In the world of mecha/dogfight fiction, one thing noticeable about the mechs is this: No Ejection Seat
is built into the mech or fighter and every battle you fight in must be seen through to the end. If you fail or get captured, see to it you do not leave behind any trace of your existence
The Armored Coffin speaks of mechs or jet fighters or any type of war machine that forbids mid-battle retreat.
See No Body Left Behind
for when the thing takes itself out enough so its tech cannot be discovered by the enemy.
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- Older Gundam series have this, without any real way of escaping from an exploding mobile suit.
- Averted in the original Gundam with the Core Fighter system, which was designed primarily as a method for preserving valuable combat data should any of the Project V mobile suits be put out of commission. That the pilot would also be saved by this system was considered merely a side benefit: the combat data was what mattered; the pilot's job after ejected would be to fly back to base so that the data could be preserved.
- Averted in Patlabor, where, being in a Real Robot setting, people build in ejection seats. In the second movie, however, one of them jams in a warzone, leaving the pilot to die.
- In Armored Core, adding to the Spartan Way training given to Ravens/LYNX, all ACs/NEXT's do not have any sort of ejection pods. In Armored Core 5 this is averted since you bail out if you mech goes out of commission.(in multiplayer anyway)
- In Front Mission, the Vampires — a Black Ops branch of the B-Organization - have their wanzers set up for complete destruction to cover any trace of their relations to their employer.
- Star Wars' TIE Fighters lack ejection seats (along with shields), as yet another indicator of The Empire's military doctrine: "disposable attack vehicles for disposable pilots." This proved staggeringly ineffective against the more capable, shielded Rebel craft, so later versions like the TIE Advanced and TIE Defender were equipped with shields.
- According to some sources, they did have ejection seats (or at least, some of them did); unlike the Rebel pilots the Imperials carried their life support systems in their suits, so TIE fighters' ejection systems could afford to be very, very simple.
- All the planes in Ace Combat 3 are piloted via a so-called COFFIN system, which is a kind of neural interface that allows you to steer them with your brain but has no ejection seats whatsoever.
- In Metroid, Space Pirate boarding pods are referred to as "Space Coffins"; they only let you out if successful.
- The assault pods from Quake II. How they are used? Take a few hundred of them, put a marine in each, seal the can, and let them swarm the enemy's base or planet, hoping that at least a few will survive the anti-aircraft fire. The whole thing is aptly named "Operation Overlord" at the end of the Strogg War.
- Averted in Steel Battalion, where you can manually eject (via a specific button). If you don't, then you technically "died", eliminating any and all progress you made prior to the point of your destruction.
- FreeSpace has never hinted at the existence of ejection systems on its fighters, and tactical retreats are rare in the game. For most ships and fighters, once committed to the field it is do or die.
- Averted in the Mech Warrior series, the mech simulator set in the BattleTech universe. All mechs have built-in ejection seats, which the player can activate in some games. Played with in Living Legends; while ejection is normally enabled (depending on server) on all assets, the Solaris Arena deathmatch mode disables the ejection seat on all mechs, forcing pilots to see combat through to the bitter end. The only way to get out of a mech in Solaris Arena is to power down and climb out.
- BattleTech is a notable aversion, as most pilots will survive the destruction of their 'Mech even if they have to ride it down when it goes over, and all 'Mechs are equipped with sophisticated automatic ejection systems in the event of ammunition explosion or reactor containment loss. Similarly, since their armor is ablative, most suits of power armor can be reduced to failing wrecks that daylight can be seen through, but you still have to take one more shot to kill the person wearing it. Aerospace fighters have reliable ejection systems as well, though recovery has to be on hand if the pilot bails out in space.
- ProtoMechs are highly Armored Coffins. They are often too slow to retreat even if they wished to, and destruction of the machine is destruction of the pilot.
- However, the Spider light mech, is an infamous death trap because it has no ejection system. To get out in combat, the pilot must physically climb out of the control chair (no easy task while wearing a 10 pound Neurohelmet) in the tiny cabin, and climb through the hatch mounted below the armored glass.
- It's worth noting that a MechWarrior can always turn his or her machine into an example of this trope by simply disabling the automatic ejection mechanism (more common since the advent of explosion-mitigating CASE for the ammo bins made it more likely that the 'Mech itself would survive) and then overstaying his or her welcome (even a vented explosion is rough on the pilot and combines with damage from other sources to knock out and possibly even kill him or her).
- This is also one of the downsides of conventional combat vehicles in the game and setting. Simply put, by default 'Mechs and fighters have ejection seats...and tanks and helicopters don't.
- Rifts does the exact opposite when it comes to Powered Armor: any weapon powerful enough to penetrate it is more than powerful enough to reduce the wearer to pinkish mist after doing so.
- Implied in Warhammer40000, where an ejection seat is actually an upgrade for an Imperial or Tau airplane, which suggests their basic planes aren't equipped with them. Chaos plays this straight since most of their aircraft are piloted by Servitors hard-wired into the cockpit, but we have no confirmation either way when it comes to the Eldar.
- Also similarly implied for Tau battlesuits, where an ejection seat is again an optional upgrade.
