by Rodney Orpheus
HTML conversion by Michael P. Owen, April 2000
The roads of modern America are a dangerous place, but people still need to drive on them. Bus companies, truck companies, and private travelers are all at risk. Although a heavily-armed truck or bus is an incredibly dangerous opponent on its own, the recent rise in organized road crime has meant a corresponding rise in the need for convoy drivers to protect them; this is where you come in.
So you wanna work a convoy. Where do you start? Check out the local
bus company -- they usually use their own staff, but there might be a vacancy.
Try the nearest truck stop, ask around and advertise your services. The
local AADA office might know if an important personage needs escorting
to an appointment in a nearby city, or if a group of citizens are leaving
town and need bodyguards.
"90% of successful convoy driving takes place before you hit the road."
-- Ed Deever,
The success or failure of a convoy rests on the pre-mission planning.
A convoy foreman must have the right personnel, the right vehicles and
weapons, and the right supplies.
Go for a good mixture of talents. Good driving skill and gunnery skill
is important of course, but remember that having at least one good mechanic
is vital. Your vehicles will almost certainly take damage, and even though
most truck stops have their own mechanics, that doesn't help a lot when
the next stop is 50 miles off and all your weapons have been shot up. Since
your fellow drivers may be hit too, keep someone along with paramedic skis.
A crewman who can ride bikes or drive trucks can be handy, even if your
convoy is all cars -- many convoys have only made it to their destination
by abandoning their own wrecked vehicles in favor of others that they have
been able to salvage or steal.
If your convoy is small (two or three vehicles), go for all around armored and armed cars. If you have more than three vehicles, try to specialize.
The most important car is the leader of the convoy. It should be very heavily armored, especially at the front, and have powerful front-firing weaponry -- linked VMGs or laser-guided rockets are nice. A ram plate is a good idea too, since many bandits will barricade the road when they set up an ambush.
A "Tail-End Charlie" car at the rear can save a lot of problems. Rearguards usually have a huge amount of back armor and carry only defensive dropped weapons like smokescreens, flame clouds and mines. The driver of a tail-ender like this doesn't need any gunnery skill at all; but make sure he has high driving skill, since he should weave from side to side while dropping mines and oil, to create a wider spread of hazards for enemies coming up the back door.
An essential part of any convoy is a cargo vehicle. Convoys must carry a great deal of spares (see Supplies, below), and so must have at least one vehicle with cargo space available, preferably two.
When choosing vehicles, remember that armor does not miraculously grow
back after it has been shot away, and that you will often have to drive
for many miles before damaged armor can be replaced. In other words, get
a heavily armored car. Midsizes are good and pickups are excellent. Compacts
can carry a fair amount of armor, but not much else. Luxuries and sedans
are better for fnepower than armor. Station wagons are excellent convoy
vehicles -- they have a huge cargo area, and can carry a pretty good weapons
mix. Vans can carry more cargo and passengers, but their light armor is
a major weakness. A van or camper with an autocannon or heavy laser in
a turret makes a good helicopter
buster, so long as it travels in the center of the convoy, where it can be shielded by the more heavily armored vehicles. Trailers are becoming
increasingly common, due to their low cost and high cargo capacity.
Bikes are not good choices unless the rider is an excellent cyclist and can't afford anything else. If you must ride a cycle, fit OR tires and ride alongside the road, and use a fully-armored windshell and improved body armor.
Driving a subcompact in a convoy is a good way to lose any prestige
you ever accumulated, along with your life.
"The .50 caliber machine gust may not be the most sophisticated weapon around, but you sure as heck don't run out of ammo."
-- Ed Deever,
Good convoy weapons must be cheap, reliable, and have a plentiful supply of ammunition. The most common weapon on today's road is still the humble MG, and many old hands swear by it. MG ammunition may be bought anywhere, and is easily salvaged from destroyed bandit vehicles. The twenty-round magazine is a definite plus.
But the weapon of choice for today's convoy driver is the Vulcan MG. A 20-shot magazine, coupled with a low cost/damage ratio and high accuracy, makes the VMG ideal. VMG ammo is readily available -- naturally, it's also the most popular among long-distance travelers. Other good offensive choices are the autccannon and recoilless rifle.
