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"Napalm, no matter how rubbish they think they are, always manage to get through."
Philippa Forrester to the Steg-O-Saw-Us team in Series 3.

Napalm was a competitor robot from the Dartford Girls Grammar School. It fought in Series 2, 3 and 5 of Robot Wars, also entering in the first series of Robot Wars Extreme. It reached the Series Semi-Finals in The Second Wars and the Heat Final of the Third Wars.

Napalm was a famously fragile robot, even from its debut appearance. David Crosby and his students never shirked from that reputation and indeed were the first to admit and joke about their robot's frailty. Of far greater concern to Crosby was the involvement of his students - Napalm notably the most famous robot to be driven by women, with team members Clare Greenaway and Victoria Allgood driving the robot in most of its battles. Despite the reputation for frailty, Napalm achieved a number of combat victories against more potently armed opponents with a remarkable string of luck.

Versions of NapalmEdit

Although differing in its appearances, all versions of Napalm were essentially the same - a two-wheeled "titanium hull", featuring an axe with two steel spikes as its main weapon. The axe (or the mandibles as was its more commonly used name) never did much damage, and was usually very flimsy, but didn't break, just like the rest of Napalm. The robot was said to have a top speed of 15mph.

Napalm was not the most secure robot (some parts were usually hanging off) and was once described by one of the team members in the Robopig team as a "pile of junk", which captain David Crosby humorously agreed with.

Napalm (Series 2-3, Extreme 1)Edit

Napalm 1

Napalm from Series 2

The original Napalm from Series 2 was box-shaped with a flame-coloured titanium ramming scoop with two headlight "eyes" on the front which could push its own 84.1kg. The titanium had been donated to the team, and it featured a steel arm at the back which, when raised, would activate a micro-switch to turn on its main weapon, a 16" chainsaw.

"...the chainsaw was a cheap plastic one and was easily ripped off as it was only cable tied down."
— Oliver Steeples[1]

However, the chainsaw was broken off by Sir Killalot during Napalm's Gauntlet run and was never fixed, so Napalm used the mandibles on the end of the arm as an axe weapon. Despite the weakness of the weapon, Napalm was able to win its heat, but was eliminated from the semi-finals in the Pinball Trial in very controversial circumstances, despite scoring more points than Mortis.

"The dents from the last war, you can still see them. There's scratches, and there's bits hanging off...and they're hoping to win!"
— Philippa Forrester in Series 3
Napalm official image series 3

Series 3 appearance, virtually unchanged from the previous year

Napalm returned for Series 3 with no modifications at all, still using the ineffective mandible weapon, and with damage from the previous war still visible, costing £5,000 and mostly unreliable. Despite this, the robot still managed to reach the heat final, but was defeated by Steg-O-Saw-Us on a Judges' decision. In both Series 2 and 3, this version of Napalm weighed over the then Heavyweight limit.

Napalm Extreme

The original Napalm in Extreme 1

The team also entered a black version of the robot in the Tag Team and Vengeance events in Extreme Series 1, but lost both of its battles, when it fought opponents much more capable of destroying it.

Napalm 2 (Extreme 1, Series 5)Edit

"Looks like one of those nodding donkeys you see out on the oil fields of Texas..."
— Jonathan Pearce on Napalm's weapon.
Napalm official photo

Front view of Napalm 2.

The team built a new version of the robot called Napalm 2, which was a similar shape but lower and with a hull made completely from titanium. Its weapon was a rear axe with a single steel spike, powered by wheelchair motors and resembling a garden pitchfork. It was entered in the Extreme 1 Mayhem and Annihilator events, winning its mayhem battle, but was forced to withdraw after the first round of the annihilator. It was also entered in Series 5, winning its first battle, but was quickly immobilised against Wild Thing in the second round.

RivalriesEdit

MortisEdit

Mortis hammers Napalm

Mortis hammers Napalm

Napalm's most infamous rivalry was with the Mortis team, due to the controversial circumstances around Napalm's elimination from The Second Wars. Having themselves scored a rather disappointing 65 points (by comparison, Panic Attack scored 320), Mortis' run went even worse, a track broke on an arena spike, leaving them with the score of 0 points. The production crew offered Mortis a second run, as the teams had been told that the spikes would not be used, however Rob Knight declined, feeling that he would be cheating other competitors; however the production crew insisted, so Knight left the controls in the hands of the inexperienced Ben Impey. Impey's lack of control over the machine was apparent, as Mortis failed to score any serious points, a round total of about 35; however the House Robots took their turn at scoring points, to allow the favourites to continue. The score came in at 100 points, leaving Napalm eliminated, and the girls in tears. As a result of this a grudge match was set up during the special at the end of the series. It was evident throughout the battle who the stronger machine was, and it came as no surprise to anyone that Mortis won, after hacking the 'eye' of the front of Napalm, before it backed into the pit. Claire Greenaway and Rob Knight kissed and made up to end the rivalry at the gesture of Craig Charles.

