Phasers vs torpedoes

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by cwl, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. XCV330

    XCV330 Commodore Commodore

    Sep 24, 2017
    No rage. As a kid I thought that first shot of photon torpedo fire from the Klingon ships (edited to add: in TMP) was one of the coolest things I'd seen on screen, Star Wars included. It still is an awesome shot, today.
  2. drt

    drt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 5, 2013
    From the dialog they still mentioned "tubes" with regard to torpedoes and "banks" for phasers, so I think they were always intended to be different types of system - but I concur that torpedoes were originally an energy weapon (and arguably still were in TMP).
  3. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    The Excelsior class (and in this specific case, the USS Lakota) was a top of the line starship from 80 years ago.
    We're talking about a pre-existing hull design many decades in service.
    All SF needed to do was upgrade its internals (and possibly its hull) to match one of its supposedly 'most powerful' ships in the fleet (irrespective of its size).

    So basically, resource-wise, SF probably never spent any major amount on upgrading it (apart from energy) because it would likely harvest the old hardware, break it down into base elements, and use them to create new ones while ending up with surplus energy to potentially install the ablative hull armor at a later time (new technology is usually made with better materials that require less overall resources to produce but are far more durable, flexible, capable, etc.).

    Let's not forget SF has multiple different classes of ships primarily for exploration (which is dangerous).
    The fact that SF was able to upgrade an 80 year old ship to essentially match a state of the art 'warship' in the 24th century (without even installing Phaser strips on it) only demonstrates that it designed its ships to be long lasting and highly adaptive by design.

    Plus, I wonder if you'd be as 'dismissive' of the Intrepid class, or even the Galaxy, Sovereign, Akira, etc.?
    All are larger ships, and yet at best, they seem to 'match' the Defiant in capabilities, rarely surpassing it... probably because the Defiant can be rather lousy for living in when it comes to deep space exploration assignments.

    Perhaps SF should just discard larger ships and just base the whole of SF around the Defiant class since it accomplishes a lot with less resources (correction - it accomplishes being good in combat primarily while being a smaller ship - and yet, the Defiant also was brought to the brink of destruction several times, and destroyed once).
    Other ships that were larger in size went up against similar threats and came out in a better shape...

    As I said, the Defiant is nothing special.
    It's a small craft primarily designed around combat - which is useful if you are in dire need of tactically powerful ships that don't take a lot of time to construct (due to their size), but intricately speaking, most other ships in the fleet with similar upgrades to their tactical systems can do the same or better - and likely, older ships if they are upgraded probably take less resources to do so as opposed to constructing a new Defiant class ship - in which case, the surplus can be used to construct a new Defiant class ship in addition to upgrading the old one to newest standards).
    Another thing of note: The Defiant was a 'hero' ship... so, its expected to be portrayed in the best possible light.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
  4. SpyOne

    SpyOne Captain Captain

    Mar 2, 2010
    That's pretty much what the TNG Technical Manual says about them. As others have noted, that doesn't always match what was shown.

    And it is mostly the opposite of my impression from watching TOS.
    I'm probably just mis-remembering things and confusing the Romulan weapon from Balance Of Terror with the Enterprise's photon torpedos, but I thought torpedos were powerful but slow, and could be dodged or out-run, while phasers were actually useable at warp.

    In fact, my brother used that a lot in those inevitable "which franchise would win in a fight" discussions. Star Trek has ftl sensors, ftl drive, and ftl weapons, so they can tell that you are firing and dodge, but their shots arrive before you can see them.
    He'd say "give me a shuttlecraft and a hand phaser and I'll take on all comers."
  5. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 24, 2012
    But SF spent a lot of time figuring out how to retro-fit the old ships which isn't trivial.
    It's usually easier to work from a clean slate and have everything made with the latest / greatest.
    Don't forget the sheer Man-Power / Volume & Mass of Materials needed to construct each vessel during it's initial manufacturing run.

    According to Memory Alpha:
    An Excelsior takes 750 officers and crew to operate and has a mass of 2,350,000 metric tons
    The Defiant takes 40 officers and crew to operate and has a mass of 355,000 metric tons

    So for one full Excelsior Crew Compliment, you can have 18.75 Defiants Crew Complements filled out
    So for the raw material of 1x Excelsior build from the ground up, you can literally make 6.62 Defiant classes.
    Given the same Number of Officers & raw metric tonnage of materials processed into a Star Ship.

    I can have far more Defiants out there doing there jobs for the same Crew Compliment.

