A Striker Unit is a pair of hybrid mechanical/magical propeller devices used by Witches for flight and worn over their legs. They are rigid, preventing movement of the knees, but can be disengaged on the field if needed. When wearing a Striker a Witch's power is vastly increased by a magic engine in the unit, resulting in the constant manifestation of their animal ears and tails. It grants them the powers of high speed flight, increased physical abilities, and the ability to raise stronger defensive shields. It was improved by Miyafuji Yoshika's father, Miyafuji Ichiro, in 1937.
Witches that utilize strikers that provide flight are designated and identified as Mechanized Air Infantry and deployed as a hybridized, elite unit. Strikers used by Air Infantry run the gaunt of many different types from Fighter Units, Heavy fighter Units, Night Fighter Units, Ground Attack Units and Light Air Units. Each category filled different roles and performed differently depending on the strikers’ role, make and model.
At least for Land Strikers, the main armament is sometimes measured with "magic mass", mm, for example "75 mm gun" means the gun has 75 magic mass. This is an abstraction of the amount or power of magic used and outputted by the gun. Mechanized Air Infantry Witches meanwhile rely on using various types of infantry small arms as main armament that seem to be somewhat augmented with a witches magic ranging from rifles, submachine guns, rifle grenades, machine guns, anti-Armor weapons and even auto-cannons, hand carried bombs and rockets or in one instance for Inagaki Mami: a Flak 88. Side arms often include knives, bayonets, swords and pistols. However, it's likely that due to the demands of magic placed towards flight, the magical output for Air Infantry Witches for their weapons is far lower in comparison to Mechanized Armoured Witches, although to what exact degree is difficult to discern.
Other Striker Unit versions
Etherjet Strikers (commonly known as jet strikers) were invented by researchers in Karlsland and built in Neue Karlsland. They are faster and more powerful than an average striker unit. It was able to ascend really fast. However, only witches with strong magical capabilities as well as support from their familiar can safely use them, and it didn't seem good for flying for a long period of time. Although there are very powerful and faster, a defect in the machine caused the first test pilots to suffer from heavy magic power consumption and made them crash. The strikers have two cohets that, as the striker unit runs on magic power, the shock diamonds appear as disks similar to the rune shields used by the witches.
While it depends on the model, Jet Strikers are usually capable of a maximum speed of about 950 km/h.
The main model of the Jet Strikers is the Messerscharf Me 262, with sub-models as the V1 and the A-1a. On May 22 of 1943, Air vice-marshal Adolfine Galland from the Karlslander Air Force performed a test-flight with the Me 262. Afterwards, she proposed its manufacture in an imperial conference and Frederick IV, a known lover of new technology, accepted it. Galland had high hopes in this model. Initial testing looked promising. The 262 set a new altitude record of 16,000+ meters. In spring of 1945, Ursula Hartmann developed the first Jet Striker Unit prototype, the ME-262 Swallow, which was delivered to the 501st JFW for testing. Gertrud Barkhorn tested it, and during its third test of speed, Barkhorn fainted and crashed into the Adriatic Sea. The Prototype was then locked away and was scheduled to be sent back for further development. After scrambling to intercept a Neuroi, the prototype fell to its destruction. The remains of it were sent back with Ursula Hartmann. Post war, development of Jet Striker prototypes became the main focus of development.
The Me 262 was superior of its contemporaries in many ways, but maintenance and refitting was time-consuming, and most importantly, the jet-powered magic engine could only be used by witches with strong magical abilities. Furthermore, the support of a familiar in magic concentration was absolutely necessary, without which the unit would stall easily. However, the Me-262 could fully demonstrate its high speed mobility once it got into the air, where it would feel like 'angels were pushing the plane from behind'. The Jet Strikers of the 3. /VEKdo squadron has thin yellow and white designation markings as his distinguishing feature. In combat, when properly flown, it proved to be essentially untouchable.
