Technically a Transport

Transports. We all know them. Slow. Weaponless. Altogether quite vulnerable. But what if you could fix that little issue? In comes this thing; A humble battlefield bus turned into a substitute front-line tank. Or gunship. And it can still drop off its passengers and cargo most of the time. But who'd want to?

Examples:

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     Film  

  • Star Wars:
    • The Millennium Falcon. Originally a stock light freighter, but has since been upgraded with souped up drives, heavy-duty quad laser cannons, concussion missiles, and a sensor suite that's like seeing the future.
    • The Trade Federation's Lucrehulk warships were originally unarmed merchant ships, if incredibly massive, supposed to deal with pirate attacks simply by ignoring them thanks to powerful deflector shields and their sheer size. Then the Trade Federation turned them into troop transports and strapped some guns on them for the invasion of Naboo, as a planetary government, even a pacific one, had access to better weapons than pirates (such as the proton torpedoes that eventually took out the droid control ship), and ten years later, having had time for a more complete refit, they sport stronger shields and more (and better placed) guns, turning them into formidable warships.
  • The Batmobiles seen in The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Begins.
  • In the Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake, the survivors turn a tour bus into an armoured zombie killing death machine (complete with slots that let them use chainsaws to get rid of undead hitchers) in order to make a break towards the pier.
  • The A-Team with their modified vehicles.
  • The movie The Pentagon Wars is about a Real Life development project that went this way: the Bradley Fighting Vehicle started out as a pure troop transport vehicle, but as development continued it acquired more and more features of a tank.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Car Wars. Big rig trucks are often armed with extensive weaponry in case they're attacked by bandits or have to engage in autodueling.
  • Star Fleet Battles. Many interstellar civilizations used armed transports and Q-ships to defend convoys from Orion pirates and other raiders.
  • Warhammer 40,000. The Land Raider and the Wave Serpent are both transport vehicles that function at least as well as battle tanks.
    • The vast majority of battle tanks for all sides are modified versions of that faction's main transport vehicle, swapping out their troop carrying capacity for bigger guns.
    • The Chimera is technically purchased as a transport vehicle for Imperial Guard squads, but it's really an Infantry Fighting Vehicle and players tend to use it as a light tank more often than a transport.
  • There's a few in BattleTech. Where most troop carriers tend towards carrying small missile weapons, machine guns, or the odd light laser/flamethrower, there's a few designs that substitute easily as tanks. The Tyr is a tough, fast Hover Tank that has the benefit of carrying a squad of Power Armor troopers in the back. The Hasek carries heavy armor and a PPC in its turret, making it the equivalent of a light tank. The kicker, however, is the Indra, which carries an infantry team in one end and a fearsome Clan-built ER PPC in the other, providing enough firepower to blow away light 'Mechs and potentially decapitating any 'Mech in a single shot.

     Video Games  

  • Battlefield 2142: With the Air Transports filled with various members of a squad. Most commonly being Engineers, a Medic/Soldier, and Supports.
  • Supreme Commander: A T1 or T2 Dropship loaded with T1 Light Assault Bots. The Cybrans can stick a T2 Mobile Stealth Field Generator with the LAB's to make it impossible to shoot down early without Omni-Sensors. In Forged Alliance,the UEF gets a T3 Dropship with a self-projected shield to jack survivability. The in-house term is "Ghetto Gunship"
  • Twisted Metal: Just look at half the vehicles, you'll see it.
  • The Batman: Arkham Knight version of the Batmobile has a pair of fold-away harness chairs in an armored compartment, used to get civilians, injured cops and the like to safety.
  • PlanetSide 2 has the Sunderer, a Big Badass Rig Base on Wheels. Normally outfitted only with a pair of mediocre 20mm guns and poor armor but the ability to deploy into a spawn point and carry 12 people, it can be outfitted with automatic grenade launchers, heavy armor, and an engine that lets it outrun the game's Cool Bike, all without affecting its spawning ability or carrying capacity. This "Battle Bus" is a terrifying enemy, being a Lightning Bruiser with the capacity to vomit out a dozen people in MAX Powered Armor. The original game also had the Deliverer armored truck and its empire-specific derivatives, which carried less armor but was more agile and amphibious.
  • In Ground Control II: Operation Exodus, when properly upgraded, your dropship can be your most powerful weapon on the battlefield thanks to its mobility, firepower, and survivability. Its primary bane is dedicated anti-air units. It also only shows up for a short time before leaving and requires you to actually order some reinforcements to appear. This is in contrast to the first game's dropships, which are purely unarmed transports.

