Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Elheru Aran » 2017-01-18 05:16pm

Honorverse ships-- soft-SF elements like sidewalls and FTL etc. aside-- honestly aren't a bad design (from what little I've read of that series). Armored tubes mounting a bunch of missiles and energy weapons. I dunno how useful exactly the energy weapons would be (Drake does concede that they're mostly for close fighting), but high-fraction-of-C missile-spam sounds... scary.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-01-18 10:21pm

Simon_Jester wrote:


On Shroom Space-Amoeba-Ship Thing
This is actually probably a better idea than it sounds. You might want an outer layer of plating and a rigid framework just so there's something to bolt stuff like radar dishes to, so that your amoeba is more like a vertebrate with an internal skellington, and less like a beached jellyfish. But wrapping the core of the ship in layers of low-density ablative materials may well be a good way to provide protection. And while mass is precious in space, volume really doesn't matter very much, except if you're trying to dodge ballistic weapons like bullets in which case you want a small hitbox.

Which might be a good time to use drone ships anyway. This goes well with the idea of designing a space carrier, actually. You're a big target, but a reasonably well protected one, and you try to stay out of range while drones destroy whatever dangerous targets you can't afford to get too close to.


Ah, can it be so that the components I mentioned "The weapons would protrude through this soft puffy "armor"... so the central pod (be it spherical or cylindrical or rectangulocubical) would have "spokes" like a bicycle or something that reach THROUGH the marshmallow armoring" serve as the internal pseudo-skellington while their protrusions are surrounded by the external rigid partial plating... while still leaving significant chunks of the thick low-density coating relatively un-rigid?

Like... a bubble gum with a candy inside... a sea urchin candy. Or like Swiss cheese... but with the holes arranged such a way that the sea urchin is hiding inside!

A sea urchin wearing Swiss Cheese!

There could be un-armored versions that would look like sea urchins. Either for non-frontline uses, or for duties that don't require marshmallow armor. THEN when shit gets real, they just slather it with the thick marshmallow bubble gum stuff.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-01-19 07:32pm

Elheru Aran wrote:Honorverse ships-- soft-SF elements like sidewalls and FTL etc. aside-- honestly aren't a bad design (from what little I've read of that series). Armored tubes mounting a bunch of missiles and energy weapons. I dunno how useful exactly the energy weapons would be (Drake does concede that they're mostly for close fighting), but high-fraction-of-C missile-spam sounds... scary.


As I recall, the only real reason to have warheads was for proximity detonations when you couldn't actually score a direct hit on the target.

Otherwise, the destructive force of a C-fractional warhead would render a warhead rather redundant.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-01-19 08:05pm

Zixinus wrote:I would approach this more as a research project and pretty much just set out the task (read: the hard and important decisions) to people that not only are qualified to answer but would provide answers to questions I could barely begin to ask.


A reasonable approach.

The thing is, I have no idea how space warfare really works. So the real question is finding out how it would work. Interview existing experts, create teams to work out ideal roles and such. Have the AIs run simulations.


Keep in mind that in this setting, while others may know more, no one really is an expert in space warfare, beyond sims anyway- the united Earth means that their has been little warfare for a while, and the biggest/most powerful warships your government has are essentially fighter drones and the space equivalent of Coast Guard cutters or corvettes at best.

So your team will be breaking new ground in building an actual full-scale interplanetary warship.

Prioritize what role is most essential. Should the ships be enforcer units? Should they have room for further weapons and have existing capability in case aliens attack? Should we focus on providing powerful missiles or should we try some sort of long-range energy gun (x-ray laser? railguns?) ? Or both? Hell, can we even list the roles needed? Just how long range can we create for long-range weapons?


The most immediate concern is probably the possibility of a Martian colonial revolt, in which case the ships would be mainly needed for blockade duty or to support ground forces/boarding operations- Mars isn't going to be fielding a substantial space fleet.

On the other hand, while less immediate, the possibility of an alien attack is a potential existential threat to humanity, which Martian secession isn't (except insofar as it would challenge the concept of a united humanity).

So the biggest priorities would be supporting boarding operations on a rebel ship/outpost/station, or intercepting inbound ships/WMDs from outside the system, with a strong case for either of those being the first priority.

Because the more I think of it, that's kind of what is needed here. At most, current ships are equipped to have short-to-medium range warfare. You want to create something that trumps that, a ship that can dominate with just its very presence and attack other ships (or targets) before they are attacked. Plus be able to destroy any spaceship that decides to burn all of its fuel into a suicidal blind-attack.


