Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Ironlord

Procurator Star Battlecruiser - Fractalsponge depiction

Recommended Posts

Man, I love most of FS's work, but I've gotta say I'm not huge on this one. It's too massive and girthy for a large ship. I'm also not a fan of the flat isoceles triangle look: I like some texture to the rear where the engine banks are, the smashed-diamond ISD shape.

The greebles don't bother me. The Sponge is all about dem greebles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, BrobaFett said:

http://fractalsponge.net/?p=2596

I think his design notes on this one are worth the read as well. Maybe someone that actually knows something like @GiledPallaeon could translate the parts a simpleton like I didn't understand :)

You'd have to be more specific. Otherwise I'm just going to copy and comment on the entire thing.

Overall commentary on his notes, they are logical on the whole, if somewhat devoid of nuance. There are some rules in here that don't apply to the development of aircraft and modern warships, due to different design constraints (notably his comments about ship size fly out the window thanks to some quirks of hydrodynamic drag). I also agree with @Ardaedhel and @Undeadguy that this isn't his finest work. I flat out disagree with his comments about sleekness, and that's the motif I prefer. That ship is extremely busy, and I really don't like the hunched up look that excessively vertical superstructure gives it. That however is flat out opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, GiledPallaeon said:

You'd have to be more specific. Otherwise I'm just going to copy and comment on the entire thing.

Well I would read it........

But that was more work than what I was going for. I mainly wanted to know if he was just sounding like he knew what he was saying, or was actually on the money. I don't know enough to tell the difference!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, BrobaFett said:

Well I would read it........

But that was more work than what I was going for. I mainly wanted to know if he was just sounding like he knew what he was saying, or was actually on the money. I don't know enough to tell the difference!

I'll punch up a longer commentary in a minute when I'm not on my phone. TL;DR, he reads like someone who follows the science/"physics" of Star Wars (insofar as his admittedly number-heavy fluff can be called "physics") without exceptional concern for military reality. In all fairness, I am diving into details with many of my complaints (things like all or nothing versus distributed armor schemes), but he comes across as someone who has done the numbers for the rules he defined, but then forgot to work out how to beat what he built. One of the most important rules (IMO) when developing a combatant is making sure you know how it can be beat, so you can try to accommodate those weaknesses if possible. He is thorough in his numbers and commendably consistent about his rules, but seems to lack the background in real physics (name me a Star Wars ship other than the TIE Fighter with the main engines aligned behind the center of mass) or tactics that could give these ships nuance. Don't get me wrong, he's great and clearly a very intelligent person, but his designs are a little brute force, if that makes any sense (though that is the Imperial motif).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, here goes nothing, @BrobaFett @PT106

Quote

1. Power generation is the most important metric for a warship. Power gets turned into weapons fire, acceleration, and shielding. Everything that a warship actively *does* depends on how much power it generates.

In a science fiction universe primarily using energy weapons (like Star Wars), this is 100% correct. It's a very Klingon description, but it's correct. In many science fiction universes that do not singularly use energy weapons like Star Wars does (Star Trek, kind of, the Honor Harrington series, Warhammer 40K, Halo) and real life, this gets demoted to a mere one of the most important metrics, for combat in particular next to ammunition storage and rate of engagement. (Rate of engagement is defined here as the rate at which a combatant can detect, prosecute, and destroy/disable a target. This is distinct from rate of fire, the rate at which munitions are expended at a target. For example, a machine gun has a high rate of fire, but depending on its spread, has a fairly low rate of engagement. Your bullets can only shred one bush at a time. A vertical launch missile system, by contrast, will have a lower rate of fire, but if the missiles are individually targeted, a higher rate of engagement.)

