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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass  (Read 7470 times)

Trace Coburn

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Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« on: 27 June 2013, 07:10:36 »
CUT-01D Cutlass - 70t, TRO3145:AFFS

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

No image available at this time.

  The Corsair spent more than three centuries as the AFFS’ dogfighter of choice, but nothing lasts forever, and the march of technology made it easier for Wangker to go back to a blank CAD/CAM tablet and start from scratch, rather than rework that stalwart for the umpteenth time.  Oddly enough, what they did do in drafting the Cutlass was borrow a lot of ideas from the even-older Stuka, at least in the departments of basic aerodynamics and weapons layout — that combination of canards and sleekly-swept wings with ‘winglets’ and mid-chord weapon-pods is unmistakeable.  If the Stuka was, in fact, Wangker’s starting-point for the Cutlass, it only got to the flight-line after a long, dedicated training-programme at the track and the weights-pile.  Leaner, faster, tougher, this is the Six Million Dollar Man of the lineage.  }:)

  Over the years, a lot of electrons have been inconvenienced in relation to the Federated Suns’ military-industrial complex, so let’s just say that there’s no surprise in seeing this top-of-the-line starfighter being driven by a 350XLFE (and the typical five-ton fuel-fraction) that pushes it to 7/11.  This is a very promising start for a would-be dogfighter; it’s notably faster than the 6/9 standard accepted during the Succession Wars, but the intervening march of technology doesn’t make the increase all that surprising.  Welcome, but not surprising.  }:)  Just as welcome is the thick, stout jacket of reflective armour wrapped around the spaceframe like an old-fashioned coat-of-plates, sixteen tons of the stuff laid out 82/61/52.
  A momentary digression: reflective armour, and presumably its counterpart(s) (anti-missile) reactive and (ballistic?) reinforced, are revolutions in modern combat-system design.  Their impact on ground-combat is undeniable, but there are rather more options to deal with them on the ground; reflec-armour in particular is going to make aerospace combat in the ‘Dark Age’ incredibly interesting.  Its interaction with the mainstay offensive systems of most fighters (energy weapons) and the threshold rules means that formerly superb designs are now almost-ineffectual, and some designs and systems which used to be lacklustre now get their time in the sun.  (I’ll deal with this a little more next time, when I look at the AQA-1M Aquila.  [drool])
  The baseline CUT-01D Cutlass has a warload that either foresaw the proliferation of reflec-armour, or was simply intended to make sure Davion aerospace commanders had fighters at their disposal that could deliver a ‘knock-out punch’ to even the heaviest-armoured enemy fighters.  As I’ve noted, ammunition and mass constraints mean that you expect to see a fighter bristling with beam-weapons, and the Cutlass doesn’t disappoint on that score, with the chin-mounted ERLL and twin ERMLs in each wing-pod giving it decent reach and punch against opponents who aren’t slathered with reflective compounds themselves.  However, the centrepiece of the armament is a trusty Poland Model C coilgun with two tons of ammunition, delivering nickel-iron basketballs out to Long range that say ‘your armour may be thick, but my Gauss slug doesn’t care’.  As the advancing DCMS learned to their cost at Palmyra, these weapons deliver hits capable of thresholding even the mighty Koroshiya’s nose, ‘reflec’ notwithstanding, and a contingent of FedSuns pilots who found themselves turned into a ‘non-revertor force’ by the destruction of their carrier during that horrific reverse showed the Dragon that whatever might have happened since the end of the Jihad, there are still Davions with stout hearts.
  The array of systems supporting the guns is always important, arguably as important as the shoot-y stuff itself, and Wangker didn’t forget that.  The nose houses not only the ERLL and Gauss Rifle, but also a Beagle probe and Guardian EW suite, granting the Cutlass electronic-warfare capabilities which are vital in the modern aerospace fight and at least evening the EW odds against the Koroshiya.  If the CUT-01D has a ‘weak’ point, it might lie in the heat-dissipation array: a mere twelve DHS means that an alpha-strike means a nasty +9 heat-debt, meaning that ‘slashing attacks’ with the nose-guns and the ‘engaged’ wing are the preferred option if you’re looking to fight again another day.  (Thing is, one of the things they teach you in flight-school is that red-line limits only matter if you plan to fly that particular spaceframe again.  As demonstrated by the last fight of the Valkyries over Palmyra, if a repeat flight is not an issue, there are no limits.  }:))