"I think he's better than us"
— Clare Greenaway after the fight.

Robot HistoryEdit

Series 2Edit

Killalot napalm

Napalm is pushed by Sir Killalot

Napalm competed in the very first heat of Series 2, although it arrived overweight, so it had to be modified to reach the weight limit. It drove straight at the bricks in the Gauntlet and got stuck. Sir Killalot came in from behind and broke the chainsaw off (this was never repaired). It achieved 7.5 metres, which put it through to the Trial.

Napalm skittles

Napalm knocks down enough Skittles

Napalm started the trial by knocking down the skittles on the outside of the triangle. It got stuck and knocked down nine barrels, which was enough to go through in joint second place, despite the relatively low score compared to Demolition Demon's 20.

Napalm faced Panda Monium in the Heat Semi-Final. Panda Monium fairly swiftly drove into the PPZ and was flipped over by Matilda, even though Napalm appeared to slow down.

Napalm v demolition demon

Napalm scores vital aggression points

In the Heat Final, Napalm faced Demolition Demon and pushed it onto the Flame Pit, but was pushed into a PPZ, where it was caught by the house robots. Napalm escaped, but was pushed repeatedly and had a panel torn off. Napalm was pushed into by Shunt, before Demolition Demon wedged underneath it. The Judges gave Napalm the win on the basis that it was more aggressive.

Jonathan Pearce: "The girls delighted, the boys despondent, and the crowd don't like it."
Craig Charles: "Well the judges say, although you sustained a lot of damage, it was given to you by the House Robots and that you were far more aggressive than Demolition Demon!"
— The announcement
NapalmS2GauntletSF

Napalm is toppled onto its side

In the Semi-Final, Napalm chose the middle route of the Gauntlet. Barrelling down the course, it crossed the ramp and ran into Shunt. Before Shunt and Matilda could block it, Napalm reversed and plowed into a gap to reach the end zone. Though Matilda caught and flipped it, Napalm was in the end zone and managed to finish first on the leaderboard.

"Nippy Napalm, nasty napping House Robots!"
— Jonathan Pearce

In the Pinball trial, Napalm knocked down bricks and barrels, using its mandibles to shake free when it became beached. Following its success in the Gauntlet, Napalm again selected the ramp route but fell off one side before it could cross. Sir Killalot held it over the flame pit, Napalm managed a score of 65 points. Unfortunately this wasn't enough, and Napalm was eliminated from the competition.

The machine met Mortis in a grudge match after some controversy relating to Mortis' pinball run. It was lifted by Mortis' wedge shape before trying to attack it. Napalm then had an 'eye' knocked off, and it was repeatedly hammered, before driving into the pit.

Series 3Edit

Napalm vs kater killer

Napalm pushes Kater Killer

Napalm returned completely unchanged from Series 2, the only robot to be so. It faced newcomers Kater Killer in the first round of the heat. Napalm started the match by pushing Kater Killer, who then lifted Napalm a few centimetres off the ground. Napalm then tried to pit Kater Killer, who just escaped, before pushing Napalm back. The Judges' decision that followed went in favour of Napalm, putting them through to the next round.

Napalm vs robopig

Robopig is flipped over

In the second round battle, Napalm met more newcomers Robopig, who started stronger, pushing Napalm with its snout, and pushing it into Shunt. However, Robopig drove up the front ram and it was stuck on its back. Napalm nudged Robopig and it fell upside down, rendering it immobile. House robot Sir Killalot then picked up Robopig but famously caught fire after dragging Robopig over the flame pit.

"Napalm the victors, I love the smell of toasted bacon!"
— Craig Charles makes a play on the famous Apocalypse Now quote
Napalm vs Steg

Steg-O-Saw-Us rams Napalm

Going through, previous Semi-Finalists Napalm went up against original reserves Steg-O-Saw-Us in the Heat Final, Napalm was lifted by its opponent's wedge and pushed into Shunt's CPZ.

Steg-O-Saw-Us Napalm 2

A crumpled Napalm pushes Steg-O-Saw-Us in the closing seconds

"It doesn't look long before bits start falling off"
— Jonathan Pearce.

