EA Tanks

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EA Tanks

Postby Eryx » Wed Nov 05, 2003 1:41 pm

Finished reading the EA book last night. Top notch book, the best yet. :)

One thing did cath my eye though. The army vehicles and tanks... in an era when Earth has energy weapons on everything from Starfuries to Destroyers, why are their tanks still using shells and not energy weapons?

A Starfury is smaller than a tank but it has energy weapons so the idea of size is out the window.

Thoughts?
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Re: EA Tanks

Postby rbax » Wed Nov 05, 2003 4:31 pm

Eryx wrote:Finished reading the EA book last night. Top notch book, the best yet. :)

One thing did cath my eye though. The army vehicles and tanks... in an era when Earth has energy weapons on everything from Starfuries to Destroyers, why are their tanks still using shells and not energy weapons?

A Starfury is smaller than a tank but it has energy weapons so the idea of size is out the window.

Thoughts?
One obvious reason is that many energy type weapon do not respond particularly well in an atmosphere. Lasers, for instance, can be highly degraded in certain rather common weather conditions (like rain). Particle weapons are limited by the fact that they are forced to interact with particles throughout their flight path rather than just the target's (as in space which admittedly does have particles but at a much lower density).

Other realities are that ballistic flight has its advantages. Energy weapons are limited to line of site. They can't be fired over walls, mountains and other terrain which makes your typical energy weapon pretty much useless in the artillary department.

Admittedly these are just a few thoughts and there can be many arguments about "better technology to overcome these problems" and such but it does give an idea to some of the possible disadvantages to what would seem to be "High Tech."

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AND...

Postby ShadowScout » Wed Nov 05, 2003 5:42 pm

...most importantly, energy weapons are said to be not the best in size/armor penetration effectiveness. (In fact, IIRC JMS himself said PPG's are the standard starship crew sidearm because they are faar less likely to cause hull breaches then projectile weapons when a stray shot hits a viewport...)
Oh, sure, a starship-mounted energy gun will blow through armor well enough, but not even half as good as an armor-piercing HEAT shell, or a simple slug of hard metal travelling at the speed a railgun can archieve... and on the ground the lesser range of soch relatively slow moving (compared to lightspeed lasers or near-lightspeed particls bolts) is not that much felt, since you usually don't fire at targets thousands of klicks away like in space combat...
So the EA choose to specialize in those gusn that bring the best effect for theit tech level; you can expect energy-based weaponry for races who have more advanced technology... (Hmmm, Minbari Disruptor Cannons... :wink: )

Note that the anti-personal guns Are energy based - only the anti tank weaponry is projectile or missile.
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Postby CARTMAG » Wed Nov 05, 2003 7:08 pm

interesting topic here... to foil a lazer all you need is smoke... which difuses the lazer.... which well in space isnt an option... but on the ground all you need is an anti lazer grenade and the laser is useless.... but that same technology wouldnt do anything against a Smart shell... not much other the ECM would do anything aganst a shell....

and as Garabaldi said the only reason they went to PPG's for earth force is because of the fact that they cant go through the hull and regular slug throwers are still used for Personal security forces...
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Energy Density

Postby rbax » Wed Nov 05, 2003 7:37 pm

And here is another problem with energy weapons. Energy Density. How much fuel, electricity....stuff does it take to fire a given energy weapon. Most energy weapons require enourmous amounts of electricity.

Obviously a compact fusion reactor takes care of of the problem (assuming you can miniaturize one down to the Mr Fusion size) but many races can only manage the massive energy plant size fusion system and its sundry support equipment for their ships and not their ground vehicles.

In addition, ships have lots of technicians ready, willing and able to repair, tweak and maintain these systems. Tanks do not and worse they tend to operate in fairly nasty (and wide ranging) enviornments which generally are hard on delicate equipment.

Plain old everyday chemical reactions (i.e. bilpro) have their advantages in that they are fairly easy to handle, understand and supply. They are also generally pretty common materials and are fairly controllable for a given technology level.

