Report! Bridge Officer:
Main power's offline, we've lost our shields, and our weapons are gone. Worf:
Perhaps today is
a good day to die! PREPARE FOR RAMMING SPEED!
In science fiction, even if a ship has shields
that can shrug off atomic weapons, ramming it with another ship always manages to take it down.
This is, in fact, pretty credible. The impact of a heavy freight train going 60 mph is equal to that of a 1 to 2 tons of TNT — it's just over a much smaller area, and going in one direction. Most spaceships are far heavier, and can go far faster. An object traveling at 3 km/sec does damage equal to its own weight in TNTnote
; a spaceship traveling at 90% of the speed of light does damage equal to its own weight in antimatter
. And that's not even taking into account the ramming ship detonating its reactors and munitions when it hits.
In fact, the usual mistake
is not to make ramming work too well but to make it work not well enough
. Survivors are not unknown, and the effect is usually depicted as "Ship A crashes into ship B and ship B crumples and breaks apart in slow motion," where it should look like, and is only more rarely is portrayed as, "Ship A crashes into ship B and both ships are vaporized in a titanic fireball". Likewise, small fighter craft often smash into bigger ships with no visible effect, when they ought to be wreaking massive devastation.
And then there's the momentum, even ramming at a few tens of meters per second could create enough force for the people in at least one of the ships to slam into the walls at speeds high enough to kill or injure them. Though interestingly when one of the ships weighs a lot more than the other the people in the bigger ship might only be knocked off their feet, so for a bigger ship ramming into a much smaller one at 10-30 m/s could be a great tactic for taking out enemy crews while leaving the both ships intact...
That said, there is
one challenge for a ramming ship, which is reaching the target in the first place. At realistic space combat distances (hundreds if not thousands of kilometers), the target should have plenty of time to see the attempt coming and either blow up the ramming ship or dodge out of its way. This ought to lead to a tense cat-and-mouse game as the rammer tries to close the distance and compensate for the target's evasive maneuvers, and the target tries to stay clear long enough to score a killing hit — the ramming ship is essentially a large missile, and the target would be performing a High-Speed Missile Dodge
. Sadly, things are never portrayed like this.
The reason for this, of course, is that space ramming depictions are probably based on the Space Is an Ocean
mindset, and the cultural memory of Real Life naval tactics
of the ancient world
. Before the advent of cannons, ramming the other ships was the main method for taking them out. Note that this is where the term "ramming speed" comes from — the horator would begin beating the drums faster so the slaves at the oars of the galleys rowed faster in order to drive the ram deep into the side of the enemy ship. Ramming tactics made a brief comeback in the latter half of the nineteenth century, with steamships, when they started making ships out of metal instead of wood
which made older cannons obsolete. Even then, battleships continued to be built with bows designed for ramming for many years after the tactic ceased to be relevant. In fact, in the early years of ironclad battleships, their armor was so effective against the relatively primitive guns of the era that ramming was seen as the only viable tactic against an ironclad. Even past this point, many ships have done a LOT of damage to each other with accidental or deliberate ramming, in particular sinking a large number of surfaced submarines.
Compare Colony Drop
, which, depending on what you're dropping, takes this trope to its logical extreme. For land vehicles, see Car Fu
or Forklift Fu
. In sci-fi terms, a Sister Trope
to Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better
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Flying (Planes & Spaceships)
Anime & Manga
- During the final battle the Outlaw Star rams the Big Bad twice, the second time killing him for good. Of course this is somewhat justified by the Outlaw Star being powered by the Galactic Leyline. Or course, the Big Bad was powered by it too, but he's evil, so it's OK. Also justified by the fact that the ships are designed for close combat in general. They have arms and fight with giant knives on occasion.
- Vincent Alzey of Last Exile seemed to prefer this maneuver in his battle against the Silvana. However, the captain of the Silvana, Alex Rowe, expected such a tactic, and turned it into his Crowning Moment of Awesome. It helps that the Urbanus-class ships are equipped with a gigantic, reinforced spike on their bows, and extend wing-like chainsaws from the sides. The ships are made explicitly for ramming, which is what Alex was counting on.
- Vincent uses a similar trick in the sequel series Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing as well.
- Mazinger Z: A tactic Kouji favors when he is battling a flying fortress is ramming through it, destroying and blowing up so much as he is able before using one of Mazinger's stronger attacks to blast the airship off the sky.
- That tactic was also used sometimes by Tetsuya Tsurugi from Great Mazinger and Duke Fleed from UFO Robo Grendizer (in fact, one of the CMOA of UFO Robo Grendizer happened one of the times Duke used that stratagem). Flying Robeasts in those series often attempting to ram the enemy, too.
- Daimos: Ramming its fist — or itself — through the enemy is one of the actual attacks from Daimos, and often Kazuya uses it like a Finishing Move.
- In Combattler V, the Choudenji Spin — ramming through the enemy — is often used like a Finishing Move. Combattler uses the Choudenji Tatsumaki — paralyzing the enemy by blasting it with a stream of electricity — and then rams through its adversary as spinning endlessly. That movement tends to leave a nice gaping hole in the Monster of the Week.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- The team's flying battleship with legs rams into one of the four generals' personal Gunmen, as well as their capital ship; the former is successful due to the sheer difference in size, while the other works because of the Rule of Cool. The battleship's main body is essentially a giant blade.
- Giga Drill Breaker and all variations thereoff are basically just one mecha ramming the other enemy with a Big Fucking Drill.
- Lagann-hen takes it to the logical extreme. In the series, the Moon tried to crash into Earth but didn't really do anything else. In the movie, the Moon transforms into the Cathedral Lazengann as soon as its defenders are gone then tries to punch the Earth in a unique take on Colony Drop.
- Super Dimension Fortress Macross
- The "Daedalus Attack" ("Daedalus Maneuvre" from Robotech) consists of focusing the ship's Deflector Shields onto the bolted-on aircraft carrier Daedalus, quite literally punching its bow into an enemy ship, and opening the forward hatch to allow the mecha inside to launch a Macross Missile Massacre (with a little Beam Spam, for good measure). The maneuver falls out of use when the enemy provokes it in order to launch a boarding operation (and a little friendly fire incident). But still, not bad for something thought up in the middle of the battle it's first used in...
- Its use in "Love Drifts Away"/"Force of Arms" takes it one step further. After completing the Maneuver above with it's whole body, the SDF-1 then activates its full Beehive Barrier shield. This is the same malfunctioning shield that took out all of Toronto... and they've activated it right next to the core of Boddole Zer/Dolza's flagship. The SDF-1 is crippled afterwards, but it is one Crowning Moment of Awesome within an entire Wham Episode full of them.
- It makes a comeback in the Grand Finale of the latest incarnation, to spectacular effect. It's called "Macross Attack" here, though.
- In Biomega, when his Ninja Butterfly informs him that his fighter jet is out of missiles and advises him to retreat, Zoichi responds with: "I still have one projectile left."
- Raideen : "God Bird, Change! Chojun Set!" Subverted in that we aren't told whether the attack was actually successful. However, it's an actual attack in Super Robot Wars.
- Captain Harlock: Harlock likes to ram his ship, the Arcadia, into things so much that the ship has a retractable, Bowie knife-shaped ram hidden in the prow. Note that the Arcadia always seems to survive such ramming unscathed, even against much bigger ships. To be fair the Mazone ships seem to be made of tissue paper by comparison to the Arcadia — possibly due to being crewed by a race of plant-life that burns like paper as it dies... although a more Freudian explanation could be at work...! And in Endless Odyssey, at least the Arcadia fires off several shots from the entire forward facing cannon batteries before whipping out the bowie knife and ramming the eldritch abomination in question...
- Mobile Suit Gundam
- Garma Zabi in Mobile Suit Gundam tries to invoke ("I am a man of the Zabi Family! I will not die in vain!") this trope after his ship is critically damaged. However Bright Noa sees him coming and manages to avoid the blow - the following explosion confirming it would have been fatal.
- Amuro Ray does this to a Titan mobile suit in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. It is justified, because he was piloting a transportation plane, not a combat one. And he escaped with a parachute.
- Kamille does this in the finale, he crashes Zeta's Waverider in to The O's pilot block, impaling Scirocco. Subverted slightly, because Scirocco Mind Rapes him into a state of retardation before he dies, which probably could have been avoided had Kamille shot him at long range.
- In the finale of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, Amuro has been divested of all his weapons and ammo, is far from backup, and is faced with the task of removing a falling asteroid from orbit before it collides with the Earth... naturally, ramming is the only solution. Amazingly, this plan actually works, due to Char and Amuro's resonating psycoframes. Unfortunately, the trope is played somewhat straight, since both pilots are killed in the process.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, the titular Gundam, the AGE-1, shows just how effective ramming can be, by performing a Zaku-style shoulder bash against a UE... With 4 Beam Sabers protruding from the shoulder. Another of the AGE-1 Titus' attacks is basically a Lariat with a beam-ring just below the wrist.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing has the Peacemillion ramming into Libra's main cannon to disable it. Everyone is evacuated beforehand except for three pilots, who survive presumably because Peacemillion's bridge is on its underside, rather like the gondola of a blimp.
- Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam has a particularly bizarre example in the Pez Batara, a mecha specifically designed to ram. It mounts a giant beam axe blade down its middle and attacks enemy ships by charging at them. However, the official profile notes that it has a low survival rate and pilots aren't expected to come back.
- In Planetes the Space Defense Front commandeers a satellite remotely and intends to crash it into the space station ISVP 7 so that the resulting debris cloud would effectively cut off Earth from space (a scenario known in Real Life as "Kessler Syndrome"). Pilot Fee Carmichael objects to this, not because of any world-saving impetus or anything, but because the SDF blowing up Smoking Rooms in every other station has kept her from having a nice, peaceful smoke, and the target station hosts the last available Smoking Room in orbit. To the stupefaction of her crew, she goes alone and takes her own ship and rams the satellite just before impact. Both the satellite and her ship the Toybox I are crippled and fall into the atmosphere, but she ejects in a rescue pod and splash down in the ocean (and gets chewed out by her crew on the sheer improbability of her survival.) She's hailed as a space-saving hero, gets paid vacation time, gets a brand new ship... and gets her long overdue smoke.
- GaoGaiGar has several examples of this.
- Most notably (and repeatedly) is Hell and Heaven, which is just GaoGaiGar ramming its fists against the enemy.
- Another example is the J-Phoenix, where J and Renais set the J-Ark on fire and ram it against the enemy.
- In the second Space Battleship Yamato movie, the Yamato skips past Desler's Wave Motion Gun by space warping, only to warp right next to Desler's ship, ramming it. This works well enough to punch a hole in it, but there's little lasting damage to either ship.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- In the X-Wing Series, a sort of repeat of what happened below to the Executor occurs, with an A-Wing ramming into an unshielded bridge and blowing it out. Thing is, this is a New Republic ship, and it survives.
- Another Star Wars comic had a collision involving three Star Destroyers that dropped out of hyperspace too late and accidentally crashed into the Executor. In this case the trope was painfully subverted: the Executor's Deflector Shields were up and the Star Destroyers simply exploded, causing no damage to the flagship whatsoever.
- In the Tales of the Jedi comics the Sith cultist rulers of the Empress Teta System attack a Republic battle group with a Zerg Rush of cheap fighters that simply ram them.
- The entire basis of Killboy's flying style in Warhammer 40,000's Deff Skwadron. As a result, he's more machine than Ork and has been rendered damn near invulnerable.
Killboy. 35 missions flown, 35 replacement fighta-bommerz an' 35 major bionik surgery proceedures. 67 konfirmed kills
, includin' 43 actually belongin' to the enemy...
- The Authority: The Authority is unable to penetrate their opponent's force field to attack his island. That is, until Midnighter flies a 50-km long starship into the island and obliterates the enemy lair.
- In the Garth Ennis revival of Dan Dare, this seems to be a standard tactic as the Royal Navy capital ships have extendible bow rams and Dare uses these to board the Mekon's flagship.
Films — Live-Action
- In Isaac Asimov's novella Black Friar of the Flame, the humans win the decisive battle against the aliens by ramming. Possibly justified in that the human spaceships had been specifically designed to do this.
- Narrowly Averted in Robots and Empire between a settler DG Baley's merchant ship and an Auroran warship. not because he was out of weapons but because it was forbidden to open fire inside Earth's Solar System
- In Joe Haldemann's The Forever War, the final space battle is turned by the humans using their drones to ram the remaining Tauran space ship.
- In the Berserker series of science fiction short stories by Fred Saberhagen, special space ships are designed to ram the huge (I'm talking the size of Manhattan Island) Berserkers. These ships have a nuclear weapon on the end of a very long prow which strikes the hull of the Berserker, creating a hole that the rest of the ship drives into. Once inside the Berserker, human troops deploy inside and seek out vulnerable places and rescue POWs held there.
- Lois McMaster Bujold
- The Warrior's Apprentice - Miles Vorkosigan's jump pilot Arde Mayhew wins a battle by ramming his ship into another one. The rammed ship is captured, repaired, and seen back in service in later books. Mayhew's ship isn't so lucky — it's damaged beyond repair and will never take a wormhole jump again. This means Mayhew's jumping career is over, since his neural implant is incompatible with any other ship. But the most important consequence is that Miles and his people are stuck in the system until they can find another ship and pilot to take them elsewhere — forcing them to sign up for the rest of the story.