Napalm managed to push Steg-O-Saw-Us back into the arena wall, but was rammed repeatedly, before getting stuck on the arena wall. Sir Killalot freed Napalm, before pushing it into the arena wall. The fight ended with both robots still mobile, therefore it going to a Judges' decision. The decision went in favour of Steg-O-Saw-Us and Napalm was eliminated from the competition.

Extreme 1Edit

Steel Avenger vs Napalm

Napalm sustains a blow from Steel Avenger

Napalm fought with two different models in Extreme. The first was merely the Series 3 version of Napalm painted black and red. The other, that fought in Series 5 (otherwise known as Napalm 2), was smaller, with a lower shape. The first Napalm fought in the Tag Team Terror and the Vengeance battle, and the other fought in the Mayhem and Annihilator.

RWEX1 TTT Suicidal Tendencies grips Napalm

Napalm is crushed by Suicidal Tendencies

NapalmSirChromalotvsSteelAvengerSuicidalTendencies

Napalm is dropped out of the arena

Napalm's disastrous partnership with Sir Chromalot ended quickly, and badly. They were up against The Steel Avenger and Suicidal Tendencies in the first round. Napalm was forced to bear the brunt of both The Steel Avenger's and Suicidal Tendencies' attacks, as it was they who came out first and they were unable to run back to tag, it was lured into the opposing corner allowing both opponents to lay into Napalm. The Steel Avenger dealt heavy blows with its axe, and Suicidal Tendencies dug its claw into the side and tore panels away. A final blow from The Steel Avenger was followed by house robot Sir Killalot picking up, carrying, and finally dumping Napalm outside of the arena wall. Sir Chromalot then finally came out of its corner. They put up a feeble fight to the others, before being pitted, eliminating Napalm and Sir Chromalot from the competition.

MayhemNapalmGeminiSpider

Napalm 2 watches as Gemini is counted out

Napalm vs Gemini

The victorious Napalm 2 is pitted

In the Mayhem, Napalm 2 went up against Wild Cards The Spider and clusterbot Gemini, who were the favourites for their Mayhem battle. The Spider burnt out over the flame pit not long into the fight and they were counted out, leaving Napalm to fight Gemini. Napalm was tossed repeatedly in the air by the clusterbot, just managing to stay mobile. However, one of the more common malfunctions in Gemini caused one of the twins to fall flat on its back, with the anti-wheelie bar holding it in that position. It was soon joined by the other twin, which suffered the same fate as the other after trying to right the first fallen twin. This left Napalm as the very unlikely winner, as they were still limping towards the end as Gemini was counted out. Despite the battle outcome already being decided, Shunt shoved both one Gemini twin and Napalm into the pit.

Craig Charles: "You're through to the annihilator, but when you think about it, aren't you just going to be cannon-fodder in that?"
David Crosby: "I've got no objection to that at all. We're used to it."
— After Napalm's surprise victory

In the Annihilator to come, Napalm added a toy skull on top of the axe. It was up against Panic Attack, Fighting Torque, Disc-O-Inferno, Spirit of Knightmare and The Steel Avenger in the first round. It was already at a major disadvantage, as its left-hand drive had already given way, rendering Napalm incapable of free movement, as Refbot had to push it into the arena.

"I worry about the defensive capabilities of this, in this sort of company..."
Jonathan Pearce doubting Napalm's chances in the annihilator
SoK vs Napalm 2

Napalm is attacked by Spirit of Knightmare and Panic Attack

Spirit of Knightmare slid beneath Napalm, shunting it into Sir Killalot's CPZ and taking it out of the fight for most of the opening moments. Napalm was then shunted between Spirit of Knightmare, Panic Attack and The Steel Avenger. Soon after it was plucked from the ground, and then attacked by Disc-O-Inferno. Napalm's drive issues became obvious as it was only going in circles towards the end, just outside Shunt's CPZ. It survived elimination in this round though because Fighting Torque was already ripped to pieces by Disc-O-Inferno and counted out by Refbot. Napalm was through to the second round, but was forced to withdraw from the Annihilator as it was so badly damaged from the first round and the robot would require much more time than what was given for it to be repaired ready for battle again.

"We have about 5 minutes, we need about 5 days!"
— David Crosby before Round 2 of the Annihilator
VengeanceNapalmThermidor

Napalm is left battered

Thermidornapalm

Napalm is thrown out of the arena

Napalm finally fought a Vengeance battle against Thermidor 2 in the final episode of Extreme 1 after Team Lobster made a staged sexist comment saying Robot Wars wasn't a place for women. In the battle, Napalm broke apart after being constantly flipped around the arena by Thermidor 2, it was brought over to the flame pit, left by Thermidor 2 for the Refbot to count out. When Napalm was given the red card by Refbot, Thermidor 2 came in again and flipped out of the arena before the house robots could come in. At the end of the fight, Team Lobster did apologise for their previous comments despite being victorious.

