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Trek Tech Pass me the quantum flux regulator, will you?

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Old May 18 2011, 01:32 AM   #1
MatthiasRussell
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Starfleet Carrier Ship

Now I know the Akira was designed to be a type of future aircraft (fighter) carrier. That being said, in the Dominion War, you rarely saw Akiras and small fighters. Never has an official fighter carrier been used in Starfleet nor do you see one person fighters.

In naval armadas, the focus was always to build bigger ships with bigger guns, but in WW2, capitol ships switched to being primarily aircraft carriers. Modern navies are built around aircraft carriers and their fighters and smaller missile frigates.

That being said, should the starfleet capitol ships be primarily battleships with big guns or fighter carriers? Which do you think would be more valuable in space fleet combat?
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Old May 18 2011, 02:38 AM   #2
Herkimer Jitty
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

The "fighter craft" seen in DS9 seemed to break the mold of one-man space fighters, and rightly so. They looked to me to have room for 2 or more operators, and maybe even actual accomodations for the crew aside from the cockpit. At any rate, there's actually room for propulsion, power generation, etc.

Fighters are too small to have appreciable range or firepower compared to bigger ships. They'd most likely be more useful for planetary defense and police actions, where any beligerents are likely to be using inferior craft, and where establishing launch and service facilities for the fightercraft doesn't use up precious room.
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Old May 18 2011, 03:47 AM   #3
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

The Akira doesn't have any more room for smaller craft than other ships we've seen, so I don't think it's a carrier. I think it may be more like the next generation of Miranda/Nebula configuration as the Sovereign was of the Constitution/Galaxy.
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Old May 18 2011, 06:41 AM   #4
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

Fighters were used in the Dominion War only as a stopgap to counteract the Jem'Hadar's overwhelming numerical superiority (much like DS9 did in sending the runabouts to support the Odyssey during their first encounter with the Jem'hadar).

Fighter carriers will probably never be a viable starship design in the Trekiverse, and the existence of the runabouts already renders them superfluous; fighter squadrons would operate more like mechanized platoons or something, carrying their supplies and equipment with them, camping in deep space for weeks at a time while waiting for their targets to enter their attack sector. Anything as large as a carrier would just give the enemy a big dumb target that the fighters end up having to defend instead of scattering and retreating if things get hairy.
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Old May 18 2011, 10:23 AM   #5
Timo
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

All starships are carriers: all have large numbers of auxiliary craft aboard. The question is, how many of those do you need to make an impact?

Is it better to have fifty shuttles than just five? Or do you only gain an advantage if you carry five thousand shuttles at the very least? Like so many things military, this might be a simple matter of crunching the numbers: there's no point in building a carrier for small craft unless it carries thousands of them, and at that point anything else is preferable to building such an unwieldy behemoth.

We have seen that small craft do play a combat role in DS9 (although we are explicitly told that attacking big ships is not it, and that doing so is suicide). We have also seen, though, that such craft are only operated in fairly small numbers, and those numbers can be trivially easily be carried aboard the known starship types with their already spacious hangars. We have further seen that the small craft can operate without carriers, moving at warp five or more all on their own (they could outrun a warp fiveish runabout in "The Maquis II", after all). So onscreen evidence actually seems to suggest that dedicated large carriers would be superfluous to Starfleet.

Then again, we do see at least one ship type that seems to feature only a vast hangar, large engines, and little or no armament or other gear to detract from the first two attributes: the Steamrunner class. We might well have our carrier right there. And she's only seen operating in wartime, so she might well be a dedicated combatant, thus pleasing all those fans who think that carriers are combat vessels.

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Old May 18 2011, 10:34 AM   #6
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

There was an episode of TNG where the crew of the Enterprise-D had their memories altered to believe they were at war with an alien species; said species attacked the Enterprise with a few dozen small unmanned drones which the single ventral primary hull phaser array disintegrated in about two seconds. I believe this would be the same fate that fighters attacking capital ships would suffer.

Likewise, when Voyager was facing attack by several Vaadwuar ships in "Dragon's Teeth", the ship still gave a very good accounting of itself even though most of its power was being used to get to minimum safe distance from the planet's surface for warp speed. Had Voyager not been needing to conserve energy for that task and been able to cut loose fully instead of just keep them at arms length, they would have annihilated the Vaadwuar attack force.
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Old May 18 2011, 02:06 PM   #7
MatthiasRussell
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

Arpy wrote: View Post
The Akira doesn't have any more room for smaller craft than other ships we've seen, so I don't think it's a carrier. I think it may be more like the next generation of Miranda/Nebula configuration as the Sovereign was of the Constitution/Galaxy.
The Akira was most definitely an advancement of the miranda and nebula layout but when you read Alex Jaeger's comments on the design, he says it was intended to be a carrier, launching fighters out the 3 front facing doors and having them return through the protected doors in the rear.