- In The Vor Game, Miles muses that with the ongoing R&D war between offensive and defensive weaponry causing the effective range of ship to ship weapons to be getting shorter and shorter, some military strategists are beginning to think that ramming might actually be becoming an effective tactic.
- In Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga, a colossal invasion by an alien fleet that outnumbers the human fleet tens of thousands of times over is thwarted when one human ship hijacks an alien wormhole to their staging post and rams it. At twenty percent of the speed of light. Hilarity ensues. This leads to the development of small smart missiles with a wormhole generator installed in order to weaponize this. Relativistic missiles that switch off their wormhole at extremely high speeds and get turned into energy... lots of energy.
- In David Weber and Steve White's Starfire Universe series of sci-fi novels, both the Thebans and the Arachnids used ramming. The Theban fanatics used their "Ramming Fleet" of specialized suicide cruisers solely as a last-ditch option against superior technology and numbers. The Arachnids, a remorseless hive species with no concern for individual unit survival whatsoever, used suicide-piloted fighters, shuttles, and gunboats (all loaded to the brim with antimatter!) as routine ordnance. In Insurrection, A badly damaged super-dreadnought deliberately rams a super-monitor in the final battle. The resultant explosion is so dramatic both sides of the battle call an immediate cease-fire that ultimately ends the war.
- The second book in the 1632 series, (1633) has no less than three examples of Ramming Always Works. a 20th-century motorboat at top speed could probably do significant damage to a 17th-century warship, and that's without even counting the jury-rigged munitions mounted on the motorboat. Same for an plane.
- In the Halo novel The Fall Of Reach, then-Commander Jacob Keyes does this to a Covenant Stealth Corvette he happens to spot. It's not given how small the corvette was, but the people on the bridge of the 485-meter UNSC Destroyer Iroquois "barely felt the bump", while the corvette was fatally damaged. In an earlier battle above the same planet, Keyes does a variant of this move. He doesn't as much as ram an enemy destroyer as much as he did scrape it, but it was enough for him to fire the Archer missiles on the Iroquois to seriously damage the destroyer at nearly point-blank as Keyes led a homing plasma shot that had been track the Iroquois back at the destroyer. Results were lethal and the maneuver was named "the Keyes Loop".
While his ram of the opposing destroyer was enough to let him beat it, he found later observing his craft in spacedock that "A few more degrees of tilt down and he would have sheared his own craft in two." As is, the Iroquois was heavily damaged by this. The nuke he had launched backwards a few minutes ago. Thing was, backwards was only relative, as the ship had such a high forward speed... resulting in the nuke blowing up in the middle of the ships a minute after Keyes had cleared the area.
- In the novel Halo: First Strike, this is both played straight and subverted. In a zone of slipspace where all weapons fired would veer off in random directions, Admiral Whitcomb took out one enemy ship not by firing his weapons, but instead by locating the wreck of an enemy ship, and pushing it at max speed towards a covenant ship, while reversing as soon as the mass had enough velocity. Destruction ensued. Subverted near the end, where a ship is used to ram into an enemy base several hundred times bigger than the ship itself, but causing little serious damage. However, the true goal was to lure all covenant ships near that base into close proximity... as the bases fusion systems had been sabotaged minutes before by a team of Spartans, resulting in a nuclear blast that wiped out all 500 enemy ships, as well as, sadly, Whitcomb's ship.
- In Animorphs's most iconic instance, the final line in the series is Jake giving the order to ram an enemy ship, which could kill four of the Animorphs. Since it's a Bolivian Army Ending, we don't know whether it works or not. Also, Elfangor wins a battle by using this same desperate tactic in The Andalite Chronicles.
- Trope averted — and how! — in Elizabeth Moon's Winning Colors. In the climactic battle, a small patrol ship is out of ammo, needs to recharge energy weapons, and is stuck engaging a heavy cruiser. The (very inexperienced) commander sees two options: die anyhow, or ram. He chooses to ram. He gets blown out of space WELL short of his goal. Obviously he missed the third option: get the hell away and wait for his weapons to rearm. His commander (the series' hero, naturally) is confounded by this.
- Tom Clancy's Debt of Honor predates the 9/11 attacks by seven years and features a 747 being plane-fu'ed into the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress, with the President, Cabinet, and Supreme Court in attendance.
- Frequently in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
- In The Thrawn Trilogy novel Dark Force Rising, Mara Jade's ship is disabled and she aims it at part of an Imperial Star Destroyer before ejecting, figuring that even if it doesn't do much, she might as well do what she can. A few pages later, one of the old Katana Fleet dreadnaughts (roughly 1/4 the size of the Star Destroyer, and thousands of times larger than Mara's fighter) is propelled via remote control into a second Star Destroyer, and this works quite well.
- Garm Bel Iblis plans to do this during the Darkest Hour of Vision of the Future, but fortunately Supreme Commander Pellaeon has a Big Damn Heroes moment.
- In the fight against the Yuuzhan Vong, the Super Star Destroyer Lusankya is heavily damaged due to attrition. The New Republic has most of its interior stripped, a few of its lasers kept and manned with droids, and a single reinforced spine is added. The ship is then sent on a kamikaze mission dubbed "Operation Emperor's Spear" and smashes into a Vong worldship, completely destroying both vessels.
- Subverted in Force Heretic III in the same series. The villains try to ram the hero's flagship, only to be vaporized before they can make contact (probably a first for the Star Wars Universe).
- In the Dark Empire series, the reborn Emperor Palpatine has a new superweapon: the Eclipse, a new class of Super Star Destroyer modeled after sea-faring warships of eras long past. The front of the ship is extra-reinforced and the shields are boosted, allowing the titanic battleship to ram into and through other ships without hesitation or damage. The New Republic takes advantage of this in order to eliminate the Empire's other, even deadlier superweapon, the Galaxy Gun. Since a direct attack against the heavily-guarded Galaxy Gun would be doomed, instead they kill two birds with one stone by hacking the Eclipse nav computer and programming it to ram the Galaxy Gun. It turns out to be four birds with one stone, since a Galaxy Gun projectile misfires and hits the current Imperial capital world destroying it and the massive fleet guarding it.
- In Showdown At Centerpoint, three Bakuran ships are fighting a mass of smaller enemy craft. Admiral Ossilege notices too late that some of the frigates have windows just painted on: they turn out to be 'robot ramships', simple chunks of solid metal in the shape of ships, disguised so that they can get close to a ship before ramming it.
- Though not seen in the movie, the novelization of Return of the Jedi refers to Rebels loading transports with explosives and crashing them into the Star Destroyers (which explains why they bothered bringing the unarmed Gallofree transports with their fleet), and a dying Rebel Cruiser limps into contact with another Star Destroyer before exploding and taking out the Imperial ship. The Saga Edition of Starships of the Galaxy refers to a Corellian Corvette doing this, but the Rebels weren't lacking for suicidal actions that day.
- In the Jedi Academy Trilogy, Ackbar takes over remote control of a partially-completed MC90 Star Cruiser and rams it into an Imperial Star Destroyer attacking the shipyards. Both ships are obliterated.
- Also done in the previous book. Han, Chewie, and Kyp Durron have stolen the Sun Crusher from the Maw Installation and a star destroyer moves to block their path out of the black hole cluster. Kyp's response is to fly the Sun Crusher—which happens to be Made Of Diamond due to quantum technobabble—through the star destroyer. The cruiser is mortally wounded and falls into one of the black holes, while the Sun Crusher basically just has its guns ripped off.
- In a simulation at the start of Rogue Squadron, Corran rams an opposing TIE Bomber with his X-Wing. If they had hit head-on, the Bomber's mass advantage would have been enough to overcome the X-Wing's shields, destroying both ships. Instead they hit at a glancing angle, Corran's shields were reduced to a third, and the Bomber got all bent out of shape and went out of control, careening out of the fight.
- Star Trek Expanded Universe and Novelverse:
- In Star Trek: Federation the Enterprise-D rams a Romulan Warbird under rather difficult-to-duplicate conditions. Picard even phrases the order as "Ramming speed!" and tilts Enterprise relative to the Romulan ship so the saucer hull acts like an axe blade to cut the Warbird's "head" off. The Enterprise, due to having all power routed to the structural integrity field, thus giving the hull a strength rivalling Neutronium, is mostly undamaged. The Warbird, which has just been hit by an enormous object traveling at a large fraction of C, is reduced to bits no larger than a computer chip. Worf is so admiring that he loses his English for a few seconds.
There were several reasons this shouldn't have worked. If the warp core hadn't been forced into an emergency shutdown, if all available power hadn't been diverted into the SIF, if they weren't covered by a boundary-layer cloaking effect from yet another Warbird, if everybody hadn't been at relative rest, if the target Warbird hadn't had their shields set for combat conditions rather than simple navigation (which would have at least diverted an Enterprise-D-size rock)... you get the idea. It was a one-in-a-BIG-NUMBER occurrence — which is lampshaded as "not being in the manual". Commander Riker jokes that he isn't sure whether Starfleet will commend or court-martial Picard for it, while Picard says he'll settle for a re-fit. The narrator soon remarks that it would be easier to list the parts of the Enterprise that weren't damaged by the maneuver.
- The novel The Return ups the ante a bit, with a Defiant-class ship executing a tricky maneuver that leaves it between a D'deridex-class Warbird's twin hulls. Simply turning the heavily-armored ship around in a circle splits the Warbird like an english muffin.
- The USS Ranger does this in the Star Trek: Destiny series to stop a Borg Cube from destroying the Klingon settlement on Khitomer. It only works because the ship had been modified to be out-of-phase with (and thus pass through) the Cube's shields. The Ranger's sacrifice is used by Chancellor Martok to convince the Klingon High Council that they must fight alongside the Federation against the Borg.
- In David Brin's Startide Rising, a human spaceship is being chased by an alien ship built with vastly superior technology, and the humans are hopelessly outmatched. As the alien ship madly accelerates to overtake the fleeing human ship, the humans release several tons of seawater (on board for the benefit of the dolphin crewmates). The speeding alien ship slams into the expanding cloud of water and is crushed due to the huge velocity differential.
- But not before the alien captain has time to realize what's happened and (very briefly...) rant about the dirty trick the Earth ship has pulled by coming up with an improvised battle tactic instead of using one of the approved ones.
- Ramming is the only tactic that comes close to working against the Hydrogues in The Saga of Seven Suns, at least in the early books. And it only works because you ram them at the same time as overloading your engines. Later on, ships were designed specifically for this purpose — essentially giant lumps of ablative armour, with huge engines for their weight, crewed by robots.
- Richard Lupoff's "With the Bentfin Boomer Boys on Little Old New Alabama" has starships that are long, hard, and designed for thrusting vigorously into other ships. And they somehow manage to be slightly less overtly Freudian than the ship the protagonists are in.
- Troy Rising:
- Ramming doesn't work when you're smashing a couple million tons of spacecraft against several trillion tons of asteroid, as the Rangora found out to their chagrin, in Citadel, when they accidentally crashed against Troy. The damage was patched over before the next book.
- In The Hot Gate, however, several partially completed cruisers are hastily converted to overglorified battering rams, which are used along with a whole mess of missiles for both taking shots intended for the rammers and to batter down Rangoran defenses in preparation for ramming Assault Vectors.
- John Barnes' Patton's Spaceship had John Glenn be the first American to orbit the Earth in an Alternate Universe as well. Unfortunately, he didn't come back, as the Nazis had their own space program, and sent one of their rockets after him. The last message from Major Glenn included the words "every fighter pilot knows there's one way to be sure you don't miss." The Nazi capsule didn't come back either.
- In Jack Campbells The Lost Fleet series ramming happens but always by accident. The result is allways catastrophic for both ships. In one case both ships get compressed into a 'gigantic ball of metal'.
- In Footfall, during the final attack on the alien mothership the space shuttle Atlantis rams it, damaging the alien's main drive, allowing Michael to catch them.
- In the Alex Benedict novel Polaris, the villain resorts to ramming the heroes with her spaceship after they disable her weapons system. This ends poorly for her, as the heroes trick her into flying full speed into a lander packed full of rocks.
- In Mikhail Akhmanov's Fighters of Danveyt, the protagonist is the captain of a small three-man patrol craft called the Lancelot with a semi-sentient on-board computer. When a Haptor warship shows up demanding they hand over their Lo'ona Aeo VIP, the protagonist realizes the Lancelot is no match for an annihilator-armed ship. He orders the AI to eject the self-contained pods of the two gunners and then plots a course straight at the enemy. This is different from the typical use of this trope in that the protagonist doesn't expect to survive or destroy the enemy. The goal is to buy time for his crew and the VIP to escape. The Lancelot has other ideas, though, and ejects the captain's pod as well seconds before the impact. It also alters its course slightly and hits the Haptor ship near its Antimatter pod, after disabling the enemy shields with a well-placed shield-piercing shot. The pod loses containment, and both ships are consumed by a matter/antimatter explosion. The protagonist barely survives the explosion.
- In The War of the Worlds, the torpedo ram Thunder Child demonstrates that ramming even works against Martian tripods.
- All Hands! has the Starcougar ramming a pirate ship. It's almost a subversion, however, as it specifically states that ramming was a ridiculous idea. But when the pirates lost their engines...
- Babylon 5:
- In "Endgame", the forces opposing President Clarke's putsch were forced to ram a satellite before it wasted the Eastern Seaboard, after Clarke set the kill sats around Earth to destroy it out of spite after it was clear that he was going to lose. Fortunately, it wasn't necessary since backup arrived in time. Still, the explosion was more dramatic than necessary. There aren't any shields in Babylon 5, mind you.
