The Timber Wolf (Inner Sphere designation: Mad Cat) is the most iconic of all BattleMech in Battletech, both in-universe and outside. Its large shoulder-mounted missile launchers, egg-like torso and long gun arms make it instantly recognisable amongst the other mechs.
The Timber Wolf was designed by Clan Wolf and came to be in 2945 as part of a second generation of BattleMechs, with the goal of replacing the similar but inferior Woodsman BattleMech. Clan Wolf quickly discovered that the Timber Wolf was a winning design and jealously guarded the specifics of the 'Mech until the other Clans learned to make their own through stripping down Timber Wolves they bought or scavenged.
It took until 3049 for the Inner Sphere to first encounter the Timber Wolf, they dubbed it the Mad Cat (as a result of a targeting system, not having data on the Timber Wolf, trying to decide if it was seeing a MArauDer 'mech or did it see a CATapult 'mech; the Marauder has the Wolf's arm and leg designs and laser weapons while the Catapult's torso and missile launchers look a lot like that of the Wolf's). During this first encounter the Timber Wolf wrecked the Sphere forces' shit: it was too fast and too well-armed for a mech of its size: it was the toughness and firepower of an Assault 'Mech on the body of a 75 ton Heavy 'Mech. Because of its large arsenal and high speed it can quickly change the distance between itself and its target to pick the optimal weapon based on distance and weakness of the target.
Where most BattleMechs specialize in one of two different kinds of weapons, the Timber Wolf's primary outfit contains all three of the weapon archetypes: energy, missile and projectile.
- The Timber Wolf has five laser weapons: two ER Large Lasers, two ER Medium Lasers and one Medium Pulse Laser. These are the Wolf's primary weapons for long and medium range engagements, dealing significant damage to its targets.
- The shoulder launchers hold two LRM-20 installations designed to shower the target with missiles at long distances, who while effective become less reliable at short distances and lack the reliable damage that the Wolf's lasers do.
- Finally the Timber Wolf has a pair of Machine Guns built in to defend itself against infantry targets at close rangers. While they can be used against other BattleMechs, the Machine Guns lack the punch to deal significant damage unless extremely long barrages of fire are used.
On top it all off the Timber Wolf is an Omnimech, a mech that is designed to be easily able to switch out loadouts to fit its current mission allowing it to laser spam one day and missle boat the next.
Mad Cats, Mad Cats Everywhere
Being an awesome mech, it was inevitable that everyone and their dog tried to replicate its success:
- Mad Cat mk.II - The Clan Diamond Shark, the greedy bastards they are, realized that they could cash in on Timber Wolf's reputation and basically made a 90-ton Assault-class version of it. Packing twin LRM-10 racks and the Mad Cat's profile,the MKII variant is notable in that it packs a gauss rifle in each arm and is capable of mounting jump-jets to increase mobility.
- Mad Cat mk.III - Trying to corner new markets, the Sharks made a medium 55-ton version of the Timber Wolf. The Clans think of it as an insult.
- Mad Cat mk.IV - Better known as Savage Wolf, it is for all purposes the Dark Era Timber Wolf, a direct upgrade to the original 75-ton model with the new post-Jihad technologies.
- Rakshasa - An Inner Sphere knock-off courtesy of Federated Suns. Rather okay in specs, but trying to emulate the Timber Wolf and being merely okay at it gave it a very bad reputation, preventing any widespread popularity.