|Production Building||Naval Yard|
|Secondary Ability||Switch Flak Turret/Depth Charge Launcher|
|Heroic Upgrade||Mag-lift generator (Drags aircraft down and lifts ships and vehicles into the air)|
The Soviets, in response to the Empire of the Rising Sun, have made an anti-submarine capable weapons system. Truly, the Empire is a greater threat than anyone could have anticipated.
- - Field Marshall Robert Bingham
- Below the waves...: The Soviet attempt to design an anti submarine ship of some kind in the wake of Imperial entry into the war, the Manta Ekranoplan is meant to protect Soviet fleets against submarines. To do this, the Manta Ekranoplan is equipped with a simple but effective depth charge launcher, which can be used to blow submarines out of the water.
- And up in the air: After the Manta's debut turned into a fiasco thanks to Imperial transformers, the Manta was redesigned to incorporate a pair of flak cannons. These cannons can take down thin skinned aircraft easily, and also allow the Manta to provide fleet air defence, supplanting the Bullfrog in this role.
- Not on the surface: However, the Manta's redesign also left it unable to handle surface threats, its depth charges being unsuited for such work and its flak cannons being limited in their traverse. This is seen as an acceptable trade off, since surface combat can be left to other, better equipped ships.
The Soviets used to be the masters of underwater. Akula subs hunted Allied ships without competition since the Allies refused to research into submarine technology, leaving the Soviets with the mindset of 'Anti-submarine vessels? The Allies don't build submarines!'. However when the Empire of the Rising Sun joined the war, they deployed Yari mini-subs and Sea Wings to the water which outmaneuvered entire Soviet ships, baiting them into the guns of the Shogun Battleships and the deadly Naginata close-up encounters, often with overwhelming casualties on the Soviet side.
Soviet High Command quickly addressed the issue, where the engineers came up with the Manta Ekranoplan. The original model was armed with a depth charge launcher and twin torpedo tubes to combat enemy submarines and ships. However, their first encounter with the Imperial Navy at the Battle of Sakhalin Island was a disaster. Manta Ekranoplans steamed ahead to meet with the Naginata cruisers intercepting to defend their Shogun Battleship. As the two navies traded torpedoes, Sea-Wings burst out of the sea into Sky-Wings, raining down kinetic-burst fire on the Mantas, using attrition against their heavy armour which allowed the Naginata cruisers to prevail. The Mantas were defenceless against enemy aircraft, and the Russian Pacific Fleet was almost completely annihilated when the rest of the invasion force arrived. Chopper-VXes rained missiles on the Mantas, Stingrays and Dreadnoughts, Naginata cruisers sped forth to point-blank range firing their Type-S torpedo tubes, and the Battle of Vladivostok was over as soon as a Shogun Battleship rammed into the last two Dreadnoughts who were side-by-side.
After the end of the war, the engineers at Vladivostok were given one more chance to improve on the Manta Ekranoplan, or they would be sent to the gulag for life. Reading a copy of "The Battle of Sakhalin Island", the engineers designed the Manta Ekranoplan anew, arming it with a pair of 130mm flak cannons taken from old inter-war destroyers upgraded with modern rapid fire autoloading systems, for dealing with pesky transforming units, and a depth charge launcher to use against submarines. Mantas were also relegated to proper anti-aircraft duty in the Soviet Navy, since Bullfrogs were designed to transport infantry and not be thin-skinned anti-aircraft cars. The new model has completely replaced the older one, and has seen successful service against the Soviet Union's 'enemies', radio-piloted YaK fighters used for combat trials.
After this redesign, Manta Ekranoplans will typically have diverse crews. Captains of Mantas are usually plucked (sometimes literally) from the bridge of the Akula sub they previously commanded, since they would have the best experience of how to counter submarines lurking underwater, having been on the receiving end of such tactics themselves. However, Akula Subs were never meant to sacrifice themselves by going kamikaze on enemy vessels, something which usually spells doom for the Manta. The anti-air gunners of the Manta Ekranoplan are new Flak Troopers, or those transferred from their Convict Battalion to naval duties. 'Community service' as part of a Manta crew is widely considered to be an enormously cushy posting compared to normal Flak Trooper duties, and, as a result, competition for transfers can be fierce (indeed, sometimes lethal). It's easy to see why the post would be attractive: no forced marches, no mine-clearance duties, better food, and, best of all, flak cannons which are not shoulder-mounted! The Flak Troopers are more than happy to sit down in a comfy chair with a gunsight, only holding down a button on their trigger then happily hear the sounds of the flak cannons firing. As a result the anti-air gunners on Manta Ekranoplans are greatly indebted to the captains of their ships, even willing to go as far as sharing their vodka even if they are stranded in the seas, alone without any other Soviet vessel around.
Behind the Scenes Edit
The Manta is based on the Lun-Class ekranoplan.