Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Albertese, Jun 1, 2013.

  1. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    It advanced by the Romulans simply buying the Klingons' technology. It's not like the Klingons said "Oh sure, we can enter into an agreement and you can use our ships. You just have to use your own engines on them. We'll enter into an alliance--but you can't have our engine technology."
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Would it really be plausible to install Klingon engines on the distinctly Romulan BoP design, though? Especially without changing a bit about the exterior appearance of the vessel?

    When the Germans gave the Japanese modern inline engines, the Japanese had to design all-new aircraft for them... And never mind jet engine technology!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. feek61

    feek61 Captain Captain

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    So Klingon engine technology is far superior to the Federation? That kind of sucks!! :)
     
  4. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    I thought I'd take a peek at the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture written by Gene Roddenberry himself. Folks may remember that as the movie opens, the V'Ger cloud attacks a bunch of Klingon ships. In the novelization, Kirk is actually able to "see" this happening. (An emergency signal was transmitted directly to an implant in Kirk's brain--a sort of emergency communication device.)

    "Kirk found himself seeing three Klingon cruisers which appeared to be moving at warp velocity and in battle formation. The images became more detailed, increasingly real--he could begin thinking about them consciously. The Klingon vessels were big, dangerous looking--undoubtedly their new K't'inga-class heavy cruisers which some Admiralty tacticians feared might prove faster and more powerful than Starfleet's First Line Constitution-Class starships."

    I don't know what the secret is to their speed, but that advantage probably won't last. "Military secrets are the most fleeting of all."
     
  5. zDarby

    zDarby Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Direct quotes from The Enterprise Incident:

    Just after Kirk beams onto the Enterprise with the cloaking device. The exchange is between Scotty and Kirk:

    S: "But, sir, what about Mr. Spock?"
    K: "We'll just have to hope he can buy us enough time to get this cloaking device installed."
    S: "Aye. It'll have to be hooked into our deflector shield control."
    K: "Can you do it?"
    S: "I don't know, sir."
    K: "You have 15 minutes, Scotty."

    Later, Scotty says, "I've got the device installed but bless me if I know if it's gonna work. Its the biggest guess I've ever made."

    Later still, Kirk contacts Scotty and the following exchange occurs:
    "Scotty, switch on that device"
    "I did, sir. It's not working"

    This tends to preclude any previous preparations to accomadate the cloaking device within the Enterprise.

    Later Spock says this to the Romulan commander, "Military secrets are the most fleeting of all."

    Apparently Roddenberry liked that phrase.
     
  6. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Commodore Commodore

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    Sorry, I'm not following this. The question was about speed in "Balance of Terror" vs. "The Enterprise Incident". In TEI, they were using Klingon ships, presumably with Klingon engines, as GSchnitzer said. I don't think anyone suggested retrofitting Klingon engines into the BoP... presumably the BoP would still have the same speed deficiencies vs. the Constitution class in the TEI timeframe that they did during BoT.
     
  7. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    I think he was wondering about installing Klngon Warp Drives on the RBoP hulls in "The Deadly Years" as a means of explaining away Scotty's "simple impulse" line in BoT. In TDY, the BoPs are necessarily traveling at high warp speeds, which would otherwise seem to cause difficulties with "simple impulse."

    --Alex
     
  8. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Or "simple impulse" is able to keep up with a Warp 5 Enterprise? Accelerating out to Warp 8 left the Romulan warbirds behind in "The Deadly Years". I'm assuming the reason why the Enterprise didn't initially just accelerate away was caused by the Commodore's inexperience. He waited too long by trying to contact the Romulans and the sustained weapons hits on the Enterprise forced the shields to use up energy that would've been available to accelerate out. Kirk's trick was to buy time for the emergency power to be built up for the acceleration to Warp 8.

    Then again, they might have avoided a fight if they flew into the zone at Warp 8 in the first place :)

    Contrast that with "The Enterprise Incident" where the Klingon warp engines was able to catch up with the Enterprise at Warp 9.
     
  9. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Commodore Commodore

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    Hmm... I forget who, but didn't someone do an analysis of BoT on this very board a while back that showed that the BOP had to be travelling at warp speed in that very episode, regardless of the "simple impulse" line?
     
