Created By: Balmung on February 20, 2012 Last Edited By: SeptimusHeap on June 21, 2013
Troped

Vehicular Turnabout

Commandeered enemy military hardware is immediately used against its former owner upon capture.

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Page Type:
Trope
Quite possibly Needs a Better Description, Needs an Index, semi-Rolling Updates.
Inspired by the Gundamjack TRS thread

An extremely common plot in fiction is commandeering an enemy vehicle and turning it against it's former owner as soon as possible, often with the thief in command of the hardware. The commandeered materiel will often then remain in continuous service rather than being reverse engineered and mass produced.

This trope is ubiquitous in works of naval fiction that are set in the age of Wooden Ships and Iron Men. This is because sailors were awarded prize money for capturing enemy ships. Captured enemy ships would often be incorporated into their own navy. See The Other Wiki for more information. Because Space Is an Ocean, science fiction works will sometimes use the same concept with spaceships.

Super Trope to Grand Theft Prototype, which is the Super Prototype or otherwise "super weapon-y" version of this trope. See also Hoist by His Own Petard and Death by Irony.

Examples

  • Common to many cases of Grand Theft Prototype (Whether the fact that it's a prototype or a mech is more important is under discussion at the moment, but for now, let's try to focus on the acquisition of, in particular, non-prototype hardware)
  • Also common in the age of Wooden Ships and Iron Men (Need specifics here)

[[folder: Film]]
  • Chewbacca and a pair of Ewoks famously commandeer an AT-ST in Return of the Jedi
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, HYDRA's advanced weapons and technology are turned against them by America POWs. The opening seconds of the breakout is a Zerg Rush, but with every soldier taken down, the escapees get access to weaponry and vehicles.
  • A recoilless gun mounted on a militia technical is taken over by Deltas and turned against the on-site commander in Black Hawk Down.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • Horatio Hornblower, the Aubrey-Maturin series, Alexander Kent's Richard Bolitho and other similar book series depict such captures on average at least once a book, if not more. It would be impractical to list every incident.
  • In the Honor Harrington series, most space battles result in the complete destruction of enemy ships, however on several occassions, enemy ships are captured and then used against the enemy.
  • In RCN series, the enemy ships are often captured and used against them.
  • In Sven Hassel's fictions of WW 2, the lads are often sent on suicide missions or are otherwise caught behind Russian lines and need to get home. This invariably ends up in escapades in Soviet kit they do not know how to use and have to figure out on the spot.
  • On Gor naval fights, being of the Wooden Ships and Iron Men type, often use this. Specifically, in Renegades of Gor the river town of Ar's Station use this to supplement their navy. Ar is a land superpower but doesn't have much of a navy, so they fill their holds with infantrymen and swarm their enemy's ships when they get boarded, capturing the ship and then using it against the enemy's other vessels.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • In Space: Above and Beyond, the Earth military captured an alien Bomber. They had to spend some time learning how to operate it before they could use it against the Chigs, though.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
  • The strategy game of Shogi (aka "Japanese Chess") allows you to bring back captured pieces on your side as early as your next turn. This is said to be inspired by the actions of mercenaries who would switch sides when captured, rather than be executed.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
  • Starcraft II: Raynor's Raiders pull a Grand Theft Prototype on the Odin, preventing its use by the Dominion. However, this is actually all part of a plan to get the Odin into the heart of the Dominion with a Raider pilot inside. Also, the chief engineer actually reverse-engineers the Odin in order to produce the Thor, a slightly smaller, less powerful, but mass-produceable version.
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • February 20, 2012
    Catbert
    Expanding on the Wooden Ships And Iron Men: In the Age of Sail, it was preferable to capture an enemy ship rather than sink it. Captured ships were then incorporated into your own navy. Sometimes this would happen during open battle on the seas, and other times sailors and marines would sneak into an enemy harbor to hijack ships that were tied up to docks. These types of missions were known as "cutting out mission". The crews of ships received prize money for ships they captured, so they had a strong motivation to capture a ship rather than just sink it.

