Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by FalTorPan, Jan 5, 2008.
But it is better than those warships that phone in their performance and cant be bothered....
Malleus: I'd love to have those (Xenon-Class) pictures you mentioned. e-mail them to me.
Uh, don't you mean "please could you email them to me?"
^^^ Don't worry about it. It's already done.
I haven't really commented here yet, but here's MY take...
All Star Trek ships are "warships" to one extent or another, it seems. (The Grissom is the only possible exception, since there were no visible weapons anywhere on the ship and the Captain never mentioned charging weapons when the Klingons show up... not that he had much of a chance!)
So, when the little exchange between Sisko and Kira happens, the intent is clear. The Defiant is the atypical of Federation ships because it was designed PURELY for combat operations. (They used it, somewhat, for exploration later on... but that's NOT what it's designed for, and not what it's good at.)
So, for a Federation warship, we DO have a baseline to consider.
A Federation warship would have the following basic characteristics:
1) little (essentially NO) cargo space.
2) No dedicated science labs of any kind.
3) Medical facilities primarily associated with "immediate trauma" care, not for full, or long-term, treatment (which would need to be administered at a base).
4) Limited range, and expected to serve out of a dedicated "home base."
5) No science-duty sensors. All sensors would serve to support navigation or tactical duties. If they aren't needed for that, they aren't added.
6) Small, compact, durable construction, to make the ship harder to hit and tougher WHEN hit.
7) Small crew... just enough to fly the ship and perform emergency repairs in combat.
8 ) Since I differentiate between a "pure warship" and a "troop transport" role, no marines, just a small shipboard security detachment to perform anti-intrusion operations.
9) Lots of weapons, very strong shields, fast engines, and a powerplant able to feed all of them full power simultaneously for long periods of time.
Yes, I largely described the Defiant. But that's what ANY "dedicated warship" would be like, I think. Not really suited for ANY OTHER PURPOSE... purely designed for combat, and nearly useless in any other situation.
I love those pics. Thanks for sharing with us.
I would differ with Cary only on the "cargo space" issue.
I consider payloads of weapons, other combat supplies, and emergency foodstuffs to be "cargo".
I would also add that such a vessel would need the best available combat shielding of its era. (In the case of Sisko's Defiant, I would say "ablative armor", whatever that is, would be just the ticket.)
I echo what Cary and Wingsley have said... I have never really understood the idea in fanon that Starfleet 'warships' be bigger and bigger ad naseum. It seems more like Starfleet would go for smaller, tighter, harder to hit, easier to maneuver ships like the Defiant rather than super-duper dreadnaughts.
It could then be seen as more than a coincidence that when the Federation seemed threatened by the Borg and Dominion Starfleet shipbuilding went smaller.
Actually, DS9 didn't invent a new term when they talked about ablative armor. That exists in reality.
What does armor do? Its sole purpose is to dissipate the effect of incoming fire (whatever form that may take) prior to it hitting the critical working components (including PEOPLE) stored inside.
For small-caliber, relatively slow bullets, solid metal plate is typically sufficient. But to block hyperkinetic rounds... like, for instance, SABOT rounds... metal plate is pretty much ineffective. Similarly, it's not practical to hang thick plate off of a soldier's or policeman's body. So you need to use a different approach.
In the case of body-armor, it's "delaminating" armor. The idea is that the energy of the bullet is dissipated by, in effect, UNRAVELING the fabric of the armor (that's why body armor that's been shot in a general area just once is totally useless if hit in that area a second or third time... the ability of the laminated composite material to absorb energy through its own destruction has been exhausted in that area already!).
In the case of tanks, versus SABOT rounds (if anyone's unfamiliar with how SABOT rounds work... here's a decent "kindergarten level" primer... http://science.howstuffworks.com/m1-tank3.htm ), it's more complicated. See, the SABOT round is basically a hypervelocity dart that liquifies the metal in its path upon impact (actually, it reduces it to a PLASMA STATE at the center of the impact zone, but the majority of the metal around that area is just melted). It literally cuts through armor plating "like a hot knife through butter."
So the trick is to dissipate the round's energy before it contacts the hull plating. There have been several approaches used to do this, all successful to various levels.
The most common is to use "reactive armor," of which "ablative armor" is a subclass. The idea is that the armor is held at a distance from the actual metallic armor making up the body of the tank. It is typically, but not always, made up of visible BLOCKS of material. These blocks consist of thin metallic or ceramic casings filled with fast-detonating explosives. The hyperkinetic round, or in some cases merely the SHOCKWAVE from that round, impacts the armor (with the shockwave approach, it's much more sensitive to detonating at inappropriate times, but it's more able to protect larger areas).
SO... the explosive charge detonates... and it, first, both slows and partially deflects the round. But, and this is harder to visualize, it simply dissipates the energy of the impact, so that the round's energy is not localized on the tiny pinpint that it otherwise would focus on... and it typically won't, then, penetrate the metallic armor plating at all (though it does make for a hell of a crater on the metal's surface!).
