Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon
Sometimes a full broadside cannon barrage isn't enough to bring down those pesky enemy ships. Or the enemy may be running away as fast as they can, and you don't have time to turn and give them the full fury of your weapons array. That's why you should remember to design your ships with a really big weapon
pointed straight forward, to make running away very unattractive as the cannon rips into them from behind.
The core of the trope is that the weapon cannot be independently aimed — it can only fire in a fixed direction relative to the ship (typically straight ahead), so you have to maneuver the entire ship in order to aim it. This is typically because the weapon is so large that it takes up a significant portion of the ship's mass and/or volume, so mounting it in a turret is impractical or impossible. It can be nose-mounted, dorsally mounted (on the top surface of the ship), ventrally mounted (on the bottom), or a "spinal weapon" (where it runs along — or in extreme cases is
— the spine of the ship).
Commonly referred to as the "main gun" or some other such name to indicate how much more powerful it is compared to the other weapons.
Nearly all fighters use this design (due to size, weight, aerodynamics, and modern aircraft mostly using long-range homing missiles
or precision-guided bombs
), so specific examples need not be listed.
Frequently a Wave Motion Gun
or Rail Gun
of some sort. If the ship has a split hull that functions as a Wave Motion Gun
, it's a Wave-Motion Tuning Fork
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Anime and Manga
- Pirates of the Caribbean: the Flying Dutchman is equipped with a pair of forward facing long-nines. Anyone proficient in sailor lingo was already saying Oh Crap, but then the "long-nines" turn out to be rotating triple-barrel cannons. Not bad for a time when cannons were still loaded manually.
- The Queen Anne's Revenge from the fourth film has Forward Facing flamethrowers.
- Star Wars: The Death Star's planet-killing superlaser. The second Death Star in Return of the Jedi was shown to have some aiming ability, enough to fire off-axis and hit individual ships in a fleet without rotating to face each onenote .
- Asteroid: The lasers are mounted on the noses of jet fighters and feature no auto-targeting of any kind. Justified in that the engineers had a limited amount of time to install these before all life on Earth ended. This becomes a plot point when one of the three fighter pilots is unable to keep the asteroid in his crosshairs due to a storm, and the asteroid is only hit with two beams.
- Averted in Star Trek Into Darkness, where we see that the Enterprise has side-facing torpedo launchers in addition to its forward-facing weapons.
- A Piece Of Cake, Derek Robinson's WWII novel. The seminal moment where the Luftwaffe realizes the fixed-forward cannon in the nose of the Me110 (its only weapon) are absolutely lethal if the target aircraft is obliging enough to position itself in front of you, but no use if the RAF pilot elects to come in from the side or rear... the feared German planes are forced to get into a mutually defending circle like settler wagons beset by Indians, and are absolutely impotent at defending the bombers they are meant to be escorting.
- Legacy of the Aldenata: the super monitor class ship has a spine-mounted Mass Driver that fires a huge slug packed with a gooey antimatter center for taking on the battle globes of the Posleen as they enter. A single round is said to be able to destroy a significant percentage of the ships in the formation of hundreds.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- The Darksaber is a cylindrical ship that houses a superlaser and makes up the majority of the ship itself.
- Eclipse-class super star destroyers (Dark Empire) also have a superlaser that runs the length of the whole ship. But relax, it isn't powerful enough to blow up planets! It can only crack their crust, making them uninhabitable. What a relief, huh?
- The AT-AT walkers seem to have all their guns mounted on the head. Sure, it swivels a bit, but approaching the thing from either the sides or the rear seems to be a free pass.
- Honor Harrington:
- The newer generation Light Attack Craft, nicknamed "Super LACs", have spine-mounted weapons, often grasers. Previous generations of LACs instead carried a single broadside of the biggest missiles they could carry, in hopes of delivering their payload before they were swatted out of the sky. In Enemy Hands mentions that the thought of spinal guns for ships of the wall had been banished as unfeasible earlier, specifically in contrast with using these on the much smaller and more agile LACs.
