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Mega-Maw Maneuver

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In a nutshell, this is when a hostile force attacks a target by using a much larger vehicle with a large door to chase down and then "swallow" the target vehicle. The attackers have just performed the Mega Maw Maneuver. The reasons for using this tactic are usually as a form of piracy. Once inside the large vehicle, the target is at the mercy of its captors, and can be easily boarded, plundered, or seized without risking damage to the big vessel in a ship-to-ship gun battle.

While certainly an interesting maneuver, it does pose several problems in Real Life. For one, its success hinges upon the maw ship being much larger and much faster than its victims. For another, the very real possibility of the target performing some desperate evasive action trying to get away would pose considerable danger. Sometimes Tractor Beams are used to speed up the chase and/or explain away why the target isn't performing any evasive actions. Also, if it's happening in space, the bigger ship is a subject of the Kzinti Lesson, if the smaller ship will turn their engines on while inside of the maw. And even then, if there's some mechanism to disable the engines of the smaller ship, there is the risk of it having having both a Self-Destruct Mechanism and a pilot who decides they would rather die than be taken alive, which could quickly lead to an attempted Taking You with Me situation.

In other words, if there was any real potential to this tactic, it probably would have been tried by now.

Not to be confused with maneuvering with Mega Maw.

Compare: Swallowed Whole, which is this trope but with monsters, and Driving into a Truck, a Getaway Driver escape tactic.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Fantastic Four: One issue featured an enormous alien ship that showed up and did this to the entire Earth. However, it turned out to be an illusion.
  • Serenity: Leaves on the Wind duplicates the "barn swallow" maneuver from Serenity, this time with River manning the Firefly's controls to rescue Zoe from an Alliance supermax prison.
  • The Ten-Seconders: The Gods' "parents", a collective of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, use their spaceship to engulf PLANET EARTH.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The Ytirflirks attempt to threaten earth in one of their battlecruisers, only for their previously stolen mothership to port in piloted by the "gremlins" who had led a successful rebellion against them and force the much smaller ship into the docking bay.

    Eastern Animation 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Happens twice in Battle Beyond the Stars. When Nanelia's tiny one-woman spaceship is swallowed up by Caymen's slaver ship, and in the climax when Sador decides I Want Them Alive! and has Nell tractored into his Mile-Long Ship. Which turns out to be a big mistake that causes his destruction when he's on the verge of winning.
  • Explorers: Happens Twice. First to the Thunder Road, and again when the parents of the aliens the kids meet come looking for them.
  • James Bond:
    • You Only Live Twice: SPECTRE uses a rocket with a nose cone that splits open in False Flag Operations to capture US and Soviet space capsules in order to cause World War III for Blofeld's own profit.
    • The Spy Who Loved Me: Same maneuver as the above (the film was also directed by Lewis Gilbert), only this time it's on Earth and at sea. The Big Bad Karl Stromberg has a device that can cause submarines to lose power and surface. He also has a giant oil tanker with a bow that can open and swallow up the helpless submarines. He uses it to capture three nuclear missile submarines (one Soviet, one American and one British) during the movie to use them for his nefarious scheme.
  • In Mortal Engines, London harpoons smaller mobile cities, then drags them inside to be cut up for their resources. Hester uses this to infiltrate London, by putting herself on a city in its path.
  • Done by the good guys at the beginning of Serenity, when most of the crew is on the Mule running away from the Reavers. Wash warns Zoe that they're going to try a "barn swallow". Zoe turns the Mule around and heads straight for the Reaver ship, only for Wash to bring the Serenity in and pull off this trope.
  • Spaceball One eats Princess Vespa's spaceship in Spaceballs.
  • The pirate spaceship from Space Truckers — again, a huge maw that swallows smaller ships.
  • The Cortez parents are captured in their car submarine by a much larger submarine this way in Spy Kids.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture: The enormous Mechanical Lifeform V'Ger had a giant maw like this, which the Enterprise flew through in order to reach V'Ger's main processing center. It then closed, trapping the Enterprise inside.
  • Star Wars:
    • The opening scene of A New Hope features the Tantive IV's engines and weapons being disabled by a Star Destroyer, leaving it helpless as Darth Vader's ship tractors the corvette into its massive carrier bay.
    • After Rey and Finn escape Jakku in The Force Awakens with the help of the Millennium Falcon, the ship is suddenly overridden and a large transport engulfs it. They're certain they've been caught by the First Order, but it's actually Han Solo and Chewbacca, who are rather overjoyed that they finally found their ship again.