  10. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    Possibly. I forget. Might be a fun read, though, if someone can find it.

    --Alex
     
  11. zDarby

    zDarby Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I tend to follow the speculation that "warp drive" is the thing that makes the ship go FTL, the "warp core" is the thing that creates "warp power" used by the "warp drive" and "Matter/Antimatter" is the fuel "burned" to create "warp power" in Federation starships. And the reason the Federation uses M/AM is that when matter and antimatter annihilate, 100% of the fuel's mass is converted to energy, which is then available to be turned into "warp power".

    Furthermore, I tend to follow the speculation that "impulse" is the newtonian rocket used to travel STL and "impulse power" is where the the exhaust gasses get their high exit velocity. In the Federation this comes from fusion --at least in part.

    It seems perfectly plausible that one could turn on a "warp drive" using "impulse power". With the above speculations, Kirk could have powered his warp drive in "Where No Man Gone Before" with fusion power to travel to Delta Vega from the galaxy's edge. And of course, his difficulty with this would be that the amount of mass released as energy in even the best fusion-fuel-cycle is less than 1%. And most of the speculations I've read say the Federation uses a deuterium-deuterium fuel cycle that translates only 0.0973% of the fuel-mass to energy.

    That would be an enormous downgrade in available power for the Enterprise, easily making it impossible for her make it home in WNMHGB without dilithium.....I mean, a power source that converts a thousand times less fuel-mass into energy is going to need a thousand times more fuel-mass to power the same warp drive to the same warp factor; conversely, you'll get one thousandth the power if you pump the same fuel-mass through. Indeed, if you take the TNG Tech Manually seriously, than it takes approximately a thousand times more power to cruise at 6.0wf as it does to cruise at 2.7wf. So if you have the same fuel-mass flow rate while using a deuterium-fusion fuel cycle that gets one thousandth the mass-energy conversion as M/AM, than you'll travel at 27c rather than 320c. (TNG warp scale: apples to apples.) That's the difference between making it home and not --precisely Kirks problem in WNMHGB.

    Using these same speculations --and I have no delusions they are otherwise-- and further assuming Romulan BOPs are fusion powered (though not necessarily by the above mentioned deuterium fuel cycle), the BOP in "Balance of Terror" would have had terrible constraints on her power use. Her cloaking device, warp drive and plasma weapon would all use up power --and burn through fuel-- very quickly. Add to this the extra space the weapon would take up and perhaps her fuel supply was even further constrained. Thus she would be terribly hobbled compared to a standard BOP, such as the one from "The Deadly Years". Thus a standard BOP could closely match the Enterprise in speed when the BOP of BoT could not dream of it.

    Of course, if the cloaking device had worked as well as her crew expected, then the design compromises found in the BoT BOP would probably have been worth it. But it didn't, so it wasn't.

    (Na na na na na na, BoT BOP!)

    But that begs the question: If fusion is so inferior to M/AM as a power source, why would the Romulans use it? I think the answer comes down to infrastructure. Antimatter needs to be made. Fusion fuel can be collected. A military that relies on stealth to win doesn't want fuel-supply-trains giving away the position of vital outposts, or forcing home a long-term infiltration vessel when they could be monitoring the enemy. Fusion would allow a vessel to be permanently energy self sufficient, especially if its fuel cycle took regular hydrogen and fused it into helium or heavier elements.

    (The best fuel cycle I've figured out is fusing 54 protons over 18 reaction stages into Iron54, a mass to energy conversion of 0.935%. However, eighteen stages seems a bit much and the reactions were cherry-picked for energy output, not likelihood or ease of fusion. A more likely scenario, relatively speaking, is 56 protons fused over 7 stages to Nickle56, releasing 0.879%, still a considerable amount for fusion. But for now I'll stick to fusing hydrogen to helium in 3 stages, releasing 0.712%.)

    Hydrogen is everywhere and can be collected from any gas giant's atmosphere, any water world's oceans or even any rocky world's lithosphere. But far more exciting is combining the bussard ram scoop with a hydrogen fusion warp core. If you assume the interstellar medium has an average density of about 1 atom per cubic meter and that 89% of that is hydrogen --currently, not a bad estimate-- then to keep the Ent-D at warp 5 cruise, you'd need a collection field that swept up an area approximately the same as a circle with a 20km diameter. That's pretty big, but not huge. And it's certainly do-able by Trek standards. A Rom TOS BOP would probably need much less than the Ent-D...How much less? Naturally, I don't know.