- Larger ships usually have lasers or grasers mounted in the fore and aft ends of the ship as chase armament, for when tactical conditions preclude using the primary beam weaponry in the broadside arcs.
- The Lost Fleet: some capital ships have a weapon called a "null field" that is projected from the front of the ship. Unlike most of this type of weapon, it's short range (for a space weapon), but tends to a One-Hit Kill as it just disintigrates a large chunk out of whatever ship it hits and breaks down most shields.
- Incorrect. The null field is specifically stated to blow through weakened shields. Furthermore, there is no specific mention that it only fires straight ahead. In fact, that would run counter to the series' "hard" physics. If the null field could only fire straight ahead, the firing vessel would always be immediately destroyed as momentum results in it crashing into whatever's left of the target.
- Troy Rising: Assault Vectors have several spinal mounted heavy laser weapons that are clustered on the nose, each with their own independent power supply.
- Stargate SG-1: The Ori mother ships have a massive slow-firing weapon that frequently annihilates any ship it hits. There are smaller pulsed weapons on the sides that can still take out a Ha'tak with a single triple-volley.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: The phaser lance from the alternate future version of the Enterprise-D in "All Good Things".
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The USS Defiant is an escort cruiser, first of her class, purposefully designed for combat, containing 4 fixed-forward pulse phaser cannons and 4 quantum torpedo launchers (2 fore, 2 aft). However, she is a Pintsized Powerhouse, and is quite agile. She also has conventional phasers on the top and bottom of the hull, meaning that there are no blind spots, but those have nowhere near the power of the fixed primary weapons.
- Babylon 5:
- The Vorlon Cruiser, pictured above. Also the Narn G'Quan cruisers are equipped with those.
- All Vorlon ships appear to have only forward-facing weapons. The crown jewel is the Eclipse-class Planetkiller, a 45 kilometer monster whose forward-facing beam can destroy a planet with a single shot Death Star-style. They had a number of those (at least 2) and weren't shy about using them during the end of the Second Shadow War.
- Many of the smaller warships in the B5 setting are equipped this way, such as the White Stars, the smaller of the Centauri's two depicted warships, Earth's cruisers, and even the Star Furies.
- The Excalibur in Crusade, being derived from Vorlon technology. Her total helplessness for several minutes after firing this Wave Motion Gun was a slight downside, though.
- The bioships of Species 8472 in Star Trek: Voyager appear to be only able to fire directly forward, which can be justified by the fact that each ship is crewed by only one being. Then there's their planet-busting Wave Motion Gun.
- In the series finale of the original Battlestar Galactica, the Galactica uses a pair of such weapons, massive laser cannons mounted in the nose of the ship, to wail on a disabled Cylon Base Star.
- When MythBusters tested the spy car machine-gun myth, they first tested the machine gun as if it were "spinal mount". Adam was shocked at how effective it was, especially since he had believed he wouldn't be able to aim it very well (turned out he could aim it up or down via the brakes).
- Star Fleet Battles (And it's PC implementation the Star Trek: Starfleet Command series) has the Romulan Mauler, essentially a ship built around a massive beam weapon and it's supporting batteries/capacitors designed to break starbase or planetary defense shields in one shot. Not typically a stand alone vessel though - it depends on its sisterships to defend it while it get's into position. They sold the design other races, but even when it was an addition to an existing ship, it still had to be hard bolted into a single direction.
- Prior to this, they had already had this issue with their signature weapon, the Plasma Torpedo. Even when technology allowed most of the designs to integrate a limited turret, the massive Plasma-R type always had the forward fixed design, often having the ship carrying it built around the weapon.
- Traveller: most starship weapons did incremental damage and could wear down an opponent over time. Spinal mount weapons (either a particle accelerator or a meson gun) ran the length of the ship and could blow opposing ships to atoms with a single shot.
