M512 smooth-bore high-velocity cannon

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M512 smooth-bore high-velocity cannon
Production overview


Vehicle-mounted cannon


Ammunition type:

90mm tungsten Armor Piercing Ballistic Capped Round
90mm S1 canister shell

Feed system:


Rate of fire:

15 rounds per minute.[note 1]

Effective range:


Service history

In service:

Human-Covenant War
Post-Covenant War conflicts


The M512 smooth-bore high-velocity cannon, or simply the M512 cannon, is a 90mm gun mounted on M808 Scorpion tanks.

Design details[edit]

The M512 cannon is mounted on the rear of the tank's chassis. The weapon's design remains for the most part unchanged from 20th century tanks: the M512 cannon is mounted in a fully traversing turret weapon mount which allows the cannon to rotate 360 degrees and to move -30 to approximately +60 traverse.[1] A gyroscope is used to stabilize the cannon, allowing it to be effectively aimed and fired at the "short halt" or on the move.

The M512 cannon is fitted with insulating thermal jackets to reduce gun-barrel warping caused by uneven thermal expansion.[2] Unlike modern tanks however, the M512 cannon is mounted on the aft section of the Scorpion's chassis and contains no crew compartment as the loading is handled by an autoloader system and the targeting and firing is done electronically from the crew compartment.


The M512 cannon can be fitted with a wide variety of 90mm ammunition. The most commonly employed round is the 90mm tungsten armor-piercing ballistic-capped round.[3] This type of round sacrifices armor penetration for larger amounts high explosive filler, this round is accelerated at a high velocity and can strike a target at extremely long ranges.[note 2]

Another type of ammunition employed is the S1 canister shell, which provides the Scorpion tank with destructive capabilities without the use of traditional high explosives. The Canister round is lethal against enemy infantry when machine guns or other weaponry cannot be used effectively. The S1 is also effective at breaching walls and damaging structures or other vehicles.[4]



The M512 cannon can effectively destroy any light vehicle with only one shot. Even heavy vehicles like the Covenant Type-26 Wraith can only withstand two-three rounds before being destroyed. Because of its high area-of-effect and high velocity it is a very useful anti infantry weapon as well, able to kill even the toughest infantry like the Mgalekgolo in just one shot. Shots from a 90mm Cannon are also very effective at destroying walls or structures if enough shots are fired at it. The cannon also has very little recoil, which may be attributed to an added muzzle brake or its design.


The M512 cannon is unable to fire on anything too close to the cannon or the Scorpion's chassis, as the cannon cannot traverse that close. The cannon's high area-of-effect means that precision kills are next to impossible - friendly infantry or vehicles near the target are likely to feel the force of the blast as much as the intended target. The M512 cannon must be reloaded after every shot and takes between three to four seconds, which may give the enemy enough time to react against the tank. In addition, the smoke trail the round leaves behind when fired can compromise the tank's location, making it easy for enemy anti-armor personnel to locate the Scorpion.



  • In Halo: Combat Evolved, the cannon is quite inaccurate; the shot had high deviation, but compensated with a large explosive radius.
  • Using the M512 in the level Delta Halo in Halo 2 is tricky, particularly when the player moves into tight quarters and encounters Type-32 Ghosts due to the steep angles of the Forerunner structures. Self-harm is a constant worry. It is best for players to remain in an open spot and let the Ghosts come to the player, picking them as soon as they appear. If this option is not available it is recommended that players use the Scorpion's turret machine gun instead, which is just as effective thanks to its impressive accuracy and high damage.
  • If the player acquires a Scorpion near the beginning of Quarantine Zone, the rest of the mission becomes spectacularly easy; the range of the M512 allows the user to pulverize any and all Flood resistance in their way, and two-shot Sentinel Enforcers with ease.
  • The M512 is undoubtedly at its best in Halo 3; its accuracy is near pin-point with almost no drop, and the splash damage is predictable enough to allow for a skilled tank gunner to eliminate entire Covenant squads with a single round. This is most visible during the latter part of The Ark, where engagements with enemies take place across wide open areas
  • In Halo 3 on the level The Ark, Phantoms can be brought down with a few well placed shots at one of their engines.


  • In Halo 3, the 90mm cannon requires players to lead their shot against moving targets. Move the reticule just slightly ahead of the target and fire. When going up against aircraft like the AV-14 Hornet or the Type-26 Banshee, players must also aim ahead of their target as well as above to ensure a direct strike. Depending on how fast the target is moving, the reticule needs to be slightly ahead of the target or just outside the reticule.
  • In Halo: Reach, most maps that spawn a Scorpion have large, open lines of sight; perfect for the cannon's accuracy. Sit in relative safety and pick off targets of opportunity.
  • In Halo 4, the cannon's shots produces a noticeable vapor trail similar to that of a sniper rifle when fired, and reveals the tank's location. The cannon's shells travel much slower than they did in Halo: Reach, and arc at a higher rate than before. Also, unlike previous Halo titles, the tank round can be bounced off some surfaces.


  • If the cannon is modded onto another vehicle, such as a Warthog or a Hornet, the weapon's recoil will be so powerful that the smaller vehicle will go flying.[5][6]
  • "High-velocity" is a real-world term for a tank cannon with a projectile velocity between 1,550 and 3,350 feet per second (472 m/s to 1,021 m/s), such as the 90mm M3 Gun used by the M26 Pershing.[7]
  • In Halo: Reach, it is possible to shoot off the cannon of the Scorpion using another Scorpion.



  1. The 15 rounds per minute rate of fire is based off a calculation of 1 round fired every 4 seconds, 15 rounds fired every 4 seconds would come out to 60 seconds. <math>15 x 4 = 60</math>. This is based off of the reload time of the 90mm cannon in Halo 3.
  2. In the Halo universe, it appears that traditional shells have replaced the Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot Round used during the later half of the twentieth century. Whether this has to do with advances in ballistic performance, newer explosive materials, or different firing mechanisms is not known.

List of Appearances[edit]