Starships as Aircaft

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
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Postby GamerDude » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:09 am

StephenT wrote:...the USAF still uses Army ranks, for example. When Goering was setting up the Luftwaffe in the 30s he deliberately rejected using ranks like 'Luftmarschall' because they sounded "too British".
I don't know where you are getting your information, but I'd recommend a trip to here: http://www.militaryfactory.com/ranks/index.asp

Please note that "rank" (or title on the webpage) and "pay grade" are two diff but related things. "Pay Grade" means what you get each month for your basic pay, while someone of that grade carries the listed rank/title. It's a subtle difference but important because, at certain levels/instances, the AF can decide to 'brevet' you, meaning you get to temporarily put on early a rank you have been selected for promotion to, while still getting paid at your current pay grade (I've mostly seen this with a Col/06 selected for Brigadier General/O7 getting to put on the Star months before they are scheduled to be permanently promoted to O7).

For officers yes we use the same ranks... heck only our navy uses NAMES for officers that are different from the other services (I believe coast guard follows navy, but they are under the Dept. of Transportation, not the Dept. of Defense).

For Warrent Officers, the AF doesn't have any. In the 60's our Congress created E8/E9 as a replacement for the Warrents, but only the AF got rid of their Warrents.

For enlisted, only two ranks have the same names, but they are different pay grades... While I'm not sure about the army, the Air Force has only 9 enlisted ranks, with a few positions requiring a different 'name' for the rank with a small change to the insignia: First Sergeant and Command Chief Master Sgt/Chief Master Sgt of the Air Force.

The First Sergeant must be at least an E-7 but can also be E-8 or E-9. The First Sergeant is the enlisted advisory to a unit's commander and does not exist in the change of command.

Command Chief Master Sgt. (CCMSG) serves the 'First Sgt' role for a base/wing commander. The Chief Master Sgt of the Air Force (CMSgtAF) is chosen from the top level CCMSG (the ones serving the commanders of our major commands: Air Mobility Command, Air Tactical Command, etc.) and serves as the top enlisted advisor to the Chief of Staff USAF. All of the CCMSGs and the CMSgtAF are 'technically' all of equal rank, but when someone aboves you in that little special chain calls to you, there is an implied sense of who is the 'top dawg'.

I hope that clears up any misunderstandings on at least the USAF rank structure.

Here are two better charts/Explanations:
http://www.military-quotes.com/ranks/ai ... signia.htm
http://www.military-quotes.com/ranks/ar ... signia.htm
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Postby Epicenter » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:22 am

The organization might be identical to a Navy, but just with different names for the ranks, owing to an outgrowth from an "Air Force" root.

For instance, an Air Force might start operating satellites, ASAT weapons, and finally start operating LEO interceptor craft and so on. Eventually, they branch off to LEO search-and-rescue, and even deeper space. Their shuttles become something else - I don't think they'd be so stubborn as to rename all their vessels something else just so they don't sound Navy-ish (though I guess if you're looking at this from the USAF point of view, interservice rivalry has really gotten that decadent, I guess).

IMTU, I have a nation with an Aerospace Force and not a Navy. Their ranks resemble those of an Air Force (ie; derived from the Army, not Navy). However, they still refer to their vessels as ships, and still call them destroyers, cruisers, or whatever. They do put a larger emphasis on carriers and smaller combatants, though. Doctrinally, their entire emphasis is about fighters and torpedo bombers (which are small, missile-carrying vessels) for their offense, and various vessels to defend against such - they're not worried about large battleships bullying through as they believe their fighter corps can stop such ships from very far away.
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Postby AndrewW » Fri Mar 20, 2009 4:08 am

GamerDude wrote:For officers yes we use the same ranks... heck only our navy uses NAMES for officers that are different from the other services (I believe coast guard follows navy, but they are under the Dept. of Transportation, not the Dept. of Defense).
Except in times of war then the Coast Guard is under the Department of Defense.
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Postby Lane Shutt » Fri Mar 20, 2009 5:55 am

I suspect any deep space force would follow Naval tradition.

As a navy vet. my view of the Air Force is that you are either a Pilot or you support the pilots. Squadrons have their admin, supply and maintenance people. Bases have their admin, supply and maintenance people who support the base and the squadrons. Other departments support the base, which exists to support the squadrons. It's all about the planes and their pilots. However there is little emotional connection for the support people to the planes.

