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In fiction, a landship is a very large vessel or vehicle designed for travel over land. They can be of various sizes, shapes, made of different materials and have different methods of propulsion. Landships are differentiated from normal ground vehicles by their larger sizes and complexity.
Most depictions have landships travelling over fairly flat and stable surfaces such as roads, trails and plain fields, often able to easily ford normal streams and rivers. They tend to be depicted as slow and lumbering, due to an insinuated relatively poor power-to-weight ratio. Nevertheless, they remain a popular idea due to the visual impressiveness of their great size.
Landships are mostly used for exploration, trade, transport or war. They may or may not be armed, but armed ones tend to look like actual warships of old, with multiple weapon systems and gun turrets.
The type of solid physical contact maintained with the ground usually comes in the form of large continuous track or wheel arrays. More imaginative ideas in fiction include anti-gravity systems and screw propulsion.
Land mobile aircraft carrier
A land mobile aircraft carrier is a fictional terrestrial vehicle built to launch aircraft while mobile. It is not a launching sled for zero-length takeoff systems. The concept of a mobile airbase on land has been explored theoretically by many people[who?], and deemed impractical, however this concept appears in some adventure fiction and Japanese manga and anime.
- In Gundam (1979), there are land mobile aircraft carriers and land mobile suit carriers.
- In Area 88 (1979), there is a converted Soviet aircraft carrier placed atop converted Crawler-Transporter drive systems crawling the desert. This carrier also appears as a boss in the video game adaptation U.N. Squadron.
- In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Double Eagle (2004) by Dan Abnett, the forces of Chaos use land mobile aircraft carriers to launch fighter strikes against retreating Imperial forces.
- In the Post-apocalyptic Amtrak Wars universe, giant cross country Road trains act as mobile forts, their long flat tops acting as runways for microlight type attack aircraft.
- In Armored Core: For Answer, the Arms Fort "Spirit of Motherwill" is a gigantic, 6-legged multidecked carrier capable of launching Armored Core mecha from its multitude of runways, as well as conventional aircraft. It is also heavily armed with two three gun turrets mounting highly accurate 25 feet caliber guns, several cruise-missile launchers on the edges of the flight decks as well as what appears to be Bofors 40mm AA cannons mounted in dozens of twin gun turrets along the edges of each flight deck. It also carries hilariously thick armor, but contains structural flaws that eventually results in its destruction at the hands of the player.
- Arms Fort "Great Wall", a moving fortress with the appearance of an outrageously oversized armored train, has a large open deck on its rearmost "car"
- Arms Fort "Cabracan", holds several unmanned areial vehicles in its superstructure, it holds little in common with the SoMW, but it is more than able to fill the role of a "landcarrier".
- And in the videogame Haze, Mantel Industries use a land carrier as their base of operations in the field.
- In the videogame Supreme Commander, the UEF experimental tank Fatboy can repair and refuel aircraft, but can not build them. It can, however, keep one aircraft parked on each of its two pads.
Although not formally land mobile aircraft carriers, films and television series have also depicted helicopter and VTOL aircraft launches from semi-trailers and railroad cars.Concept art for the video game Command and conquer: Renegade featured an ORCA VTOL combat aircraft taking off from a converted 18-Wheeler, based on the scrapped concept from the original Command and Conquer.
Due to their large sizes, landships are considered to be impractical in real life (except for tanks and other armored fighting vehicles). However, they are featured in works of fiction, as land-based counterparts of water ships and airships.
Printed Matter (Books, games, etc.)
