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Okay, another rant-y post because this has been bugging me.

The ships in the 2100 hundred setting aren’t designed like space ships!

This is technically my fault. The independence war is supposed to be humanities first forays into stellar warfare, and so the designs are supposed to be a little clunky. Up until now the empires are only supposed to have been dealing with disparate raiders and so have no real experience fighting an opponent who can really fire back. Sure they’ve had a lot of civilian ship building expertise, but that’s about as useful as a man who designs Boeing 747s building the Eurofighter. Technically you get something that works and is space worthy, but in reality they are not optimised for combat.

Take the American fighter, a slim little design called a Dagger. They have powerful forward rayy guns, two anti-fighter missiles and acceleration that can’t be sneezed at; however, they are fairly useless when trying to engage fighters. In a proper fighter duel the winner is the one who can get guns on target longer than their opponent, while avoiding being painted themselves. The Daggers can only accelerate forwards; their manoeuvring thrusters are all located next to the engine and down the line of thrust and so they give a pretty pathetic turning effect. Technically they are the most powerful thrusters possessed by a fighter class vessel, but they’re in the wrong place.

It was assumed that a space duel would be rather similar to an aerial fight, and I suppose that’s a reasonable assumption. But space combat has a number of quirks, such as the lack of stall and significantly higher effective thrust values, and this leads to a fighter that has been designed to win in a situation that the designer thought would happen, but actually space combat is utterly different. The Daggers are designed to do a series of sweeping passes on their opponent, relying on their powerful engines to get them out of the hot zone before they can be fired on. In reality the target just jinks, and turns on their axis to hit you as you expose your engine, so the pilots had to come up with a different style of flying, one their fighters just aren’t designed to handle.

Now, there are a lot of reasons for this in the fiction. If you take a glance at the time line you’ll notice that the Americans haven’t nearly the space presence, and therefore the contact with raiders, that the other factions have, and so their designs are only loosely combat tested, and most of the bugs are still in the system. Everyone else is fighting with much better designs[1] and so when they actually come into contact with hostile fighters they get torn apart.

Sure they have the best guns. Sure they have the best engines, best computers, best warheads and ECCM. But this is all meaningless because they can’t get guns on target.

Anyway, this has been frustrating me, because my supposedly uber elite American fighters are getting minced by the significantly weaker [deleted] fighters.

The mal-design of many different ships does come up at several points in the book, even if the characters don’t realise it, with many of the ships taking completely the wrong roles for their frame. But, I suppose that is rather like criticizing the Spowith Camel for not looking enough like a Tornado.

*End rant*


[1] Take the Chinese Fireflies for example.

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