Besides, as Shadowscout said, a hunk of metal moving sufficiently fast is still going to ruin your day, whether or not it was accelerated by a simple chemical reaction or a fusion powered, super-conducting, linear accelerator.

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Postby ShadowScout » Thu Nov 06, 2003 12:05 pm

rbax wrote:And here is another problem with energy weapons. Energy Density. How much fuel, electricity....stuff does it take to fire a given energy weapon. Most energy weapons require enourmous amounts of electricity.
Obviously a compact fusion reactor takes care of of the problem (assuming you can miniaturize one down to the Mr Fusion size) but many races can only manage the massive energy plant size fusion system and its sundry support equipment for their ships and not their ground vehicles.
True, though it doesn't always have to be a reactor... a large enough high-techy capacitor equivalent will do the job just as well (and can be recharged by the motive system like a car battery between battles).
However, both for that idea and for the races who obviously have such tiny reactors there still is a problem - because it's not just miniaturizing the thing to make it fit in a tank, it's also the question "how much output for how much weight/size?" - if the ratio is too unfavorable (after all, you don't want your tank to be just an reactor/capacitor with a gun, you also want room for the crew, a good engine and motive system and lots of armor plating - And all that in a profile the enemy has to work to spot and hit, or all your investment can be taken out all too easily and before it does you any good...), most races will choose other options (chemical guns or missiles as main armament).
Only those races who have high enough tech to make Powerful mini-reactors (around Centauri tech-level) will probably use primarily energy-based guns as anti-vehicle guns, yet still will prefer projectiles to punch through armor (railguns, gauss cannons, whatever you want to call them - the newest EA tank is also doing this approach BtW - see Odin description); and only the ones who have energy weapons that are both armor-piercing And unaffected by natural or artificial atmospheric interference (like anti-laser smoke) will use true energy guns for their ground forces (Minbari tech-level and above; expect more esotheric forms of energy). However, even at those levels the other options aren't forgotten, since you Still need missiles (maybe grav-driven instead of chamical fuel, but still missiles) for their special abilities (seeking capability, diverse warheads for flexibility, and indirect fire - though the latter two can also be done by projectiles -artillery- and indirect fire could be done even by some forms of slow-moving energy-like stuff - a "plasma mortar" is a possibility...)

And in the end there is another factor - cost.
Chemical guns are cheap compared to the other options, and tanks don't always come back from their missions; so if a cheap gun can do an almost as good job as an expensive one, you can expect many military minds to choose the cheap one instead (at least for the bulk of their forces). After all, it's better to have three gun-armed tanks instead of two gauss armed ones for the same price... and you won't get troubles with the pencil-pushers or the current political opposition for squandering tax money... (an important point in all democratic governments, even in B5 times... sure, noone among the narn Kha'ri would criticise excessive military budgets, but earthdome is another matter... and as one can see in many countries today, it IS an point that can have quite some impact)
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only one exception shadowscout

Postby Lancer 1 » Mon Nov 24, 2003 11:00 am

You mention that chemical guns are cheaper than the energy type, and technically you are right. However, they become much more expensive when you consider the amount of money you must then invest into your supply train in order to keep your combat systems fully armed. It's one reason why the EA stopped using rail gun technology on their ships. Not only do you need to pay for the ammunition itself, but you also have to pay for its transport as well as allocate a military escort in order to help ensure that the supplies make it to the front lines.

There's an old military phrase that sorta applies to this line of thought:

Amateurs use tactics, professionals use logistics.