Pretty much, as far as ship to ship combat is concerned.

A slap-on-my-knee priority listing:
1. Anti-relativistic weapons (alien attack, prevent interplenatary war from devestating Earth). Destruction of solid objects travelling at significant fraction of light-speed. Necessates powerful, long-range energy weapon as well as powerful detection capabilities, plus powerful engines.
2. Deep-space ship-on-ship warfare (alien visitors, rouge ships). With some focus on pin-point accuracy destruction for disabling. Good armor fit fit to stop human technology. If aliens have far more powerful weapons we are boned anyway.
3. Deep-space-to-planetary-orbit warfare (destroy orbital objects).
4. Away-team with lander (not just for disabled spaceships but in case of rescue missions).


This seems reasonable to me.

I would start design around looking at what existing propulsion systems are available. After all, only that will give us good ideas what the spaceship will be capable of. Priorities:


Reg. propulsion, I would assume that any such civilization would likely have the capacity to build Orion-style nuclear drives at the very minimum.

1. Range (set out, needs to be independent).


Nothing to add here really.

2. Detection (a blind warship is useless, long-range awareness gives the most breathing room for whatever tactic is necessary).


Especially in the absence of energy shields. I'm assuming the armour doesn't exist which can take a direct nuke hit, so the only real way to survive ship to ship combat with another warship is to hit them before they can hit you.

3. Communication with other observer equipment with appropriate hardening for computer and signal warfare.
4. Anti-missile defenses (most likely and credible threat), long-range energy weapon paired with interceptor missiles


I'm curious as to how effective energy weapons would be beyond very close (by the standards of interplanetary space) ranges. While a laser can travel at the speed of light, once you get into multiple light-second ranges, I'd assume the target would likely have moved out of the way before the beam could arrive and be missed. Whereas a missile could track its target over longer distances, and would only need to detonate in proximity to the target (in the case of a nuke in particular) to inflict damage.

On the other hand, a missile would take longer to reach its target and could be shot down, and could only be carried in limited numbers. Pros and cons.

5. Protection from short-ranged human weapons. Either armor or other point-defences. Physical shield maybe?


I'm presuming hard sci-fi rules out energy shields, so yes, hull armour (and compartmentalization and redundant systems) seem to be the best bet for surviving hits from light weapons.

Point defence might stop physical projectiles, but not energy weapons.

6. Short-range warfare (low priority because other, smaller ships are better suited to it).


Hell, it wouldn't be that hard to add some of the drone fighters to your cruiser and make it a fighter carrier. Especially since, in space, you don't need a long runway for fighters to land and take off- you could literally strap your fighters to the outside of the hull.

7. Away team.


Probably a low priority- the number of troops you can carry on a vessel will be strictly limited, although using drones would allow you to pack in more than if you used organic troops.

8. Planetary bombardment.


A measure of last resort, I would think, especially in the absence of a peer power to practice MAD against, although having the capability for pinpoint bombardment in support of ground operations might prove very useful.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-01-19 11:16pm

As to the person who suggested spherical hulls and engines pointing every which way... This actually presents some very serious problems.

For one, a sphere has the minimum possible surface to volume ratio. You have lots of internal space, but a minimum of external space. That limits your ability to mount things on the hull (like airlocks and sensors and so on).

For another, you can never concentrate full firepower or sensor capabilities on any one target.

Another concern is armor protection. The good news is that if your ship could get shot at from any direction, a sphere minimizes the area of armor plate you need. The bad news is that this is only true if you assume that enemy fire can come from any direction equally easily... In which case you've basically already given up on being able to maneuver to position yourself during combat. It takes pretty unusual hard-SF scenarios to force that on someone.

Spherical designs are not remotely competitive with designs that concentrate all their armor in a single 'belt' or 'plate' designed to stop specific threats from hitting at specific angles. Plus, when the enemy hits your hull, the center of mass of the target they see is always perpendicular to their line of fire, so you don't get as much benefit from enemy shots 'grazing' your armor belt and slamming into disproportionate thicknesses of protective material- which is one of the few things that can make thin flank protection worthwhile in my opinion.

Elheru Aran wrote:Honorverse ships-- soft-SF elements like sidewalls and FTL etc. aside-- honestly aren't a bad design (from what little I've read of that series). Armored tubes mounting a bunch of missiles and energy weapons. I dunno how useful exactly the energy weapons would be (Drake does concede that they're mostly for close fighting), but high-fraction-of-C missile-spam sounds... scary.
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Basically, on a hard SF design there will always be a recognizable "main engine." Whichever direction the main engine sticks out of your ship is "down" for purposes of accelerating the ship (artificial gravity based on spinning modules aside). If you're going to mount weapons on a ship with a main engine you have three basic choices:

1) Design the ship so the weapons are pointing "up," opposite the engine. This gives you a ship with a spinal weapon. While shooting, you can only accelerate towards the enemy, never away. That limits your tactical options, but there are situations where it doesn't matter very much.

2) Design the ship so that the weapons point "sideways," perpendicular to the direction of thrust. This gives you a ship with 'broadside' armament. You get more tactical flexibility, but you're also more limited in how you design the weapons. "Broadside" designs are also harder to armor, because when fighting they expose more of their surface area to the enemy, and therefore present a bigger target.

3) Use weapons that don't really care which way you point them, such as missiles that are ejected from the ship, then pivot and start heading in whatever direction you want. Or turreted laser weapons that have a big honking laser inside the ship that is directed through small turrets containing mirrors and lenses on the surface of the ship, so that one laser cannon can be used to fire in multiple directions just by turning the mirrors and lenses.




The big advantages of (1) are as follows:

1A)

It lets you minimize your target profile. You can pile all 100 tons or however much mass you have allocated into armor into the smallest possible "frontal area." This is basically how modern tanks work; their armor on the sides is mostly designed to stop infantry-launched antitank missiles because it's infantry that can outflank them. Armor protection against the main gun of enemy tanks is placed pretty much entirely on the front of the tank, and the tank is designed to be as low-slung and sloped as possible to maximize the stopping power of the armor per ton of weight allocated to it.

Regardless of what kind of passive defenses you build into your ship (steel plate, giant marshmallow thing, whatever), those defenses are a lot more efficient if you can pile them up to cover a small area with double thickness, rather than a large area with single thickness. Plus, again, narrow target profile means you're harder to hit at all.

If you're fighting at ranges where "missing" is a realistic option, this is great. Although it's somewhat less effective if the enemy has weapons that can target you from unexpected directions, like a missile that flies 'past' you and then blasts you in the flank with an X-ray laser on the way past.

1B)

If weapon and detection ranges are long compared to the rate at which craft maneuver, you will nearly always be able to predict the direction enemy fire is coming from. This means you don't really have to worry about being outflanked, even if attacked from multiple directions at once. Unless the enemy pulls off a miracle of precision timing, you'll still be in a position to engage and defeat one opponent before another.

This, also is how modern tanks work. You don't really have to worry about enemy tanks appearing at several places at once and zooming up so close to you that you can't traverse the turret fast enough to hit them all, outside of a video game. So there isn't much point in arming a tank with a bunch of heavy guns pointing in all different directions. Smaller, more flexible but weaker guns (e.g. pintle-mounted machine guns or active antimissile defense systems) have a role, but you don't see people trying to build tanks with two sets of tracks so they can drive in all directions with equal ease, or two main guns on two turrets so they can shoot two things at once.

Fighter jets are similar- almost all their weaponry is generally designed to be effective when pointing in the same direction as the aircraft's nose, with a handful of exceptions like ultra-maneuverable bleeding-edge dogfighting missiles that are basically under category (3). Because realistically, you see the enemy and are in a position to aim and fire at them long before they can get past you.

[Note that WWII-era dogfights would seem an exception to this rule; I can explain, but this post is wordy enough]




The big advantages of (2) are as follows:

2A)

More surface area to put things on. There are a lot of systems on a ship that have to be mounted on the surface (sensors, antimissile laser cannons, etc.) The more surface area you have to mount systems that point in the general direction of the enemy, the more powerful your active options for attack and defense can be. Note that this is in direct conflict with the goal of minimizing surface area exposed to enemy fire. :(

2B)

Larger number of individual (small) weapons. This sounds pretty good if each weapon is powerful enough to be dangerous but your hit rate is crappy. Or, conversely, if you cannot hope to do more than chip damage with any one shot, and need huge numbers of shots to actually harm the enemy. Or if the limits on the size and power of weapons you can build are independent of the size of the ship, so that the biggest gun you can make is still so tiny you might as well put 80 of them aboard the ship.

Wooden ships of the line are a good example of the last two constraints; they generally fought at ranges where cannons were unlikely to miss each other, but each individual cannonball didn't do THAT much damage to a large enemy ship, and the biggest guns you could physically operate were much, much smaller than the biggest ships. Note that as soon as it became mechanically possible to build monstrous 8", 10", or 16" cannons in the 1800s, everyone started putting WAY less individual heavy guns on their ships, and started concentrating them in a couple of big, better protected turrets.