Naval tradition OTOH has Ships with Crews. The ship is not just a workplace, it is home and (sometimes disfunctional) family. Each crewman has role in everything the ship does. The Navy also has the operational and logistical experience needed for a deep space force.

One option for a non naval Space Force would be to use mobile bases. The SF would use smaller, non jump capable, ships for combat. Most jump capable ships would be recon vessels, supply ships or carriers. Bases would be huge jump capable vessels slow (Man .1) or immobile.
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Postby AndrewW » Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:23 am

Lane Shutt wrote:Naval tradition OTOH has Ships with Crews. The ship is not just a workplace, it is home and (sometimes disfunctional) family. Each crewman has role in everything the ship does. The Navy also has the operational and logistical experience needed for a deep space force.
Though if you take the carrier those on board are to support the air wing, and even the other ships that make up a carrier task force are there to support the carrier.
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Postby Infojunky » Fri Mar 20, 2009 7:18 am

I have lots of opinions on this topic. First I will state I was in the navy. But That is just where I start.

I for one would love to throw out the Navel terms for ship types, Cruiser, destroyer, etc... But I never have quite come up with a satisfying replacement. Though some of the designations used in Transhuman space are awful tempting. OTV = Orbital Transfer Vehicle etc....

As for rank structures, this is where I revert to being a squid, Navel enlisted/warrant ratings make more sense than their associated Air Force ranks as each broad category in navel rates tells you what that person does. A enginemen 3rd is much clearer than Technical Sgt Engines or the similar. But there probably is a middle road in there, I just haven't thought of it. I have considered adapting Soviet ranks...

As for the officer/enlisted issues, I ask is the helm a Officer rated position or enlisted?

Have been the officer in charge as a BM2 of my own brown water navel vessel and the helmsmen of a Carrier I tend to think that helm (pilot) is largely a enlisted job.

So has that muddied the waters enough?
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Postby GamerDude » Fri Mar 20, 2009 4:51 pm

AndrewW wrote:Except in times of war then the Coast Guard is under the Department of Defense.
Quite true.


Oh, and I agree with the space forces being "navy". To me it makes sense, feels right.
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Postby Mithras » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:17 pm

Lane - things to think about there. The Air Force is changing though. FRom the 60s the USAF sent out RF-47s and RF-135s out to spy on China and Russia, on 12 hour and even 24 hour cruises, packed with electronic kit. There were up to 30 guys on a 135, with down-time area at the back of the plane. Today we have AWACS with a whole new breed of airborne battle space managers, 30 men and women hard at work in a single craft being continually refuelled, on station for 24 hours at a time.

Its not pilots and men who fix planes, anymore. Its a bigger service, with more people airborne doing more jobs.

But - really, I digress. Imagine simply, if the USAF got all the funding for spaceflight, and NASA was rolled into a technical divsion of the USAF. What would the State's space military look like in 100 years? THats basically the question I'm positing.

I don't think the terminology would revert to cruisers, destroyers, petty officers ... I believe we would see the wonderful THS terminology I'm trying to emulate.


Lane Shutt wrote:I suspect any deep space force would follow Naval tradition.

As a navy vet. my view of the Air Force is that you are either a Pilot or you support the pilots. Squadrons have their admin, supply and maintenance people. Bases have their admin, supply and maintenance people who support the base and the squadrons. Other departments support the base, which exists to support the squadrons. It's all about the planes and their pilots. However there is little emotional connection for the support people to the planes.

Naval tradition OTOH has Ships with Crews. The ship is not just a workplace, it is home and (sometimes disfunctional) family. Each crewman has role in everything the ship does. The Navy also has the operational and logistical experience needed for a deep space force.

One option for a non naval Space Force would be to use mobile bases. The SF would use smaller, non jump capable, ships for combat. Most jump capable ships would be recon vessels, supply ships or carriers. Bases would be huge jump capable vessels slow (Man .1) or immobile.
Last edited by Mithras on Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mithras » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:21 pm

You've made me think, I will go back and re-examine naval ratings (a confusing issue for me, out of my depth, I always wanted to join the RAF when I was little). But it seems that kind of trade/rank marriage would go down well.

Helm? Well, I see it as someone described it over at COTI: officers in the cockpit, lesser ranks further aft.

