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Crossover Battles: AT-TE vs. Thunderjaw

In this episode of Crossover Battles, we’ll put two powerful mechs against each other to see which one will come out on top. Our two opponents today are the AT-TE from Star Wars, and the Thunderjaw from Horizon Zero Dawn. But before we begin this clash of mechanical titans, we need their stats first.

Contestant 1: AT-TE

In this corner, we have the All Terrain-Tactical Enforcer, or AT-TE, from the Star Wars prequel trilogy!

AT-TEs fighting on Geonosis.
The closest thing the clone troopers have to a MBT.

The AT-TE measures 22.02 meters (~72 feet) long, and has a height of 9.57 (~31 feet) meters. This thing is the size of 2 Maus tanks placed end-to-end and nearly the height of 3 of them stacked on top of each other. In terms of size, it exceeds the largest land combat vehicles ever developed on Earth.

Maus tank for scale.
Now imagine this guy standing next to an AT-TE.

And yet, the AT-TE still manages to have a top speed of 60 kph/37 mph. To put this into perspective: this is nearly as fast as a horse in full gallop. I really wish someone would animate a 6-legged walker moving that fast. Maybe it runs like a cockroach?

A really big, metal roach.

The AT-TE’s primary weapon is its dorsal-mounted Firefont 04 mass driver cannon. It can rotate 360 degrees, but has an exposed gunner’s seat. The weapon is able to angle to relatively high elevations, allowing it to act as artillery. Its secondary weapons comprise 4 laser cannons in ball turrets at the front, and 2 more in the back. These are typically used as close-in weapons to defend the walker from infantry and light vehicles.

AT-TE firing for effect.
Huh, an ejecting shell casing. Guess some weapons don’t go out of style.

The AT-TE’s one weakness is its apparent lack of armor. Single missiles from CIS Hailfire droids were able to K-kill these massive walkers. Seriously, the whole mass driver gun flies off like a champagne bottle cork. Guess they don’t make them like they used to.

What are the AT-TEs made out of? Cardboard and glue?

Contestant 2: Thunderjaw

In the other corner, we have the appropriately named Thunderjaw from the award-winning game Horizon Zero Dawn!

Thunderjaw database picture.
Clearly, Jurassic Park is missing an extra.

According to game designer Mathijs de Jonge, the Thunderjaw measures 24 meters (~78 feet) long and 9 meters (~29 feet) tall. It’s just a bit longer than the AT-TE, but just a bit shorter. Although, that’s not saying much to anyone who has to face this monstrosity.

Aloy vs. Thunderjaw: no contest there.
You’d think that bow would be useless, but…

Unfortunately, there’s no official information about the Thunderjaw’s speed. The only certain thing we can determine from the game is that it’s definitely faster than a human at full sprint. If we use real life estimates for a T-rex’s top speed, it’d mean that at most, the Thunderjaw is only capable of 25 mph/40 kph. Not slow by any means, but definitely on the chunky side.

A really fat and derpy-looking T-Rex.
Maybe not quite this chunky.

It’s hard to say which of the Thunderjaw’s many weapons is its main one, but I’d say that it’s likely the pair of missile launchers on its back. Each launcher fires disc-shaped missiles that hover over targets before firing a shaped charge down on them. Each launcher also holds 8 missiles ready to fire before it needs to reload, allowing a full salvo of up to 16 basically antitank missiles flying towards a target.

Thunderjaw tactics: remove disc launcher to use against it.
Also one of the most effective weapons against it.

The Thunderjaw’s secondary weapons are its twin chin-mounted energy cannons, which are basically E-Webs in all but name. It also has a last-ditch laser cannon in its head that’s impossible to destroy without blowing up the entire head. Its massive tail end can also act as a giant metal club, giving it a devastating melee attack. And while it’s not a weapon per se, there is a radar array on its back, allowing it to detect hidden enemies and likely acting as a fire control system for its missile launchers.

Thunderjaw rearing up.
You cannot hide from the King of Robo-Dinos.

The Battle

As is customary before the start of a match:

Oh, there will be rumbling.

But first, we need to establish the circumstances and arena.

Both the AT-TE’s crew and the Thunderjaw need to be of equal skill. And yes, the Thunderjaws can think and learn. It makes it all the more dangerous.

As for the arena, that will have a profound effect on the battle. Battles were won or lost based solely on terrain. Thus, we’ll give you 2 of them here. The first is a flat, open plain with nothing obstructing sight lines, with the combatants just out of line of sight of each other. The second is a forest, much like that of Endor.

Scenario 1: Plain

Grassy plains.
So. Much. Nothing. But grass, that is.