To my Klingon comment, this also ignores that power generation can be very important for sensors. With all else held equal, a more powerful sensor emitter (think the broadcasting antenna on a radar), the longer range you can detect an object in your line of sight. Thanks to the square law, the increased range is proportional to the square root of the power increase (strictly speaking it's actually the fourth root, but still), making this inefficient past a certain point. It also comes with the drawback that for every unit of range you can see, a well-tuned passive sensor can usually double that for detection of your emissions. (This is the fundamental concept behind early warning receivers.) Thus, you are usually better off boosting the gain on the receiver (how sensitive the receiver is), whether through receiver engineering or sophisticated computer nonsense on the far side, but you still need power to create the active scan anyway.

In modern warships, you end up with some interesting choices for power generation, ones I would imagine are mimicked in Star Wars. In many engine arrangements, the primary task of the engines is propulsion (duh), but in order to achieve high efficiency, the engines are directly mounted onto the shafts of the turbines in the engines, providing direct power. This means that onboard electrical systems are often drawing power from a second, smaller set of engines. For Star Wars, consider that if the output of the main reactor is high energy particles, that's all well and good for the thrusters pointed out the back of the ship, that's pretty worthless for other systems like shields and weapons (provided the latter isn't just shunting those particles.) You either need to pull power off the main reactor directly, which, as in real life, will directly and negatively impact maximum acceleration, or you need secondary reactors just for those systems. Without diving into the nitty-gritty of the various intelligent (and unintelligent) ways the world's navies power their warships, I will bring up the relatively recent idea of integrated electric propulsion. Fundamentally, this works very similar to the Chevrolet Volt car after its main battery runs dead. (My parents are engineers and big fans of the Volt, so I'm fairly familiar with that car and its lack of rear visibility.) Your main engines don't actually power anything other than a series of generators, and that electric power is sent throughout the ship wherever it is needed. The newest class of US Navy destroyer, the DDG-1000 USS Zumwalt class, uses IEP, so that in the future, the ship can be equipped with more powerful sensors and eventually energy weapons without seriously needing to upgrade the ship. The Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyers and the HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister HMS Prince of Wales are also designed with the technology.

Quote

2. Volume is the most important ship dimension, because power depends on the volume of the reactor(s). Reactor volume is proportional to total volume, but this can be short circuited a bit by letting the reactor partially protrude in a bulb. A ship with a bulb devotes proportionately more of its volume to reactor than a ship with totally internal reactors, for a given overall wedge shape.

As a rule of thumb, this is kind of true. Given that that is really all we can use for Star Wars, I really don't see the harm here. In practice, the size of an engine arrangement is only proportional to its power, and the size of a ship is again only proportional to the power of its main engines, but we here in the real world have several different engine types that have vastly different power-mass and power-volume ratios. I would also point out (nitpick), that it is more than possible to increase power output with a more efficient or new technology engine than might be gained on a volume increase, given point 4's commensurate mass increase. Given that Star Wars is implied to be relatively static and given what FS is doing, I won't fault him here.

I will point out that his last sentence starts arguing with point number three, and represents the first design tradeoff that arises from his rules (not the weapons tradeoff he brings up later).

Quote

3. Mass is the second most important ship characteristic. The ratio of power to mass determines how well a ship moves.

Again, correct, but lacking in nuance. First, mass is going to directly affect maximum acceleration per unit engine output, but the ship's agility will require many more factors. That will first mean tostart digging into the thrust vector of the main drives (what is the axis of the thrust), and any secondary thrusters used to manipulate the ship's course, and their spatial relationship to the ship's centroid/center of mass (the latter if they aren't the same point). If that axis does not pass through the center of mass, then the ship will turn, in a direction and at a rate proportional to how far off the axis is, and the ratio of drive power to mass and inertial moment (how hard is it to rotate the ship around an interior point). Agility will be further dependent on how powerful those secondary thrusters are, given that they will be limited in maximum force output by the structural members of the ship, and their (the structure's) ability to handle axial (along the beam), torsional (twisting, think getting water out of a rag), and shear (force across the long axis of the beam) loadings. In other words, the ability of thrusters to push a ship's course around are limited by their ability to act as a lever, and their force is dependent on not snapping the ship like a twig.

I will also point out, per point 2, that if the reactor bulb extends from the ship, the additional reactor volume/power (since we're handwaving those to be equal) has to be enough to provide additional acceleration, given that said bulb must be heavily enough armored it does not represent a vulnerability to enemy weapons fire. (I would argue heavily enough armored even when shields are down, but I'm conservative about those sorts of things.)

For a naval vessel, mass is not the only determination of acceleration and maximum velocity. The relationship to the length of the waterline is actually much stronger, stronger even than the effect of improving the aerodynamics of the hull underwater (provided said aerodynamics aren't garbage). Consider the North Carolina and South Dakota class battleships, built for the US Navy before and during World War II. USS North Carolina (BB-55) massed some 47000 tons fully loaded, and with a main engine set capable of 121000 shaft horsepower, she could hit 28 knots, about 32 miles per hour. USS South Dakota (BB-57) massed only 35000 tons fully loaded, carried 130,000 shaft horsepower, but could only manage about an extra half a knot (.62 mph) over her elder cousin. Both North Carolina and South Dakota had similar beams (the length across the ship perpendicular to her travel, which was 108' to pass through the Panama Canal) and similar drafts (depth of the bottom of the hull, about 38 feet, for the same reason as the beam), but North Carolina was a full 48 feet longer (728 versus 680), which reduced her drag in the water, despite hugely higher mass. This effect is even more prominent on the final class of American battleships ever built, the Iowas. USS Iowa (BB-61) massed 52000 tons, had 212000 shaft horsepower at her disposal, and had a length of ~880 feet, and was capable of 33 knots (37 mph). This effect can also be seen on the top speeds of most aircraft carriers, if the ratio of mass to engine power is compared with lesser surface combatants.

Quote

4. Square-cube law still exists. Increasing length proportionally increases surface area by the square of the increase, and volume by the cube. An 8km ship the same basic shape as a 2km ship is not 4 times bigger, it is 64 times bigger.

This is monumentally important in science fiction universes, and sizably less so for naval designers. Particularly in universes that use physical munitions (like missiles, torpedoes, railguns, etc.), that interior volume can be very important for magazine and launcher space, once space for crew requirements, engines, main drives, hangar bays, etc. are accounted for. Bear in mind, that as interior volume increases, so does mass proportionally, which will negatively affect acceleration unless drive power also keeps up. It's a bit of a vicious cycle, which is why larger ships tend to be slower than smaller ones, despite greater volumes to devote to engines and drives.

For a naval designer, there is a certain "sweet spot" in the ratios of dimensions where most designs end up. Another very important characteristic for a naval vessel's maneuvering performance is her "fineness", the ratio of her length to her beam. A greater "fineness", that is a longer/thinner ship, has improved speed characteristics, generally speaking. The counterpoint is that a longer ship encounters more drag in a turn, and will bleed more speed doing it. She will also respond to her helm slower, especially on radical maneuvers. Finally, and most importantly, an overly fine ship is probably not seaworthy. Unlike cruise ships, whose height makes them dangerous to sail through storms and rough seas for the risk of tipping something with so high a center of gravity, warships have to be able to handle bad conditions. If a ship is too fine, she will be extremely vulnerable to shear forces. Consider a ship riding a wave, and the bow rises through a wave, lifting the front of the ship out of the water. If the keel (the spine of the ship, running the length of the vessel almost always centered on the bottom of the hull) and ribs (structural members up from the keel around the hull) are not strong enough, the bow can snap off, leaving two broken bits of ship almost certainly doomed to sinking. The same is also possible if a large wave hits the ship's side and the force ends up focused on a narrow area, snapping the ship that way. This nearly happened to the USS Fitzgerald, DDG-62, when she was hit by MV ACX Crystal over the summer. Had the impact occurred another thirty feet forward, the Crystal could have easily reached far enough into the Fitzgerald's hull to crack her keel, which probably would have doomed the ship.

One trick often used to get good fineness ratios without overly long ships is to cut off the stern of the vessel, thus creating the square end seen on, for example, the stern of an Arleigh Burke class destroyer. The eddies around the stern of the ship will still give you most of the improvements the longer hull would have, without the additional length and mass issues.

ban_ddg051arleighburke_02.jpg

As a small note, my above comment about part of a ship rising above the water and snapping under its own weight is actually the same principle used by most modern anti-ship torpedoes. Torpedoes are often thought to be aimed at the sides of ships, smashing holes into compartments and causing flooding that sinks the ship. If that were true, USS Cole DDG-67 would not have survived her attack. That was the case for the torpedoes used during the first World War, but by the time the second one rolled around, torpedo design had changed. For one thing, it's surprisingly difficult to develop a trigger mechanism that will work when striking a target hull at any of the many angles you might encounter. Instead, most torpedoes try to explode underneath the keel, creating a pocket of gas that the keel falls into, and snaps the ship. The one-two punch of first the explosion lifting the center of the ship up, then slamming it back down into the cavity formed with gravity is often enough to force keel failure, snapping the ship in half and dooming both parts. (Anti-submarine torpedoes still aim for hull impacts, but are equally invested in breaking the pressure hull as they are rattling everything inside to kill it that way, the same tactic used by depth charges.)

Quote

5. Warships maximize the volume to surface area ratio. Surface area means more armor (and mass), and more shielding requirements. Combat ship design will trend towards increasing volume for power (see rule 1) and reducing surface area to concentrate armor and shielding.

This is logical. These are not the trends in naval shipbuilding generally, but are the generally accepted trends in science fiction navies. Bear in mind that both science fiction and naval designs see a lower limit to the size of a ship per unit armor/shielding, given that a super-survivable ship still needs to be able to maneuver, and fire its weapons in return. The latter in particular must be of sufficient destructive capability to make the inevitable expense of such a design worthwhile, given that such designs are often materially/technologically (and thus financially) expensive. Since normally drive systems and weapons must penetrate the outer armor of the hull, they add necessary breaches in the defenses that can be made proportionally smaller on a larger ship, despite being empirically larger as well. (Think of the dichotomy this way: 10% of 200 and 25% of 80 are both 20, but it is a greater proportion of the latter.)

These trends are not generally found in real warships, to which entire volumes can be devoted to study, though as an overall trend warships are increasing in size. Totally separate geometry requirements, as well as the dimension of weight/displacement, irrelevant in space, mean that these trends of maximizing surface area per volume are somewhat less important. In the modern area, the surface area requirements of sensors, particularly large active electronically scanned phased array radars do consume a large portion of ship superstructures, and can direct the geometry of them. Vertical launch systems can also consume large portions of deck space, but the requirements of having decks, helicopter facilities, and all the other requirements that go into a functional warship are much more prominent on them than an enormous starship that may not actually have to show the connections for underway replenishment of fuel, food, munitions, and everything else that makes a warship go.

At the strategic level, I would characterize the two primary trends as the ever increasing effective operational view range, and increasing weapons performance, both lethality, and the range at which that lethality can be had. By the former, I mean the ability of ships and commanders to discern the capabilities and dispositions of the enemy at a distance, and to effectively coordinate with friendly forces across that range. This is distinct from but includes reconnaissance. Both are in large part driven by recent advances in computer technology that have created the precision weapons revolution, and what the US military originally termed network-centric warfare. These two trends have exacerbated a long-standing divide in fundamental naval strategy, whether sea control comes from the ability to defend a ship at a given point, and then strike out from that ship, or the ability to destroy that ship, provided it is within a critical bubble determined by your capabilities. The former is the strategy of the American navy and her allies, while the latter is the strategy behind anti-access/area denial, used by among others Russia and China.

Quote

6. Power is used. Weapons are energized by the reactor, and at full power draws most of the ships’ generating capacity. Not a hard and fast rule, but since combat designs trend to high power and low surface area, that means armament of such ships becomes more and more prominent. Big ships need to mount big (or at least more) guns, on proportionately less space.

This is a logical continuation of all the previous points. The guided missile warships that dominate the world's seas today follow this trend today loosely, but have to account for magazine space in a way a Star Destroyer doesn't have to. I would expect this trend to slowly shift from larger weaponry to more weapons of a large power to provide a higher rate of engagement. The latter takes over once you reach a point where larger weapons become more difficult from an engineering standpoint. On ships where the design calls for a warship capable of targeting multiple enemies simultaneously, then your power limit means you need smaller individual weapons to engage all of those targets effectively.

I understand where he concludes the point about weapons drawing the majority of a ship's power, it is the standard often cited throughout the Expanded Universe, and forms one of the fundamental axioms his logics are based on. As a point of personal doctrine, I would prioritize having enough reactor power to overcharge the engines and/or the shields while firing the main weapons, under the main logic that you can't continue to damage your enemy if you're dead/out of range. The flipside of course is that the ability to dump an entire ship's output into its weapons can immediately destroy threats, but I value higher overall energy balance than the ability to overload one system at the expense of others.

For real warships, the big power draws in combat (for now) are the propulsion systems and the active sensors. Particularly for larger American warships, the onboard radars can draw surprisingly large amounts of energy from the main engines. In the future, output from directed energy weapons (read self-defense lasers) and electromagnetic weapons (read railguns et al) will take up even more energy, energy that has to be sustained output, whether through the lasing medium or recharging the gigantic capacitors required to power a railgun.

Quote

7. It is easier to cut mass than add mass. People go the other direction. But in structures, higher mass needs special structural arrangements to handle higher stresses. Removing mass leaves a basic hull girder stronger than it needs to be, so it’s a simpler way to go. Doing so will increase agility because mass is removed, but engines and power remain the same.

This is so true I want a plaque with a pithier version of this for my office. As I mentioned back in the comments about power/mass ratios and agility, there is a lot of structural engineering that would go into things like this, but if you remove weight (provided you do it uniformly so the center of mass doesn't wander around) you will increase the maneuvering perfomance of the ship, flat out. In reality, it's exceptionally rare for a ship over time to lose weight, but for it to gain weight. For example, all of the Royal Navy battleships that served in World War I and World War 2 had extensive refits that rebuilt their superstructures, improved anti-aircraft defenses, and otherwise brought the ships up to modern standards. Where possible, RN engineers sought to have weight-neutral changes, but that was practically impossible, so all of them increased their draft and displacement, with commensurate minor losses in performance. The notable exception here is HMS Hood, which was too high a demand to see her refit before her demise at the guns of Bismarck. (Hers was tentatively scheduled for July 1942, over a year after her loss. Among other planned improvements was a restructuring of her deck armor, which may or may not have saved her from the explosion that sank her with almost all hands.) The only comment I will add her is that if the mass being removed is armor plating, the captain of that ship would be wise to expose that ship to less fire with her newfound agility when possible. On larger ships this becomes particularly difficult given the size of the target, but is theoretically possible.

Quote

8. Storage volume is cheap, protected volume is not. Fighters, troops, etc. need open air space inside the hull. That’s cheap. But if that volume needs to be covered with armor and shielding and structure to take heavy blows, then it becomes expensive. If the protected volume expansion for these things does not include more space for reactor, power to weight goes down, and the ship is for its size less able to fight. Carriers will suffer from this. You will see carriers being “cut out” from bigger ship designs, incidentally opening space for hangar apertures and improving their ability to run away. But you won’t see lightly built ships with light hangars up-armed into battleships, because they don’t have the structural strength or weight tolerance there to begin with.

That first point is the guiding principle behind the American battleship philosophy known as all-or-nothing. In short, an area was either armored, or it wasn't. If it wasn't, there was absolutely no serious effort to protect the space there, since additional weight would cost both money and performance. By contrast, the ship's citadel was armored as heavily as possible. Thick armor, both in the belt, the deck, and the gun turrets and barbettes shielded those vital areas such as magazines, the ship's conning tower, and the engine rooms from enemy fire. Where possible (this was a bit more generally popular), the central citadel area would form a "raft", where the rest of the ship could be flooded, but unless the citadel was compromised, buoyancy would be maintained and the ship would remain afloat.

I would be reluctant to characterize any "empty space" in a starship as "cheap", though it is hugely cheaper than protected space. That volume must still be sealed off from vacuum, and be worth the additional structures, energy (shields), and engineering effort to include in the ship. That last part can be more important than it sounds, since mass a long distance from the center of gravity has a(n apparently) disproportionate effect on the performance of the ship by shifting said center. If the space is important enough for all that, additional armoring beyond the minimum up to the value of that compartment can be justified, further increasing the cost of the compartment and so on.

I will note that this "cheap space" has made a critical appearance in a Star Wars film, specifically Rogue One. By all appearances, the superstructure of an Imperial class Star Destroyer is such "cheap space", and whether for windows/sensor apertures, aesthetics, weight, or any other reason, it is not as heavily armored as the bulked slope of the ship's main wedge. It is for this reason Persecutor destroyed her sister Intimidator (if the Empire thinks of itself as the good guy, why is this the naming convention? Even if it doesn't, the propaganda won't exactly write itself here) when Lightmaker rammed the former's armor plated side into the latter's superstructure. I would note that Persecutor probably should have pierced Intimidator's main reactor, by all the cutaways I've seen, but "space magic plot reasons". (If Intimidator had exploded, I can only assume there would not have been enough left of Persecutor to smash the shield gate, which apparently stabilized the entire planetary shield, for the same "space magic plot reasons".)

Generally speaking, his comment about carriers "cut out" from larger ships is correct. Carriers need large, empty spaces to manipulate starfighters and other small craft, not just for storage, but for maintenance, fueling, arming, and all the other tasks that go into launching a combat capable craft. They also benefit greatly from outer armor to protect those vulnerable interior spaces, especially where craft are being fueled and armed. (See USS Franklin for why that is absolutely necessary.) There are only a handful of real life examples of this theorem, all dating back to the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which created a "holiday" in capital ship construction. Signatories were allowed to convert a certain number of hulls under construction into carriers instead; the USN got USS Lexington and Saratoga that way, the Royal Navy HMS Furious, Glorious, and Courageous, and the Imperial Japanese Navy got Akagi     and Kaga. (Akagi's sister Amagi was too badly damaged by the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 to be worth completing, so Kaga was converted in her stead. Only Furious and Saratoga survived World War 2; the former was scrapped and the latter used in atomic bomb tests.) In every case I know of, the designers usually chose to optimize the capability of the new carriers over the potential performance improvements that could be gained.

Quote

9. Wedge shapes are used in universe because they offer clear fire arcs. Warships that are expected to maneuver tend to be that shape so that at least in one direction (forward or top usually), most of its guns can bear. A gun that can’t point onto the main target is extra weight and cost. The larger the ship, the more all-round arcs needed because it won’t be able to maneuver to keep more agile targets in firing arc, so they will have more guns on less efficient (line of sight to target uptime) positions. But a fast ship like a destroyer will have “blind spots” because it is expected to maneuver, and can’t absorb the weight and cost increase of having guns everywhere. Efficiency matters more as designs get smaller.

They offer clear firing arcs, with some caveats. The first and most notable caveat is that if the target is smaller than the wedge attacking it, the outer weapons (the weapons nearest to the stern of the attacker, presuming the wedge point is the bow and the direction of the target) need to actually be able to turn past directly ahead to bear on the target. If designs are not built with sufficient space for the weapons to train at that angle, there will be a blind spot directly ahead of the ship that is immune to the bulk of enemy fire. That said, said spot will be extremely close to the bow of our Star Destroyer (I'm just going to assume it's a Star Destroyer), and a target won't be able to stay in that spot for more than a moment if they are not flying in the same direction at the same velocity. I will also point out that this geometry creates a conundrum. The wider a wedge is, the less additional space a weapon needs to train forward. However, the wider the wedge is, a. that increases the volume of ship per unit length, and b. that creates a larger blind spot behind the ship. If you don't believe me, hold up the Disney diecast ISD next to FFG's version. Disney's has a smaller wedge; observe how hard it is to be directly behind the ship. What angles relative to the ship's central axis can you hide in? Do the same for the FFG ship. The latter is a lot easier to hide behind, and such a commensurately more massive ship will be less agile to try to chase a ship in its rear arcs, creating another vicious cycle of tradeoffs.

Real warships have very much different geometry requirements, so their armament tends to be arranged around different principles. One of the most important is weight, which is often combined with armor to govern the number and placement of main guns. I've heard many comments over the years wondering why HMS Hood or USS Iowa did not mount more weapons in that "worthless empty deck space". The reason they did not is that they could not take the additional weight and space requirements in their designs to add those weapons, particularly large naval rifles for the main battery, without compromising that hull's buoyancy. (There are additional problems about finding space in the already cramped hull for turret barbettes, magazines, and what have you, but those are easier to solve than finding the several thousand tons that go into a triple 16"/50 turret.)

There were experiments with ships with all forward-facing armament, notably the French Dunkerque and Richelieu classes, but the designs were also shaped by the understanding of naval combat at the time. Capital ships were expected to encounter each other in squadrons, and the safest way to organize a squadron for gunnery is in line astern formation, so no ship is attempting to fire over another ship. If your formation is in line astern, your main battery needs to be best able to be brought to bear off either beam axis, thus leading to aligning all main battery turrets down the ship's centerline, with clear rotational arcs to either beam. This created designs like the US Standard battleships, and the dreadnoughts of several classes that fought World War 1.

Dunkerque and Richelieu represented a different take on the combat philosophy of a capital ship, one that is subtly apparent in many designs, particularly battlecruisers like HMS Renown and later fast battleships like Scharnhorst/Gneisenau, North Carolina, et al. Fundamentally, the assumption is that large capital ships will choose engagements and steam towards their adversaries. For that closing time, only the forward batteries can be brought to bear. Ships designed to spend most of their time chasing adversaries, particularly fast battleships and battlecruisers that could find themselves running down enemy cruisers, it was logical to place the majority of the main battery forward. The French built the Dunkerque and Richelieu classes to counter the new German and Italian constructions of heavy cruisers and fast battleships. With those requirements in mind, the ships mounted the otherwise unusual armament configuration that they did.

Quote

Because of all this, the nastier a ship gets vs other ships in a slugging match, the more compact it gets, and more of its surface area gets covered with guns. DUH right? Well, here’s the logical basis for that design outcome. Sleek ships are more aesthetic and more in line with something like Executor. But before you complain about how giant battleships look, consider that if you take a super sleek ship, and it’s probably proportionately underarmed, undershielded, and underpowered. Function over form, to a certain extent.

This is the logical conclusion of the previous axioms. It's not quite true for modern warships, and definitely not true for warships from the first half of the twentieth century, but it applies for science fiction. Regarding his last couple statements about the combat effectiveness of Executor, presumably versus say Wrath, I feel compelled once again to emphasize that the axioms before now are rules of thumb, so while this is generally true, commentary on a specific case requires laying down certain rules for comparisons, given that the two ships being compared defy the current engineering capabilities of human beings.