- Battlefleet Gothic:some ships have a nose mounted main cannon. Ork ships quite often have a large main gun, and the Imperium has the Nova Cannon, which is a massive mass driver that runs through most of the ship and fires building-sized projectiles at relativistic speeds. The well named chaos ship 'Planet Killer' is build around its main gun.
- Most escort vessels and Eldar ships have entirely forward-facing weaponry because they can maneuver much more effectively than the big clumsy seventeen-kilometer-long battle cathedrals and thus don't need weapons in more than one fire arc.
- Some vehicles in ordinary Warhammer 40,000 have got these as well. Of note are the Vindicator (a Space Marine tank that has a front-mounted short-ranged ordnance weapon designed for blasting through fortifications), the Minotaur (an Imperial Armor super-heavy tank that has a pair of Basilisk artillery weapons mounted forward and level) and the Necrons' Doomsday Ark, a skimmer built around its massive cannon.
- The Shadowsword is a superheavy tank with a forward-facing cannon that can be aimed... by about two degrees.
- Human and Ork Titans seem to make great use of this, with Ork Gargants and Stompas mounting a forward firing cannon in their "belly" and the current Epic model of the Imperial Warlord Titan has a pair of shoulder mounted Turbolasers that don't seem to be able to pivot in any way.
- GURPS Spaceships: has massive spinal weapon batteries. By default they fire out the nose but they can also be constructed to blast out the rear.
- In Transhuman Space particle accelerators have to be fixed, as they are several hundred meters long.
- Spelljammer has a Giff ship called simply "Great Bombard". One glance at deckplans◊ explains why. And yes, this thing doubles as a blunt ram, too.
- A Car Wars article once talked about these for ... well, cars. The scenario involved someone in basically a Crown Victoria (or non-Ford equivalent in class), normally able to at most mount something like an M61 Vulcan cannon, treating some enemies to 75mm cannon fire.
- BattleTech mostly avoids this; weapons are standardized no matter what platform mounts them and even big guns are usually just part of a unit's entire array. There are, however, a couple of cases that play the trope more or less straight:
- For ground units, it's the heavy Gauss rifle, whose massive recoil prevents it from being arm- or turret-mounted and makes firing it while moving risky for BattleMechs because doing so forces a piloting skill roll to avoid falling.
- Meanwhile, suitably large space units — as in, 750,000 tons and up — may potentially be equipped with as-yet-experimental mass drivers, whose firing arc is literally just the straight line of hexes in the direction they're pointed into (which for WarShips, which can only carry one at most, means dead ahead). They're also quite massive themselves and rather inaccurate even if they do get a target lined up, so many players don't consider the damage they can potentially inflict really worth it (it's not that out of line with a simple volley of more 'regular' naval weapons, anyway).
- Finally, while there are few weapons embodying the trope, there is the occasional individual unit that does so, with three of the most famous classic examples (the Hetzer Wheeled Assault Gun, Saladin Assault Hover Tank and MechBuster conventional fighter aircraft) being each built around a single autocannon of the largest caliber available with nothing else for backup. The Saladin and MechBuster are both fast-but-fragile Glass Cannons; the Hetzer is tougher, but also slower and still easily immobilized, at which point its lack of turret and the short range of its main gun will seriously compromise its remaining threat potential.
- In the starship miniatures game Full Thrust, this is a standard part of Kra'Vak (the most antagonistic alien race) design philosophy; their ships carry mass driver cannons called K-guns (for Kinetic Gun) as their main weapons, and only the smallest two classes can have more than a sixty degree firing arc. A typical Kra'Vak ship carries the two biggest K-guns the ship can structually carry on outrigger-type pods facing forward (sometimes with barrels as long or longer than the main hull of the ship) as her main battery, plus secondary weapons. A few Kra'Vak ships carry a third main gun as a spinal mount in the main hull, while some of their biggest ships carry four outriggers.
- FreeSpace 2: Most of the newer Shivan warships take this approach, having their most powerful weapons mounted on the nose of the ship and having a limited firing arc. Terran and Vasudan warships favor the broadside approach. The Shivans use this configuration to good effect with their blitz tactics: jump in, take down the target, jump out. Their Sathanas warships do resemble◊ the Vorlon cruisers.