Lasers are a controversial choice for convoy duty. Some are very much in favor of these hi-tech heavies -- you never have to buy ammo, after all -- but the drain on the power plant can mean the difference between life and death on the long haul. Convoy drivers who mount lasers invariably carry laser batteries if they have any sense. The recent upsurge of interest in laser guidance has not been mirrored by convoy escorts; convoy drivers are conservative as a rule and tend to stick to the simpler and more easily repaired hardware. Rockets without laser guidance are too inaccurate to be a serious choice. Rockets with laser guidance are good, but very expensive, with an extra $200 per round every time you reload.
All convoys should carry a good range of defensive and dropped weaponry.
Smokescreens are an old favorite, and paint sprays are even better (25-shot
magazines!). Spikes are cheap, and explosive spikes are popular, but mines,
flaming oil, and flame clouds are much more effective at deterring pursuit.
Junk droppers are good for those on a budget: light, cheap and you certainly
won't have any trouble fmding ammo for them!
Vehicle accessories are often overlooked by the novice courier, but
pro convoy escorts often drive cars with so many additions and alterations
that they look vastly different then the original model.
Fire extinguishers are the first addition, followed by anti-personnel
grenades. For those vehicles with turrets, universal motmting is a very
good idea -- many terrorist organizations and some outlaws use stolen helicopters
and grasshoppers to deadly effect. A spoiler and/or airdam can make all
the difference between life or death in a high-speed chase -- many drivers
won't travel without them. If you need extra cargo space (and what convoy
driver doesn't), think seriously about a cartop carrier. As for tires,
there is no excuse not to get steel-belting, or at least solids.
LD radios and targeting computers are essential to highway travel.
Convoys usually have limited space and weight capacity, so the choosing of correct supplies is an art in itself. The most important items are tires! This cannot be emphasized too much. Even the best highways today are not in good repair, and the worst ones can really hack up your tires. Add to this the dangers of enemy fire, mines and spikes, it's not surprising that most convoys will carry two spares for every vehicle, and will always salvage any usable tires that they come across. Some desperate drivers have even been known to start firefights to get at their opponent's tires.
A good toolkit or portable shop should always be carried; on-the-road
repairs and salvage are facts of lie for the convoy guard. Don't forget
to carry lots of spare ammunition for all your weaponry. Make sure to strip
any wrecks you come across (or are responsible for) for usable tires and
unused ammo. If you can strip armor and weapons from them, so much the
better. All personnel should wear body armor at the very least. Hand weapons,
grenades and mini-mechanics or medikits are easy to carry, and can be real
Most convoys are a race against time. Being late for a schedule is a sure-fire way to get your wages cut, so plan your travel route carefully. Get a map and conditions update from your local AADA office and study it carefully. Remember that you will have (usually) to stop every 200 miles or so to recharge your power plant, and if you go faster than 55, you'll cut that distance still further. The importance of food and water is often overlooked, but remember that drivers are people, ,and if they don't eat, drink, excrete and take care of other personal matters, their efficiency will be impaired. Repairs invariably take too long to complete, even if you have excellent mechanics; many convoys are forced to take to the road in damaged vehicles because waiting for repairs would mean too long a delay.
Many convoys are forced by time to break the speed limit. In most areas, this isn't a problem -- enforcing the speed limit means police cruisers getting needlessly shot at -- but in the areas that still enforce them, it's a good idea not to break the speed limit. At the lightest, the cops will skim some money or ammunition off of you. At the other extreme, driving too fast can bring a swift death at a well-concealed speedtrap.
Make sure your convoy has a regular formation, and stick to it.
A common mistake among rookies is to stay in a tight formation to concentrate
firepower, and end up crashing into each other when they run into trouble.
Don't let it happen to you (nothing is more embarrassing). Keep a good
distance between cars, around 30' is good breathing room, and make sure
that cars with good forward weaponry have a clear arc of fire. Ditto for
rear weapons. Cars with turrets should hold the middle ground where they
can best make use of their 360 degree firing arc. Try to work
out specific "game plans" for common occurrences -- what each driver should do if a cycle gang attacks from the rear, for example.
Well, that's about it. Stick to these handy hints, and you should be able to take whatever the road throws at you. Driving convoy may not be as glamorous as arena combat, but if you're a driver with brains as well as guts, it provides a good steady job with lots of travel, and all the excitement one could ever need.