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 one or more great big drills 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.
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Anime and Manga
- 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.
- Bubblegum Crisis: 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.
- Battle Craft in Combattler V
- DrillGao in GaoGaiGar.
- G-Driller in Gravion.
- Featured in Getter Robo Go, where they're dropped from bombers and used to attack underground bases.
- Rod Drill in Machine Robo.
- Also, Drill Robo in Machine Robo Rescue.
- Neo Human Casshern: Friender is able to transform into several vehicles, including a tunneling tank with a big drill on the front.
- UFO Robo Grendizer: This Mazinger Z sequel provides the Drill Spazer, a vehicle with two drills bolted on the front. When it combines with Grendizer, the titular giant robot is able to move and fight underground.
- The Magma Swimmer employed in episode 27 of Sgt. Frog.
- 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.
- 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.
- Labyrinth Tank from the Yu-Gi-Oh! series, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a tank in a labyrinth with drills in its drill.
- Gundam has a Humongous Mecha example with the Agg, a Zeon machine which was designed to tunnel into The Federation's Elaborate Underground Base headquarters. The design never actually appeared in the Mobile Suit Gundam animenote but has popped up in later video games.
- 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.
- Gina Diggers has a transforming Drill Tank in more recent issues. It's named Gespenst.
- The Chinese teach Mazer Rackham's squad how to operate their drill tanks in Formic Wars: Burning Earth.
- Golden Age Daredevil's enemy the Claw had one of these, capable of drilling from the Pacific islands to the eastern United States.
- The G.I. Joe Team kept one as an Escape Pod, should their Elaborate Underground Base, the Pit, be destroyed. When the mostly-vacant Pit was destroyed amidst a Cobra invasion, Cobra Commander and Destro used it to get out.
- Used for transportation in At the Earth's Core.
- The Digger from Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
- The mining vehicle from the original Total Recall (1990).
- MOGUERA's upper half transforms into Land Moguera, which uses MOGUERA's drill nose and laser-firing arms to burrow.
- Featured in Labyrinth.
- Although strictly speaking it's drill-less, the ship used in The Core. Its drill in this case is a superlaser assembly at the front.
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra used these as well
- Two of the Rehabilitation "monster trucks" in Idiocracy.
- In the last two installments of The Matrix the machines drill their way down to Zion in order to avoid the defence lines.
- Happens in Jackboots on Whitehall. Those Wacky Nazis drill a tunnel under the English channel using a drill mounted on the front of a panzer.
- Shockwave from ''Transformers: Dark of the Moon'' actually rides in a large Cybertronian drill tank worm.
- The Incredibles: The Underminer appears riding one of these.
- The drilling machine in At the Earth's Core is the best special effect in the film. The dinosaurs are very much of the B-movie variety, but the drilling machine looks awesome.
- Important to the plot of the movie Battle Beneath The Earth is the usage of laser drill vehicles by both the rogue Chinese general and his army and the Americans to burrow underground and plant nuclear weapons on strategic locations that will destroy the United States (and the fight to stop said placing). While the Americans' laser drill is a prototype that craps out real quick, the Chinese drill is a perfect example of this trope, heavily armored and equipped with an anti-personnel flamethrower.
- The dygos in The Pendragon Adventure, where they're used by the Rokador of Zadaa to make their Elaborate Underground Base home.
- The "iron mole" that delivers David Innes and Abner Perry to Pellucidar in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar series.
- 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.
Live Action TV
- The Drill Driver of Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, and its Super Sentai counterpart GoGo Drill. Far from the first, and probably far from the last.
- GoZyu Drill from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the default form of GokaiSilver's personal mecha GoZyuJin. Technically speaking, it's actually a Drill Jetnote , 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).
- The first five Metal Heroes had these in some form.
- Space Sheriff Gavan had Scoopers, a bifurcated drill tank.
- Space Sheriff Sharivan had Mogriran, a single drill tank.
- Space Sheriff Shaider had Battle Shaian, which was the bottom part of the Shaian tank, the upper part split into a Cool Ship; he calls for it from his bigger 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.
- Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion had Garbin Tank; the part in the middle split into a Cool Ship too.
- Jikuu Senshi Spielban had Drill Gaios, which was the Gaios tank with a drill turbine exposed in the center; the cabin could transform into a Cool Ship and Shout-Out to the X-Wing. (This was also used in VR Troopers, but as an assault tank and fighter jet mainly; the drill portion was only used a couple of times.)
- One of them is used in an episode of Eureka.
- Tomica Hero Rescue Force has one in the form of the Rescue Drill.
- The lead car of Kamen Rider Zeronos' Cool Train has a giant bull head that can flip around to reveal a drill.
- Stargate SG-1 had an episode featuring one of these, built by aliens somewhere on the Diesel Punk stage of technological development. And designed by Jonas Quinn, in one of his few appearances after he left the main cast. It actually turns out to not work particularly well at a critical moment, and much tension ensues.
- The Mole in Thunderbirds is one of these.
- 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.
- This is one of the Contraptions you must build in Pro Pinball: Fantastic Journey
- 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.
- The Resistance Model 109 Breaching Drill on Dropzone Commander (although it's more of a drill transport).
- In Rocket Age the United Venusian Mining Consortium uses drilling machines to mine for Radium.
- The Chrome Crusher from LEGO's Rock Raiders theme, and the Thunder Driller from LEGO Power Miners.
- The Titanium Command Rig can be considered a massively upsized version of the Thunder Driller.
- One of the best known of the Go-Bots (AKA Machine Robo) was a drill tank with the unlikely name of Screw Head.
- Amongst the G1 Transformers, one of the Technobots was one of these, named Nosecone..
- Nosecone, though Drillhorn of the Breastforce (seriously) fits the 'unimaginative name' bill.
- There's also Twin Twist, who transforms into a double drill tank, and much much later, a minicon named Drill Bit would be made... though his giant drill is in back.
- Also, Drill Dasher.
- Galvatron from Beast Wars II turns into a drill tank.
- 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.
- Nemesis Army Mole Machines in City of Heroes/Villains.
- Driller-G's in Makai Kingdom.
- Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? has among its enemies a Sabre Cat that attacks by sending a tiny Remote-controlled Driller-G at you.
- The HAG-1 (Monstrous Mechanical Mud-Muncher) from Banjo-Tooie.
- The eponymous Drill Dozer alternates between walking and crawling. It appears as an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros.. Brawl.
- While the subterranean flame tanks of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun have spiked rollers instead, the subterranean APCs use drills.
- Carmageddon and its sequel have a drill monster truck.
- A Boss Battle in the game Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb has Indy running away from one of those - from the tank's POV.
- The infamously easy first boss in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a drill car. For nostalgia's sake, it made a return in the last level of Sonic Advance, where it can be blown to pieces with even greater ease.
- Mega Man and Roll's Rush Drill super in Marvel vs. Capcom.
- Mega Man Zero 1 has the mid-game level Mechaniloid which is about to barge into the rebel base.
- The VZR tank from the obscure NES game WURM Journey To The Center Of The Earth, which could also hover, or transform into an airplane.
- The Dark Iron dwarves in World of Warcraft use these on occasion, especially during Brewfest.
- The Brewfest-only Dark Iron boss has a chance to drop a remote that controls one of these, transporting the party to the tavern he holes up in — from anywhere. Including another planet.
- Metal Fatigue features Drill Trucks, which, while not armed, do sport tracks and a giant drill on the front for drilling underground tunnels.
- In Dark Reign, the Freedom Guard have Phase Tanks and Phase Runners, which although they lack drills, can hide and move underground.
- Lost Planet: Extreme Condition has the GAB-25 Vital Suit that can transform between this and quadrupedal mech forms.
- On one path in Metal Slug 3, there is a Drill Slug that can extend the drill bit forward and machine guns to shoot at enemies on the ceiling.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has the Shagohod. Which has two drills. To be fair, they're just the front ends of the turbines that act as the treads, but still.
- In Blaster Master Overdrive, S.O.P.H.I.A. acquires a Drill Kit upgrade after you defeat the boss of Area 3.
- In Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds, the tunneling track layer.
- Red Faction has one with dual drills. The player can use it to drill through some walls and reach new areas.
- The player character of the early Hudson Soft game Itasundorious, also released as Driller Tanks.
- In Magical Doropie, the Mini-Boss at the end of Round 2-2 is one of these.
- Mini-boss drill tanks are used by the evil Gedow in Viewtiful Joe 2.
- Gotcha Force has one borg called Beam Tank, which is the only tank-class borg capable of making melee attacks with its drill in addition to ranged attacks.
- Resident Evil 4 has one of these chase Leon and Ashley down a corridor in the dungeon.
- Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes has the Drillatron, which appears as a miniboss in a few stages.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game memorably introduces Rocksteady with one at the end of the first level. Several more appear throughout the game.
- In Motherload, you get to drive one of these in order to mine minerals off of an alien planet.
- The African Warlords from March Of War use them.
- In Club Penguin, Herbert had one of these in the PSA mission 8
- The Burrower in WarWind. Unfortunately, the vehicle has a limited range, slow travelling speed, and can transport only two units at a time.
- The fourth boss in Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony is a drilling train with which the Conquistador rides his way into the heart of Mars.
- The villainous Subterranean from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe uses a Drill Tank to break into museums, bank vaults, and other secure locations from underneath.
- 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 Mole from Thunderbirds, one of the earliest on TV.
- The episode "The Drill" in Avatar: The Last Airbender deals with a massive siege engine used to penetrate the Great Wall of
ChinaBa 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.
- The TurboMole in SWAT Kats.
- 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 Game The 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".
- Phineas and Ferb gives us Dr. Doofenshmirtz and his Drill-inator, which he uses in his plan to make a tunnel to China.
- Jake Rockwell's Awesome Auger weapon system from Centurions.
- Wing Commander Academy: In a flashback scene involving the time Gruntnote served on Repleeta, the Kilrathi use a drill tank to dig up into human rear areas.
- The Flamin' Thongs: When Trevor decides that Whale Bay needs a crosstown tunnel, Holden builds a burrowing machine by attaching a giant propeller to the front of Brenda's car. Amazingly, this one works perfectly: unlike most of Holden's inventions.
- "Flash Gordon:'' Ming's Mecho-Mole, later hijacked by Prince Barin.
- In Totally Spies! in "Queen for a Day" the spies drive one called a R.A.T.V.A.T.
- Tunnel-boring machines.
- 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 crazy 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.
- Similar concepts also make subterranean torpedoes plausible.
- 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.