After receiving a tip from a Future Industries worker, Avatar Korra, Tenzin, and Lin Beifong met the informant beneath the Silk Road Bridge. There, he explained that Hiroshi Sato fabricated Equalist weapons beneath his mansion, and was in the process of developing a new, more potent weapon for the revolution. Later that night, once the Metalbending Police Force had found and infiltrated Hiroshi's secret Equalist factory, they discovered that these new armaments were in the form of large, mechanized robots.
The mecha tanks, which were piloted by Equalists, attacked Korra and the other intruders. Korra, Tenzin, Lin, and the other police officers were swiftly incapacitated during the battle with the mechanical behemoths. The group, however, was daringly rescued by Bolin, Mako, and Asami while the Equalists were occupied hauling the remaining police officers into their trucks.
After Korra's abduction, the search for the Avatar allowed Lin the opportunity to rescue the captured officers in the tunnel network underneath Republic City, which was being used as an underground Equalist base. Lin, Tenzin, and the rest of Team Avatar became surrounded in the subterranean rail network alongside the rescued officers, cornered by Equalists and mecha tanks. However, Lin avoided the confrontation by using her metalbending to create an alternate escape route through the ceiling.
The Equalists utilized a number of mecha tanks during their Battle for Republic City. The tanks notably attacked the police headquarters and abducted metal-clad officers using large magnets that were connected to the arms of the tanks. These captured officers included Chief Saikhan and Officer Song. Outnumbered, Tenzin fought a losing battle against the tanks. However, the mecha tanks were subsequently defeated with the help of the remaining members of Team Avatar, who stepped into the fight after Tenzin's brief capitulation.
Numerous mecha tanks surrounded the Pro-bending Arena during Amon's rally. There were also a large number present at Hiroshi's secret airfield. One was commandeered by Asami to destroy Equalist biplanes. Meanwhile, as Bolin took the opportunity to damage the runways of the airfield, three mecha tanks attempted to stop him. However, when they fired their electric tethers, Naga caught all three ropes in her mouth and pulled them, causing the tanks to violently lose balance and rendering them inoperable. One tank even slid extremely close to Bolin who exclaimed "wow" and later thanked the polar bear dog for her help.
While destroying the biplanes, Asami was confronted by her father, who was also in a mecha tank. The two engaged in a brief battle, eventually prompting Hiroshi to state that there was no hope for Asami. Just as Hiroshi was about to deliver the final blow to his daughter, his mecha tank came under attack by Bolin, who launched numerous large chunks of earth at him. He eventually abandoned his tank and attempted to escape on foot, but was captured when Asami used her mecha tank to launch an electrified bola at him.
The mecha tanks are large, mechanized robots made out of platinum – a metal so pure that metalbending has no effect on it; fires generated by low to moderate-level firebending also seem to have little to no effect upon its armor. They are capable of movement by utilizing two tank-like treads. The mecha tanks also have two claw-like hands with three large digits and can shoot a retractable two-pronged claw via a metal cable in the middle of their hands. Some display only one of such hands, having a giant magnet where the other would be. They are capable of producing electricity and dispersing it through their metal hands and claws to electrocute their opponents. In addition, the tanks are capable of shooting out spiraling disks, located in the holes between each digit, that contain metal cables that tangle around their victims and then electrocute them. The tanks also sport a number of green lights on their torso.
The torso and head of the machine sport a number of glass windows, which in turn provide the operator with a 360 degree view of their environment. In addition, the torso is made up of numerous metal plates that open and close to allow Equalists to enter and exit the mecha tank.
The vehicles stay upright by a third wheel behind the main body, giving it a tricycle-like method of movement.
Sato designed these vehicles with controls closely akin to the forklift models his company manufactures, easing the learning curve for the controls.
The tanks are capable of firing discs that contain cables through which a powerful electrical impulse can be delivered, capable of rendering any individual unconscious. As a disc, it can be shot away with great accuracy, and once airborne, three ropes emerge from three holes at the side; when these ropes enfold their victim, they electrify them almost instantly.
During the attack on Republic City, it was shown that some tanks are equipped with large magnets used for capturing metalbending police officers via their metal uniforms.
Although they are extremely versatile pieces of machinery, the design of the mecha tank has exhibited various weaknesses against non-metalbenders. If water is poured into the machine's exhaust outlet, in the form of pipes on its back, the engine will stall, leaving it unable to move or attack. Additionally, since platinum is not necessarily durable, sufficient force can break through the tank's defenses, as seen when Lin Beifong managed to punch several holes into the tank's cockpit using the hidden blades of her wrist gauntlets.
Mecha tanks can also have their electrical impulses used against them by firebenders capable of lightning redirection, resulting in an electrical malfunction. They can also be easily lifted and pushed by large airbending blasts, while earthbending attacks from below can knock them off balance. Mecha tanks also possess enough force exertion in their arms to inflict heavy damage to other machines. The electric tethers can be utilized to knock the tanks off balance and neutralize them.
- A schematic for the mecha tanks can be seen on the wall during the Lieutenant's conversation with Amon when Korra announced her arrival in Republic City.
- Like various other mechanized modes of transportation in the World of Avatar, the mecha tanks are computer generated, as opposed to being hand-drawn.
- In real life, pure platinum is a very malleable metal, almost as soft as gold, and would be useless as armor. In addition, platinum is very expensive, further making its usage in armor problematic at best. It does, however, have a very high melting point, 3214.9°F, making it nearly impervious to firebending attacks.
- The mecha tanks draw many parallels from the Sentinels in X-Men, the Big Daddies from the Bioshock video game series, as well as the Amplified Mobility Platforms from James Cameron's Avatar film. In addition, they look somewhat similar to the lighter mechs from the Western Battletech series. The "heavy" visual design and wheeled/treaded legs also draw parallels to the Scopedog from the Armored Trooper VOTOMS anime series.
- Its reverse tricycle configuration could be compared to the Czar tank, a massive, experimental vehicle built by the Russians during the First World War.
- According to Asami, mecha tanks are operated and built similarly to Future Industries forklifts.
- The creation of these vehicles in the Avatar universe may draw a parallel to the fact that in the 1920s, armored vehicles were being designed for future battles after WWI proved tanks could be very useful.
- According to the creators in the Korra: Making of a Legend marathon, the visual appearance of the mecha tanks was inspired by the works of Jules Verne and the design was based on late 19th and early 20th century diving suits.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "The Aftermath". Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko (writers) & Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki Hyun Ryu (directors). The Legend of Korra. Nickelodeon. May 19, 2012. No. 7, Book One: Air
- ↑ "Out of the Past". Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko (writers) & Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki Hyun Ryu (directors). The Legend of Korra. Nickelodeon. June 9, 2012. No. 9, Book One: Air
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "Turning the Tides". Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko (writers) & Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki Hyun Ryu (directors). The Legend of Korra. Nickelodeon. June 16, 2012. No. 10, Book One: Air
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 "Endgame". Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko (writers) & Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki Hyun Ryu (directors). The Legend of Korra. Nickelodeon. June 23, 2012. No. 12, Book One: Air
- ↑ "Welcome to Republic City". Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko (writers) & Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki Hyun Ryu (directors). The Legend of Korra. Nickelodeon. April 14, 2012. No. 1, Book One: Air