Electromagnetic projectile devices (fiction)

Electromagnetic projectile devices which use electromagnetic means to accelerate solid materials, such as Kinetic energy weaponry, Gauss guns, Mass drivers or Railguns are often used in fiction, especially science fiction.

Realism of depictions

From physics, the energy of a projectile is 0.5 m v^2.

Some fictional sources describe the projectile as moving at significant fractions of the speed of light (299,792.458 km/s). This implies a largely unrealistic amount of energy.


Coil guns/Gauss gun

* "Halo universe": in the first novel (""): Coilguns, or MAC (Magnetic Accelerator Cannon) guns as they are known, are the main weapons of the human fleet.
*The "coil gun" concept first appeared in literature as the "electric gun" in the 1897 science fiction novel "A Trip to Venus" by John Munro. [ cite book | last = Munro | first = John | title = A Trip to Venus | publisher = Jarrold & Sons | location = London | year = 1897 | pages = 26-28 | edition = 2007 IndyPublish ed. ] The novel described in detail a way to launch vehicles into outer space from the Earth's surface. In the novel, Munro describes in great detail multiple coils fired in sequence by solenoids timed to achieve acceleration without generating g forces that would harm passengers. The gun could be angled on a hillside if desired.
*Furthermore, Necrons of the Warhammer 40k Universe use several varirants of Gauss weaponry to strip enemies down to their constituent atoms. The weapons prove to be affective against infantry and tanks equally.

Mass drivers

*The first mass driver known in print was actually called the "electric gun" and described in detail as a way to launch vehicles into outer space from the earth's surface in the 1897 science fiction novel "A Trip to Venus" by John Munro and published in 1897 by Jarrold & Sons, London. In the book Munro describes in great detail multiple coils fired in sequence by solenoids at proper timing to achieve acceleration without too high g forces to the passengers. The gun would be angled on a hillside if desired. Amazingly this book also describes in detail combinations of electric gun launch for a passenger capsule with onboard rockets, compressed gas jets and even retrofired bullets as a means to increase velocity and change direction and the use of planetary atmosphere aerobraking and parachutes for landing on a planet.

* "The Big U" (by Neal Stephenson) A character builds a mass driver as part of an academic project.

*In Robert Heinlein's classic novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", rebelling Lunar colonists convert a kilometers-long mass driver system that delivers raw materials to Earth into a railgun that lobs metal-clad rocks, then commence an orbital bombardment.

*One of the first depictions of a mass driver for space exploration was in the 1936 movie "Things to Come".

*In the computer game "Descent 3", the mass driver is a weapon that can be attached to your ship's hull which fires a lethal projectile at its target.

*In the computer game "Alien Legacy" the mass driver is a colony installation that is used to transport ore from one colony to another, regardless of the type of colony (planetside, space station, or the CALYPSO).

*In the game "", a mass driver was used to send supplies to the "Arkbird". One is also seen in "Ace Combat 2" but is never used.

*In the game "Tremulous", a mass driver is used as a weapon by the human forces as a long-range rifle.

*In the "Babylon 5" episode "The Long, Twilight Struggle", the Centauri Republic used mass drivers in violation of their treaties in their final attack on the Narn homeworld to fire asteroids onto the planet.

*In the Japanese anime metaseries Gundam mass drivers are commonly seen throughout different timelines. In the 1981 published "Gundam Century" a thorough disccusion and report of mass driver technology at the time was included, quoting the then recent science journals as references.

*In "Tekkaman Blade II" and "Teknoman", they are used to launch the blue earth into a high orbit, where the blue earth's engines can take them either into space or around the planet.

*In the game "", the Zann Consortium uses mass drivers as a weapon on many of their starships.

*In the game "Homeworld", mass drivers form the main multi-purpose weapon of almost every ship, ranging from the small multi barreled fighter based version to massive turret-based capital ship cannons.

*In the game "Xenogears", the main characters use a mass driver to expel a cure for a disease into the atmosphere, saving the planet.

*In the novel "The Two Faces of Tomorrow" by James P. Hogan, a Maskelyne mass driver based in the Sea of Tranquility is used by the TITAN supercomputer to easily destroy a lunar ridge that needs to be cleared for the construction of a second mass driver site.

