The Raggedy Edge
Originally designed before the Unification War, the Mantis class was designed as a supply dropship. However, unlike most other dropships of its era, it was developed with some of the more adventurous design aspects of its time. The back-drop atmo entry, the multiple crane-pod delivery system, the multifunction satellite array, and the ambitious CIV (Combustion In Vacuum) engine model. Upon its release, it was touted as a “ship of the future”.
Unfortunately, this was proven faulty shortly after they began leaving the production line. The increased budget for design had resulted in skimping on the automated computer systems; the default model came with a computer mainframe that was out of date the moment the ship was came off the line. Moreover, the design elements proved to be hit-and-miss in real life scenarios. While the back-drop entry proved effective, and was integrated into many other ships, the multifunction satellite array proved to be too large a failure point for multiple integral systems. Few other ships could be developed with the superstructure to support the crane-pod model debuted by the Scorpion, and the CIV engine design proved to be an absolute disaster in practice.
While the CIV design truly did raise the Mantis above average in space travel, its atmospheric sensitivity impaired it for its designed purpose: the dropping of goods. The problems the output-reduced engine gave pilots resulted in extremely complicated deliveries, especially when trying to hold the ship in place to lower or raise goods from the crane-pods. Whereas this was a severe drawback at first (drastically reducing sales of the Mantis-class model), it became fatal when the limited amount of Mantis-class ships were co-opted for ammunition and supply deliveries during the Unification War. Without the ability to make drops quickly and accurately, many Mantis-class vessels did not survive their time in the war.
Those few that do survive are considered more of an oddity than anything else; while their CIV engine model was successfully adopted by various space liners which never enter atmosphere anyway, the original Mantis is considered an overall failure of a design. Despite its reputation, however, the remaining ships operate fairly smoothly if their quirks are accounted for. Other than its sub-par computer system, the Mantis models were constructed of quality parts, and have held up acceptably to the significant passing of time since their inglorious launch. As long as their satellite arrays are kept intact, and their engines not pushed unreasonably when oxygenated, they serve remarkably well as small interplanetary transport ships; better than they ever did at their originally designed purpose.
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