Ship Design Philosophy

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Sigtrygg
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Sigtrygg » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:03 pm

Aircraft are a poor analogy for space fighters.

In a universe where the capital ships are just as fast and can carry much more effective weaponry, more of it, armour, more of it, better sensors etc then you have to careful what you call a fighter.

Fighters in MgT have special rules to make them effective, these special rules being right out of the George Lucas school of advanced physics rather than any the perfectly adequate lasw of movement described by Sir Isaac. Traveller, and the OTU in particular, has always gone with newtonian movement rather than space fighters that can bank and swoop, pull handbrake turns, and fly around capital ships as if the ships are standing still.

Watch The Expanse rather than Star Wars.
Condottiere
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:34 am

Concepts remains the same.

The basic idea comes from diminishing returns, by using up half the resources for a slightly better example, to five or even ten times less expensive, and making up the qualitative difference with quantity.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:59 am

Spaceships: Light Fighter

Effectiveness advantages[edit]
The modern view of light/lightweight fighters is as a capable weapon intended to satisfy the main criteria of air-to-air combat effectiveness,[8][9][10][11][12] which in order of importance, are:
1. Achieving superiority in the element of surprise, to be aware of the enemy before they are aware of you. In past combats, surprise advantage has been mostly based upon small visual and radar signatures, and having good visibility out of the cockpit. Surprise is a significant advantage, since historically in about 80% of air-to-air kills, the victim was unaware of the attacker until too late.[13][19]
As the former editor of 'The Topgun Journal', the author asked hundreds of pilots over a six-year period what single advantage they would like to have, that is, longer-range missiles, more guns, better maneuverability, etc. To a pilot they all said 'The first sighting.'
James Stevenson, The Pentagon Paradox.[20]
Small fighters like the F-5 with a planform area of about 300 square feet (28 m2) or the F-16 at about 400 square feet (37 m2), compared to about 1,050 square feet (98 m2) for the F-15,[21] have a much lower visual profile. The small fighter is typically invisible to opposing pilots beyond about 4 miles (6.4 km), whereas a larger fighter such as the F-15 is visible to about 7 miles (11 km).[22] This is a non-linear advantage to the light fighter at similar altitude and more if aircraft at different altitudes. Additionally, smaller targets take longer to visually acquire even if they are visible.[23] These two factors together give the light fighter pilot much better statistical odds of seeing the heavy fighter first and setting up a decisive first shot.[24] Once the small fighter sees and turns towards the opponent its very small frontal area reduces maximum visual detection range to about 2 to 2.5 miles (3.2 to 4.0 km).[14][25]
Given similar technology, smaller fighters typically have about two thirds the radar range against the same target as heavy fighters.[e] However, this cannot be counted upon to give the large fighter a winning advantage, as larger fighters with typical radar cross sectional area of about 10 square metres (110 sq ft) are detectable by a given radar at about 50% farther range than the 2 to 3 square metres (22 to 32 sq ft) cross section of the light fighter.[26] This approximately balances these trade-offs, and can sometimes favor the lightweight fighter. For example, from the front the F-15 actually presents about 20 square metres (220 sq ft) radar cross sectional area,[27] and has been typically defeated by opposing F-16 forces not only in close dogfighting combat, but also in extensive Beyond Visual Range (BVR) trials.[3][28] Also, airborne fighter radars are limited: their coverage is only to the front, and are far from perfect in detecting enemy aircraft. Although radar was extensively used by the United States in the Vietnam War, only 18% of North Vietnamese fighters were first detected by radar, and only 3% by radar on fighter aircraft.[29] The other 82% were visually acquired.[30]
The modern trend to stealth aircraft is an attempt to maximize surprise in an era when Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles are becoming more effective than the quite low effectiveness BVR has had in the past.[31]
2. To have numerical superiority in the air, which implies the need for lower procurement cost, lower maintenance cost, and higher reliability. Not even taking into account the sometimes superior combat capability of lighter aircraft based on surprise and maneuverability, the pure numbers issue of lower cost and higher reliability (higher sortie rates) also tends to favor light fighters. It is a basic outcome of Lanchester's laws, or the salvo combat model, that a larger number of less-sophisticated units will tend to be successful over a smaller number of more advanced ones; the damage dealt is based on the square of the number of units firing, while the quality of those units has only a linear effect on the outcome. This non-linear relationship favors the light and lightweight fighter.[32]
Additionally, as pilot capability is actually the top consideration in maximizing total effectiveness of the pilot-aircraft system,[f] the lower purchase and operational cost of light fighters permits more training, thus delivering more effective pilots.[33] For example, as of 2013, total heavy F-15C operating cost is reported at US$41,900 per hour, and light F-16C cost at US$22,500 per hour.[34]
3. To have superior maneuverability, which in maneuvering combat allows getting into superior position to fire and score the kill. [35][36][37][38][39] This is a function of achieving lower wing loading, higher thrust to weight ratio, and superior aerodynamics.[40][41][42] This is sometimes described colloquially as “wrapping the smallest possible airframe around the most powerful available engine.”[43] Professional analysis through 4th generation fighters shows that among heavier fighters only the F-15 has been generally competitive with lighter fighters, and its maneuvering performance is exceeded by several lighter fighters such as the F-16.[44][45] Light fighters have no inherent aerodynamic advantage for speed and range, but when designed to be as simple as possible they do tend to have lower wing loading and higher thrust to weight ratio.[46] Additionally, smaller fighters are lower in inertia, allowing a faster transient response in maneuvering combat.[47]
4. Weapon systems effectiveness.[48][49][50] This area is one where the light fighter can be at a disadvantage, since the combat load of a single engine light fighter is typically about half of a twin engine heavy fighter. However, modern single engine light fighters such as the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Saab JAS 39 Gripen generally carry similar cannon and air-to-air missile fighter weapons as heavier fighters. Actual aerial combat in the modern era is of short duration, typically about two minutes,[51] and as only a small fraction of this is spent actually firing, modest weapons load outs are generally effective. The ideal weapons load for a modern fighter is considered to be an internal gun and two to four guided missiles,[52] a load that modern light fighters are fully capable of while maintaining high agility. For example, the JAS 39 Gripen, despite being the lightest major fighter in current production, carries a combat load of an 27mm cannon and up to six air-to-air missiles of the same types as carried by heavy fighters. Additionally, combat experience shows that weapons systems "effectiveness" has not been dominated by the amount of weaponry or "load out", but by the ability to achieve split second kills when in position to do so.[53][54][55]

Concept summary[edit]
Superior technology has often been quoted as a strong factor favoring the heavy fighter. The specific argument usually presented is that heavy fighters have superior radar range and longer range BVR missiles that take advantage of that range. This radar range advantage is one of the major reasons for the existence of the modern heavy fighter, but it has not turned out to be a significant advantage in air combat history to date for several reasons. A major reason has been because long range BVR missile shots have often been unusable, and often unreliable when they could be taken. The weight of the larger missiles also reduces performance and range needed to get in position to fire. Due to these factors, between 1958 and 1982 in five wars there were 2,014 missile firings by fighter pilots engaged in air-to-air combat in five wars, but there were only four beyond-visual-range kills.[56]
The more general and often misunderstood argument for more technology that has been historically assumed to favor heavy fighters is not just better radar but better systems support for the fighter pilot in other ways as well. Examples include all weather capability, precise electronic navigation, electronic counter-measures, data-linking for improved information awareness, and automation to lighten pilot workload and keep the pilot focused on tasks essential to combat.[57] This was a compelling argument, as the greatest factor in the effectiveness of a fighter plane has always been the pilot. Quoting a prominent reference, "Throughout the history of air combat, a few outstanding fighter pilots, typically less than five percent of the whole, have run up large scores at the expense of their less gifted brethren. The numerical imbalance was such that a large number of high scorers was needed. The quest was on to turn each fighter pilot into an ace, and technology seemed the easiest, and the only way to achieve it. This was the idea underlying the first two American superfighters; the F-14 Tomcat and the F-15 Eagle.”[58]
While the technology advantage for heavy fighters that better supported the pilot may well have been a valid point in the 1970s (when the F-14 and F-15 first entered service), this advantage has not been maintained over time. Engine performance improvements have improved load carry capability,[g] and with more compact electronics, the lightweight fighter has, from the 1980s onwards, had similar pilot enhancing technical features.[59][60][61] The lightweight fighter carries equally effective weapons including BVR missiles, and has similar combat range and persistence. The modern lightweight fighter achieves these competitive features while still maintaining the classic advantages of better surprise, numbers, and maneuverability. Thus, the lightweight fighter natural advantages have remained in force despite the addition of more technology to air combat.[60]
Due to their lower costs, modern light fighters equip the air forces of many smaller nations. However, as budgets have limits for all nations, the optimum selection of fighter aircraft weight, complexity, and cost is an important strategic issue even for wealthy nations. The budgetary and strategic significance of light fighters is illustrated by the defense investment at stake. As an example where well referenced data is available, though numerous trial and combat references consider the lightweight F-16 to be as good or better on a per plane as the excellent but expensive F-15,[62] [63] fielding and maintaining a light fighter force based on the F-16 is approximately half the cost of the same number of F-15’s. The US Air Force reports the total loaded cost per hour (as of 2013) of operating the F-16 to be ~US$22,500 per hour.[34] Numerous authoritative sources report that it takes about 200 to 400 flight hours per year to maintain fighter pilot proficiency.[h][64]



