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Author Topic: Union-C as a Clan warship escort  (Read 804 times)

Alan Grant

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Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« on: 27 November 2022, 11:30:47 »
I've been working on fleshing out a Clan naval force centered around one or a small number of warships in around 3055. It's gotten to the level of figuring out the smaller details like supporting/escorting dropships and other units that may be part of a Clan naval reserve.

I've been looking at canon sources for inspiration. What I find very striking is how over and over again, the Union-C Dropship is used as a support or escort or accompanying vessel to Clan warships. Whether it is the Trial of Retribution (Ghost Bears versus Nova Cats over Alshain).

Or in the Battle of Trafalgar for Taskforce Serpent. We see multiple Union-Cs deployed along with the 3 Ghost Bear warships, and a Broadsword.

So in those two above examples, we see a LOT of Union-Cs deployed like some standard issue naval escort.

There are examples of other classes.

During the early Wars of Reaving, in the naval battle that led to the destruction of the Snow Raven Lum Shipyards, a Lion-class Dropship is reported as an escort vessel with the warships. It is fired upon by the Lum shipyard, which escalates the Trial into a battle that includes the shipyard itself.

Over Lucerne during Operation Bulldog (detailed in the Dragon Roars book) it's more of a mix, Overlord-C, Carrier, Sassanid, Lion with the Jaguar warships trying to intercept the transports. But it's also hinted that some of these may just be transports intended for the Smoke Jaguar cluster on the ground that got roped into the fight (since the ground-based Cluster was preparing to fight the Ghost Bears. It's not clear that all those are purely naval assets.)

So the general topic that I'm exploring is what Clan dropships are the most suitable to be warship escorts. I've love some thoughts on that. Let's say year 3055.

Within that, a more specific question, is the Union-C really that good as a warship escort? Because it pops up in the role a lot.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #1 on: 27 November 2022, 11:36:09 »
The Carrier is probably the most common escort and likely the best although I want to believe some Pentagons and Elephants might have survived KLONDIKE and those aren't bad either.

A Union-C isn't bad against low numbers of Aerospace fighters but it would certainly not be my first choice. It might be commonly used because it is widely available and if it were say a Union-C CV modification (although the Clans don't normally do that) could bring more fighters than a Carrier.

Weirdo

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #2 on: 27 November 2022, 13:36:32 »
The nature of Clan guns means that just about any Clan DropShip has the firepower to be a decent space combatant. Essentially, there aren't any undergunned Clan ships. Instead, the things to look at are thrust, armor, and heat dissipation. At 4/6, Clunions are above the average for spheroid ships, though not enough to be considered particularly fast. This does serve them well in the escort role, as they can keep pace with anything a 2/3 or 3/5 WarShip can do while still having a bit of thrust left over to orient on incoming threats. Like the thrust, 280/210/160 armor is good without getting into the realm of overly tough. You can survive the firepower that's gonna be flying around, and are tough enough that the amount of damage needed to kill you quickly is gonna be hard to bring to bear when you're trying to focus down a WarShip. In terms of heat, Clunions are excellent, able to fire everything without making the power grid so much as blink. This is good for an escort, because regardless of which way you're pointing out how many targets you need to engage, you can fire at whoever you want.

If the Clunion has any weakness, it's in the weapons arrangement. The bulk of the guns are in the forward arcs with the aft quarters actually being rather anemic, so while you can fire in every direction, some of those targets simply aren't going to have that much firepower pointed at them. This isn't that big a problem in the WarShip escort role, for three reasons. First, most WarShips prefer to stay at range, so in most cases the main threats are all going to come from one direction. Second, the nature of ASFs versus big ships means they don't want to swarm a ship from all directions because that spreads their firepower across too many armor facings - they need to concentrate all their shots on one direction if they're going to chew through a WarShip's hide in any sane amount of time. Even if the fighters attack from a different vector than the large craft, you're still looking at two, maybe three threat axes at most. Three, escorts usually come in groups. It's not hard to point one Union to engage one direction, and a second Union to engage another.
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DevianID

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #3 on: 30 November 2022, 04:10:13 »
My standard "this is a clan naval force" is a Lola, a Union C, and 2 Carriers, with 40 Aerofighters.  The Union C feels like it belongs in any clan taskforce, for no other reason then to pick up some ground pounders in a pinch while still being part of a space navy.  The littoral combat ship of the clan dropship forces perhaps?

Alan Grant

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #4 on: 30 November 2022, 05:35:39 »
Thanks for the responses, this is helpful.
« Last Edit: 30 November 2022, 06:05:43 by Alan Grant »

Weirdo

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #5 on: 30 November 2022, 11:45:43 »
The Union C feels like it belongs in any clan taskforce, for no other reason then to pick up some ground pounders in a pinch while still being part of a space navy.  The littoral combat ship of the clan dropship forces perhaps?

A very good way to think of it, yes. In a setting where actual Corvettes are major capital assets, Union-Cs and similar ships fill the lower-case corvette role quite nicely. My personal preference is a Union-C for the defensive or general-purpose roles, and Broadsword for when I want an attack ship.

In terms that ground players will find familiar, the Union-C is the Griffin/Shadow Hawk/Wolverine of Clan navies.
"Thanks to Megamek, I can finally play BattleTech the way it was meant to be played--pantsless!"   -Neko Bijin
"It's just that the Hegemony had one answer to every naval problem. 'I kills it with my battleships.'" - Liam's Ghost
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Hellraiser

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #6 on: 30 November 2022, 12:53:43 »
I never thought of the Union's in those Scenarios mentioned above as being "Warship Escorts" so much as they were the ships assigned to the Ground Forces & they went out to support the Warships.

Unlike the SL or even IS-60s naval fleets, I never really pictured the clans as having a large # of dedicated naval DS fleets, only a couple FM examples of those exist IIRC, like the Cloud Cobras, so for most other clans, I assume its a "make due" scenario.

Sure, a SovSoy might have a Titan-c or Carrier assigned to it, but it might just as easily have a Broadsword/Union-C as part of the ground cluster that it is escorting.
Basically, I just don't fill up their collars since I feel they still use them to move the Army around.
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Alan Grant

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #7 on: 30 November 2022, 14:01:17 »
I never thought of the Union's in those Scenarios mentioned above as being "Warship Escorts" so much as they were the ships assigned to the Ground Forces & they went out to support the Warships.

Unlike the SL or even IS-60s naval fleets, I never really pictured the clans as having a large # of dedicated naval DS fleets, only a couple FM examples of those exist IIRC, like the Cloud Cobras, so for most other clans, I assume its a "make due" scenario.

Sure, a SovSoy might have a Titan-c or Carrier assigned to it, but it might just as easily have a Broadsword/Union-C as part of the ground cluster that it is escorting.
Basically, I just don't fill up their collars since I feel they still use them to move the Army around.

Maybe, perhaps. But to me that flies in the face of a lot of doctrine that says "protect the transports."

Half the time when we see warships in action, it's to defend the transports. Or to try and intercept the enemy's transports.

You are suggesting the transports take off and join the front line as combatants. Putting them in harm's way.

I'm having trouble reconciling that. Maybe it's just situational.

Also, when the Nova Cats showed up at Alshain for the Trial of Retribution, a naval trial, purely meant to be fought navy-to-navy. They brought no ground forces, there were no ground clusters involved. But they had a full complement of dropships, including Union-Cs.

But maybe those weren't permanently assigned vessels, but Cluster transports pulled from their normal assignments to join the Trial, now I'm feeling uncertain.

Weirdo

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #8 on: 30 November 2022, 16:13:34 »
There's always the possibility of some of those ships being permanently assigned to space combat formations. These ships *can* carry troops, and do so when their naval formation expects a need to engage a ground target, but their primary day-to-day rule would be as a space combatant.
"Thanks to Megamek, I can finally play BattleTech the way it was meant to be played--pantsless!"   -Neko Bijin
"It's just that the Hegemony had one answer to every naval problem. 'I kills it with my battleships.'" - Liam's Ghost
"...finally, giant space panties don't seem so strange." - Whistler
"Damn you, Weirdo... Damn you for being right!" - Paul
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Jellico

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #9 on: 30 November 2022, 18:08:07 »
The Clans didn't have a lot of options for escorts when the Trial of Retribution was run. So transports and the occasional Achilles were slotted in and we now live with the consequences.

Hellraiser

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #10 on: 30 November 2022, 21:20:32 »
Maybe, perhaps. But to me that flies in the face of a lot of doctrine that says "protect the transports."

Half the time when we see warships in action, it's to defend the transports. Or to try and intercept the enemy's transports.

You are suggesting the transports take off and join the front line as combatants. Putting them in harm's way.

Agreed on Protect the Transports, but, that is more an "attackers" goal when trying to land.
IE.  The SLDF retaking TH from Amaris & shielding DS from Caspars

I'm more looking at stuff like the Luzerne scenario from Bulldog in Dragon Roars.
One of the few examples we have.

Your the Defender, you have a Warship that is both defender & KF-ride & you have your Dropships.
The SLDF was incoming.

Do you let the SLDF face down JUST your Warship with it's internal fighter binary?
OR
Do you scramble the Trinary of Fighters attached to the Cluster, its Titan, & all of your Overlord/Union/Sassinand dropships as well in order to present the largest blockade you can?

Do you preserve your DS to retreat or do you toss them at every IS Dropper trying to blow them to atoms before the off load their troops.

I'm not sure if there are permanent escorts for the Warships or if the Warships are also acting as Troop Transports so I'm just thinking out loud so to speak.

I can see both sides of it.
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Against mechs, infantry have two options: Run screaming from Godzilla, or giggle under your breath as the arrogant fools blunder into your trap. - Weirdo

Alan Grant

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #11 on: 01 December 2022, 07:39:11 »
I get it, and I'm ok with some speculation. This is been good for helping me think through this. It's helped get the brain juices flowing. Not just on what's available but on what Clan doctrine looks like for this.

