BLISTERSKIN ABLATIVE TREAD ARMOR COATING
 

Blisterskin was an advanced polymer compound found to have amazing ablative properties.  Discovered entirely by accident (it was originally developed as an electrical insulation that could be applied with simple foam delivery using hand held molds), Blisterskin, when subjected to extreme amounts of force or heat, simply either flaked off or burned away.  The process of this ablation removed much of the thermal and kinetic force from the material that the Blisterskin had been applied to thus its use as an emergency insulation and possibly as a easily applied heat shield became apparent rather quickly.  Blisterskin became somewhat of an anomaly, an intriguing one, but one with a limited commercial application.  At the time, zero revenue potential meant zero market growth funds and thus, Blisterskin was shelved along with some other interesting polymers.  Research into the uses of Blisterskin was slow at first, when time or corporate funds allowed, but it remained shelved with little research for over a decade finding applications in military insulation on combat vehicles.

In 2058, Dr. Martin Saleen, a combat equipment engineer at the Vancouver Advanced Technology Consortium, began to study the combat life of CLAWS and other robotic systems in current use on the battlefield.  His study concluded that the major weak point of the CLAWS system was the individual components of the drive trains.  The treads were the weakest and most easily damaged segments of this area.   CADD systems evaluated all manner of new defenses for the treads from classical approaches to cutting edge ideas.  CLAWS combat mules were hastily equipped with everything from armored skirts to reactive armor and even close in explosive charges designed to detonate incoming rounds at a distance from the CLAWS drive train assembly.   None met with much success, the armor skirted CLAWS looked a little silly, and their performance suffered somewhat due to the rather rigid skirting material interfering with the normal high flexibility of the rest of the drive train components and the segmented chassis.  For over a year, Dr. Saleen and his staff worked to solve this weak link in the CLAWS.

One day, Dr. Saleen was passing through a combat test mule maintenance bay when he happened upon a Master Sergeant chewing out a assembly line enlisted worker.

The heated argument stemmed from the inattention given to the assembly detail and maintenance repair of the CLAWS test mule #5, a constantly modified Mark II OGRE affectionately named "Boomer".  Apparently, the new recruit had grabbed up the wrong pressurized applicator unit and instead of coating one of the tread assemblies under maintenance repair and review with field sealant number seventeen, she had instead coated it with a liberal application of an artificial industrial sealant agent.  The viscous polymer had now dried completely and would have to be removed from each individual track using a forced thermal kinetic process, a task that would take some time and considerable effort!  The Master Sergeant made sure that the new recruit understood that it was their responsibility to remove the mess from the treads and set about giving what some would consider an impossible time frame reference for which the task was to be completed.  Dr. Saleen, intrigued by this 'mistake',  intervened on behalf of the new recruit and asked to be shown the test mule.  What he saw convinced him that providence had intervened on behalf of the Combine armed forces and that he may have found the solution to the CLAWS drive train defense problem!  Dr. Saleen asked that the material not be removed, and that the other track assembly be coated in a similar manner with the AISA compound.  With little explanation given, his orders were carried out this was done in quick order and CLAWS test mule #5, "Boomer", rolled onto the proving grounds that afternoon, its treads layered in a protective coating of AISA compound.  The combat trials were a success, with a 67% increase in the defensive capacities of the drive train.  Further tests using advanced mixtures of the AISA and other recombining polymers only increased the effectiveness of the Blisterskin application in the defense of the tread assemblies.  Within months, the original AISA had gone from a 67% effectiveness rating to a 74% rating.  Six weeks later, a new compound formula increased that rating to 85%.  Three weeks later, 89% was achieved.  It wasn't until a full year after the "mistake" on the assembly line that Dr. Saleen and his team introduced the final AISA formula, Batch #517, which proved to increase the defensive properties of the CLAWS treads by 100%.  Dr. Saleen and his team named the new compound "Blisterskin" due to the unique manner in which it absorbed the properties of kinetic and thermal force.

The problem with Blisterskin, when applied to the tread assemblies of front-line CLAWS unit, was not that it didn't work.   Far from it, Blisterskin was very economical and highly effective.  The problem was the application itself.   The ground pressure applied by a multi-hundred metric ton armored fighting machine was almost as damaging to the Blisterskin application as combat damage itself.   Applying four thousand liters of high pressure quick drying Blisterskin became a mechanic's nightmare.  The longest part of a CLAWS refit in the field became the reapplication of Blisterskin to the treads.  In 2068, an automated process (affectionately called a 'crawl through procedure') was perfected and implemented in four theaters of operations.  This system was fully automated, and allowed a CLAWS unit to 'drive through' the application system and coat its own treads in a very short time.

After the Last War, Blisterskin became widely used in commercial applications, especially in emergency fire retardation and thermal safety systems.

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Update! Life imitates art! -Thanks to Jade Gecko for sending me the following news on the U.S. military's attempt to produce a material very similar to my concept of Blisterskin.

"The U.S. military is currently working with a spray-on elastomeric polymer coating that can perhaps stop everything from bomb fragments to bullets. The exact elastomeric polymers the U.S. military is working with are polyurethane and polyurea, which can be combined with each other. The main selling point to spray-on polymer armor is that its very light and cheap, compared to metallic (steel, titanium, etc...), ceramic, and fiber (Kevlar, spectra, et...) armoring materials."  link

 

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