VehicularTurnabout Vehicular Turnabout YKTTW Discussion

Vehicular Turnabout
Commandeered enemy military hardware is immediately used against its former owner upon capture.
Tropeworthy? Needs Examples
(permanent link) added: 2012-02-20 03:04:44 sponsor: Balmung edited by: SeptimusHeap (last reply: 2013-06-21 06:06:16)

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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.


  • 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.

  • 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: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: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: 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.
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