Users of these systems are known a jet-powered mechanized air infantry. The Jagdverband 44 (JV44) is a test unit of Jet Strikers under the direct command of Air Marshal Adolfine Galland, the witch with the highest military rank, newly organized by her personal request to the Emperor for the European recapture operations. Also, the Preliminary Evaluation Squadron (Erprobungskommando) is currently performing tests on the new ether-jet strikers. The squadron has been assembling accomplished and even elite veteran aces from all over the Karlsland Air Force. However, one of the members was only 13 years old, and with a relatively short military career. Here are high expectations for them to become aces of the new generation. Examples of Jet Strikers pilots are Helma Lennartz, Gertrud Barkhorn, Adolfine Galland, Waltrud Krupinski and Rike Sachsenberg. Witches who use Jet Strikers have usually very heavy weapons, as the MK108 and the BK-5, because the model is designed to fight against large-scale Neuroi bombers. Those witches set a variety of altitude and speed records on prototype and experimental craft.
After the second disbandment of the 501st, development for jet strikers has continued. The HeS-011 Jet striker engine energy consumption was found to be uncontrolled after tests were run by Gertrud Barkhorn. A week after July in 1945 the Jet striker, to compensate for this problem the Me-262 was modified by implementing a two-stage fuel injector and a modified slot on Juma-004-D engine as well as increasing the output power of the magic engine, as well as adding a speed adjuster so that the unit won't over-consume magical power. Because magical power was increased; stable flight can be achieved at more than 800 km/h even when using the 50mm cannon
The standard armament is the Mauser MK-214 50mm cannon, an improvement over the BK-5k, the speed and penetration power has been enhanced. The ammunition cartridges were supplied to the weapon via a belt, from the left of the weapon. The cartridge was released by the ejector, which opened a wedge catch. This catch locked into place whilst the loading platform ran back into its resting position, ready to load the next shell. At this point, the firing sequence for the first shell could take place. Two electrical contacts closed in preparation for shell ejection, and these were activated by the interlocking of the wedge, and also by the loading platform being in its stationary default position. These switches operated the electric ignition of the cartridge, which in turn fired the weapon. At this stage, the ejector opened, and moved the wedge catch, allowing the ejection of the used cartridge. The 2400 kg recoil of the weapon was alleviated by a hydraulic damper. The renewed introduction of the loading procedure took place pneumatically. The weapon is occasionally referred to as "the phone pole" due to its enormous size. Due to its power the MK-214 can completely decimate and blow apart medium type areal Neuroi with little to no effort. However, due to its large power, it's difficult to control the recoil of the weapon while firing; even for a witch with strength augmentation abilities like Gertrud.
However, safety parameters are in place for optimal, safe operation of the current iteration of the ether jet striker. Before reaching optimal flight capable speeds, adjustment of the slot is discouraged: the slot must not be adjusted prior to reaching flight capable speeds. Also due to the possibility of the engine stalling, sudden and rapid acceleration or deceleration is also discouraged. If pushed outside of and beyond the required safe operations for piloting the Me 262 the ether jet can become difficult to respond or become unresponsive to a witches controls and suddenly adjusting the slot would see the high likelihood of leading to incomplete combustion of the ether jets engines and resulting in a stall. However, the previous speeds of the first Me 262 are still obtainable even with the safety measures and new piloting protocols in place and also will not drain a witches stamina at alarming rates like it did before; a witches stamina now seems to drain at similar, if perhaps slightly faster, but still otherwise marginal, negligible rates as reciprocating strikers. It is noted that now due to this unit's new safer measures and operations protocols the Me 262 witch pilot must conduct more micromanagement of the jet striker in order to operate the striker safely, much less effectively; compared to that of other air infantry strikers.
Combustion Engine Strikers and Jet Engine Strikers are different: the jet promotes changes from each individual witch as it reaches the enemy at high speeds and utilizes large firepower to destroy enemies. Meaning that depending on skills, abilities, capability and magical potential of the witch piloting a Me 262, each one will behave, respond and perform differently from another, similar Me 262 striker.
