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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly  (Read 4674 times)

Trace Coburn

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Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« on: 28 September 2011, 07:28:40 »
MM-* Dragonfly - Historical: Reunification War

  All proposed fan-variants should be posted in the corresponding “FotW Workshop” thread.


«Atlantia Death Squadron: attack!»

  I know that I’ve ripped on Historical: Reunification War for perhaps needing one more set of eyes at the ‘spell-check/grammar’ stage of editing, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was manna from heaven for the people (like me) who crave more details on the most legendary campaigns of BattleTech’s long and colourful fictional history.  Only the Liberation of Terra is a more dramatic period of BT history, if only for the sheer scale of the forces Kerensky and Amaris were throwing at each other (those were the days when twenty WarShips was only a task force, not an entire national navy!), and frankly, after reading accounts of the tooth-and-nail fighting at places like Hill 475 on Diefenbaker, where the Taurian motto was “I die a free man with his teeth in your throat!”, the BattleTech creative staff have set themselves a high bar if they want to top the epic, blood-soaked feel of the War of Star League Aggression Reunification War.
  We Culture Vultures also half-expected the addition of battlefield units to BattleTech lore, and we weren’t disappointed.  I don’t doubt that other readers were blissed-out by systems like the Talos ’Mech and the T-12 Tiger medium tank, but there were some surprise inclusions; for one, I didn’t need VOIP to hear Weirdo’s schoolgirl squeal of delight when he saw not one, not two, but three new canon WarShips in the back of the book (and damned if I can tell which is more awesome!).  For another, I wasn’t actually getting my hopes up about getting any new fighters, so opening the .pdf and seeing mention of the MM-1 Dragonfly was... well, I’ll spare you the colourful metaphors, but I was exceedingly pleased.  :D

  On an aesthetic note, any fan of the true original BattleStar Galactica will understand the reference above, as well as my meaning when I say that if you chopped off the ‘V’ tailplane at that last joint with the fuselage, the thing looks like it came from the old Cylon Raider’s design-family.  (Sadly, Sarna.net does not currently have an entry for the MM-1, nor is its artwork up; I'll have to edit in the image-link when this is rectified.  :-\)  I’ve mentioned before that Huda’s artwork is generally not to my preference, since it seems to rely a little too much on CAD/CAM work and ‘metal boxes’ than is customary for the BT aesthetic, but for the early days of BT, when ‘boxy and utilitarian’ was all the rage (/me waves to the Toro!), it works quite well, and this is a case in point.
  The Magistracy of Canopus was still short of its gold anniversary at the time Ian Cameron had his little brainwave, and it didn’t have much of a military tradition, let alone a supporting munitions industry.  Most of their ’Mechs and fighters were imported, especially the Primitive SB-26 Sabre, but the Canopeans had a lot of space to police, not to mention neighbours who were being distinctly and increasingly unreasonable about the whole ‘self-determination’ issue, so they looked at what they’d imported and how it worked, took out their draughting boards and pencils (’cause like Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Periphery does it old-school and still kicks ass), and whipped up a domestically-made fighter to bolster the MAF to face the inevitable.  The MM-1 Dragonfly first flew in 2574, soon after the Malagrotta Incident made a full-scale shooting war all but unavoidable, and was built in ‘hundreds’ even before the Pollux Proclamation as part of the Magistracy’s pre-war armaments programme.