It becomes a question of costs:

1. Acquisition

2. Operating

3. Human resources

4. Infrastructure


You can buy a more expensive variant, but know that the operating costs, and nowadays, service life extension programmes whether by shrinking components, or more likely, enough slack in the airframe for improved electronics, instead of buying a new aircraft to replace it.

A smaller size would allow less factory space and hangar area, meaning more could be produced or squeezed into a given volume, which is an issue in Traveller spaceships.

Then, how many personnel would be needed to crew the vessel, and how many to maintain it.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:42 pm

Spaceships: Light Fighters

Future of light fighters[edit]
The issue of where a fighter is best positioned on the weight, cost, and complexity curve is still a contentious issue.[127][128][129] Stealth technology (airframe and engine design that strongly reduce radar and heat signatures) seeks to emphasize the most important feature of fighter effectiveness, the element of surprise.[130] So far it has been featured only on heavier and more expensive fighters, specifically the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. These fighters are not only stealthy, but also have information or combat awareness advantages due to active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, and data linking for external cuing of enemy position and friendly force status. Their combination of near invisibility, superior combat awareness, networking, and reliable Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles, enables them to get deep inside the enemy's OODA loop and destroy enemy fighters before their pilots are even aware of the threat.
However, due to Lanchester's laws, such superiority on a unit basis does not always translate to winning wars. For example, late in WWII the greatly superior German Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter, flown by the finest pilots Germany had left, many of them very high scoring aces with kill counts far in excess of Allied pilots, in its relatively small numbers suffered heavy losses and was unable to fundamentally alter the air war over Germany.[131] This could be a harbinger of things to come if a greatly numerically inferior force of expensive stealth heavy fighters ever enters into mass combat against a larger force of lower cost but well designed light to middleweight fighters that are competently flown and led.[132]
Fighter drones (see Unmanned combat aerial vehicle) are a likely future development, driven by the same tactical and cost effectiveness principles of light fighters.[133][134] If their software allows them to match or excel the most skilled of human fighter pilots, they may well become the most effective type of fighter aircraft. The advantages of unmanned fighters would include not only cost and numbers, but the fact that their software based "pilot" does not require years of training, is always at the same peak effectiveness for each aircraft (unlike the human pilot case where the top 5% of pilots have historically scored about 50% of all kills[135]), is not physiologically limited, and does not have a life to lose if the aircraft is lost in combat.[136] Of these factors the elimination of the variation in pilot skill, replaced with a fast acting artificial intelligence that makes very few tactical mistakes, is probably the most significant in terms of combat effectiveness. If every software pilot is "ace caliber" with a decision and reaction time measured in milliseconds, this automation of air combat could improve total force effectiveness by an order of magnitude or more. Though there is cultural resistance to replacement of human fighter pilots[137] and also concerns about entrusting life and death decisions to robot software, the military effectiveness advantages are so compelling that unless restricted by treaty they are almost certain to eventually be implemented.[138][139]



So, why didn't the TIE Fighters finish off the X-Wings?
Sigtrygg
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Sigtrygg » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:26 pm

Because that's what it said in the script.

Star Wars is an even worse analogy for space combat than aircraft in space... oh, wait.

