Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Science fiction AFVs

Discussion in 'The Members Lounge' started by corpcasselbury, Jun 21, 2004.

  1. Gatsby phpbb3

    Gatsby phpbb3 New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2004
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    0
    via TanksinWW2
    IMO the AT-AT is something like the star wars equivalent of a breakthrough tank, somewhat like the Tigers of WW2. Unlike the case in real life, the AT-AT, due to the marvels of shield technology, can be made invulnerable to the majority of rebel weaponry (don't really know how they work though.) Even mines, which would work against smaller AFVs, won't make a dent in the AT-AT's armour. With its 17-kilometer range heavy lasers, the AT-AT is designed to take out heavy defenses such as large-calibre guns, armoured pillboxes (if they exist in star wars), entrenched AFVs and the like.

    The reason why the AT-AT has to perform the role of an APC as well is simply because the AT-AT has plenty of weaknesses. It can be outflanked and cannot turn its guns to meet the enemy. It is completly defenseless in close combat, and its weaponry is not well-suited to deal with fast moving targets. A large number of speederbike-mounted infantry could easily rush the AT-AT, latch onto its weak underbelly and then dispatch the billion-dollar monstrosity with satchel charges.

    Therefore, the AT-AT needs support from lighter, more flexible troops i.e. infantry. You might want to argue that a number of lighter APCs could easily have done the trick, but then again do remember that the AT-AT offers the crew excellent protection. Long-range weaponry such as missiles and artillery, as well as simple minefields and anti-tank ditches, would easily have stopped most APCs. Do take into account that most sensory and communiations devices in the Star Wars universe are considerably more advanced than what was avaliable in the early 21st century. Artillery systems will therefore be drastically more effective than they currently are. As for anti-tank ditches, you would need a really deep one to stop an AT-AT. And supposing you managed to displace enough earth to do that, you would have to position your defenses outside the range of the AT-AT. Moreover, the ditch protects the AT-AT from attack as well, since the trick to destroying an AT-AT is to get close.

    All this is, of course, assuming that the enemy can field a first-rate defense system, which was not the case in Hoth. Such elaborate defenses are nonetheless fairly ineffective against an AT-AT. Hence, it can move into position and surpress enemy defenses, clearing the way for the rest of the attacking army. When threatened, it can deploy its infantry for self defense. The infantry also can be used to flush out and capture strongpoints as trenches and bunkers, something the AT-AT would never have been able to do on its own.

    The AT-AT is actually a fairly sound concept, although if would never have worked in real life (until shields are invented, that is).
     
  2. Danyel Phelps

    Danyel Phelps Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    1,357
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    United States
    via TanksinWW2
    Very well said, couldn't have said it better myself. However, note that the AT-AT lacks shields.
     
  3. Roel

    Roel New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2003
    Messages:
    12,678
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Netherlands
    via TanksinWW2
    Ricky, you dare me to do this, it's your responsibility...

    [​IMG]

    Now who's tasteless? Seriously!
     
  4. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    4,356
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    High Point, North Carolina, USA
    via TanksinWW2
    I have to agree, the girl can't act. :p
     
  5. me262 phpbb3

    me262 phpbb3 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,627
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Porter,TX
    via TanksinWW2
    have anyone see the SFD3 model made by nitto?
     
  6. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    11,708
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Luton, UK
    via TanksinWW2
    Nobody ever mentioned her acting ability...

    And Roel, you had to choose the one shot where she's pulling a face like a constipated camel... :wink:
     
  7. Roel

    Roel New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2003
    Messages:
    12,678
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Netherlands
    via TanksinWW2
    Of course! I'm making a case against her, why choose a pretty shot? :grin:
    That, too... She was just the most useless feature of the entire movie, and I don't like her looks either, so I wish she never played at all.
     
  8. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2004
    Messages:
    2,006
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    On a space station in geosynchronous orbit above y
    via TanksinWW2
    Most useless feature is a bit harsh. I think you call only go as far as most useless character (although she had some serious competition from the rest of the cast).

    The most useless feature in my opinion was the ships they used. They appeared to be unarmed (we never saw them shoot anything), unable to take a hit (how many of those things did we see get blown away?), and had truely dire detection systems (argh! there's a mountain sized lump of rock coming towards us and some how we only see once its close enough to detect with the Mk1 eyeball!)

    Pity really cause I quiet liked the look of the ships themselves.
     
