Tonbo Superheavy Transport
When the Tonbo became available, the Royal Alterian Armed Forces purchased two of the units and put them through extensive field trials with Bengal's Tiger Brigade. The Brigade was overwhelmed by the positive reports from all units testing the aircraft that the R.A.A.F. purchased thirty-eight more Tonbos. Because the Irish Dragoons' Third Regiment had performed so well in combined salvage and recovery operations with the Tigers that twenty of these were given to the Third Regiment.
| Kotull VTOLs in the trees knock off a Madcat:
| Tonbo in route to pickup salvage with Kotull escort:
| Tonbo coming for the salvage while Kotulls orbit for protection:
|       After several months of integrating the new Tonbos into the Third Regiment's structure and operations, many commanders wondered how they had ever gotten along without them. The aircraft soon began being used in ways the original designers didn't dream of. Audacious pilots began approaching a battleground below treetop level and pulling out disabled 'Mechs before they were completely destroyed. In many instances, this occurred with a wounded or unconscious MechWarrior still in the cockpit.
The most innovative use was proposed by Major Henry Flannery. He had watched one exercise where all the regiment's Tonbos descended on simulated aftermath of a regimental war game exercise and clear away all simulated salvage before any ground based units could even arrive at the location. Major Flannery reasoned that if the massed aircraft could pull all that equipment out of a battlefield so quickly, then . . .
Tonbo and Kotull with 'Mechs from the 13th Battalion:
|       Six months later the Fourth and Sixth Battalions and the 72nd Armored Assault Company of the 3rd Regiment were grouped together into the 555th Brigade and scheduled as defenders in an exercise with the First Regiment. The imbalance was intentional and the 555th was given a mountainous region to defend. The battle went pretty much as expected. In spite of the fact that the 555th Brigade put up much better defense than anticipated, the First Regiment pushed them back to the very limits of their redoubt and were about to overrun the position.
Just as things looked the darkest for the 555th Brigade, they became aware of a roar that drowned out all other noise in the area. Major Flannery had asked the Bengal's Tigers to loan him their 20 Tonbos. The Tigers had had a long standing rivalry against the First Regiment so after they heard Flannery's plan, they gladly sent in the aircraft. Flannery amassed all 40 Tonbos and had them lift the entire Fifth Battalion to the scene of the war games to perform an assault drop behind the First Regiment. The sky was darkened by 40 of the super-heavy transports each carrying a combat ready Battlemech. Three of the transports were lost to simulated, enemy ground fire, but the rest dropped their 'Mechs without a hitch. With the entire Fifth Battalion on the ground behind them and the remnants of the 555th Brigade in front of them, the First Regiment surrendered.
Although Major Flannery's modification to the exercise was totally unauthorized, he proved the concept to the Irish Dragoons' high command. They grudgingly returned the Tiger Brigade's 20 Tonbos and immediately authorized the purchase of twenty-two more to equip and organize into a full group of 3 squadrons. With the addition of the Tonbo squadron the Third Regiment now has unparalleled salvage and recovery capability. It also constitutes one of the most unusual and flexible aerial assault units of any military organization House or Mercenary.
| Tonbo in flight: