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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week, Issue #017 (repost) - Samurai  (Read 3972 times)

Trace Coburn

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Fighter of the Week, Issue #017 (repost) - Samurai
« on: 17 February 2011, 07:23:15 »
SL-25 Samurai - 50t, AT2
Originally posted 9 Mar. 2005.

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

  The "all art must be in-house" rule means that the original picture of the SL-25 borders on being Unseen, IIRC, but this link includes both a pic and stats... though the stats are in German.  :-\  Unfortunately, the stats are are incorrect (too much nose armour) and it's not listed on at all, probably for the same legal reasons.  :'(

  Unlike the Hellcat, the SL-25 Samurai is fairly clearly a Kurita bird - the alphanumeric designation makes that clear.  (I won't touch the name - too many people have been burned by those sorts of assumptions in the past.  :P)  Now, back when I (originally) covered the Hellcat Colt Ward asked me if there were no true interceptors in AT2, the kind that get to the fight first and stay until it's over, and I said "not really".  That's still true, more or less... but the Samurai comes closer than most.

  A fifty-ton platform, the Samurai puts on a very nippy 7/11 turn of speed (better than the Corsair can boast, much less the Lyran equivalents) and carries eight(!) tons of fuel, giving it an enviable combat radius - only the Slayer exceeds its 'legs' in the pre-Clan days.  Nine and a half tons of armour is 19% by mass, which is probably close enough for government work, especially since the Samurai probably relies on agility to evade punishment rather than absorbing it; 53/33/33 means that the wings and aft are vulnerable ML thresholding, but there isn't much you can do about that at this technology level.  :-\  The armament is explicitly designed for close-range engagements: the nose bristles lasers, three mediums and a small, while each wing and the stern mount an ML and an SL.  Under AT1, the SLs might have been okay crit-seekers, but getting that close was just begging for the other guy to pull some sort of stern-conversion on you, and then where would you be?  Up that well-known creek in a barbed-wire canoe - with Murphy standing on the shore, waving your only paddle and laughing at you.  :P  Under the newer system, though, both the ML and the SL are both Short-range weapons, which makes them fairly useful as supplementary close-range throw-weight - and you can use it.  Y'see, the Kuritan preference for well-cooled designs shows through again, with the SL-25 mounting nineteen SHS - enough to fire all the forward weapons and the aft SL without building a heat-deficit.  Heat-efficiency seems to be a cardinal principle of the Dragon's ASF design programme, which is a little odd - MechWarriors are meant to be the Dragon's samurai, so why do the AeroJocks get all the smart designers?  ???

  In fact, the DCMS seems to have the best aerospace-design community in the Inner Sphere, as well as the best sense for tactical teamwork - of all the Successor State militaries and their accepted institutional thinking about ASF design in 3025, the DCMS seems to be the only one which regards its larger platforms as a tactical package.  The Slayer is perfect for long-range/high-endurance patrol and interception (and makes a pretty fair dogfighter in its own right), and the Shilone provides medium-to-long range fire-support and dogfights if necessary; either of these is perfectly suited to laying down a dense pattern of suppression/attrition fire while the Samurai rushes in and starts turning-and-burning to chew pieces off the other guy.  The Samurai complements the two heavier birds remarkably well, especially in the face of Davion Corsairs, and it's clear that it's meant to engage the enemy not in isolation, but in cooperation with either or both of the heavier types (and perhaps with the Sholagar as well).  It's a natural partnership conspicuous by its absence from the other fighter arms:
-  The Lyrans have the Seydlitz (great interceptor, big gun, but with short legs and weak armour), the Lucifer (65t 5/8 attack bird), and the Chippewa (90t 5/8 missile-armed, thinly-armoured deathtrap).  Only their access to the Stingray gives their middle-and-heavy ASF force much in the way of decency - that aside, where's the integration?  ???
-  The Cappies have the Thrush (middingly-fair interceptor), the Transit (6/9, AC/20-packing Dropper chopper), and the Transgressor (a dogfighting monster).  All three have specialist missions and don't really work together against enemy fighters too well (unless you use 'skeet shoot' tactics).
-  The Leaguers?  Cheetah (superfast interceptor - a Seydlitz without the big gun that makes the SYD-Z1 work), Stingray (nasty dogfighter/fire-support), and Riever (ammo-dependent attack platform, though tough enough to survive where the Chippewa wouldn't).
-  Davion?  The Sparrowhawk is a vicious, near-optimal interceptor, and the slow-but-heavily-armed Stuka can savage ground- or space-targets, but the dogfighter units mostly have Corsairs, and with the DCMS mix on one flank and the Transgressor on the other, it's pretty clear that whatever the Corsair jocks get paid, it ain't enough.  ;D