Series 5Edit

Napalmwarhog

Napalm and Warhog break down together

Despite competing in Robot Wars Extreme with two Napalm models, only the Napalm 2 model was used in Series 5. In the first round of Series 5, Napalm 2 was drawn against Warhog, a full body spinner. It struggled to build up a meaningful attack, before pushing Warhog into Matilda.

"Are we watching this in slow-motion?"
— Jonathan Pearce

Napalm tried to axe Warhog with its spikes but caused minimal damage. It got stuck on an angle grinder near the end, so the battle went to a Judges' decision, who put Napalm 2 through to the next round on grounds of better aggression, having avoided taking damage from Warhog's inactive weapon.

Wildthingnapalm

Napalm is pitted

Napalm then faced the 9th seeds Wild Thing in the second round of the heat.

"This is our fifth successive war and this time we hope to do some real damage."
— Vicky Allgood

In this fight, Napalm 2 stopped moving after one very powerful slam from the seeds, having its armour severely damaged before eventually being pitted and eliminated from the competition. This was Napalm 2's and the Dartford Girls Grammar School's final appearance in Robot Wars.

"Vicki loves her computer programming - hoping to program a response from Napalm..."
— Jonathan Pearce.

ResultsEdit

NAPALM - RESULTS
Series 2
The Second Wars - UK Championship
Semi-Final, Trial
Heat A, Gauntlet 7.5m (4th) Qualified
Heat A, Trial (Skittles) 9 Barrels (2nd) Qualified
Heat A, Semi-Final vs. Panda Monium Won
Heat A, Final vs. Demolition Demon Won
Semi-Final 1, Gauntlet Completed (1st) Qualified
Semi-Final 1, Trial (Pinball) 65 points (5th) Eliminated
Grudge Matches
Judgement Day 2
Judgement Day 2 vs. Mortis Lost
Series 3
The Third Wars - UK Championship
Heat Final
Heat G, Round 1 vs. Kater Killer Won
Heat G, Round 2 vs. Robopig Won
Heat G, Final vs. Steg-O-Saw-Us Lost
Extreme Series 1
Tag Team Terror
Competing with Sir Chromalot, Round 1
Round 1 vs. Suicidal Tendencies & The Steel Avenger Lost
Other Battles
Vengeance
Vengeance vs. Thermidor 2 Lost
NAPALM 2 - RESULTS
Extreme Series 1
Mayhem & Annihilator
Fifth in Second Annihilator
Mayhem vs. Gemini, The Spider Won
Round 1 vs. Disc-O-Inferno, Fighting Torque, Panic Attack,
Spirit of Knightmare, The Steel Avenger
Qualified
Round 2 vs. Disc-O-Inferno, Panic Attack,
Spirit of Knightmare, The Steel Avenger
Eliminated
NOTE: Napalm 2 had been so badly damaged from Round 1 that it was forced to withdraw. The competition proceeded to Round 3.
Series 5
The Fifth Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 2
Heat E, Eliminator vs. Warhog Won
Heat E, Semi-Final vs. Wild Thing (9) Lost
Napalm in pits s3

Napalm in the pits during Series 3

Wins/LossesEdit

  • Wins: 7
  • Losses: 7

Series RecordEdit

Main Series Napalm Record
The First Wars Entered with Detonator
The Second Wars Semi-Finals, Trial as Napalm
The Third Wars Heat Final as Napalm
The Fourth Wars Entered with Shadow of Napalm
War of Independence with Detonator
The Fifth Wars Heat, Round 2 as Napalm 2
The Sixth Wars Did not enter
The Seventh Wars Did not enter
Series 8 Did not enter
Series 9 Did not enter
Robot Wars Extreme Appearances
Series 1 Entered with Napalm and Napalm 2
Series 2 Did not enter

Trivia Edit

  • A lifting device was designed and built for the front of Napalm 2, but was not installed.[2]
  • David Crosby claimed that Napalm 3 was being developed for Series 6, along with an overhaul of the team's image.[3] It is unknown whether Napalm 3 was ever finished.
  • In Napalm 2's Series 5 introduction, Philippa Forrester stated that the team were competing with 'pretty much the same robot that they had last year.' However, this is incorrect, as Napalm 2 did not compete in Series 4, with Dartford Girls Grammar instead competing with Shadow of Napalm.

ReferencesEdit

  1. http://freespace.virgin.net/oliver.steeples/enter.htm
  2. http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/dcrosby/welcome.html
  3. ibid.

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