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Unicron October 1 2012 11:31 PM

Ammunition explosions
My experience with Battletech and some of the recent discussion about Trek battle FX makes me wonder: after losing shields, how likely do you think it would be for a ship to suffer the effects of an ammunition explosion, where a lucky hit seems to hit a torpedo launcher or other dangerous substance? This seems to be what happened to the Grissom in TSFS, as the Klingon gunner (to his chagrin :D) tried to pass off his work as a lucky shot.

blssdwlf October 2 2012 02:10 AM

Re: Ammunition explosions
Grissom's destruction was more likely from hitting something vulnerable in the engine area (like her antimatter fuel.) But if you look at TWOK, Reliant's torpedo launcher made a nice explosion when it was hit by a low powered torpedo. The big difference, IMHO, is that a photon torpedo that isn't "powered up" will do damage but just not on the same order as one that is at "full power".

Also from "In Theory" we get a line that it would be a bad thing if a photon torpedo got partially unphased.
RIKER: It's a good thing one of these pockets didn't pass through a photon torpedo casing or the matter-antimatter containment pods.

SicOne October 3 2012 01:58 AM

Re: Ammunition explosions
Hmmm. Have we figured out if photorps already come with antimatter? Or are they loaded with antimatter while in the torpedo tubes right before firing?

On one hand, preloaded torpedos that are damaged would be catastrophic, but on the other hand a dedicated antimatter "line" from the storage pods to the torpedo tubes presents a vulnerability that could be exploited.

Regarding Grissom, I am inclined to think the Klingon gunner just got "lucky" and hit the ship's M/AM reactor on the first shot.

Saturn0660 October 3 2012 02:11 AM

Re: Ammunition explosions
Despite what Riker seems to think I get the feeling that photons are kept "unloaded" until they are ready to be used. Or, they would need some kind of "primer" to unsafe them.

blssdwlf October 3 2012 04:19 AM

Re: Ammunition explosions
They gotta be without antimatter otherwise they'd be too volatile to store, IMO.

Timo October 3 2012 06:44 AM

Re: Ammunition explosions
FWIW, in DS9 "Tribunal", Cardassians and apparently Feds as well thought that the Maquis would be interested in stealing photon torpedo warheads straight from long term storage.

Doesn't necessarily mean they would be stored full of antimatter and ready to explode, though - possibly antimatter is trivially available, but devices that can reliably store it and then suddenly and precisely release it at the enemy are very difficult to manufacture, and therefore must be stolen?

I'd argue that the much-maligned warp core ejection systems of Starfleet vessels exist specifically for the reason discussed here. They are not very good at saving a starship from being destroyed - but they are very good at saving a destroyed starship from blowing up like a tiny supernova and wrecking all the friendly starships flying nearby in a tactical formation. It is thanks to these ejectors that we get wrecks of starships, rather than mere clouds of dust and gas!

Basically, I speculate that whenever the enemy hits a warp core, a torpedo loading and arming system, or a fuel tank, there are finite odds that an ejector system will whisk most of the antimatter to a safe distance, even though this very act will seriously damage the hosting ship and probably kill all its crew. Thus we get an impressive fireball that spews wreckage and spinning bodies, but not a blinding flash that wipes the scene clear of all matter.

Timo Saloniemi

Forbin October 3 2012 01:13 PM

Re: Ammunition explosions
I'm not sure it would make sense for the Grissom to even HAVE photon torpedoes. It strikes me as a purely research vessel.

Timo October 3 2012 01:36 PM

Re: Ammunition explosions
...And think of all the research that could be done by blowing up stuff with photon torpedoes! Spectroscopists would be elated.

Even if the Grissom has no weapons (none are evident on the model, after all, and none are specified in dialogue relating to this class even in later episodes), there might be scientific instrumentation onboard that uses antimatter or other volatile materials or devices. A distribution system similar to that which supposedly takes antimatter from the power systems to the torpedoes in warships might exist on the Grissom as well, now serving exotic scientific instrumentation on the various decks (and the plot need for a dramatic vulnerability).

But having Kruge's gunner hit just the main power system is good enough an explanation IMHO. And never mind that the hit is to the lower part of the vessel, even if the warp nacelles are up high: if we have any "official" information on where the antimatter reactor on such a ship might be, it is the cutaway diagram from "Hero Worship" which seems to place the warp core right where the Klingons hit the Grissom. FWIW.

Timo Saloniemi

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