Compared to the first prototype, due to recent modifications to allow for safer operation; the Me-262 acceleration speeds are longer due to modifications to allow for adapting to different energy outputs, meaning that take off time is increased considerably. What's more, because of this the striker takes longer to climb to higher altitudes and also has a much wider, slower, and overall poorer turning radius compared to the first prototype. While still capable of reaching high combat ceilings than other strikers, it now takes longer to reach such altitudes. Jet strikers, however, promote change from an individual witches’ combat style as it reaches the enemy and utilizes high firepower to engage Neuroi in combat. Jet strikers also allow Air Infantry Witches to unleash greater magical power, potential and strength abilities compared to standard combustion engine strikers.
Once fully accelerated it is an exceptionally fast striker, capable of reaching fast top speeds compared to other strikers that operate under a reciprocating combustion engine and thanks to its standard issue armament, the MK-214 50mm cannon it's also very powerful. However, it was found during the testing phase that calibration of the jet striker is required to allow the jet striker to absorb recoil and thereby provide sufficient accuracy for the 50mm cannon in order to effectively and consistently hit targets in testing trials and combat situations; their fore in its current form the Me262 striker requires calibration to absorb the 50mms recoil which would be accomplished by making adjustments to its magic stabilizers and magic shock absorbers. Until such calibrations are carried out: while powerful, the Me262's MK-214 cannon's accuracy in combat would be abysmal. If this is addressed with further testing and calibrating than the unit and its weapon would be very useful in combat.
In the event of a stall the witch operator of an ether jet must follow a specific set of actions to perform a stall recovery maneuver: a witch must first take two full, deep, steady breaths with a wide mouth and hold their breath on the second inhalation in order to steady heartbeat, regulate breathing and allow for oxygen to be taking into a witches respiratory system to help her body regain its stamina and also to help her keep calm and focus her mind, her magical stamina, concentration and control. In other words: the witch "catches her second wind" if you will. Next in order to restart the stalled engine of the Me262 a light but firm tap must be delivered against the stalled unit as: a witch carrying the Infantry Jet Operator can provide the percussive restart for the stall recovery maneuver, as shown when Ursula assisted Erica in Operation Victory Arrow while fighting against the Combat type Neuroi, with the other leg of the striker to restart the jet engine. Alternatively, the witch piloting the jet can reasonably perform the restart themselves by taping their strikers together and applying most of the force of the tap against the stalled unit. However; not many jet-powered mechanized air infantry witches would know of this procedure and how to perform it without being given very clear, specific and concise instructions in the performing of recovery procedures from a stalled jet engine.
For the currently unmodified, second prototype jet striker, in order to increase accuracy to desired effective combat parameters, the witch must also be able to concentrate and focus her magic energy much more than normal into the 50mm autocannon more than normal compared to that of other Air Infantry witches, specifically into the barrel to help stabilize the weapon and mitigate recoil. However, it may be needed for the jet striker to rely on the support of another Air Infantry witch for stabilization in order to produce the most ideal results for combat conditions until the Me262 is modified again to mitigate the issues now currently present in its second prototype stage.
Land Strikers are a special type of Striker Unit. Witches that operate Land Strikers are identified as Mechanized Armoured Infantry, although "Army Witch", "Land Witch" and even "Tank Witch" are common, informal terms often reserved for Witches using Land Strikers, but this can differ for some nations.
In the early days of development, they were mostly used for hauling large caliber cannons and anti-tank guns, for personal protection the witches just carried regular guns. Later when it was possible to release more physical strength, it became popular to equip them with their own main armament.
Unlike the air infantry Strikers, which by necessity must direct much of the magic engine output to flight magic, land combat Strikers instead place much more emphasis on shields, firepower, and boosting physical abilities.
The strength of their shields, and the firepower of their main cannons, are far beyond those of air infantry witches, and their operation times are also longer. In other words, flight magic consumes an enormous amount of magic power, which is used in other ways by land combat Strike Witches.