  A forty-ton spaceframe powered by a mere 120SFE, the Dragonfly only develops 5/8 thrust and has only four tons of fuel.  This is perhaps a reflection of the Canopeans’ institutional military inexperience, since they repeated some mistakes that the Inner Sphere nations had already made and corrected, but given that a lot of their hardware was still using Age-of-War (namely ‘Primitive’) technology and that they were trying to leap that gap while simultaneously creating their first-ever domestically-designed starfighter, I can understand why and how those mistakes were made, however much of a tactical impediment they might prove on the tabletop.  The type’s armour is only six tons, 32/24/16, which leaves the type vulnerable to ML crits across all of its facings, something that I must again attribute to an unfortunate product of inexperience.  Of course, it’s possible that the Canopeans were thinking in terms of ‘total annihilation!’ ‘maximum firepower’, because the Dragonfly has to be one of the most overgunned light starfighters I’ve seen in my years(!) of writing this column: while the nose holds only a single medium laser, each wing houses a full-sized laser cannon(!) and an under-and-over twin-mount of mediums as back-up, the whole cooled by eighteen heat-sinks.  :o
  I mean, this thing is like opening Antonio Banderas’ guitar-case in the Tarasco bar: that is an insane amount of firepower stuffed into a package that has no rational business holding it all!
  Unfortunately, the Star League states had made their design gaffes and moved past them decades before they fought the Dragonfly, and frankly, the hardware they ending up burying the Canopeans under was not only more numerous, but just plain better-designed.  The Dragonfly has the mobility of a heavy fighter - in fact less, since an eighty-ton 5/8 fighter has the sheer SI to constantly use its full thrust without cracking up, whereas the forty-ton 5/8 Dragonfly exceeds its SI every time it overthrusts, and had less fuel than the vast majority of IS fighters to start with.  The agility differential between the MM-1 and its contemporaries in the IS’ medium and light-fighter corps... well, it doesn’t really make for pleasant ponderings.  In the end, the Star League’s more efficiently-designed ASFs and ‘bigger battalions’ carried the day, and the Dragonfly factory on Canopus was put out of production during the fighting to take the Magistracy’s capital world, leading to the type’s numbers in-service dwindling over the following centuries.

  The Dragonfly is a design which prioritised firepower above all other concerns, and suffered for it.  Okay, you’ve got the sinks to blaze away with both large lasers all day and never tickle the heat-gauge, which I’ve always considered a plus in a design, and if you want to crit-seek, you can throw a large and three mediums at the other guy while still remaining under your max dissipation.  Unfortunately, an alpha-strike hits a full +13 on the heat-gauge, which means it’s not a tactic that bears use two turns in a row, and that lacklustre engine means that you will almost never be in a position to choose where and how to fight - heavy fighters can out-run you and laugh as they do so, which means that your opponent will either dictate the terms of any aerial engagement (never a good way to do business) or steer well clear and thumb his nose at you as he simply refuses to let you engage him.  Worse, all those guns will tempt you to try ‘stand and deliver’ tactics against the heavies which you’re actually ‘fast’ enough to meet on near-even terms, but you simply don’t have the armour for it, and they sure as hell do.
  On the other hand, while it slows you down to 3/5 a full external load still runs to eight ‘points’ of bombs or rockets (yay for RLs being pushed back to the 2300s!), and if you Strafe you’ve got a turn to cool off while you come back around for another pass.  Looking at all that, I’ve really got to say that the MM-1 is better suited to use as an air-to-ground strafing machine than for jousting with other fighters.

  ASF unit-commanders don’t have to look far for a countermeasure to the MM-1 Dragonfly: almost any modern fighter with a thrust-curve of 6/9 or better and a few MLs to throw at it can quickly chew it into uselessness almost at will, as long as it remembers to stay away from all those flashlights on the front bit.  Hell, a few 5/8 heavies can take advantage of their higher SI and far heavier arsenals and smash entire squadrons in a few passes.  Looking at the RATs in H:RW, the SL states field (either legitimate or analogues of) Sparrowhawks, Samurai, Stukas, Lightnings, Eagles....  (I mean, really: whatever happened to picking on someone your own size?  [tickedoff] ::))
  Ground commanders should look to their LRM-shooters and AC/5-bearers if they want to knock down Dragonflies on the cheap, and again, looking at the H:RW RATs gives you a laundry-list of options.  Hell, just a single LRM Carrier will be enough to swat entire squadrons of MM-1s in a single salvo.

