Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Battlestar Profile 014 : BS 05 Avalon Class Battlestar Kobol

Just prior to the Cylon War a series of prototypes were being worked on that would eventually lead to the Battlestars we know today.  Several ideas and technologies were being tested, but only one dominant design would emerge from the Cylon War, the Battlestar Atlantia and her descendants still guard the eternal night of space above the Twelve Colonies.

While the Gaultway shipyards on Caprica lead the way with their designs, the Leonis Heavy Industries Conglomerate worked on their own design which eventually became the Avalon.  An earlier testbed ship, the Prometheus, was destroyed by a Cylon attack at the outbreak of the War.

The Avalon was designed to be faster than the Atlantia or most other ships in service at that time.  To this end she was equipped with Vulcanus engines, highly compact and powerful engines.  Unfortunately they required a special type of Tylium fuel, Solium, that was complex and costly to refine.  The Vulcanus were actually more economical than the thrusters used on the Atlantia and LHIC banked on the economy of scale mass production would create and drive down Solium prices while the reliability problems would be ironed out.  Unfortunately the needs of the Colonial Fleet were such that instead of choosing one design over the other, all existing Battlestar designs would be pressed into service.  Though the Colonial Quartermaster Command was able to provide both types of fuel during the War, the troublesome Vulcanus engines never gave full satisfaction and the expected cost to benefit ratio LHIC had expected, was never achieved.

Unlike the Atlantia, the Avalon favoured speed and fighter capacity over armour and firepower.  Sacrificing protection for greater speed and a larger fighter capacity 6-8 squadrons against 4-6, the Avalon relied far more on its Fighter CAP than the Atlantia.

Theories are only as strong as the reality they are tested against and the superior speed and manoeuvrability of the Avalon was no match for a concerted Cylon attack.  Lacking the thick hide of the Atlantia designs, the Avalons were picked out and destroyed one by one.  Of the seven ships in her class, four were destroyed in combat, one was crippled and scrapped and only two survived the war.  The last one, the Avalon became a training ship and still part of the Fleet Honour Guard at the Picon Headquarters.

In order to make up for the thin armour, the Avalon had an extensive CIWS array with close to twice the number of guns compared to the Atlantia.  The main armament was integrated into hull barbettes.  This did offer better protection for the guns, but limited their field of fire.  A greater emphasis was placed on missiles as well, until the Cylons began to hijack Colonial guidance systems.

The reality was that the designers did not expect their "Fast Battlestar" concept to engage large targets such as Basestars, at least not directly.  The idea was for the Avalon to be able to outmanoeuvre the many smaller ships that were still in use in Colonial Space at the time.  Compared to these the Avalon was far superior in every way.  But when forced to fight Basestars, it was at a disadvantage.  It was only the skill and courage of Colonial Warriors that allowed the Avalon and her sister ships to perform beyond her original design parameters.

The high cost and incompatibility with other Colonial Ships meant that the LHIC's Battlestar designs were shelved after the war.  The Vulcanus engine did prove to be highly effective on smaller ships and many post war designs such as the Ranger, Luna and Warden were equipped with them.  Only in recent years has an upgraded engine been used on the Nova class Battlestar with good results.  Although now mostly gone, the Avalon still lives on in modern designs.

The Kobol was the second ship of her class.  She miraculously escaped destruction by a Cylon raid while still laid up, she was launched two months later than expected.  Forced into the front lines from the first day she fought several engagements including one where she was ambushed by two Cylon Basestars, but managed to destroy one with her nuclear missiles and damaging the other.  After major repairs, the Kobol resumed her duties until the First Battle for Caprica when 24 Cylon Basestars launched an all-out assault on this key world.
Battlestars Atlantia and Acropolis and their escorts were the last line of defense.  Battlestars Kobol and Avalon came to the rescue, but it was the sudden, but critical intervention of Battlestar Athena that turned the tide but not before the Kobol, still cornered by several Battlestars was destroyed.  The Cylon fleet, having lost nearly a third of their force withdrew.  Only moments after the Kobol was destroyed a shocked silence hung over the Colonial Fleet when a voice was heard shouting over the wireless "Avenge the Kobol."  This became a rallying cry for the Colonial Fleet during the Cylon War.

Commander : Commander Cassandra Quera (KIA)
XO : Colonel Richard Lightbody (KIA)
CAG : Major Dirk Greene
Complement :  6-8 Pyton Squadrons and up to 14 Raptors and 10 shuttles.
Armament : 8 GCR-258 heavy cannon 16 GCR-357 light cannon, 924 Victory Type 7 CIWS, 18 missile bays.

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