  9. Roel

    Roel New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2003
    Messages:
    12,678
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Netherlands
    via TanksinWW2
    See? Those ships were good to look at! That's one point more from me than Denise Richards gets!
     
  10. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    4,356
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    High Point, North Carolina, USA
    via TanksinWW2
    Here, at last, is David Drake's own story of how his supertanks came into being. This was written in the mid-1970s, I believe.

    SUPERTANKS

    Tanks were born in the muck and mire of World War One. Less than sixty years later, there were many who believed that technology had made the behemoths as obsolete as horse cavalry. Individual infantrymen of 1970 carried missiles whose warheads burned through the armor of any tank. Slightly larger missiles ranged kilometers to blast with pinpoint accuracy vehicles costing a thousand times as much. Similar weaponry was mounted on helicopters which skimmed battlefields in the nape of the earthm protected by terrain irregularities. At the last instant the birds could pop up to rip tanks with their missiles. The future of armored vehicles looked bleak and brief.

    Technology had dragged the tank to the brink of abandonment. Not surprisingly, it was technology which brought the panzers back. The primary breakthrough was the development of portable fusion power plants. Just as the gasoline engine with its high horsepower-to-weight ratio had been necessary before the first tanks could take the field, so the fusion unit's almost limitless output was required to move the mass which made the new supertanks viable. Fusion units were bulky and moderately heavy themselves, but loads could be increased on a fusion-powered chassis with almost no degradation of performance. Armor became thick--and thicker. With the whole galaxy available as a source of ores, iridium replaced the less effective steels and ceramics without regard for weight.

    Armor alone is not adequate protection. Stationary fortresses can always be battered down--as the French learned in 1940, having forgotten the lesson Caesar taught their ancestors at Alesia two millenia before. Caterpillar treads had given the first tanks cross country mobility, but at the cost of slow speed, frequent breakage, and great vulnerability to attack. Now that power was no longer a factor, even the armored bulk of a tank could be mounted on an air cushion.

    The air cushion principle is a very simple one. Fans fill the plenum chamber, a solid skirted box under a vehicle, with air under pressure. To escape, the air must lift the edges of the skirts off the ground--and with the skirts, the whole vehicle rises. Fans tilt with the velocity and angle of attack of the blades determine the amount and direction of thrust. The vehicle skims over surfaces it does not touch.

    On tanks and combat cars, the lift was provided by batteries of fans mounted on the roof of the plenum chamber. Each fan had its own armored nacelle. Mines could still do considerable damage; but while a single broken track could deadline a tracked vehicle, a wrecked fan only made a blower a little more sluggish.

    Successful protection for the supertanks went beyond armor and speed. Wire-guided missiles are still faster, and their shaped-charge warheads can burn holes in any practical thickness of any conceivable material--if they are allowed to hit. Reconnaisance satellites, computer fire control, and powerguns combined to claw missiles out of the air before they were dangerous. The satellites spotted missile launchers, usually before they fired and never later than the moment of ignition. Fire control computers, using data from the satellites, locked defensive weaponry on the missiles in microseconds. And a single light-swift tribarrel could hose any missile with enough fire in its seconds of flight to disintegrate it.

    Hand-launched, unguided rockets--buzzbombs--were another problem, and in some ways a more dangerous one despite their short range and small bursting charge. Individual infantrymen fired them from such short range that not even a computer had time enough to lay a gun on the little rockets. But even here there was an answer--beyond the impossible one of killing every enemy before he came within two hundred meters.

    Many armored vehicles were already fitted with a band of anti-personnel directional mines just above the skirts. Radar detonated the mines when an object came within a set distance. Their blast of shrapnel was designed to stop infantry at close quarters. With only slight modification, the system could be adapted against buzzbombs. It was not perfect, since the pellets were far less destructive than powergun bolts, and the mines could not be used in close terrain which would itself set them off. Still, buzzbombs were apt to be ill-aimed in the chaos of battle, and a tank's armor could shrug off all but a direct hit by the small warheads.

    So tanks roamed again as lords of battle, gray-gleaming phoenixes on air cushions. Their guns could defeat the thickest armor, their armor could blunt all but the most powerful attacks. They were fast enough to range continents in days, big enough to carry a battery of sensors and weaponry which made them impossible to escape when they hunted. The only real drawback to the supertanks was their price.