- Halo: UNSC ships have a MAC (Magnetic Accelerator Cannon) built into the length of the hull that acts as a primary weapon.
- The Super MACs take this trope Up to Eleven. As they are simply massive floating guns with support structures built around them.
- A single shot from a Super MAC is said to be able to take out any Covenant ship in one shot, even the 29 kilometer long ones, even with full shields. While normally outclassing humans in every way, the Covenant have to resort to tricks in order to take out the Super MACs before attacking a planet, such as ramming or boarding.
- Mass Effect: Magnetic railguns are the weapon du jour on typical warships. The Encyclopedia explains that every ship has its biggest gun mounted in the nose, because that way, the railgun can run the entire length of the ship - and the energy you can put into a railgun projectile is proportional to the length of the magnetic rail. Smaller railguns are usually mounted in turrets and sides, but if you want to punch through somebody's shields, you're gonna need the nose-gun.
- The Collector ship has a similar situation on their slow turning ship, though if they're facing you, you're pretty much screwed. Just ask anyone who survived the destruction of the original Normandy.
- The Normandy SR-2 can get the newly-developed Thanix cannon mounted on the nose, which is the same sort of weapon the Reapers use, except the Normandy is a lot more maneuverable than the Collectors. Given that the same weapon was capable of one-shotting a cruiser...the results were clear...and oh-so-poetic.
- Dreadnoughts are the spinal weapon variant, with them being described as a ship built around a giant gun. An image in the third game clearly demonstrates just how seriously this is taken, with the ship being evidently nothing but a support structure for said giant gun.
- Homeworld 2: has the Ion Cannon Frigate and Vaygr Battlecruiser, this is actually tactically important, as both ships have limited turn speed.
- Homeworld: Cataclysm gives a Siege Cannon to the Somtaaw Mothership. It's mounted to the side and forward-facing, because it's so huge.
- The Ion Cannon Frigate in the first Homeworld is basically an Ion Cannon with a ship wrapped around it. It's mentioned in the manual that this trope is the only possible option for equipping a ship of such a small size with an Ion Cannon (indeed, Destroyers and Heavy Cruisers mount multiple turreted Ion Cannons, but they are also much larger ships); even then, there is no room for any other weapons on the Frigate!
- Skies of Arcadia: The Delphinus is armed with the Moonstone Cannon, which is basically an Expy of the classic Wave Motion Gun. While the visible portion is a telescoping barrel that extends out of the bow, the cannon actually runs the full length of the ship's hull. Really, they just took a huge cannon and built a ship around it.
- Admiral Vigoro's Draco is a standard Valuan battleship, except with all of its turrets replaced by a gigantic fixed shell-firing cannon. While larger (in diameter, at least) than the Moonstone Cannon, it's less powerful. And the first playable ship, the Little Jack, has the Harpoon Cannon mounted on its bow, which is exactly what it sounds like.
- Escape Velocity: Nova: Most Auroran and Polaran capital ships have fixed guns (railguns and Capacitor Pulse Lasers respectively) as their primary armament, as opposed to the mostly turret-and-missile using Federation. The Aurorans get around the inherent inflexibility of the gun by using its phenomenal range, while Polaran ships are so hellishly fast and maneuverable that it almost doesn't matter.
- Granted, the railguns did have a limited "swivel" when targeting other ships to make up for it a little.
- The player could modify any acquired capital ship to use this trope in the two older games, although the only ship to truly fit it from the start was the non-acquirable Alien Cruiser, with its Heavy Fusion Beam.
- Wing Commander:
- From Wing Commander II, the Confederation class dreadnoughts (including the player home ship, the TCS Concordia) had the Phase Transit Cannon as an integral part of the design's keel. The Kilrathi design from which the PTC was copied, aboard the Sivar dreadnought from Wing Commander: The Secret Missions that used its gun to destroy the Confederation's Goddard colony was also a fixed mount. As the latter wasn't of any use against anything smaller than planetoids, maneuverability of the platform wasn't an issue.
- Wing Commander III gives us TCS Behemoth, a one-of-a-kind planet-killing cannon with a ship built around it, in a desperate attempt to end the war in one shot. It failed.
- In Prophecy, the Nephilim Kraken-class ship had a fleet-killer plasma cannon that could only face in on direction... but could wipe out a fleet in battle formation with one shot. After being captured, it was given a new fixed mount between the Midway's split forward arms.note
- StarCraft: Protoss Carriers have a forward-facing laser used to sterilize planets, although you don't use it in-game. The Terran Battlecruiser also has one called the Yamato Cannon.
- Sword of the Stars: Spinal mounts for destroyers, strafe sections (although these are a batter of smaller weapons) and impactors all point forward. Heavy beams usually do, but certain dreadnought specifications have the option of using them as broadsides and the Zuul have them turreted. The Siege Driver is probably the crown example, insofar adding one does not so much add the weapon to the ship as add engines and a cockpit to the weapon.
- The human variant of the Siege Driver is especially prominent, as it is, essentially, a battleship-sized revolver that fires asteroids.
- Star Control II has many examples. Most notable are the Ur-Quan dreadnought's forward firing fusion cannon and the Chenjesu broodhome's photon shard, both of which are powerful enough to obliterate most other ships in a couple of shots. There is also the VUX intruder's and the Chmmr avatar's forward superlasers which can burn down anything in short order. The Druuge Mauler's forward-facing main cannon has a powerful recoil that flings the ship backward, and is considered by some players a more effective way of getting around than the ship's actual engine.
- Several flagship-sized ships in Sins of a Solar Empire have their most powerful weapon pointed forward. This includes the Kol-class Battleship (TEC) with a massive railgun and heavy laser emitters, the Radiance-class Battleship (Advent) with an extremely-powerful overcharged beam cannon, and the Marza-class Dreadnought (TEC), specially designed as an artillery gun in space for laying waste to groups of ships or entire planetary populations with its powerful forward-mounted gun. They do have side- and, sometimes, rear-facing guns, but these are only meant to keep those pesky destroyers and cruisers at bay, while the main guns are all for flagship-to-flagship engagements.
- Taken Up to Eleven with the Ragnarov Titan in the Rebellion Expansion, where the ship is built around a gigantic railgun. This can actually make the Ragnarov very vulnerable to another Titan with most of its firepower focused forward. The Loyalist Vasari Vorastra Titan can perform a short-range phase jump to the rear of the Ragnarov (i.e. where most of the Ragnarov's weapons can't target) and pound it mercilessly, performing another jump when the Ragnarov turns to face it.
- Most ships, in fact, are designed to have their weapons point forward, from tiny fighters to heavy cruisers, requiring the ship itself to turn to face the target. It's rare to have an aversion for anything lower than a capital ship.
- While averted for the most part in Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, where pretty much all guns are turreted and are spread out through the hull, with the exception of the Siege Laser, which is mounted on the front of Gorg and (later) Nova battleships. This laser can take out most ships with one shot and can even take down the mighty fortress shield with a few shots but takes a long time to charge and require the combined power output of three other ships.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl has two examples: The Battleship Halberd has a large cannon mounted below the mask which does not seem to aim. This is upped to eleven with the Subspace Gunship (literally a space gun). This ship is easily the largest in the game, and most of its length consists of a single immense cannon with a Wave-Motion Tuning Fork on the end. The main gun is never used in combat; it is actually used to tear the fabric of space, creating portals to subspace.
- Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force had one level that took place on a vessel called "Dreadnought" which was described in game as "a giant cannon on autopilot." The monster has a barrel 700 meters long that you repurpose to fire on a Harvester ship approaching Voyager.
- Master of Orion ships can be designed with narrow firing arcs if the player wants to mount more guns since guns with a larger arc take up more space. A spinal mount is an option in MoO 3.