  As the Reunification War went on and the Magistracy got lucky enough to capture more and more salvage from the invaders, more and more Star League advanced technologies fell into their hands (and Magistracy intelligence officers working in the Terran Hegemony managed to work their famous wiles on the right people long enough to get their hands on the good stuff).  In 2583, just before the League invaded Canopus IV itself, the MM-2 was rolled out of the hangars and into service (possibly without even a coat of paint first).  Better cockpit systems for improved situational-awareness were only the start of the upgrade, because the Canopeans got their hands on the one technology that anyone who’s ever played BT after the release of TRO2750 knows radically changes the game’s battlefield maths: double heat-sinks.  Deleting four heat-sinks and changing the others over to freezers, the Canopeans kept it simple and uprated the nose-mounted ML to a third laser-cannon(!), possibly explaining the artwork (which looks like it depicts the MM-2).  The type’s heat-curve is acres more forgiving now, and hitting the other guy with three large lasers all day is even better than just two; those in a mood to crit-seek can with-hold one LL and open up with two larges and all four mediums while remaining heat-neutral(!), and even a full alpha-strike is ‘only’ +8, which is still far from wise but can be done with a little less self-consciousness than a +13 would allow.
  Sadly, the Dragonfly’s key, crippling flaw lay not with its armament but its mobility, and unless we get a surprise in RS:RW, it doesn’t look like the MM-2 did anything to address that, so the advice ‘for and against’ doesn’t significantly change.  :(  Not that it matters much; in the years after the MoC’s surrender, a lack of advanced parts meant that the upgrades were stripped out of the few surviving MM-2s, so they were effectively reverted to the MM-1 specs anyway.



  THE WORKSHOP



NEXT WEEK:     Mengqín (TRO:3085)
UPCOMING:      SGT-** Sagittarii (TRO:3085)
               TiG-15 Tigress gunboat (HB:MPS)
               ???
  (I’m drawing a blank.  Maybe I’ll throw darts at a list. :D)
« Last Edit: 12 October 2011, 21:40:14 by Trace Coburn »

Neufeld

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #1 on: 28 September 2011, 08:35:56 »
Good writeup. Historical:RW exited the moratorium period on Sarna today, so maybe someone will add an article soon.

As for what to do next are the list is done, the following are quite new designs that:
- a) is not in an old product (TRO3075 or older)
- b) is not in TRO: Prototypes (which I assume that you still have not got)
- c) is not on your upcoming articles list

- Firebird - Era Report: Age of War
- Chippewa IIC - Era Report: Golden Century
- Katya - Handbook: House Liao
- Hurricane - XTRO: Primitives vol 1
- Malaika - XTRO: Retrotech
- Poignard - TRO3085
- Wusun - TRO3085
- Morgenstern - TRO3085
- Ares Mk IX - TRO3085

"Real men and women do not need Terra"
-- Grendel Roberts
"
We will be used to subdue the Capellan Confederation. We will be used to bring the Free Worlds League to heel. We will be used to
hunt bandits and support corrupt rulers and to reinforce the evils of the Inner Sphere that drove our ancestors from it so long ago."
-- Elias Crichell

Maelwys

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #2 on: 28 September 2011, 17:13:47 »
I found it rather interesting that Historical: Reunification War gave the Magistracy a new fighter, but the one MoC produced Warship, the Athena-Class, is still an unknown. Maybe in the rumored Supplement or Record Sheets.

Still, its an "interesting" fighter I think. Not as tweaked, and probably outclassed by the Star League's forces, but not a bad start. Those that survived to actually strafe their opponents probably caused quite a bit of havoc, especially with the numbers apparently produced. Consider this. The Magistracy in 3025 had less than 100 Aerospace fighters. In the 3 years before the Reunification War, they produced hundreds of this one design alone. The production lines would presumably continue to produce the design until the capture of Canopus in 2584. Its possible that they produced this one design in numbers that were 5-10 times greater than the total number of fighters they had in 3025. Its kind of staggering to think about.

The weapon load isn't that surprising. Lasers mean less of a logistics footprint, and the Magistracy had been producing the Eagle since 2564, so they were familiar with large lasers mixed with mediums. Actually, the weapons layout may be exactly the same as the primitive R4 Eagle (2 years on, and the 3075 Unabridged Record Sheets still aren't Unabridged) so the thinking might have been "How small can we get these Eagles using modern technology."