  • Lone Wolf: In The Deathlord of Ixia, Lone Wolf's ship is "swallowed" by a huge sea vessel shaped like a giant fish, and dry-docked inside. Then Zombie Drakkarim board it and slaughter the crew.

  • Used by a ship pirate masquerading as a trader in House of Suns to trap the protagonist's starship inside a enormous world-ship.
  • In the Mortal Engines quadrilogy, most towns and cities (except those in Anti-Tractionist territories) have been converted into enormous tracked vehicles. In accordance with the philosophy of "Municipal Darwinism", these settlements are fitted with "jaws" that allow them to catch and dismantle other settlements and claim their resources; cities prey on towns, towns prey on suburbs, and "statics", non-mobile settlements, are the bottom rung of the food-chain and fair game for everyone else.
  • Submarines are often equipped with these in the Russalka Chronicles. They allow for a ship to recover equipment, buoys or debris without stopping. It's explicitly mention it's never used to recover people due to the risk of people slipping in between the "jaws" and being cut in two when it closes. The heroine is naturally saved in this fashion at one point (they didn't think there were any survivors).
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You: The Special Corps investigates the mysterious disappearance of a navy space station whose last message was: "THE TEETH!" James "Slippery Jim" diGriz (AKA "The Stainless Steel Rat") uses time travel to go back to the event and sees it swallowed by a planetoid sent by alien invaders, who carry the station back to their homeworld.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Babylon 5, Shadow Battlecrabs can absorb other ships into themselves, allowing them to abduct their pilots. Meanwhile, Commander Sinclair's unexplained (and temporary) disappearance at the Battle of the Line is revealed to be partly due to this, with a Minbari warcruiser using tractor beams to disable and pull in his ship.
  • Crusade presented an inversion, combining this with Coming in Hot to rescue a disabled fighter while under orders not to stop for anything. The Excalibur simply swallowed the fighter with the hangar bay and brought the fighter to a relative stop with the emergency arresting gear. The pilot was not told of this plan beforehand, and didn't seem confident it would work.
  • Lexx: The Lexx, a giant bioengineered insect/planet-destroyer can literally eat ships, provided they are roughly the size of a space shuttle.
  • The Seeker's semi-invisible spaceship does this to the Space Shuttle Odyssey in Odyssey 5.
  • A SeaQuest DSV episode has a large sub pulling this to capture UEO transport subs.
  • Star Trek:
    • The "Wisp" spaceship from Star Trek: Enterprise has a huge maw that swallows the Enterprise.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: The Planet Killer from "The Doomsday Machine", a giant ship that destroys planets. In an inversion, they deliberately fly a starship into its maw to destroy it from the inside out.
    • Happens a couple times in Star Trek: Voyager:
      • The Voth city-ship from "Distant Origin" is so large that they simply beam Voyager inside to capture them.
      • In "Collective", a Borg cube draws one of Voyager's shuttles inside itself with a tractor beam. When the crew wake up, they're inside a vast chamber full of small spacecraft.
      • This seems to be the primary assimilation tactic of the Borg Sphere, which tries to do it to Voyager twice (it succeeds in the finale, though it doesn't stick). The sphere itself is usually deployed from a giant hatch inside a Borg cube or the Unicomplex.
    • In the season 3 finale of Star Trek: Discovery, the Emerald Chain flagship Viridian is so large it can pull the Discovery into its hold. Burnham has the warp core overloaded and ejected, while Book uses his empathic ability to perform the spore jump.