- Taken to literal extremes with the Space Marine Dreadnoughts, whose pilots are crippled veterans who are too broken to fight alongside their brothers but too valuable to simply allow to waste away. Since the life support that keeps them alive is integrated into the Dreadnought itself, there wouldn't be much point to having an Ejection Seat anyway.
- During World War I plane crews did not have parachutes (usually). Some officers considered that the crew should not be allowed to leave the plane, as that would be cowardice. It was thought at the time that if a pilot had a parachute, he would jump from the plane when hit rather than trying to save the aircraft. That being said, planes didn't always come with harnesses either, although they did have seatbelts (for most part).
- Japanese pilots in World War II were not issued parachutes as standard. Though they were available to anyone who asked, other nations made them a requirement.
- They became standard issue only in 1944 when the air war was waged over the Japanese home islands and any parachuting airmen would be quickly rescued. Japan did not have at that moment a reserve of experienced airmen to be expended, and every rescued pilot counted.
- The LaGG-3, a Red Air Force fighter which the Soviet airmen said stood for Lakierovannyi Garannitshnyi Grob (Lacquered Guaranteed Coffin). It was of plywood construction and had somewhat sub-standard flying properties.
- A number of World War 2 vehicles acquired this reputation:
- Italian tanks were literally referred to by their crews as "self-propelled coffins" due to their poor armor and poor hatch placement; they were easily knocked out and difficult to bail out of.
- Shermans earned a number of derogatory nicknames (most notably "Ronson", after a brand of lighter that "lights up the first time, every time") for their propensity to catch fire, leaving the crew with only seconds to get out of the tank after a penetrating hit.
- Some early versions of both German and Russian tanks did not have a hatch for the radioman, forcing him to try and escape via the driver's hatch. If the tank caught fire, this usually resulted in the radioman's death. Additionally, Russian tank crews accused of cowardice would often have their hatches padlocked for their next battle; either they fought and survived to get back out, or they died with their tank.
- German U-Boats were dubbed "iron coffins" by some. If a sub was sunk, there was no chance of survival for the crew, and they would be entombed in the hull at the bottom of the sea, hence the name.
- The Royal Navy County class heavy cruisers were called tinclads as they had good armament but poor armour.
- On a similar note, the US Navy nickname for Destroyers is "Tin Can", after the generally weak protection that WWI and WWII destroyers had against the capital ships they were often tasked with protecting or attacking.
- "Tin Can" was more specifically used in reference to the American destroyer escorts, which were even smaller and less armored than full-sized destroyers. How can you have less armor than a destroyer that has virtually none at all? Simple: while destroyers had little in the way of armour plating, they did incorporate some armour over essential areas and made significant use of hardened steel alloys in their construction. Destroyer escorts, designed to be cheaper and more disposable, had absolutely no armour at all and thinner hulls of made of mild steel. To put this into context, it's like substituting cheap plywood for seasoned oak.
- The modern Russian BMP series of IFVs has a darkly humorous backronym "Bratskaya Mogila Pehoty" (Rus. "Common Grave of the Infantry"). The interior is cramped, forcing troopers to squat with their knees close to their chest; this of course, made it more difficult to exit the vehicle, even under normal conditions. What made things worse was that passengers sat with their backs facing the centre of the vehicle, where the main fuel storage tanks were located. One direct hit by anything that wasn't an infantry firearm could easily penetrate the BMP's thin side armour and turn the entire compartment into a fireball. Although the latter problem was fixed with the newer BMP-3 model, Russian soldiers participating in the Chechen Wars decided to take their chances riding on top of the vehicle, rather than inside it.
- For that matter, the older BTR-40 and BTR-152 armored personnel carriers also acquired a similar reputation and nickname in the Middle East. Up until recently, these vehicles were fairly common in Arab service; several of them ended up being captured by the Israel Defence Force, which made use of them as well. Israeli troopers gave the vehicles a backronym in Hebrew: "Bo Tizrok Rimon" ("Come, throw a grenade"), due to their invitingly-open tops. It didn't help that the sides of the vehicle effectively boxed the occupants in.
- The Killdozer was used in a destructive rampage when a zoning dispute boiled over. After entering, the operator of the makeshift armoured bulldozer had effectively sealed himself inside after welding the entry point shut.
- The Handley Page Victor strategic bomber had the crew hatch immediately ahead of the jet turbine. Attempting to bail out would result in crew salsa.
- While the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter had an ejection seat, the ejection seats were often too weak to lift the pilot clear of the gigantic tail fin. Early versions of the plane had an ejection seat that ejected downwards, but that would create obvious problems when landing. Given that the Starfighter also had a well-earned reputation for being difficult to fly (in West Germany, for example, they were nicknamed "lawn darts" and it was said that the best way to acquire one was to buy a random plot of land and wait for it to fall from the sky), this was a major problem.
- Issues with getting away from the plane after bailing out (as opposed to getting hit by the tail or wing at high speed) were of course the reason for the development of the Ejection Seat, particularly once jets arrived on the scene. Many airmen throughout history attempted to bail out of crippled planes only to suffer such a fate before that development.