- Also Sinclair at the Battle of the Line. It works, but not in the way he expected.
- Captain Anderson takes out the Shadow Planet Killer around Earth with this tactic.
- JMS actually got into a debate on this issue, seen here and here.
- It was common for EarthForce captains to try to ram Minbari ships during the Earth-Minbari War due to the fact that, thanks to the Minbari stealth systems, all human weapons had to be aimed visually. This worked several times with both ships being destroyed. The first time this happened was during the Curb-Stomp Battle that was the Battle of Vega, where a Minbari fleet utterly obliterated the EarthForce fleet defending the colony in under 12 seconds. And that was after letting the human ships fire first (well inside the Minbari's own weapons range). This ended up costing them, as one of the new Nova-X prototypes (the future Omega class) managed to get close enough to ram a Sharlin-class war cruiser.
- Also seen in "Severed Dreams" when a friendly Earthforce destroyer, damaged beyond repair, T-bones one of Clark's, destroying both vessels.
- And, of course, when Sheridan answers the Shadows' offer by ramming their homeworld with the original Whitestar, destroying the most heavily-defended planet in the galaxy.
- Happens so much in Star Trek it's probably required reading at the Academy. No matter the situation, ramming is almost always more effective than weapons at causing damage.
- The Enterprise's second encounter with the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The Best of Both Worlds": In the absence of any other way of stopping the Borg from assimilating Earth, Riker ordered Wesley to aim the ship at the Borg cube, and go to maximum warp. (It's unclear exactly what happens when a ship in warp hits a solid object, but at a minimum a forced collapse of the warp field would be tres chaotic.) Fortunately, this proves unnecessary.
- The Dominion of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine employ suicide ramming tactics to destroy Federation ships; specifically, the destruction of the USS Odyssey. They also take down multiple Klingon ships using this tactic during the Dominion War. In Odyssey's case the ship was already withdrawing, but the Jem'Hadar rammed it anyway, just to show how serious they were.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "The Year of Hell", Janeway destroys the time-altering weapon ship by crashing the crippled Voyager into it. Which would have ended the series, except that, by ramming the ship, Janeway caused it to erase itself from existence, pressing the Reset Button on the entire year.
- Even the Borg resort to this once on an episode of Voyager. To save Voyager (actually the modified nanoprobes on Voyager), a Borg cube slams itself into a comparatively tiny Species 8472 bioship, destroying both ships.
- The Pegasus does this in Battlestar Galactica, with rather impressive results: not only the Pegasus utterly annihilates the targeted baseship but when the Pegasus blows apart from the impact, one of it's hangar pods hits a second baseship and destroys that one too The hangar pod also crashed into several Cylon fighters along the way, destroying each of them.
- Also, a Cylon boarding ship unintentionally crashed into the Galactica itself in the Season 2 premiere, although it was okay as it achieved the same results.
- Used again in an odd way in the series finale. Galactica rams the Cylon Colony, at low speed and after only a very brief run-up, in order to allow boarding teams to directly disembark from Galactica into the Cylon Colony.
- The good guys' ship ramming the bad guys' to wreak havoc from within sounds suspiciously like a homage to Macross.
- From the original Battlestar Galactica, there is episode "Fire in Space", in which Cylon fighters attempt a kamikaze attack on the Galactica, one crashing inside the launch bay and setting it on fire.
- Subverted in Stargate SG-1 season 10 opener. Bra'tac attempts to destroy an Ori mothership by ramming it with a Goa'uld mothership. The Ori ship is bigger and has much more powerful shields, so the Goa'uld ship crashes rather pathetically on the shield, causing no damage whatsoever.
- Also attempted by Hammond and the Prometheus in the season 7 finale with the expectation of a Heroic Sacrifice (The shields of the Prometheus were down, and if it's possible to survive a collision in orbit in the Stargate Verse at all, Earth's technology wasn't that far along at this point), but the enemy ship was destroyed before the Prometheus could hit it.
- And then of course there's the Ancients. After much testing, they decided the best ship-to-ship weapons they could build were swarms of shield-piercing attack drones that fought by smashing into things at high speed.
- Using ships to ram structures on the ground is pretty popular in Stargate Atlantis:
- When the Wraith's first attack on Atlantis begins to sour, the cruisers jump into hyperspace to call reinforcements while the Darts (fighters) make a kamikaze run for the city, hoping to destroy it kinetically. Fortunately, Atlantis' team manages to raise the city's shield in time.
- The team has a Wraith Hive ship with damaged weapons and needs to disable a Wraith cloning facility on the planet below. Originally, their plan was to either steal or overload the ZPMs powering the facility, but an attacking Hive ship encourages them to use their captured Hive ship to disable the facility a little more... thoroughly.
- Ironically enough, despite the size and velocity of the Hive ship, the "original" plan would actually have been more thorough. When a "single" ZPM overloads, the result is usually planet-destroying — do several simultaneously...
- Todd steals the Daedalus to destroy a machine that turns Wraith ships entering hyperspace into mincemeat (the Attero Device). When Ronon realizes Wraith have captured the ship, he starts blasting the control crystals of various systems, including weapons. Guess how Todd decides to destroy the facility when they arrive... He is thankfully thwarted, but by all indications it would have worked.
- A rare ship-to-ship example: in "The Last Man", an alternate reality Carter rams a Wraith Hiveship with the Phoenix, a much smaller 304 Battlecruiser. The Phoenix not only destroys the Hiveship, but two more are destroyed when they get caught in the blast of the first. Of course, the Phoenix was about to explode at the time.
- This is the standard operating procedure for drone attacks. The Ancients' bread and butter weapon was the Attack Drone, a strangely squid-shaped missile that glowed bright yellow when armed, and would fly through a target several times, boring neatly carved bore-holes through it before it eventually ran out of energy or the target was destroyed and the drone recovered for re-use. Capital-grade drone systems combined this with Macross Missile Massacre for dazzling effect.
- Final example in the last episode of the series: during the Wraith attack of Earth, a pair of Darts escapes the F-302 squadron and crash into the main Area 51 complex, destroying the Ancient control chair brought back from Antartica, depriving the planet of its last line of defense.
- In Stargate Universe, the remote-controlled drone fighters, upon learning that Destiny has adapted to their weapons, turn to this trope as an alternative. Thankfully for Destiny, it is really big, the drones are very small, and their shields hold up long enough to destroy the Control Ship. Later the remote pilot a shuttle into a Control Ship whilst simultaneously detonating its reactors, destroying both ships.
- While it's not shown, Farscape's Rigel recounted the tale of how his people used massed kamikaze attacks to drive off a race of invaders who'd killed a billion of their fellows and were eating their young.
- An unusual version: a Leviathan ship destroys a far larger Peacekeeper Command Carrier by going into starburst while docked inside it — essentially ramming it from the inside.
- Averted in an episode of Space: Above and Beyond, when a pilot attempts to take out Chiggy von Richthofen (the Red Baron) by ramming his customized fighter with his Hammerhead. All it does is get the pilot killed and slow down The Ace somewhat. It is established earlier that Chiggy's fighter has stronger-than-normal armor.
- It may be stronger, but Chiggy still goes down from one missile, when the human's own ace goes after it (alone) in an ordinary Hammerhead. It helps that the human ace is not entirely human (a genetically-engineered worker/soldier).
- In the first episode of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the GokaiGalleon rams through a battleship. Justified as the bow of the Galleon is made of the swords it wields in its Humongous Mecha configuration Gokaioh.
- In the final episode, Captain Marvelous and Gai ram the Zangyack flagship Gigant Horse with the Free Joker, the personal ship of deceased Rival Basco ta Jolokia. Another justified case, since the Free Joker is shown to have an incredibly powerful Beehive Barrier that keeps it from getting shot out of the sky by the Zangyack fleet.
- A variation occurred in the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Wife". The TARDIS is stolen by an entity called House which possesses its matrix, and the Doctor chases it with a makeshift TARDIS, then successfully gets on board by smashing the makeshift one into his own TARDIS. It doesn't destroy the TARDIS, although an Ood does get vaporized in the process.
- In a similar fashion, the hull of the starship Titanic is one of the few things to ever physically break through the wall of the TARDIS, the strength and safety of which is a major plot point as even powerful enemies are often kept at bay when the protagonists make it inside the TARDIS. This is because the Doctor forgot to turn the shields on; as soon as he did, the Titanic was forced back out and the wall repaired itself.
- Many ships of the Imperial Navy of Warhammer 40,000: Battlefleet Gothic are built with prows designed for ramming. All Ork vessels have armoured prows, spikes and so on for ramming, with one type of ship, named the "Brute" ram ship by the Imperial Navy, designed specifically for ramming. Consisting of a gigantic armoured prow, a powerful engine and minimal weaponry, they are one of the least subtle devices in the entire 40k universe, which is a truly, truly impressive feat.
Tyranid hive ships have teeth...and tentacles Curiously, Chaos ships tie with Eldar as the least effective of the main fleets at ramming. Which makes a bit of sense, given that the comparisons are Imperium=Roman Legions, Orks=Early Barbarians, Eldar=Parthian Archers, and Chaos=Late Barbarians. Chaos and Eldar are more suited to keeping their distance and preserving mobility, while the Imperium is best suited to keeping tight formation and the Orks are best suited to rampaging forward without a thought for the consequences.
Can be used by all vehicles in the new rules as a makeshift attack, but only against other vehicles. This actually, enables something as flimsy as say... A ram-equipped Trukk take out a Baneblade or a Warlord Titan. Of course, you'll have to be prepared to take some heavy damage afterwards, but killing an enemy tank worth four times as many points as a dinky gunship is worth it.
- The Battletech setting, both the tabletop games and the Mechwarrior video game franchise, allows you to attempt "death from above" — that is, using jump jets to lift yourself into the air and then land on your opponent, Mario-style. It's very difficult to aim, but when it hits, it results on 70 odd tons of giant war robot landing on the enemy machine — usually, right on the cockpit. Squish.
- The major reason for this is because the head is a 1 in 36 shot on the regular hit table (You need 12 on 2d6) however, the punch hit location table (Which is used for punches and DFA attacks) it's 1 in 6. Even if you miss the head, most of the vital components of a Battle Mech are in the torsos and arms. Taking out your opponent's weapons while knocking them on their ass is a very useful way to strike when you can survive it.
- In fact, one mech called the Highlander is specialized for this; the tactic is known as "Highlander Burial" when done by this mech.
- The boardgame also has charging rules for both 'Mechs and vehicles, allowing them to crash into each other at high speed under the right circumstances. The way the rules are set up, this usually tends to do rather more damage to the target than the attacker if done right. (This is deliberately unrealistic to make using this maneuver from time to time actually worthwhile.)
- Incidentally, since 'Mechs are significantly taller than regular ground vehicles, the latter can charge the former (hitting the legs unless the target just happens to be prone) but not vice verse. A BattleMech can kick a vehicle or make a death-from-above attack against it...but not charge at it outright.
- Also, in the background universe, there's the famous incident where Tyra Miraborg rams her near-wrecked fighter into the enemy flagship and thereby brings the entire Clan invasion to a halt for a year. Possibly in something of an aversion, the ship survives the attack reasonably well, though with damage to the bridge — what stops the Clans is the death of their war-leader and the need to convene on their distant common homeworld to elect another.
- Late in the fiction line, this tactic became fairly common in warship combat, being featured in numerous novels.
- Interestingly, the game rules themselves go out of their way to prevent this particular scenario from being commonplace. Among other factors, an aerospace unit trying to make a ramming attempt needs to roll dice to determine whether its pilot or crew is actually crazy enough to go through with it — on anything but an 11 or 12 on 2d6 (which is to say, in eleven cases out of twelve assuming fair dice), the attempt stops right there.
- In hard sci-fi board game Attack Vector Tactical, ramming an enemy ship (if you hit) destroys it and your own ship. However, to be able to do this your crew has to be convinced to do it by the player making a speech the other players vote as suitably moving. And if you manage to move another player to tears, it upgrades the level of one of your other ship's crew.
- In GURPS: Space, ramming the enemy is the most powerful attack you have. It doesn't always work but the amount of damage is tremendous.
- An article in Dragon described a Traveller player, only identified as "Bob", who "obviously assumed that starships and ancient galleys were built alike." His attempted ram ("I've got the bigger ship!") turned both ships into clouds of debris, much to his confusion.
- In Strike Legion, not only is ramming a very powerful weapon in its own right, but ramming is outright recommended to deal with one species' ships that have Mighty Glacier shielding and armor. Keep in mind, this is a setting where the average military warship can ram a planet and win.
- A valid tactic in Independence War. There's a specific set of shields, called Aggressor Shields, created precisely to be activated at the moment of ramming to reduce damage on your own craft.
- The Durandal does this to a U-Tic battleship in a hilariously phallic manner in Xenosaga.
- Averted in the space combat game Freespace 2. One mission ends when a destroyer of the rebellious Neo-Terran Front desperately attempts to ram the Alliance's new Colossus juggernaut. You have to try to disable or destroy it before it can impact. If you don't... well, it basically just goes splat against the aptly-named Colossus anyway, so it's no big deal.
- One mission in the "Just Another Day" parody series of missions had fun with this. A corvette "blockades" a jump node by sitting right next to it so incoming ships will ram it and blow themselves up before they can steer away from it. After one hilarious example, another ship jumps out in a different vector, avoiding the corvette completely, leading its commander to ask, "Can they do that?"
