Is it just me or are the ship types in SWON underɡunned? Still, it's better than the overɡunninɡ in Traveller.
You've brought this up before
plus.google.com - Been looking at historical battleships such as the Bismarck and comparing the...
Hmmm. Depends. The smaller ships (frigate and fighter class hulls) seem about right. I've had great success building all sorts of ships on the smaller side that have lots of guns. The free trader hull is surprisingly dynamic with only a few mods. Admittedly, the design rules tend towards a setup where a patrol boat has one main weapon and possibly a smaller backup, for example. I haven't spent much time building anything bigger than a heavy frigate, so I can't talk about cruisers and battleships.
+Ian W. Sorry! Forɡet I did that. Must be my advanced aɡe of 53.
Still haven't used Petit Bijou as a ship name...
It's the cruisers and battleships that I take issue with.
They're not as well armed as modern equivalents, and traveller equivalents. But as I mentioned in the other post, as long as they outgun the smaller ships by a wide margin, which they do, there's no real problem, right?
Depends on the philosophy. You generally only want one form of major armament for the types of engagement the ship is designed to operate in.
For example, a battleship is designed to fight other battleships and so will have the main weapon system to do so (range and ability to penetrate the defences). They may have a secondary weapon system designed to deal with targets where it is impossible of uneconomic to engage with the main armament. Not that often multiple weapons (such as contained in a turret) are effectively one weapon system that fires more shots in a spread over a volume to increase the chance of a hit. If they have a tertiary weapon system it is dedicated to dealing with missiles (and possibly fighters). A WW2 battleship might only have 2 effective main weapon systems as a result (front and back).
Giving it too much variety in it's weapons systems (such as was the case with WW1 battleships) meant that they were theoretically more versatile (since they could engage at different ranges), but the reality was that if they chose the engagement envelope that favoured the main weapons the secondary weapons were less useful, and vice versa. Which is why in WW2 they simplified the battleship armament. After all, those useless weapons provide a mass/space/cost penalty to the design. And tactical doctrine was still the line of battle (for both command and control and sighting/engagement purposes), which meant that the ability to manoeuvre independently was limited.
One of the reasons for the large mix is effectively an inheritance from Napoleonic naval theory which had both long-range long guns and shorter-ranged carronades. The objective with these short-ranged weapon systems is to get close to the enemy and let them have a broadside (again, many weapons, one weapon system). The shorter design had a higher reload rate (muzzle loader) and a larger throw weight. The major determinant in battle strategy is the ability to hit the opponent at range, which was limited. The long guns were generally chase or stern armament - limited shots at long range.
Again the tactical use of the ship determines the main armament, and is generally only a single weapon system. A cruiser's main attribute is endurance since it is designed primarily for long range operations - commerce raiding and commerce protection, as well as gunboat diplomacy (showing the flag in foreign ports). It is not designed to fight a battleship and so does not need the armament to do so. It's designed to run away from them. It's designed to engage other cruisers.
Again it only needs a primary armament system designed to engage other cruisers (or destroyers). Again weight/mass/cost limitations mean this is invariable a lighter weapon. And again, the more individual weapons that are mounted in a turrent effectively increase the ROF and probability of a hit due to slight variations in how you lay the guns. With WW2 this often applied to the whole ship since you started getting central fire control (and in the later part of the war radar directors). Again, really only a single weapon system. You will notice in most WW2 cruisers a distinct assymetry in armament, with a pronounced forward (chase) armament and reduced rear (stern) armament. This is indicative of the aggressive role of the cruiser that would attack it's prey (and thus steam toward it), or run away from it (and thus be less effective at reply).
Battlecruisers were an abortion born of politics, both actual (the Washington naval treaty), and economic. They created a ship that had a battleship main armament but the endurance of a cruiser so that it could be used in the cruiser role, but also engage battleships. The problem is to do this they had to critically shortchange it on armour, which meant while it could engage battleships in battle it was more vulnerable to their weapons.
The role of destroyers was created because of the invention of torpedoes - a weapon that could bypass the armour of a battleship and destroy it. Which meant that small cheap motor torpedo boats became a severe threat to your battleships. Destroyer is actually short for "torpedo boat destroyer." Because they were reasonably cheap they got used for lots of other support roles as well (such as scouting and escorts). Again, like cruisers, they had an assymetrical weapon mix indicative of it's aggressive stance towards motor torpedo boats. Because they also maneuvered independently they got to also have torpedoes, but it was a secondary weapon. Bit their primary armament supported their anti-torpedo role.
The destroyer escort was born from the invention of the submarine as a weapon of war. Because even destroyers were too expensive for routine escort duty. And a submarine, once found, was pretty vulnerable to attack (although it was truly air superiority that spelled their doom). [But the aircraft model doesn't work on space.]
The short answer is you only really need one weapon that is designed to fulfill the intended role of your warship. In WW2, because of the inaccuracies with the weapon system these tended to be multiple weapons firing in a semi-coordinated manner (for example each turrent fired as one with a slight dispersion of each weapon in the turrent to increase tha chance of a hit). A secondary weapon system may serve an additional role or increase the versatility, but it's going to reduce the efficiency in the primary role.
[For example modern destroyers primary weapon systems are their anti-ship missiles; however most also feature a very light cannon because in peacetime their standard duty is as police and patrol vessels and that light cannon is sufficient to police merchant vessels and far cheaper and less destructive than a missile. But these light cannon are pretty useless when it comes to actually fighting other warships - which is the reason they are light weapons.]
Now I have the mental image of a harried and stressed naval architect looking at the specs for a new and up-gunned design from a bunch of admirals and asking wryly where exactly they expect to be sending this pocket Tirpitz of theirs...
(h/t to the Bradley Fighting Vehicle Evolution bit from the movie Pentagon Wars, only applied to starships)