It's not a shot at you, but I just wanted to illustrate what really is going to win wars. Aside from blowing the hell out of the enemy that is. :twisted:
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Postby ShadowScout » Mon Nov 24, 2003 10:35 pm

You mention that chemical guns are cheaper than the energy type, and technically you are right. However, they become much more expensive when you consider the amount of money you must then invest into your supply train in order to keep your combat systems fully armed.
Well, true. However, the same holds true for energy weapons too - as not many races can build reactors that can run at the power levels big energy weapons need without constant refueling, yes?
So, if your choice is to haul reactor fuel/batteries or turbine fuel and cannon ammo you start at square one again and keep looking at cost/effect relations...
It's one reason why the EA stopped using rail gun technology on their ships.
Tell that to the designers of the Warlock, will'ya! :wink: :P :lol: (In case you don't know - it's weapons mix isn't from AoG, it came from the CGI guy who did the thing for the show, Tim Earls... and I recall AoG had a tough time to scale his figures down to something acceptable for the game... anyway, he officially stated it had "Railguns", and WB said onto AoG "thou shalt not ignore this piece of information"; so they had to write in a few lines to "fix" their earlier lines about the EA stopping to use railguns...)
Not only do you need to pay for the ammunition itself, but you also have to pay for its transport as well as allocate a military escort in order to help ensure that the supplies make it to the front lines.
As if you wouldn't have to do that in any case - well, maybe a race that uses robots exclusively not, but your common EA army will need a Lot of supplies just to keep their warm bodies in that state (can't expect to forage on strange new worlds you know), no matter what they're armed with. So if you have to haul rations and energy cells anyway (and maybe vehicle fuel too - dunno what all those tanks run on, but I presume they're not solar-powered... :wink: ), what does it matter if you send a bigger ship with a few hundred boxes cannon shells too?
There's an old military phrase that sorta applies to this line of thought:
Amateurs use tactics, professionals use logistics.
It's not a shot at you, but I just wanted to illustrate what really is going to win wars. Aside from blowing the hell out of the enemy that is.
Agreed. But see above - it's not that easy to make a supply-indipendent force, not if you want high-tech and if you expect to fight in unknown territory.
And forces expected to fight in known territory (planetary defense force parts of the EA army) can enjoy prepared supply depots anyway...

You have a point, but it's not as big as it may seem at first. (At least for ground guns - starships DO have the reactor power to get practically infinite shots out of their energy guns... same for air with recycler tech... reaction mass is a problem for non-gravitic races, and all living crews will require food; so you see not even they are free from the supply chain; but you can expect ships with extended missions to be energy-weapon heavy and ships designed for system defense or quick, high-intensity combat to carry an far larger number of ammo-intensive weapons...).
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Postby LoneStranger » Tue Nov 25, 2003 6:33 am

ShadowScout one of the other things you gotta remember about the Warlock is that class ship brought back the Medium Laser/Pulse Array even though that was considered a logistical nightmare. In fact the Warlock does a pretty good job of showcasing practically every weapon in the EA inventory. It was nice to see a ship that can be considered effective at multiple ranges and effectively takes the place of the Nova Dreadnought.

Something about seeing a mobile weapons platform just brightens my day :D
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Postby jadrax » Tue Nov 25, 2003 1:20 pm

LoneStranger wrote:.. one of the other things you gotta remember about the Warlock is that class ship brought back the Medium Laser/Pulse Array even though that was considered a logistical nightmare.
I am not sure what sort of ship the warlock is supposed to be, If they intend it always to be a limited number vessal rather then a common ship of the line the logistic issue is not as great.
I kinda see it as filling the British Dreadnaught/Imperial star Destroyer modus, where you have one big intimidating ship to scare people but humbler Omegas et al doing the real work.
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Postby ShadowScout » Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:00 pm

