SL-17 Shilone - 65t, TRO3025 and beyondOriginally posted 24 Nov. 2004. All proposed fan-variants should be posted in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread.
The preferred medium fighter of House Kurita during the Succession Wars and Tyra Miraborg's ride during her Last Great Act of Defiance at Radstadt, the Shilone
is a pretty solid performer. Given that the type's service-life spans both major eras, I'll divide the analysis into those two sections.SUCCESSION WARS:
In the pre-renaissance days, the Shilone
could give almost anybody a run for their money. Its 6/9 thrust curve meant it could turn with Davion's Corsairs
and actually outmanoeuvre its other main rivals, the Stuka
and Steiner's Lucifers
, at least while its fuel lasted; five tons of hydrogen isn't outstanding in any way, but it's the same level of endurance as most other types, so it's no great kick either way. Eleven and a half tons of armour was unfortunately a little light in comparison to its contemporaries, leaving it vulnerable to medium lasers on the aft, but it made up for it with a warload that was certainly respectable for its day: a nose-mounted LRM-20 with two tons of ammo and a superimposed large laser, MLs in each wing, an aft-mounted SRM-4 with twenty-five salvos to discourage the pests... and twenty SHS, making it that rarest of creatures - a Level-1 alpha-baby. Both of its direct opponents in the medium category were tougher and mounted more firepower, but couldn't use it effectively because of heat problems; the Shilone
could just pour on the hurt from its forward batteries and only have to worry about burning through its ammo and/or fuel before the other guy dropped.
The alternate SL-17AC, which replaces a heat-sink and the Shigunga LRM-20 with a brace of AC/2s and a ton of ammo, was fluffed as a psychological weapon, intended to take the heart out of opposing pilots by inflicting damage at a range where they couldn't respond (it's a product of the old AT1 mechanics, with its individual weapon ranges and "any hit=crit check" resolution system). Unfortunately, since the AC/2 has no
range advantage over LRMs under AT2/TW, that explanation falls flat today. However, the SL-17AC did have a certain, limited use - namely on the Steiner front, where the lightly-armoured Seydlitz
was and is the preferred first-shell interceptor. By plinking away with those AC/2s and hoping for hits on the other guy's wings, you could have a reasonable expectation of crits to his manoeuvring thrusters and/or eating into his SI, which would take away his primary advantage - his agility - and make him an easier kill. (That said, the LRM-20 would completely remove said wing in one salvo, which means that this variant is still very much in the 'don't call us, we'll call you' category.)
When deploying a Shilone
, use it as you would a fire-support BattleMech. Before the merge, put it behind a screen of other fighters, preferably heavier-armoured Slayers
, and use those long-range missiles and large laser to soften up your chosen targets. When the furball begins, never, ever
leave your wingmate - keep pairs of Shilones
within mutual support range, so they can scrape off anyone who tries to tail their buddy, and try to keep the entire squadron close enough together that any wing-pair can cover any other wing-pair's back. Learn to love the terms 'concentrated firepower' and 'targets of opportunity'; you have the range- and heat-management-advantage over many other types, so don't be coy about using it - if you find (or can arrange) an enemy bird on his own in front of a wing-pair, give him the full treatment from both and try to take him out of the fight quickly so you can move on to the next target. Avoid engaging light fighters if you can - they'll stern-convert on you in a New Avalon minute, and your SRM launcher and/or wing-mates may not put enough firepower on target fast enough to prevent him inflicting serious damage before he dies.
To counter a Shilone
unit, use a screen of fighters with heavy armour and/or firepower - Lucifers
might be best - to protect a unit of light interceptors; your opponent will likely concentrate his fire on one force, while the other should be effectively untouched. When your forces merge with his, give him two ugly choices: try and chase down the lights while your heavies pound him to bits, or commit against the heavies while your lights play picador
are the ideal lights for engaging Shilones
: their large lasers mean they can tail the samurai SOB and punch big, messy holes in him without being in danger from the SRM mounts.
[VARIANT PROPOSAL REDACTED]3049 AND BEYOND:
With the rediscovery of advanced BattleTech, the Shilone
was upgraded to the SL-17R model. A fighter that was heat-neutral with twenty SHS now has... twenty DHS!? And that's all
the advanced tech it has? WTF, over?
(Excuse me just a second: IIRC, the DCMS had a major shortage of DHS in the early years of the Clan crisis, which is the main reason why the PNT-10K Panther
was such a POJ. Had a large portion of the DHS production that went into creating the SL-17R been funneled to the Panther
line instead, both the SL-17R and the PNT-10K might actually be worthwhile pieces of military hardware on the L2 battlefield. As it is, we can only ask "Why, God? Why
?" We now return you to the review in progress.
The SL-17R gets eaten alive by Clan fighters, and most other IS2 birds as well. It has no advanced weapons systems, so it's vastly outranged and out-gunned; it retains its old armour profile without even upgrading to ferro-aluminium, so it's horrendously vulnerable even against IS2 weapons, much less harder-hitting ClanTech; it has no XL engine, so it has no extra warload and whatever agility advantage it may have had before Operation: REVIVAL has vanished. With the advent of more advanced fighters like the Tatsu
OmniFighter and the Oni
, the Shilone
is increasingly relegated to second-line units and ground-attack duties - to which it is actually quite well-suited; thirteen tons of bombs while still thrusting at 3/5 is none too shabby, and even with the DHS, the SFE means that you can buy a lot
of SL-17Rs and swamp the other guy with numbers.
In this era, every tactical recommendation from the Succession Wars period is bulleted, bolded, and underscored. The 'fire-support'/'targets of opportunity' mentality must become paramount if you want to get your pilots back at the end of the day. On the 'good news' side of the ledger, though, the SL-17R's C-bill and BV costs are so low that they're a steal - if you're fighting Clanners, only the Bashkir
and most Vandals
can undercut you, so you can field a sizeable Shilone
force and use weight of numbers to achieve your mission(s).
[VARIANT PROPOSAL REDACTED]
Post-script: through-out FotW's run, I have kept (and will keep) referring back to the Shilone
as the benchmark of fire-support fighters, for the simple reason that with the exception of a few variant Slayers
, it's the only starfighter in the IS1 inventory which combines effective Long-range weaponry (being decent-sized LRM racks) with the 6/9 movement curve needed to keep up with the dogfighters on their way to the target. Some people cringe to hear of the very idea of 'fire-support' ASFs, much less missile-reliant ones in the era of ERPPCs and Gauss Rifles, but let's face it, if your medium-weight sluggers bring a couple of buddies to the party who sit beyond the edges of the main melee putting LRM salvoes onto hostiles without being subject to return attention themselves, won't your opponent's force curl up and die that much faster? All proposed fan-variants - including my own - belong in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread: http://www.classicbattletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=869.0 . Be advised: the attached .txt transcripts of previous runs of this thread contain numerous reader-proposals for variants. I'll try to change those out for 'sanitised' versions of those threads when I can, but I can't promise it'll be soon - that's a lot of ground to cover.