  The sole production variant is the CUT-01E, and frankly, as much as the ‘Delta’ can wreck faces, at first blush I wasn’t really thrilled with the ‘Echo’.  Offloading the Gauss Rifle, the ERMLs, and a freezer, the Cutlass -01E mounts an ELRM-20 with four tons of ammunition and retains only the ERLL for self-defence.  The range-envelope offered by extended-range LRMs is pretty impressive in ground-combat, but unless you’re firing on interceptors, the five-point clusters it delivers aren’t going to have much meaningful impact in an aero fight...
  ... at least, not against other fighters.  I left it overnight, then turned it over in my head again, and it occurred to me that ELRMs outrange almost every other conventional weapon out there, meaning that a squadron of -01Es can engage most DropShips from beyond range of their defensive turrets.  At a maximum potential of 7 Capital damage for a six-ship flight, it’s probably not a bay that’s going to kill anything outright, especially in the face of proper AMS coverage, and anything with Sub-Capital weapons (or cap-missiles) will be the exception to the ‘plink with impunity’ rule.  Nonetheless, a Cutlass flight delivering this sort of harrassing fire will be too far away to squash and too aggravating to ignore.

  On the ‘offensive’ side of the ball, demand for the Cutlass is going to be far outstripping supply, and if the new First Prince has the sense Ghu gave a sand-flea (which would already make him an improvement over Caleb, the way I hear it), they’ll channel every article possible to the Combine front, to try to offset the Dracs’ Koroshiyas.  It’ll be an interesting match-up, pitting the Davion machine’s agility against the Kuritan one’s resilience (reversing the old F4U/A6M paradigm of the two nations), and the Dracs will be crestfallen to realise their Heavy PPCs can’t make an impression on the dense layers of reflec-armour on the CUT-01D’s forward aspects (15/2 = 7 when rounded down }:)).  The usual maxims apply, of course; those heavy-peepers can breach your stern, so use your superior manoeuvrability to keep him in front of your ‘three-nine line’ and just keep pounding away with the Gauss Rifle until it breaks something that matters.

  Draconian fighter-commanders looking for a ship to smack down the Cutlass might actually be well-advised to look past the Koroshiya and reach for its predecessor, the humble SL-15 Slayer.  While no faster than the newer machine, its AC/10 gives it a weapon that can generate ‘threshold’ TACs on all aspect of the CUT-01 in spite of its reflec-armour and it has more than enough fuel-endurance to play the ‘outwit-outplay-outlast’ game.

  This column’s seriously late as it stands, so I won’t hold it up any longer by tinkering.  Besides, there are others here who have a better feel for the expanded list of options the new timeframe enjoys ;), so I’ll leave them to their devices:

  All proposed fan-variants belong in the corresponding “FotW Workshop” thread: http://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,30791.0.html

Jellico

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #1 on: 27 June 2013, 07:33:13 »
The Koroshiyas might not get the crits but their MRMs do a raw 9 points more damage than the gauss rifle. Likewise the heavy peeps are still doing 15 while the Cutlass is down to 9. And its still 296 vs 256 points of armour. That's what you get when you put a 95 ton ASF against a 70 ton one.

At the end of the day, the most likely opposition in the same bracket is ON-2 Onis, SL-18 Shilones, Tatsus, and SU-14 Suzaku. A MRM40 sucker punch, a lot of MMLs, omni, and a PPC boat. None are as capable as the Cutlass, but only the Suzaku is vulnerable to the reflective armour.

Trace Coburn

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #2 on: 27 June 2013, 08:03:12 »
The Koroshiyas might not get the crits but their MRMs do a raw 9 points more damage than the gauss rifle. Likewise the heavy peeps are still doing 15 while the Cutlass is down to 9. And its still 296 vs 256 points of armour. That's what you get when you put a 95 ton ASF against a 70 ton one.
   ???  Please explain?  I’m missing your meaning here....  :-\

Jellico

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #3 on: 27 June 2013, 08:17:23 »
ERLL, and two ERMLs hitting up against reflective armour. I should have been clearer.

