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Old January 4 2013, 10:12 PM   #43
Re: Caseless Torpedoes

You know where you probably WOULDN'T stick an infrared sensor? On the actual bullet.
Except that this is exactly what you do when you want the sensor to guide the steerable bullet.

Moving the sensor from sensing position A aboard the ship (the scientific sensor array) to sensing position B aboard the ship (the torpedo tube) is insane, and completely invalidates your idea of the ST6 torpedo casing remaining attached to the ship. There's no way around it.

Yet no physical casing is ever present in front of or in the center of those fireballs.
Merely not visible. As are most things in the televised world, where a light show is an affordable stand-in for something that even in the real world would be hidden by a light show. The human eye just isn't good enough to tell the difference - except when assisted by screencap-type tricks that would also mercilessly expose the fundamentally fake nature of the "starships" and "death rays".

And since as far back as TOS it was shown that entirely non-physical energy bolts can be guided, there goes our last reason to believe a physical casing ever leaves the tube.
We have zero reason to believe it would stay in the tube to begin with. And we don't know of any steerable non-physical energy bolts from TOS.

From visuals in TNG as it just leaves the tube, the probe is either the same size or only slightly larger than a photon torpedo casing.
Nope. The model for the probe at that point has plenty of discernible detail, which wouldn't be visible at all if it were anywhere near photorp-sized. The tube of the E-D just happens to be pretty large, easily capable of spitting out something like the Scorpion fighter, thus possibly confusing the issue.

a physical launch tube for photonic torpedoes is never seen on NX-01's CG model
To nitpick, the aft tube in the aft pod is CGI-inserted in the model all right.
Which means either the launch tube for the photonics is too small to be seen (a couple of inches across, maybe?) or photonic torpedoes are capable of being fired from a spatial torpedo tube without being physically LOADED there.
Retraction and shuttering are also possibilities, as the TOS phaser emitters were invisible as well but did physically exist. As for physical loading, we know that there are four fwd tubes on NX-01, but just two loading tracks at the Armory; that's no different from the ST2 ship having one loading track but two tubes for photorps. Sideways tracks past the inner hatch, for storing a number of shots, solve a great many problems, including pressing ones such as those of set dimensions.

OTOH, the idea of the casings being stuck in the tubes solves nothing, as they would have to get into the spatial torpedo tubes somehow anyway.

Incidentally, I adore ENT for its introduction of this new-old torpedo type, as everything we see or hear there supports the idea that the X in "X torpedo" refers to propulsion. Spatial is very different from photonic in performance and appearance; quantum is different from each in appearance, and may very well have different performance specs as well considering it is never fired at warp.

Sure... if the coffin thing is shrunken down to the size of a basketball, which is what would be required in the case of a photon torpedo.
That's just bullshit. Bright glare like that would hide anything from a coffin to a fire engine; it's not a factor of size at all. Warp flashes aren't ship-sized, either...

Considering Myers only added the casing in the first place because he wanted to give the cadets something interesting to load into a tube when gearing up for battle, why not take his Hornblower analogy even further and imagine that as the loading of a cannon shell and not an actual missile?
For the number of pressing reasons why the torpedo must be a guided projectile, and because there are no reasons for believing otherwise.

Actually there's ample room for at least one, tucked into the nose section behind the circular launch tube on the physical model. Not much room for a second or a third, but if a single casing can fire multiple times it would make sense for those fighters.
Such a wacky assumption would make the concept of torpedo reloading redundant. Yet from what we see in ST2 (or the TNG and VOY repeat takes of a "torpedo room"), casing reloading machinery in fact is the most prominent and sizeable part of the launch system...

The much bigger question facing you is why the Maquis wouldn't have mounted those torpedoes EXTERNALLY on wing-mounted hardpoints.
It's not facing me at all. Apart from the complete lack of external hardpoint mountings in Trek (unless one counts inseparable components of the ship itself), there is no reason to think the Maquis would have wanted to carry full-sized photon torpedoes, and no reason to think smaller projectiles (with rather pitiful destructive effects to boot) would not exist for smaller craft.

That Hudson and pals fire few photons and prefer beam weapons speaks of a key difference between the "consumables expenditure" characteristics of the two. But if torps don't offer the advantage of being guided projectiles, why carry them at all? The wingroot beams were the most devastating ship-to-ship weapons of the Maquis, apparently, kicking parts off the runabouts.

So is a phaser beam, but nobody's claiming that phasers are fast-moving and incredibly long metal rods that are being extended to whack their targets.
We'd have to claim just that if phaser beams, too, dodged and weaved after their targets according to onboard sensor input.

No, it's a thousand times more likely that the Klingon torpedo is the same basic weapon as a Starfleet photon torpedo.
Nobody is disputing that. But the extra sparkles can easily be extra; anything else would be a needless complication. Since the BoP torp has a distinct effect at the target, it has every excuse of having distinct extras onboard / sprayed on at launch / whatever. We're talking about a different warhead or penetration aid or force enhancer or whatnot, but we're probably still talking about the same propulsion system as with the Starfleet photon torpedo, as all the same characteristics are there: the tube launch, the inflight glow, the necessity of loading.

The question is whether the actual weapon is the pill-shaped casing sitting in the tube, or the propulsive field itself. If the latter, then the casing is just an expendable fuel cell and control module that can be discarded (and probably recycled) after firing.
Discarding by firing would be hidden by the glare. Discarding by other means would not. If discarding takes place, why is Scotty counting by hand the remaining torpedoes in ST6, when a look at the discarding bin should solve the mystery immediately? You are just needlessly complicating your life with the concept of spent cartridges.

The fact that we have never seen torpedoes being "drop launched" like missiles is significant.
We have seen torpedoes launched from spacecraft exterior locations that have no tube-type forward openings (i.e. from somewhere underneath a runabout in "The Search II"). Drop launch through a hatch (which this craft does have among the ventral details) is a natural deployment mode for a missile, especially one that operates autonomously in terms of both propulsion and steering. And we know that propulsion is almost completely independent of launchers, as all tube-launched torpedoes leave the tubes at a crawling pace, but can nevertheless span vast distances and operate at high warp relative to the launching ship.

A "fireworks" weapon fired from a sometimes tube-shaped holder is conceptually possible all right, but not compatible with how photon torpedoes are operated by Starfleet and its opponents. Too many factors speak against it: the onboard sensors, the possibility of recovery after flight, the use of the casing in so many applications where casings that turn to fireballs would be a bad idea...

Whether there ever was an intent to have torpedoes be "not-torpedoes" in the real world terms of the time is quite debatable. TMoST speaks in very vague terms and in any case doesn't really serve in a writers' bible role for the show. Any episode that would have featured a close look at torpedo operations would probably have made things accessible to the audience by featuring torpedo props, even if ST2 was the first time the funds for this existed in combination with the dramatic need. In contrast, no episode or movie attempted to contradict the classic torpedo concept or support a different concept.

Which is a pity, really. Trek rayguns are just generic rayguns, even if some of the props are innovative. There's nothing fancy about Trek ships or shuttles or sensors or shields, either. And torpedoes are just torpedoes, in good and bad. Only the teleportation device is somewhat exotic, needing just one terminal, and it's probably no accident that it is among the most characteristic elements of Star Trek.

Timo Saloniemi
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