* In the game "Stars!", space stations can use orbital mass driver drivers: i) as a fuel-free method of transporting mineral between planets and ii) as an effective long-range weapon.

*In the games "Master of Orion" and "Master of Orion II", the mass driver is a weapon that can be fitted on ships. Its damage does not decrease with range.

*In the game "Deus Ex", an orbital mass driver used to deliver asteroid-mined materials to earth mistakenly destroys part of a Nigerian city. This happens off-screen but is referenced by several in-game media sources.

* In the video game series "Wing Commander", the mass driver is a cannon installed on a number of fighters and some capital ships through many different eras. It has medium range, and can deliver medium damage to a target, compared to its contemporaries.

*In the game "Einhander", a mass driver is used in a cut scene to launch a ship into space, after which the player has to destroy that ship in the next stage.

*In the fictional future depicted in the role play game "Cyberpunk 2020", a mass driver had been installed on the Moon in the so called Tycho colony.

*In the novel "Warrior's Blood" by Richard S. McEnroe, an ancient alien mining colony awakened from stasis on the Moon uses a mass-driver intended to launch massive blocks of iron ore into lunar orbit as a makeshift (but very effective) weapon of mass destruction, attacking the Earth with crude projectiles which emulate the effect of asteroid strikes.

*In the novel "Pushing Ice" by Alastair Reynolds, the crew of the "Rockhopper" use mass drivers to send comets back to earth for processing into water and other resources.

*In the video game "Halo", most UNSC ships are armed with a MAC (Magnetic Acceleration Cannon), which is actually a very powerful mass driver.

*In the novel "" by Joseph Staten, the UNSC forces in Harvest used a mass driver to damage an incoming Covenant ship.

*In the game "", a personal Mass Driver is used as a weapon by the Nod Character General Gideon Raveshaw, in the multiplayer mode.

*In the game series X( ' , ' and "" ), the Mass Driver is the only non-energy-based projectile weapon available. It's also the only weapon known that will pass through a ships shield and bring heavy damage to the hull alone, rendering the shields protection useless against this type of weapon.

*In the game "Mass Effect" the main method of transporting ships across space is a mass driver"

Rail guns

Railguns have made several appearances in popular culture, namely as weapons in science-fiction media.
*In the Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Eraser", Schwarzenegger's character uses a pair of man-portable railguns capable of firing bullets through walls.
*In the video games "Red Faction", "Red Faction II", and the "Quake" series, railguns are common weapons.
*Railguns appear several times in the "Metal Gear" video game series. In "Metal Gear Solid", a railgun is mounted on and used as a primary weapon of Metal Gear REX. In ', a man-portable railgun is used by the character 'Fortune.' In ', the character 'Crying Wolf' has a railgun mounted on her exo-suit, which later becomes a man-portable weapon usable by the player.
*An experimental railgun called "Reason" was used in the Neal Stephenson novel "Snow Crash".
*In the novel series "Buck Rogers", the protagonist uses railguns on the planet Luna.
*The Tau in the science fantasy game "Warhammer 40,000" use railguns extensively.
* A railgun appeared in "Red Faction": it fired a long spike that could penetrate walls with the help of an infrared scope.
*"Redemption Ark" by Alastair Reynolds; early in the novel, various factions use railguns that fire foam-phase hydrogen (which explodes on impact) and other munitions; these weapons range from small ship-to-ship devices to thousand kilometre installations.
* "Buck Rogers" (novel series): Uses mass driver railguns on Luna.
* "Count Zero" (by William Gibson): The characters speculate that a huge explosion was triggered by a railgun, and they describe the railgun's inherent instability: "You can rig a railgun to blow itself to plasma when it discharges."
* "Crest of the Stars" and "Banner of the Stars" (by Hiroyuki Morioka): Railguns are called Irgymh in Abh Empire, and used as a main armament of the combat warship in the "Laburec".
* "Snow Crash" (by Neal Stephenson): Reason is an extremely powerful gatling type handheld railgun weapon.
*In the show "Stargate SG-1", the Prometheus is armed with railguns that are weaker than their enemy's energy weapons. In "Stargate Atlantis", all of the Daedalus-class ships use the same railguns.
* "Black Cat" (Anime/Manga series): The protagonist Train Heartnet is capable of shooting a railgun with his revolver after being enhanced by nanobots.
* "StarFist series": Railguns are used to great effect by the alien Skinks in combatting human soldiers.
* "Succession" series (by Scott Westerfeld): Railguns are fired from the orbiting "Lynx" to kill the Rix commandos who took Child Empress Anastasia Vista Khaman and her court hostage.
* "Transformers": The Decepticon "Megatron": is equipped with a railgun in his Generation 2 body
* "Cyborg 009 Alternative": 002 Alberta Heinrich is equipped with elbow railguns which are hidden in her elbow joints.
* "Old Man's War" (by John Scalzi.) The CDF ships are equipped with railguns along with various other weapons.
* In the "Legacy of the Aldenata" series of books by John Ringo, the alien race known as the Posleen are equipped with a large number of man-portable rail guns in 1mm and 3mm versions. These are in contrast to the Grav guns with which some elements of humanity are supplied.
* In S.T.A.L.K.E.R. "Shadow of Chernobyl" there is a rail gun as a powerful item near the end