While it depends on the model, land Strikers are usually capable of a maximum speed of about 30 km/h. For traveling long distances, trains and railroads are normally used.
There are two modes of operation: bipedal and tracked modes. Regularly, Witches walk with the "feet" part of the Striker, including when engaging in combat. However, when in need of faster speed and greater mobility, they can also utilize the tracks equipped on the Striker Units to attain said maximum speed. These tracks can be exposed by retracting the "feet" part of the Striker Units, and engaging this tracked mode for movement is referred to as "Track Dashing". While track dashing the tracks also produce a sort of magical field around them so as to increase movement speed, movement propulsion and mobility to greater degrees than otherwise normal. The exact particulars of track dashing involve some specific operation on the part of the witch. Initial engagement of track dashing can be seen as a witch revving the engine of her striker to throttle power of her striker unit. Standard practices for casual overland travel in track dashing typically sees the legs in a slightly bent position with the witch facing the direction in which she wishes to travel and diverting magic power produced by the strikers down onto the ground while also extending the tracks of the tracked legs, propelling the units forward by causing the magic to make contact with the surface. In combat use of dynamic body moment and acrobatics while track dashing can also be noted as being used.
Land Strikers, also known as "Land Battle Strikers", "Armoured Legs", "Tracked Legs" or "Tracked Combat Legs" oftentimes possess different traits and attributes as well as their specialized, standard issue, staple cannon-like weapons, which are referred to as "Witch Combat Guns." Witch combat guns are typically hand held weapons that provide a witch with a greater combat capability and firepower superior to that of conventional infantry small arms, and usually consist of a specially designed cannon like hand held weapon of original design, or alternatively in some cases an anti-tank gun of some kind heavily modified for hand held use by a witch (and depending on the specific anti-tank or infantry gun such a weapon's size can range from the size of a conventional witch combat gun to large size assault cannons and infantry support guns modified for witch use), and usually such weapons fire large, specially designed shells. However, Witch combat weapons for Land Battle witches would likely vary outside of standard witch combat guns.
For example; the Liberion M3 Lee and M4 Sherman Land Strikers benefited from mechanical reliability, operational availability, ease of maintenance, and high production numbers. On top of that they were designed to sacrifice themselves in the event that a Neuroi's attack exceeded the defensive abilities of a witch, sparing the life of a witch that operated the unit in question. This ability of the Sherman derived strikers was referred to as the Lonsan Effect, based on the famous manufacturer of safety matches and oil lighters. It was not unheard of to see Liberion witches uniforms, due to the nature of the Lonsan Effect, burning and disintegrating and for the witches to be casually fighting half naked with their uniforms in tatters, which won the admiration of the mundane soldiers.
Meanwhile, the Panzer Mark IV possessed balanced mobility, and an offensive/defensive capability. This allowed for striker unit model diversity and allowed witches to experiment with the unit in combat. This provided Karlslands Panzerfräulein with flexibility and adaptability and allowed for individual witches to exploit their magical abilities to their full potential. Although their short barrelled guns had reduced range, they had incredible penetrative power, allowing for witches fielding the Mark IV to destroy Neuroi that possessed exceptionally thick Armor, and as such witches piloting such strikers were fielded as trump-cards in combat, and as a result this unit was reserved for elite land battle witches.
As an example of Mark IV's adaptability it consisted of three variants. The standard model Panzer IV's main armament consisted of the short barrelled KhK37 L/24 Witch Combat Gun, which had limited range but at shorter ranges could Neutralize Neuroi that had considerably thick Armor. The second variant of the Panzer IV is the Mark IV "Special" that consists of the KhK40 L/43 and later upgraded to the improved L/48 which boasted better long range accuracy. The PzKpfw IV "Extra Special" possesses both the upgraded, long range gun as well as adding improved defenses from External armoured sheets (referred to as Schürzen).