- Based on the animations, ship special weapons (read: Wave Motion Guns) in Infinite Space are fixed like this, as are most large weapons.
- Naval Ops series: Wave Motion Guns, railguns, and a variety of other energy weapons can only shoot straight forward or backward in the.
- The Galactic Armory mod for Star Ruler adds a Spinal Mount Hull, which allows you to link a weapons system to it to massively boost the damage output and range of the weapon at the cost of firing rate, resources, and aiming. The Spinal mount essentially reverses how the ship is built - rather than sticking a gun on a ship, you stick a ship on a gun.
- World of Tanks: Most tank destroyers and artillery have guns that are almost entirely fixed to the hull with only a very slight angle of adjustment before you have to move the entire tank hull. Several exceptions exist, such as the American "turreted TD" line, and some artillery like the GW Panther. The American M3 Lee medium tank is one of the only tank tanks to have a fixed gun.
- Empire: Total War and Napoleon: Total War have, for the most part, your typical Age of Sail warships that fire broadsides at each other. Some of the larger ships may have a cannon or two mounted on the front to take potshots at the enemy without doing any serious damage. Then you have the mortar and rocket ships. While by no means precise, they can ruin your day pretty easily if you don't deal with them quickly. While they do have a small number of side-mounted cannons, their main strength is their forward-facing mortar/rocket launcher. A successful mortal hit can even cripple a first-rate battleship and can decide the course of a battle if that first-rate happens to have an admiral on it. The rockets don't do much damage but can set ships on fire, even the ships firing them. Won't do much good against ironclads in Napoleon, but those come so late in the game that most games tend to end before you even research them.
- Unfortunately for the mortar/rocket ships, the fact that they're facing the enemy means that they can't get away quickly if one decides to come within range of their broadsides.
- Total War: Shogun 2 replaces mortar ships with torpedo boats that also launch directly forward.
- In Sonic Adventure, the Egg Carrier has a colossal Wave Motion Gun behind its bow, which is revealed by said bow splitting in two.
- In the X-Universe series, these are only used on frigates and smaller since destroyers and carriers are too unmaneuverable to make them useful. Usually they put the ship's most powerful guns there.
- SD Gundam G Generation turns battle ships and several units with XXL size (GP03 Dendrobium, Strike Freedom Meteor, Devil Gundam, etc) into this. Unlike smaller units, you need to manually turn them into the right direction to use their most powerful attacks such as hyper beam cannons, micro missiles, and Hi-MAT Full Burst. While these attacks are multi-target and very strong, the units are almost sitting ducks if the enemy can sneak up from the sides or from the behind where they can't counter attack.
- Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon has the Procyon ships be this way, for the most part, while the Imperial ships mostly focused on "traditional" broadsides.
- Several in Star Trek Online. Although dual cannons and their kin can technically hit a 45-degree cone in front of the ship, in a 3D environment that's usually close enough to this trope to qualify. In addition to DCs, there's the Galaxy-X dreadnought cruiser with its spinal phaser lance (see Star Trek: The Next Generation above), and KDF counterpart, the Javelin on the Nausicaan-built Guramba Siege Destroyer. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
- Megas XLR: The UPDnote mounted on the Glorft ship is mounted under the main hull of the mother ship, but is almost the size of the entire mothership.
- Early fighter designs tried to defy this by placing guns on trainable mounts and turrets (the last single engined fighter with turret-mounted guns was British Boulton Paul Defiant, a late 1930s design that would stay on in front line service until early phase of the Battle of Britain.) By 1940, however, it became clear that flexible gun mounts were too heavy and fighters flew too fast to be reliably targeted from such mounts anyways. Fixed forward firing armament became the standard feature of nearly every fighter from World War 2 on—especially if they were expected to fight other fighters.
- Several medium and light bombers in the US inventory during World War II had solid noses, as opposed to the normal glass nose traditional to bombers of the time, with multiple machine guns in immobile mounts for the purpose of having a ground attack role.