So imagine it like a B-52 or AWACS, with the highest ranks on the flight deck, a major, captain, first lieuntant, etc with enlisted ranks doing the rest of the work. That's the image in my mind at the moment.
Infojunky wrote:I have lots of opinions on this topic. First I will state I was in the navy. But That is just where I start.

As for rank structures, this is where I revert to being a squid, Navel enlisted/warrant ratings make more sense than their associated Air Force ranks as each broad category in navel rates tells you what that person does. A enginemen 3rd is much clearer than Technical Sgt Engines or the similar. But there probably is a middle road in there, I just haven't thought of it. I have considered adapting Soviet ranks...

As for the officer/enlisted issues, I ask is the helm a Officer rated position or enlisted?

Have been the officer in charge as a BM2 of my own brown water navel vessel and the helmsmen of a Carrier I tend to think that helm (pilot) is largely a enlisted job.

So has that muddied the waters enough?
Paul Elliott
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Postby Mithras » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:36 pm

Quick Reply: Naval ratings. As far as the US system goes, this is a redundant issue, ratings as per the US system are amply covered by the Traveller skill system. Being Mechanic-2 at the rank of Sergeant gives occupation, experience and training, with responsibility and paygrade, all rolled into those two descriptors.
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Postby BP » Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:02 am

Lane Shutt wrote:...However there is little emotional connection for the support people to the planes.
Oh I suspect there is some emotion there at times... :P
[Especially for the mechanics...]
Lane Shutt wrote:...The Navy also has the operational and logistical experience needed for a deep space force.
For me this is simple: Air Forces FLY - Navies CRUISE.

In the perspective of duration alone - the Navy analogy seems a better fit.
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Postby Mithras » Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:17 pm

Hmm just stumbled upon several 1950s projects to create a 'nuclear bomber' that was powered by a reactor, enabling flights lasting weeks on end - a flying attack submarine.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convair_X-6

and

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=nuc ... d-aircraft

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupolev_Tu-119

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_aircraft

Fancy that?

Without the development of ICBMs imagine these month long missions, with galleys, living quarters, heads and exercise areas on board the hugeturbojet/turbo-prop bombers; the reactor humming menacingly mid fuselage.
Last edited by Mithras on Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mithras » Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:26 pm

But I'm not saying that the Air Force will pioneer spaceflight and get out there to become the Federation's Starfleet.

Simply, I'm going to use aeronautical terminology, not maritime. JUst changes the feel, that's all. Someone up thread mentioned the fact that these space forces won't resemble a wet navy or cloud hopping airforce at all. Very true.

So, we have fuselage, flight deck, flight engineers and flight surgeons, we have weapons officers/operators, not gunners. etc. I've only finished one design so far, and it is small and lean, with flight deck forward.

I've sketched out a few Electronic Warfare/sensor rules to give me more flexibility creating my craft. I'm picturing a combat element as a typical carrier squadron, scaled up; with attack craft, heavy attack craft, long ranger sensor platform, electronic warfare platform to accompany raiders, a replenishment/tanker craft, SAR craft, ground assault landers and so on.

I may or may not skip the 'carrier' part, and have this all-encompassing force based at a military highport.
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Postby DCAnsell » Fri Apr 03, 2009 1:25 am

Mithras wrote:But I'm not saying that the Air Force will pioneer spaceflight and get out there to become the Federation's Starfleet.

Simply, I'm going to use aeronautical terminology, not maritime. JUst changes the feel, that's all. Someone up thread mentioned the fact that these space forces won't resemble a wet navy or cloud hopping airforce at all. Very true.
This looks pretty cool. I sort of went with a hybrid notion, with the Air Force ranks, and a mix of naval/air force position names and terminology.

It worked out pretty well, in practice.
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Postby Madarin Dude » Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:10 am

Well having been in AWACS there is a mix on the plane of enlisted and officers. There i s usually a high ranking officer in the back in charge of the mission and a few others who are in charge of the command and control aspects of it. The rest tend to be enlisted along with the flight engineer and often they fly with a maintenance crew to recover refuel and maintain the plane while on a mission. AWACS can stay aloft for up to 72 hours and frequently over 24. (Gawd is that miserable 24 hours of airsickness )

I like the idea of using air force terminology for a small ship universe if you have ships under 5K ton. Even the long missions still make sense to me. I worked a lot of heavy aircraft and often thought it travellerish like crewing a trader instead of a tanker etc.
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Postby captainjack23 » Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:37 am