jadrax wrote:I am not sure what sort of ship the warlock is supposed to be, If they intend it always to be a limited number vessal rather then a common ship of the line the logistic issue is not as great.
Supposed to be... well, it's supposed to be the next logical step after the Omega; that's why some call it an "Advanced Destroyer" when it in fact looks more like a typical Battlecruiser to me (Battleship firepower with Cruiser speed)
I kinda see it as filling the British Dreadnaught/Imperial star Destroyer modus, where you have one big intimidating ship to scare people but humbler Omegas et al doing the real work.
True - now. Even though what I wrote above is what EA generals (and especially President Clarke) had in mind for the Warlock, in practice (and especially after the EA civil war, the Telepath war and the Drakh attack) the EA just did not have the resources to spare for large-scale warlock construction, so they're greatly outnumbered by omegas. It's sad that even in SF some dreams must follow realistic options (as long as you have no magic particle of the week to take care of that for you :wink: :P :twisted: )
But in, say, 2300 the Warlock will probably be the EA's workhorse, as intended. (of course, by then it will no longer be the monster it seems in comparison to other races ships in 2260, because those races will have built their own designs to match it...)

But back to the logistics issue and the Warlock's place in it...

Yup, it has some ammo-intensive guns.

Railguns aren't much of a problem - because their ammo is rather small (you don't need a big chunk of metal if you accelerate it fast enough...) it can be stored in large quantities (some people can certainly do the math, and figure out how big a chunk at how high a speed would give you an acceptable result...but I'd guess a few kilos at 75% lightspeed will riun Any ship's day).
Missiles are more of a thing... but the Warlock's racks seem more of an external afterthoght anyway (as in - "we may have no room left inside, but we can slap on some missiles for even more firepower..." Hmmm... advanced Omagas could also start showing up with such missile racks attached to their hammerhead...). If that was the case, then the designers couldn't have put in any other guns anyway, and the Warlock certainly isn't dependent on his missile stockpile - even if the racks run dry, it Still has more then enough firepower to make most other ships retreat at full thrust...
As for the L/P-A's... well, one can assume that tech advances have solved most of the problems that made them such nightmares on the Nova.

So it's supply problems aren't as bad as they might seem. Not enough to make any noticable difference to the usual routine supply runs for EA ships with crews that like to eat... Sure, in war they will require a bit more stuff, but all those missiles expended will certainly have had their effect...
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Postby LoneStranger » Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:06 pm

The Warlock is stated (in B5W fluff) that it's supposed to take over for the Omega eventually or something like that but more accurately it's designed to take the place of the Nova Dreadnought as fleet command ship/heavy hitter. Now before anyone else says it yes I know the Poseidon is supposed to be a fleet command vessel as well but you can't deny that with some work the Warlock can be designed to include fleet C&C capabilities.

The current downside is that the Warlock is produced as rarely as the Nova is.
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Postby ShadowScout » Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:43 pm

Let's just say when they designed it, under Clarke, they thought it would replace the Omega as main EA ship, And they probably made thoughts about an Nova/Poseidon replacement as well - I heard rumors Tim Ears was working on an "carrier" type CGI a la Warlock, that was supposed to be even scarier. May have been just a rumor... but maybe not. In any case, as the EA fell into chaos and civil war, they suffered a lot, so they just didn't have either the industrial capacity Or the industrial growth the Warlock's designers counted on, so they just couldn't chuck out the ship by the hundreds as Clarke dreamt of. and that didn't change in the following years, as the Teep war and the Drakh attack & plague further damaged the EA's capacity. So the warlocks stayed rather rare, and so those few simply got other jobs - the jobs done by the aging Nova class ships, gun platform (easy for it, as the Warlock Dues have a BB's weapons load) and command ship (easy too, as it's a ship every admiral can show off with... and it has enough space for the facilities, and on paper it looks tough enough... in all games I saw one it usually died first though, just because every enemy ship made it a priority target right away - the minbari Do have a point hiding their command staff in one of scores of completely identical Sharlins... but big command ships look just soo impressive that few other races can bring themselves to leave them - so we get the the Centauri Octurian, Dilgar Mishakur, Drazi Stormfalcon, Narn Bin'Tak, Yolu Yuan... or Imperial Super Star Destroyer for that matter - oone can convince me a ship That size which is destroyed That easily was more then a PR gag... :lol: ).