* The blockbuster film "Eraser" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is about a defense contractor employee who has stumbled on a secret conspiracy to sell a deadly new weapon to terrorists. This weapon is a hand-held railgun with an X-ray scope, designed to complement the gun's ability to penetrate through almost any barrier.
* "Earth Star Voyager": A Disney movie about a deep space exploration mission that runs into trouble soon after departure from Earth. The crew of Earth Star Voyager uses a railgun to partially destroy an enemy spacecraft manned by pirates. Subsequently, the same railgun is used to disable a military spacecraft (the Triton Corsair) in pursuit of Earth Star Voyager.
* Black Mask: An action film staring Jet Li. The main villain in the film uses a railgun


* In Babylon 5, the Centauri used mass drivers to orbitally bombard the Narn home planet. This usage is considered an atrocity in-universe, as orbital bombardment has the power to destroy whole cities at a stroke, making them weapons of mass destruction.
* In the reimagined "Battlestar Galactica", the Colonial Vipers are equipped with "kinetic energy weapons" of a conventional chemical-explosion propelled type instead of the lasers used in the original series.
* In the anime "Macross", the SDF-1 has four heavy rail guns on its "shoulders" when it is in the transformed humanoid form (Attack mode). Also its complement Monster Mark II Destroid have 4 heavy rail guns on their top mounts that travel 4000 km/s in space, so fast that making the warhead explosive would be redundant.
* In anime "Gundam" series such as "Mobile Suit Gundam SEED", railguns of various sizes are mounted on both space warships and smaller one-man machines called mobile suits and mobile armors. The projectile is typically animated as a yellow streak, and doesn't have the speed and destructive properties of railguns depicted in other mediums.
* In the anime "RahXephon", the Vermillion is equipped with a combination weapon containing a continuous fire railgun and a beam weapon.
* In the first season of the television series "Stargate Atlantis", a railgun prototype is used against the Wraith's Darts. Intended to be used as a point defense weapon in the first generation of Earth's space ship, "Prometheus", Stargate Command (SGC) was ordered to send the prototypes to Atlantis in the Pegasus galaxy before the Wraith attack. Commented as having a magazine size of 10,000 rounds and delivering an impact velocity of mach 5 at a distance of 250 miles, the weapons are a natural choice for defending the city from the waves of Wraith darts. The fully-motorized railguns are mounted onto wheeled trailers, much like field guns to allow them to be moved to tactical locations around the city. At the beginning of the second season, the Earth battlecruiser "Daedalus" arrives and displays an armament of similar railguns. In season nine of "Stargate SG-1" (the show of which "Stargate Atlantis" is a spin-off), the "Daedalus", "Odyssey", "Korolev", and "Apollo" are equipped with railguns.
*In an episode of the cartoon network show Justice League titled "Maid of Honor" DC comics supervillain Vandal Savage takes control of Kasnia by marrying its princess and uses a rail gun built in to the international space station to take control of the world however the rail gun ends up being destroyed by the league and Savage is once again defeated
*In episode 5 of the Dirty Pair OVA from 1988 a mass driver is used to fire asteroids at a nearby uninhabitable planet. The points on the planet where they impact are used to determine numbers for a gambling game called Meteo. After the game is found to be rigged one of the scammed players goes on a rampage in the casino and damages the controls to the mass driver, which then fires several asteroids at a local inhabited planet and destroys large areas of its surface.