I think VOY "The Swarm" could also be cited as an example of the advantage of a fleet of small craft. I think carriers are better capitol ships than battleships as you risk less resources in battle and many small targets are better defensively than one big one.
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Old May 18 2011, 04:46 PM   #8
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

SicOne wrote: View Post
There was an episode of TNG where the crew of the Enterprise-D had their memories altered to believe they were at war with an alien species; said species attacked the Enterprise with a few dozen small unmanned drones which the single ventral primary hull phaser array disintegrated in about two seconds. I believe this would be the same fate that fighters attacking capital ships would suffer.
Not neccesarily. The ships that were hit had no shields and were very old tech up agains the top of the line ship of the Federation. It would be akin to twenty Fokker Triplanes attacking the Slava. The result would be twenty very dead Fokker pilots.

To compare apples to apples you would have to think 'what would a Federation fighter have in 2389?'. A small one or two man craft with a high shield output, a handful of quantum-torpedos as payload, and four pulse phaser cannons on the 'wings'. All this on top of a high-yield/short-duration warp system.

Yeah, a flight of those could be pretty scary in combat action.
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Old May 18 2011, 06:58 PM   #9
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

It all comes down to the analogy between sea-going combat and space combat only works so far. Sea going ships are much more fragile to small craft in that they don't possess shields that can regenerate after taking damage.
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Old May 18 2011, 07:35 PM   #10
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

The "battleship paradigm" used by the STAR TREK franchise seems to emphasize power generation based on the size of the ship. The Borg evaluated the Enterprise-D in "The Best of Both Worlds" as being "the strongest ship in the Federation fleet", and were probably accurate in doing so. The Galaxy-class of starships was probably the biggest and best-equipped Federation vessel of the TNG era.

One interesting twist was the DS9 Defiant. It was obviously a fraction of the size of a Galaxy, but it was also obviously a pared-down engineering of Galaxy-like power generation and weapons elements crammed into a compact ablative-armor shell. It would be like Carroll Shelby taking an oversize engine and stuffing it into a modified car. (The mid-1980's Dodge Omni GLH Turbo comes to mind, as do some Mustangs.)

So, in this paradigm, the notion of tiny one-man fighter-craft seems out-of-step with the "realities" of the TREK Universe. The sole exception, never depicted in a combat situation, would be the NX-Alpha test flight in ENT's "First Flight".
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Last edited by Wingsley; May 18 2011 at 07:36 PM. Reason: typo correction
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Old May 18 2011, 09:36 PM   #11
Timo
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

Tiny fightercraft are okay when one doesn't pit them against big starships, tho. Starfleet had what they called "attack fighters", and when these were first seen (albeit in Maquis hands) they were indeed used in the role that modern air forces consider "attack", namely raining death on ground targets...

It pays to deploy small, light and inexpensive units against a weak enemy. Starfleet might decide it pays to haul hundreds of these units aboard a big starship, to give them extra deployment speed and range and logistical support, and there we'd have our Starfleet carrier - even if neither she nor her fighters would ever dream of going against enemy starships. (Again, perhaps the Steamrunners were just that; they would have contributed to the Dominion War battles only after reaching the target planet, and were more or less helpless in space combat, especially in ST:FC.)

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Old May 19 2011, 01:41 AM   #12
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

It's worth noting too that in universes like Star Wars and Battletech that make heavy use of smaller support ships, there are very few dedicated carriers because most capital warships have some fighter capacity, regardless of their primary role. The only advantage a carrier has then is numerical superiority when heavy support is required.
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Old May 19 2011, 01:53 AM   #13
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

Unicron wrote: View Post
It's worth noting too that in universes like Star Wars and Battletech that make heavy use of smaller support ships, there are very few dedicated carriers because most capital warships have some fighter capacity, regardless of their primary role. The only advantage a carrier has then is numerical superiority when heavy support is required.
Eh, sort of?

The main reason we don't see much carrier-use in either universe is that that's not what the universe focuses on, just like with Trek. Trek is really Horatio Hornblow - so big capital ships slugging it out. Star Wars is WWII dog-fighting films. Battletech is big slow pondering robots shooting one-another. Carriers are in each of their backgrounds, but not the focus.
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Old May 19 2011, 01:55 AM   #14
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

The attack fighters we see in DS9 don't seem like they'd be easy to store and launch on every ship type. They seem to me to be a bit wide to fit in any but the largest shuttlebays. They certainly couldn't fit in an Intrepid or Akira's shuttlebay.

I honestly don't think a carrier is necessary, since the fighters have their own warp engines.
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Old May 19 2011, 02:02 AM   #15
Vance
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Re: Starfleet Carrier Ship

Herkimer Jitty wrote: View Post
I honestly don't think a carrier is necessary, since the fighters have their own warp engines.
Duration. You really expect a pilot to go several days from 'field A to field B' in a fighter? They'll also need a point of repair, resupply, and refresh... those are called 'carriers'.
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