    But what that basically means is that a BOP would only need enough fuel to initiate 1wf, then she could turn on her ram scoop to maximum and accelerate. The interstellar medium of any particular volume would only be able to support a particular warp factor for a given scoop area; and any power plant would have a limit on the fuel mass it could intake. But the vessel's range and acceleration would not be limited by the amount of fuel carried, unlike a M/AM powered warp core.

    Problem: That was directly contradicted in BoT when the Romulan commander spoke with concern that their fuel was low. ... Except for two things.

    First, the BoT BOP had been going in and out of warp, firing their weapon, engaging and disengaging their cloak, and generally sucking up power like the dickens. Well, all the way to warp 7, getting over an integer warp threshold takes at least an order of magnitude more instantaneous power than cruising at that integer warp factor. So his concern might have been that they were getting so low on fuel they would have to stay at a lower warp factors while they scooped up enough fuel to jump over the next warp threshold, and thus wind up staying in the neutral zone too long....This seems a bit of a stretch.

    Far more likely, IMHO, is that a field capable of collecting the needed gas would be a powerful beacon that would gave away their position at long distances, something they couldn't afford until they were in their own territory.

    ...

    By the way, once you have an artificial quantum singularity and you can convert 100% of the mass you extract from the interstellar medium, your scoop diameter need not exceed 1km to support your warp flight until the warp 9 regime. (Again, assuming you use the same amount of power per cochrane as Ent-D) Once again, pretty awesome on the no-infrastructure-needed front.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    This doesn't sound like a fruitful line of speculation. After all, it means that Scotty would have been dead wrong anyway: in claiming that their power was simple impulse, he was claiming that they couldn't keep up with a warp 5 Enterprise (and the other heroes agreed that yes, this would follow).

    What does seem correctly evaluated in "Balance of Terror" is the performance of the Romulan ship, as the hero ship can outrun her. And yes, this is severely at odds with "The Deadly Years".

    The difference between the two episodes? The ships in "The Deadly Years" do not use cloaking devices (or, save for the first shot, those deadly plasma cloud weapons) in the fight! This probably keeps them safe from fuel consumption problems and free to use their powerful warp engines...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Scotty doesn't say that. He stated their power was simple impulse and Kirk and Stiles click that the Enterprise is faster than the Romulans.
    SCOTT: No question. Their power is simple impulse.
    KIRK: Meaning we can outrun them?
    STILES: To be used in chasing them or retreating, sir?
    How much faster? That is NOT SAID. Perhaps it is telling that Kirk uses the Enterprise's "maximum warp" to control the attack. If "simple impulse" power was sublight only then a mere Warp 3 or 4 would be adequate, IMO.

    It's actually in agreement. The Enterprise can outrun the Romulan ships in "The Deadly Years" and she does so at Warp 8 once she has a chance (pause from taking hits to the shields) to gather emergency power for the acceleration.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Umm, the Romulans were left behind because they were "caught off guard" (and made timid by the corbomite bluff), not necessarily because they would have been slower than warp eight. There would be no point in a chase at warp nine because it only takes seconds for the hero ship to clear the Neutral Zone. But there originally was a distinct capacity for stopping the warping starship - and that doesn't dictate an upper performance limit on the Romulans, either, even when it does a lower one.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. feek61

    feek61 Captain Captain

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    I think it's clear based on TMOST ("impulse engines can drive the ship only at sub-light speeds . . ." pg. 191) that the statement about the Romulan ship's power being "simple impulse" was meant to mean that it moved at only sub-light speeds; giving the "Enterprise" a great speed advantage.
     
  16. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    They did give chase.
    SPOCK: The Romulans were caught off guard, Captain. They're falling behind.
    The Enterprise at Warp 8 is faster than whatever the BOP's top speed is, IMO.

    Considering that the Commodore never ordered the Enterprise to accelerate to Warp 8 to escape the attack, we'll never know if the Romulans could've maintained position with the Enterprise. What we do know is that the Romulans had no trouble keeping up with the Enterprise at Warp 5 and that the Enterprise needed time to gather up emergency power to accelerate to Warp 8.
     