Honestly, I don't think (3) has many advantages in hard SF, except for cases where it's just the obvious and convenient way to design your ship and you aren't paying an engineering cost by doing so (as with having box launchers for missiles that pivot and fly in whatever direction you want them to go).
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Elheru Aran » 2017-01-20 11:57am

Yeah, I always get my Baen David's mixed up. Realized that after the edit window. Oh well.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Knife » 2017-01-20 12:18pm

Well, I took the 'sci fi' bit in the title as a given.

The fact that there are multitudes of factors we just don't know for an actual design. Which is why when things like the thread on 3 bodies crop up, I usually do the whole... test all available ideas and pick the ones the work best for xyz situations. Whether or not you do a broadside or focus weapons to a particular arc depends on so many factors we don't have that you end up just assuming some work and others don't for any answer.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Beowulf » 2017-01-20 01:57pm

Sky Captain wrote:Scaling would be an issue, all plausible fusion drive concepts are big and expensive systems, if we try to stick to plausible technology it is unlikely that fusion drive would scale down to small missiles and gun shells. A large fusion powered missile bus may be possible with big fusion first stage that contains several high acceleration chemical missiles with standoff warheads. If this is somewhat correct then missile with Casaba howitzer warhead would be devastating weapon capable of striking from several thousand km distance, or even more for more advanced models. Lasers would have hard time intercepting missiles that have to come only within 5000 to 10 000 km distance to deliver killing shot. Only good defence may be defensive missiles with similar warheads to intercept incoming shipkillers outside standoff range.

In this context railguns may be useful as launchers for casaba howitzer warheads since you don't need much terminal propulsion if 1000 km from target is good enough if math works out that railgun is better from cost and mass perspective than extra boost stage for each warhead.


I was thinking it over, and it doesn't actually matter whether the target is a torch ship or not. Assuming no artificial gravity, you're limited to survivable accelerations, and probably closer to 1-3gs at most. It doesn't matter how much dV the target has available, only the dV that it can generate during the time of flight of a KKW. And not just that, but dV perpendicular to the flight of the projectile (implying that for best dodging, you have to be broadside to the projectile). With a reasonably low Isp of ~250 seconds, and a reasonably low mass ratio of .8 (fuel to total mass), you're looking at around 4 km/s total divert dV for a missile. At a target acceleration of 1g, that's about 400 seconds of flight time. If the mass driver tosses the projectile at 15km/s (might be high, but might be reasonable), that's around 6000 km range. If the acceleration isn't perpendicular to the path, then the target acceleration will effectively drop by the cosine of the angle, giving projectile a longer effective range.

Also, KKWs could be tossed into a bracketing pattern, such that dodging one projectile will make another use less dV to intercept. I realize that 6000km doesn't sounds like a long range compare to a light second (it's what, 5%?) but lasers are probably limited more by diffraction and beam quality than by ability of the target to dodge based on lightspeed delays.

Solauren wrote:Well, you don't need areodynamics in space, so really, all you need is a big flying box with thick outer walls, and covered in weapons "just in case".

In truth, if it never needs to land, a sphere is the perfect shape. You can put thrusters all around it for maximum maneuverability.
Same with guns.


You only get maximum maneuverability with a sphere if you have low standards for maneuverability. People can't work as well when they're hanging from the ceiling, as when they're firmly with their feet on the floor.

If you manage to get into a point where you have enemies all around you, in space, you've probably fucked up. If your guns are concentrated to give one direction all your firepower, you'll be able to destroy the enemy faster than if half your guns are on the wrong side of the ship to help.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Sky Captain » 2017-01-22 11:10am

You would get much better effective range if missiles thrown by mass driver have standoff warheads. It would make point defense more difficult. Lasers at close range could destroy or disable lot of missiles so avoiding worst of enemy point defenses would reduce number of missiles required to achieve a hit. One problem with shooting missiles out of a mass driver is it reduces salvo density because it takes time to reload, charge up capacitors and launch althogh yo get a benefit by not needing a boost stage. Launching from some sort of VLS tubes or strap on missile pods allow all missiles to launch simoultaneusly and achieve maximum possible salvo density at the cost of having larger and heavier missiles because they have to provide all delta v themselves

High salvo density would be very desirable for point defense penetration. Even with standoff warheads anti missile missiles and large lasers still would be a threat if warheads arrive one by one. If both sides have good point defense then it would be possible that both run out of offensive missiles before actually doing any damage.

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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Zixinus » 2017-01-22 12:40pm

A thought: Maybe have two or three of the four ships as general fighters, and have one ship specialized for planetary bombardment. This requires a different set of priorities because that ship will be essentially taking part of a planetary siege: it will be making precision attacks on planet surface and will have to contend with attacks from Mars' surface. It's a very different war environment than fighting deep space.

And you'll need a specialized troop carrier if a invasion is needed. The Marsians are unlikely to have tanks, but we will probably be talking about an invasion force worth several hundred if not a thousand troops (depending on just how much habitat space is there to begin with). Plus troop transporters on the surface because you can't plan on relying on locally-made transport. Plus all the infrastructure and supplies needed for the invasion force.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Beowulf » 2017-01-22 03:11pm

Sky Captain wrote:You would get much better effective range if missiles thrown by mass driver have standoff warheads. It would make point defense more difficult. Lasers at close range could destroy or disable lot of missiles so avoiding worst of enemy point defenses would reduce number of missiles required to achieve a hit. One problem with shooting missiles out of a mass driver is it reduces salvo density because it takes time to reload, charge up capacitors and launch althogh yo get a benefit by not needing a boost stage. Launching from some sort of VLS tubes or strap on missile pods allow all missiles to launch simoultaneusly and achieve maximum possible salvo density at the cost of having larger and heavier missiles because they have to provide all delta v themselves

High salvo density would be very desirable for point defense penetration. Even with standoff warheads anti missile missiles and large lasers still would be a threat if warheads arrive one by one. If both sides have good point defense then it would be possible that both run out of offensive missiles before actually doing any damage.


Yeah, I'll admit that's a downside of mass drivers over missiles: quantity of fire. Mass drivers are probably better for sustained fire, but can't have the same density as a missile spam. Conceivably, you could use submunitions with a mass driver, to make the point defense harder. Or you could have an larger power bank so that you can fire in quick succession (reload would probably be relatively quick). Alternatively you could try to sand blast the sensors and laser apertures off. Have a warhead that's basically just fine sand, and a bursting charge. Won't penetrate armor, but that's not the point. The point is to clean off the hull what can't be armored: point defense laser apertures, radars, and other fragile external structures. Once those are gone, salvo size doesn't matter so much, because they can't defend themselves. Third, you could armor the front of the KKW. If it takes longer to burn off the armor than it takes to go through the protected zone, then it's probably going to hit. Yeah, you might have issues with homing, because the sensors might not survive the point defense attempting to burn through the armor. Could use command guidance from the launching ship (though you have a doubled light speed lag). Probably all of the above is what would actually happen.

Standoff warheads would probably still be helpful though. Might carry a mix, so that the defense has more complicated defense solutions. Casaba type warheads would probably be more effective at burning off the armor and external sensors, but KKWs would probably be better at causing damage deep in the target ship.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby LaCroix » 2017-01-22 06:49pm

Missile spam is always a good way to overwhelm defences.

On the other hand, with missiles you pretty fast hit hard limits of ammunition capacity. While you will have an initial burst of everything that is readied in your launchers, you will pretty much have nothing left for sustained fire after that. If the enemy can evade them (they will use a lot of their dV to actually get to speed and travel), shoot them down, or tank the damage of that volley, you are more or less a sitting duck.

You are essentially exchanging a handful rifle rounds a single buckshot round, and hoping that the shotgun spread will work out in your favour.

But in order to make this saturation tactic work you need to pretty much have all your missiles in ready launchers and use 100% of them in the first salvo. You can't afford to try a limited one, and if it doesn't work, send a second one that is larger, until it works. Unless you know the capabilities of a ship, beforehand. But they might have refitted them with more point defenses since the last encounter. You would do so, as well, if you knew the enemy will missile spam you. You would need to go overboard or all out with the first attack, just to be sure.

Aggravating, missiles are about an order of magnitude bigger than anything realistically coming out of a railgun(even our standard SM-X missiles are really huge beasts) because of the need of a dedicated first stage/secon staged to accelerate, so ammunition storage space becomes a premium. And dangerous, having them inside the hull. Most likely, you will only have the content of your launch cells, and no reloads. And even if you would have additional missiles in storage, moving them into the launchers might be something that can't be done realistically in combat timeframes and/or need very bulky reloading systems.

Not saying they won't work, and that the densit approach is wrong, but it comes with other problems. As, your ship might only be capable to engage one enemy before needing to return to base to reload.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Sky Captain » 2017-01-24 04:34pm

Yeah, I'll admit that's a downside of mass drivers over missiles: quantity of fire. Mass drivers are probably better for sustained fire, but can't have the same density as a missile spam.


I think it should be possible to have both systems on a ship. External missile pods for high density long range opening salvo and mass drivers, lasers for point defense and to engage whatever manage to survive opening missile spam. MAD also would be possible with both sides suffering crippling damage or total destruction from missiles.

LaCroix wrote:Missile spam is always a good way to overwhelm defences.


Yeah sometimes best solution is to throw so many missiles that some manage to get through. Especially if both sides have technological parity then it pretty much goes down to which side can get bigger missile spam.

An idea for rough layout of space warship is to have cylindrical hull with engine at the back and armored cone with a a diameter bit larger than main hull to protect the sides at the front. Cone may be jettisonable when it is too damaged to function or ship has to run away and getting rid of any unnecessary mass allows better acceleration.

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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Patroklos » 2017-01-28 03:15am

Shroom Man 777 wrote:
Ah, can it be so that the components I mentioned "The weapons would protrude through this soft puffy "armor"... so the central pod (be it spherical or cylindrical or rectangulocubical) would have "spokes" like a bicycle or something that reach THROUGH the marshmallow armoring" serve as the internal pseudo-skellington while their protrusions are surrounded by the external rigid partial plating... while still leaving significant chunks of the thick low-density coating relatively un-rigid?

Like... a bubble gum with a candy inside... a sea urchin candy. Or like Swiss cheese... but with the holes arranged such a way that the sea urchin is hiding inside!

A sea urchin wearing Swiss Cheese!

There could be un-armored versions that would look like sea urchins. Either for non-frontline uses, or for duties that don't require marshmallow armor. THEN when shit gets real, they just slather it with the thick marshmallow bubble gum stuff.


Something else to remember about this sort of design. Since you are talking about low density material for the bulk of the warships volume, you are going to need significant structure within in to act as thrust bearings or else your "candy core" as you put it will just punch a hole through the front and leave the rest of the ship behind given any large maunevering forces. From what I remember aerogels have some compression strength so you might be able to stack a layer on the forward face along the thrust axis as you describe, but probably won't hold up to lateral forces experienced along the sides of the hull.

Basically those spokes would also have to serve as bracings, so would probably look more latices laced through the armor medium instead of spokes.

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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-01-28 05:33am

Definitely true, but it's do-able. Plus "soft material" doesn't necessarily mean "weak" or "gooey." Picture something with Kevlar fibers tangled up and immersed in the material- looks like cotton candy, but doesn't tear easily.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Patroklos » 2017-01-28 10:12am

Oh I am sure there can be some thrust load applied directly to the armor medium, but given to tech level some stucture will be needed. That's one of the biggest drawbacks to the spherical ship. No matter what you fill it with a disproportionate amount of mass will be a ways off the thrust axis assuming a single engine group thrusting through the center. Thrust bearing stucture will be far more extensive than in a more traditional "tower on top of an engine" arrangement.

Specific to shrooms design I would suggest adding foamed metals to his aerogel mix in some arrangement that adds rigitidy while maintaing the whipper effects ( depending on the metals used this can also provide radiation and laser armor). Additionally maybe frozen water or other layer to act as a heat sink within the armor for added rigidity. You could actually use the whiple space as propellant storage when not on combat, just use up the stuff closer to the outer shell first so you have your shield, the remainder closer to the core again acts as a heat sink. If dange starts to approach the propellant filled core layers of the armor, just vent it to open more whipple layers. Or have baffles so you can pump the armor surfaces on the threat axis empty, though that might cause stability issues.

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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-01-29 09:54am

Honeycomb foamed metals? Or a lattice of... metal vein-like things? The spokes can have graphene or whatever wondermaterial hair-strands sticking from around em proliferating throughout the soft substance without significantly altering weight or otherwise taking too much of the percentage in volume?

My goodness - FROZEN WATER?! That's a brilliantly kooky idea.

I wonder how T-1000 liquid intelligent-metal ranks in terms of "hardness" in sci-fi.
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Marko Dash » 2017-01-29 10:51am

i asked the boards opinion of this game down in that section and it seems like it would let you test whatever you liked (no nuclear shaped charges IIRC).
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Patroklos » 2017-01-29 11:48am

Shroom Man 777 wrote:Honeycomb foamed metals? Or a lattice of... metal vein-like things?


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_foam

By using the metal foam you have the whipple medium itself provide rigidity. You will still need thrust transferring structure but probably far less. Foamed metal is tricky to make Earthside, but it's a great product for vacuum manufacture.

A thought: you might be able to have inflatable bladders that you can rapidly inject with foamed metal you then rapidly cool via radiators. Think airbag. This way you can place armor only on a threat axis, then slough off impacted armor as they become ineffective bags and replace them with new ones. Instead of having armor permanently spread over the entire hull, most of which will never be used, you only have to place the exact amount you need exactly where you need it. You could force an enemy to burn/blast through you entire armor mass instead of prick a hole through .01% of it. This of course depends on the nature of the combat. If you have to defend against missile warheads irradiating half the surface area of you ship with proximity blasts it's not so useful. But if we are talking laser duels with meticulously chosen minimally presented aspects it could work.

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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Exonerate » 2017-02-01 11:29pm

I like Children of a Dead Earth, I've been spending a fair amount of time on it lately. One can draw useful insights from it, but it makes some crucial assumptions about things and has game mechanics that wouldn't really apply to a realistic scenario (like combat starting from a maximum of 1000km, things having uniform temperature, etc).

I guess the first question I find myself asking is what exactly this warship is supposed to do. What am I doing in "deep space" in the first place? What am I trying to attack or defend? I think this is a pretty important thing to address, especially when you consider that the space environment essentially means a return to Napoleonic tactics - against a peer, if you can see them, they can see you, and if you can shoot them, they can shoot you. There's pretty much no such thing as terrain in deep space, which means it pretty much boils down to how efficiently you can shoot and avoid/survive getting shot. And since nobody really wants to get shot and it's difficult to close the distance unless there's a large speed differential, I'd suggest you're not going to see any attempts to outflank the enemy or anything like that - most combat would be attritional standoffs at the edge of effective weapons range where the two sides try to make favorable trades to expend their opponent's dV and weapons stock.

I suspect that passive defense in the form of armor is mostly futile. The speeds involved with potential weapons will take a tremendous amount of armor to protect against, which adds weight, which necessitates more propellant to reach a certain amount of dV, which means more volume, which means more armor needed, etc... Something to catch shrapnel around the vital compartments, maybe, but I can't foresee too much armor.

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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-02-02 12:58pm

Patroklos wrote:
Shroom Man 777 wrote:Honeycomb foamed metals? Or a lattice of... metal vein-like things?


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_foam

By using the metal foam you have the whipple medium itself provide rigidity. You will still need thrust transferring structure but probably far less. Foamed metal is tricky to make Earthside, but it's a great product for vacuum manufacture.

A thought: you might be able to have inflatable bladders that you can rapidly inject with foamed metal you then rapidly cool via radiators. Think airbag. This way you can place armor only on a threat axis, then slough off impacted armor as they become ineffective bags and replace them with new ones. Instead of having armor permanently spread over the entire hull, most of which will never be used, you only have to place the exact amount you need exactly where you need it. You could force an enemy to burn/blast through you entire armor mass instead of prick a hole through .01% of it. This of course depends on the nature of the combat. If you have to defend against missile warheads irradiating half the surface area of you ship with proximity blasts it's not so useful. But if we are talking laser duels with meticulously chosen minimally presented aspects it could work.


PULSATING ships shaped like BALLS said Lieutenant Mike Wong! :D

I love it and makes the "squishy" ship idea even better. Pulsating like an organoid while dueling. Imagine that on the big screen. It would hurt people's heads!
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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Patroklos » 2017-02-02 02:43pm

Think ameba pseudopods..., :)

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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Patroklos » 2017-02-02 03:01pm

Exonerate wrote:I like Children of a Dead Earth, I've been spending a fair amount of time on it lately. One can draw useful insights from it, but it makes some crucial assumptions about things and has game mechanics that wouldn't really apply to a realistic scenario (like combat starting from a maximum of 1000km, things having uniform temperature, etc).

I guess the first question I find myself asking is what exactly this warship is supposed to do. What am I doing in "deep space" in the first place? What am I trying to attack or defend? I think this is a pretty important thing to address, especially when you consider that the space environment essentially means a return to Napoleonic tactics - against a peer, if you can see them, they can see you, and if you can shoot them, they can shoot you. There's pretty much no such thing as terrain in deep space, which means it pretty much boils down to how efficiently you can shoot and avoid/survive getting shot. And since nobody really wants to get shot and it's difficult to close the distance unless there's a large speed differential, I'd suggest you're not going to see any attempts to outflank the enemy or anything like that - most combat would be attritional standoffs at the edge of effective weapons range where the two sides try to make favorable trades to expend their opponent's dV and weapons stock.