Tabletop role-playing games and wargames

* In the tabletop version of Heavy Gear, railguns are often found on main battle tanks and landships while the largest gears can carry a smaller version.
* In the post-apocalyptic role-playing game Rifts, the Occupational Character Class Glitter Boy is an individual piloting a large armoured suit equipped with a huge railgun (called "Boom Gun" in the game). Notably, the suit anchors itself into the ground when firing to maintain its position. Additionally other Rifts Occupational Character Classes have access to rail guns, specifically robots and cyborgs. While not the most powerful weapons available in the world of Rifts, railguns are touted as the futuristic replacement of modern projectile firearms.
* In the world of Warhammer 40,000, the Tau make use of rail technology with one of the largest and strongest guns in the game, and have recently perfected hand-held rail rifles. Tau Rail Guns come as Sub-Munition, firing a packet of hyper-velocity solid slugs (only on vehicles), or Solid Shot, firing one hyper-velocity rod. The Manta Missile Destroyer and Tigershark aircraft employ these in a long barreled version, and the Tau Hammerhead gunship has two different variants. XV-88 Broadside Battlesuits carry high-power twin-linked shoulder railguns. The Necrons wield "Gauss" weaponry, but that is only a name given to a process as yet unknown to the galaxy at large, that does not in fact utilize traditional Gauss weaponry. Instead of firing projectiles they use the electromagnetism to strip an opponent's molecules away one layer at a time.
*In the BattleTech and MechWarrior series of Tabletop, Roleplaying and Video Games, Many of the BattleMechs are equipped with "Gauss Rifle" weapons. Various tanks, DropShips and WarShips are also equipped with these including a variant scaled up to act as a Warship primary weapon.

Computer and video games

Some computer games feature railguns as weapons. The most popular type of ammunition for these railguns are depleted uranium slugs. A common trait shared by many railguns in different games is the ability for a slug (or other ammo type) to hit and pass though multiple enemies with one shot as well as allowing one to see, one shot kill, and/or shoot though solid matter by use of some type of x-ray or even a thermal aiming device (mainly in first-person shooters).

Other traits can include the these weapons having to ability to do electricial or EMP based damage due to fact most railguns in video games use electromagnets as a main power source.