    Literature
    • Horatio Hornblower, the Aubrey-Maturin series, Alexander Kent's Richard Bolitho and other similar book series depict such captures on average at least once a book, if not more. It would be impractical to list every incident.

  • February 20, 2012
    Balmung
    Could I get a version of that more fit for the description section? (The expanding on the Age of Sail part, not the example)
  • February 20, 2012
    Unknown Troper
    In Sv en Hassel's fictions of WW 2, the lads are often sent on suicide missions or are otherwise caught behind Russian lines and need to get home. This invariably ends up in escapades in Soviet kit they do not know how to use and have to figure out on the spot.
  • February 20, 2012
    Catbert
    How about:

    This trope is ubiquitous in works of naval fiction that are set in the age of Wooden Ships And Iron Men. This is because sailors were awarded prize money for capturing enemy ships. Captured enemy ships would often be incorporated into their own navy. See The Other Wiki for more information. Because Space Is An Ocean, science fiction works will sometimes use the same concept with spaceships.
  • February 20, 2012
    Catbert
    Literature
    • In the Honor Harrington series, most space battles result in the complete destruction of enemy ships, however on several occassions, enemy ships are captured and then used against the enemy.
    • In RCN series, the enemy ships are often captured and used against them.
  • February 20, 2012
    zarpaulus
  • February 20, 2012
    Westrim
    • A recoilless gun mounted on a militia technical is taken over by Deltas and turned against the on-site commander in Black Hawk Down.
  • February 20, 2012
    Balmung
    Thanks Catbert.

    Can you attach a medium to that Westrim? I don'y know if it's a Real Life example or fictitious or what have you.
  • February 20, 2012
    Chabal2
    Starcraft II: Raynor's Raiders pull a Gundam Jack on the Odin, preventing its use by the Dominion. However, this is actually all part of a plan to get the Odin into the heart of the Dominion with a Raider pilot inside. Also, the chief engineer actually reverse-engineers the Odin in order to produce the Thor, a slightly smaller, less powerful, but mass-produceable version.
  • February 20, 2012
    KingZeal
    • In Captain America The First Avenger, HYDRA's advanced weapons and technology are turned against them by America POWs. The opening seconds of the breakout is a Zerg Rush, but with every soldier taken down, the escapees get access to weaponry and vehicles.
  • February 20, 2012
    Westrim
    For some reason my brain snapped off as soon as I finished the example, but before I wrote where it was from. Sorry
  • February 20, 2012
    randomsurfer
    On Gor naval fights, being of the Wooden Ships And Iron Men type, often use this. Specifically, in Renegades of Gor the river town of Ar's Station use this to supplement their navy. Ar is a land superpower but doesn't have much of a navy, so they fill their holds with infantrymen and swarm their enemy's ships when they get boarded, capturing the ship and then using it against the enemy's other vessels.
  • February 20, 2012
    Balmung
    Thanks for the clarification, Westrim.

    And seriously, if anyone can think of a better title, please tell me. I wrote it to be bland and descriptive at 05:00 or so, so I know we can do better.
  • February 20, 2012
    Bisected8
    Steal And Send To Service (might be a be clunky)? Conquer Then Command (a reference to Command And Conquer, with the "and" replaced with a "then" to avoid confusion and imply a linear course of action)?
  • February 20, 2012
    Balmung
    Well, they're still both improvements over what I had.