    I've never advocated for SF to discard larger ships, all ship classes have their purpose and place.
    But the fact that you're so dismissive of the "Little Ship" shows your lack of understanding it's place in the Fleet Makeup.

    There's a time and place for all ships, but the High Power, little Package of the Defiant definitely has it's place in StarFleets makeup.

    Don't forget that given Starfleet's large territories that it needs to cover, having many Defiant Classes will help it protect all it's member planets in terms of Border Patrols / Internal Border Scientific Missions.

    This leaves larger StarShips free to explore the unknown.
  6. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 16, 2003
    Negligible, because in the 24th century, automation would likely be applied to R&D for upgrading older designs, not to mention to actual upgrading work (the notion of manual labor in a space faring society such as the Federation is a ridiculous one to be honest - one that would quickly fall apart).

    Also, you are assuming that most SF innards cannot be simply swapped out for the latest version.
    The innards might require some modification in regard to accommodating new designs, but probably not much... and nothing that can't be done with transporters (just beam that whole section out, convert it into energy, and then simply replicate new one using that existing energy that would accommodate a new shield generator for example).

    Materials can (and probably are) harvested from existing ships that will subsequently be upgraded using new hardware that was made from those harvested materials.

    That's assuming SF is planning on constructing new Excelsior class ships - which is unlikely given the age of the design.
    A more likely outcome is that existing Excelsior class ships in service would be upgraded by harvesting the innards of those ships in question and reconstituting them into new material - a process that will likely result in ending up with excess raw material which gives you technically more leftover raw matter to use in construction of newer classes of starships.

    Also, automation would probably reduce the need for large number of personnel as opposed from 80 years ago... but given the size of the vessel, with the latest upgrades, you can send the ship on long range exploratory missions (for which the Defiant is not exactly suitable) similar to those that the Galaxy class does.
    That's what bigger frames like the Excelsiors would likely be most useful for.

    As I said before, mid-sized and large ships serve other functions besides combat (SF's primary purpose is exploration as well as being the defensive arm of the Federation).

    The Defiants would have more limited operational range, and wouldn't be suitable for deep space assignments (unlike the upgraded Excelsior for example, or the Akira, or the Intrepid... or the Nebula class, or Galaxy class).
    Besides, I wasn't suggesting creating more upgraded Excelsiors... but rather upgrading existing ones.

    I am not being 'dismissive' of the Defiant... I'm merely pointing out that it's not as 'perfect' as some people like it to be.

    Certainly its better when big things come in small packages, but the Defiant has a lot of limitations in comparison to larger ships outside of battle operations - one shouldn't forget about that.

    Not saying that the Defiant has no purpose... merely that its technologies and underlying premise can be applied to existing larger ships as well with simple upgrades.
    Obviously, SF might have smaller ships like the Defiant inside the Federation rather on the outside doing deep space exploration given their Warp speed limitations (until those are improved upon) and overall size of the crew... not to mention crew comforts that can impact long term exploration (and despite the Defiants size, I really doubt there was a need for claustrophobic cabins and bunk beds - SF of the 24th century would have been able to do better - that was just writers pandering to an outdated premise).

    My point about upgrading the existing Excelsiors (not constructing new ones) is that SF easily gave them a 'breadth of fresh air' and can send those older ships out to explore given their overall size and improvements in question and keep them in service a while longer.

    If it is accurate that a starship hull design is envisioned to be in service for about 100 years, then the Excelsior class ships would have stopped being produced a decade or two after initially being released into active service... and then those ships that have been left in service (once the design production was halted), they would have been upgraded to remain in service until they reach 100 years of age.
  7. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 24, 2012
    Yet in the show, it shows plenty of Sentient Being labor working on the ships in actual shipyards in space on multiple occasions. Even Voyager had manual Labor for it's assembly / building.

    If that was the case like in "ENT:S2E04 - DeadStop", I would be happy. Yet we don't see that at many StarFleet Shipyards / Dry Docks. We still see WorkBee's flying around doing things / assembling things. In my future canon / Universe guide, that would definitely be the case. I want massive amounts of Man + Automation for Quick Mass Production of my Super Large StarFleet with Ships of all sizes ranging from Defiant Size to ships that are as big as "Island 1" from Macross Frontier. This helps with the Space Colonization / Over Population / Massive amounts of Species joining UFP in my Writers Guide / Canon.