Land Battle Witches of Imperial Fuso were known to always face difficulty on the battlefield, what with the Type 89 I-Go Tracked Legs possessing a number of problems due to poor mobility and had a propriety of breaking down frequently and possessing feeble protection, was derided and ridiculed as the "Ox Cart Rider". Land battle witch combat improved for Fuso with the advent conception of the Type 97 Chi-Ha Tracked Legs. While hardly considered ideal for Medium Tracked Leg Striker Units, they did boast phenomenally greater mobility and range then the Type 89, contributing to the Imperial Army Nadeshiko witch units. As fighting continued the Type 97 magic engines were adjusted to enhance defensive capabilities of a witches shield and of the Type 87 underwent extensive modification.
The Type 97 Witch combat Gun was designed to defeat Neuroi by means of firing high explosive shells that inflict blast damage. However, the already existing shells were replaced with new, experimental Armor piercing shells once it became clear that the previous shells were ineffective against more heavily armoured Neuroi units, although other types of weapons that were considered effective were also employed. The Type 97 Chi-Ha was hailed as a versatile, easy to maintain unit with a long combat range that allowed land battle witches of Fuso to tailor their weapon load outs to their comfort and personal preference, although this would prove to be a logistical nightmare for the chain of command to keep Chi-Ha witches ammo and maintenance parts well supplied due to a complete lack of standardization in this regard.
The Matilda II strikers of Britannia are reliable units possessing powerful defensive shields and armaments that boasted high penetration capability: making it an unparalleled witch weapon credited to saving the lives of many soldiers. It was however a heavy unit with low mobility, and only Land Battle witches like Major Miles; who knew well the strengths and weaknesses of the Matilda II and trained rigorously with the unit could turn the "Heavy Iron Dress" into the "Corvette of the Dunes". An adopted tactic of the Matilda II equipped Land Battle Witches that proved to be quite adapt smoke screen based close quarters combat style fighting that utilized special smoke screens that drastically reduced the effectiveness of Neuroi long ranged attacks thanks to specialized shells. This tactic proved to be very effective thanks to the smoke shells and close team work and deep mutual trust between members of a witches unit. While difficult to categorize as "ideal" they were still a highly prized unit regardless, being a unit that Britannia was able to supply in bulk from the outset of the North African Campaign, although they were also seen on many other fronts, and are counted among the few tracked legs to be employed on every battlefield where land battle witches fought.
Then of course theirs was the famously known "undefeated striker of legend": the Mark VI Extra Heavy Tracked Fighting Legs; otherwise known as the "Tiger". A decisive weapon developed by Karlsland out of a desire to retake their homeland, the Tiger was the most powerful striker unit in existence in 1943. Its accomplishments and fame reach mythic proportions, and as a result the moral of the troops would dramatically improve; the presence of a Tiger gave even regular soldiers the confidence to feel like they could defeat Neuroi all by themselves. While the Tiger had suffered from issues related to production difficulties, strenuous maintenance demands and relatively limited range, they were outweighed by the Tiger's unparalleled offensive and defensive abilities; possessing incredibly powerful weapons and magic shields. Depending on the situation and the skill of the witch riding it, the Tiger could take on hordes of Neuroi and win, making it a truly legendary land battle striker. That said production of Tigers was laborious and regular maintenance was vital to keeping them operational. In addition logistical considerations were required for their use; such as a ready supply of spare parts and other expendables, and being accompanied by a dedicated maintenance team.
That being said, an appropriately maintained Tiger boasted surprising mobility and fairly high reliability. A news correspondent who covered the daily operations of a Tiger unit in action wrote a children's book titled "Tigerfibel", which explained the operations of the Tiger Striker in terms that were easy to understand, eventually becoming a best seller that helped perpetuate the Tiger's legend of invincibility. Records tell of Fuso officers who were so impressed by the awesome power to the Tiger that one or two Tiger Strikers were purchased by the Imperial Fuso Army for technological experimentation purposes. While there were some accounts of Fuso witches using Tiger Strikers with Fuso ideograms, such details are sketchy regarding this.
