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Also in the breed of Carriers are the Skimmers. While these sound small they are actually a spaceborne aircraft carrier, designed to drop air breathing fighters and bombers into hostile atmospheres, and provide long-range fire support for the attack. They can generally be identified by the large hangers at the ‘bottom’ of the ship and various long range, high accuracy, kinetic weapons. During the battle they will drop into planetary atmosphere, to the point where most jet engines will function, and unload their hanger bays before retreating from any fixed defences and re-entering space. They will then identify targets, eliminate the slower hostiles, and some have even been crossbreed with Ground Pounders to provide tactical level ordinance[1].

In space combat they are pretty vulnerable, though many designs incorporate protective guns on the ‘top’ half to provide some screen against mainline battleships. As hybrid air/space fighters became more popular in the time leading up to the End Time Wars their importance in combat was gradually diminished, and generally incorporated into Carrier or combat designs.

Ground Pounders have quite a bad reputation in Vast Worlds, though it’s well deserved. These ships generally have a wide flat base which they dip into the upper atmosphere and open hatches to reveal a mix of nuclear warheads and kinetic kill weaponry[2]. These will generally be turned on military targets, orbital silos, spaceports, army bases and the like, but could just as easily be turned on civilians and Ground Pounders sitting above a world is more than enough to force a planetary government to surrender.

Like Skimmers, they struggle in combat but are an even bigger bullet magnet and so carry a lot more amour, if fewer guns. Later in the setting dedicated Ground Pounders are phased out in favour of combat vessels with Ground Pounder traits[3], but they are still used occasionally when massive planetary devastation is needed as quickly as possible.

Landing Craft are another niche ship class that was designed to take a hostile spaceport. They have slim, heavily armoured hulls designed to withstand a rapid re-entry and some of the largest engines on a combat vessel. In battle they will literally drop out of orbit, shedding kinetic ordinance along with them and fire the engines at the last possible moment, hitting the ground as fast as the superstructure will allow. Small ordinance cannons will then clear the area before the marines storm out to size the port, and hopefully the actual combat will be over within a few minutes. They tend to be used rather infrequently though, as they have no other use than seizing a landing site.

Repair and Resupply vessels do what they say on the tin, carrying all the various types of spare parts, ammunition, fuel, reaction mass and food needed to supply a roving battle fleet cut off from its supply lines. They are generally only carry a token armament, though many mount a scary number of missile launchers, but most won’t actually jump into the battle zone they are so vulnerable.

There are a few other specialist roles a ship can fill, Command Vessel, Electronic Warfare, Missile ship and the like, but these are rarely filled by a dedicated frame, instead being incorporated into a battle ready ship. Partly because these are all useful in combat, but mostly because you want as much protection on specialist roles as possible, and putting a load of guns and armour on the hull is the best protection you can get.

As a rule support vessels tend to be larger than their class equivalent, mostly because, as mentioned before, they rarely have to worry about their target profile, and are seriously under armed. They are however extremely powerful when used correctly, and no fleet can be without them, so a commander should take careful note of all his ships, not just the ones for mainline combat.


[1] i.e. kiloton nukes.

[2] Do not mistake kinetic kill weapons for being the weaker of the two, a telephone pole sized slab of iron going a couple of kilometres per second will have a kiloton yield and produce no radiation. With the later introduction of Rosetta charges they began to fall out of favour, but were still used in areas where ordinance was liable to be shot down as nothing could really stop them impacting.

[3] This is particularly true when ship borne weapons began to be powerful enough to penetrate an atmosphere.

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