Originally posted 15 Jun. 2005.
At the urging of the Forum Watchdogs, FotW will be joining all other "~ of the Week" columns on the Fan Articles board from now on. It would not have been my preference, but hey - you might argue with Mu/Psi to their faces, but me? I have this raging aversion to suffering â€˜re-educationâ€™ - or a 9mm brain aneurysm. Besides, if you squawk ident like that, youâ€™re never going to sneak through their sensor grid to wreak havoc within, are you?
"Dawn of the Jihad", they call it. Me? I call it "Red Dawn", like the DVD I watched last night. You Blakers think you know about at infiltration, subversion and sabotage? My response is the same now as it was then:
WOLVERINES!!!! In any case, here we go....
SL-15 Slayer - 80t, TRO3025 All proposed fan-variants should be posted in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread.
More or less exclusive to the Combine and a few select customers, the SL-15 is another example of the DCMS/DCAâ€™s strong bias towards designing their fighters to deploy in teams
. Eighty tons of high-endurance, unrelenting pain-in-the-ass, the Slayer
holds pride of place amongst the Drac heavy fighter force in 3025 and for some time in the IS2 era - and why not? They designed it, they build it, they know it best - and if you think theyâ€™re going to give up that sort of edge voluntarily, youâ€™re not as bright as you think you are. 3025 era - "Old School"
Even in the oldtech days, the SL-15 Slayer
was a borderline nightmare in the same vein as the Transgressor
. To 3025 minds, â€˜heavy fighterâ€™ automatically meant "tough and overgunned, but cumbersome", so seeing an eighty-ton system perform at the same 6/9 as most mediums mustâ€™ve caused a few cries of "does not compute!".
Its mobility is matched by its staying power: the thing carries ten tons
of reaction mass, folks, which is an operational radius that no
starfighter would match until the F-11-RR Cheetah
, and its armour fraction is a hair this side of unholy: fourteen-point-five tons of standard plate, 84/50/48, means that MLs are no threshold threat, and you need a damned PPC to TAC the thingâ€™s nose!
On the other hand, the armament is a little disappointing at first glance. Twenty SHS means that the Slayer
is borderline overcooled (much like its operational partner the SL-17 Shilone
) when you look at its weapons loadout: twin medium lasers in each wing, one ML each nose and tail, and a big honking Zeus 56 Type.IV autocannon with two tons of ammo in the snout. Prior to the release of TRO3075, this was the only IS1 fighter to mount an AC/10, and the reasons why thatâ€™s so are pretty self-evident: to many eyes, they eat too much weapons volume for their throw-weight, making them a little pointless. As this is the typeâ€™s only weapon with better than Short range, and itâ€™s ammo-constrained to boot, those same doubters have all the more to point to and chortle about. But look again, kohai
, and bear witness to the cunning of the Dragon.
An alpha-strike with all the forward ordnance is two under
maximum heat capacity, and a full fore-and-aft barrage is only a +1 on the heat-scale - barely a blip for a one-turn salvo. The AC/10 is interchangeable with a medium laser heat-wise, meaning that in a close fight, one can trade it out for the aft laser to discourage pursuers, or the nose laser to lay a solid clout on the other guy to match that of the wing laser-bays.
A squadron of Slayers
is just the touch you need to complete your opponentâ€™s misery.
Each SL-15 can carry fifteen tons of bombs at 3/5 - enough to turn most CBT maps into moonscapes; a Strafe offers an enemy mud-bug five medium lasers, and a Strike tosses in the AC/10 as well, enough firepower to fell many smaller BattleMechs and soften up most larger ones quite nicely; and in the anti-shipping role, you can address the
target with three 6-point Capital bays (each wing laser-bay and the ACs) and a 3-Capital bay for the nose lasers, which will give most DropShips reasons to find elsewheres to be.
SL-15s can be used for most things you might want to use a 6/9 fighter for, and a few you might not immediately think of when you look at AT2/R starfighters. For instance, if you want to keep a CAP over an area for a long, long time, the Slayer
â€™s fuel endurance is unbeatable, and itâ€™s about the only L1 heavy that can contemplate making a truly long-range interception (by making a long, slow burn, as opposed to the short, fast one of most light-fighters). However, where the Slayer
truly excels is in a furball, where its superior endurance and resilience begins to tell. Itâ€™s like pitting a well-conditioned boxer against some hard-hitting butterball: unless he lands a lucky hit in the early going, you can just absorb his blows and let him wear himself out while you methodically take him to pieces, remaining cool and fresh while he huffs and puffs and gets all overheated trying to teach that tar-baby a lesson or two.