- To add to this, the second mission of JAD Episode 1 sends the Colossus Reborn to attack a Sathanas that jumps in near the end of the mission. When the Colossus Reborn arrives, its subspace vortex is just in front of the Sathanas. Guess what happens to both ships?
- The fairly new campaign Ridiculous also shares a mission featuring ships (A Colossus that you win through a lottery) jumping into another ship. As before, neither survive.
- It is played straight in the game's predecessor, where the Hammer of Light cruiser Mauler attempts to ram the Terran flagship Galatea. Though it is possible to have defended the Galatea well enough to have it survive the impact, the Mauler still does ridiculously huge amounts of damage. Possibly Justified, though, as the game mentions the kamikaze fighters in that mission (and presumably the Mauler), are loaded with powerful explosives.
- In the first mission of the campaign, the NTF Belisarius, severely damaged and outgunned, attempts to ram the GVD Psamtik... and is torn to shreds by the Psamtik's main guns before they get anywhere near.
- Used, and Subverted while using it in Super Robot Wars Original Generation. The Rhinoceros-class Land Battleships used by the Divine Crusaders all have great big blades mounted on their bows for ramming attacks. However, late in the second game, when The Neidermeyer's ship is badly damaged, he tries to ram the Kurogane, the ship being captained by his rival. Unfortunately, he forgot that the Kurogane just happens to have a big-ass drill mounted on the front...oops.
- Various Lion-types (such as the Guarlion, Calion, Astelion, Alterion, and Vegalion) are able to ram their enemies using the Sonic Breaker/RaMV weapon systems.
- A particularly devastating example of this trope in action is the Elemental Lord of the Wind, Cybuster, and its "Akashic Buster" attack. Often used in the various anime adaptations against an opponent trying to invoke this trope...suffice to say, the Cybuster's ramming is superior every time.
- In Chrono Trigger, you can skip the first part of the Lavos fight by crashing the time machine on him (destroying the vehicle in the process).
- This also triggers the "more serious" variation of the normal ending. In this ending, your friends are gone for good. In the other ending, your mom falls in a time-gate!
- Subverted by Wing Commander III's Bad Ending. Although the Victory takes out the Kilrathi dreadnought by ramming into it, it's still not enough to stop the bad guys from winning.
- See also the novel End Run, where a Kilrathi fighter rams the bridge of the TCS Tarawa, killing Commodore O'Brien, and putting Jason "Bear" Bondarevski in command. The Tarawa wasn't destroyed by it, but given the make-shift nature of escort carriers, the destruction of the bridge did put a serious cramp in operations, in that unlike a purpose-built warship, the CVEs didn't have a Combat Information Center deep inside the ship where it would be safe from most damage that didn't outright kill the ship.
- Colonel Badass Mariko "Sprit" Tanaka is an honor crazy National Stereotype 26th century samurai already called out for her Japanese sense of self-sacrifice. She learns that her fiancé, believed dead for ten years, is being held hostage on a space station, the very space station she is ordered to destroy and the traitor threatens her fiancé's life over. Three guesses what her solution is, and the first two don't count.
- Ramming enemy fighters is sometimes suggested by other players as one method to kill them fast enough to beat Kurasawa 2, in the original Wing Commander.
- In Wing Commander: Privateer, the Orion, a heavy merchant/mercenary gunboat, can successfully ram as an offensive tactic because it has heavily beefed up armor on the front quadrant to enable such assaults.
- In Skies of Arcadia, every major ship to ship battle will exhibit dazzling special moves from the player and opponent. The Valuan Admiral Gregorio's ship, Auriga, will ram the player's as his special. The Auriga comes complete with extra armor plating and spikes to get the job done.
- This can be used to his disadvantage. Using Quika to speed the Delphina's engines the turn just before he rams the ship will cause him to not only miss, but expose the backside of his ship where the bridge and engines are to a counterattack.
- Star Control II's Androsynth had the "Guardian" ship, which featured Ramming Speed (aka "Blazer form") as its most effective weapon. Moving faster than any other ship in the game and becoming Nigh Invulnerable will do that for you...
- The buildup for the EVE Online expansion "Empyrean Age" features tensions between the Gallente Federation and Caldari State reaching a boiling point after a Gallente Admiral rams his Mothership into a highly populated space station during an economic summit between the two empires. He succeeds despite the massive armada present having 4 minutes to shoot him down.
- To be fair, most of that "armada" was fleeing civilian ships, and the video of the incident ran 22 seconds. A sizable chunk of the non-civilian chips were the Gallente escort, in discord as they realize what their own ship is doing, and the Caldari guards presumably don't have the backup or enough time to take down a mothership, the second-largest ship class in the universe. The novelization adds that the shield generators that could have saved the station were sabotaged.
- In game, instead of dealing damage it can be used to foul up a ship's "warmup" sequence for warping out of combat. To date this tactic has been used to trap and destroy at least one Titan. There was once a bug that made a specific ship class capable of knocking other ships flying for over 50 kilometers. Talk about a Foe-Tossing Charge.
- 50 km doesn't sound terribly impressive until you get the scale right: Maximum speeds hover between 70 metres/second and 6 km/second for capital ships and interceptors, respectively, and EVE Online is more or less the poster child for Space Is an Ocean... of motor oil.
- Recent game mechanic changes to make it harder for small ships to "bump" large ones have inadvertently resulted in large ships being much better at bumping each other. Given that the only practical way a capital fleet can move to a new system in Eve is for a bunch of capital ships to all move to the same spot, and the inadvertent bumps this causes scatter the fleet over hundreds of kilometres, most players who participate in capital fleets are thoroughly unimpressed by this change. Fortunately, it got reverted quickly.
- Weird (and old) PC game Stratosphere Conquest Of The Skies has flying fortresses — essentially huge floating rocks with thrusters on top of which fixed units are built. Various and nasty are the instruments of death meant to make enemy fortresses lose their main sustainment building and plummet to the ground, but when weapons fail — and it does happen, since your enemies do not particularly like the idea of being swatted out of the air and react accordingly - it's often possible to just floor it and pray your fortress' ramming spikes are stronger than the other's walls. This causes inordinate amount of damage even when successful, but the fact that fortresses self-rebuild and repair given enough resources and time makes it a viable tactic.
- In Darkstar One, ramming is a valid tactic if you have plasma shield. If not, don't. You'll get hurt.
- Ramming is extremely destructive in the X Universe. It frequently happens by accident, but a player in a fast capital ship or heavy transport can annihilate other capital ships or whole squadrons of fighters.
- In X-Tension, enemy ships were known for their sudden turns. It's unclear whether the AI was actively trying to ram you or just doing evasive maneuvers that just happened to cross your path, but the result was almost always a kaboom — whether yours or theirs depended entirely on how much shielding the ships carried. The novelization of X: Beyond the Frontier, to which X-T is an Expansion Pack, pokes fun at this:
Yayandas: We are about to calibrate the newly installed, super-responsive inertial damper. You will never again feel the slightest shake, and never once be torn from your sleep, even if you are rammed head-on by a Xenon.
Nopileos: Rrrr... do they do that?
Yayandas: So one hears...
- Accidental ramming is, fortunately, reduced in subsequent games of the X series; however, since the player can pilot many more capital ships (ranging from small frigates to huge battlecruisers), intentional ramming takes a whole new meaning.
- The big thing in X3 is to ensure that when you hit the target, you've got more shields than they do. Thus, ramming is the fastest way to clear fighter swarms if you're in a capital ship (just swing the nose around like a fly-swatter), and it's the fastest way to commit suicide if you're flying a scoutship.
- By using the tractor beam (which first appeared in X3: Reunion), the player can grapple/tow capital ships or entire stations behind them, and can sling them around to bash things, though very awkwardly. A script allows the player to grapple anything - including enemies - and makes the tractor beam very predictible, allowing you to swing around ore mines or battleships like a hammer.
- This is possible on Freelancer — I've destroyed at least one enemy ship with it; it does a fair chunk of hull damage, so if you have the enemy shields down and yours are up, it's quite useful. If your shields are down, it's a bit more risky — it damages your ship too, that being one of the few bits of physics they got right.
- Also played straight towards the end, with Marcus Walker arming the mines on his cruiser and ramming two Liberty battleships.
- Made into a key gameplay mechanic in the Touhou-esque bullet hell shooter Hitogata Happa. Staying alive long enough with a single doll allows you to ram into an enemy creating a devastating explosion. Some bosses are impossible to defeat without sacrificing dolls like this.
- In Final Fantasy X, Cid's first plan for any situation seems to be "Crash the Airship Into It". He's universally shot down as there's always a less... suicidal plan that can be used.
- In Final Fantasy XII, as the Sky Fortress falls upon Rabanastre and threatens to break through its Paling, Judge Zargabaath commands his flagship, Alexander, to ram her and hopefully knock it away from the city. He forbids the assembled fleets from interfering and, knowing what the maneuver would entail, orders them to destroy the Alexander's remains before they fall on the city. He is interrupted by a third party taking control of Bahamut and steering it away, but the thought was there.
- Multiple subversions are in the Star Trek turn-based strategy game Birth of the Federation. In the game's simulated ship-to-ship combat, you can order your ships to ram an enemy vessel, thereby bypassing the shields and attacking the hull directly. As your orders play out, your ships will open fire with everything they have, trying (and sometimes managing) to destroy their target before they ram into it. The ram order, however, leaves your ships unable to avoid enemy fire, potentially allowing them to be destroyed before they can even get close. Finally, when a weaker ship successfully rams a more powerful (re: has more hit points) ship, they only do about as much damage as they have hull strength — ramming a 1000-hp battleship with a 20-hp scout just won't cut it.
- This is however an excellent way to deal with The Borg. They have incredible shields but weak hull. Ramming ignores shields. You'll still lose a LOT of ships doing it, but not as many as fighting it. One of the few games where a Borg cube appearing is a Oh, Crap moment.
- Also a worthwhile strategy for the Ferengi, who can afford thicker hulls.
- The bigger ships in Star Trek Starfleet Academy could be used effectively this way. It'd usually still hurt but could finish off or cripple a smaller ship. Combined with cloaking devices on some ships, you could pull off a completely stealth ramming with some luck.
- If you weren't careful though, even if your ship survived you might end up losing a warp nacelle or two. In the storyline mode this was an automatic failure.
- In Star Wars Battlefront and its sequel, ramming enemy vehicles with yours causes no damage. At least not until you fix a mine or two on the front. Kaboom, yo!
- However, in the first game ramming enemy infantry in a speeder bike kills the enemy while doing no damage to the biker, but ramming anything else in the bike kills the biker. Interestingly enough, ramming a shielded destroyer droid with a speeder bike kills both the droid and the biker.
- Playing this trope even more straight, ramming a Hero in the first game (where they were unplayable but had unlimited health) with a Speeder Bike is one of the only ways to successfully deal with them.
- In the space maps in the sequel ramming does do damage and can actually be used effectively by players. Parked starfighters take more damage than flying ones for some reason, meaning that players can still do damage in enemy hangars. Ramming a bomber into a landing ship in your own hangar can also destroy it much faster than shoulder-launched rockets. Fighters can also collide in space, though it'd be difficult to pull this off in a way that doesn't get you both killed.
- This was changed in the sequel, Battlefront II, where smashing your ship against the side of an Imperial Star Destroyer on Mon Calamari cruiser does absolutely nothing.
- One of the Rebel Assault games has a mission that requires the player to protect a kamikaze cargo ship until it can hit a shield generator.
- This is in fact the canon ending to that mission. Wedge Antilles just ejected before he crashed, which explains why he started the next mission in a different ship.
- In X-Wing, the trope can be played hilariously straight. Rebel ships have shields. TIE fighters, interceptors, and bombers do not. Do the math.
- The situation is, of course, inverted in the sequel TIE Fighter. Veteran players soon learned to hate the A-wing fighter, not for its speed but for its unerring ability to hurl its cockpit directly through their windscreen upon being destroyed.
- The X-Wing vs TIE Fighter expansion pack Balance of Power uses this heavily in the final Rebel mission. After the player does sufficient damage to the Executor-class Super Star Destroyer Vengeance, a trio of Dreadnought cruisers drop out of hyperspace to ram it from behind, battering down whatever shields it has left. Then a Corellian Corvette rams its bridge tower to finish it off. All four ramming ships are unmanned and packed full of heavy explosives, which is appropriate given the sheer size of the Super Star Destroyer (and the fact that there's no Death Star handy for it to collide with after the bridge is destroyed). Any pilot worth his salt will however lower enemy shields instantly by attacking the shield generators. Just like in the movie...
- Plot point in Jedi Starfighter. In mission 7, "Hammer and Anvil", the last action that Captain Orsai takes with his doomed cruiser Kethor is to ram into one of the shield generator platforms and expose Nod Kartha to attack. Because the Kethor's already so badly damaged, Orsai has to pilot it into the generator manually after his crew bail in the Escape Pods.
- In Rogue Squadron and Shadows of the Empire ramming your ship into things will hurt them. In the first level of Shadows you can spend lives to quickly wreck a couple of the AT-ATs to speed things along, though this will mean missing the Challenge Points you get for tripping them. This tactic sadly doesn't work on them in Rogue Squadron but it does wreck most other targets.
- In the "Razor Rendezvous" mission of Rogue Squadron II, you can suicide-ram the Star Destroyer's bridge after taking down its shields and still complete the mission without penalty.
