Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Colonial Weapons and Armour

Kinetic Energy Weapons (KEW)

The mainstay of the Colonial Fleet's firepower is made up of KEW's in the form of gun turrets and forward batteries.  The use of Tylium propellant has kept KEW's competitive with other weapons such as railguns and energy weapons.  Their ability to fire both anti-ship weapons and flak rounds has kept the KEW in the front line to this day.

The lack of an atmosphere and the high velocities created by Tylium propellant made for a weapon that was just as effective as a railgun, and the many types of warheads were more versatile than energy weapons.  KEW's also proved to be much less affected by Cylon countermeasures than missiles and energy weapons which were greatly diminished by the use of Cylon glitterjam gel that could scatter the beam of an energy weapon.   Another advantage against smaller ships is that a kinetic impact can throw a ship off course, spoiling its aim.  Additionally, KEW's deliver most of their energy to the target, unlike undirected explosions that tend to follow the path of least resistance and lose most of their energy in spectacular pyrotechnic displays.

KEW's come in many sizes from 7.9 mm point defence guns on shuttles, to the fearsome 4096 mm weapons found on the Tiger Gunstars.  In the early days of the Colonial Fleet KEW gun turrets were classified from 1-20+ as a rating for gun and firepower, but technological improvements has made this redundant as smaller weapons with high rates of fire and improved velocity are now more effective than much larger weapons with a slower rate of fire.  Ships like the Atlantia had 12-rated gun turrets, but the 15-rated guns on the Mercury class are nearly twice as effective and on par with the 18-rated guns of the Charybdis class.

Main batteries do not follow the rating system as they would in many cases rate three digits.  Designed originally for Gunstars, they were integrated into Battlestars and Strikestars since such as the Mercury Class and the Atlas Class, though as a rule Gunstars still carry the biggest sticks in the Fleet.


Missiles are powerful weapons, but their reliance on guidance systems made them vulnerable to Cylon hijacking.  Though most Colonial ships still carry missiles, their development was long stalled as new control algorithms and security measures were implemented.  But the lingering fear that the Cylons could jam and control missiles remains.

Although missiles are the main deployment system for nuclear weapons as a major anti-ship weapon in the Colonial arsenal, their vulnerability to jamming and the limitations of nuclear weapons detonated in space combined with the heavy protection of most Battlestars has made them less than effective weapons.  Attempts to make a directed focused nuclear weapon has met with mixed results so far.

Nuclear weapons in space do not generate fireballs as in an atmospheric environment, indeed the effectiveness of nuclear weapons diminishes rapidly with range and a detonation beyond a kilometer is unlikely to do much damage to a ship nearby.


Most Colonial ships and Battlestars in particular are heavily protected against enemy threats.  This is achieved through a series of spaced out "sandwiches" made from different materials selected for their resistance against certain types of attack.  The outer layer is usually a thin, but extremely hard shell designed to shatter and fragment incoming projectiles.  The inner layers are designed to absorb energy in many ways through a weave of ablative materials capable of vaporizing when hit by explosives or energy weapons, thus reducing its effect.  Gels and semi-liquids provide extra protection, slowing down or breaking up plasma jet type impacts and stopping many forms of hard radiation.  These gels also harden when impacted by high velocity projectiles. This amalgam is repeated several times depending on the area being protected.  Extensive compartmentalization and multiple redundancy systems allow Battlestars to shrug off multiple major impacts.  And should attacks still be able to penetrate the many layers of protection, the outer areas of the ship are usually less sensitive such as cargo storage or other non-critical areas.

Older Battlestars used ribbing to break up incoming fire and prevent it from hitting the armour head on.  Many newer ships still include this ribbing, but have an extra outer layer of ablative material.  Highly sensitive areas such as the CIC, engine room and jump drives are often encased in their own armoured cocoon.  Some of the newest Battlestars such as the Nova class are even more decentralized than previous ships and could survive being blown apart thanks to backup generators, life support and secondary combat stations.  The Titan class was designed to lose most of its external and superficial structure without affecting the main workings of the ship thanks to an Atlantia-sized internal shield containing all vital systems.

Pre-colonial ships often lacked such protection and would even go as far as depressurizing the ship, requiring crew to wear protective suits, but this prevented decompression problems when the hull was punctured.

Active defense

In addition to armour, ships have extra protection both electronic and physical.  ECM systems can jam and disrupt enemy weapons and DRADIS.  On older Battlestars CWIS batteries are used to defend both against enemy missiles and fighters in collaboration with the ship's main batteries, creating the so-called "flak field", areas of heavy fire that will destroy or disrupt incoming enemy weapons such as missiles.  Even projectiles may be thrown of course and strike at an unfavorable angle.  Newer ships used their own non-networked CWIS arrays that allowed for a more selective level of protection.  Each array with its own DRADIS system is given a defensive sector, that is overlapped by other arrays.  When enemy ordnance is spotted the array will engage the target automatically using a series of defensive firing patterns designed to stop any secondary or multiple projectile attacks.

Another form of active protection are decoys such as flares and chaff.  Given that Battlestars are hard to miss targets they rarely use decoys, but fighters and Raptors use them to put enemy missiles off their track.

The Cylons developed their own answer to energy weapons in the form of "glitterjam" a quickly expanding gel with a very high reflective and vaporization level that could absorb most of the energy of a directed energy weapon.  The metallic particles also acted as chaff, disrupting targeting DRADIS.

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