Jellicoe's point about you have to use what's available also rings true in a lot of pragmatic ways. I know many players who are sticklers on things like equipment availability, by faction, by year or era. When you are with a group of people, there are things you do just to keep everyone happy so you can enjoy the game and not get bogged down in a frustrating argument.

Weirdo

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #12 on: 01 December 2022, 08:07:23 »
When in doubt, you can always lean on those lies Clanners are always telling about efficiency and waste - Star Captain Clunion spouted some bull about the wastefulness of leaving his ship sitting on the tarmac to get an assignment patrolling the regular transit routes of that system. As is always the case, he doesn't actually care about waste(none of them do), he's more concerned about the ramifications of his crew drinking the port's Laborer Quarter dry, and the fact that if he has to attend one more of the Star Colonel's banal staff meetings, he's gonna snap - and when you're of aeropilot stock, snapping in an Elemental's office isn't wise.

The sum of all of the above is that even though the Union in question is assigned to a ground force, it's up there and available when raiders start burning in-system.
"Thanks to Megamek, I can finally play BattleTech the way it was meant to be played--pantsless!"   -Neko Bijin
"It's just that the Hegemony had one answer to every naval problem. 'I kills it with my battleships.'" - Liam's Ghost
"...finally, giant space panties don't seem so strange." - Whistler
"Damn you, Weirdo... Damn you for being right!" - Paul
"...I was this many years old when I found out that licking a touchscreen in excitement is a bad idea." - JadeHellbringer
"We are the tribal elders. Weirdo is the mushroom specialist." - Worktroll

Alan Grant

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #13 on: 01 December 2022, 09:00:07 »
Oh definitely "story reasons" is always there.   :)

I'm trying to conceptualize Standard Operating Procedure, doctrine. Pick your word choice. How the Clans think this should work on paper, which in turn is translated into practice.

After all that has been said here the Union-C starts to make more sense to me. Because does have some value as a defensive-oriented escort, but also has value has a transport. Also, the Clans have a lot of them. It's definitely not the most specialized for the role, the exact opposite actually, and that has value.

It also occurred to me that in TRO 3067, when the Clans did get some more combat-oriented dropships, the Arcadia, Mercer and Outpost. They are all also transports, even as their space combat capabilities are touted in their fluff. That dual role capability seems to be important to the Clan mindset. Maybe it's seen as a better utilization of resources. It's just interesting to me that while the Inner Sphere is building the Overlord A3 and Merlin as a pure warship escort, the Clans are focusing on something like the Mercer. The specific designs aside, I think it says something about the Clan doctrine in this area in the 3050s and 3060s (pre-Jihad, pre-Wars of Reaving).

So, thanks again. This has been helpful.
« Last Edit: 01 December 2022, 09:02:08 by Alan Grant »

Weirdo

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #14 on: 01 December 2022, 09:22:56 »
I'm trying to conceptualize Standard Operating Procedure, doctrine. Pick your word choice. How the Clans think this should work on paper, which in turn is translated into practice.

Have you considered that assuming the above actually exists might be an excessively optimistic idea? :)
"Thanks to Megamek, I can finally play BattleTech the way it was meant to be played--pantsless!"   -Neko Bijin
"It's just that the Hegemony had one answer to every naval problem. 'I kills it with my battleships.'" - Liam's Ghost
"...finally, giant space panties don't seem so strange." - Whistler
"Damn you, Weirdo... Damn you for being right!" - Paul
"...I was this many years old when I found out that licking a touchscreen in excitement is a bad idea." - JadeHellbringer
"We are the tribal elders. Weirdo is the mushroom specialist." - Worktroll

Alan Grant

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Re: Union-C as a Clan warship escort
« Reply #15 on: 01 December 2022, 09:35:28 »
LOL, could be.

There is a great line in FM: WC, the Galaxy Commander of Omicron Galaxy (Clan Ghost Bear). They have been doing skirmish trials with the Ravens, which has taught them a lot about deep space combat. The Galaxy Commander is said to have learned a lot about jumpships escort tactics and the "proper use of assault ships."

So I think it does vary from Clan to Clan. I can easily imagine some Clans having more doctrine in place than others. The Snow Ravens naval stars are toted as self-contained armies, including assault ships, elemental marines, ASFs etc. The Cobras reference assault ships a lot, attached to aero-focused Clusters and warships. The Sharks note deploying combat-oriented dropships among their merchants as a "handy reserve element." The Steel Vipers notably felt a need to build the Noruff, then the Mercer and organize their ASFs differently, assigning more of them to their navy due to their on-again-off-again hostilities with the Ravens.

But yeah, it's entirely possible this area only exists as "tribal knowledge" (as a term I've heard in some places I've worked). The internal stuff, expertise, that experienced people know that doesn't really get written down. Certainly, possible that's a thing in some Clans that are on the opposite end of a spectrum than the Cobras/Ravens/Sharks/Vipers.