|"My mecha tanks are platinum as well; not even your renowned mother could bend a metal so pure."|
|— Hiroshi Sato to Lin Beifong, prior to the battle at the Equalist factory.|
The mecha tank is a large mechanized suit made out of platinum which makes it impervious to metalbending. It was originally manufactured in 170 AG by Hiroshi Sato for use by the Equalists and later added to the infantry of the Northern Water Tribe's military and the United Forces.
After receiving a tip from a Future Industries worker, Avatar Korra, Tenzin, and Lin Beifong met the informant beneath the Silk Road Bridge. There, he explained that Hiroshi Sato fabricated Equalist weapons beneath his mansion, and was in the process of developing a new, more potent weapon for the revolution. Later that night, once the Metalbending Police Force had found and infiltrated Hiroshi's secret Equalist factory, they discovered that these new armaments were in the form of large, mechanized robots.
The mecha tanks, which were piloted by Equalists, attacked Korra and the other intruders. Korra, Tenzin, Lin, and the other police officers were swiftly incapacitated during the battle with the mechanical behemoths. The group, however, was daringly rescued by Bolin, Mako, and Asami while the Equalists were occupied with hauling the remaining police officers into their trucks.
After Korra's abduction, the search for the Avatar allowed Lin the opportunity to rescue the captured officers in the tunnel network underneath Republic City, which was being used as an underground Equalist base. Lin, Tenzin, and the rest of Team Avatar became surrounded in the subterranean rail network alongside the rescued officers, cornered by Equalists and mecha tanks. However, Lin avoided the confrontation by using her metalbending to create an alternate escape route through the ceiling.
The Equalists utilized a number of mecha tanks during their battle for Republic City. The tanks attacked the police headquarters and abducted metal-clad officers using large magnets that were connected to the arms of the tanks. These captured officers included Chief Saikhan and Officer Song. Outnumbered, Tenzin fought a losing battle against the tanks. However, the mecha tanks were subsequently defeated with the help of the remaining members of Team Avatar, who stepped into the fight after Tenzin's brief capitulation.
Numerous mecha tanks surrounded the Pro-bending Arena during Amon's rally. There were also a large number present at Hiroshi's secret airfield. One was commandeered by Asami to destroy Equalist biplanes. Meanwhile, as Bolin took the opportunity to damage the runways of the airfield, three mecha tanks attempted to stop him. However, when they fired their electric tethers, Naga caught all three ropes in her mouth and pulled them, causing the tanks to violently lose balance and rendering them inoperable.
While destroying the biplanes, Asami was confronted by her father, who was also in a mecha tank. The two engaged in a brief battle, eventually prompting Hiroshi to state that there was no hope for Asami. Just as Hiroshi was about to deliver the final blow to his daughter, his mecha tank came under attack by Bolin, who launched numerous large chunks of earth at him. He eventually abandoned his tank and attempted to escape on foot, but was captured when Asami used her mecha tank to launch an electrified bola at him.
Sometime after the Unalaq Crisis, Korra was forced to battle a conglomeration of Equalist and triad members that were under the control of Hundun. Several of them had managed to commandeer mecha tanks, which she was forced to fight on the streets of Republic City.
Water Tribe Civil War
Upon taking over Future Industries, Asami decided to keep the mecha tanks her father had designed for the Equalists. With her company needing to make money, she went to see Varrick, who suggested that she sell her mecha tanks to the Southern Water Tribe to assist them in their war with the North. However, every shipment was intercepted en route. With the Metalbending Police Force assuming the Northerners to be behind the hijackings, Mako and Asami hired the Triple Threat Triad to guard a decoy shipment in hopes of capturing the real attackers in the act. However, when they were betrayed by the triad, they returned to Republic City to find all of the mecha tanks stolen.
The Northern Water Tribe military also uses mecha tanks for defenses, notably in the encampment surrounding the spirit portal at the South Pole, though some were destroyed by remote explosives thrown and detonated by Bolin. Bumi subsequently infiltrated the encampment in disguise, and boarded a mecha tank to escape dark spirits. However, the spirits entered the machine's engine, causing it to malfunction and set off uncontrolled. Bumi accidentally fired a cable to the middle tower, causing the tank to circle the encampment and destroy everything. When the spirits finally entered the cockpit, Bumi ejected from the machine while it kept circling the encampment, destroying everything.
Defending Republic City
By 174 AG, the United Forces also adopted at least thirty-five mecha tanks in their arsenal. They were mobilized to defend Republic City against the invading military of the Earth Empire, though did not engage in combat, since President Raiko surrendered the city and the army.
