Ship Design Philosophy

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

Postby Condottiere » Fri Nov 25, 2016 8:30 am

Starwarships: Cruisers

Cruiser is a pretty plastic term, subject to abuse, but if we want to use to more clearly define warships, the median tonnage would be fifty thousand tonnes, with a fifty percent variance either way. The lower end being twenty five thousand tonnes, that permits taking advantage of the structural points bonus, and seventy five thousand tonnes about as far as you should build, before considering the benefits of just having a hundred thousand tonne hull that is even more structurally sounder.

The defining characteristic of a cruiser being the smallest vessel that can keep up with the fleet and still carry a spinal mount, which means at least one weighing in about twenty eight hundred tonnes; going by the new High Guard, the upper range seems more open, though usually at the expense of some other capability. Can you emplace a spinal mount that would be considered more suitable to a battleship; sure, but historically, while it might seem to upset strategic balances, in practice, they can't stand up to actually battleships, and get swarmed once local naval commanders decide they have enough numbers.

At these tonnages, having a wing of light fighters shouldn't make a vessel a carrier, but having one of heavy fighters should, since it's a question of how much volume is dedicated to hangarspace, and normally light fighters don't multiply as forcefully. The Wind class certainly seems an anomaly and a victim of copy pasting.

A balanced cruiser design should be able survive an encounter with a similarly sized warship in most cases.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Fri Nov 25, 2016 10:00 pm

Starwarships: Line of Battle Ships

Battleships seem a little open ended, if you're trying to find a median tonnage, but interestingly enough, if you ever read the Classics, it would be three hundred kay, as at that point the largest spinal mount couldn't critique you.

The low end would be a hundred kay, which gives a further structural bonus, and the upper end is represented by the semimegatonne Tigresses.

While there have always been hints that larger warships were built by the Imperium, though unlikely by the Vargr, Aslan or the Solomani; I'm inclined to think that the Ponies might well believe in bigger being better, though whether they'd go beyond a Tigress sized warship might be unlikely, though they'd probably have lot more battleships between three to five hundred kay.

Any government that authorizes building these ships, is going to demand from their Admiralty a lot of bang for their buck. So you end up having to justify the cost benefit of ever increasingly sized battleships, that are limited to a single spinal mount, the largest of which would be seventy five thousand tonnes, or fifteen percent of a Tigresses, if they hadn't preshrinkwrapped it.

A battleship needs a minimum strategic movement of factor three, and gee five acceleration, with factor ten armour plating and I'm going to say an eight dee dee spinal mount, a meson gun being vastly preferably to a particle accelerator, which might be more comfortable on a battlecruiser.

The current Plankwell seems like a relatively light battleship sent as flagships on a distant station, whereas the Kokirraks might be like the Queen Elizabeths fast battleships.

Why would the the Imperium restrict itself to two hundred kay tonne battleships? The Imperium might need a lot of ships to protect it's borders, and a lot of existing port and repair infrastructure might have a cap of two hundred thousand tonnes per dock.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:32 am

Starwarships: Carriers

Carrier, like cruiser, can be fairly loosely defined. You can even combine the two, with a term related to carrier, like aviation, helicopter, flight deck and through deck. And not to mention those specialized for amphibious operations, like commando and assault.

Tonnages can range from two hundred to sub kay, so you have to categorize in order not to get lost in the minutiae. Also to differentiate between carrier and tender.

So let's concentrate on those vessels that were built from the keel up as dedicated warships.

At a minimum, you'll need a cruiser sized hull, so that's a minimum of twenty five thousand tonnes; it has to be able to strategically keep pace with the major fleet units, so at least factor three range. A lot of designs mention manoeuvre as being factor two, but I think this tends to be a legacy artifact, carriers need to tactically keep up with the line, or be able to move out of trouble, so the minimum would have to be factor three, if not factor five; remember, a lot of fighters are going to be able to be able to move at factor nine now, and armour, while it should be added, isn't a real priority.