Tiger units require large quantities of magical energy and not all land battle witches were capable of operating them. Witches and their units often have to go through compatibility tests to ensure they were assigned a striker that best complimented the witches abilities, magical proficiency and overall performance. There have been cases where a witch suffered mediocre performance with a standard land battle striker, while exhibiting different abilities when using a Tiger, or vice versa. Tiger equipped witches can inflict devastating damage on targets from medium to long range, but at close range the main 88mm armament of the Tiger unit was cumbersome. For this reason the tiger was armed with a coaxial MG34, but what was most effective was to conduct joint missions with the Tiger paired with regular infantry or witches in light or medium fighting tracked legs.
The Tiger tracked legs won great fame on the North African, Eastern and Western fronts, giving birth to many land battle ace witches. There have been reports of rather peculiar field-modified Tigers achieving great success on the Gothic Line; the defined line that was part of the Romagna Campaign. The Tiger Striker Unit directed their might against the Neuroi and fought ferociously to the very end of the 2nd Neuroi war.
Other Land Battle Striker Units had their own unique quirks that witches had to recognize and work with in the field, and such Strikers were as varied as the tanks and armoured vehicles they were based on.
Striker Units that were used before the new models were introduced before the Second Neuroi War. It is unknown when they are invented but it was probably after the First Neuroi War. (This statement can be altered) They are powered by an extra backpack which reduces space and probably affected flight.
It is mostly based on interwar period fighters such as Bf109 and Ki-10 and has much lower top speed. However, they were sometimes more agile than the new Striker Units due to its lightweight nature. Known users of this old model were Kitagou Fumika (Nagashima A4N) and Adolfine Galland (Bf109). Any witch that had been fighting before the Second Neuroi War had probably used this model before.
During the early development of Dr Ichiro Miyafuji's work several Prototypes were developed by several counties. During this time many problems occurred that helped further the research and development of what would become the Striker Units that would fight the second Neuroi war. One problem that was found was that, unlike the Backpacked Strikers, the new ones had a far greater age limitation for witches to use. While a witch could use a Backpack Striker well into their 20's, the new ones had an age limit of 19–21 years of age. The early prototypes also had a flaw that carried into the first production Striker Units of using a great amount of magical energy. Many witches burned out their entire lifetime of magical power during the development phase.
Prototypes that were developed during and post second Neuroi war also had their fair share of complications. During the Romagnaian occupation by the Neuroi, Ursula Hartmann developed the first Jet Striker Unit prototype, the ME-262 Swallow, which was delivered to the 501st JFW for testing. It was initially tested by Romagnan witch Francesca Lucchini who, shortly after starting it, felt something was wrong with the unit and leaped out. It was therefore handed off to Gertrud Barkhorn. Initial testing looked promising. The 262 set a new altitude record of 16,000+ meters. Its second test for armament and firepower, was also a success, but it quickly became apparent that it drains the witch of stamina. During its third speed test, Barkhorn fainted and crashed into the Adriatic Sea. It was discovered then that the 262 had a fatal flaw that made it too dangerous to fly. After waking up Barkhorn was quoted as saying "Prototypes and trouble go hand in hand." The Prototype was then locked away and was scheduled to be sent back for further development. However, after scrambling to intercept a Neuroi, it was soon discovered to be too fast and manoeuvrable even for Liberion Witch Charlotte E. Yeager. Barkhorn, defying orders not to use it, broke into the hanger and took off in the 262. She arrived just in time to save Yeager from being caught between two sections of the Neuori which had surrounded her after her gun had jammed. She quickly dispatched the Neuroi, but soon fainted again. The 262 started to accelerate uncontrollably and would soon drain Barkhorn of all her magical powers and subsequently crash and kill her. However thanks to some quick thinking and going supersonic again for only the second time, Yeager was able to catch up and pull the emergency release cable on the 262. The 262 Striker Unit detached from Barkhorn and subsequently fell to its destruction. The remains of it were sent back with Ursula Hartmann.
Post war, the development of Jet Striker prototypes became the main focus of development.