We also have another, different sort of ablative armor, which is used on modern spacecraft. We call them "reentry heat shields." On the Apollo command module, this case a single-piece "contact lens shaped" ceramic disk on the underside of the capsule. On the Space Shuttle, it's a mosaic made up of a large number of tiles. The idea is that this material takes the energy of reentry and protects the much more fragile hull underneath.
In the case of the space shuttle, the tiles last for a number of flights before needing replacement, but they ARE ablative. In the case of the Apollo capsule, the whole thing pretty much burnt off during reentry.
Again, the point is that this material is consumed... to dissipate the energy of incoming fire.
When I see this referred to on the Defiant, I assume that the hull is basically a metallic structure, but that there is a plastic/ceramic composite layered on top of that, at a distance of several centimeters from the underlying metallic structure.
Literally, then, there are two hulls... an interior, structural, one, and an exterior, expendible one. Incoming fire that makes it past the shields expends its energy on the ablative (meaning "burnable") material. Of course, once the ablative material in a particular spot is burnt away entirely, it no longer protects the much more critical ACTUAL HULL underneath it.
They never really showed this... which is a shame, since the terminology made it appropriate and with CGI it would have become EASY to show (except for limiting the use of "stock" footage, I suppose). I've have loved to see the exterior hull plating literally burnt away, pitted and pockmarked and perforated. And then having replacement armor plates mounted onto the ship when it was back at DS9.
This topic has been debated for ages... and it's not likely to go away anytime soon.
I remember back in the heyday of Trek fan-publishing, there was a lot of debate over what the role of FJ (and refit-FJ) type Dreadnoughts would actually be. I always liked the fannish solution that was arrived at.
The idea was that the would be a dreadnought assigned to each administrative subregion of the Federation, plus to each "floating fleet." The dreadnought wasn't a WARSHIP, so much... it was a FLEET COMMAND ship.
During peacetime, it would simply stay at, or patrol near, its home base (say, Starbase 27). It would provide on-call policing duty, rescue duty, etc, for the immediate vincinity of the starbase. (The "Vanguard" novels take a similar approach, though with a Heavy Cruiser instead of a Dreadnought, as one of three ships assigned to direct support of this new Starbase.)
During wartime, it would become a mobile fleet command headquarters (the TMP-era-refit designs have a largely expanded B/C-deck area and multiple bridge-level docking ports, to support this function as "fleet headquarters." The ship's captain runs the ship from A-deck... the Fleet Admiral runs the entire fleet from a massive operations center on B/C deck.
The Dreadnought is faster (multiple engines) and more powerful (the TMP-era-refit ones typically remove the cargo facilities and replace them with a second matter/antimatter generator assembly), but not necessarily all THAT much more heavily armed. The idea is that it's the center of the fleet, not really a combatant at all except in the most dire need.
I've always liked that approach. It justifies the extra sensors (it's the tactical operations center, so it needs to know the whole "map of the battlefield"), it justifies the extra engines (if the whole fleet is scattered, it's the most likely target for the enemy so it has to run away FAST), and the extra power (to defend itself if it has no other choice, or to fight as a last-ditch effort if the rest of the fleet is suffering).
If you think of Dreadnoughts THAT way, rather than as front-line combat ships, they actually make sense, I think.
The Heavy Cruiser, on the other hand, is the one "intended to work solo" ship... and would also be the centerpiece of smaller fleet actions. But for large fleet operations, you'd have a DN, several cruisers in support (leading key subfleet elements), plus numerous destroyers and frigates, and a "recon" element of fast, armed scouts, operating out beyond the "secured" area of the fleet.
At the risk of sounding controversial (I apologize in advance if this steps on any toes) I would say if there's one good thing Berman & Co. gave us via DS9, it would have to be the notion of a super-powerful, super-effective Federation battleship in the form of the teeny-tiny Defiant. Defiant fits the TREK mantra so perfectly, it is awe-inspiring. Berman & Co. really got it right that time.
Instead of cobbling up some huge, butt-ugly megaship with umpteen nacelles, DS9 showed us an almost-Roddenberryan vision of what a limited-production Starfleet combat ship might look like: small, simple design, limited facilities and crew, heavy on the weapons and shields. It makes perfect sense to have only two engines; two are easier to maintain than three or four, and two are easier to integrate into Defiant's single-piece shell.
I had thought of a great post-TOS story, in which James T. Kirk was first promoted to commodore before going off the Starfleet Command. After transferring off the Enterprise, Kirk was to be sent on a secret mission into Xindi territory to investigate the recent re-emergence of the Sphere Builders who are busy trying to re-create the Delphic Expanse. Starfleet gives Kirk a secret prototype battleship equipped with a duplicate of the Romulan cloaking device he stole. This secret starship, devoid of the usual Federation comforts and facilities, is actually a long-forgotten, mothballed warship that Captain Archer briefly deployed at the end of the Earth-Romulan Conflict: the U.E.S. Dreadnought. This ship, periodically refitted and rebuilt over the last 90 years with the latest technology and components, has been hidden away in the mining shaft of a long-deserted asteroid a few parsecs from the Neutral Zone. While serving as president of the fledgling Federation, Archer privately joked with his advisors that the U.S.S. Dreadnought was the modern "Doomsday Machine", a personification of the Cold War nearly 200 years before. In the like vein, Dreadnought was always kept secret.