But as I wrote, in a few decades when the EA finally get's their shipyards where they want them, you can expect to see more and more Warlocks, and eventually they will take their designated place as the EA's standard heavy/battlecruiser. Of course, that's way after most B5W campaigns... we have a lot of time before Mongoose goes there :wink:
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Postby Goldritter » Wed Nov 26, 2003 8:55 am

The Warlock is something like a prestige project.
This ship is the first EA Ship, which have a chance to survive and cripple/destroy a Sharlin Cruiser.
It´s designed not for a longer fight, instead it´s designed for a short destructiv clash.
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Postby LoneStranger » Thu Nov 27, 2003 6:08 am

The Warlock is also the first type of ship in the EA fleet that can be considered a challenge for other races to fight. Earth ships have been behind the tech curve for quite a while.
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Postby ShadowScout » Thu Nov 27, 2003 9:14 am

LoneStranger wrote:The Warlock is also the first type of ship in the EA fleet that can be considered a challenge for other races to fight.
Really? Tell that to the Dilgar!

Many EA ships are a challenge for many other races to fight. Even the old Hyperion is an even match for most league vessels - at least those from races with equal "time in space". Of course, those who are there longer, have better ships then the EA, though those humans are catching up really fast - it'd be more correct to say the Warlock is the first ship type that's a challenge for any other younger race to fight (though the Minbari and Yolu still have nastier things in their fleet).
Earth ships have been behind the tech curve for quite a while.
Which tech curve? Sure they don't have AG like the Centauri (well, not before the ISA and the Warlock that is) - but then, the Centauri have a few centuries tech advantage. For races of their "age class", the humies are pretty good in terms of ship tech - sure, their vessels move like bricks, but they can take a beating and dish out some serious hurt too.
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Postby Judge Walker » Thu Nov 27, 2003 3:20 pm

I can see the Warlock as a Fleet C&C vessel. The Poseidon Super Carrier was designed as a "Sector" C&C vessel, why there is only about four that were built.

Not sure what tech curve you are talking about, the EA has lead the way in fighter deisgn. Sure the Sentri are more maneuverable and the Nighthawks are more heavily armed, but the Fury has the best balance of speed, protection and firepower then any of the races fighters (at least in B5W anyway.)
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Warlock

Postby ZenOrac » Thu Nov 27, 2003 7:09 pm

The Warlock was an attempt to match the power of the Minbari Sharlin, which if you look at the B5wars stats it is a near match. It is also a replacement for the aging Nova class dreadnoughts which while being very powerful at close quarters are easily taken apart by many cruisers with long range weapons and the greater speed and manuverbility needed to maintain this advantage.
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Postby ShadowScout » Fri Nov 28, 2003 12:02 am

All true - now.
It IS used as sector command ship - because it's big enough for the facilities and a prestige-vessel, the pinnacle of EA tech and an symbol of earthforce might, and as replacement for the Nova class - simply because it can do it's job (pounding other ships to scrap) better.
But from it's history it was still intended to be for the EA what the Sharlin is for the MF - an really scary workhorse kind of ship. It was intended to be an über-replacement for the Omega. It just proved to be too expensive to make that thought feasible with the reduced military budget Earthforce has to deal with after the civil war, the teep war and the Drakh attack.
Had Clarke succeeded in creating his "Nazi EA", by 2270 we might very likely have seen scores of Warlock class ships making troubles on EA borders (hmmm, thoughts for alternate timelines... ;-D)
But as show history went, it'll slowly be starting to replace Both Nova and Omega during the next 40 years or so, as production capacity allows. OR the EA will keep it as Nova replacement and introduce an newly designed smaller (and cheaper) cruiser-sized vessel as omega replacement (for example something along the lines of the Tempest - FYI, design by Lars Joreteg, mesh by Fabio Passaro). Depends on future defense budget and EA policy.
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Postby Goldritter » Fri Nov 28, 2003 8:06 am

Cool, a pocket Warlock. :shock: :) :D

*edit* I think it´s better to start a new threat, because these discussion has nothing to do now with EA Tanks. I`m right ? :roll:

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