Sanderson Fb14 Vampire

The Sanderson Vampire is easily one of the heaviest fighters in operation, more closely resembling a bomber than a dogfighter. Massing almost 13,250 pounds, the FB14 is cumbersome and slow, but extremely well armed and armored. The Sanderson FB14 has no official name, though the nickname "Vampire" has certainly taken hold. (Maintenance crews gave the FB14 the nickname because of the craft’s high maintenance requirements, particularly its engines and control surfaces. The complex tail and engine assembly requires particularly careful maintenance if the FB14 is to remain airworthy.)

The Vampire is propelled by a pair of tail-mounted Pratt and Whitney P12 engines (which deliver 1,590 horsepower overall). The two massive engines are surprisingly fuel-efficient, giving the craft a 700-mile operational range. In addition, the large-bladed pusher props combined with the plane’s considerable wing surface afford the FB14 an excellent climb rate, up to a staggering 25,000 feet.

The plane’s armaments are among the heaviest carried by any fighter. Twin Carver .40-caliber machine guns provide long-range hitting power, while shorter-range .60- and .70-caliber cannons mounted in wing pods inflict tremendous damage on close-range targets. Many pilots choose to augment these guns with armor-piercing and flak rockets or with bombs.

Though the Vampire was intended as a heavy fighter-bomber, two variants also exist. The first is a photo-reconnaissance plane that replaces the .40-caliber machine guns with additional fuel storage. This variant, with a range of 1,200 miles, is often used to examine sites in advance of an air or ground attack, allowing would-be attacker to adapt battle plans to specific conditions. Several examples of this variant serve with the Texas Air Rangers along the Mexican border, providing a continually updated picture of the frontier. Several others have been seconded to the Texan Cartographic Commission.

The second variant replaces the same two guns with a small, general-purpose cargo bay. These aircraft serve as couriers and mail carriers throughout the Republic of Texas. Texan mail routes extend as far as Albuquerque, Denver, New Orleans and Kansas City, crossing some of the most dangerous terrain in North America. The Vampire’s range, weapon load and armor make it better suited than unarmed transport planes to delivering mail over such hostile territory.

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