    A tank's fire control, its precisely metered lift fans, the huge iridium casting that formed its turret--all were constructs of the highest sophistication. In allthe human galaxy there were probably no more than a dozen worlds capable of manufacturing war toold as perfect as the panzers of Hammer's tank companies.

    But Hammer paid for the best, man and tank alike; and out of them he forged the cutting edge of a weapon no enemy seemed able to stop.

    Note: Combat cars are round, open-topped vehicles mounting three tribarrels (one front mounted, the others on the right and left sides). A tribarrel is a really fast Gatling-type powergun. More on powerguns in my next post.
     
  11. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    4,356
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    High Point, North Carolina, USA
    via TanksinWW2
    And here is what Mr. Drake says about powerguns, the standard weapons of his novels. This was also written back in the 1970s.

    POWERGUNS

    By the 21st Century, missile-firing small arms appeared to have reached the pinnacle of their development, and there was nothing on hand to replace them. The mass and velocity of projectiles could be juggled, but they could not be increased without a corresponding increase in recoil or backblast. Explosive bullets were very destructive on impact, but they had no penetration beyond the immediate blast radius. An explosive bullet might vaporize a leaf it hit near the muzzle as easily as the intended target down-range, and using explosives in heavy brush was worse than useless because it endangered the shooter.

    Lasers, though they had air-defense applications, were not the infantryman's answer either. The problem with lasers was the power source. Guns store energy in the powder charge. A machine gun with one cartridge is just as effective--once--as it is with a thousand round belt, so the ammunition load can be tailored to circumstances. Man-killing lasers required a four hundred kilo fusion unit to drive them. Hooking a laser on line with any less bulky energy source was of zero military effectiveness rather than lesser effectiveness.

    Science lent death a hand in this impasse--as science has done, since the first wedge became the first knife. Thirty thousand residents of St. Pierre, Martinique, had been killed on May 8, 1902. The agent of their destruction was a "burning cloud" released during an eruption of Mt. Pelee. Popular myth had attributed the deaths to normal volcanic phenomena, hot gases or ash like that which buried Pompeii; but even the most cursory examination of the evidence indicated that direct energy release had done the lethal damage. In 2073, Dr. Marie Weygand, heading a team under contract to Olin-America, managed to duplicate the phenomenon.

    The key came from spectroscopic examination of pre-1902 lavas from Pelee's crater. The older rocks had shown inexplicable gaps among the metallic elements expected there. A year and a half of empirical research followed, guided more by Dr. Weygand's intuition than by the battery of scientific instrumentation her employers has rushed out at the first signs of success. The principle discovered was of little utility as a general power source--but then, Olin-America had not been looking for a way to heat homes.

    Weygand determined that metallic atoms of a fixed magnetic orientation could be converted directly into energy by the proper combination of heat, pressure, and intersecting magnetic fields. Old lava locks its rich metallic burden in a pattern dictated by the magnetic ambiance at the time the flow cools. At Pelee in 1902, the heavy Gauss loads of the new eruption made a chance alignment with the restressed lava of the crater's rim. Matter flashed into energy in a line dictated by the intersection, ripping other atoms free of the basalt matrix and converting them in turn. Below in St. Pierre, humans burned.

    When the principle had been discovered, it remained only to refine its destructiveness. Experiments were held with different fuel elements and matrix materials. A copper-cobalt charge in a wafewr of microporous polyurethane became the standard, since it appeared to give maximum energy release with the least tendency to scatter. Because the discharge was linear, there was no need of a tube to channel the force as a rifle's barrel does; but some immediate protection from air-induced scatter was necessary for a hand-held weapon. The best barrel material was iridium. Tungsten and osmium were even more refractory, but those elements absorbed a large component of the discharge instead of reflecting it as the iridium did.

    To function in service, the new weapon needed to be cooled. Even if a white-hot barrel did not melt, the next charge certainly would vaporize before it could be fired. Liquefied gas, generally nitrogen or one of the noble gases which would not themselves erode the metal, was therefore released into the bore after every shot. Multiple barrels, either rotating like those of a Gatling gun or fixed like those of the mitrailleuse, the Gatling's French contemporary, were used to achieve high rates of fire or fire very high intensity charges. Personal weapons were generally semiautomatic to keep weight and bulk within manageable limits. Submachine guns with large gas reservoirs to fire pistol charges had their uses and advocates, as their bullet-firing predecessors had.

