasionally
ignite the fuel tanks. The guns would often short circuit so
eventually a 12mm machine gun was fitted beneath each Arc gun in case
the main weapon failed.
Although feared for their unpredictable nature, Thunderbirds did little to effect the outcome of the war and only 152 were ever made.
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