* "Ace Combat 4": "Stonehenge" is a battery of railguns designed to shoot down asteroids, but is also effective against aircraft.
*"Ace Combat 6": "The Chandelier" is an immense railgun in a fixed position that fired giant warheads containing cruise missiles (similar to MIRV missiles) at the Emmerian capital city, Gracemeria. The Estovakians' superfighter, the CFA-44 Nosferatu is also armed with a pair of aircraft-mountable railguns, officially referred to as 'Electromagnetic Launchers'.
* "Armored Core" games: "Linear Rifles" and "Linear Cannons" are part of an ACs inventory of equippable weapons. They fire high-powered rounds at speeds high enough to visibly distort the air around them.
* "Battlefield 2142" (computer game): The Rorsch Mk-S8 is a stationary anti-vehicle railgun.
* "" (first-person shooter): When playing as Brotherhood of Nod forces in multiplayer mode, selecting the character, General Raveshaw, will enable you to use a Rail Gun as an extremely lethal weapon shot anywhere on the body.
* "": The units "Ghost Stalker" and Mammoth Walker Mark II are equipped with weapons called rail guns. These railguns sport the same bullet trail (tight spiraling smoke in a straight line between shooter and target) as those in the film "Eraser". Such a visual effect, however, is not representative of actual railgun operation. Cutscenes showing the Mammoth MkII in combat show the railgun shots instead as plasma-like energy with no visible bullet trail. In , GDI Zone Troopers and GDI Commando are armed with portable rail guns, although the Commando's rail guns play a decidedly anti-infantry role. The GDI Predator tanks, Mammoth Mk-III and Titans can be upgraded with Railguns.
* "Crysis" : The handheld "Gauss Rifle" and the derivative "Gauss Tank" are presumably applications of railguns.
* "Dark Reign" (game): Several Freedom Guard units and buildings use railguns, including Mercenaries, Triple Rail Hover Tanks and Railgun Platforms.
* "Descent 3": In this game the railgun is used primarily as a long distance attack weapon that leaves a momentary white trail.
* "": A weapon called the Mag Rail can fire a powerful energy beam which can kill most human targets with a few shots. An alternative fire is an EMP blast which can be fired through walls and other obstacles, and which does heavy damage to all non-shielded electronic components.
* "Eve Online" (a space-based MMORPG from the Icelandic software house CCP): Railguns are a popular turret weapon fitted to a variety of ships particularly favoured by the Caldari and Gallente races. The main advantage of railguns in Eve Online is their extreme range of up to 250km. The following ammo types are available for railguns in Eve: Antimatter, Iridium, Iron, Lead, Plutonium, Thorium, Tungsten, Uranium, Spike and Javelin.
* "Escape Velocity Nova" (a space role-playing game developed by Ambrosia Software): The Auroran Empire makes heavy use of railguns as ship-mounted weaponry. The railguns are offered in 100 mm, 150 mm, and 200 mm varieties, and are the farthest-shooting projectile weapons in the game. The 100 mm comes in a turretted version, found on the AE Carrier.
* "Extreme-G 3" (videogame): A railgun weapon that shoots a round with such velocity that the kinetic heating turns it into a white-hot stream of plasma.
* "Final Fantasy VIII" (game): A coilgun is used at Lunar Gate on the Esthar continent to launch pods containing individual persons into space.
* "" (game): The Mag-Rail is a rail-handgun that fires a depleted uranium spike roughly the size of a tent peg. Though capable of passing through multiple enemies, walls, and objects, they are unable to pass through vehicles and energy shields. They can be dual-wielded and cause roughly the same amount of damage as the Harpoon RL's rockets. When fired, the barrels open as a new spike is loaded and then close, venting what is possibly a coolant gas through the gill-shaped holes behind the barrel.
* "Half-Life" modification "Team Fortress Classic": Railguns are the secondary weapon for the "engineer" class. Although the projectile moves at a slow rate and leaves a green trail behind it.
* "Halo 2": In the beginning level, Cairo Station, the player has to traverse a coilgun, or a Super MAC in the Halo universe, to deactivate a bomb planted on the station. The M12G1 Warthog LAAV has a back-mounted M68 Gauss Cannon, a scaled down version of the MAC technology. The ships in the series are all armed with coilguns as well.
* "Heavy Gear": Railguns can be used by the largest of the game's mecha while even bigger railguns are used by tanks and landships.
* "Heavy Gear II": The New Earth Government (the antagonists in the game) use a large orbital mass driver to propel asteroids at planets.
* "Heli Attack 2" and "Heli Attack 3" (games): Railguns fire a green beam of light, which can go through walls. In "Heli Attack 3" there is also a railgun called the Anytime that shoots explosive projectiles.
* "Homeworld": Many ships in the game utilize mass driver weaponry. Weapon designs range from smaller rotating mass drivers to larger turret-based ones.
* "Master of Orion 2] ": Mass Drivers and Gauss Cannons
* "Metal Gear Solid": The main weapon on the massive bipedal walking battle tank, Metal Gear REX, is a railgun (although the way it is described it seems more like a coilgun in operation) mounted on the tank's right "arm." It is discovered that the rounds it fires are actually nuclear warheads.