I'm not sure if I hope to see this "ancient" design in the modern Magistracy (though I wouldn't object to fielding one in 3025 for the fun of it). While I'm all for seeing the Magistracy get its own designs, I'm not sure if it can translate well to the modern aerospace field.
« Last Edit: 29 September 2011, 02:42:32 by Maelwys »

Trace Coburn

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #3 on: 28 September 2011, 23:17:20 »
I found it rather interesting that Historical: Reunification War gave the Magistracy a new fighter, but the one MoC produced Warship, the Athena-Class, is still an unknown. Maybe in the rumored Supplement or Record Sheets.
  Or perhaps part 1 of Liberation of Terra, depending on whether or not TPTBs decide to start things off during the Periphery Uprising.  Remember, even after the mauling they took defeating the TCN the Star League let the Taurians keep their navy and its (formidable!) Concordat frigates.  The Canopeans were far more prepared to ‘play nice’ than the Bulls, so the League might have been prepared to perform a similar act of grace in the terms of surrender offered to the Magistracy and let them keep their remaining two WarShips.  (Or perhaps that act of grace in fact set the precedent by which the Taurians kept their fleet, given the relative timelines.)

  And as a point of order: Canopus surrendered in 2584, not 3084.  I think you’re getting your Jihad in my Reunification War, chum.  :P

master arminas

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #4 on: 28 September 2011, 23:31:09 »
 :o

WAIT A SECOND!  You're saying, that Historical:  Reunification Wars, says that the Star League let the Taurians keep what was left of their navy--including some Concordat-class frigates?

I think I need to sell something to buy this book; I've been wanting it anyway, and now, yessir, I do.  I do.  Does it say what happened to their Navy between the RW and the Amaris Coup, by the way?

MA

Trace Coburn

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #5 on: 29 September 2011, 01:36:21 »
:o

WAIT A SECOND!  You're saying, that Historical: Reunification War, says that the Star League let the Taurians keep what was left of their navy--including some Concordat-class frigates?

I think I need to sell something to buy this book; I've been wanting it anyway, and now, yessir, I do.  I do.  Does it say what happened to their Navy between the RW and the Amaris Coup, by the way?

MA
  Yeah, that shocked the hell out of me, too, but it's all there in black-and-white, both in the .pdf and my precious hard-copy: according to the TDF before-and-after on p.44, the Taurians had 127 WarShips in 2575, and in 2600, they still had nine.  There's also the Concordat fluff....

Quote from: Historical: Reunification War, p.218
The Concordat served its home nation, as well as the Magistracy of Canopus, well throughout the 26th century, forming the backbone of each nation's WarShip fleet.  The Taurian navy possessed... more than four dozen of these frigates... No more Concordats were built after war's end, but the last few survived until the First Succession War.
  [emphasis added.]

  That's about it for direct statements about the TCN's disposition, but considering the other incidents we know about, including the 'rogue' Dart that was destroyed by SLS Gettysburg in 2722, the TCN was clearly still in the WarShip business - and making trouble for the 'occupiers' - right up to the start of 1SW.
  Now, one could argue that the fluff means the Concordats survived in someone else's navy after being taken as prizes of war during the surrender, and that the TCN was given second-hand vessels as replacements, but depending on how well the new Protector balanced satisfying his people with manipulating the occupiers, he may have been able to hang onto 'his' ships.  [shrug]  My personal preference is for the Concordats to stay in Taurian livery, and it works for the story I want to tell.

  Believe me: if you're a BT-history buff (AKA Culture Vulture, like me), you want to buy this book.  And who really needs both kidneys, anyway?  ;)

Maelwys

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #6 on: 29 September 2011, 02:53:57 »
  Or perhaps part 1 of Liberation of Terra, depending on whether or not TPTBs decide to start things off during the Periphery Uprising.  Remember, even after the mauling they took defeating the TCN the Star League let the Taurians keep their navy and its (formidable!) Concordat frigates.  The Canopeans were far more prepared to ‘play nice’ than the Bulls, so the League might have been prepared to perform a similar act of grace in the terms of surrender offered to the Magistracy and let them keep their remaining two WarShips.  (Or perhaps that act of grace in fact set the precedent by which the Taurians kept their fleet, given the relative timelines.)

  And as a point of order: Canopus surrendered in 2584, not 3084.  I think you’re getting your Jihad in my Reunification War, chum.  :P

Yeah, too many dates in that post caused me to mistype I suppose :)

I suppose there are other places the Athena could show up, it just really surprised me that it wasn't in Reunification War, especially since they gave Davion yet another Warship for that era.

So it looks like for the Magistracy, the big 3 at the time were the Sabre, Dragonfly and Eagle. I wonder when the Magistracy started to produce the Sabre...