- In Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike, part of one mission involves escorting an unmanned Gallofree Yards transport as it rams the control center of a shipyard.
- In the Battlefield games, numerous servers have a house rule that ramming enemy vehicles results in the rammer being kicked from the server. You would expect that smacking a plane into a plane would destroy them both, and it usually does, much to the chagrin of the flyboys. Ground vehicles ram each other with about as much effect as you would expect, depending on what rams into what. In BF2142, the infantry can ram vehicles using Drop Pods (think Starship Troopers). Initially, it was powerful, if hard to aim. However, post-patches, this ability was seriously nerfed, in part to prevent physics exploitation.
- A tactic that players developed in Battlefield: Bad Company, which has survived as far as Battlefield 4, is to set C4 on a light, fast vehicle like an ATV or Jeep, and drive at a heavy vehicle like a tank. Two packs of C4 will take out a tank, and as long as you bail out properly, the vehicle's momentum will carry it into the tank, and you can blow it up at your leisure. More inventive players have put C4 on unlikely vehicles, like helicopters, jet planes, and UAVs.
- While not exactly about spaceship combat, Mass Effect plays this straight. During the final attack on the Citadel, the Reaper, Sovereign, speeds ahead, ramming clean through several turian cruisers to reach the Tower before the Citadel arms close. Then again, it's a ship that's bigger, stronger and of vastly superior technology, so it doesn't come as a great surprise.
- During Emily Wong's livetweeting the Reaper invasion just prior to the release of Mass Effect 3, Dying Moment of Awesome she rams her skyvan into a Reaper. However, given that these things can shrug off impacts that can be measured in percentages of the speed of light, her shuttle probably didn't do much.
- Lt. Vega saves the day in the Mars mission, intercepting an escaping Cerberus shuttle containing vital intel... by broadsiding it with his own shuttle. His own shuttle is at least flyable after the collision, unlike the other shuttle. Vega catches some heckling over this maneuver from trained pilots Joker and Lt. Cortez, not least because the shuttle he was flying was armed.
- According to the codex, some military strategists consider ramming things at superluminal speed. The Mass Effect cores have hardwired safety systems to prevent this that no one has been able to remove. They theorize that the Reapers put this in their technology specifically to avert this trope.
- In Homeworld you can send a right click command KAMIKAZE! to turn your ship (regardless of size) into flying torpedo. In skillful hands, even the humble unarmed harvester can rack up quite a kill score. A ship simply trying to move through the space occupied by another can lead to spectacular results as well, though both ships will take damage; courtesy of some oddities in the engine and AI, the weird needle-shaped super-carriers in the nebula missions seem to score most of their kills when they sideswipe your ships whilst trying to aim their forward guns. Then there's that one level when the enemy strap a thruster-pack on a planetoid and use it as a really big missile...
- Touhou has "Blazing Star", the Last Word Spell Card of Marisa. When massive laser beams aren't powerful enough, she just applies more firepower, and uses it as a Rocket Jump to attack by ramming.
- Used successfully by the Flynn Brigade in Tales of Vesperia to divert a laser blast aimed at a city.
- Wild ARMs 4 has Arnaud using Plane Fu to kill one of the Brionac Lieutenants, crashing an entire squadron of fighter jets right on top of him to make him really dead.
- Starkiller from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed can throw a Star Destroyer out of orbit into people.
- Force Unleashed II arguably trumps it when Starkiller's clone (maybe) flies an evacuated Rebel cruiser down to Kamino and bails out at the last minute, giving us the glorious sight of a gigantic ship smashing into the main Imperial cloning facility. Also, judging by the flash, the ship's reactors went up on impact.
- The ship was already heavily damaged by the battle and the droids. The only was to take Kamino was to destroy its shield generator. Hence the crash.
- Pick a 2D scrolling shooter. Any 2D scrolling shooter. A good chunk of the enemies will attempt to ram your ship/plane along with shooting at it, both being equally deadly in games with One-Hit-Point Wonder vehicles. One of the best examples is the 194X series.
- For that matter, almost any arcade or arcade-ish game will have many if not the majority of your enemies seek only to smash into you to cause damage, often without any weapons except ramming.
- Ramming is viable in Space Empires as a last-resort tactic. If your ship is going to get blown up no matter what, then you might as well go down in a blaze of glory, and have a shot at killing them, right?
- Played straight in a Starlancer cutscene, where your captain makes a Heroic Sacrifice, by ramming his damaged ship (a.k.a. your mothership) into an enemy battleship. At least he waited untill everyone else had evacuated. Klaus Steiner pulls the same trick in the last mission. Occasionally worked in-game if you were in better shape than whatever you collided with, though an unfortunate bug in the way kills were counted meant that accidentally ram-destroying a friendly ship was treated as you going rogue...
- Star Trek Online: Player characters eventually get a skill called "Ramming Speed", which can only be used if the ship is below 50% HP. There are no ship collisions unless this command is used (In-universe (but not in-game) fluff suggests that the navigational deflectors prevent this). If the command is given, the ships hit each other. If shields happen to be down on one ship on the facing side, hurting happens. Not recommended unless you have your own shields up and strong.
- In Infinite Space, when faced with the destruction of a third of his homeland's fleet by an invading vanguard fielding more ships than exist in his homeland's galaxy in a matter of minutes, Captain Novikov suddenly grows a backbone and, rather than retreat, decides to ram the exposed enemy flagship in a desperate attempt to stop them. He gets through, but the impact proves... singularly ineffective.
Eremon: Did you feel a thump?
- Later in Act 2, this is subverted again when Eremon desperately tried to ram his ship after his defeat from Yuri's fleet. He managed to do so just as his ship was destroyed, but all it can do was scraping Yuri's ship.
- Due to the AI's tendency to go into head-to-head duels with the player, this happens irritatingly often in Tachyon: The Fringe. Of course, when you still have shields and your opponent doesn't, especially when he's flying one of the notoriously weak-hulled GalSpan ships and you're flying a Bora fighter, the results can be hilarious. But all too often, because of the ridiculously short ranges that happen in dogfighting, this happens when your shields are already drained...
- The Bora have an additional advantage for close combat with the Corona Device. When fired, it creates a Sphere of Destruction around your ship that does serious damage to anything in range. This range is pretty small (relatively), and your own shields are drained by this.
- Averted in Sword of the Stars as an intentional tactic. The developers have expressed a dislike for kamikaze ships and have therefore left them out. There is a variant here, though: ships can smash into planets, destroying the ship and damaging the planet (but adding to its resources). Sparky can also ram ships and destroy them, but it is unknown whether the Locust fleetworld takes any damage from this.
- Two other variants to this rule exists: Firstly, the Kinetic Kill missile is a high-level kinetic weapon that's effectively a guided warhead without a payload. The results of hitting an enemy ship with it are... Noticeable. Secondly, try putting a tractor beam on a defensive satelite. Since the satelite rotates, the ship it ensnares will rotate with it due to the beam... And usually ram right into the planet the satelite defends, insta-killing the poor ship. That's right: You can intentionally make a weapon that makes the enemy do kamikaze rammings of your own planets.
- This may still be preferrable to letting the ship live, as most ships usually have better weapons than defense satellites and will rain even more destruction on the planet than the ramming will cause.
- While not exactly a ship, in Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, Vincent manages to destroy Omega Weapon hopped up on ALL of the Lifestream by dive-bombing it. The result destroys both of them & seems to have turned Omega's remains into a new moon. Vincent gets better, though.
- In the last mission of Halo Reach, Carter, fatally injured and piloting an equally fatally-damaged Pelican, rams the craft into a Scarab to clear a path for Emile and Noble Six.
Carter: (radio) Noble, you've got a... situation.
Emile: Motherf... we can get past it, sir!
Carter: No, you can't. Not without help.
Emile: Commander, you don't have the firepower.
Carter: I've got the mass.
Emile: ... Solid copy. Hit 'em hard, boss.
Carter: You're on your own, Noble. Carter out. (*WHAM*)
- Earlier, in Tip of the Spear, the player's Falcon is forced to ram through the Spire's Deflector Shields, which causes the chopper to crash and kills all of the non-Spartan crew.
- In Halo 4's Spartan Ops campaign, episode one, six months after the single-player campaign, the UNSC Infinity returns to clear out the rest of the Covenant remnant forces on Requiem, starting by popping out of slipspace and plowing straight through a Covenant battlecruiser, ripping the alien ship in half without suffering any damage from the impact.
- In Siter Skain's RefleX, Raiwat Virgo tries this against the player's ship, the Phoneix, as a Desperation Attack. It does have the good sense to put up its giant energy shield first. The player has an even more powerful energy shield, so activating it prevents any damage from taking place.
- In Galaxy Angel Sherry attempts to ram the Elsior with the last bit of strength her ship can muster. Subverted however because just before her ship impacts the Elsior it explodes doing no harm.
- In F/A-18 Hornet, you can destroy many targets, including a dam, by crashing into them; just make sure to eject beforehand. Even so, you may get captured by the enemy.
- Subversion in Kid Icarus: Uprising; during on helluva Enemy Mine situation, Pit and Palutena are looking for a way into the base for the 'freaky alien' Aurum. However, the only access is protected by an energy barrier that only the ships can pass through. Hades then proceeds to 'make freaky alien lemonade' by ramming one of the battleships into it, providing a safe (albeit 'hot hot hot hot HOT!') way in.
- Star Fox Assault: In the attack on the Apparoid homeworld, just when the final shield-generating enemies blocking access to the Apparoid Queen have been destroyed, more activate deep within the planet, where none of the Star Fox team can reach them. Peppy deals with that by crashing the already-doomed Great Fox into the shield to blow it open. Fortunately, the bridge ejected, Peppy and ROB are okay.
- Tassadar does this to the Overmind in Starcraft I.
- Almost completely defied by FTL: Faster Than Light. None of the ships, even the AI drones, are crazy enough to risk themselves by slamming into an opponent because of the sheer insanity of such a plan... with one notable exception. The Rockmen build extremely sturdy ships, and are almost constantly at war with the vicious Mantis and their hunting parties, who have a tendency to decorate their ships with the viscera and parts of their kills. A player-controlled Rock cruiser that encounters a Mantis ship with such trophies can employ the game's only example of this trope to completely disable the enemy's engines (and leave your vessel unharmed, because Rock ships are built like large, well armed bricks powered by spite). It is initiated by a rather badass command:
"Ram the bastards."
- Justified in Schlock Mercenary: the ship doing the ramming is an ore freighter, with no weapons to speak of. Except, of course, for ramming. It uses the ore it's carrying as chaff to protect it as it closes in on the opponent, and it turns out the "battle" was a test.
- The Narrator also has fun lampshading the obligatory "Ramming Speed" command:
Narrator: This is silly because technically you can ram at any speed. It would make more sense to announce an actual speed, using units of measure, appropriate to the amount of damage you wish to inflict. Shouting "Ramming Speed" only serves to alert everyone on deck to the impending event, allowing them to assume crash positions, or otherwise brace for impact. This of course renders the next mandatory shouted command redundant at best.
Captain: Brace for impact!
- Also Petey takes this in an interesting direction in his strategy for fighting big ships — his larger ships basically use his smaller ships as precision projectile weapons flung at close enough to the speed of light to punch all the way through an enemy ship and out the other side, taking out their power generators on the way. It's extremely effective offensively, but not all of the ramming ships make it back. He does have the advantage of being the boss of what's essentially a Cloud-based AI Hive Mind, so it's hard to call it a kamikaze strike.
- Also subverted when Breya's embassy ship rammed the Touch-and-Go. TAG was being torn apart (and held in place) by gravity weapons, and the ramming saved the second ship (mainly because they could combine their shields, and Breya still had all her fuel).
- Tagii attempts the same trick as Petey when faced with the battleplate Morokweng. Subverted in that this only worked because the Morokweng was on reserve power to hide from an Eldritch Abomination, and therefore had no shields or gravity weapons. Further subverted in that the actual ramming was a minor inconvenience to the city-sized warship designed to tank asteroid impacts; emptying the ordnance bays on the way out, however... Not to mention that said Eldritch Abomination could see them, and followed them through...
- In Terinu, the pirate Mavra Chan's flagship the Celestial Marauder is specifically designed for ramming attacks, with a heavily reinforced prow and emergency safety harnesses for the crew. Of course her primary targets are lightly armed civilian freighters. Still, the comic's fans don't call her "Psycho Pirate Bitch" for nothing.
- In the Darths & Droids strip here, which follows Pete missing everything in the entire battle. He gives the required line "Ramming Speed."
- In Flintlocke's Guide to Azeroth, Flintlocke's party crash their captured blimp in the Cathedral of Light in Stormwind in an attempt to stop the Horde raid.
RAMMING SPEED! Bloodrose:
What are we ramming? Flintlocke: EV'RYTHING!!
- The Nemesis from Transformers: Beast Wars, after taking an Energon blast to the face while underwater, is taken out by Rhinox smashing a shuttle into its front window.
- It's clear that not all of the Nemesis's systems are online, as Megatron was determined to destroy the Ark at any cost. The crash also only damaged the flight controls, causing the Nemesis to crash back into the ocean, where it would be re-discovered by the Decepticons millions of years later.
- Max rams Vilgax's Ship in the Ben 10 season 1 finale.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the Grand Finale, Sokka and Toph hijack one of the Fire Nation airships, and uses it to take out several others by maneuvering so one of the airship's sharp edges slices through the gasbags of the targeted airships. While it does work, the ramming airship eventually lost integrity and fell apart, failing to destroy three of airships they were trying to bring down. Hilariously, they just repeated the tactic with the remaining airships.