I suspect that passive defense in the form of armor is mostly futile. The speeds involved with potential weapons will take a tremendous amount of armor to protect against, which adds weight, which necessitates more propellant to reach a certain amount of dV, which means more volume, which means more armor needed, etc... Something to catch shrapnel around the vital compartments, maybe, but I can't foresee too much armor.


I am going to disagree with the lack of mauevering/flanking. I tend to agree that at the tech levels we are working at armor mass will be at a premium meaning at the very least there will be compromised in coverage if it is used. This is further complicated by the fact there may be areas that you simply can't effectively armor like radiators and exhaust bells. This means like a tank glacis plate armor will be optimized to present at most likely threat aspect. I always imagimed a fragile body hiding behind a foward shield. If this was the case I see complicated dances between groups of ships, each trying to force the other to expose juicy bits outside the shadow of their shield. In such cases there is utility in having various classes of ships, some with more degrees of protection and some to sprint out to the flanks to force a choice by the opponent. Superior numbers would be very important here.

If there is no armor at all I expect long skinny pencil shaped glass cannons, each side optimize theirthe fire control solution while simulaneously fouling the enemies by presenting the smallest possible cross section. Each side trying to get the first shot off at the longest effective range possible as you said. Except again presenting a flank is intant death, so mauevering becomes a long complicated affair, fleets probably withdrawing in defeat often times before entering weapons rage due to obvious positional disadvantages.

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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Caiaphas » 2017-02-05 06:16pm

I don't know if this helps or not, but the way that the current meta has balanced out on the Children of a Dead Earth forums, even with sharply limited engagement ranges, is in favor of relatively low-powered laser gunships fielding near-UV lasers in the tens to hundreds of megawatts. Those in turn are countered by swarms of several thousand micromissiles a few centimeters across and around a meter long, approaching at velocities in excess of 10 km/s, usually either coilgun-launched or fired from a larger, heavier missile bus shortly before terminal maneuvers.

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Re: Design a hard sci-fi-warship (RAR).

Postby Exonerate » 2017-02-06 09:15pm

Patroklos wrote:I am going to disagree with the lack of mauevering/flanking. I tend to agree that at the tech levels we are working at armor mass will be at a premium meaning at the very least there will be compromised in coverage if it is used. This is further complicated by the fact there may be areas that you simply can't effectively armor like radiators and exhaust bells. This means like a tank glacis plate armor will be optimized to present at most likely threat aspect. I always imagimed a fragile body hiding behind a foward shield. If this was the case I see complicated dances between groups of ships, each trying to force the other to expose juicy bits outside the shadow of their shield. In such cases there is utility in having various classes of ships, some with more degrees of protection and some to sprint out to the flanks to force a choice by the opponent. Superior numbers would be very important here.

I foresee problems with this on several levels.

1. It's difficult to maneuver without presenting a larger profile/unarmored part to your opponent. To do this, you'd need effective vector thrusting. It may be possible to do this outside effective weapons range, which brings us to #2...

2. It's difficult to outmaneuver an opponent with rough parity in terms of ships and acceleration/dV. If there's no terrain, it's pretty hard to hide what you're doing and nothing to stop an opponent from positioning themselves accordingly in response. I suppose this doesn't really hold true if you're fighting around a planet or some strategic objective, but since the OP specified deep space as the setting...

3. It's not entirely clear to me that "flanking" has significant advantages at all. The line 'em up and shoot Napoleonic tactics arose from the need to concentrate fire/forces to avoid getting defeated piecemeal by cavalry, primitive command and control, morale, etc, all of which apply much less here. Modern naval surface warfare worries about off-axis attacks because of a need to protect high value targets, kinematic engagement envelopes, potentially compressed detect-to-engage timelines, limited sensor resources, etc... if there's nothing analogous to a Carrier that forms the centerpiece of the fleet, a lot of requirements disappear and again, the "flat" terrain alleviates a lot of potential problems about getting blindsided. Don't forget about inertia as well - one moment you're nicely positioned so that your entire fleet is fighting only a portion of theirs, the next you're pulling away out of range and need to burn in the other direction.

I think about the gun vs armor problem this way: It takes energy to ablate/deform/penetrate armor. One can convert highly energetic but low mass stuff into weapons (Gunpowder, nuclear reactor into electrical power into rail/coilguns or big explosions, rocket fuel into very fast moving pieces of metal, etc), but we don't really have an effective way of converting that highly energetic stuff into effective passive protection. When you have to lug around lots of mass to defend against something that takes up less mass, all your requirements start ballooning real quick. That's not to say there won't be some level of protection vs micrometeorites, shrapnel, lasers, etc, but beyond a certain level, it stops making sense.

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