  In any case, as above the Samurai is best employed as a complement to the Slayer or Shilone, though the Shilone seems a more natural partner: the SL-17s hang back a little and pour fire into the enemy formation, while the SL-25s rush in and stern-convert, playing the angles game against the Corsairs (whose aft SLs cannot match the punch of five MLs }:) - you're immune to threshold crits from SLs).  Avoid Stukas if possible - their tail-guns can reach you and TAC your wings for you, and their forward guns... well, don't go there.  Literally.  [wince]  The same goes for Sparrowhawks - letting an SPR-H5 get behind you is a recipe for trouble, since you're just as vulnerable to TACs as he is and he has twice as many guns as your aft quarter.
  On the Lyran front, let the Shilones swat away the Seydlitz squadrons, then go piling in on the Lucifers and/or Chippewas - only the Lucifers have an ML tail-gun, and then only one, so you can sit about five hexes behind 'em and dismantle LCF-R15s or CHP-W5s virtually at leisure.  }:)  Remember the mantras, and don't let the Seydlitz cowboys behind you, and you should be sweet.  ;D

  Defensively, interceptors are your friends: they can out-turn the Samurai and your odds of threshold crits are favourable from behind, though if all you have is MLs it's going to be a nasty business.  Seydlitz jocks should be able to eat SL-25s alive from any angle, especially if they can get some Stingrays to 'shoot them in'.  Davion players use Stukas for fire-support and send in the Corsairs... and be ready to accept casualties; Samurai can hand Corsairs a nasty beating in close quarters, especially if they get into a turning engagement.  The mantras are key to victory.

  [VARIANT PROPOSALS REDACTED]All proposed fan-variants, including my own, belong in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread:,1858.0.html

  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.  ;)
« Last Edit: 17 February 2011, 07:33:13 by Trace Coburn »

Trace Coburn

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Fighter of the Week, Issue #017 (repost) - Samurai ('39 Update)
« Reply #1 on: 17 February 2011, 07:31:32 »
SL-** Samurai – TRO3039 Update
Originally posted 30 Jan. 2008 - mainly written by invalid effort, with commentary from myself.  :D

Quote from: invalid effort
Hello with Trace's approval it’s [invalid effort] here with your FotW (kinda :) ).

  The release of TRO 3039 brought us two new additions to the Samurai family (along with some fairly juicy back-story).  The Samurai was originally created when the Terran Hegemony realized they needed a craft with the ability to obliterate the enemy ground-pounders while supporting their own, so when Fairchild-Dornier came to them with their design of a speedy, moderately armored, ALMOST heat-neutral flashbulb they said “heck yes!” - and the SL-25 was borne.  Unfortunately, because of its aim at a ground-superiority fighter, it suffered more losses than other fighters of the time geared more to anti-air roles (according to fluff, at least).  Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and the Fairchild plant’s Samurai production line was wrecked in the Amaris Coup.
  Few Samurai survived past the Fourth Succession War, because of the highly specific parts that had to be custom-made after the plant’s destruction. Interestingly enough, Elden Beradinelli (of Sorenson’s Sabers) almost died when his engine failed because of jury rigged Corsair parts he tried to make fit in his Samurai. As for deployment of the fighters prior to the Fourth Succession War, most fell to the possession of the Outworlds Alliance [metalhealth], multiple times decimating pirate air and ground forces, such as in the pirate raid of 3020.
  Mmm, mmm-mmm, fluffy, fluffy goodness.    {>{>  And it's a pre-Coup Hegemony craft, is it now?  Verrrry interesting; when/if we get a specific IOC date for the type, I suspect I might develop plans....  }:)
  (Referring back to my original column, it looks like I was 'burned by my assumptions' regardless of my best intentions. [metalhealth]  The SL-** designation is apparently not peculiar to the Draconis Combine ASF programme, and the amazing fit of the Samurai's design into the DCA's overall design ethic is either a sign of Fairchild-Dornier sneaking a little something out of the DCA's private stash of the really good stuff, or little more than a happy coincidence.  Emphasis on happy, I might add.  :P)

Quote from: invalid effort
Now to the reason I'm so excited about this new TRO, the new variants.  TRO 3039 brought us not one, but TWO variants to the table. [drool] }:)[drool]