1. Traveller ship combat occurs at ranges of hundreds to thousands of km
2. With one notable exception (and I don't mean MgT) every previous version of Traveller has included vector movement (even Starter Edition range band movement maintains a psudo-vector)
3. Capital ships are just as fast as smallcraft.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:40 pm

The current edition has three primary changes:

1. Smallcraft weapon systems have drastically curtailed ranges.

2. Time speeds up if you can get ships in close proximity.

3. The larger the ship, the more it manoeuvres like a pregnant sow.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Sigtrygg » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:37 pm

Condottiere wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:40 pm
The current edition has three primary changes:

1. Smallcraft weapon systems have drastically curtailed ranges.
Only if you use fixed mounts - use a turret or barbette and get normal range, or use missiles or torpedoes.
2. Time speeds up if you can get ships in close proximity.
Which just means capital ship turrets and point defence systems can fire more often at the smallcraft.
3. The larger the ship, the more it manoeuvres like a pregnant sow.
Nope, big ships have big engines and are just as fast - in a newtonian movement system at any rate. The dogfighting rules are pure cinematic tosh and have no place in the OTU.
Fighters can not bank and turn is space, nor pull handbrake turns. Now I will accept that smallcraft would be able to spin and pivot about their centre of mass much faster than a capital ship could, but the image of fighters swarming around a lumbering capital ship is just plain wrong for the OTU.

That said there are plenty of people who want science fantasy fighters in their ATUs, and if that is what they want and enjoy then there is nothing wrong in that. But if you are going to postulate stuff for the OTU you have to be governed by the 'physics' the setting has established - and there are aspects of the MGT ship combat rules that are probably the second worst set of rules for OTU ship combat, MegaTraveller wins that particular award.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby AndrewW » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:22 pm

Sigtrygg wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:37 pm
Condottiere wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:40 pm
The current edition has three primary changes:

1. Smallcraft weapon systems have drastically curtailed ranges.
Only if you use fixed mounts - use a turret or barbette and get normal range, or use missiles or torpedoes.
Smallcraft weapons are mounted on firmpoints, even if in a turret or barbette and still subject to the range limitations of firmpoints.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:45 am

Starship: Cutlass Class Commercial Cruiser

This would be a combination of the Broadsword with one of it's cutters.

A two hundred tonne hull, with a performance of three gees and three parsecs, with a payload of a thirty man platoon, one air/raft, and two all terrain vehicles.

With the engineering compartment limited to thirty five tonnes, the basic crew would be a pilot, a navigator and an engineer, with two gunner positions.

Electronics would be a ten tonne bridge and military sensors.

Engineering would allocate twenty tonnes to a jump drive, six tonnes to a manoeuvre drive, and nine tonnes to a power plant.

Sixty one tonnes of fuel, enough for thirty one plus days of operations, and a three parsec drop down the rabbit hole.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby baithammer » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:55 pm

Nope, big ships have big engines and are just as fast
Big ships tend to be limited to thrust 6 even in the big ship universe where small craft are able to get up higher, also need to remember starships trade thrust for jump capability.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Sigtrygg » Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:40 pm

There is nor rule in the game to limit a capital ship to thrust 6 while allowing smaller ships to go higher. In point of fact the big ships with maneuver 9 and reaction drives on top will be more effective than small ships because they can mount a lot more weapons, sensors and armour compared with the smallcraft.

If you want a universe where smallcraft can be faster than big craft no probs, but the OTU is not it.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Sigtrygg » Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:46 pm

AndrewW wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:22 pm
Smallcraft weapons are mounted on firmpoints, even if in a turret or barbette and still subject to the range limitations of firmpoints.
In which case that needs clarification in the next version of High Guard since the design sequence says you can upgrade to turret, not to mention it makes installing a turret a pointless waste of money.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby AnotherDilbert » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:02 pm

Sigtrygg wrote: In which case that needs clarification in the next version of High Guard since the design sequence says you can upgrade to turret, not to mention it makes installing a turret a pointless waste of money.
The default is fixed mount, which cannot fire if you loose the dogfight roll.
You can upgrade to a turret, still on a firmpoint, still with limited range, but the weapon can always fire in dogfight.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Sigtrygg » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:37 pm

Dogfighting in space under Newtonian physics with 6g+ drives is preposterous, not to mention weapons that should be automatically hitting and mission killing any smallcraft that gets within a few hundred km.