The mecha tanks are large, mechanized robots made out of platinum – a metal so pure that metalbending has no effect on it. Fires generated by low to moderate-level firebending also seem to have little to no effect upon its armor. They are capable of movement by utilizing two tank-like treads. The mecha tanks also have two claw-like hands with three large digits and can shoot a retractable two-pronged claw via a metal cable in the middle of their hands. Some display only one of such hands, having a giant magnet where the other would be. They are capable of producing electricity and dispersing it through their metal hands and claws to electrocute their opponents. In addition, the tanks are capable of shooting out spiraling disks, located in the holes between each digit, that contain metal cables that tangle around their victims and electrocute them. The tanks also sport a number of green lights on their torso.
The torso and head of the machine sport a number of glass windows, which provide the operator with a panoramic view of their environment. The torso is made up of numerous metal plates that open and close to allow Equalists to enter and exit the mecha tank. In the event of an emergency, the operator can eject from the mecha tank, opening the metal plates and throwing the operator out with the seat.
The vehicles stay upright by a third wheel behind the main body, giving it a tricycle-like method of movement.
Sato designed these vehicles with controls closely akin to the forklift models his company manufactures, easing the learning curve for the controls.
Each mecha tank has the ability to launch its retractable fist using what appears to be pneumatic technology. The tanks' fists feature three sharp "claws" and are secured to the tank by a cable, which can deliver a powerful electrical charge. The tanks are also equipped with launchers that can fire discs at a target. Once airborne, three cables emerge from the discs and ensnare the enemy, delivering a powerful electric charge that renders those within its grasp completely unconscious.
During the attack on Republic City, it was shown that some tanks are also equipped with large magnets, used for the specialty purpose of capturing metalbending police officers, taking advantage of their metal uniforms.
Although they are extremely durable and versatile, the mecha tank has exhibited several notable weaknesses against non-metalbenders. If water is poured into the pipes that form the machine's exhaust outlet, the engine will stall, leaving it unable to move or attack. Additionally, sufficient force can break through the tank's defenses; Lin Beifong managed to punch several holes into the tank's cockpit using the hidden metal blades of her wrist gauntlets and the explosives Bolin detonated on the machines during their battle at the South Pole incapacitated the tanks.
Firebenders capable of lightning redirection can redirect the electrical charge released by the tanks' electrical tethers, resulting in an electrical malfunction. The suits can also be lifted and pushed by large airbending blasts, while earthbending attacks from below can knock them off balance. The electric tethers can be utilized to knock the tanks off balance and neutralize them.
The platinum armor of the tank is penetrable by spirits, leaving its delicate wiring vulnerable for an attack. This was evidenced when a spirit entered the tank Bumi was hiding in and caused the engine to go haywire.
- Asami Sato
- Hiroshi Sato
- Members of the Equalists
- Members of the United Forces
- Several Northern Water Tribe troops
- A schematic for the mecha tanks can be seen on the wall during the Lieutenant's conversation with Amon when Korra announced her arrival in Republic City.
- Like various other mechanized modes of transportation in the World of Avatar, the mecha tanks are computer generated instead of hand-drawn.
- In real life, pure platinum is an incredibly malleable metal, almost as soft as gold, making it almost useless as armor. It does, however, have an extremely high melting point, 1772 °C (3221.6 °F), making it nearly impervious to firebending attacks. Though the creators later explained that the platinum used for the mecha tanks and various other anti-metalbending things is an error, and that is actually titanium.[source?]
- The mecha tanks draw many parallels from the Sentinels in X-Men, the Big Daddies from the BioShock video game series, as well as the Amplified Mobility Platforms from James Cameron's Avatar film. In addition, they look somewhat similar to the lighter mechs from the Western Battletech series. The "heavy" visual design and wheeled/treaded legs also draw parallels to the Scopedog from the Armored Trooper VOTOMS anime series.
- Its reverse tricycle configuration could be compared to the Czar tank, a massive, experimental vehicle built by the Russians during the First World War.
- According to Asami, mecha tanks are operated and built similarly to Future Industries forklifts.
- The creation of these vehicles in the Avatar universe may draw a parallel to the fact that in the 1920s, armored vehicles were being designed for future battles after WWI proved tanks could be very useful.
- According to the creators in the Korra: Making of a Legend marathon, the visual appearance of the mecha tanks was inspired by the works of Jules Verne and the design was based on late 19th and early 20th century diving suits.
- Varrick used some mecha tanks in his propaganda mover, The Adventures of Nuktuk: Hero of the South.