This article is about the battle fought in the Earth Kingdom. For the Fire Nation weapon, see the Fire Nation drill.

The battle of the drill was fought outside the Outer Wall of Ba Sing Se during the Hundred Year War. The Fire Nation assaulted Ba Sing Se using a drill, a massive metal device solely intended to bore a path through the city's colossal walls to allow a large invasion force to enter and conquer the Earth Kingdom capital. The drill was destroyed and the Fire Nation was defeated through the intervention of Team Avatar.[1]


Since the beginning of the War, the Fire Nation had searched for a way to conquer the capital of the Earth Kingdom, Ba Sing Se; however, all previous attempts had failed.[2] The country hoped that, by conquering the city, the Earth Kingdom would be severely crippled once the Council of Five and the Earth King were taken out of power. A successful subjugation also meant conquering the last safe place for refugees displaced by the War. Late in the War, the Fire Nation forced a refugee and Earth Kingdom mechanist to make weapons, including the drill, to aid them in battles by threatening to burn his home if he refused.[3]

The mechanist successfully designed the drill, a gigantic mechanism that was nearly impossible to destroy and could breach the walls of Ba Sing Se with ease. The Fire Nation hoped that by breaching the walls, they would be able to set a path for their army to advance and finally conquer the great city.[1]


After completion, the drill and a small force of tundra tanks headed toward the great city to break in. The force arrived at the exact time as Team Avatar spotted the device.[4]

Terra Team attacking

The Terra Team attacked the drill.

Ba Sing Se's army was unprepared due to never having fought a major battle in years, and their only means of defense was throwing boulders at the drill, which had little success. General Sung, who commanded the troops on the Outer Wall, did not see the drill as a real threat and was confident that the Terra Team, a group of elite earthbenders would stop the colossal machine. Despite their best efforts, they were no match for Ty Lee and Mai, who ambushed the soldiers. Utilizing chi blocking, Ty Lee disabled the entire team in mere moments. With the Terra Team out of commission, Sung panicked and pleaded with Team Avatar for help despite his earlier thoughts of not needing it at all.

Team Avatar came up with a plan of hitting the drill's pressure points as Ty Lee had done to defeat the Terra Team. Aang, Katara, and Sokka infiltrated the drill while Toph decided to try and slow it down from the outside, as she could not bend inside the drill due to a lack of earth. After stealing schematics for the drill from an engineer, the group headed for the outer shell of the drill where massive metal braces held the entire mechanism together. Aang and Katara began cutting completely through the braces using waterbending, but found the process was too slow to successfully disable the drill before the it broke through the wall. Aang stated that they did not need to cut through the braces completely and that just halfway through would be sufficient. Following this, he could deliver a final blow from the exterior that would destroy the weakened braces. Meanwhile, the crew found the drill worker that Katara had frozen earlier, prompting Azula to investigate the situation along with Mai and Ty Lee. The gang fled as they could not fight and cut through the braces at the same time.

Azula fights Aang

Aang and Azula dueled atop the drill.

Aang eventually separated from Sokka and Katara to deliver the final blow on top of the drill. Katara and Sokka managed to escape the machine by riding the slurry pipeline out the back of the machine. Ty Lee followed them into the pipe but Mai remained behind, refusing to enter the pipe regardless of how Azula would react. Because the slurry was a combination of water and earth, both Katara and Toph were able to bend it from the outside and build up more pressure for when the final blow was delivered, thus leaving Ty Lee trapped inside.

Meanwhile, Aang dodged falling boulders from Sung's men as the general thought that this would be an effective measure, even though it had no effect in the drill what so ever. He also fended off Azula as he cut a hole into the metal exterior using waterbending. Initially, Azula maintained the upper hand, dodging all of Aang's attacks, be it earthbending, waterbending, or airbending. Eventually, she launched a massive fire blast that knocked Aang unconscious. As she prepared to deliver the fatal blow, Aang recovered and fought her off with a rock gauntlet. After removing her from the fight, Aang again prepared to deliver the final blow, utilizing a boulder to his advantage to make a wedge shape which he shoved into the cut he made earlier. He subsequently used airbending to speed-run straight down the Outer Wall, gaining momentum for the final blow. Azula launched a last-ditch attack to save the drill, but this failed and Aang landed on the wedge with huge force, sending Azula flying down the length of the drill.

Aang wrecks the drill

Aang delivered the final blow while dodging Azula's attack.

Aang's powerful attack caused the weakened braces to break apart simultaneously, and the drill collapsed into a slurry mess, its pipelines exploding as the vehicle caved in. This caused the entire area to be flooded in slurry, and it buried a large number of the Fire Nation troops escorting the vehicle or working within. Ty Lee was ejected from the slurry system, but was largely unharmed, and Azula also managed to escape injury. In the wreckage, a pristine and nonchalant Mai humbly admitted that they had lost.[1]


Destroyed drill

The drill was rendered unusable.

The battle of the drill was a victory for the Earth Kingdom and once again stopped the Fire Nation from penetrating the Outer Wall.[1] This victory was short-lived, however, as Azula would return to conquer Ba Sing Se only weeks later.[5]

The drill wreckage was not immediately disposed of, though some ramps could later be seen as part of a clean-up effort; however, this proved to be a major asset for Team Avatar, as they used the drill as proof of the ongoing war to Earth King Kuei, who had been kept unaware of it by Long Feng. He tried to convince the king that it was "a construction project", but the king was not convinced because the drill bore the Fire Nation insignia, resulting in Long Feng's arrest. Kuei subsequently began to take more decisive action against the Fire Nation in the days prior to the city's capture.[5]


Avatar: The Last Airbender

Book Two: Earth (土)




Start a Discussion Discussions about Battle of the drill

  • The Drill

    3 messages
    • I would imagine the drill was constructed in the Earth Kingdom at a nearby base, drawing upon colonial resources such as Yu Dao. I supp...
    • suki stated they had control over the western lake. the serpants pass was a pass that separated the western and eastern lakes. essentially ...
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.