- In the first season finale of X-Men, Professor Xavier — having apparently foreseen the gigantic Master Mold's Not Quite Dead moment — finally solves the problem by crashing the Blackbird into it, with a more-than-healthy dosage of TNT inside.
- In Exo Squad, Captain Marcus suicidally rams the otherwise-crippled carrier Resolute into the Neosapien fleet.
- At the climax of the pilot movie of TaleSpin, the Air Pirates have mounted a very destructive Lightning Gun on the "beak" of their Airborne Aircraft Carrier, the Iron Vulture. All attempts to counterattack are fried or disintegrated by this weapon. That is, until Baloo covers the fuselage of the Sea Duck in rubber and crashes his beloved plane against the weapon.
- In Shadow Raiders, when the Beast finally catches up to Planet Fire, the latter is evacuated save for the Vizier, who chooses to stay behind and use the World Engines to ram the entire planet into the enemy. It doesn't work, and the Beast isn't even scratched.
- In the '80s cartoon Defenders of the Earth, Flash Gordon's personal fighter was fitted with a ramming unit on the nose. This arrowhead-shaped device would glow bright red when active, at which point Flash would just start flying into anything and everything in sight.
- Ramjet, from various Transformers continuities, is often said to enjoy this tactic. While he's specially reinforced for such attacks (and no-one expects a jet-fighter to ram into them), the impacts still take a toll on his internal mechanisms.
- In Transformers Cybertron, Optimus Prime uses this on Thundercracker. It's actually both this trope and Car Fu, because Optimus is a flying fire truck.
- In a flash back in Justice League Unlimited, it turns out the last remaining Thanigarian ship rammed into a capital ship of an enemy fleet, causing a massive explosion that took out the rest of the fleet with it. This actually is possibly the most realistic outcome with starships of that size ramming into each other on this page.
- The Kamikaze attacks by the Japanese during World War II. While far from 100% effective (it's surprisingly hard to crash into a ship that's maneuvering radically and shooting at you), it was easier than attempting to aim a bomb or torpedo in that the weapon could be guided right up to the point of impact. The logic was unfortunately sound, and it got the Japanese more use out of their large groups of poorly trained pilots than conventional methods of attack. A similar but less successful experiment was made with Kaiten, a torpedo with a human to guide it. Whereas counting kamikazes sent out vs. those which hit a target gives it a better figure than regular aircraft, counting Kaiten launches vs. hits suggests they performed considerably worse than regular torpedoes. However, Kamikaze pilots were greatly reduced in effectiveness because of their generally inadequate training. This made them easy to shoot down for both US pilots and antiaircraft gunners, since they didn't know how to maneuver or angle their runs to evade the worst defense fire. They also often didn't understand the relative importance of different classes of ships or where to hit different types of ships for maximum effect. They often simply tried to dive straight into the first ship they saw, and quite often were shot down or exploded in flight.
- The Japanese also designed a special kamikaze aircraft, the Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka (Ōka translitterated in Hebon-shiki). Essentially a 1200kg bomb with wings, a cockpit, and three rocket motors bolted on, it was to be carried to within 20 nautical miles of the target by a bomber, then released. Seven Allied ships were sunk by them, including destroyer 'USS Mannert L. Abele, though for a variety of reasons (Japan's impending defeat and the fact that the ships delivering the first production run were sunk) they saw limited action. American sailors nicknamed them "baka bombs", after the Japanese word for "idiot".
- The Germans considered this as well, on several occasions, generally towards the end of the war when they were getting really desperate:
- Similar to the aforementioned Ohka was the Fi 103R — a V-1 with a cockpit shoved in front of the pulsejet. However, while a unit (the so-called "Leonidas Squadron", officially V Staffel of KG 200) was trained to fly these (and theoretically bail out before impact, despite the engine intake being literally right behind and above the cockpit and the lack of ejector seats), they were never used in battle, largely because the commander of KG 200, Geschwaderkommodore Werner Baumbach, thought they were a wasteful and stupid idea, and managed to convince Hitler that suicide sorties were "not in the German warrior tradition". However, in the early stages of the Battle of Berlin, and over Baumbach's objections, Leonidas Squadron carried out "total operations" against the Soviet-held Oder bridges using modified Focke-Wulf Fw 190s, knocking out one of nine targeted: a truly shocking waste of good planes and better men.
- In 1945, the Luftwaffe set up Sonderkommando ELBE ("Special Commando ELBE"), a special unit of pilots who, using specially-modified Messerschmitt Bf-109Gs, were to destroy Allied bombers by ramming. Only employed in one mission on April 7th 1945, they destroyed 23 US bombers. Only four pilots survived, the rest were either killed on impact, couldn't bail out in time or, in one instance, shot by a US fighter as they descended on parachute (banned by Eisenhower's order and considered very bad form then, and an actual war crime now). The attempt was not repeated. However, one ELBE-man, Unteroffizier Heinrich Rosner, managed to ram the lead bomber, a B-24 Liberator called Palace of Dallas out of the sky, before his wrecked fighter careened into the deputy-lead bomber, destroying that too. Rosner, showing the kind of luck the devil can only dream of, bailed out safely.
- One of the problems the Luftwaffe discovered with the ramming program, though, was the fact that some US aircraft would survive being rammed. There are recorded instances of US heavy bombers taking ramming attacks to the fuselage, and in the B-17's case the tailplane, and successfully returning to base.
- The German "Emergency Fighter Program", set up with the aim of producing aicraft that could be produced cheaply, easily, and in vast numbers to slow down the vast Anglo-American bomber fleets that were crippling German industrial productionnote included several designs based on ramming:
- The Zeppelin Rammjäger ("Ram fighter") was a parasite fighter with a specially-reinforced nose and wing structure, using steel tubing. It was to make two passes at enemy bomber formations: on the first, it would fire a payload of rockets; on the second, it would ram the nearest enemy aircraft and then glide to safety. At least, that was the theory. In practice, it was likely to have been a very high-risk operation for the pilot. No prototypes flew before the war's end.
- The combined rocket/ramjet Stockel Rammschußjäger ("Ram-Shot Fighter") was, in effect, a manned bullet surrounded by engines: carried to the combat box by a mothership and equipped with a steel reinforced nose it would fly towards the enemy bombers and, at the last second, the pilot would pull a release tab, which would fire the steel nose at the target whilst simultaneously ejecting him downwards to "safety". The Rammschußjäger's original name was Totrammjäger ("Suicide Ram Fighter"), which should tell you all you need to know about how likely the pilot was to survive this process. No prototypes flew before the war's end (presumably to the delight of everyone ever).
- The Sombold S344 Schußjäger ("Shot Fighter") was related to Stockel's insane creation: the craft had an explosive nosecone which the pilot was supposed to fire into the nearest bomber formation, before it would explode, leaving the aircraft to crash and the pilot to bail out. Again, "safely". No prototypes flew before the war's end.
- The Gotha Rammjäger was another ramming aircraft along the lines of the Zeppelin version described above, unlike the Zeppelin, however, the pilot was to be ejected after impact: the cockpit was to be an armored cone which would bore through the enemy bomber. The pilot looked over this cone in flight; when he was in his terminal approach, he would press a button, the seat would automatically recline him behind the cone, the aircraft would ram the enemy, and cone-cockpit and pilot would be ejected from the fuselage with an explosive charge. An explosive charge was also at the front of the cockpit in order to blast a hole through the enemy aircraft at the same time. During free-fall, the pilot would be launched from the cockpit with a spring and parachute. To "safety". Even the Nazis thought this was batshit insane and most likely didn't respond to the proposal. Presumably nobody wanted to tell the pilots their new job was to lie down between two sets of explosives and fly a plane full of volatile rocket fuel into the enemy. No prototypes flew before the war's end. Obviously.
- The Luftwaffe found themselves on the receiving end when it came to the V-1 flying bomb: the Doodlebug was a difficult thing for pilots to deal with, since shooting it usually made it explode into a deadly cloud of shrapnel, a bad idea when using Fixed Forward Facing Weapons (and only the Mosquito and Meteor were fast enough to catch it anyway). One solution found was to very carefully put the tip of your wing under the tip of the V-1's wing, then roll away. This would flip it over, causing the primitive gyroscope that kept it flying to stop working, and it would rapidly crash.
- The Northrop XP-79 "Flying Ram" was a prototype World War II interceptor airplane designed to take out enemy bombers by colliding with them at high speed. Amazingly, this was no kamikaze; the plane was actually expected to survive the collision. Stability problems leading to the death of the first test pilot kept it from entering production, however.
- The Soviet Air Force was encouraged to use ramming tactics, with some planes given reinforced wings. In some cases this was a result of trying to find some way for an inferior fighter to do damage to the enemy. In other cases, some of the Soviet fighters were so rugged that they stood an excellent chance of surviving after ramming an enemy plane.
- Also Russia had something of a tradition of the aerial ramming, dating back to the World War I. Moreover - at least theoretically - the Soviet Air Force recommended techniquenote of a taran was to attack vulnerable part of the enemy aircraft (i.e. its tail or other control surfaces) using the less vulnerable part of the own aircraft - such as the propeller or the wing leading edge, not a direct ramming using the whole aircraft in a full head-on crash.note Unless something went horribly right - which was often the case.
- Considering the desperate measures they faced, losing a damaged plane and wounded pilot was seen as a victory if the Soviet pilot destroyed a non-damaged Luftwaffe plane.
- In the highly publicized U-2 Incident, Soviet Air Force General Yevgeniy Savitskiy ordered the air-unit commanders "to attack the violator by all alert flights located in the area of foreign plane's course, and to ram if necessary" to try to bring down Frances Gary Powers's U-2 spy plane. In the end it was brought down by SAMs, though.
- At a high enough speed, the kinetic energy of a missile will actually exceed the energy output of its warhead, even a nuclear one. Such kinetic kill weapons are therefore simply designed without warheads and effectively live up to this trope. Real-life examples include nearly every form of current or planned anti-ballistic missile defense, and anything designed to shoot down satellites in real life without resorting to lasers will most likely conform to this trope. Provided the relative velocities are high enough, many experts believe a real-life space battle will be conducted by spaceships launching smaller, pilotless kamikaze ships at each other. These same experts also warn that if a fast enough ship attempting to land on a planet were to lose control, it risks doing anything from making a really big crater to turning the whole planet into a rapidly expanding asteroid field Death Star-style.
- Another example would be the APFSDS rounds used by the M1A1 Abrams and most contemporary tanks. To visualize one, picture a Lawn Dart made of tungsten and depleted uranium, fired out of the main gun of a tank. The hell of it is that the glorified Lawn Dart is better at anti-armor work than HEAT rounds.
- For the record, at 3 kps a kinetic kill weapon carries the energy of the same mass of TNT and it only goes up from there. At really extreme speeds (90% of light speed) the kinetic kill energy can exceed the energy output of an antimatter warhead (sort of), however at this point the weapon is horrendously inefficient because you have to expend many many times the missiles mass to get it to that speed.
- The September 11 aircraft attacks left many people stunned, because not many people even thought that the aircraft themselves would be the weapons for the attack, instead of carrying terrorists and their bombs to the target, or blowing up the plane and its passengers, as it was normally done. It left a lingering fear that the Air Force may be forced to shoot down other hijacked civilian airliners.
- Tragically, this is a real-world example that worked better than expected. Osama didn't think the whole towers would actually come down like that.
- Even more tragically, later examinations showed a strong possibility that the towers should have stayed standing. The only reasons they came down was that the anti-fire foam surrounding the central cores was blasted off by the impact. If they had stayed on, it is possible the towers could have been salvaged, or at least survived long enough to put out the fire and rescue the people still stranded above the impact zones. Also, the towers were specially designed to withstand airplane impacts, but it was assumed such collisions would be accidental involving aircraft approaching New York's airports and thus low on fuel.
- This had actually happened previously — the Empire State Building was accidentally hit by a B-25 in 1945 and survived essentially unscathed, although 14 people died. The Empire State Building is, however, significantly more durable than the WTC was. It would actually stand a decent chance of surviving if a 767 rammed it.
- The other point to consider is that the WTC was built to withstand the impact of a Boeing 707, the most common airliner at the time. Max TOW 122,000lbs — while the 767-200ER that struck them weighed over three times that, a max weight of 395,000lbs with a cruising speed of 500 MPH. Conversely, the B-25 Mitchell weighs in at a relatively mere 42,000lbs and tops out at 275 MPH: the 767 carries more mass in fuel alone than the entire mass of a Mitchell, at nearly twice the speed.
- Also, that theoretical Boeing 707 impact was designed for on the assumption of a plane low on fuel and lost in fog, trying to find its airport and effectively blundering into the tower, similar to the B-25 incident. In other words a low speed impact with relatively little secondary fire, as opposed to a high-speed deliberate strike by a fully fueled aircraft.
- In a tragic case of fighting fire with fire, some of the first fighters that the Air Force managed to scramble that day were completely unarmed, and the pilots knew they'd have to use this trope to stop any other airliners. Thankfully, they didn't have to.
- The F4U Corsair fighter plane of WWII had an enormous, four-bladed propeller, to absorb the monstrous torque from its engine. On one occasion, a pilot, out of ammo, flew immediately behind a Japanese bomber and chewed its tail off with his prop. The Corsair landed safely.
