Rags to Riches or To the Stars or Bust
A multi-role BattleMech developed during the Golden Age, the Shadow Hawk is a powerful fusion of maneuverability and firepower. With a mix of long-range and short-range weapons, good maneuverability thanks to jump jets, and excellent endurance, the Shadow Hawk has long been regarded as as one of the best ’Mechs in its weight class. The Shadow Hawk is equally adept whether commanding a reconnaissance company or serving as a spotter for heavy and assault lances.
Lang Industries had technically introduced the Shadow Hawk many years prior to 2550, but this version of the ’Mech suffered from a debilitating fault in its armor plating. The line was recalled and a major overhaul was accomplished in 2550 without any difficulties and solved the issue with most (but not all) Shadow Hawk models. This resumption of production therefore is regarded by many historians as the true debut of the design.45 For the next few centuries Lang continued to produce the Shadow Hawk for the Star League and the Great Houses until their factory was destroyed with the start of the Succession Wars.4 Afterwards Earthwerks Incorporated remained the only manufacturer within the Inner Sphere to continue producing Shadow Hawks from their factory on Calloway VI, while in the Periphery Majesty Metals and Manufacturing on Dunianshire built these ’Mechs for the Magistracy of Canopus and other prospective buyers.56 As many of the lostech was rediscovered, Earthwerks was able to create an updated variant of the Shadow Hawk, the SHD-5M, in time for the Clan Invasion.
Starting in the summer of 3066 Vicore Industries began promoting their “Project Phoenix” to various weapons manufacturers across the Inner Sphere, promising improved versions of venerable designs like the Shadow Hawk. Earthwerks, Kallon Industries and ComStar all expressed interest in redesigning the Shadow Hawk, however the latter two lacked appropriate facilities to build the ‘Mech and so (at the suggestion of the Vicore group) contracted Odin Manufacturing on Orestes to build the components while Kallon finished the process at its factories on Nanking and Talon.7 The Capellan Confederation later acquired the rights to build Earthwerks’ SHD-7M Shadow Hawk variant shortly before the Jihad, which they then sub-licensed to Vandenberg Mechanized Industries to produce.
Weapons and Equipment
The Shadow Hawk as mentioned above carries a varied, but effective, mix of weapons. Primary among them is the Armstrong J11 Autocannon/5 mounted in the left torso along with one ton of ammo. This weapon as well as the Holly LRM-5 launcher with one ton of reloads in the right torso provide the Shadow Hawk with good long-range striking capabilities. When the Shadow Hawk closes to shorter ranges it can bring to bear its Holly SRM-2 launcher mounted in the head and its right-arm Martell Medium Laser which can generally finish off most ‘Mechs of its own weight class or smaller that might have survived the mixed autocannon and LRM fire. One ton of ammunition for the SRM-2 is kept in the Shadow Hawk’s center torso while twelve heat sinks provide decent cooling. For hand-to-hand combat the Shadow Hawk features a pair of Lang manipulative hands, regarded as among the strongest models ever built prior to the fall of the Star League. The ability to grasp and carry objects greatly assists in its ability to take part in raiding missions.
While nine and a half tons of armor provide excellent protection, early models of the Shadow Hawk suffered from defective armor pressure plates, especially in the legs. When struck these plates were liable to sever the myomer bundles which governed movement, rendering the ’Mech immobile. Although the mass recall of 2550 largely solved this issue, a small number of Shadow Hawks were not fixed and continued to see service in battle; on occasion this defect led to the loss of entire battles.45
Three jump jets split between the center, left, and right rear torsos gives the Shadow Hawk an adequate jumping distance of 90 meters. While limited in the distance traveled, it gives the ’Mech an edge when engaged in close combat and supplements its cruising speed of 54 km/h. Perhaps the most valued component on the Shadow Hawk, as far as its pilots are concerned, is the Sparrow 300J life support system. Among the most advanced ever devised, the Sparrow can keep a pilot comfortable up to 30% longer than similar systems in other ’Mechs. This is especially important on extended missions where a more relaxed pilot is a better pilot.