Created By: Skrim on October 13, 2009
Troped

Hover Tank

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Everyone knows that Power Floats. And everyone knows that Cool Tanks are power incarnate. So what happens when you make a Cool Tank float? You get a Hover Tank of course!

Often powered by Applied Phlebotinum, Hover Tanks are for when you really want a Rule of Cool-driven war machine. They usually hover inexplicably only a few feet off the ground, often bobbing slightly. They would be utterly impractical in reality, as they would need to expend fuel just to stay up, and yet wouldn't fly high enough to clear most terrain obstacles. The amount of armor and equipment they could carry would also be severely limited due to weight constraints. Of course, all that doesn't matter in fiction.

In strategy games, they may be portrayed as being faster and more maneuverable than their land-bound counterparts(if present), but more fragile. They are usually amphibious as well and can travel over water at full speed.

Note that real-world Hovercraft would not quite count under this trope - while most fictional hover-vehicles use Phlebotinum Drive(usually labeled as "anti-gravity" or "repulsor"), real-world hovercraft ride on a mundane air cushion and are propelled by oversized garden fans. They barely lift off the ground at all, and have a difficult time operating on non-flat terrain. The closest Real Life equivalent to a hover tank would be the PACVs from the Vietnam War. You'll rarely find this conventional form of hover-propulsion in fiction though.

Contrast with the Spider Tank, for cases in which the conventional treads have been traded in for legs instead of a floating propulsion. See also: Cool Tank.

Examples:
  • Any 'repulsorlift' driven vehicle from the Star Wars franchise, such as the Trade Federation's AATs.
  • The Hoverdynes from Ground Control, which are faster but frailer than conventional tracked Terradynes.
  • "Hover" propulsion from Warzone 2100. Another Fragile Speedster example.
  • Hovercrafts are amphibious Lightning Bruisers in Sid Meierís Alpha Centauri, but their high cost makes them nearly Awesome, but Impractical.
  • The Eldar Falcon and Tau Hammerhead and their offshoots from Warhammer40000 are anti-gravity based hover tanks.
  • The Landmaster from Star Fox 64 and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which can hover for short periods of time.
  • David Drake's Hammer's Slammers series of short stories features fusion-powered hover tanks.
  • The PAC from Battlefield2142 had hover tanks.
  • The Neosapien Hovertanks from Exosquad. They were built specifically to defend Phaeton City against Exofleet but fortunately for the latter, La Resistance managed to capture the factory where they were produced and used them against Neosapiens themselves.
  • The hovercraft from BattleTech, which are unique in that they actually use air-cushion based lift, like real-world hovercraft.
  • In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun the Global Defense Initiative got hovering MLRSes. They were fast and able to easily traverse terrain, including skimming over water, but had light armor and were grounded during Ion Storms. And in the next game... GDI went back to treads.
  • In another of Westwood's games, Emperor: Battle for Dune, House Ordos got kickass hovering tanks with laser cannons and force fields, making them fast, hard-hitting, and surprisingly tough(unless a laser-armed enemy hit their force field).
  • The N64 game Battle Tanx had hover tanks called Hover Tanks, which were basically Abrams with turbines and a flat bottom. Though a bit squirrely to control, they could strafe sideways while firing, float over mines without problems, and pick up an impressive amount of speed for ramming other players.
  • The Covenant's Ghost and Wraith from Halo.
  • The basis of the Tabletop Game, ''Grav Armor''.
  • Also common in ''Renegade Legion''.
  • The Sony Online Entertainment game Tanarus has (or at least had) a hovertank in it, similar to the one from Battlefield2142 (fast, maneuverable, packed a decent punch, but no traversable gun turret).

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This YKTTW needs more examples. Is This Tropeable?
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • September 26, 2009
    SchrodingersDuck
    The most powerful chassis for units in Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri is a hover unit. They would be a total Gamebreaker, being insanely strong, fast, and amphibious (rivalling conventional air units, without the pesky fuel limits), if not for the fact their price makes them border on Awesome But Impractical.
  • September 26, 2009
    Dhavaer
    The Eldar and Tau use these in Warhammer 40,000.
  • September 26, 2009
    Pseudonym
    Isn't this just a combination of Power Floats and Cool Tank? I would say not tropable, but it might be.
  • September 26, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The A.S.D.M. tank from the Unreal Tournament 2004 A.S.D.M. Tank Mod. It is strong enough to kill most stock vehicles in one shot, but has rate of fire too slow to deal with foot soldiers and flys too high to kill them by Car Fu unless they are on a hill (and any smart player would take that opportunity to jump on top of you).
  • September 26, 2009
    Chabal 2
    While not a tank, the Vulture in Starcraft is a hoverbike (is Hover Bike a trope?) that goes extremely fast and has little HP.
  • September 26, 2009
    Durazno
    They're working on a Hover Tank in the military comedy Sgt. Bilko, though it's not really that effective.