- Other sources state that the guns had jammed due to the lubricant freezing up. Either way, it's a true story, and the Corsair landed with five inches missing from the end of each propeller blade, which could've been enough to make flying a lot harder. The pilot in question is one Marine Lieutenant R. R. Klingman of the VMF-312 Checkerboards, and the Japanese plane was a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu, which is actually a fighter.
- Take a look at some photos of the F 4 U and you'll quickly realise just how uncompromised this plane was: it was designed to have immense engine power both to better take off from aircraft carriers' short runways and also because air combat had become "dive and zoom" rather than dogfighting, this meant a hugely powerful engine and as mentioned above, a massive propeller. That propeller needed a large radius, but for carrier operations with rather rough landings you want very short landing gear struts because this is tougher. Therefore, the designers put a kink in the wings to get the best of both.
- Similarly, during the Israeli War of Independence, an Israeli pilot literally cut the communication lines between the Egyptian Army and their command staff in Suez, by flying his P-51 Mustang through the telephone wires and catching them with his propeller.
- Ray Holmes, a Hurricane pilot who made a head on attack on a Dornier 17 over central London during the Battle of Britain. His guns failed, so he rammed the enemy bomber, slicing its tail off with his wing. The bomber was destroyed, although Holmes' aircraft was so severely damaged that he was forced to bail out.
- It's worth a picky point that "ramming speed" essentially means "to speed up so we can do as much damage as possible". Technically any speed is "ramming speed".
- "Ramming Speed" is a reference to ancient naval combat, where ramming was a particularly useful battle tactic. Most ancient ships during battle were propelled by rowers, and ramming speed basically meant "row as fast as you can". And, ancient ships being very FragileSpeedsters, the highest speed possible was essential for imparting enough kinetic energy on the impact so as to pierce or shatter hull of the target ship - if the speed was not high enough, it was possible the attacking ship could have been the more damaged by the ramming. The reason it wasn't used all the time was that human muscles and stamina couldn't sustain ramming speed for very long.
- It's also distinct in that ramming speed is essentially pushing the speed to the literal maximum possible without destroying the ramming craft before it can hit its target. Explosive Overclocking, essentially, with the emphasis on not exploding before ramming the target. For naval ships, for instance, this means pushing your ship to speeds that will probably wreck your own ship in short order, but since you're about to wreck it anyway...
- Apollo 14 used a ram maneuver when docking with the lunar module en route to the moon. The first couple of times, the probe on the front of the command module didn't properly engage during initial contact, and it was feared an abort might be necessary. A last ditch method of coming in hard and faster than usual was tried, however, and that gave the crew time to engage the latches and manage "hard dock", the final connection of the two spacecraft, without having to worry about the usual softer initial dock at all.
- Subverted by the most heavily armed variant of Focke-Wulf 190A-8, which carried the name Sturmbock ("battering ram"). While it exactly wasn't intended to literally ram the Allied bombers, the name implied German Humor on implementation for conquering a Flying Fortress...
Marine (Ships & Submarines)
Anime & Manga
- Happens, with its potential ineffectiveness lampshaded, in Full Metal Panic! Sigma, when Captain Testarossa needs to get the Tuatha De Danaan out of a dock blocked by a Behemoth-class Humongous Mecha.
- Subverted in episode 15 of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. After the Nautilus is crippled by deep-charges and narrowly missed by torpedoes, the enemy submarine attempts to ram it. However, the Nautilus proves much more resistant than the Neo-Atlantean sub, who totally crushes its prowl in the process before exploding (although it leaves a mark).
- Black Lagoon: In one of the early episodes, Rock uses a derelict ship to ramp the title boat, then fire a torpedo directly into an attack helicopter — and flips them the bird in the process, establishing that Rock's got a bit of attitude behind him after all (as he's normally a somewhat milquetoast accountant and negotiator that plays a rather Chick-ish role in the show where violence is concerned).
- Super Atragon: The climax of the opening battle and the final battle: the Ra and Liberty turn to ram each other, after the Liberty's drill-missiles are foiled by the Ra 's rocket-anchors, the Ra plows through the Liberty's bow, destroying her and killing Avatar.
- In Submarine 707 R, the titular submarine does this to the U-X at the end of their battle, having run out of torpedoes.
- In Neon Exodus Evangelion, NERV is fleeing its base in Worcester-3 aboard the RMS Queen Mary while being pursued by the US armed forces. A destroyer places itself in their way, its captain thinking they would turn aside and lose speed. Captain Barraclough instead rams into it at full speed, cutting it in two. This was based on (and the captain makes a reference to) the HMS Curacoa, which was sunk this way in World War II.
- In explanation, the Queen Mary had just under ten times the displacement of the US destroyer in question, and was travelling in excess of 30 knots. When that much kinetic energy is concentrated at the relatively narrow point of a ship's bow, steel is no more sturdy than paper.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- In HP Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu is ripped apart by ramming it with a steamboat. While the person driving the boat does go insane, and Cthulhu just starts to recombine pretty much straight away, the time delay was still useful.
- In The War of the Worlds, the British torpedo ram Thunder Child... well... rams and destroys a Martian tripod which has waded out into the Thames Estuary. A second tripod blasts the ship with its heat ray and promptly gets rammed with/blown up by the ship's flaming remains.
Interestingly, the "torpedo ram" concept never really caught on with the navies of the world, but they were the newest concept in weaponry round about the time that Wells wrote his novel. They were not intended to ram enemy ships, but to ram their way through harbour defences in order to get in close to the ships at anchor and fire torpedoes.
- In Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, this is the primary attack the Nautilus uses against surface ships, to the point where the ship is initially believed to be a freakish giant narwhal. This remains true in the Disney film adaptation.
- In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Nemo's vessel has rather more sensible armaments, like big honking artillery pieces. And mechanical tentacles. Which lead, FWIW, to the awesome moment when we combine this with the previous trope. And Nemo blasts the jelly out of a couple of tripods.
- This trope is probably responsible for the creation of Swordfish from A Song of Ice and Fire, a warship with a giant iron ram on the end that makes it slow and unwieldy. It eventually manages to ram one unmanned ship, which turns out to be full of wildfire, setting it and everything else on fire. Effective design.
- 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'' - Although it's completely unintentional since the person manning the helm is shot, a tugboat manages to sink a German U-Boat by ramming straight into it.
- One of the Schizo Tech vessels built by the Nantucketers in the Island in the Sea of Time trilogy by S.M. Stirling is a steam ram, which is used to great effect against primitive wooden warships such as triremes.
- Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October, features the title submarine (an upgraded version of the Soviet Typhoon ballistic missile submarine!) ramming the Alfa-class attack submarine, trying to sink it. While badly damaged, the Red October managed to remain afloat. The Konovalov, the attack sub, wasn't quite as lucky. Since they didn't have any torpedo men, and had only a skeleton crew it was pretty much the only option. This is quite reasonable given that Typhoon class submarines are vastly larger than Afla-class subs (with the Red October being further enlarged from the basic design), and they also have a double hull.
- Carnifex: Islamic terrorists attempt to ram the Legion carrier Dos Lindas, but instead get intercepted by the Heroic Sacrifice of one of the gunboats escorting it, that rammed the kamikaze cargo freighter before it could deliver its explosive cargo.
- In The Dresden Files novel Cold Days Thomas rams his boat into one of the barges the Outsiders were using to attack Demonreach. Justified in that he wasn't trying to sink the other vessel, only push it off course.
- Surprisingly averted in Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series, considering the entire series is devoted to naval action using a wide variety of ships. Somehow, none of those involve ram-capable ships. Even the Grik whose main tactic is Attack! Attack! Attack! are never observed trying to ram enemy ships. Instead, they will standard grapple-and-board tactics. The only time a ship is used to ram another, a World War One-era American destroyer, whose one remaining weapon has been expended, rams a Japanese World War II-era battlecruiser. However, the collison doesn't do much damage to the big ship, not until one of the destroyer's crewmembers sets off the depth charges on board. Even that is not enough to sink the battlecruiser. It does, however, work for a Japanese plane that rams an American one in a last-ditch effort to destroy it (the Japanese crew was specifically ordered to use this method as a last resort and to not bother coming back to report failure).
- In Red Alert 3, the Empire's Shogun Battleship can deploy an energy shield in the front of the hull. The ship can then ram and kill another ship.
- This is used to counteract the minimum range of the battleship's guns. The manual states that, during the initial attack of the Empire on the Soviet Pacific Fleet, several Soviet ships managed to make it inside the battleship's range and confidently start to fire at them. Cue the battleships accelerating and ramming them.
- In Suikoden V, the primary method of sinking the enemies archery ships are to attack them with ramming ships.
- Silent Hunter III - In Good Bad Bug example, early unpatched Versions actually made it possible to sink quite a few ships, including destoyers, by using your U-Boat's tower to ram its hull underwater. It would make tower and periscope inoperable, but hey, you could sink a ship without having to use one of your precious few and slow-loading torpedoes. And you could use it multiple times without bad effects when done precisely, so you could ram an entire convoy to death with your humble submarine if you were lucky and skilled enough. Later fixed in patches that made the effect more realistic — your puny sub is wrecked and sinks.
- Mentioned (and averted) in Battalion Wars II; The Xylvanian Kraken-class Dreadnought sports incredible size and a pointed, titanium-tipped prow, but is noted to be "relatively ineffective when used to ram other naval units."
- The "Fall of the Samurai" Expansion Pack to Total War: Shogun 2 has several ram-capable ships, including two ironclads with rams: the French L'Océan and Japan's own Kōtetsu (also historically built by the French). While they're not particularly powerful in terms of firepower, ramming another ironclad amidship, such as the American Roanoke or the British Warrior can be a One-Hit Kill. However, it can be difficult when the enemy is firing AP shells at you.
- In Total War: Rome II, most ships are capable of ramming, and do massive damage to the recipient while leaving the rammer mostly intact. Common courtesy in multiplayer is to forbid ramming, as it is effective to the point of being unfair, and takes little skill.
- Ships can ram each other either accidentally or intentionally in Assassins Creed III. One of the naval missions, in particular, has an optional objective where you have to destroy three enemy ships by ramming them (they're much smaller than your Aquila). One of the upgrades you can buy for the ship is a ram, which can gut even enemy frigates, especially if your own hull is reinforced and you do it at full sail with the wind.
- In Assassins Creed IV, your ship automatically comes with a ramming prow, and plowing into enemy ships is highly encouraged as a combat tactic. If you fully upgrade to the highest quality ram, you can punch through and destroy even the dreaded Man-O-Wars in just a few passes.
- The police tactics in the first two Driver parts are limited to this. In the first part in particular, they would plow head-on into you at speeds that would reduce the Real Life counterparts of the in-game cars to a quarter of their original lengths. The damage isn't as high in the game, but ramming is still justified because it's the only way the police can attack you.
- Pharaoh: Warships have Arrows on Fire or ramming as attacks. While they will use ramming against other ships, they can't keep it up for long, as the crew quickly becomes exhausted, leaving the ship stranded. It's also less than realistic: Ship-toship combat is represented by the ships gliding over the same square of water, with a few sound effects thrown in.
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Avatar Returns", Prince Zuko has his ship ram a Water Tribe village in his search for the Avatar. His (relatively small) ship blows through at least fifty feet of glacial ice to have the front open right in front of the village. (Which isn't too extraordinary, since this is the primary purpose of icebreakers.)
- In ReBoot, the attack on the Megabyte-controlled Mainframe Principal Office is initiated by a kamikaze charge by the pirate ship Saucy Mare. It gets shot down right before reaching its target... but was loaded with enough explosives that this turned out to merely spread the damage around and wipe out even more of Megabyte's outer defenses.
- In Cat City Grabowski sunk the cat pirates' submarine by ramming it with the ship they thought to have captured, and had in a tow.
- The Japanese "suicide boats" (tiny speedboats loaded with explosives at the prow) and Kaiten manned torpedoes were used towards the end of WWII to little effect. Kaiten actually predated the better-known aerial Kamikazes. They were basically a Long Lance torpedo with a cockpit. The problem was that underwater visibility was practically nil; only three Kaiten out of hundreds launched ever hit their targets. They also had to be carried to Allied anchorages by full-fledged submarines, and since carrying four or six Kaiten on deck really wrecked the sub's handling and made it more visible at low depth, many were sunk with their crews.
- Truth in Television in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome: the main naval tactics were to ram the opponents' ships and then use boarders to take it over if it didn't sink. The only other possible tactics at the time were either to board the enemy vessel (which happened just as often, if not more so, and frequently concurrently) or launch flaming arrows (or Greek Fire) at them once they figured out how to properly set arrows on fire (with limited success). Note that more often than not, the idea was to shear an enemy vessel's oars off rather than punch a hole in their side, in order to disable the vessel and board it.
- Ramming-to-cripple lost favour to ramming-to-board tactics, as it required far more skill from the rammer's crew, whereas boarding merely required that the ships crunch together so the marines could jump across.
- The corvus was developed to offset the Roman weakness in naval warfare. By turning a naval battle into an infantry attack the Roman legions could overwhelm the superior Carthaginian navy.
- Actually, after centuries of absence, ramming tactics were considered a feasible option after the Battle of Lissa in 1866, where ramming manoeuvres brought the then-existing Austrian Navy a decisive victory over an Italian Fleet. Afterwards, battleship constructions tended to include ram bows.
- In the early days of ironclad warships, most existing guns were not effective enough to serious enough damage through armor plates, leaving ramming the only practical means of sinking such ships with relative ease. However, gun technology improved quickly enough, though.
- This tactic was seriously considered by the Royal Navy during World War One, because they were desperately short on ways to attack submarines and the depth charge hadn't been invented yet. Submarines on the surface or at periscope depth could be rammed. HMS Dreadnought, the first modern battleship, actually pulled this off — indeed, it was the only time Dreadnought ever managed to sink an enemy ship, and the only time a battleship has ever sunk a submarine, by any method.
- The tactic was used (or attempted) against U-boats fairly regularly in World War II when they were forced to the surface. Many escort vessels didn't carry guns powerfull enough to penetrate a submarine pressure hull. When the United States transferred a large number of obsolete WWI destroyers, which were rather lightly armed, to Britain under the Lend-Lease program, they had their bows reinforced by filling the forwardmost chambers with concrete to improve their ramming capability.
- The submarine USS Growler (SS-215) was operating on the surface when it collided with a Japanese patrol boat. The Captain was badly injured and could not return below deck in time. He ordered his XO to "Take 'er down!" knowing that he would be locked outside when the ship submerged. His actions saved the submarine and won him a posthumous Medal of Honor.
- Ramming wasn't entirely successful when the British submarine HMS Clyde engaged three German U-boats in Tarafal Bay (in the Cape Verde Islands) in September 1941. In a confused encounter, most of which occurred at ranges too close to launch torpedoes, Clyde almost rammed U-111 (passing inches over the crash-diving U-boat) before colliding with U-67. Both submarines survived, although the 1100 ton type IXC U-boat came off rather worse than the 2200 ton River-class boat.
- Also there was the time when an Italian destroyer attempted to ram the submarine HMS Proteus (N29) only to have the sub's hydroplane rip such a big gash in the destroyer's hull that it has to be towed back to port for repairs. The submariners commemorated this incident by sewing a can-opener into their ship's flag.
- On 29 January 1943, two minesweepers of the New Zealand navy rammed and beached the Japanese submarine I-1. The US Navy would capture 200,000 pages of intelligence from the submarine.
- Fun fact: modern small warships (frigates, for example) can't ram modern submarines in the same way: subs are very tough to withstand high pressures, and small warships are built light as a means of defense against antiship missiles. They'd get pretty badly torn up in a collision with a periscope.
- Sort of - a periscope or other mast would be completely written off, but the fin (sail if you're American) of a modern SSN is strengthened to break through the icecap in polar ops, and any collision with it would rip a large hole in the warship. Still wouldn't want to be the first man back up into the fin when it surfaces again though, it wouldn't exactly come off well itself, and a collision with the pressure hull itself should obviously be avoided if at all possible.
- And surface ramming didn't entirely disappear. Look up HMS Glowworm and its attack on the Admiral Hipper in 1940.
- PT 109, commanded by JFK, was cut in two by the HIJMS Amagiri, pretty much by accident.
- Special mention must surely go to HMS Fairy, an 1897 Gipsy class destroyer, which on 31 May 1918, rammed and sank a rather larger and more modern (albeit slightly damaged) U-boat (there's debate over the actual designation, some claim it's UC-75, others UC-51). The ship was lost as well, but it was probably one of the few modern instances where the rammer inflicted more financial damage on the enemy than on itself.
- The troop transport HMT Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic, rammed and sank the U-103, the only recorded instance of a merchant vessel sinking a warship in WWI. The U-103 was not the only vessel to be on the receiving end of the bow of the Olympic either - she almost capsized the HMS Hawke by turning in front of her, despite the warship being designed for ramming. She also damaged the liner Fort St. George and sank the lightship LV-117.
- Merchant ship captains were encouraged by the Royal Navy brass to attempt ramming German submarines during World War I, contrary to the laws of war. While most attempts were unsuccessful, at least one British captain who attempted ramming a U-boat was tried and executed by Germans as a "maritime guerrilla."
- And another World War II example: the British raid on St. Nazaire in 1942 involved ramming the old destroyer HMS Campbeltown, loaded with explosives, into the drydock, the only one available to the Germans (outside of Germany) large enough to hold their largest remaining warships. The raid was so successful the drydock wasn't back in operation until 1947.
- Conventional naval wisdom from the launch of the first ironclad in 1859 until the advent of the self-propelled torpedo and advances in shipboard gun manufacture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries held that major naval battles would consist of warships attempting to ram one another, since the crude cannons of the mid-19th century had proven to be no match for an ironclad's armour. Since this was the period when Britania really did rule the waves, there were few major naval engagements to prove otherwise. The theory led to many ships being equipped with ram bows, which, while quite pretty and sleek, mostly ended up accidentally sinking friendly vessels. The most famous incident, the sinking of HMS Victoria, gave us the memorable scene in Kind Hearts and Coronets where the admiral played by Alec Guiness goes down with his ship.
- That said, there were battles that seemed to suggest the superiority of ramming over cannon fire at the time. These included the Battle of Lissa between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Battle of Hampton Roads between the Union and Confederacy, which respectively demonstrated the usefulness of ramming and the ineffectiveness of cannons against ironclads.
- Ramming was also a common tactic during the American Civil War. Many ironclads, including CSS Virginia (aka the Merrimack) were expected to ram ships as their primary means of attack, and even a few ironclads were completely unarmed, making this their only possible offensive tactic.
- In the case of CSS Virginia, its poor maneuverability thwarted its attempts to ram USS Monitor at Hampton Roads.
- By that point, the Virginia had already lost its ram after sinking a Union ship. Actually, had the ram not broken off, the Virginia would have followed the Union ship to the bottom.
- Ironically, the Battle of Hampton Roads could have proven exactly the opposite, that cannon could be an effective weapon against ironclads (as they eventually became). Both ships had weapon specs that might have allowed them to penetrate the other's armor, but for the circumstances of the battle: the Virginia had been issued with armor-piercing shells in addition to regular shot, but had left them in dock, not expecting to fight another ironclad; whereas the Monitor was using only 15 pounds of gunpowder in each shot instead of the 30 pounds it was rated for, under the mistaken impression that the full load would put the ship in danger. Had the two ships been able to bring their full loadouts to bear, the battle could easily have become much shorter and more vicious.
- In fact, a whole ship class was created to ram through harbor defenses and deploy torpedoes against ships docked there, called the Torpedo Ram. The class never really took off, although it did "produce" one great fictional vessel: the heroic HMS Thunder Child.
- The torpedo ram (with a "spar torpedo") was a common tactic during the Civil War — The CSS Hunley sank the USS Housatonic with one. And Lt. Alonzo Cushing of the US Navy sank the CSS Albemarle with one. This tactic was even more dangerous than it sounds — the contact exploder did not yet exist, and spar torpedoes had to be set off post-ram with an attached lanyard, exposing the person who pulled it (and in the case of the Hunley, having to leave the hatches open for seawater to get in, one of several suggested possibilities for the sub's sinking soon after).
- During WWII, the ocean liner Queen Mary was converted for use as a troop transport, sailing solo across the Atlantic and picking up a Naval escort only when she came within bomber range of occupied Europe. Off the coast of Ireland on October 2, 1942, the Queen Mary accidentally rammed one of the escort vessels, the cruiser HMS Curacoa, amidships. The Curacoa was literally cut in half and rapidly sank, killing 338 men from a crew of 439. The Queen Mary suffered no casualties and damage minor enough she was able to continue safely to her destination, drop off her load of Allied soldiers, and return to America for repairs.
- Entirely accidental, unlike many of the above examples, but the the battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64) collided with the destroyer escort USS Eaton (DDE-510) due to negligence on the part of the captain of the Eaton, both ships suffering severe damage. The damaged bow of the Wisconsin was replaced with the bow from the unfinished USS Kentucky (BB-66).
- The Eaton was also involved in several other accidental collisions, though only the one with the Wisconsin resulted in the captain being court martialed.
- Another accident involves the collision between SS Imo with the fully loaded munition ship SS Mont-Blanc in Halifax Harbour (1917). The resulting explosion created a tsunami and obliterated everything for a 2 km radius (i.e. most of downtown Halifax), killing 2,000 people. It was the largest man-made non-nuclear explosion ever.
- During age of wooden ships, where fire was often the greatest threat to any ship, many navies employed the use of fire ships. These were essentially abandonded ships that were deliberately set on fire and sent into the enemy fleet. If they didn't destroy the fleet, it would definitely scare the shit out of it. This was one of the tactics that helped the English defeat the mighty Spanish Armada.
- Actually the ramming wasn't really the point, as a ship with no steering is pretty easy to evade. The purpose of fireships was to break up the enemy's formation (which was an absolute necessity given the English warships were smaller and fewer). In the case of the Spanish Armada, they were surprised at anchor and had to cut their lines to get away, leaving their anchors behind. As a result, they were unable to ride out the storm that did them in later.
- Relatively recent example: in 1988, Russian frigate Bezzavetniy rammed USS Yorktown (approximately three times heavier ship) to push it out of Soviet territorial waters. Neither ship was seriously damaged, but the latter continued on out of Soviet waters.
- In World War II, the Japanese also used small explosive-laden speedboats and "Kaiten" manned torpedoes (which were actually designed before the air Kamikaze program began). While the Kaiten proved to be surprisingly maneuverable (their pilots often compared them to airplanes or racing cars) their lack of sonar or much outward visibilty made actually hitting anything with one a matter of pure dumb luck.
- The collision between the Italian passenger liner Andrea Doria and the MS Stockholm on July 25, 1956. The Stockholm struck the Andrea Doria amidships with her bow and had a chunk of it completely sheared off, but was otherwise undamaged and made it back to port. The Andrea Doria capsized and sank.
- In the mission that finally eliminated Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya, the Philippine Navy gunboat — which was quieter and faster than the speedboat the Abu Sayyaf were using — snuck in under cover of night and, with the direction of American night vision technology, aimed their vessel right at the terrorist boat. The speedboat was cut in half by the impact, and the terrorists thrown off the vessel where the Philippine Navy SWAG's (Special Warfare Action Group, the Philippine version of Navy SEALs) More Dakka made short work of them.
- The CSS Virgina, the Confederacy's ironclad, sank the USS Cumberland by ramming her amidships, using a large metal ram affixed to the bow of the ship. The ram got stuck in the Cumberland, though, and almost took the Virginia down as well before it broke off and allowed the Confederate ironclad to withdraw.
- The guns used on the early ironclads were actually not all that effective at punching through iron armor. The famous battle between the Virginia and Monitor eventually devolved into both ships trying (and failing) to ram each other to death. The comparatively heavy iron armor also had the effect of making ironclads pretty effective at ramming wooden-hulled warships, and caused almost all early ironclads to be designed as rams. More powerful guns and rounds better suited to armor-piercing put that short-lived era to an end.
- HMAS Melbourne sank two friendly destroyers — HMAS Voyager and USS Frank E Evans — in two separate accidental collisions.
- I forget who, but there was an ancient civilization who's entire naval tactics consisted of:
- 1. Have one ship
- 2. Ram an enemy ship
- 3. Board rammed enemy ship, take control. Previous ship sinks.
- 4. You have a new ship. Repeat steps 1-4.
- Probably the Greeks at the Battle of Artemisium versus the numerically superior Persian navy. They actually managed to capture a good number of the Persian triremes, but the rest of the battle went in the Persian favor.
- During the First World War the toll amongst Britain's K-class submarines was high, with 3 lost and 4 seriously damaged:
- K1 collided with K4 off Denmark 18 Nov. 1917 and had to be scuttled.
- The 'Battle' of May Island claimed a further 2 submarines sunk and 3 more and a cruiser damaged. HMS Fearless collided with K17, sinking it, and damaging itself. K14 and K22 collided, though both survived. K6, in an attempt to avoid a collision with K12 after some miscommunication, ran into K4 seriously damaging it, and itself. K4 later sank with all hands after a collision with K7, which also damaged the latter. Altogether 270 men were killed.
- Two sailboat crews were attacked by Ruthless Modern Pirates in the Gulf of Aden. They deterred one pirate vessel with shotgun fire. When the other came around, the captain of one yacht chose to "ram the bastards," much to the pirates' surprise.
- One of the major reasons that the main determiner of ships right of way is tonnage is because the bigger ships won't be able to stop as fast, and won't be able to stop until after they sliced any smaller ships that get in their way.
- Defied by First Officer Murdoch, who elected to try to avoid the iceberg. Then again, considering that we're talking about a 52,000+ ton ship travelling at almost 35 miles per hour hitting a mountain of what geologists consider a sedimentary rock (resulting in the glancing blow alone generating the force equal to 37 contemporary express trains), and the business end housed hundreds of sleeping passengers and crew... Ramming might not have been exactly wise.
- Sadly, given the recent understanding of the limits of the design and construction of the Titanic, ramming it head-on would almost certainly have been the better tactic, especially if engines had been reversed to slow the speed. The Titanic sank quickly because too many compartments (7) were opened to the sea by the glancing blow. A head-on impact would have opened the first two, at most, and likely given the doomed ship many more hours afloat before finally sinking.
- An asteroid capable of causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom is approaching? Save the nukes for later — just strap rockets into a lump of metal the size of a Jeep, and ram it against the asteroid!
- Subverted by the HMS Campbeltown during the St. Nazaire Raid. Ramming the Normandie drydock was not enough to put it out of commission - but the several tons of explosives concealed in the the Campbeltown's bow was.
- During the "Cod Wars" over north Atlantic fisheries between Iceland and UK, ramming was often the most serious option available to either side as actual shooting was not a possibility.