Fictional landships (1904-2015) in Printed Matter Type Role Mobility Power Source Author Year Notes Land Ironclad Super Tank Tracked (Pedrail) Steam Boiler "The Land Ironclads" (Short story) H. G. Wells 1904 H. G. Wells' The Land Ironclads (1904) predated and inspired the development of the tank (see Landships Committee). Neolantar Super Tank Tracked (Caterpillar) Internal Combustion Engine "Escape on Venus" (Novel) Edgar Rice Burroughs 1946 Edgar Rice Burroughs' Escape on Venus (1946) features warring fleets of landships called "neolantars". The largest vessels are described as between seven hundred and eight hundred feet long, with a beam of over a hundred feet, and a height of at least thirty feet above the ground, with lighter superstructures rising another thirty feet or more. Land Cruiser Super Tank Tracked (Caterpillar) Energy "If This Goes On" (Novella) Robert A. Heinlein 1940 Robert A. Heinlein described "land cruisers," large cannon-armed vehicles in "If This Goes On—". Harvesters Mining (Resource Gathering) Wheeled Energy Dune (Novel series) Frank Herbert 1965 In Frank Herbert's Dune universe "Harvesters" up to 120 m long harvest the spice melange on the planet Arrakis. Robotic Tank "Gottlos" Super Tank Tracked (caterpillar) Internal Combustion Engine "Gottlos" (short story) Colin Kapp 1969 The Gottlos is remotely controlled by a human operator. Land Leviathan Super Tank Walker (Mechanical legs) Internal Combustion Engine "The Land Leviathan" (novel) Michael Moorcock 1974 In Moorcock's alternative timeline book, the Land Leviathan is a "vast, moving ziggurat of destruction" Bolo Super Tank Tracked (Caterpillar) Energy "Bolo" (novel) Keith Laumer 1975 Laumer's novels and short stories, starting with Bolo, feature powerful self-aware autonomous tanks, the larger models of which are able to assault or defend planets. Ogre Super Tank Tracked (caterpillar) Energy (fusion) "Ogre" (tabletop game) Steve Jackson 1977 A game inspired by the novels Bolo and Gottlos  Land Carrier (Land Mobile Aircraft Carrier) Landborne aircraft carrier Tracked (caterpillar) Internal Combustion Engine "Area 88" (Anime graphic novel series) Kaoru Shintani 1979 In Area 88 (1979), there is a converted Soviet aircraft carrier placed atop converted Crawler-Transporter drive systems crawling the desert. Land Carrier (Land Mobile Aircraft Carrier) Landborne aircraft carrier Hovercraft (Directed Thrust) Energy "Gundam" (Anime series) Yoshiyuki Tomino 1979 Gundam features "land battleships" in nearly every series to date, typically bearing battleship-style artillery battery arrangements. While varying in size according to series (and sometimes even within a series), they tend to be treated as mobile headquarters by various factions. Wagon Trains Landborne aircraft carrier Wheeled Internal Combustion Engine "Amtrak Wars" (Novel series) Patrick Tilley 1983 In the post-apocalyptic Amtrak Wars universe, giant cross country road trains act as mobile forts, their long flat tops acting as runways for microlight type attack aircraft. Mobile city Mobile City Unknown Unknown "Road of Skulls" (short story) Iain M Banks 1989 The city in Road of Skulls (The State of the Art anthology) by Iain M Banks is in constant motion. Gypsy Nation city Mobile City Wheeled Muscle (slave labor) The Revenge of the Rose (Novel) Michael Moorcock 1991 Michael Moorcock's 1991 The Revenge of the Rose novel features the cities of the Gypsy Nation travelling around the equator of a world powered by slaves. Time-traveling Juggernaut Super Tank Tracked (caterpillar) Internal Combustion Engine "The Time Ships" (novel) Stephen Baxter 1995 None. Rolling City Mobile City Wheeled Wind (Sail) "Wind on Fire" (novel series) William Nicholson 2000 Wind on Fire features a desert patrolled by two wind-driven rolling cities, Ombaraka and Omchaka. They are entirely self-sufficient, even carrying onboard farms, and use small unmanned blade-armed landships as weapons against each other. Traction Cities Mobile City Tracked (caterpillar) Energy "Predator