Rebecca Ashling
▶ Stars Without Number
2018-05-13T20:40:12.049Z

Been looking at historical battleships such as the Bismarck and comparing them with SWON military hulls. I think the SWON battleship hull is undergunned. I think it should have 20, maybe 25 hardpoints, not 15.

Aaron Hamric
2018-05-13T20:40:12.049Z

Well, ships from before the Bismarck (before WW I, even) were pretty ridiculously overgunned. Ship design was in an insane arms race after the Dreadnought came out (which never even saw combat), where a ship was obsolete before the thing started construction. Part of the reason they had so many guns is that those guns had no real range-finding or fire-control. Naval engagement distances had suddenly massively increased, making spotting through splashes very difficult.

Part of the reason ships of that era started arming themselves with only one size of gun is that the smaller splashes from lighter guns got lost in the shuffle. The other reason is that one caliber made staying in an engagement longer possible, due to carrying more ammo. Hitting 1% of your shots would have been an excellent feat of marksmanship. The guns could also only be fired once every few minutes, meaning the more guns you had, the more sustained fire you could maintain by staggering their firing. Hell, ships of that era couldn’t even fire all of their guns at once, as the recoil could capsize the vessel or warp the frame.

I guess it depends on how bad a spacecraft’s targeting and penetration power is vs the targets armor and mobility. When the British and German fleets with their new crazyily-gunned ships (the meeting was accidental. Nobody actually wanted the fleets to fight because they were so expensive and prestigious) single hits detonated massive gunships because their defenses were terrible compared to the weapons.

Centrally controlled guns, better range finding solutions, and the invention of radar made massive battleships much more accurate, and ended up relegating them to shore bombardment a lot of the time, as smaller faster ships that could damage the big guys became more prevalent, and also because torpedoes kept getting better. Also, aircraft carriers happened.

Modern battleships engage each other at ranges where they can’t see one another due to the curvature of the Earth. It’s kinda crazy.

The Bismarck and other battleships like it from WWII were built for an earlier era of combat, really. They were in a weird transitional place where new technology had obsoleted the role they were designed for.

Aaron Hamric
2018-05-13T20:40:12.049Z

The rules might need some tweaking, but I haven’t looked at them, yet.

Rebecca Ashling
2018-05-13T20:40:12.049Z

Eh, I suppose I'm being pernickety. Interstellar FTL warships haven't been built yet. Speaking of which, warships in Traveller are ridiculous big and have lots and lots of dakka. I mean the INS Tigress would displace 7,000,000 tons of water and has hundreds of guns.

Aaron Hamric
2018-05-13T20:40:12.049Z

If you haven’t solved your problem by using DAKKA, use more DAKKA.

Josh Peters
2018-05-13T20:40:12.049Z

Two things pop up here to me:

1. Why compare SWN battleships to Traveller battleships? Especially the "big ship" Traveller vessels, that get entirely too unwieldy. Those ships aren't deployed in combat because they're too expensive to replace in-game, AND because gaming the combat out would be tedious. :-)

2. As long as the battleship hull can outgun any other SWN ship in terms of firepower brought to bear in one round, are they really under-gunned?

Rebecca Ashling
2018-05-13T20:40:12.049Z

+Josh Peters It was just an observation about Traveller warships. I prefer the more bijou and petit starships of SWON.

Josh Peters
2018-05-13T20:40:12.049Z

+Rebecca Ashling I am always struggling for ship names on the fly, and Petit Bijou is the perfect name for a heavily armed gunship. Thank you.

Ian Borchardt (Reverance Pavane)
2018-05-13T20:40:12.049Z

You also have to remember the roles for ships in WW2 are pretty specific. Plus there was a lot of politics involved (such as the Washington and London naval treaties). Battleships are designed to fight other battleships. Cruisers are for commerce protection and raiding (which is why Britain had a big cruiser fleet), and which would operate in squadrons in time of war. Destroyers were the workhorses of the fleet (but still had their principle role as "torpedo boat destroyers," which presupposes a weapon that can be carried by a small craft that can destroy a ship in a single blow. And destroyer escorts were produced because destroyers were too expensive for some roles (such as being convey escorts against stealthships submarines).

As a result you get a limited array of guns to deal with each situation. So the main guns on your battleship are designed to engage other battleships. [For that is the purpose of battleships.] You generally had second tier armament that was principally anti-cruiser/destroyer in nature. Especially for a much more close in approach. However it tended to be rather limited, since this wasn't the main role of a battleship. And finally you had the small guns (ant-boat and anti-aircraft). And you wanted consistency in calibre because it eased supply considerations amongst your fleet overall. That includes replacing the actual guns and their mounts (as well as fire control which was often hard-coded into the optics), so it also translates into efficiencies when you don't have ammo.

Cruisers and destroyers were not expected to engage with battleships. Battlecruisers were, but they were the product of a dubious political compromise within the British admiralty. And that compromise meant that they lacked the armour to withstand the return fire (although there is now considerable disagreement as to the nature of the failure of the Hood ). Again you tended to have a preferred armament and it was often the same size of the secondary armament of the battleships (although that was more often destroyer sized).

Navies that operated in the Pacific extensively tended to build bigger ships and have larger armaments simply because of the size of the ocean. larger ships is more fuel bunkerage (which was incredibly important - one of the primary targets of Pearl Harbour was the fuel tanks which crippled naval operations for a year [removing Pearl completely via invasion really cripples US activity in the Pacific because of lack of fuel resupply if you want an alt-history version]).

The US Iowa class also had a restriction that it had to fit through the Panama canal (which it can with entire inches to spare...).

You also have to remember that in a space campaign the battleship wouldn't be obsoleted as it was on Earth (assuming you use the same basic model). Simply because aircraft can't exist, so you are back to the idea of torpedo boats (and gun boats to deal with torpedo boats). Which were never very effective at attacking naval ships, although they fought many impressive duels in the Channel. Although they retain the idea of disposable "egg-shells armed with hammers." [Due to this they mostly tried to attack from ambush under cover of night and use their speed to attempt to get away.]

So it's not just a matter of hardpoints but also size of the weapons. Having fewer hardpoints, but having them able to mount heavier weapons works. Also consider the alternative turrets (or multibarrel weapons) fitted to hardpoints instead of individual weapons. The turret can only engage a single target, but can do it with all the weapons it mounts (usually fired individually on slightly different trajectories to bracket the possible location of the target).

My own Mandate navy (I run SWN in a pre-Fall period) is based on WW2 ship classes and duties. Although battleships are almost never seen in the Frontier (they were builtin case an alien equivalent-tech civilisation was ever encountered but are too expensive to deploy for routine operations).

[I really must read the new edition of the rules at some point. =9) ]

Calum M
2018-05-13T20:40:12.049Z

Battleships had lots of big guns to bracket the enemy at long range. If you want your game to be more like this then just give them more hardpoints and power.

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