At first glance, you might think that the AT-TE would have the spotting advantage because of its slightly taller height, right? Well, you’re going to be wrong. The AT-TE only has the sights of the mass driver for vision, while the Thunderjaw has its back-mounted radar. The first thing the Thunderjaw would do is stop in place and scan the area with its radar. Really, all the Thunderjaw has to do is wait for the AT-TE to lumber into range, and its radar would see it clear as day. Ironically, the AT-TE’s height works against it here, because the radar would see it long before the AT-TE would see the Thunderjaw. And because it’s radar, it works at the speed of light, meaning that the Thunderjaw always sees the AT-TE first, and reacts accordingly.

Once that happens, the Thunderjaw then fires its entire salvo of missiles at the AT-TE. Upon reaching the AT-TE, all 16 disc missiles hover over it before hammering it from above. Unfortunately, the open gunner’s seat of the mass driver works against the AT-TE, because it leaves the gunner exposed to fire. I’d say 9 times out of 10, the mass driver is knocked out either because a critical component is destroyed or the gunner is killed.

With the mass driver gone, the Thunderjaw is free to rain down missiles on the AT-TE as fast as it can reload its launchers. It has no need to close the distance, so why would it? The AT-TE can’t even return fire because its remaining forward laser cannons are mounted so low on the hull. Even if the mass driver somehow survives the first salvo, the gunner has time for maybe one shot before the Thunderjaw fires again. It’s highly doubtful that the mass driver would be able to one-shot the Thunderjaw due to its bulk, and the 2 launchers means that even if the mass driver knocks out one, the remaining launcher can still fire.

All in all, I give this match to the Thunderjaw. The AT-TE was doomed from the start due to the lack of radar and long-range weaponry.

Scenario 2: Endor

Forest moon of Endor.
Minus all the extras.

Ewoks aside, this is a very different battle from the open plains. The thick tree cover blocks not only line of sight, but also radar. Thus, the Thunderjaw can’t just stop and scan for the AT-TE. It has to actively hunt its prey, and vice-versa.

The AT-TE has the advantage of having more eyes looking around. According to Wookieepedia, the AT-TE has a crew of 7: pilot, 5 gunners, and a spotter. The Thunderjaw only has its own mind to depend on, so it’s actually more likely for the AT-TE to spot the Thunderjaw first.

Unfortunately, that was the easy part. The mass driver gunner on top has the first shot, but what would he shoot at? A center of mass shot would do massive damage to the Thunderjaw thanks to its heart being there. However, the thick bulk might prevent it from being a kill-shot. Firing on the head is also a viable target thanks to the Thunderjaw’s data nexus (read: brain) being there, but the head is a smaller target that’s moving more unpredictably, so the shot could miss entirely. Firing on the legs could render the Thunderjaw immobile or at least slow it down since it only has 2 of them, but their heavy armor makes it likely to do less damage, and it leaves the rest of the Thunderjaw intact.

Assuming that the Thunderjaw doesn’t die from the first shot, this is where things get tricky. The massive combat machine is no stranger to close quarters combat, and will quickly close the distance with the AT-TE. In melee combat, the Thunderjaw has the advantage with its overall design and its chin-mounted blasters. The mass driver gunner will likely be killed before he can get a second shot off, and thus the Thunderjaw is free to climb onto the AT-TE’s back. In this position, the AT-TE can’t fire back, while the Thunderjaw can not only do that, but also rip into the walker with its claws and fangs. Eventually, the Thunderjaw will win this fight.

All in all, this is a tricky decision. It’s basically a 50-50 chance for either one. If the AT-TE can knock out the Thunderjaw with a first strike, the AT-TE wins. If the Thunderjaw survives that first strike, the Thunderjaw likely tears the AT-TE apart in melee. Basically, just flip a coin to see which one wins.

Conclusion

In open plains, Horizon Zero Dawn‘s Thunderjaw wins. A combination of radar and long-ranged antitank missiles gives it a decisive advantage over Star Wars‘ AT-TE.

In forests or other areas with lots of concealment, it’s a toss-up which one wins. It depends entirely on whether the AT-TE’s mass driver can knock out or cripple the Thunderjaw in a first strike. If the AT-TE fails to either of this, the Thunderjaw will close the distance and tear the walker apart in melee. To be fair though, this is still a much better outcome for the AT-TE, so I recommend all AT-TE drivers engage Thunderjaws in forests or concealment-rich environments. It’s better than dying to something hitting you from beyond your effective range, that’s for certain.

By B.K. Lok

I'm a new author exploring the world of writing, and now seeing about getting something published for once. I've also been posting fanfiction on www.fanfiction.net under the pen name BbK2442 for several years now, if any of you are interested.

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