    Video Games 
  • Happens to the titular Alien Hominid after clearing stage 2-6 when his UFO gets swallowed up by a U.S. military spaceship, setting up the stage for the Area 51 levels.
  • One cutscene in Anachronox shows the protagonists' shuttle getting eaten by Rictus' Face Ship KSC Grimacer.
  • The opening to Battletoads for the NES shows the space-Buick that Pimple and Angelina were riding getting quite literally eaten by Dark Queen's spaceship Gargantua. Quite messily, too; you can see chunks of the space-car falling behind as Gargantua's jaws close down.
  • One level of Crimson Skies: Highroad to Revenge has a giant zeppelin designed to eat other zeppelins.
  • In Full Throttle, the biker gang The Vultures drive a Jumbo Cargo Transport, a heavily modified cargo plane converted into a kind of truck capable of driving on highway-sized roads. While main character Ben battles the villain Ripburger on a semi, The Vultures assist by pulling up behind and swallowing the truck with their transport.
  • As a parody to the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, Fur Fighters has a massive submarine that eats an aircraft carrier.
  • Occurs at least once in the Homeworld series. In level nine of Homeworld 2, Captain Soban's frigate is swallowed up into the hanger bay of a Vaygr carrier. Capturing enemy ships in the first game involved salvage corvettes disabling the vessel before dragging it into the hanger bay/production area of a capital vessel, invoking the image of this trope if perhaps not the spirit.
  • A lethal variation in Red Alert 3: The Apocalypse tank is so huge it runs over tanks the same way tanks run over infantry, and has a Magnetic Harpoon that disables its main gun but pulls enemy vehicles towards itself. When the harpoon is activated, the tank deploys a set of grinders that very quickly reduce the target to scrap metal, essentially eating the target (in the case of huge vehicles and buildings, the tank is instead pulled towards the target, but the effect is the same). It even works on ships, destroying them instantly when they reach dry land.
  • In Sins of a Solar Empire, the Vasari Loyalist titan has a level six ability titled "The Maw" that guzzles up all enemy ships within range, and turns them into resources.


    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, a villain named "Lock Up" used a robotic truck to kidnap someone: the back opened up and two claws came out, snatched her car and dragged it inside.
  • A villain in a Max Steel episode builds an enormous aerial fortress that does this to normal planes. The resident scientist points out that having something so large fly through air should be impossible or, at least, an engineering nightmare.
  • The Pirates of Dark Water featured the Maelstrom, a massive pirate ship fashioned from the bones of a colossal sea monster. The jaws formed the ship's prow, resulting in a much more literal version of this trope than is usually seen whenever they opened to swallow a smaller ship.
  • One of the story arcs on Rocky and Bullwinkle has them looking for the giant whale Maybe Dick, which turns out to be a ship Boris Badanov uses to swallow ocean liners so he can plunder them.
  • Space Ghost episode "Revenge of the Spider Woman". The title villain sends a shark-shaped submarine to capture Jan and Jace. As they are jet skiing on the ocean, the submarine surfaces, opens its bow like a mouth and swallows them.
  • TaleSpin:
    • The first episode has the air pirates harassing a Khan cargo plane. As the plane ducks into a cloud bank to try and hide, they fly right into the Iron Vulture, the pirates' ship. It even has a mouth for such purposes.
    • The rest of the series plays straight, subverts and explains why this trope isn't generally practical, especially if your target knows you're around.

    Real Life 
  • The Gemini Augmented Target Docking Adapter, also known as the "Angry Alligator" looks like this trope, but in fact the presence of the aerodynamic shroud that was normally jettisoned after launch prevented Gemini 9 from physically docking with it after matching orbit with it.
  • While it was never used as an act of war, the Space Shuttle's payload bay could open in order to recover satellites out of orbit.


Video Example(s):



Formally a mining ship, the colossal flagship of the Universal Church of Truth is able to utterly envelope a Nova Corp cruiser.

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Example of:

Main / MegaMawManeuver

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