It would be the greatest mining vehicle ever constructed: fifty feet long and fully mechanized, powered by compressed steam. It would boast three primary drilling and cutting heads, positioned at the front of the craft; and a system of spiral shoveling devices mounted along the back and sides would scoop the bored-through ice, rocks, or earth back out of the drilling path. Carefully weighted and meticulously reinforced, this machine could drill in an almost perfect vertical or horizontal path, depending on the whims of the man in the driver’s seat. Its precision would be unprecedented, and its power would set the standard for all such devices to come.
The concept is simple, really. A tracked vehicle with a great big drill bolted onto the front. What it is varies. Theoretically, this may be intended as a mining and/or tunneling vehicle, and indeed, many of them do use them to tunnel beneath the earth. Others use them to break through walls and other barriers. Quite a few of them are used directly against enemies. There is an occasional variant in the form of a Drill Jet, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Given the status of drill with Super Robots, any Combining Super Robot has a good chance of having one of these as a component.
Subtrope of Tank Goodness. Often involves Fast Tunnelling. Connected to This Is a Drill.
In the final episode of Bubblegum Crash, the villain uses a massive tunneling machine in his plot to destroy Megatokyo. This one uses lasers to drill.
Team Rocket from Pokémon have used these on occasion. Majorily themed around Dugtrio.
Lala of To Love-Ru builds one of these to find her own hot spring. She finds one, and inadvertently saves the world from a mole civilization by flooding them all.
The Subterranean Tank that appears in both the original & 2003 incarnations of Astro Boy. Strangely the story is completely different in each version. Originally it was a weapon made by an evil dictator. In the newer one it was created for an underground expedition backed by a wealthy financier.
In Transformers Energon, one of Optimus Prime's mini-vehicles is a drill-tank. Oddly enough, when Prime combined with them for his Super Mode, the drill would be used as a leg, rather than an arm. A few episodes into the series, the animators realized this, and the drill switched to an arm from then on.
The Black Sapper appeared in various British comics, as a text story and later as a comic strip, from the late 1920s until the 1970s, making this at least Older than Television. Sapper's mole had no tracks, or any other visible means of moving itself except the drill heads.
Calvin "Cave" Carson, a classic DC Comics adventurer who still appears once in a while, is a spelunker (hence the nickname) who uses vehicles with giant drills to tunnel into the Earth's crust and such.
A burrowing machine (that is never actually completed) froms part of the plot of the very strange science fiction novel Twilight of the Vilp by Paul Ableman.
In the Tunnels series, the Coprolites use drill tanks to excavate the tunnels of their expansive civilization Beneath the Earth. One of the heroes later steals one to break through the walls of a reinforced bunker.
A 1946 short story, "The Last Objective" by Paul Carter, features very large subterrene drill tanks the size of oceangoing warships—"underground cruisers"—in a post-apocalyptic world in which the surface has been rendered uninhabitable by atomic bombs but the survivors continue to futilely battle it out underground.
Unfortunately we never actually see the device in action, but Dr Blue's "Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine" is the 'title character' of Boneshaker, a Steam Punk novel by Cherie Priest. A massive mobile drill created in 1860's Seattle to drill through the ice for the Russian government, its inventor instead uses his creation to loot several underground bank vaults, creating massive subsidence and accidentally releasing an underground gas that turns people into zombies.
GoZyu Drill from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the default form of GokaiSilver's personal mecha GoZyuJin. Technically speaking, it's actually a Drill Jetnote Since it represents the true power of the Mirai Sentai Timeranger, it's based off of their own Time Jets, but in practice it hovers low to the ground and generally acts like a Drill Tank (presumably because having it fly in every battle would make production costs skyrocket).
Space Sheriff Shaider have Battle Shaian, from bottom part from Shaian, the Upper part split into Cool Ship, they calls for one from his Cool Ship when he needs to break into a fortified / underground enemy base. Upon making a breach, he fires a couple of missiles before disembarking and assaulting on foot. This cop doesn't believe in flashbangs.
In VR Troopers, they get one of these in the second season (when the Shaider footage starts being used.) Strangely, it seems every Evil Plan ever suddenly requires something to be made in one of these underground facilities before the facility is destroyed in precisely the same fashion as last week's.
A variant in Farscape with the drill-capable elevator on Katratzi.
An incredibly obscure example comes from the old BBC educational kids' programme Zig Zag: Tales from Europe. Intended to teach children about folklore, it featured an eccentric woman travelling around Europe in one of these called the Hypersonic Mole.