Dogfighting is fine for a Star Wars science fantasy cartoon cinematic system of ship combat - it has no place in the OTU.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby AndrewW » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:38 pm

Sigtrygg wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:46 pm
In which case that needs clarification in the next version of High Guard since the design sequence says you can upgrade to turret, not to mention it makes installing a turret a pointless waste of money.
High Guard, Page: 23 wrote:Ships of less than 100 tons have Firmpoints instead of Hardpoints.
A weapon on a Firmpoint may not have its range increased beyond Close by any means.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby baithammer » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:06 pm

There is nor rule in the game to limit a capital ship to thrust 6 while allowing smaller ships to go higher.
1st Ed MGT gave a maximum of thrust 6 for capital ships ( HG drive potentials) and a maximum of thrust 16 for small craft.

The examples given in the new edition follow the same design logic.
Dogfighting in space under Newtonian physics with 6g+ drives is preposterous
How so?
not to mention weapons that should be automatically hitting and mission killing any smallcraft that gets within a few hundred km.
Which isn't the case as there are penalties for hitting smaller craft and no weapon has an automatic hit capability.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Sigtrygg » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:13 pm

AndrewW wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:38 pm
Sigtrygg wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:46 pm
In which case that needs clarification in the next version of High Guard since the design sequence says you can upgrade to turret, not to mention it makes installing a turret a pointless waste of money.
High Guard, Page: 23 wrote:Ships of less than 100 tons have Firmpoints instead of Hardpoints.
A weapon on a Firmpoint may not have its range increased beyond Close by any means.
Thank you but I can read.

It later says you can:
but can be upgraded to a single
(not double or triple) turret.
Now since you can only install a turret on a hardpoint your turret is automatically hardpoint mounted.
The rules are vague - hence the need for clarification, nor do they conform to previous canon.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby AndrewW » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:33 pm

Sigtrygg wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:13 pm
but can be upgraded to a single
(not double or triple) turret.
Now since you can only install a turret on a hardpoint your turret is automatically hardpoint mounted.
The rules are vague - hence the need for clarification, nor do they conform to previous canon.
[/quote]

The upgrade is from a fixed mount. Small Craft do not have any hardpoints, a Small Craft turret is mounted to a firmpoint. Yup, firmpoints where a change.

I agree, the Small Craft rules under Weapons and Screens can use some clarifications (I tried to get some added in...).
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Sigtrygg » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:38 pm

baithammer wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:06 pm
There is nor rule in the game to limit a capital ship to thrust 6 while allowing smaller ships to go higher.
1st Ed MGT gave a maximum of thrust 6 for capital ships ( HG drive potentials) and a maximum of thrust 16 for small craft.

The examples given in the new edition follow the same design logic.
There is no such rule in the new edition. Do we apply all the rules from first edition to second edition - or just cherry pick?
Dogfighting in space under Newtonian physics with 6g+ drives is preposterous
How so?
You have no medium to exchange energy with. As a result ships in space can not bank and turn like aircraft, nor can the suddenly stop and reverse direction - handbrake turn.

Dig out a vector movement based game and actually play it - if you don't have one I would recommend Triplanetary or Mayday.

MgT ignores vector movement, the thrust required to change range bands is just a poorly understood stab at adapting range band movement.
not to mention weapons that should be automatically hitting and mission killing any smallcraft that gets within a few hundred km.
Which isn't the case as there are penalties for hitting smaller craft and no weapon has an automatic hit capability.
Rules included to do nothing more than make MgT ship combat model Star Wars rather than OTU established canon.

Think about it - a laser can hit a target at 10,000km with an 80% chance. If the target is ten times closer your chance to hit it becomes an order of magnitude easier, at one hundred times closer you have two orders of magnitude higher probability to hit. This is assuming a smallcraft sized target.

As I keep saying - if you want Star Wars as your ship combat model fair enough - but don't try and claim that ship combat in the OTU is Star Wars like. It never has been and never will be (see Triplanetary, Mayday, LBB:2, HG, BL, BR).
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:38 pm

They're like underclocked energy weapons, which brings forth the question, why not install the full versions?

Anyway, optimistically you could have an acceleration chair that compensates for one gee, and advanved pilot chair that manages two gees, and an acceleration tank for three gees, though I think the one in Fire Fusion Steel is two.

A crewless drone can probably go as fast as the equipment has inbuilt tolerance for, and I will admit it never occurred to me until recently that discrepancy, mostly because I was trying to figure how inertial compensators worked, and if it was a field created by the manoeuvre drive, how that would effect a ship powered by reaction rockets.

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