* "": Similar to Metal Gear REX above, the larger Metal Gear GANDER possesses two railguns to fire nuclear projectiles (and succeeds in doing so.) It is potentially a more feasible design to REX, owing both to its increased size and the dependency on a devoted power station to fully function.
* "": One of the boss characters, Fortune, a member of Dead Cell uses a railgun as her weapon.
* "": Boss enemy Crying Wolf uses a railgun as her main weapon. It becomes available to the player after she is defeated.
* "Mission Critical" (a 1995 science fiction adventure game by Legend Entertainment): Railguns are portrayed in considerable detail as part of the CICS. This a suite of relatively short-range weapons employed by early 22nd century U. S. Navy warships in space.
* "Oni": You can equip your character with a weapon called the Mercury Bow. The Mercury Bow is an advanced sniper rifle that uses railgun technology to propel a frozen mercury sliver. In addition to the trauma caused by impact, your enemies are purported to suffer from mercury poisoning afterwards.
* "Outpost 2" (a strategy game by Sierra): Eden's medium weapon is a railgun.
* "Parasite Eve 2" (videogame): Aya Brea, the main character, can use "Hypervelocity", a railgun as a secret weapon. It also appears as a secret SDI weapon used by the US Government to rescue the world from a pandemic on a global scale, but proves fruitless as the main character ends up stopping it herself.
* "Perfect Dark" (for Nintendo 64): One of the available weapons, the Farsight, is a railgun with an X-Ray scope, allowing the player to shoot and see through walls. Also, in Perfect Dark Zero for XBOX 360), contains a sniper rifle called a Shockwave also has an X-Ray scope that both allows you to see and fire charged particles though walls.
* "Quake" series:-
** "Quake II": A railgun (having the appearance of a small vacuum cleaner with red-tinted electronics on top) was included as a weapon in the game. It fires a Depleted Uranium slug with a silver smoke trail and a blue spiraling plume. This incarnation of the weapon most directly was modeled after the Railgun in the movie Eraser.
** "Quake III Arena": A nearly identical weapon. The spiraling blue plume was eliminated and the color of the smoke trail was customizable by the player. The spiraling plume was re-added as an option in a later release, also with customizable color via modifying 'console variables'.
** "Quake 4": The railgun has a more compact redesign and recolored to a dark red and comes equipped with a scope. It still takes uranium slugs as ammo but now shoots a momentary green line with a spiral around it which fades quickly. The weapon later gets a power boost, giving the weapon the strength to penetrate multiple enemies and render weaker enemies into a small cloud of blood in one shot. Multiplayer allows for rough color customization via the game menu with a much finer customization with 'console variable' tweaks. Quake 4's Railgun also features a zoom scope to aid the player in long-range engagements. The Railgun is arguably the most powerful weapon (per shot) in the game - easily taking 100 hit points from an armored opponent.
** "": The Strogg Infiltrator has a railgun similar in design to the Quake II one, though both parts of the trail are colored orange.
* "Resident Evil 3": An experimental military railgun nicknamed the "Paracelsus Sword" is used to defeat the final boss.
* "Red Faction" and "Red Faction II": Railguns that fire through walls with a heat-detection scope much like the X-ray scope in the film Eraser. These are single shot and are called the 'Rail Driver'.
* "Shadow Warrior": The rail gun found in the game shoots pieces of metal at near light speed, propelled from a magnetic field. This weapon will penetrate multiple enemies, making it powerful and very useful in certain situations.
* "Skulltag (Online port of Doom)": The railgun is one of the most powerful weapons, with customizable rail colours. It is able to instantly gib weaker enemies (Zombies, Imps).
* "Spy Hunter (2001 video game)" (game): The Interceptor has a railgun that you can earn late in the game.
* "Star Wars" computer game "": One of the available weapons is a "rail detonator", a handheld railgun used to launch explosive charges over long distances.
* "Star Wars" computer games ' and its expansion ': The Imperial forces are able to build a Hypervelocity Gun, or a railgun, on the ground which is able to penetrate capital ships' shields in space combat. It can only be destroyed in land combat.
* "Steel Battalion: VTs in the game can be equipped with railguns, which, although powerful, are extremely heavy.
* "System Shock": Railguns are available.
* "": Special weapon used on Bora fighter-class ships, capable of destroying most unshielded fighters. Due to the game's non-Newtonian physics, railgun shots are faster than lasers.
* "": One of the game's weapons, the Mag-Charger, is a railgun that can can shoot through walls with an special thermal scope for aiming. Its projectiles are charged via electro-magnetic pulse (from which the weapon's name comes from) and does more damage to mechanical enemies.
* "Total Annihilation: Fido and Krogoth kbots are armed with coilguns.
* "Vendetta Online": Railguns are one of the weapons systems that can be equipped.
* "Xenosaga": One of KOS-MOS's weapons is a railgun called the 'Dragon's Tooth'.

ee also

* Weapons in science fiction
* Kinetic energy penetrator
* Scram cannon
* Gauss gun
* [http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3x.html#kinetic Atomic Rocket: Space Weapons] . Practical considerations and calculations for using kinetic weapons.

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