    I'd say that this is tropable. If it were untropable due to being a cross between Cool Tank and Power Floats then Laser Blade is untropable due to being a cross between Pure Energy and Cool Sword.
  • September 26, 2009
    RocketDude
    One of id Software's early games was Hovertank 3D, which was Exactly What It Says On The Tin. Id Software's Quake 4 also had hover tanks that the player got to drive.
  • September 26, 2009
    Iron Salticus
    Flying tanks are definitely tropeable.

    • Star Fox 64 has the Landmaster, which is capable of hovering close to the ground for short periods of time. It returns in later games and in Super Smash Bros Brawl with this ability intact.
    • An old Blackhawks comic involved a villain that used one of these.
  • September 26, 2009
    Madrugada
    The Tanks in David Drake's Hammer's Slammers world.
  • September 26, 2009
    Chabal 2
    Also in the manly-vehicle-that-can-fly category, the truck in the On Your Mark video.
  • September 26, 2009
    ayjazz1
    The PAC in Battlefield2142 had a hover tank, where as the EU had a more traditional one. It had the ability to strafe and had a smaller hitbox, but was balanced with the fact the its turret could not be rotated.
  • September 27, 2009
    Koveras
    The Neosapien Hovertanks from Exosquad. They were built specifically to defend Phaeton City against Exofleet but fortunately for the latter, La Resistance managed to capture the factory where they were produced and used them against Neosapiens themselves.
  • September 27, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Hover Tanks show up in Battle Tech. notable in that it's said to use air-ground effect like a modern hovercraft rather than Applied Phlebotinum.

    By the way it's only Techno Babble if writer go into detail of how the Hover Dive actually works, saying it's "anti-gravity" or "repulsor" in itself isn't technobabble
  • September 27, 2009
    Tacitus
    • In Command And Conquer: Tiberian Sun the Global Defense Initiative got hovering MRLSes. They were fast and able to easily traverse terrain, including skimming over water, but had light armor and were grounded during Ion Storms. And in the next game... GDI went back to treads.
    • In another of Westwood's games, Emperor: Battle for Dune, House Ordos got kickass hovering tanks with laser cannons and force fields, making them fast, hard-hitting, and surprisingly tough (unless a laser-armed enemy hit their force field).
    • The N64 game Battle Tanx had hover tanks called Hover Tanks, which were basically Abrams with turbines and a flat bottom. Though a bit squirrely to control, they could strafe sideways while firing, float over mines without problems, and pick up an impressive amount of speed for ramming other players.
  • September 27, 2009
    Skrim
    Ok, I added those examples. Is it good enough to launch yet?

    Also, should the trope be expanded to include other inexplicably floating armed vehicles, like hoverbikes(incl. Starcraft's Vulture) and the anti-gravity racers from F-Zero and Wipeout, or should we just stick to tanks?
  • September 27, 2009
    Dick Richardson
    The Helghast use them in the first Killzone.
  • September 28, 2009
    Stormtroper

    Also, Power Floats is when something floats because it's powerful, not because it has rockets or whatever.
  • September 28, 2009
    LatwPIAT
    Oh, and "Hover Tank" is a complete misnomer, unless it is equipped with both tracks and hover mechanism.
  • September 28, 2009
    Assistant
    No one has listed the Covenant tank from Halo? I forget what it's called, Scorpion or something like that, and it definitely meets the criteria.
  • September 28, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    In the Steve Martin version of the movie "Sargent Bilko" part of the plot revolved around the development of a hover-tank. It floated fairly well and had good manuverability, but if it ever fired the main gun Newton's laws of motion took over -- the recoil would send the tank flying backwards, usually causing massive damage to whatever was behind it.
  • September 28, 2009
    Chabal 2
    @ Latw PIAT: Sure, but Hover Tank sounds better than Hover Vehicle-With-A-Large-Gun-Turret-On-Top. 'Sides, most armored vehicles are called "tanks" by the unwashed masses these days, and who am I to disagree with the majority?
  • October 9, 2009
    Tacitus
    Aaaaand TV Tropes-has-kept-me-up-past-2a.m. bump.
  • October 9, 2009
    EricDVH
    Of course, the Covenant's wraith. Packs a massive punch, maneuvers almost as well as a ghost.
  • October 9, 2009
    Frodo Goofball CoTV
  • October 11, 2009
    Ranger Six
    • The Sony Online Entertainment game Tanarus has (or at least had) a hovertank in it, similar to the one from Battlefield2142 (fast, maneuverable, packed a decent punch, but no traversable gun turret).
  • October 12, 2009
    ShayGuy
    I believe these are in the Universal Century timeline of Mobile Suit Gundam, made possible by Minovsky physics.
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