Regarding whether or not a sleeker ship is underarmed, undershielded, or underpowered, I think what FS actually means here over sleek is actually slim, comparing the inside angles of Executor's wedge versus Wrath's, or the Procurator versus the Imperial he helpfully pulled alongside. I can achieve the same number of weapons and have a sleeker exterior by deploying all the weapons in retractable turrets. All of those turrets will involve a lot of additional work to not compromise the armor, but I can still get a "sleek"/less greeblehauled look. Regarding such a slimmer ship. I will make a few points. First, it stands to reason that such a ship would offset its inability to mount a large main engine with multiple distributed smaller engines. It's much less space efficient to achieve equivalent engine output that way (still need all the shielding and engineering compartments for each reactor, instead of a single unified system), but it's possible to achieve equal power output. The square-cube law says that's hard to actually achieve, but you can get close and have a far more survivable system that can handle multiple disabled or scrammed reactors and still provide power, whether for efficiency when less power is necessary, or to sustain battle damage and stay active.

For being underarmed, I will point out that I am not necessarily limited to less weapons output (provided I have equal power generation), I am only limited to fewer weapons, which is only a upper limit on targets engaged simultaneously. What it is not is a limit on rate of engagement, if my individual weapons are proportionally larger and more powerful per loss in individual mounts. (For example, if Executor mounts 80% of the weaponry that Wrath does, then if Executor's weapons hit 25% harder they are outputting equal energies.) There is a similar effect for shields. While Executor on the whole probably has less power generation available than Wrath, if she is equipped with the same shield generators she can reactively shunt power from generator to generator, improving the shields selectively. A sleeker ship will have fewer protrusions, whether weapon mounts or greebles, so its armor and shields do not have to account for these exterior features. If shield strength is proportional the surface area of the shield and to shield strength (and if the shields do not have to map exactly to the surface they are shielding), a slimmer ship can get away with shielding a smaller surface area, an edge to the movie ship versus FS's. This means Executor's main armor and shields are, on average, likely harder to penetrate than Wrath's per unit power, given that the latter has far more points where the armor or shields have to break, bend, or otherwise be compromised so that Wrath can mount all her weaponry.

In summary, the only one of FS's three under- statements that is practically true is the underpowered statement, provided power is related to interior volume and no other factors. Under-engined, underarmed, and undershielded are all directly related to other elements of ship design not necessarily obvious from how slim or sleek a particular design is. It is true Wrath is probably the better battleship, but provided Executor's weapons are all larger than Wrath's, it is perfectly conceivable that Executor could deploy more of her power output into weapons fire onto a single target, with larger individual blasts, than Wrath could, in addition to have a more balanced power distribution across the ship, even when all weapons are firing. For a large flagship like the Executor, my personal opinion is that Executor is probably still the more balanced design, given greater area for sensors and communications systems necessary for a flagship, as well as more likely to be equipped such that even in the heat of battle, she can not sacrifice performance on her four main systems (weapons, engines, shields, C4I*) than Wrath can.

Hopefully that was helpful and not just a wall of incomprehensible text. Is there anything in here you would like me to elaborate on further?

*Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence

Edited by GiledPallaeon
A geometry note re: shields

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Ardaedhel said:

Holy ****.

I'm going to take that as a compliment.

As an addendum, that last paragraph about Executor v. Wrath is entirely conjecture, but given the topic of the rest of the discussion, I feel perfectly justified making my assumptions and positing some possibilities. Also Executor is a much prettier ship, function and form should work together, not overwhelm each other. (I'd make comments about stealth, but we don't know enough about cloaking technologies in Star Wars other than that they are an active tech that I don't feel appropriate to comment here. On modern ships, the sacrifices made to improve a ship's sensor signatures are usually pretty obvious, especially in a navy's bottom line.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Ardaedhel said:

Holy ****.

Yeah! HOLY ^Tooooooooooooooot^

Wouldn't DARE to quote @GiledPallaeon

So I thought to quote @Ardaedhel instead. :D

That's a whole lot of text! WALL of text!! I'd dare say that, that one single post is the equivalent of the entire amount of text (barring images/video content etc.) in the X-Wing Gunboat Thread!!!!! :o:o:o

MAN...I don't think I'm going to get any work done at all today! HAVE to sit down and analyse as @FoaS put it, dissertation!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...