It would be interesting to know why eighty came up to be the usual fighter complement for the Imperium; by Imperium standards, they would have to be at least heavy fighters, since light fighters aren't going to make the same impact. Fleet carriers are going to have to devote at a minimum ten percent of their volume to subsidiary combat craft

Light fleet carriers will be at least twenty kay tonnes, and their air wing should resemble that which currently complements the American supercarriers in peacetime; in wartime, they may specialize in a specific role, and tend to have craft that are more effective in carrying out those types of missions.

I don't think there are any examples of actual medium sized carriers in Traveller, though using currently existing ships as a guide, sixty thousand tonnes, with a variance of fifteen thousand either way, consisting of a balanced air wing, with an emphasis to taking initiative, so perhaps strike might be an appropriate adjective, possibly with an assault capability.

Our only example of a fleet carrier weighs in at a hundred kay, and has an air group of around three hundred craft, which is certainly larger than a lot of air forces. You'd be tempted to label this as a supercarrier, but it's not. The light fleet cruiser would tend to support a squadron of battleships, the heavy fleet carrier an entire task force, or fleet, if you prefer. The medium one will get sent on independent operations, while the supercarrier is pretty much a force in itself.

Heavy fleet carriers are important assets, one reason that they're at least a hundred kay tonnes; the Imperium might consider their role more to complement the line of battle, which is why they've never built larger ones, as I suppose their weight could range up to one fifty kay, as the Imperium would probably just prefer to give this capacity to one of their super dreadnoughts, that would be well able to defend itself, than seeing a requirement to construct any larger carrier, though at a hundred kay tonnes, it has more survivability and capacity than a medium fleet carrier.

I'm going to guess that the Solomani with their Midway supercarriers are the only ones to have ever bothered or seen a need to build a class of carrier that has this capacity, though using a dispersed configuration indicates that they wanted to stuff as many craft, using the term loosely, onboard as possible.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sat Nov 26, 2016 11:22 pm

Starships: Engineering and Bunkerage

Quick guide to the likely default percentages you'll have to set aside for the fuel and engineering components:

Jump factor - Percentage

One - 13.5%

Two - 27%

Three - 40.5%

Four - 54%

Five - 67.5%

Note: using higher technology efficiency bonii will lower percentages.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:47 am

Starwarships: Carriers

It would appear to me that fleet carrier should be designed around multiples of eighty heavy fighter equivalents, that should have five thousand tonne hangars dedicated to each group, with a launch tube and a recovery deck, plus one spare launch tube, just in case one isn't working.

Putting aside min maxing, you do want your maintenance and armoury personnel to have plenty of space to examine and fix each craft scheduled to be catapulted out, and you don't want to depend on a single catapult, which if kaputted, is going to remove any military value a carrier has, though you could wrestle the fighters to one of the auxiliary launch facilities, that can take or launch one craft per turn; recovery decks are probably easier to repair and or clear.

Using heavy fighter equivalents to calculate capacity would allow a the fleet commander to adjust the composition of wings to suit the mission(s) the carrier is expected to undertake.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:22 pm

Starwarships: Carrier Cruisers

This is usually a political decision, since a vessel dedicated to either the cruiser or carrier roles tends to be more efficient, though there are bound to be circumstances where this choice is validated, but carrier battleships can only be a mistake, unless you have real estate that's only going to go to waste.

In Traveller, cruisers are likely to have some tonnage available for onboard subsidiary craft, but these tend to fulfill the normal functions that our warships have or had for lifeboats, seaplanes and/or helicopters, as a way to shuttle material or personnel, reconnaissance or an additional weapon's platform. The Azhantis even have fuel scoopers, so that they don't have to risk the ship in an atmospheric refueling run.

The Arakoines aren't cruisers, they're unarmoured carriers that someone thought it would be neat to add a spinal mount to. It can't be placed near the line, nor can it really run.

The Azhantis were built for a specialized mission, to get behind the enemy lines and interrupt communications; their light fighter contingent complements this mission, as they're not planning to fight it out with serious opposition, just take out low hanging undefended fruit. Their total hangar capacity is less than five percent of the volume.