The Dreadnought was actually smaller than the Constitution-class starships, and much simpler in appearance: a single, tubular hull not unlike Zephrem Cochrane's Phoenix, with a mini-saucerette and deflector dish capping the front and impulse engines and a hangar bay at the rear. Retractable nacelles would be situated to port and starboard. When drawn into the hull, the warp nacelles would be covered over by heavy, hangar-like clamshell doors during sublight maneuvers. The weapons system would be simple: a phaser bank for each direction, but each bank would brandish four canons instead of two. And Dreadnought boasted multiple torpedo bays.
Kirk led a small squadron of starships, with the Dreadnought as his flagship. To honor fallen comrades, Kirk rechristens his flagship U.S.S. Defiant, NX-1764-A. Spock also joined the mission, commanding a Daedalus-derived frigate. Fighting off various suicide missions by Reptilian and Insectoid zealots, Kirk's forces were pared down. Through it all, Kirk locked horns with Defiant's captain, who repeatedly reminded Kirk that Defiant was under orders from Admiral Komack to stay under cloak and not engage hostiles unless as a "last resort". Finally, Kirk's forces meet up with friendly Xindi and other races to confront and rebuke the Sphere Builders, but not before a final four-way battle between the Klingons, Romulans, the Sphere Builders and a variety of Delphic Expanse aliens on all sides which forces Defiant to engage with devastating results. The final battle sees a whole sphere destroyed, collapsing the network, but also results in a prototype K'T'ing'a-class cruiser being severely damaged and a Romulan ship being destroyed, all at Defiant's hands. The greatest casualty of all, after a century, is the Defiant herself. The Defiant's captain is killed in the final battle, but Kirk leads a "Doomsday Machine" style suicide run at a Sphere, locking the ship on a collision course before bailing in a shuttle-fighter.
With the Delphic Expanse restored, all sides agree to cease-fire and withdraw. Kirk and Spock return home in Spock's battered ship, Spock retires from the service, and Kirk accepts his promotion.
The Defiant-A, never remembered, is easily forgotten.
I'm not terribly fond of using the term "Dreadnaught" (or Dreadnought, alternatively) as a proper name. (And yes, one of my all-time favorite computer games, "Independence War," was guilty of that one as well, so I know it's quibbling.)
Do some searching for the term, and you'll find that the term means a Battleship-type vessel (which in inherently among the largest ships). Historically, it is applied to Battleships with all of their guns being the same size. More colloquially, it's applied to "the biggest, baddest ship of it's type."
So, referring to a "small dreadnaught" is kind of like referring to a "huge dwarf" or a "tiny giant." The term, really, is nonsensical on its face.
On the other hand, something MAY have been classified as a dreadnaught in it's time (see the "Federation Class") but is no longer the "biggest and baddest" (ie, anything in the TNG-era will probably be able to kick the Federation-class's butt).
In those circumstances, the old ship is simply reclassified. So, if any TOS/TMP-era dreadnaughts were still in service in the TNG-era, they'd most likely be reclassified as destroyers or light cruisers.
Naming a ship "Dreadnaught" is sort of like naming a ship "Heavy Cruiser."
Or like Ford naming their new car model the "Sedan."
A type name shouldn't be used as something else, in other words. "Independence War" aside..
Well, the name of the original dreadnought was "HMS Dreadnought" spelled with an O not an A, because the name means "Fear Nothing" ("Dread Nought").
So even though it has come to be spelled both ways, the proper, original spelling is with an O.
The HMS Dreadnought herself began the trend of giant battleships with all large-caliber main guns, which is why subsequent huge battleships started being generically called dreadnoughts.
Huzzah for the Coeur De Lion!
Must you...ALWAYS...over-analyze things?
Your far too constipated, mate. I recommend some fibrrrrre. .
There's also the TNG-era (non-canon / fan-designed) Osiris-Class tactical cruiser. A post-Nemesis era refit of the Ronin/Borodin-Class in the Loknar-Class configuration.
There's also the U.S.S. Buckingham, which is a one-time kitbashing of a Sovereign-Class & Rapier-Class as a anti-Borg/Dominion tactical cruiser.
Oh, I WANTED to say that one... but figured "why should I have all the fun?"
I agree that FJ-style dreadnoughts do have a place when characterized as above... by characterizing them as 'command ships' it doesn't even violate the idea that Starfleet wasn't building warships in those times, and allows for their rarity. That was pretty much the slant I took with it when I was writing my Excelsior technical journal.
*sigh* Ah, for a healthy dose of ambition.
That's the ticket!
Kind of like, "if you have to ask, you can't afford it!" Or "hurry up and wait!"
Separate names with a comma.