The Hardcell-class interstellar transport, or colloquially known as the Techno Union ship, was a light capital transport produced by the Techno Union prior to the onset of the Clone Wars. The Hardcell-class transport was used by both the Techno Union and the InterGalactic Banking Clan. It was known as something of a status symbol among Techno Union officials.
The Hardcell-class was a cylindrical, titanium-hulled vessel just over 220 meters in height, and powered by a cluster of six primary thruster engines. The Hardcell-class did not use conventional repulsorlifts for flight, instead using rocket propulsion designed for atmospheric and stellar travel. The transport's drive motors were deployed to generate enough retro-rocket thrust to achieve vertical landings at speeds of up to 800 kilometers per hour.
A set of three landing legs—sometimes converted into landing claws for operations on low-gravity worlds—were deployed from the underside of the transport to stabilize its landing. The Hardcell-class could achieve takeoff at speeds of 4,000 kilometers per hour, though in space, the vessel was capable only of a relatively slow sublight speed of 40 MGLT.
The interior of the Hardcell-class was designed in a stacked formation, to capitalize upon the vessel's vertical landing position. Banks of turbolifts connected each deck.
Much of the interior of Separatist-operated Hardcell-class transports was given up to storage of droid forces; a standard Hardcell-class transport could carry hundreds of Hailfire-class tanks and missile ammunition in quick-deployment rigs, and, following the First Battle of Geonosis, legions of IG-series battle droids.
The transport was crewed by organics, with crew and medical quarters located in the conical nose. Most had pressurized cabins so that Skakoans could remove their pressure suits. This area also contained an advanced sensor array and secure communications equipment to maintain contact with the Interstellar Stock Exchange.
Hardcell-class transports were not designed for combat, though they were afforded meager protection with a ring of turret-mounted laser cannons around the fuselage and several missile launchers too..
Prior to the Clone Wars, these vessels were deployed to travel between star systems for striking business deals, scouting and collecting taxes from member companies. Six Hardcell-class transports were used in the fleet Kinman Doriana was assigned to destroy Outbound Flight. All six were destroyed by the Chiss Commander Thrawn's forces before Outbound Flight arrived at their position.
286 Hardcell-class transports were stationed on Geonosis when the Grand Army of the Republic launched its first offensive of the Clone Wars. Many were shot down by Republic LAAT/i gunships, but 169 of these managed to escape the battle, including the personal, modified vessel belonging to Techno Union Foreman Wat Tambor—in which Tambor installed a powerful deflector shield generator and a series of synchronized scanners to sweep the vessel for tracking or listening devices.
A downed Hardcell-class transport was located at Checkpoint Alpha. It was seized by the Republic during the battle.
Banking Clan Chairman San Hill also attempted to flee the planet in his personal Hardcell-class transport, though an engine malfunction left the vessel stranded in the E'Y-Akh Desert for several weeks—it was unknown how Hill was able to evade Galactic Republic forces and return to Banking Clan space.[source?]
During the First Battle of Geonosis, Anakin Skywalker found and exploited a weakness in the Hardcell-class design, ordering his gunners to aim their missiles directly above the transport's fuel cells, at the joint between the upper and lower halves of the ship. Filled with thousands of gallons of fuel, the rupture of the engines caused massive explosions that rent the vessel in two. After the battle the Techno Union supplied the CIS with a thousand more ships of that class.
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