     Real Life  

  • The AC-130 gunship. It's simply a Hercules cargo plane with guns and ammo rolled on board,pointing out the port side. The AC-47 and AC-119 having a similar history.
  • The Merkava main battle tank has space for 6 passengers in addition to the 4 man crew.
  • Maybe not "a near unstoppable force of destruction", but a technical is a pickup truck fitted with guns (Also seen in Command & Conquer: Generals/Zero Hour, they upgrade increasing their strength through wreckage.) They're pretty cheap—regions vulnerable to the kinds of spontaneous and low-tech armed conflict that technicals show up in tend to have lots of reason (open terrain, farming) to have pickup trucks—and can pack a punch with the right armament, and not to mention can be armored with whatever scrap metal you can find. Disadvantage: The guy in the back actually manning the gun is pretty exposed.
  • During The American Civil War, the Confederacy salvaged the USS Merrimack and outfitted her with iron plating, renaming her the CSS Virginia. To be fair, though, the Merrimack had been a frigate before that, so not really an example of this trope.
  • Many wheeled Armoured Personnel Carriers, awesome or otherwise, start out this way: The chassis of a light truck or large 4x4 with an armoured body-shell and a roof hatch with a ring mount for a machine gun.
  • Most Infantry Fighting Vehicles qualify, with the general definition being an armored vehicle that can transport a squad of infantry and is also armed with a 20mm or larger cannon.
  • Armed merchant cruisers are quite literally merchant ships with guns and sometimes torpedo launchers bolted onto the decks. Though usually no match for a proper cruiser (emphasis on usually; just ask HMAS Sydney), they're much cheaper and are just as capable of threatening unarmed merchant ships.
  • Quite a few merchant ships during the Age of Sail were armed. Some, most notably the East Indiamen, had firepower comparable to actual warships, and in fact served as actual warships on occasion.
  • Most naval transports since WWI carry at least some self-defense armament, usually of the anti-air variety, though most defense is still delegated to the escorts assigned to them.
  • Amphibious assault ships are probably the best Real Life example to date. The Wasp and America classes can, on top of a heavy battalion of Marines, carry enough fighters to qualify as small aircraft carriers, and the preceding Tarawa class even had a couple of 5" guns for fire support.
    • WWII also saw numerous landing craft equipped with weapons themselves to help support the landings, mostly rockets, surplus naval guns, or in the case of some Japanese landing craft, tank turrets.
  • Helicopter gunships are a distinct category compared to attack helicopters; the former carry passengers in addition to their armament, while attack helicopters do not.
  • The galleass derived from the large merchant galleys that had been used as merchant ships in the Mediterranean through the Middle Ages-and indeed, the first batch of six were merchant ships that Venice decided to stuff with 36 heavy guns (18 per side) and many smaller ones for the Battle of Lepanto (with the commander of the League fleet, John of Austria, replacing many swordfighters of the crews with musketeers to increase their firepower). Compared to the galley warships normally used in the Mediterranean they were slow and unwieldy... And formidably armed, as a galley had a single heavy gun fore and one aft plus some lighter ones. The Ottomans thought the original six were cargo ships that had found themselves in the wrong place and tried to board them, losing 70 ships and suffering damage and personnel loss to many others before they decided to just sail around them. Lepanto ended with the annihilation of the Ottoman fleet for the loss of just 17 galleys, with the League losses in terms of personnel more than replaced by the slaves freed in the battle and the Ottoman naval power being crippled for centuries due the loss of so many experienced sailors.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TechnicallyATransport