Starships as Aircaft

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Starships as Aircaft

Postby Mithras » Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:42 pm

I'm creating a setting for this summer's Traveller game, and this will be my first Mong Trav campaign (yay!).

My setting is a star cluster rimward of Sol, and although not tied to OTU, it could easily be interpreted as being a distant 'pocket empire' of the Terran Confederation as it nudges into the Long Night. This cluster is cut off from the Earth and has to fend for itself.

That's the background. I want my space navy to be more airforce and aircraft orientated than naval based. A simple switch of terminology will do most of this, not a bridge but a flight deck, not a starship but a starcraft, not a petty officer but a technical sergeant etc.

I'm about to build to my first starships and wondered how best to do this. This is a small ship navy, Book 2 style, with vessels not exceeding 4 or 5,000 tons. I want to create a raider, a fast attack craft, perhaps like the old B-47 - I think it is best to think in terms of the 1950s, with turreted defenses and without high-tech guided missiles, and multi-role aircraft somewhat in the future. This will be a 1000 ton attack craft, fast but not too long range, jump 3 , 5G thrust... armed with a couple of bays, one with a PAW one with a nuclear missile bay.

I can call sandcasters 'countermeasures', and rename crew positions: flight surgeon, weapons officer etc.

Any other ideas?

I don't want to change the MongTrav mechanics, just terminology and build styles.
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Postby GypsyComet » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:30 pm

Are you keeping the week in jump?
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Postby Mithras » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:34 pm

All the ship ratings and drive ratings are the same.

For mapping reasons, however, the j-drive rates how many weeks you can sustain a jump field. Worlds are are separated by jump lines that are rated in weeks of transit time, its a minor difference to the rules that helps me with my no-hex mapping scheme.
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Postby EDG » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:49 pm

I never did really understand why spaceships in Traveller are supposedly associated with the Navy rather than the Air Force...
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Postby starbright » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:58 pm

The navy scheme works very well when each spacecraft requires a huge crew, but if you keep the crew down to 5 or 6 like a WWII bomber, then the airforce scheme does make a lot of sense.
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Postby Mithras » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:59 pm

You could say tradition ... or you could say that the navy in 21st C Earth carried out lots of deep sea habitat work that proved invaluable when we moved into space.

But I prefer the Air Force or US Space Command ...

'Navy' always felt wrong to me.

My cluster has its Star Force.
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Postby GypsyComet » Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:20 am

Part of that is the difference between short "sortees" and lengthy "cruises".

The short-lived show "Space Rangers" (four or five episodes the same year Babylon-5 launched) showed an "Air Force" model, as the crew were rarely away from base very long. Their ship had only acceleration couches, and response times were paramount.

Babylon-5, Star Trek, Star Wars, both Galacticas, and a great many books show more of a Navy model, with extended quarters aboard a "Cruiser" and lengthy cruises away from re-supply.

The Starship Troopers movie showed a mixed structure, or at least mixed its terminology. The officer in charge of a ship was a Captain, but the overall commander of the forces was a "Sky Marshal".

Amusingly, the Scouts of Traveller come straight out of written SF: small ships, small crews, potentially lengthy missions with little or no logistics chain, and typically very independent.
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Postby EDG » Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:28 am

GypsyComet wrote:Part of that is the difference between short "sortees" and lengthy "cruises".
Would crewed airships (i.e. zeppelins) count as navy or air force?
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Postby captainjack23 » Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:48 am

When military Zeps were an issue, there typically wasn't a independent air force in most countries. I think the RAF existed, and I think they had control of the few the UK had before they got out of the lighter than air busness (R101 crash had lots to do with that).

I think that the German Zep force was Army (?). After WWI they were forbidden to have an airforce, and the famous Zeps were commercial. (although often supporting military missions) The Graf Zep was basically broken up for its aluminium for the luftwaffe (Goering hated it).

The US Zep force (into the 20's) was all Navy and intended to spot for the fleet -and each operated aircraft of its own. But there was no independent USAF and the army wasn't interested in LTA aviation. In any case, all but one of the 4 crashed.

The long range Zeps are a pretty good model for a space force, though ;-although the cruises still don't approach the duration of nautical cruises. Perhaps one may tend to see the AF model more as Planetary/system defense forces -or backwater colonial ships ?

But, pretty much ownership of airpower is historically across the board -army, navy, AF -even the marines have their own Air arm seperrate from the navy (over here) . The best point is that these things are usually the final result of protracted interservice turf struggles more than any rational decision - and typically new techs get introduced on an as needed basis, and then everyone holds onto it with a death grip.

The Royal navy airforce armored car unit in WWI is an excellent example -armored vehicles operating under the command of the air arm of the navy.....Before carriers, too, I may add......
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Postby Mithras » Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:58 pm

I'll certainly look into airships and their organisation, that will help alot. Thanks.
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Re: Starships as Aircaft

Postby GamerDude » Mon Mar 16, 2009 5:17 pm

Mithras wrote:I'm creating a setting for this summer's Traveller game, and this will be my first Mong Trav campaign (yay!).
...
That's the background. I want my space navy to be more airforce and aircraft orientated than naval based. A simple switch of terminology will do most of this, not a bridge but a flight deck, not a starship but a starcraft, not a petty officer but a technical sergeant etc.
As a 20 year veteran of the US Air Force, and someone with many relatives and friends who served in the US Navy, let me toss a little out on this.