Termites in Warhammer 40,000. A Diorama of the Siege of the Emperor's Palace also shows the traitors using a large Drill Tank to breach one of the palace walls.
There's also the Hades Breach Drill, which is smaller than the Termite but has a similar purpose (drilling underneath, or through, enemy fortifications). Amusingly, nothing stops you from using a Hades while playing on a map that is supposed to be a space ship.
Also, some warships are equipped with giant drills for use in boarding operations. They ram an enemy ship and drill into its side, allowing them to deposit troops directly inside. Seen in Space Wolf: Grey Hunter.
For all the Transformers with a drill tank mode, practically none of them use the drill as a robot mode weapon.
Until now! In the Power Core Combiners line, one minicon turns into a drill, used as the weapon for both robot and vehicle mode of its partner! Meet Sledge and Throttler!
Microtron, a caterpillar-tracked robot from the Micronauts/Microman toy-line was one of these, with a rotating drill-bit protruding from his groin area. With Micronaut "interchangeability", it could be reconfigured to more closely resemble a Drill Tank, with the drill where the head should be and large wheels instead of arms.
It's actually a space battleship (albeit with a land mode), but the Kurogane from Super Robot Wars can serve this purpose.
SRW also has the G-Bison component of the Grungust Type-3.
The Gustlander mode of the Grungust Type-1 Doesn't actually have a drill, but invokes this trope nonetheless with its Spiral Attack, which is usually portrayed as a drill-shaped energy field in front of the tank.
Libby in Dragomirs Diary creates the Hypermole, a large, wheeled machine used to drill through a mountain. The drill mounted on the front looks more like an angular corkscrew than a standard drill; how this helps is anyone's guess.
The Superfriends episode "The Mysterious Moles". The Moles (husband Maximus and wife Minimus) created a machine with drills on front and back. They used it to drill to the bottom of a cave where they found a Lost World.
The episode "The Drill" in Avatar: The Last Airbender deals with a massive siege engine used to penetrate the Great Wall of China Ba Sing Se.
During the time the Technodrome was underground in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shredder and his minions used capsule-like drill tanks to carry themselves to the surface and back. The Technodrome itself may count as well.
Brock Samson and later Jefferson Twilight are seen driving one of these in an episode of The Venture Bros..
The titular bus' form in the book The Magic School Bus Inside The Earth and the Edutainment GameThe Magic School Bus Explores Inside The Earth (note the all-important addition of the word "explores" in the game title). Ironically, the only TV episode in which the bus has this form was about plants.
One of these was used in an episode of South Park to plow though a large crowd of hippies.
Dr. Wily used one to help create earthquakes in the Mega Man episode "The Big Shake".
Jake Rockwell's Awesome Auger weapon system from Centurions.
Wing Commander Academy: In a flashback scene involving the time Gruntnote so named for being a Marine to transferred to flight status served on Repleeta, the Kilrathi use a drill tank to dig up into human rear areas.
And by extension, the tunnel driller in Red Faction. And yes, the drills here actually carve through stone.
The example from Avatar (particularly its way of movement) was also based on the tunnel-boring machine.
Subverted, it bores (like a file), not drills (like a, well, drill).
Heck, Subterrenes could theoretically drill tunnels and eliminate waste rock AND reinforce the resulting tunnels fast enough to act as transportation. However, only the Russians have ever been stupid enough to actually build a "Battle Mole", as the primary component was a nuclear reactor. Which broke down and killed the crew. Conspiracy Theories abound, however.
Mind you, that nuclear reactors are used (for the most part) safely and efficiently on almost all modern submarines and aircraft carriers. The concept only needed better engineering.
In 1938, the British, anticipating that World War Two would be an exact re-run of WW1, designed and built a group of mammoth tanks, each weighing 185 tons, built for one purpose and one purpose only - digging trenches, in order to get that back-breaking labour safely mechanised. More cynical officers, whose reading of German strategy had convinced them that trench-building was futile, named these machines the TOG tanks, as "The Old Gang" of Colonel Blimps had ordered them built at massive cost. One was lost in France, and labelled useless scrap metal by its German captors; another two were used to build trenches and tank-traps around London in the event of German invasion.
During the Cold War, both sides reactivated the trench-digger idea in smaller and mechanically less complex form, based on tanks then in production: Soviet MDK-2M and BTM-3 on one side and Leopard tank based vehicles◊ on the other side. They still work on ground surface like excavators, though.