Cities" (novel series) Phillip Reeve 2001 Phillip Reeve's "Predator Cities" books (also known as "Mortal Engines Quartet") feature mobile human settlements called Traction Cities. Chaos Land Carrier (Land Mobile Aircraft carrier) Landbourne aircraft carrier Walker (mechanical legs) Energy "Double Eagle" (novel) Dan Abnett 2004 In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Double Eagle (2004) by Dan Abnett, the forces of Chaos use land mobile aircraft carriers to launch fighter strikes against retreating Imperial forces. "Battle Mountain"-class AKA "Sow" Landborne battleship Hovercraft Internal Combustion Engine "The Huge Black Ship" (novel) Fyodor Berezin 20?? Berezin's "Battle Mountain"-class aka "sow" hovercraft battleship carrying squads of tanks (nicknamed as "pigs"), mentioned in The Huge Black Ship trilogy
Television & Film
Fictional landships (1904-2015) in Television & Film Type Role Mobility Power Source Author Year Notes Barsoomian Landship Super Tank Walker (Mechanical legs) Energy "John Carter of Mars" (Radio Serial) Edgar Rice Burroughs 1917 John Carter of Mars (Barsoom) features city-sized land-ships with metachronal rhythm-centipedal locomotion. Roadlayers Construction (Industry) Tracked (Caterpillar) Energy (Atomic fusion reactor) "Thunderbirds" (TV Series: Puppetry) Gerry & Sylvia Anderson 1965 Thunderbirds had two episodes featuring road-building landships called Roadlayers. Crablogger Resource gathering (Logging) Tracked (Caterpillar) Energy (Atomic fusion reactor) "Thunderbirds" (TV Series: Puppetry) Gerry & Sylvia Anderson 1965 The Crablogger and Sidewinder could also be considered walking landships. Sidewinder Super Tank Walker (Mechanical legs) Energy (Atomic fusion reactor) "Thunderbirds" (TV Series: Puppetry) Gerry & Sylvia Anderson 1965 The Crablogger and Sidewinder could also be considered walking landships. Ark II Mobile laboratory (Science) Wheeled Internal Combustion Engine "Ark II" (TV series) Martin Roth 1976 The Ark II featured in a short run 1976 TV series was a cross-country vehicle manned by young survivors of an ecological disaster carrying a storehouse of knowledge. Landmaster Armored personnel carrier (Military) Wheeled Internal Combustion Engine "Damnation Alley" (Movie) Jack Smight 1977 The Landmasters in the 1977 film Damnation Alley, based on Roger Zelazny's 1969 novel, were two large USAF cross-country all-terrain vehicles used by a group of survivors of a nuclear war. Jawa Sandcrawler Commerce (Trade) Tracked (Caterpillar) Energy "Star Wars" (Movie) George Lucas 1977 Star Wars' Sandcrawlers traverse the dunes of desert planet Tatooine. Land Carrier (Land Mobile Aircraft Carrier) Landborne aircraft carrier Tracked (caterpillar) Internal Combustion Engine "Area 88" (Anime film) Kaoru Shintani 1979 Area 88 (anime adaption of manga) featured a large, tracked, landborne aircraft carrier. Land Carrier (Land Mobile Aircraft Carrier) Landborne aircraft carrier Hovercraft (Directed Thrust) Energy "Gundam" (Anime TV series) Yoshiyuki Tomino 1979 The Japanese anime series Gundam feature several land-ships, like in Gundam Seed and her spin-offs. Here, large ships use a form of repulsor to literally 'sail' the Sahara Desert . Landship (generic) Super Tank Tracked (Caterpillar) Internal Combustion Engine "Now and Then, Here and There" (Anime TV series) Akitaro Daichi 1999 Secret of Cerulean Sand and Now and Then, Here and There are examples of anime that feature landships. Lovelessian Giant Mechanical Spider Super Tank Walker (Mechanical legs) Steam Boiler "Wild Wild West" (Movie) Barry Sonnenfeld 1999 Wild Wild West (1999) film. Loveless's giant mechanical spider. Citadel Super Tank Tracked (Caterpillar) Internal Combustion Engine "Avalon" (Movie) Mamoru Oshii 2001 The Citadel in the 2001 movie Avalon. Cerulean Landship Mobile city Tracked (Caterpillar) Steam Boiler "Secret of Cerulean Sand" (Anime TV series) Yuichiro Yano 2002 Secret of Cerulean Sand and Now and Then, Here and There are examples of anime that feature landships.
Computer & Video games
Fictional landships (1904-2015) in Electronic Media Type Role Mobility Power Source Author Year Notes Landborn Capital Ship (Generic) Landborn Capital Ship Hovercraft (Directed Thrust) Energy Heavy Gear Dream Pod 9 1994 Heavy Gear has large factions who maintain entire navies of landships, ranging from the size of a tugboat to twice the volume of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. "Fatboy" Mobile Factory Resource Processing (Manufacturing) Tracked (Caterpillar) Energy Supreme Commander THQ 2007 Supreme Commander features the UEF faction's "Fatboy" mobile factory, a prime example of a landship. Leviathan Landborn Capital Ship Wheeled Energy Unreal Tournament 2004 & Unreal Tournament 3 Atari, Inc. (Atari, SA subsidiary) 2004 Unreal Tournament 2004 and Unreal Tournament 3 have the Leviathan, a pilotable wheeled landship. Landship (Generic) Super Tank Tracked (Caterpillar) Unknown Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo 1988 Super Mario Bros. 3 (SMB3) had large landships, hybrids of pirate ships with caterpillar tracks. SMB also featured airborne mega-vehicles including steampunk-like airships. Yamatoid Landship Landborne Battleship Tracked (Caterpillar) Energy Metal Slug 2 SNK Playmore 1998 Metal Slug 2's fourth level boss is a tracked landship based on the Yamato. GDI "Mammoth" Super Tank Tracked (Caterpillar) Energy (Fusion) Command & Conquer Various 1995 Command & Conquer features large vehicles prominently throughout, such as the Tiberium series' GDI "Mammoth" tanks. Mammoth Armed Reclamation Vehicle Super Tank Tracked (Caterpillar) Tiberium-powered Fusion Reactor Command and Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath Electronic Arts 2008 The series' record appears to stand with Command and Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath and its Mammoth Armed Reclamation Vehicle, which has enough space for a turret with triple sonic cannons, four auxiliary turrets and an internal tiberium refinery. Marmota "Terrestrial Dreadnought" Landborne Battleship Amphibious Hovercraft (Directed Thrust) Internal Combustion Engine Valkyria Chronicles Sega 2008 Valkyria Chronicles features a "land dreadnought" of gargantuan size called the Marmota. Cocoon Landborne Battleship Tracked (Caterpillar) Energy Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Konami 2010 Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker features a huge land battleship called the Cocoon controlled by AI. Mobile Factory Landship Resource Processing (Manufacturing) Unknown Unknown Killzone 3 Sony Computer Entertainment 2011 Killzone 3 features a level that takes place on a mobile factory landship tasked with recycling metal in a massive junkyard. Carrier Tank Land Carrier (Land Mobile Aircraft Carrier) Tracked (Caterpillar) Energy Team Fortress 2 Valve Corporation 2007 Team Fortress 2 features vehicles known as "Carrier Tanks", visible during the Mann vs. Machine game mode. They do not attack the players directly, but deploy robots to attack players. "Mammoth" (Mobile Anti-Aircraft Weapons Platform M510 Siegework/Ultra-Heavy) Super Tank Wheeled Energy (Fusion) Halo 4 Microsoft Studios 2012 Halo 4 features a 70 m long six-wheeled vehicle called a "Mammoth" (formally the Mobile Anti-Aircraft Weapons Platform M510 Siegework/Ultra-Heavy), which acts partially as a troop and vehicle carrier, but also sports a Gauss gun turret that is used to destroy multiple enemy warships and is stated to have the capacity to engage suborbital targets. Mobile Fortress Super Tank Tracked (Caterpillar) Unknown Battle Isle (series) Ubisoft Blue Byte 1991 Battle Isle (series) features heavily armed and armored "Mobile Fortress" and "Mobile Bunker" units, the latter of which being available to transport other units. Mobile Bunker Super Tank Tracked (Caterpillar) Unknown Battle Isle (series) Ubisoft Blue Byte 1991 Battle Isle (series) features heavily armed and armored "Mobile Fortress" and "Mobile Bunker" units, the latter of which being available to transport other units.