Jehan, on 08 February 2012 - 05:24 PM, said:
AFAIK, there are 4 main types of legs in Battletech:
Humanoid (Atlas, Hunchback): Better stability?... Easier piloting?
Chicken legs (Catapult, Locust, Raven): Better speed?
Hybrid (Tanathos, Nova Cat): Best of both worlds? Middle-point between the 2 above?
Arachnid (Scorpion): Superior balance?, superior maneuverability?
) are "plantigrade
" - the whole of the foot is normally on the ground and used to support weight during standing and locomotion.
The primary advantages of a plantigrade foot are stability and weight-bearing ability; plantigrade feet have the largest surface area. The primary disadvantage of a plantigrade foot is speed. With more bones and joints in the foot, the leg is both shorter and heavier at the far end, which makes it difficult to move rapidly.
"Double-knee" 'Mechs (Hollander
, Nova Cat
) are "digitigrade
" - they stand and walk on their toes and the balls of their feet
(the lower/second "knee" is actually the ankle) rather than walking on the whole of the foot like the plantigrades.
Digitigrades are generally quicker and move more quietly than other mammals.
, Timber Wolf
) are something of a hybrid of plantigrade and digitigrade - they are technically plantigrades, but attempt to mimic the quickness advantage of true digitigrades by their design.
As actual chickens (and most if not all walking birds) are in fact true digitigrades
, referring to such mecha as "chicken-walkers" or "bird-walkers" is a bit of a misnomer.
Finally, tripodal 'Mechs
) and quadrupedal 'Mechs
) tend to have well-defined feet upon which they stand and walk, and so are not ungulates
(stand and walk on the ends of their toes; hoofed animals fall into this category) nor are they digitigrades - these, too, would technically be plantigrades.
With a greater number of contact points and (typically) lower profiles, the combination of a wider base and lower CG makes them more stable on uneven terrain than bipeds.