An "Air Force" is land based, fixed operating location. A Navy has bases for their ships to come in for repairs, resupply but they operate out at sea. Yes navies can and do have aircraft but those are pretty much all based on a ship and not on land.


So, take that comparison to space. The air force model can work for forces stationed on planets/starbases, but not for covering vast areas. That's what the navy does, and does it with 'ships' and 'vessels' not 'air craft'.

So as I'm thinking it's a matter of structure. The original Star Wars movies totally ignored our more traditional views and ranks for both Air Force and Naval structures and 'just was'. They did refer to "the fleet" and had Admirals, but that is about as far as I remember it going and those can be easily referred to as 'squadrons' and 'Generals'.
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Postby Klaus Kipling » Mon Mar 16, 2009 6:28 pm

The different rank structures of airforce/navy/army, are just a historical accident, really, and it is totally inconsistent across nations.

The unified structure of BsG makes some sense, but even they retain the arbitrary division between officer and enlisted, which, quite frankly, is just a hold over from feudal times.

However, that is summat for another thread... ;)
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Postby Shiloh » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:24 am

The concept of spaceships existed before the reality of aircraft (at least of the heavier-than-air kind), so early stories had "Navies" in space, and that trope has predominated ever since.

Spacecraft tend to resemble marine vessels in size and operation more than they do aircraft which has emphasised the tradition.
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Re: Starships as Aircaft

Postby simonh » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:10 pm

GamerDude wrote: So, take that comparison to space. The air force model can work for forces stationed on planets/starbases, but not for covering vast areas. That's what the navy does, and does it with 'ships' and 'vessels' not 'air craft'.
This is how I see it too, if space vessels need to independently operate for weeks or even months at a time, and perform the kinds of duties that naval vessels perform, then that's what they are. They'll need to have the command organisation, job functions and institutional culture appropriate to the role and that's a navy.

If you want them to operate like an air force that's dioable, but I think you;d need to alter the technological assumptions - interplanetary journeys that take minutes, and interstellar travel that only takes hours. Think the 1980s Buck Rogers series.

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Postby Mithras » Wed Mar 18, 2009 4:50 pm

Simon, I take your point - I'd best stick with name/rank changes than start meddling with trying to get my star force to actually mirror a terrestrial air force (!!). THat way I get the 'feel' of aerospace cutting edge, without changing therules. Flotillas become RAF style wings, fleets become RAF style groups and so on.
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Postby alex_greene » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:09 pm

EDG wrote:
GypsyComet wrote:Part of that is the difference between short "sortees" and lengthy "cruises".
Would crewed airships (i.e. zeppelins) count as navy or air force?
The tradition is that the first Air Force emerged from the Army, not the Navy. After a time, Britain developed an Air Force that was its own separate entity, and as a combination of bureaucratic inertia and a need to retain tactical and strategic superiority the Flight branches of the Army and Navy were created not long thereafter.

In Traveller, air forces belong to COACC - Close Orbit and Airspace Control Command. Airships would be part of the ACC bit.
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Postby AndrewW » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:51 pm

alex_greene wrote:The tradition is that the first Air Force emerged from the Army, not the Navy. After a time, Britain developed an Air Force that was its own separate entity, and as a combination of bureaucratic inertia and a need to retain tactical and strategic superiority the Flight branches of the Army and Navy were created not long thereafter..
Same thing happened in the US. The Air Force started out as the Army air core.
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Postby alex_greene » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:38 pm

It's a historical tradition, the same as the origin of the Marines as a branch of the Navy.

Marines originated with Naval forces, because naval ships needed a breed of soldier specifically trained in ship-to-ship boarding actions and close quarters combat techniques within the cramped decks of sailing ships, either on board the enemy's vessels or repelling boarders within their own.
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Postby StephenT » Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:11 pm

The British Royal Air Force was created by combining two existing organisations: the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. The RFC had been part of the Army, used Army ranks and fought with the troops in Flanders; the RNAS had been part of the Navy, used Navy ranks and was responsible both for naval patrols and cooperation, and also the defence of the British homeland against German Zeppelins and bombers. The RFC was much bigger than the RNAS - 300,000 men as compared to 67,000 in mid-1918.

When the RAF was formed it deliberately didn't use either Army or Navy terminology, to avoid showing favoritism to either branch. Instead it invented its own rank structure - Flight Lieutenants, Wing Commanders, Air Chief Marshals and so on. Most other air forces formed later on didn't copy that idea; 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".
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Postby simonh » Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:24 pm

Mithras wrote:Simon, I take your point - I'd best stick with name/rank changes than start meddling with trying to get my star force to actually mirror a terrestrial air force (!!). THat way I get the 'feel' of aerospace cutting edge, without changing therules. Flotillas become RAF style wings, fleets become RAF style groups and so on.
If you emphasize carrier/fighter operations then you can probably get a long way with this, especially if the upper ranks are dominated by ex-fighter pilots.

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