Madarin Dude wrote:Well having been in AWACS there is a mix on the plane of enlisted and officers. There i s usually a high ranking officer in the back in charge of the mission and a few others who are in charge of the command and control aspects of it. The rest tend to be enlisted along with the flight engineer and often they fly with a maintenance crew to recover refuel and maintain the plane while on a mission. AWACS can stay aloft for up to 72 hours and frequently over 24. (Gawd is that miserable 24 hours of airsickness )

I like the idea of using air force terminology for a small ship universe if you have ships under 5K ton. Even the long missions still make sense to me. I worked a lot of heavy aircraft and often thought it travellerish like crewing a trader instead of a tanker etc.
Its an interesting point re long flight aircraft -Are the airborne command planes the same (you know, crystal palace/KNEcap ?).

I wish I could remember the (SF) book that addressed that issue; I recall it was about an airforce spaceship with crew from most services -and the Commander despairing of ever getting the squids to not call the control room the bridge....but put up with being called captain.....
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Postby captainjack23 » Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:40 am

To add to the terminology discussion - did you know why Tanks -an army thing if anything is, have a 'turret', 'hull' and a 'deck' ? The tank nomenclature was taken from that originally designated by the first armored cars - in use of the Royal Navy, in support of its air arm. Confusing ? Yeah baby. Royal Navy Air Corps Armored car squadron. Probably manned by Marines.
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Postby Leo Knight » Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:48 pm

Mithras, I found this some time ago. Not exactly what you're looking for, but awesome nonetheless. Norman Bel Geddes Flying Wing:

http://home.att.net/~dannysoar/BelGeddes.htm

Just a rough estimate, this thing must be about 5-600 d-tons! There are other wild and wonderful pre- WW2 aircraft on the site. Just scroll down to the bottom for more links.

Enjoy!
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Postby Mithras » Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:55 pm

Wow! I've seen a picture of that before,but I love the schematics and the facts. Not really useful for my traveller game,but a great read!

Cheers!

I love the leading edge promenade ...classy!
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Postby Mithras » Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:12 pm

I've put a bit more work into this, but before I finish a couple of designs I thought I'd look fresh at the canon designs through the 'aircraft lens'. It seems to give the ships a bit more of an individual flavour.

Type S - I'm envisaging this as a tactical recon craft with other side duties like courier, casevac and ground support. Inspired by the OH-6 Cayuse.
There is no scout service IMTU.

Redesignated: Aldebaran Systems R-1 Delta

Type R - Subsidized Merchant - With its atmospheric flight, long landing gear and roll-on roll-off through deck, this resembles the classic Lockheed C-130 Hercules. Small, rugged, ubiquitous used by cargo lines as well as the military. With many varients, including tanker, gunship and hospital ship.

Redesignated: Aerodyne C-3 Trojan

Type P - Patrol Craft - I'm taking my cue here from the Lockheed P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, acting as a system patrol craft of a paramilitary nature, much like a Coast Guard aircraft. Full of sensors, ranging widely, tracking ships as they come and go, but with capabilities to strike (and put on board a boarding party - something the P-3 can't do!).

Redesignated: Nortinghouse P-100 Saracen

Type M - Subsidized Liner - Like the old C-135 and 747 this is a civillian design that has been adopted by the military as a troop transport in peace-time or out-of-theatre. Double occupancy coupled with low berths provides a healthy capacity for troop movements. No need for stewards, but there would be a need for gunners (weapons systems officers) for the turrets.

Redesignated: Mitsubishi C-77 Starliner

Currenty looking at the small craft (all known as 'shuttles') which I will primarily look to helicopters to give me a better idea of their use and development.

Something like:

Launch - Small versatile, UH-1 Huey (now: Aerodyne CV-200)
Ship's Boat - Military version of a civillian design - perhaps CH-3/Sea King
Pinnace - Folding wings, great performance, military design with rear-ramp - CH-53 Sea Stallion
Cutter - CH-54 Skycrane, powerful military shuttle with modularity.
Shuttle 95 ton - Something huge, something Russian.

Note: I'm not looking to find direct comparisons, just to look at the development and roles of these aircraft and see what light they can they can shed on my 're-imagining' of the Traveller starships with an aeronautical bent.
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