Trace Coburn

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #4 on: 27 June 2013, 09:34:26 »
ERLL, and two ERMLs hitting up against reflective armour. I should have been clearer.
  A Koroshiya with no ammunition can dish out two HPPCs, each dealing a 7-point hit against reflec-armour, not enough to get threshold crit-checks against the nose or wings of a Cutlass (total damage potential: 14 pts).  Likewise, a Cutlass with no ammo shoots back at a Koroshiya with a single ERLL (reduced to 4 by the reflec) and up to four 2-point ERML hits if it’s willing to eat the heat, and none of those can get threshold TACs either (total damage potential: 12 points).
  Basically, if both pilots go Winchester and it turns into a protracted gunfight, the fight would probably favour whoever managed to inflict critical damage before they ran out of bullets — and on that basis, I think the advantage lies with the Cutlass;)

Welshman

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #5 on: 27 June 2013, 14:16:38 »
This unit was a lot of fun to design and represented a turning point for this old Grognard. Having come from the days of Aerospace First Edition, I never quite got the feel of of the middle era Aerospace rules and designs. I still remember when the Chippewa was a greatly feared assault craft and not an eggshell wrapped hammer.

When I first saw some of the other TRO ASF designs and the use of Reflec, I was at first completely disdainful. Jellico was very patient with me and convinced this old fogey to go and re-read the rules. I then realized just how scary effective relfec armor is for aerospace units that don't ever have to worry about physical attacks.

So with a new found respect for reflec armor, I then went to our FotW author's maxims and force profiles to decide just what the FedSuns needed. My goal was to make the big brother of the Dagger. Something that could turn and burn with the FedSuns brick dogfighter.

And the outcome was the Cutlass.

And the art was completely on purpose. The Cutlass was designed by starting with a Stuka airframe and going from there.
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Terrace

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #6 on: 27 June 2013, 17:12:35 »
Wow, Trace. It's not often a developer designs a fighter while keeping your style of play in mind!

Welshman

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #7 on: 27 June 2013, 18:18:30 »
Wow, Trace. It's not often a developer designs a fighter while keeping your style of play in mind!

Even old developers can learn new tricks...

TRO3145 aerospace was all designed by individuals with extensive aerospace experience.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #8 on: 27 June 2013, 20:22:17 »
Even old developers can learn new tricks...

TRO3145 aerospace was all designed by individuals with extensive aerospace experience.

Neat. How did you guys design each faction's aerospace force? Did you assign factions to individual designers, or did you come up with all the designs, and then assign them to the faction they best fit?

sillybrit

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #9 on: 27 June 2013, 20:29:51 »
[Kosh]Yes[/Kosh]

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #10 on: 27 June 2013, 20:35:47 »
Wow, Trace. It's not often a developer designs a fighter while keeping your style of play in mind!
Even old developers can learn new tricks...

TRO3145 aerospace was all designed by individuals with extensive aerospace experience.

i keep expecting the Dicta Coburn to be canonized in the fluff. it seems to be the kind of logical, effective tactical guide that everyone studies, most follow, a few failingly try to 'update to meet new paradigms', and which aircraft designers cheerfully ignore in favor of the latest fads only to have their work dragged back into line by the actual purchasers.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #11 on: 27 June 2013, 20:58:06 »
Neat. How did you guys design each faction's aerospace force? Did you assign factions to individual designers, or did you come up with all the designs, and then assign them to the faction they best fit?

In the case of the Shikra, they just told me to make a FWL fighter of that mass, nothing more. No outside guidance, though if I'd done something TOO weird, they'd probably have sent it back for tweaking.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #12 on: 27 June 2013, 22:16:25 »
Here is a question for you Welshman. Do you personally decide on the design quirks of a unit or someone else? And do you try to keep them balanced or try to usually give a bad quirk to a unit?

Welshman

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #13 on: 27 June 2013, 22:29:42 »
Here is a question for you Welshman. Do you personally decide on the design quirks of a unit or someone else? And do you try to keep them balanced or try to usually give a bad quirk to a unit?

Design quirks were typically shared between the designers and the writers. We did try and keep some semblance of balance in the quirks. In the case of the Cutlass I think I slapped the negative quirk on it and the writer picked the positive, but I can't be certain.

Remember, by the time you see something in a product, it is been at least weeks, more often months since the designers and writers saw the work. Hard to remember back that far.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #14 on: 27 June 2013, 23:36:54 »
  On the ‘offensive’ side of the ball, demand for the Cutlass is going to be far outstripping supply, and if the new First Prince has the sense Ghu gave a sand-flea (which would already make him an improvement over Caleb, the way I hear it), they’ll channel every article possible to the Combine front, to try to offset the Dracs’ Koroshiyas.

