- "We had the Battle of Gormen won, until the AT-ATs arrived. They came out of the fog and ripped apart the front lines. The locals ran in terror, but the experienced soldiers surrendered. We knew that you can't outrun an AT-AT."
- — Bren Derlin
The largest war machine to ever grace a battlefield, the All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT), also commonly called the Imperial Walker, is to a ground battle what a Star Destroyer is to a space battle. Heavily armed and armored, the AT-AT can wade through battlefields with near impunity. The mere sounds of its footsteps have been known to send enemy troops running in fear long before it comes within visual range.
The AT-AT is a highly versatile vehicle, able to operate in almost any environment and almost any condition. It can be used as a heavy assault craft, a troop transport, a command vehicle, or a combination of all three. AT-AT’s have been deployed with great effectiveness in countless battles, the most notorious being the Battle of Hoth.
Although it has been often imitated by other groups, nothing built to date can match the sheer power of the AT-AT walker.
The AT-AT’s weapon payload is simple but impressive. Throughout most of the Galactic Civil War, the AT-AT was equipped with two chin-mounted heavy laser cannons and two medium blaster cannons on a swivel mount.
With the AT-AT’s high elevation to benefit it, the walker acts like a weapons platform, raining down death from above. The chin cannons are powerful enough to wipe out artillery and enemy installations while the side-mounted blaster cannons have the range and speed to destroy smaller and faster targets.
After Endor, a change was made to the AT-AT’s armament to make it even more powerful by replacing the laser cannons with light turbolasers. There have also been other variants on the AT-AT design and weapons payload, although none of them see widespread use in the Empire.
AT-AT’s must be deployed to a battle through the use of special landing barges. There are different types of these barges, but the size of the AT-AT means that a landing barge must be even larger to carry it. For that reason, most AT-AT landing barge designs can only carry one AT-AT down to the surface at a time. Only very large ships, like the Executor-class Super Star Destroyer, can carry landing barges capable of transporting down multiple AT-AT’s at once.
The AT-AT’s size also makes troop deployment difficult. To get to the surface, AT-AT troops use a rappeling cable to rapidly exit from the sides of the craft, in much the same manner as paratroopers. Larger ordinance can only be unloaded by the walker awkwardly kneeling down and extended its ramps.
While their armor is thick enough to be able to shrug off blaster and artillery fire without problem, AT-AT’s do have a few weak points. As a necessary sacrifice to give the “head” a large range of movement, their “necks” are vulnerable to enemy fire due to the lighter materials used to keep it flexible. Although, as any pilot who has fought them will attest, getting close enough to an AT-AT’s neck for that kind of shot is near suicidal.
The underside of the AT-AT is also, by necessity, much less heavily armored. Like many heavy armor designs, the walkers aren’t equipped to handle enemy troops if they get past the guns. This is why AT-AT’s are usually escorted by smaller walkers, such as the AT-ST or AT-PT, to protect the undersides from being exploited.
A somewhat more esoteric method of downing AT-AT’s was first seen at the Battle of Hoth by tying up the legs. While effective, it can be just as suicidal as trying to get a shot at the neck. This strategy can also be easily countered by stopping the walker and using the troops inside to cut the line before continuing forward, making it at best a stalling tactic.
Starfighter-class missiles and bombs have also been shown to be powerful enough to penetrate an AT-AT’s armor, to say nothing of capital ship scale weapons.