    Of course. Any Environmentally Conscious / Resource Efficient / Matter & Energy Valuing Government would care about it. There is no reason for UFP / StarFleet to waste a Single gram of Matter / 1 watt of Energy if they don't have too.
  8. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 24, 2012
    In my view and my universe, newer vessels will generally be larger to accommodate a bigger crew / longer mission / self sustainability in case of another "Voyager" type incident. We'll still recycle the materials from older ships like the Excelsior for it's raw Materials, but we'll also be harvesting new material as well. When I'm talking about a giant "Star Fleet" Ship Fleet. I'm literally talking in the millions of ships.

    Automation would help with a lot of things, along with Holograms like the EMH / ECH & Mass Produced Soong Type Androids along with real AI on the ship. But that also means expanded capability / mission scope for the same number of crew aboard in my universe.

    In my version of StarFleet, we've come to the honest conclusion publicly that StarFleet is literally 1/2 Exploration & 1/2 Military that needs to be flexible in it's mission adaptability while it's out and about.
  9. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 24, 2012
    That's fine, I never considered the Defiant "Perfect" either. But I definitely don't discount it's design / purpose. I would upgrade it and give it more internal volume without expanding it's outside volume by much to maximize usable internal area for people. I would also enhance it's operational range & capabilities as well. It'll still be the "Little Ship" but in MASSIVE fleet numbers and can be tasked to do things that bigger ships can't be bothered to do. I believe in a right size ship for the right mission & right time & right place.
  10. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 24, 2012
    Most Modern Military like the US has 30-50 year life spans for their ships. I'm envisioning my ship hulls to last 100-250 years to get more value out of the hull with more standardization and modular upgrades.
  11. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Premium Member

    Oct 17, 2005
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    @KamenRiderBlade, maybe you ought to consider using the Multiquote instead of writing four posts in a now?
  12. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 24, 2012
    I tried, but my browser ran into some funny issues, so it was easier to reply to things in blocks.
  13. Unimatrix Q

    Unimatrix Q Commander Red Shirt

    Jun 26, 2015
    I always found it funny that it's easier for a ship to dodge photon torpedos, which have warp capability than phaser beams, which only travel at lightspeed.
  14. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

    Jul 5, 2013
    Nope, not Gorn. The Hydran and LDR and the occasional Orion (and Fed carriers) used Gatling Phasers. The Gorn never got them.
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Well, both types of weapon have warp "capability" (that is, we see them used successfully at warp). But neither makes use of that capability in the standard sublight fight - and the phaser beam, while significantly slower than light, is still the faster of the two, as we can see with our own eyes.

    One wonders why this would be. If both weapons have adjustable speed, why choose the settings this way? Perhaps because torpedoes cannot maneuver much at high speed settings, while a phaser beam can be swiveled at high angular speed regardless of beam speed and the cost of a shot wasted in a miss involved in the swiveling isn't significant.

    But we see in episodes like "Genesis" that torpedo engines can do extreme maneuvering. Why not make use of that when it appears that a miss is about to occur? Or do torps boost-and-coast, losing their maneuverability later in the flight? This sort of contradicts their considerable terminal accuracy on other occasions, such as extremely close fire support in ST5:TFF...

    Timo Saloniemi
  16. Longinus

    Longinus Commodore Commodore

    Sep 2, 2008
    It is likely that their warp capability is somehow related to the firing ship being at warp. They're incapable of creating a warp field of their own, they merely can briefly (or in the case of torpedoes, sometimes not so briefly) expand the warp field of the ship.
  17. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

    Sep 19, 2010
    I always wanted the Phasers on the Enterprise to be comparable to Space Battleship Yamato/Star Blazers Wave-motion Gun. Possibly with a setting at the highest level that is rarely used.

  18. Johnny7oak

    Johnny7oak Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 14, 2015
    The Warp field is like a bubble to which subspace is traversed through, so two bubbles in subspace connected will allow the torpedo or the phaser to work at warp. Outside subspace the two are limited to non-subspace, but trajectory will potentially afflict torpedoes impacted by spatial density of things like dust.... phasers are obstructed or destroy the dust.... a torpedo can break apart. So At Warp they both fire, in the field they both act like regular space in the subspace field. Leaving the field has impacts like spatial debris and phasers also are afflicted by interference. THe photon torpedo is partially using energy wave lengths in detonation of anti-matter payload and of the casing, so you have potential for the torpedo to afflict shields, before photon assembly of the photon torpedo type such as that of the Enterprise NX there was no affliction to energy shields. Phasers and Phase cannons are entirely quanta modulations and have no kinetic assembly and there for no collision... torpedoes do more damage to the hull when they hit. Phasers have to reach liquidify energy level of the hull for hull damage (melt) (edit) can also stress the metal in partial reaching of liquify.