  17. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    From this dialogue, it appears that the reason why they are falling behind is that they were caught off guard - thus, not that their ships are slower. :vulcan:

    It's easy to see why the Romulans would fall behind because of being surprised: they are giving up the chase already, because they know they have lost it by not starting in time. In mere seconds, the heroes will get out of the RNZ.

    In contrast, it's difficult to see what significance "being caught off guard" would have if the Romulans are incapable of giving chase in all conditions. Indeed, it's difficult to see why the corbomite bluff was necessary in the first place, as Kirk immediately calls for the escape maneuver, not after a breather that would have allowed the ship to regain high speed capabilities. Why not simply jump to warp eight and be done with it, if speed is key to escape?

    This is true. All I am saying is that the episode cannot be used as evidence that the Romulans were only able to match mediocre warp performance, and that at best it is consistent with that idea...

    ...And further that it isn't really all that likely that it would be consistent. After all, intercepting a target moving at a steady speed X calls for significant performance, not limited to being able to achieve X. One definitely needs high acceleration, which would make the Romulans a deadly threat to Kirk in "Balance of Terror" already and weaken the idea that Kirk can outrun them in combat. And, unless one has a really intricate deployment pattern for entrapment, and the ability to drop the target from speed X to much slower speeds with one shot en passant, one really needs performance exceeding X to catch up with a ship at X - i.e. one needs to give chase at considerable speed margin vs. the speed of the target. Especially when it's apparent that steering out of the RNZ and to safety is a matter of minutes only even at warp five (Stocker was only minutes into the Zone before getting intercepted, if we're very generous about the cuts, and mere seconds if we aren't).

    We have never quite seen any conventional opponent, least of all Romulans, force a Starfleet ship out of warp with one shot... Did Stocker perhaps panic and order Sulu to voluntarily reduce speed or stop dead? That would be a pretty odd reaction even from him, and something Sulu might well dare object to.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  18. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  19. Mister_Atoz

    Mister_Atoz Commander Red Shirt

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    I know bringing up whether Romulans having warp drive is like beating a dead targ, but here goes...

    In my opinion, the "simple impulse" line was intended to convoy that the Romulan starship was capable of travelling only at sublight, or at most slightly above light speed, at about the same speeds occasional suggested of Star fleet Impulse Engines.

    This may actually make some sense in the context of the episode. Since this is the first time the Romulans were introduced.

    In this episode, the Romulans don't seem to have a large interstellar, thier empire may very well consist of just the Romulas star system itself. This would make the Romulan neutral zone a sort of "Maginot Line" established by the treaty.

    If these outposts are all built into asteroids, its possible that they these asteroids are all part of the same belt surrounding the star system, sort of like the Kuiper's belt surrounding our own star system.

    Outpost 2 and 3 are destroyed within an hour of each other, and the attack on outpost 4 (the one we witness) may very well happen an hour after that. This is a reasonable time frame for a sublight Romulan vessel to stage its attacks.

    I think the rest of the episode is fairly consistent with this analyses. It doesn't however explain their appearance in Deadly Years. We could say that elderly Spock is just beginning to get a bit senile and forgets for a moment that the Romulans don't have warp drive, but that doesn't explain why the Romulans were able to attack the Enterprise in the first place.

    It also doesn't explain anything we see in the 'Enterprise' series, but as with all things in that series I just tell myself "Temporal Cold War" and move on.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    The thing is, "Romulans as a culture don't know how to do warp" does not work at any level in "Balance of Terror". If they don't know how to do warp, they are utterly harmless as an enemy - it will take them centuries to reach the nearest human target. The correct response to the destruction of a handful of outposts is to shut down the remaining ones and let the helpless Romulans stew in their own juices.

    Obviously, Romulans must know how to get from star to star in a short time, far shorter than is allowed by the TOS definition of impulse travel. So if Scotty is saying "their power is simple impulse", this either

    a) doesn't mean they can only do impulse speeds, or
    b) is false, as can be expected from a speculative analysis of a ship Scotty can't even see!

    Timo Saloniemi