Not too sure what the current Wind class is supposed to be, but it looks like an enlarged Azhanti with half the range, whose tactical role is to support the line of battle, if you can get it in time to the battle, with a hangar capacity a tad over one percent.

Carrier cruisers would seem ideal for independent cruises where any opposition is expected to be inferior, but when in doubt, better a general purpose cruiser, because most of these don't appear to have a properly thought out role.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby wbnc » Sun Nov 27, 2016 3:19 pm

I have a few carrier designs I have played around with. Not really satisfied with any of them at this point.

The smallest carriers would be fighter carrying escorts.
800-1000 ton ships with 100 tons of fighter embarked.
Usually, the fighters are 10-ton light fighters
1 scout with enhanced sensors
1 Electronic warfare bird with military sensors and broad spectrum EW software
4 Laser armed fighters
4 Missile armed fighters
add a couple of ships boats, and an assault boat to round out the package.

They really aren't much use in a large scale fight but the fighters combined with the ship's own weapons are a pretty serious threat to any pirate, scout or raider.

1 fighter escort and 2 gazelles babysitting a gas giant, or making synchronized ups with a civilian convoy would pretty much deny any system to pirates. smugglers and other unsavory sorts.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sun Nov 27, 2016 4:29 pm

There's the difference between the small and big ship school of thought in Traveller.

Carrier is a loose term, which is why I started to emphasize on hangar and storage size, using heavy fighter equivalents, since I rather doubt carriers will in most cases be carrying around a single type or model.

For the lower end of smallcraft scale, it probably isn't cut and dried either; you're going to have dedicated light fighters like the BAe Hawk, but it's just as likely that you're going to have family series built around a single light utility craft frame; like the Huey or the Blackhawk, that can function as Search And Rescue, tactical transport, Electronic Warfare, ship strike, extension of the ship's sensor net, or gunship.

Sometimes, it's not enough just to select a tonnage and go with that, as logic will tell you that docking spaces would be optimized for specific hull configurations; probably explains the popularity of external docking clamps.

As regards to their combat utility, it really depends on what you're expecting to face; if an Imperium or Confederation warship turns up, it probably would be best to cut and run; you could probably fight it out with a Vargr equivalent, as long as you realize that those doggies will want to hug you real close.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:20 pm

Starships: The Planetoid Quandary, Or Are You Getting Your Money's Worth?

Let's get this out of the way first, are buffered planetoid's worth it? No, because their concept was always a military one, and that extra level of protection was added on to the biggest possible armour factor that was allowed for that technological level, making them rather invulnerabilish, and that raison d'etre has been removed with the current rules. The extra fifteen percent difference between it and the normal variant allows more equipment to be installed, without sacrificing protection.

They're great for system defence or just paddling around local space, the issue becomes less clear if you install a jump drive.

In terms of hull costs, you have to figure that an equivalent normal starship will be ten times more expensive, that includes shrinking it back by one fifth because of the twenty percent waste space. So any savings will have to come out of that ninety percent, because you are going to have to scale up engineering by a quarter to get the same expected performance from a planetoid.

Does that include armour plating? In my opinion no, because the inherent factor two armouring would ensure that added on armour would only be needed to cover the internal leftover volume, so it would be based on eighty percent of the planetoid, not the full hundred.

You could, of course, build an equivalent ship without gravitational plating or inertial compensation; whereas I have my doubts on the usefulness of inertial compensation for most forms of commercial traffic, that's not going to fly for military craft, and in Traveller 5K, almost everyone will want continuous gravity, if only for health reasons.

While it's not mentioned, we can assume that the number of hardpoints is based on the actual size of the planetoid, which re-emphasizes the military value of it.

Not so clear on the actual number of hull points, though it is based on the actual size, and to compensate for the removal of the higher armour factor advantage, allows a great deal of more battering, by giving a twenty five percent bonus in hull points, and a fifty percent bonus for the buffered variant; what is less clear is if an interplanetary rock is actually a ship that also gives bonii at twenty five and hundred kay tonnes.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby AnotherDilbert » Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:30 am

wbnc wrote:I have a few carrier designs I have played around with. Not really satisfied with any of them at this point.

The smallest carriers would be fighter carrying escorts.
800-1000 ton ships with 100 tons of fighter embarked.
Usually, the fighters are 10-ton light fighters
I agree in principle, but they would only work against unarmoured targets, i.e. civilians.

If the fighters were stealthed (fairly reasonably priced for so small craft) in combination with the targets limited civilian sensors they might follow suspect ships or likely victims and catch criminals in the act.

They might also have a role in wartime as extended sensor platforms for fleets, perhaps as drones.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby wbnc » Mon Nov 28, 2016 4:05 am

AnotherDilbert wrote:
wbnc wrote:I have a few carrier designs I have played around with. Not really satisfied with any of them at this point.

The smallest carriers would be fighter carrying escorts.
800-1000 ton ships with 100 tons of fighter embarked.
Usually, the fighters are 10-ton light fighters
I agree in principle, but they would only work against unarmoured targets, i.e. civilians.

If the fighters were stealthed (fairly reasonably priced for so small craft) in combination with the targets limited civilian sensors they might follow suspect ships or likely victims and catch criminals in the act.

They might also have a role in wartime as extended sensor platforms for fleets, perhaps as drones.
Interesting idea :)

this sort of ship was one I never really saw as being a major threat to anything even remotely military grade. More of a force multiplier/security vessel than anything else. useful for duties that don't require a true warship.

Now automating the fighters to make them drones, and maybe even automating the carrier itself so only a small command crew is aboard for on the spot decisions might make them very useful as pickets, or long endurance scouting/patrol.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Mon Nov 28, 2016 2:22 pm

Starwarships: Escort Carriers

I tend to see this being divided into three phases, conversions, adaptations and advanced.

Navies either don't see or feel the need to have these carriers, until they happen to be in a conflict and discover they don't have enough flattops to carry out all their missions, especially that of trade protection; more cynically, they don't want politicians figuring out way to save on costs by defunding fleet carrier building programmes by mandating by what seems to them a viable, and much cheaper, alternative.

Conversions are merchantmen selected as being easily convertible to housing a hangar and some extra launch facilities, as a short term solution to give convoys some smallcraft cover, without diverting their fleet carriers. Squadrons would consist of available smallcraft that would be able to fend off attacks of opportunity, and act as screens against reconnaissance attempts. Squadrons would mostly be below twenty in number, and unlikely to be greater than thirty, as launch tubes would not be installed. It's a rather desperate measure, and isn't really that efficient use of resources, just those that happen to be available.

Adaptations are built from the keel up as a starship that will act as a smallcraft carrier, but will be constructed as cheap and fast as possible using civilian standards; a notable feature would be a launch tube, but wings unlikely to exceed fifty craft. I like to think that given a headstart, they can outrun, or at least stay out of range, of the older battleships. They are capable enough to be used on other missions than convoy protection, acting as platforms for squadrons earmarked to be used in planetary sieges, to the point of acting as a mobile barracks for an embarked military force. My perfect adaptation would be an empty steel box or titanium steel in our case, with a bridge and propulsion, that can be outfitted as their assigned role requires, and be considered expendable. It's rather efficient, if spartan, use of resources.

Advanced variants would be built during interbellum periods, when the politicians did figure out that you can build cheaper carriers using civilian construction standards, but are more survivable than just a steel box, have better sensor suites, more comprehensive defenses, and have command facilities, but little room for a future refit. It's perfectibly suitable for all operations short of a general war, and more thought is given to it's actual layout. While not as awe inspiring as a fleet carrier, it's a fairly elegant solution.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Tue Nov 29, 2016 12:48 am

Starwarships: Escort Carriers

I think the example in Merchants And Cruisers with only six percent devoted to hangar space is badly conceptualized.

Conversions should have at least two launch facilities, and two hundred tonnes of hangar space for three heavy fighter equivalents; that doesn't mean they'd all be fifty tonne crafts, or be dedicated fighters, just have sufficient puissance to ward off opportunistic raiders. Tonnage of ship varies with what's available for conversion, though performance requirements should be enough to keep up with normal convoys.

Adaptations should be built with at least three gee constant, and three parsec range. The hull should be based on a commercially successful design, allowing the installation of commercial off the shelf equipment, including engineering, leaving about fifty percent to be outfitted as required. Any vessel approaching cruiser size would have too much investment in terms of based small craft and personnel, which would require a well protected military standard vessel; five to ten thousand tonnes seems a pretty good range, with one or two launch tubes.

Advanced variants are likely four gee constant and four parsec range, as the temptation would be to squeeze them for all they're worth during peacetime operations, though prolonged cruises means that facilities are more extensive and comfortable, and contingents more balanced, compared to the need to utilize as much as space as possible onboard an adaptation. Likely ten to fifteen kay tonnes.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:26 pm

Spaceships: Engineering and Dilithium Crystals

That may be a tad optimistic, but within our timeframe, you're not going to run out of power.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6ME88nMnYE
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:22 pm

Spaceships: Launch Facilities other than Tubes

More of an issue for smallcraft carriers other than fleet.

Given a heads up, you can launch fighters in a timely matter with only normal launch facilities.

However, on examining these options, I discovered an incongruity.

While a docking clamp requires a full eighteen minutes to launch, trying to ungarage a vessel from a docking space varies between six to eighteen minutes.

I always thought it's easier to grab something, than trying to navigate it into a tight opening.

While these times seem incredibly long, I'll assume it's from a coldstart, and if the ship is prepped, it can be popped out or off in the same round.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:31 am

Starwarships: Tenders

Almost every starship has one or more subsidiary vessels, so by definition, every starship would be considered a carrier; however, vessels are only really considered carriers if a large proportion of it's volume is dedicated to housing subsidiary craft and if their primary role is acting as a base ship for that craft.

A tender is usually a depot ship used to service or support other boats or ships, that can usually operate independently in most cases. The most prominent examples are those transporting battleriders, or servicing the X-boat network.

You could turn a carrier into mostly a maintenance and repair facility, for craft that require more time to maintain or are badly damaged; it's primary role just switched from being in the frontline, to a supporting one, allowing it's sister ships to concentrate on their combat missions.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sat Dec 03, 2016 12:07 pm

Starwarships: Carriers and incorporating Unified Technologies

The heart of any carrier will be the hangar, much as the backbone of any actual cruiser or battleship would be it's spinal mounted weapons system.

After you determine the size of it, everything else be concerned with how many craft you plan to stuff in or on it, how protected it will be, and getting it where it's needed in a timely manner.

The apparent Traveller rule of thumb was to have a launch tube for every forty odd smallcraft that was principally stored serviced and parked internally; Mongoose Second changed launch and recovery rates, requiring a re-affirmation of the forty craft threshold.

The text implies that every hangar and docking space has an organic launch facility, which for a carrier would make it resemble Swiss cheese, or a rather arthritic Galactica. Now while some might think I should have picked up on this earlier, trying to comprehend High Guard requires first parsing the paragraphs, then understanding implications, thus being able to draw the appropriate conclusions.

With a launch tube, you have a craft catapulted every thirty six seconds; persuading an overly attached docking clamp to let go takes eighteen minutes; assuming a fifty tonne craft, the launch tube is five hundred tonnes, costs a quarter of a billion schmuckers, and requires five hundred scotts per turn, compared to a type two docking clamp which weighs in at five tonnes, costs a million schmuckers, and uses no power.

In eighteen minutes, you can launch thirty craft, at eight and a third million schmuckers, sixteen and a third tonnes, and you're going to need about a tonne of power plant, which adds to cost and deducts from available volume. The good news is, costs are fixed, regardless of how many craft get ejaculated; the bad news is that if it's not working or there's no power, it's dysfunctional.

Additional costs are for hangar space, and/or a recovery deck, which mirrors a launch tube in cost, volume and power requirements, but only recovers one craft per six minutes. The advantage that launch tubes and recovery decks bring to the table, is that the carrier can accelerate and fire it's weapons during the launch and recovery operations.