    If anyone thinks Conquer Then Command is better, or has better ideas yet, I'm all ears. Or eyes, as the case may be.
  • February 20, 2012
    Balmung
    Should this be kept as limited to vehicles or expanded to include other materiel (ie. how you can use captured enemy bases in Command And Conquer)?
  • February 20, 2012
    Westrim
    So long as you swipe it and immediately use it against them I think it's fair game. If so, the scene in The Matrix where Trinity flips a shotgun out of a guys hands and then fires it into him would be included.
  • February 20, 2012
    Balmung
    However, I think that using the enemy's guns in videogames has its own trope, though I don't remember the name.
  • February 25, 2012
    Icarael
    As a response to Conquer Then Command, I think Capture Then Command (or Capture Then Control) might work as title(s).
  • February 25, 2012
    fulltimeD
    In Space Above And Beyond, the Earth military captured an alien Bomber. They had to spend some time learning how to operate it before they could use it against the Chigs, though.
  • February 25, 2012
    aurora369
    Happened several times in 1941, on the Eastern Front. The Nazis were on a Blitzkrieg offensive, the Red Army was fleeing as fast as they could, and a lot of Soviet hardware was appropriated by Germans and immediately used to terrorize and demoralize Soviet soldiers and civilians.
  • February 25, 2012
    AgProv
    this cut both ways: the russiansd captured so much German kit intact that it was worth their while - having by December 1942 captured TWO HUNDRED exmples of the PNZ mk III tank - to send them to Soviet tank factories to be refurbished and rebuilt as self-propelled guns carrying a far heavier weapon than the original tank variant did. these hybrid tanks served in the Red Army until purpose-built assault guns such as the SU-85 began to appear in numberrs in mid-1943.
  • February 25, 2012
    SKJAM
    The strategy game of Shogi (aka "Japanese Chess") allows you to bring back captured pieces on your side as early as your next turn. This is said to be inspired by the actions of mercenaries who would switch sides when captured, rather than be executed.
  • February 25, 2012
    Balmung
    ^^^ & ^^ Any way those could be condensed a little?
  • February 27, 2012
    jatay3
    related to Plunder
  • March 21, 2012
    Westrim
    bump
  • March 21, 2012
    Deboss
    Tweaked the reference to Gundamjack so that you know the difference without having to click.
  • March 22, 2012
    Arivne
    If I saw the title Steal And Send To Service, I would think it meant someone providing the service of stealing things and sending them to other people.

    Steal And Put Into Service?
  • March 25, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • Tank Girl. Tank Girl and Jet Girl steal vehicles from Water & Power (a tank and a jet, naturally) and use them against Water & Power for the rest of the movie.
  • April 12, 2012
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Subverted in the Classic Traveller game Azhanti High Lightning, scenario "The Battle of Kagukhasaggan 2". Near the end of the Solomani Rim War the Imperial ship Bard Endeavour was heavily damaged and left in a decaying orbit around a gas giant. The Solomani forces attempted to capture it so they could repair it and use it against the Imperium, but failed. The ship ended up being destroyed.
  • February 3, 2013
    Westrim
    Changed the title to Vehicular Turnabout, but I'm not certain that works. In general, this needs a lot more work to launch.
  • February 3, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    OK, way I see it, 'Gundamjacking' should be used only for any examples of Humongous Mecha (prototype or not, continuously used or not) that is stolen during the course of a story, while this Trope could focus on any other examples of vehicles being stolen (again, prototype or not, continuously used or not-but most definitely military hardware, since we have tropes like Hero Stole My Bike for other types of vehicular theft).

    On *that* course of action, I believe that the Clint Eastwood movie 'Firefox' (and the eponymous novel) would go here, since it revolves around stealing a Super Prototype Russian jet fighter.
  • February 3, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Gundamjack would be a Super Prototype version of this, this is just a more mundane version.

    That said, the more mundane version just seems like People Sit On Chairs... yes, when an enemy's vehicle gets stolen it's going to be used against them. Kinda... is just what's going to happen.
  • February 3, 2013
    Chabal2
    Command And Conquer Generals: the GLA sniper hero can kill the crew of an enemy vehicle, which can then be claimed and piloted by an infantry unit.
  • June 2, 2013
    ginsengaddict
    ^^ Disagreed.

    The ROTJ example mentioned Chewy and the Ewoks taking over the AT-ST, but it neglected to mention the Imperial Shuttle the Rebels used to get past the defenses.
  • June 4, 2013
    tryrar
    I think it looks good to go
  • June 7, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    OK, will probably do that soon.
  • June 7, 2013
    surgoshan
  • June 8, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Added. Some more examples, please?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=whua0grwip2r7y21yur1hms6