  First is the SL-26, which drops the old engine to put in a XL engine and Ferro-Aluminium armor. The wing-mounted medium lasers were changed to ER Larges and eighteen freezers allow for Strafe-happy pilots to rest easily.  O0  Unfortunately, according to fluff none of these survived the Second Succession War. #P
  All in all, there's almost nothing to dislike about the SL-26.  As invalid effort notes, it has the dissipation capacity to use all of its forward guns without fear, and twin ERLLs address one of the few niggles I had about the original SL-25: its lack of organic Medium- and Long-range weapons capability.  On the other hand, the shift to FA armour was used to save the necessary weight, rather than improve protection, which was perhaps the other weakness of the SL-25.  I might've been happier if the designers had replanned the armament a little more thoroughly and improved the armour thicknesses... but hey, that's what the Workshop is for, right?  :D

Quote from: invalid effort
The next variant is, appropriately, the SL-27.  It is a result of Fairchild’s profits gained through sales of civilian craft with ComStar and the Lyran Alliance. The SL-27 is based off the -26 (FA armor and the XL engine), but three of the heat sinks are dropped to add to its firepower.  The nose weaponry has been all reconfigured with a Plasma Rifle with two tons of ammo as the main weapon so you can reach out and touch your enemy at a range of 15 hexes.  Added to that are two medium pulse lasers also situated in the nose.  Twin ER mediums and an ER small on each wing add to your opponent's misery.  [devil] Aftward you have the extended range small and medium lasers to round out the compliment. All together that's a heat value of 49 (if my math's right).
  Unfortunately, that leaves an alpha strike as a LAST DITCH (‘you’re getting shot down next round so WTH why not?’) effort as it will leave you at a nasty +19 on the heat scale, not something you want in any case. As far as firing all your forward weapons, it will leave you at +12 – which is tolerable, but not something you want to do too often. A good tactic for this would be to fire a couple times at range with your Plasma Rifle and then when you get in close, let ’em have it with all your forward mediums, staying under heat by 2.  }:)  A brief look at the fluff on this bird states that this is a modern day upgrade, so we can expect to see this variant A LOT more.  ;D  What’s odd about it is, the faction showing the most interest in it is the Lyran Alliance [metalhealth] - probably because of their lack of a good... well, anything really, at least prior to the arrival of the Eisensturm.  Oh, well. [sigh]
  I would add to invalid effort's comments that I understand Blaker disruptions to manufacture of Lucifers are also a significant factor in the Lyran interest in the SL-27.  Given the relative capabilities of the Lucifer and the Samurai, it strikes me that the toaster-boys’ counter-production efforts are proving as counter-productive to them as they are to the Lyrans.  ;D
  And look - a canon aerospace platform with a Plasma Rifle!  :o  Pyromaniacs everywhere are doubtless having evilgasms at this little invention; for one, I am dreading its deployment, at least on the other side of the game-board.  Long-time FotW readers know that I consider proper heat-management to be the sine qua non of aerospace combat, and a couple of hits from a PR would simply drive... ME... CRAZY!  [tickedoff]  (Remember, Total Warfare specifically states that ASFs and small-craft suffer externally-inflicted heat effects just like any other battlefield unit.)  The SL-27 has a nice, solid Medium-range barrage - using the four ERMLs and the PR is exactly +0 on the heat-gauge - and what a PR's heat-spiking hits will do to an enemy’s rhythm is beyond 'disrupting' even before you remember that it's dealing as much physical damage as a PPC.  However, the armour is still disappointing, and all those ERSLs are not as much help as they're meant to be.  The nose-mounted MPLs are probably meant for close-range 'finishing strikes' when one wing's ERMLs won't bear on the target - note that when you include the ERSL at Short range, the nose-guns and one wing's weapons are still +0 heat - but they still feel kind of 'meh' to me.  :D

  [VARIANT PROPOSALS REDACTED]  All proposed fan-variants, including my own, belong in the corresponding "FotW Workshop" thread:,1858.0.html

Quote from: invalid effort
Well I'd like to thank Trace for letting me do this and I hope you've all enjoyed this ... er ... um ... addition to this week’s FotW.
  'Addition' my eye.  What invalid effort wrote is effectively an all-new column, and my editorial contributions shouldn’t detract from the effort he put into it.  O0


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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #017 (repost) - Samurai
« Reply #2 on: 17 February 2011, 08:58:37 »
The analysis kind of wandered off on you due to the way canon marched on (the Samurai not being a Drac bird and the way the generics and Star League birds wound up shaken out left the Lyrans with a much better mix in the Succession Wars) but an excellent article nonetheless.

Our first introduction to the fast dogfighting concept, the Samurai blazed the trail that things like the Visigoth, Riga, and Dagger would follow.  It's still not a bad fighter although the armor doesn't do a lot for me.  I've got a couple of ideas for tweaking something a little closer to the SL-25 original I'll post in the Workshop thread.