Friday, March 9, 2018

We Has Met the Enemy ...

The time leading up to the Solar War was tense. Earthmen had modified their research ships (Luna class) to do practically everything. Customs, trading, intercepts, and showing the flag. The special forces teams they transported to enact skullduggery go without saying (literally, the official secrets act could see you shipped off to mine ice on the Moon.)

As war drew closer Earth knew they needed larger ships and soon. The Martians had the technology, Earth had the edge in production and population. A study was commissioned to figure out how to get a larger battleship built, quickly. Engineers knew the ship should use as much existing equipment as possible. That meant that it would have comparable decks and layout to the Luna wherever possible. 

The first attempt  was a modest effort, double the tonnage (displacing 1200 tons of liquid hydrogen or about 16,500 tons in the old naval system). The thrusters were increased in size but the ship would only make 2 gees. This was deemed insufficient for a warship. The politicians wanted to know why?

The thrusters were much bigger, was the answer. Any bigger and they would toast the guns, sensors and any other equipment mounted on the hull. 

This was not a consideration with the original Luna and everything was more than double the size, right? The politicians you see didn't not get elected based on their knowledge of mathematics.

No, the engineers explained. The mass was three times the original. This increased the dimensions by the cube root of 3 ~1.44. But the thrusters needed double the surface area of the original models and as such they were bigger by the square root of 3 or 1.73. Thus the size was increased by 20% relative to the rest of the ship.. The larger thrusters were going to torch the ship using the tractor style rocket (which the engineers liked, and which was according to the original Luna's description.) SO they mounted the engines on pods, that were placed on wings further from the hull. They went with multiple engines to aid in maneuvering. It helped a little.

Were those oversized engines really necessary? 

Give us about another twenty years and we could build the engines smaller, was the answer. A few engineers got fired then.

The engineers were told to stick more engines on it then. But the Luna really was a dead end. More engines would toast the radiators that were mounted below. Moving the radiators above the rockets would mean moving the antigravity system somewhere else so the A-G wouldn't overheat or twist the radiators into ribbons. 

There were several prototypes built that demonstrated this. More engineers got fired. Admiral Rufus Buckner of the Space Fleet finally got a design group together, licked them in a room and the politicians out and swore them to secrecy. Give him a ship could be built within the year, with as little new tech as possible, he said. They could just stay in there till they did.

Some of the engineers thought the accommodations were better than their old ones. They kept quiet about this. One, Megan Detwiller,  snuck in a case of libations to lubricate the thought processes. She figured out a way to pack it that wouldn't allow any  sloshing. In fact she later used the same principles to keep crew from sloshing at high accelerationsThey kept quiet about that too. they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

The new ship was going to have monstrously large drive systems. They mounted them on three pods, outrigger style. The A-G ring was a problem too. The ring generating it was made thicker, heavier and the mountings improved and strengthened. They held their breath on that too.

The ship  would use the Model 40 and Model 20 decks from the Luna class. Most of the decks would be laid out exactly the same. The new decks included a larger engine room (to fix all the stuff that went wrong on new ships faster), and a few smaller gun decks to spread the weapon systems out.

Admiral Buckner went to his superiors, who went to the politicians ,who favored letting the military handle the procurement. The top brass all agreed they would back Buckner right up to the lynching.

The design was run up the flagpole and it got salutes. Several of the newer engines were to be produced by companies in the more stubborns politicians' districts. That helped. Early on they discovered that the three outrigger deign had some flaws. Namely the Luna's decks had reinforcement points for four turrets or pods. The Triumph would have to have a similar layout. Four outriggers, for four rocket engines.

The ship was rushed into production in Siberia. The horrific weather and stealth defenses would keep prying eyes blind to it it was thought. 

The new ship was no thing of beauty. The Luna had smooth lines and Whipple shields. This monster had monolithic armor, a close structure that made atmospheric operations difficult, and would be bristling with equipment. While the Luna class took their names from moons, their features or comets, this class would be named after great battles in Earth history.

That plan was nixed pretty fast. Any great victory in Earth history was a great defeat for other people. Calling a vessel Midway was rubbing the Japanese people's noses in it. Instead these ships were to be named for various terms signifying victory or adventure. This made no difference to the engineers who were shipped off to Siberia to supervise work on the Triumph. Vodka would be available there, so Megan threw herself into the gravity simulators and gave up a promising future in liquid transport. 

Buckner would up attending more meetings of the Earth Defense Council. He had calculated they were taking up 35% of his time. The Councillors were not amused when he remarked that he had a way to increase his productivity 35% out of the gate. They had a few problems with the Triumph.

To whit, previously funds were allocated for four Triumphs and 18 Lunas. Due to war fever, the funds were doubled but the Admiral had authorized construction of two more Triumphs and six Lunas. Where was the rest of the money going?

The Admiral explained that doubling the tonnage of the fleet was a fine and good thing but ships needed proper support, transports with spares and replacement crews, hospital ships, and ammo carriers. Why, propellant tenders alone were vital to resupply ships after a battle ... it was unheard of to expect a crew to fight and bring go juice and their lunch. It got worse now that there were going to be space fighters!

Ah, but the Triumphs were going to be nearly thrice the size of the Lunas. That meant they had three times the fuel. That meant they had three times the range and thus you could at least do away with some of the tankers.

The Admiral let Megan Detwiller field that one. Megan was newly arrived from Siberia and wanted a drink desperately. The Admiral did too. She began explaining that the mass ratio of the Triumph was no different from that of a Luna therefore they had the same delta vee. 

Then she had to explain what delta vee was. 

Then she had to explain what a mass ratio was. That was harder through gritted teeth.

From left to right: What the Earth Defense Council wanted, what we could do, what they thought we did.
-by Megan Detwiller M. o E. age 37

Then Admiral Buckner lost it and remarked that the Council was a bunch of gerrymandering, pocket lining screw heads who were only good for getting re-elected and the way things looked he was learning the Martian Unity's anthem. That drink was starting to sound like a good idea to the other officers there. 

The Triumph was nearing completion. The contracts were in for the additional ships and there was little to be done about the reduced number of ships at this point. Production was already set up for the auxiliaries (including tankers!) Older, calmer officers prevailed and smoothed the Council's feathers. The Admiral made a contrite apology (clenched teeth could be a sign of contrition.) Then they got to wondering just how they'd find propellant and fuel for their new warships.

Buckner already had a plan. Battles fought near Earth weren't the problem. Resupply on Earth or Luna would be easy enough. It was battles fought near Mars that were a problem. There were allies of Earth on Mars but the Polar Lords would clamp down on them fast. Refueling on Mars was not going to work.

There were many asteroids though that were far closer and easier to reach than Earth. Buckner proposed building new bases in the Belt, expanding existing Belts, and building up defenses.

Buckner volunteered to supervise the program in the Belt and the Council sent him off. This made everyone happy. Buckner grabbed Detwiller for Project Head which didn't make her happy and they were off to the Belt.

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