    Powerguns--the first usage of the term is as uncertain as that of "gun" itself, though the derivation is obvious--greatly increased the range and destructiveness of the individual soldier. The weapons were so destructive, in fact, that that even on most frontier planets their use was limited to homicide. Despite that limited usefulness, factories for the manufacture of powerguns and their ammunition would probably have been priority items on most worlds--had not that manufacture been utterly beyond the capacity of of all but the most highly industrialized planets.

    Precision forming of metal as hard as iridium is an incredible task. Gas reservoirs required a nul-conductive sheath if they were not to bleed empty before they even reached the field. If ammunition wafers were rolled out in a fluctuating electrical field, they were as likely to blow out the breech of a weapon or gang-fire in the loading tube as they were to injure a foe. All the planetary pride in the cosmos would not change laws of physics.

    Of course, some human cultures preferred alternate weaponry. The seven worlds of the Gorgon Cluster equipped their armies--and a number of mercenary units--with flechette guns, for instance. Their hypervelocity osmium projectiles had better short-range penetration than 2-cm powerguns, and they cycled at a very high rate. But the barrels of flechette guns were made of synthetic diamond, making them at least as difficult to manufacture as the more common energy weapons.

    Because of the expense of modern weapons, would-be combatants on rural worlds often delayed purchasing guns until fighting was inevitable. Then it became natural to consider buying not only the guns but men who were used to them--for powerguns were no luxury to the mercenaries whose lives and pay depended on their skill with the best possible equipment. The gap between a citizen-soldier holding a powergun he had been issued a week before and the professional who had trained daily for years with the weapon was a wide one.

    Thus if only one side on a poor world hired mercenaries, its victory was assured--numbers and ideology be damned. That meant, of course, that both sides had to make the investment even if it meant mortgaging the planetary income for a decade. Poverty was prefeable to what came with defeat.

    All over the galaxy, men with the best gifts of science and no skills but those of war and killing looked for patrons who would hire them to bring down civilization. Business was good.
     
  12. Roel

    Roel New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2003
    Messages:
    12,678
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Netherlands
    via TanksinWW2
    Wow, that universe of mister Drake's seems impressive... Some fine SF work, James!

    I don't know if you've ever heard of the Dutch writer Tais Teng? As far as I know his works have been trranslated to English, but I don't know if they're available in the US. Great work though. If you ever see any, my advice would be, don't doubt and buy it.
     
  13. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    4,356
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    High Point, North Carolina, USA
    via TanksinWW2
    Thanks, Roel; typing those two posts out took forever. Mr. Drake puts a lot of work into his military sci-fi...and anything else he writes. I've never heard of Tais Teng, but I'll look around and see if there's anything of his around here.

    So what do you (and everyone else in the forum) think of his supertanks?
     
  14. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    11,708
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Luton, UK
    via TanksinWW2
    They sound truely formidable, but surely something of that obvious bulk would only have limited tactical use?
     
  15. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2004
    Messages:
    2,006
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    On a space station in geosynchronous orbit above y
    via TanksinWW2
    I think we ran through that argument with the AT-AT
     
  16. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    11,708
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Luton, UK
    via TanksinWW2
    But no - there supertanks sound HUGE - no use in forests, mountains, urban environments, etc.
     
  17. Roel

    Roel New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2003
    Messages:
    12,678
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Netherlands
    via TanksinWW2
    I believe that like the AT-AT they aren't supposed to fight, just to land them would end a battle. Because nothing known to the enemy can destroy them. A fine weapon of peace!
     
  18. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    11,708
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Luton, UK
    via TanksinWW2
    Unless the enemy also has them!

    I agree that they sound fantastic for the kind of huge warfare that Sci-fi writers often envisage, with great plains taken up with massive armies, but how useful would they be in Afghanistan? Or the Ardenne?
     
  19. Danyel Phelps

    Danyel Phelps Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    1,357
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    United States
    via TanksinWW2
    Roel, the AT-AT is fully capable of spearheading assaults on fortified possitions. This was seen in Empire Strikes Back and in a good amount of official literature. I feel like Lyndon when I ask how you can argue with the known effectivness of the AT-AT. Your little trench/mine ideas wouldn't work. We already went through this.
     
  20. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    11,708
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Luton, UK
    via TanksinWW2
    The trench/mine ideas were just to slow it down...

    No, no, sorry, I'm not gonna encourage that to start up again!!
    :bang:

    The Supertank thing is in a different category altogether from the AT-AT, as far as I can tell.
     

Share This Page