Trace Coburn

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #7 on: 29 September 2011, 03:47:20 »
So it looks like for the Magistracy, the big 3 at the time were the Sabre, Dragonfly and Eagle. I wonder when the Magistracy started to produce the Sabre...
  The TRO'75 write-up for the Sabre says it was produced in 'two Periphery nations' by 2572.  The Dragonfly fluff says it was meant as a supplement/semi-replacement to 'imported' SB-26s, yet the MAF RAT mentions only the SB-27.  The OA gets both the -26 and -27 on its H:RW ASF RAT, and the TDF gets Centurions and Sparrowhawks (or analogues thereof) instead of Sabres.

  Trusting RATs as a gauge of factional production is always a risky proposition, especially when each faction's column has only six slots per category, but one could infer that the OA and MoC were indigenously building SB-27s before the war, and the Concordat only got Sabre production once 'pacified'.  (The RWR also has SB-27s listed, but it's plausible they were supplied by the Dracs as a way to gore the Lyrans' collective ox, rather than native-built.  Again, H:LoT1 should (hopefully!) give us a better sense of Rim Worlds military industry.)

  Wow - look at all those acronyms and alphanumerics.  It's like this whole secret language we all speak....  O.o

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #8 on: 29 September 2011, 12:04:08 »
  Yeah, that shocked the hell out of me, too, but it's all there in black-and-white, both in the .pdf and my precious hard-copy: according to the TDF before-and-after on p.44, the Taurians had 127 WarShips in 2575, and in 2600, they still had nine.  There's also the Concordat fluff....

Well, to the SLDF, nine WarShips was probably on par with what Japan had left after WW2.
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Maelwys

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #9 on: 29 September 2011, 16:44:11 »
  The TRO'75 write-up for the Sabre says it was produced in 'two Periphery nations' by 2572.  The Dragonfly fluff says it was meant as a supplement/semi-replacement to 'imported' SB-26s, yet the MAF RAT mentions only the SB-27.  The OA gets both the -26 and -27 on its H:RW ASF RAT, and the TDF gets Centurions and Sparrowhawks (or analogues thereof) instead of Sabres.

  Trusting RATs as a gauge of factional production is always a risky proposition, especially when each faction's column has only six slots per category, but one could infer that the OA and MoC were indigenously building SB-27s before the war, and the Concordat only got Sabre production once 'pacified'.  (The RWR also has SB-27s listed, but it's plausible they were supplied by the Dracs as a way to gore the Lyrans' collective ox, rather than native-built.  Again, H:LoT1 should (hopefully!) give us a better sense of Rim Worlds military industry.)

Yeah, RATs are questionable for this type of work. The fluff is also a little odd. Maybe the MC leveraged their design of the Dragonfly into getting Ramiel to build a modern Sabre factory?

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #10 on: 29 September 2011, 16:57:04 »
Idly, the MM-2 strikes me as being that which spawned the Transgressor and Eagle.  Three large lasers, four medium lasers, attack bird profile?  Sure, the latter craft did it better by using a real attack bird, but there's a feeling there.  As far as it goes, I daresay that as a one-pass strafer the things are going to be nasty.  Five MLs or two LLs on a single pass is going to be painful, and well it's not like you've got the gas for more than one pass anyway - so thick armor isn't so necessary.  It's not that I'd prefer the D-fly in any such role (except maybe space station killer, or commercial dropship hunter) but if I had them and had to use them, I'd go ground-attack.  After all, worst case, a 40 ton yard dart at mach 2 becomes a nine-gigajoule-plus hit...

Maelwys

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #11 on: 29 September 2011, 17:34:23 »
Well, the Eagle was already in existence at this point. Maybe not the complete modern one, but the primitive one had 2 Large Lasers and 4 or 5 Medium lasers, so if anything, the Eagle was probably the inspiration for the Dragonfly, not the other way around.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #090 - MM-* Dragonfly
« Reply #12 on: 29 September 2011, 22:14:24 »
Good writeup, the bird isn't bad, but goes far in explaining why the SLDF had comparatively less trouble in the MoC than elsewhere.

By the bye, any chance of the Vulcan making an appearance? (its FoTW seems to have been lost in the crash)
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