The obvious advantage that a launch tube and a recovery deck give is that the carrier can be used during combat, and allow hit and run tactics, as well as being incorporated close or in the line of battle.

Launching sixty craft through one tube requires thirty six minutes, and recovery through one deck is six hours; launching from docking clamps, assuming everyone synchronizes, is eighteen minutes regardless of the number of craft, and another eighteen minutes to recover them.
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:30 am

Spaceships: Lite Fyter

Outside of volume, what principally distinguishes a ten megaschmucker light fighter,and a fifty megaschmucker heavy fighter?

Mostly, the cost of electronics and software. If you overlook personnel.

The rules are explicit, you start off with a ten tonne hull, which puts you in a bind, since an ultralite fighter actually might be worth the investment; as long as you avoid getting hit.

You can, of course, upgrade the electronics, since there's no volume for computers, but a heavy fighter has actually in comparison three times the fighting power, since you can stuff more equipment in, and double firepower; if a light fighter takes a hit, the pilot is far more likely to die, and that's an investment in training that just got flushed, together with possibly some very expensive CPUs and programmes.

As smallcraft, both light and heavy fighters are constrained to hug their targets, and chances are that you're likely to have to go through three layers of protection to get that far.

The advantage of a light fighter is where numbers count, and you can get ten tonnes per firmpoint, in comparison to twenty five per firmpoint for the default heavy fighter; adding an additional forty megaschmuckers to the final factory price would make it equivalent to a heavy fighter, in everything but firepower and survivability, but is costing eighty percent of a better craft, worth it, even if you then have space for five times as many?
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:30 am

Spaceships: Lite Fyter

Outside of volume, what principally distinguishes a ten megaschmucker light fighter,and a fifty megaschmucker heavy fighter?

Mostly, the cost of electronics and software. If you overlook personnel.

The rules are explicit, you start off with a ten tonne hull, which puts you in a bind, since an ultralite fighter actually might be worth the investment; as long as you avoid getting hit.

You can, of course, upgrade the electronics, since there's no volume for computers, but a heavy fighter has actually in comparison three times the fighting power, since you can stuff more equipment in, and double firepower; if a light fighter takes a hit, the pilot is far more likely to die, and that's an investment in training that just got flushed, together with possibly some very expensive CPUs and programmes.

As smallcraft, both light and heavy fighters are constrained to hug their targets, and chances are that you're likely to have to go through three layers of protection to get that far.

The advantage of a light fighter is where numbers count, and you can get ten tonnes per firmpoint, in comparison to twenty five per firmpoint for the default heavy fighter; adding an additional forty megaschmuckers to the final factory price would make it equivalent to a heavy fighter, in everything but firepower and survivability, but is costing eighty percent of a better craft, worth it, even if you then have space for five times as many?
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Re: Ship Design Philosophy

Postby Condottiere » Sun Dec 04, 2016 3:37 pm

Spaceships: Hullalujah and Stomaching Cast Iron

Armour plating the hull costs should be independent of the actual cost of the hull, in almost all cases, except when logic indicates trying to do so should be cheaper or more expensive, like more surface area to cover.

When I contemplated about designing a cheap light fighter, I came to a number of epiphanies.

1. Armour plating material is independent of actual technological level of construction or hull material.

2. Armour plating costs cannot be based on the cost of the hull.

Think about it: I take a planetoid at four thousand schmuckers per tonne, and pass it on to a technological level fourteen spaceyard, to rivet on ninety six kilogrammes of factor twelve bonded super dense at an additional CrImp 3'840.00 per tonne, compared to the default fifty thousand schmuckers per tonne, which would make the same amount of armour plating cost CrImp 48'000.00 per tonne, and if it's non gravitated, CrImp 24'000.00 per tonne, which begs the question as to why, since you aren't armour plating the floor boards, everything else being actually equal.

3. Since only eighty percent of the planetoid is inhabitable, you actually only need to add seventy six point eight kilogrammes of bonded superdense armour plating.

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