- Ark shuttlecraft are a form of Autobot transport.
While the Ark itself spent four million years stuck in the side of a volcano, the Autobots were not stranded in Oregon by any means. The mothership was positively stuffed to the brim with smaller shuttlecraft of varying designs and functions. It is possible that not all of the shuttles on the Ark were spacefaring craft, as many of them are not seen to leave Earth's atmosphere, though later models are capable of travelling interstellar distances. They are a convenient and apparently disposable way for the Autobots to get where they need to be when the
plot mission of the week demands it.
Types of Ark shuttlecraft
Several of the shuttlecraft share similar designs, and at least five types of shuttle have been seen. Presumably, each of these was designed for a specific purpose, though what that might have been is open to speculation.
"Heart of Gold"-type
Bearing a resemblance to a black repaint of the starship Heart of Gold from the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV series, this shuttle was used for intercontinental flight within Earth's atmosphere. It has pop-out weaponry in the forward section and is combat-capable.
Examples of this kind of Ark shuttle are few and far between. They are fitted with weaponry that can be detached and fired remotely by humans. Only one shuttle of this design has been seen, and by coincidence it would seem to share some design elements with Boba Fett's ship Slave I from the Star Wars universe.
"Bird of Prey"-type
Similar in design to a Klingon Bird of Prey from the Star Trek universe, these shuttles saw common service on Earth in the early days of the Great War. The Ark carried at least five "Bird of Prey"-type shuttles, though most of them were damaged or destroyed in combat. They have a storage bay capable of holding and deploying a mobile Autobot repair bay, or M.A.R.B. and appropriately enough, they can be fitted with cloaking devices.
Resembling nothing so much as a scaled-down version of the Ark from the cartoon, this kind of shuttle is capable of interstellar flight and holds a substantial crew, though it is possible for a single Autobot to pilot one. At least one "Ark"-type shuttle was taken from the Steelhaven and repurposed for use aboard the Ark proper.
The Asteroid Association Guide to Mechanoids and their Spacecraft lists the "Ark"-types as standard Autobot shuttles, noting that they are used for short hops and are usually found close to the Ark itself.
Rarely seen, this type of shuttle is one of the largest. With a smooth, rounded hull, it is capable of carrying large numbers of Autobots to a planet from the Ark in orbit.
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