Hammer's Slammers

Hammer's Slammers

Hammer's Slammers is both the title of a 1979 collection of military science fiction short stories by author David Drake (and, by extension, of the fictional universe in which these and a number of Drake's other stories and novels are set) and the career of a future mercenary tank regiment, called "Hammer's Slammers", after their leader, Colonel Alois Hammer.

Drake borrows plots from ancient mythology for many of his Hammer's Slammers universe stories—retelling the story of Jason and the Argonauts in "The Voyage" and part of the Odyssey in a gritty, military style in "Cross the Stars". In addition, he recreates the character of Achilles from "The Iliad", in "The Warrior". Late books borrow from Dashiell Hammett and various episodes in history.

The series

# "Hammer's Slammers" (1979) The initial collection of stories. Includes both the creation of the Slammers as an independent force, and the end of its independent existence when Colonel Hammer becomes the ruler of his native world.
# "At Any Price" (1985) A study in command and cultural conflict. The Slammers must aid a human community in a fight with aliens who can teleport.
# "Counting the Cost" (1987) The Slammers become involved in an internal dispute among their employers. Based on the Nika riots, with a Slammers captain in the role of Belisarius.
# "Rolling Hot" (1989) A Slammers unit must make a rapid combat march to relieve the capital city which is under threat. Based loosely on the events of the Tet offensive, according to Drake's comments. [http://david-drake.com/rhot.html]
# "The Warrior" (1991) A rivalry between two of the Slammers, who have very different ideas of what it means to be a warrior. One of them is based on the classical character of Achilles.
# "The Sharp End" (1993) A survey team from the Slammers is looking for work for the regiment. This book is set after Colonel Hammer has become President Hammer. The plot, according to the author's comments in the book, is based on two works by Dashiell Hammett. [http://david-drake.com/faq.html]
# "Paying the Piper" (2002) Three stories about a single campaign. The political situation is, according to Drake, modeled on one from classical history.


The contents of the first five books of the main series were repackaged and republished, with some additional stories. Drake has said that this is his preferred order and edition.

# "The Tank Lords" (1997)
# "Caught In The Crossfire" (1998)
# "The Butcher's Bill" (1998)

"The Complete Hammer's Slammers" (2006) is a three-volume set from Night Shade Books that contains all Hammer's Slammers fiction, including three new stories written for this set. Volume 1 was released in January 2006, and features an introduction by Gene Wolfe. Volume 2 was released January 2007, with Volume 3 following in November 2007.


The following is an incomplete listing of mercanary organizations mentioned in the books:

* Hammer's Slammers - the main protagonist organization of the stories, this unit a brigade sized armoured organization of 5,000 people.
* Broglie's legion,
* Thunderbolt Division,
* Zaporoskiye Brigade and the
* Compagnie de Barthe
* Heliodorus Regiment
* Wolverines,
* Harris' Commando, The
* Firelords,
* West Riding Yeomanry,
* Anders' Legion,
* Apex Dragoons,
* Sons of Mangala,
* Flaming Sword Commando of the Holy Brotherhood,
* United Defence Batteries,
* Foster's Mercenaries,
* Fasolini's Company,
* Division Légere,
* Lightning Division,
* Waldheim Dragoons,
* Texian 101st Airborne Light Infantry,
* Solace & Prosperity Regulars,
* Nonesuch National Guard,
* Hindi Army,
* Oltenian Republican Army,
* Hashemite Nation,
* Terran Authority Starmarines,
* Sincanmo Federation Militia



Powerguns come in a variety of flavors. On vehicles they are typically arranged in a three barreled minigun pattern, firing 2cm charges. For infantry they come in 2cm, for a semi-automatic shoulder weapon, and 1cm for submachine guns and pistols. They can be scaled at least up to tank size (20cm), and possibly even to stationary planetary defenses designed to take out starships. They contain perfectly arranged copper atoms stored in a plastic matrix. They use electromagnets to pull these down the barrel, which is perfectly smooth. The atoms degenerate into a plasma pulse, which is shown as a cyan streak. the plasma flashes to heat on impact. They have no recoil, unlike gun powder type weapons; however, in the bigger sizes they can permanently blind. They are expensive, due to the precision machining and the iridium barrels required.


Slugthrowers are gauss rifles that fire osmium bullets at hypersonic velocity. They have better close-range penetration than similarly sized powerguns, and are similarly expensive because of their synthetic diamond barrels.

Fusion bottle

The fusion bottle is a small nuclear fusion reactor, which delivers unlimited power. It is used to power Combat cars and supertanks.

Air cushion vehicles

Air cushions are the preferred way to move heavy armour. High-powered fans pulls in air through vents, and keeps it under the vehicle in steel skirts. The vehicles are separated into combat cars, artillery (hogs), and supertanks.

While an entertaining concept, experiments by the US military in the 1950s demonstrated many problems with air cushion vehicles. Inability to advance into a head wind greater than the inherent speed of the vehicle, cross wind instability, very poor braking, inability to ascend a slope greater than 8 degrees.

Since the air supply for the air cushion ground effect is dependent on the inlet openings and ambient air pressure, the actual function of the vehicle is independent of energy supplied to the driving fans. ie, no matter how many horsepower, the air only comes IN so fast. This has no effect on the total tonnage which the cushion can carry, but is an extreme limiting factor on maneuverability, slopes (ascending and descending), and broken country (where a simple ditch can bleed the air curtain and ground the vehicle). Ground effect vehicles also lack ground torque for towing other vehicles, being used for indirect combat functions (hedge punching, mine clearing, barrier crushing, earth moving functions).

The conclusion in the 1950s was there were only a few advantages to a ground effect vehicle:

* 1) It can cross water (if the weight ground footprint has a specific gravity of less than .1).
* 2) A higher sustained speed (40 mph vs 30 mph) under ideal conditions in still air.
* 3) An equally high speed over semi broken ground (not steep, but broken enough to endanger treaded vehicles)
* 4) A higher availability in combat due a fewer suspension and traction breakdowns (all other functions being considered as equal between the two types of vehicle).


The armour is an iridium alloy designed to deflect the heat of powerguns (iridium is both highly refractory and resistant to corrosion).


The Faster -Than -Light drive is used to move interplanetary distances in a reasonable amount of time. The body cannot process the information absorbed at such a speed, and one side effect is a severe headache.

Related works

These are works set in the Slammers universe, and involving members of the Slammers, or former members, but not really about the Slammers as an organization.

# "Cross the Stars" (1984) A retelling of the "Odyssey", with a former Slammers officer in the title role.
# "The Voyage" (1993) A retelling of the Voyage of the Argonauts.

A Hammer's Slammers wargame was produced under license by Mayfair Games.

Two sets of miniatures rules have been produced by [http://www.wargames.co.uk/Miniwargs/Pireme.htm Pireme Publishing]
# "Hammer's Slammers handbook"
# "Hammers Anvils: Handbook 2 the opponents"

Models of the vehicles are available from [http://www.oldcrowmodels.co.uk/ Old Crow] and infantry figures from [http://www.groundzerogames.net/index.php Ground Zero Games] .

External Links

* [http://www.hammers-slammers.com/index2.htm The Hammer's Slammers Official Website]

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