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Author Topic: The M^3 Support Craft  (Read 308 times)

Lagrange

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The M^3 Support Craft
« on: 18 November 2021, 22:05:20 »
The M^3 support craft is designed to carry the M^3 support track near to (but not into) combat zones where the pair can support "Maintenance, Medical, and Morale" for a lance scale (or slightly larger) unit. 

Any ideas for how to improve this?

The 'Morale' aspect is handled directly using the built in field kitchen facilities of a small craft while 'Maintenance' and 'Medical' are supported by the carried vehicle.  In addition, the support craft carries up to 30 personnel and 51 tons of cargo, sufficient for (say) a medical team, 3 tech teams, as well as the ammo, armor, and other supplies necessary for several combats.

The M^3 support craft has the following quirks: Easy to Maintain (1), Improved Life Support (1), Internal Bomb Bay (3), Poor Performance (-3), No Ejection Mechanism (-2).

Code: [Select]
M^3 Support Craft
Type: Military Spheriod
Mass: 200 tons
Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Standard)
Introduced: 3145
Mass: 200
Battle Value: 1,580
Tech Rating/Availability: E/X-X-X-D
Cost: 13,516,580 C-bills

Fuel: 4 tons (320)
Safe Thrust: 3
Maximum Thrust: 5
Heat Sinks: 7 (14)
Structural Integrity: 8

Armor
    Nose: 150
    Sides: 149/149
    Aft: 149

Cargo
    Bay 1:  Infantry (Foot) (5)     1 Door   
    Bay 2:  Light Vehicle (1)       1 Door   
    Bay 3:  Cargo (50.0 tons)       1 Door   

Ammunition:
    24 rounds of Anti-Missile System [IS] ammunition (2 tons)

Escape Pods: 0
Life Boats: 0
Crew:  1 officer, 2 enlisted/non-rated, 33 bay personnel

Notes: Mounts 28.5 tons of heavy ferro-aluminum armor.

Weapons
and Ammo                Location   Tonnage  Heat   SRV  MRV  LRV  ERV
2 Anti-Missile System     Nose      1.0      1      3    0    0    0 

Design tradeoffs:
The 3/5 speed is the minimum necessary for reaching orbit.  Moving faster would be great, but the engine necessary to do so rapidly cuts into the ability to carry supplies.

The armor is particularly heavy for a support design.  On the other hand, quite a few people ride in it, justifying a significant degree of robustness.   Downgrading structural integrity and reducing armor appropriately could free up as much as 12 tons for other purposes.  However, it's unclear there is another good purpose:
  • The increase in cargo from 50 to 62 tons doesn't appear important.
  • There is no need to carry more people---3 tech teams, a med team, and a few extra seats are good for a MASH, Mobile Field Base, and available vehicle&battle armor bays.
  • Weapons seems like a waste.  There is a 5 ton overhead associated with any weapons since you need quarters for a gunner and the mission of the unit is incompatible with using weapons.
  • Increasing thrust to 4/6.  This remains slower than any ASF we might want to escape so the value seems marginal.  It would allow soaking up one engine critical hit and escaping the atmosphere, but an even better plan seems to be having enough armor so a gauss round does not cause a critical hit.
  • Shifting a battle armor point out of the vehicle and into the Smallcraft.  This would allow installing two Lift Hoists there.  However, it's not clear that Lift Hoist cargo capacity is cumulative, in which case this is a waste.  Also, the smallcraft cannot transport 100 tons, so there is nowhere to transport a 100 ton unit to.  It's either repaired in place, abandoned, or a new strategy is deployed.
  • MASH in the Smallcraft instead of the vehicle.  This makes sense until you realize that it's necessary to have 5 extra quarters weighing 25 tons to be rules legal.

AMS-or-not.  I added two AMS in the nose.  This enables a modest amount of advanced point defense protection.  This and the internal bomb bay quirk provides a capacity for a secondary defensive role in pure space combat situations.  The cost here is about an extra million, without compromising the primary mission.

On Spheroid vs. Aerodyne: the question comes down to ability to land anywhere vs. better handling in atmosphere.  Below, it seems that 'land anywhere' is preferred.

Edit: switched to Spheroid, added AMS, added quirks.
« Last Edit: 20 November 2021, 11:06:02 by Lagrange »

AlphaMirage

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Re: The M^3 Support Craft
« Reply #1 on: 18 November 2021, 22:36:41 »
Personally I think your dropship should remain the primary M3 provider as it does a really good job of it.

I do however love small craft so much so I made a whole dropship dedicated to using them to carry stuff (The Ajax | https://bg.battletech.com/forums/aerospace/ajax-heavy-armored-transport/). The time needed to unload a vehicle from cargo is not that significant for a rear line operation. There is a whole chart in the fan design section  for using small craft efficiently.

I am also somewhat hesitant when using a MFB better to return to the dropship as cargo or under your own power whenever possible. Repairing armor and replacing ammo doesn't require something fancy like that and that is what you are most likely to be doing. If you are replacing limbs and stuff you should be doing that in a dropship bay as its much safer, and take your time if possible.

Lagrange

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Re: The M^3 Support Craft
« Reply #2 on: 19 November 2021, 19:21:57 »
Personally I think your dropship should remain the primary M3 provider as it does a really good job of it.
There are a few issues with the dropship approach that I'm trying to avoid.
  • A large dropship is a relatively easily killed compared to all of the forces that it brings.
  • Dropships are super expensive for M^3 uses.  For example, a smallcraft could plausibly be used by a garrison force.
  • A smallcraft approach provides substantial additional flexibility in force disposition.  In particular, if you are raiding 4 different locations on a world simultaneously, you either need 4 dropships(very expensive) or one large dropship and some smallcraft.

I am also somewhat hesitant when using a MFB better to return to the dropship as cargo or under your own power whenever possible. Repairing armor and replacing ammo doesn't require something fancy like that and that is what you are most likely to be doing. If you are replacing limbs and stuff you should be doing that in a dropship bay as its much safer, and take your time if possible.
Doing the hard stuff in the dropship seems reasonable.

Dragon Cat

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Re: The M^3 Support Craft
« Reply #3 on: 19 November 2021, 21:46:34 »
I'd go with the Spheroid the ability to drop down anywhere would be very advantageous when deployed in multiple areas especially when a landing strip isn't guaranted
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David CGB

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Re: The M^3 Support Craft
« Reply #4 on: 20 November 2021, 00:40:31 »
I'd go with the Spheroid the ability to drop down anywhere would be very advantageous when deployed in multiple areas especially when a landing strip isn't guaranted
Very much agreed, small craft have advantages over drop ship in cost
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Lagrange

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Re: The M^3 Support Craft
« Reply #5 on: 20 November 2021, 11:11:53 »
Thanks.  I switched to Spheroid then added a couple AMS and quirks. 

The switch to spheroid makes it convenient to upgrade the armor slightly so the craft does not threshold crit on a gauss round. 

The AMS takes advantage of the heat sinks when advanced point defense rules are in play. 

The quirks primarily enhance the primary mission (easy to maintain, improved life support), but also make a potentially potent secondary defensive mission (internal bomb bay).  I expect the unit is to slow to engage in offensive operations, but maybe it can be used defensively in a pinch situation.

Overall, this adds a couple million to the price.