As has been said repeatedly in these columns and elsewhere, the Slayer
should not operate alone (Handbook and Watcher Council doctrine notwithstanding
), and is not even intended to. Their common 6/9 thrust profile means that the Slayer
can keep pace with one another, making for SL-15 and SL-17 units natural pairings: the SL-17sâ€™ LRMs â€˜shoot inâ€™ the Slayers
, who then press the enemy so hard at knife-fighting range that they canâ€™t go after the Shilones
which are still pouring support fire into the furball. Which is the bigger threat - the 65-tonner standing back and TACing you to death with missiles, or the guy whoâ€™s right in your face, doing the same with an AC/10 and five medium lasers? Not
an easy tactical problem to solve, methinks.
Adding in some S-3 Sai
as additional flank-support should just about finish the job of ruining the enemyâ€™s day.
By the same token, opposition players can cause Slayer
formations some anxious moments if their systems are properly handled. Lucifers
can put sufficient LRMs onto a Slayer
to threshold its nose and take its big gun out of play; F-90 Stingrays
can turn with SL-15s, and that fearful PPC can generate TACs from all angles; SYD-21 Seydlitz
can out-turn Slayers
and harry them to death, their large lasersâ€™ Medium range rendering them immune to return fire from the stern ML. If both sides are smart and follow the mantras
, the engagement could get very, very lively.
In the 3025 era, the Slayer
had three main variants, all of them off-loading the Zeus 56 and its ammo for an LRM-15 with two tons of ammo and an SRM-6 with one ton: the SL-15A puts both launchers forward; the SL-15B installs the SRM mount aft, for added â€˜maceâ€™
; the SL-15C leaves the SRM forward and installs the LRM
launcher aft, for perhaps the ultimate in L1 Parthian shots.
These variants all need to watch their heat a little, but they can generate goodly amounts of throw-weight (if not quite matching the one-shot â€˜whack!â€™ of the AC/10) with better range-performance, arguably obviating the need to package Shilones
with the Slayers
. For my part, Iâ€™d deploy a squadron of two -15A lances and a lance of -15Cs, allowing for maximum Long-range punch on the run in, six SRM-6s of missile goodness at closest-point-of-approach, and a pair of LRM-15s to add a nasty little postscript to the run (or swat those damned Seydlitz
!). [VARIANT PROPOSAL(S) REDACTED] All proposed fan-variants - including my own - belong in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread: http://www.classicbattletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,2462.0.html3049 and beyond - "New Wave"
Obviously not wanting to make radical changes in a proven design with the Clansâ€™ hot breath on their necks (and in the middle of a drastic DHS shortage to boot), the Dracs chose to make only one change in their proprietary heavy aerospace system when foundtech made itself known, substituting an Imperator Code Red LB-10X autocannon with an additional ton of ammo for the the old Zeus 56 Type.IV. Now, when using Cluster ammo, this refit is actually a little lacklustre: youâ€™ve lost 40% of your Medium-range hitting power for a -1 TH bonus, which isnâ€™t much of a bargain. But using Slug ammo, the SL-15R retains all the punch and performance of the old model while gaining a little more in heat-efficiency terms (a full fore-and-aft alpha-strike is completely heat-neutral). Other than that, there isnâ€™t too much that can be said about this version that I havenâ€™t already said above; however, the lack of ferro-aluminium armour (for even more survivability) or an SL-15A/B/C updated with Artemis is a little disappointing, especially in light of newer starfighter designs... but then, the Combine is developing its own new fighter designs, leaving the Slayer
somewhat out in the cold. :'( [VARIANT PROPOSAL(S) REDACTED] All proposed fan-variants - including my own - belong in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread: http://www.classicbattletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,2462.0.html Be advised: the attached .txt transcripts of previous runs of this thread contain numerous reader-proposals for variants. Iâ€™ll try to change those out for â€˜sanitisedâ€™ versions of those threads when I can, but I canâ€™t promise itâ€™ll be soon - thatâ€™s a lot of ground to cover.