The Cataphract is a heavy BattleMech and one of the first original designs since the start of the Succession Wars, though it had inauspicious beginnings. When the Capellan Confederation lost the world of Carver V to the Free Worlds League in 2953, it also lost its main heavy and assault 'Mech production lines. Unable to build anything bigger than a Vindicator and desperate for a heavy 'Mech, the Capellans designed the Cataphract from spare parts they could still manufacture. Using components from the Marauder, Shadow Hawk and Phoenix Hawk, they were able to field prototypes which were functional, if not aesthetically pleasing, and more importantly reproducible. Dubbed a FrankenMech for its appearance,the Cataphract was set to become the Confederation's standard heavy 'Mech and a limited production run had already begun when the Federated Suns captured Tikonov and its Cataphract factory during the Fourth Succession War. This embarrassing defeat was further compounded as many Davion units, including the Crucis Lancers, adopted the Cataphract as their own. It wasn't until 3032 that the Confederation finally replaced the lost factory with one on Betelgeuse, producing their own Cataphracts in time for the Andurien Crisis.
Considering the Cataphract is also known as the FrankenMech, there are currently 12 different Variants known.
The longest ranged weapon carried by the Cataphract is a General Motors Nova-5 Ultra AC-5 in its right arm, boasting a rate of fire twice that of a standard autocannon. This is backed up by a Mydron Excel LB-X Autocannon/10 in its right torso, capable of firing both solid and cluster rounds. It is a more popular weapon than the Ultra AC-5, especially for use in an anti-conventional and anti-aircraft role without the possibility of jamming. Finally, the 'Mech has four Intek Medium Lasers for close range defense, one in each arm firing forward and two in its torso covering the rear. With only two tons of ammo for the LB-X 10 and one ton for the Ultra, if it runs dry the Cataphract must fall back to be reloaded before continuing the fight.
Overview The Cataphract CTF-3D makes use of an advanced light weight XL Engine to free up tonnage for weapons. This tonnage is put to use by including a new LB 10-X Autocannon which can fire both solid rounds for punching holes in armor, and cluster rounds for seeking out and damaging exposed internals. An Ultra AC/5 also provides medium to long range reach at twice the rate of fire of its standard counterpart. Finally, four Medium Lasers provide reliable up-close defense. The low speed is offset by the inclusion of Jump Jets to allow the Cataphract to conduct hit-and-run operations.
Strengths Jump Jets Long and Short Ranged weapons good Armor load
Weaknesses Slightly easier to hit head XL Engine Large profile
Overview The CTF-4X is a third early model. It carries the maximum amount of armor that can be mounted on the chassis. Dual Autocannon 5s are supplied with ample amounts of ammunition. The Large Laser provides some backup for the autocannons in the unlikely chance they run dry and an LRM 5 provides some long range striking ability.
Strengths Dual AC 5s Heavy Armor load Good Firepower at all ranges
Weaknesses Size restrictions for non-balistic weapons. Slow (speed like an Assault Mech)
Of the available Cataphracts the 4X is the slowest with a maximum top speed of only 59 km/h. Additionally, it carries a missile and energy hardpoint, but in its head and center torso respectively. That will limit the size of the weapons that can be mounted on those hard points. However, it does carry more ballistic slots than any other Cataphract design, all of them in its arms. This allows all ballistic weapons to be aimed together which makes quad Autocannon 2 and 5 builds quite effective.
The 2X is another early model. This one runs cooler than either other models and carries two more tons of armor. This is achieved by replacing the PPC, LRM 5, and two of the Medium Lasers for a Large Laser, and SRM 4.
Strengths Good Armor Load
Weaknesses Large profile.
Overview The CTF-1X is the original production model of the Cataphract and was what the newer CTF-3D was based on, but is less expensive. A PPC and AC 10 give it a respectable punch at medium range, and four Medium Lasers provide this urban hunter with even more firepower at close range.
Strengths Good Armor load
Weaknesses Large Profile
Analysis This stock design is centered around medium and close range combat and can move at 64.8 km/h. The mix of firepower and maneuverability gives this mech the ability to perform a variety of roles including (but not limited to) stalking, direct fire support and brawling.
A recently added custom variant of the Cataphract that is primarily armed with autocannons. The name derives from a slavic hero, which is well known there from many tunes and legends, telling his deeds. Crippled until the age of 33, mysteriously healed by mead, he got supernatural strength from a moribund knight and with his speaking horse he liberated the besieged city of Kiyiv from the awful Tartar. He's the only legendary person ever that was made Saint from local church.
Backstory Grigori Kovalenko was born on planet Hassad in the year 2995. His family had lived in Capellan Confederation space for generations, until Hassad was taken by the Free Worlds League in 2917. While he did not embrace his Capellan roots, as he was a Free Worlds citizen, he did respect them and he grew up into a man with a heavy reverence for the concepts of honor and heritage. To that end, he joined up with the Second Regiment of the Twelfth Star Guards mercenary unit, having been impressed by their Star League Defense Force lineage, and the Twelfth Star Guards having been impressed by his piloting abilities. He served with them dutifully, fighting for the Federated Suns and the Lyran Commonwealth, up until the start of the Fourth Succession War in 3028.
When the Federated Suns launched their initial attack against the Capellan Confederation, Grigori was incensed, seeing the assault as little more than a cowardly sneak attack. Not wanting to participate on any attacks against the Capellans, he abandoned the Twelfth Star Guards and took his Mech, a Centurion, into Capellan space. It was there that he offered his services as a mercenary to the Capellan Confederation.
Shortly into the war, the Federated Suns captured the planet Tikonov and, with it, the Capellans’ newly up and running Cataphract production facility. Grigori took the theft of the Cataphract design and production as his new cause. He styled himself as a noble knight of old, with a quest to take back all Cataphracts from non-Capellan hands. Fatefully, it was not long before he encountered a Cataphract on the battlefield. With careful shooting, he disabled the Mech with minimal damage and took it as his own, replacing his aging Centurion. He dubbed it Ilya Muromets, after the legendary knight of Slavic myths, and emblazoned it with the noble Cameron Star of the Star League as a nod to his time with the Twelfth Star Guards and their connection to the SLDF. For the last 21 years he has been using Ilya Muromets to hunt down Federated Suns’ Cataphracts, meting out justice for their theft. Their salvaged remains have been used to repair and refit his own Mech to the point that it now operates with a unique loadout.
Related BattleMechs Caesar - One of the first new 'Mechs designed for the AFFC, the Caesar resembles a smoother and streamlined Cataphract, with captured Capellan 'Mechs used in the early development testing for the design. Closer to the original Capellan rather than Davion Cataphract, the Caesar mounts a ER PPC, Gauss Rifle and four Medium Pulse Lasers.