- The American B-25 Mitchell bomber had a variant (the B-25G, and improved in the H model) designed for anti-ship strafing, with a 75 mm M-4 cannon in the nose, and several gun pods mounted to each side of the fuselage near the canopy.
- Old 666, a B-17 from the same era was also fitted with a forward facing machine gun that the pilot could use to fend off head-on attacks from enemy fighter planes.
- One version of the DeHavilland Mosquito carried a 57mm cannon for anti-submarine work, attacking them on the surface and holing their hulls so they could not dive. Its effect on enemy aircraft, when circumstances permitted its use (i.e. caught unawares, not dodging and weaving) was described as 'spectacular'.
- Likewise, a never-used variant of the German Me-262 jet fighter replaced the 4 30mm cannon of the standard model with a single 57 mm reason. This was because it took 12+ well placed hits from the 30mm to bring down a B-17 or B-24, and the 262 was too fast to maintain a firing position. The 57mm required one hit almost anywhere on the plane.
- The A-10 Thunderbolt II is built around◊ a massive 30MM Gatling gun.
- The approach taken by most WWII "tank destroyers" and assault guns was to mount a single larger fixed-forward gun than similar-sized vehicles with a turret gun. This is all fine and good normally since a vehicle can reposition itself to face targets but if the treads get knocked out... The alternative approach was to put a bigger-than-usual gun in the turret, and make up the weight difference by stripping the vehicle of armor and sometimes having no roof on the turret.
- Scaling down the concept to a giant shotgun mounted on a rowboat gets you the "punt gun", which was used for duck hunting in the 1800s. To a lesser extreme, gunboats with powerful chaser guns fixed in the bow were a staple of coastal defense in the days of Wooden Ships and Iron Men. Individual gunboats were not at all survivable, but they could be built and deployed en-masse, with the added advantages of shallow drafts, fiendish maneuverability in the confines of a harbour no matter which direction the wind is blowing, and a disproportionately heavy armament for their small size.
- Until guided torpedoes were developed, submarines had to be point the bow -or stern, for aft tubes- directly at their target. Off-axis launches were possible even with early Second World War technology, with the torpedo being set to turn to follow a pre-determined bearing after launch; a few models could even be set to zig-zag in order to make evasive action more difficult. The reliability of the technology left quite a lot to be desired, however, and outside of about twenty to thirty degrees off-boresight the chances of a hit dropped significantly.
- This limitation also applied to torpedo boats and destroyers. Doubly so for the torpedo boats, since the torpedoes were their only weapon capable of damaging large ships at all.
- The main battle tank Stridsvagn 103 used by the Swedish Army up until the 1990s had a fixed gun that was aimed horizontally with the tracks and vertically with hydraulics. The design focused on defence, as it was better at stationary firing and had a lower profile than conventional tanks. Such a low profile that it would often be difficult for an invading tank force to see them, let alone shoot them.
- While examples of individual fighter planes fitting this trope are unnecessary due to their ubiquitousness, it is worth explaining that this wasn't always the only way to arm a fighter. From World War I until the early years of World War II, so-called "Turret Fighters" were built and fielded which carried their armament in a powered turret (behind the pilot) rather than fixed forward around the nose or wings. These were eventually withdrawn from daytime combat roles since the turret incurred a nasty weight and drag penalty, leaving the planes vulnerable to modern fighter planes such as the Bf-109. Turret-armed fighters continued to see success as night fighters throughout the war, being guided to enemy bombers via radar and typically cozying up underneath before ripping into them with the turret. Another aversion is the Luftwaffe's Schräge Musiknote , where night fighters instead had autocannons mounted to fire upwards instead of forwards, using a similar strategy to turret-armed fighters.
- While not going as far as the turret fighters above, two-seated fighter planes with rear-firing machine guns for self-defense existed (ironically including the very Messerschmitt Bf 110 quoted above under "Literature"). They fell out of favor — at least as fighters — because the added gun didn't compensate for their greater size also making them bigger and less maneuverable targets next to their single-seated competition.