I'd assume the other reason would be avoiding getting into a fight with the Capellan Transit 13G?  Because that Long Tom Cannon it has sure seems like it would rip the Cutlass a new one.

sillybrit

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #15 on: 28 June 2013, 01:56:07 »
The Cutlass would be doing the same back with its Gauss Rifle. Sure the Transit 13G will be hitting harder, but the Cutlass mounts a third more armor, which means that both take five main gun shots to get through the nose or three through the aft armor, but the Cutlass gets through the wing armor on the the third shot to the Transit's fourth shot.

The Cutlass also has ECM, which means that the Transit will be suffering a -1 hit penalty unless it a friendly unit with ECCM or a Probe is around to cancel that. The Cutlass can also throw some lasers into the pot without overheating, unlike the Transit which only has enough capacity for its LTC or its lasers. Add in the slight thrust advantage and my money is on the Cutlass in most fights.

ScannerError

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #16 on: 28 June 2013, 02:14:27 »
I thought that the Long Tom Cannon would still deal doubled damage against the reflective armor the Cutlass has, but it looks like it just acts like another autocannon when in the air.  Rather disappointing that one of the possible actual counters to reflective that a fighter could face doesn't actually counter it when it's used in the air. 

Jellico

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #17 on: 28 June 2013, 17:52:20 »
Basically there was a study to see what each faction was missing. Notes were made about weight brackets and thrust ratings that were not well populated. The designers were then let loose.

The people who did the designing know the factions and know their styles. The also know what works, something that was sometimes lacking in the past. More importantly they know WHY something works. If something doesn't seem classically sensible, rather than looking for a problem with the fighter, see if there is a different role you haven't thought of. ASF are at a nice stage at the moment. The AT1 ASF are finally being rendered obsolete by the story line an advancing tech. Everyone has the tools for an effective air force. You just have to know how to use it.

Even old developers can learn new tricks...

TRO3145 aerospace was all designed by individuals with extensive aerospace experience.


i keep expecting the Dicta Coburn to be canonized in the fluff. it seems to be the kind of logical, effective tactical guide that everyone studies, most follow, a few failingly try to 'update to meet new paradigms', and which aircraft designers cheerfully ignore in favor of the latest fads only to have their work dragged back into line by the actual purchasers.
There is very little that is new under the sun. A lot of the tactics and strategy that goes into AeroSpace goes back 5000 years from 3145 in one form or another.

Alexander Knight

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #18 on: 28 June 2013, 18:08:19 »
Err...5,000 years may be a tad too much there, Jellico.  ;)

Jellico

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #19 on: 28 June 2013, 18:32:40 »
Only a tad. The first recorded sea battle is 1210 BCE. Obviously they happened before then.
Fortifications go back at least 7000 years BCE meaning some concepts of strategy were considered.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #20 on: 28 June 2013, 18:37:12 »
Only a tad. The first recorded sea battle is 1210 BCE. Obviously they happened before then.
Fortifications go back at least 7000 years BCE meaning some concepts of strategy were considered.

Those dog fighter rowboats were brutal on the slow moving galleys... :)
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #21 on: 28 June 2013, 21:24:22 »
Only a tad. The first recorded sea battle is 1210 BCE. Obviously they happened before then.
Fortifications go back at least 7000 years BCE meaning some concepts of strategy were considered.

Well yeah, but aerospace combat strategy?  Not many dogfights going on in the Roman era, y'knowwhatah'msayin'?

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #22 on: 29 June 2013, 01:23:49 »
If 3145 is the age of thick reflective armour, fighter arming schemes are going to be turned on their head. Only a scattering of designs rely on heavy ballistics weapons (the only reasonable way to start thresholding fighters with reflective armour once they start passing the 200-250 pt mark), while missile-heavy designs will be more efficient for dealing gross damage, but will start running into endurance issues.

I would liken it to a pair of duelists laden down with the heaviest modern body armour shooting at each other with with .380 ACP (a fairly low-powered round popular for hold-out pistols, especially in the first half of the 20th century).

Interestingly, there seem to be very few designs that carry standard Gauss Rifles. The Lyrans, for example, seem to only have the Eisensturm Prime/R3, and the SLDF LTN-G15b Lightning - and it's not even clear if the -G15b is produced as the Lyrans have the LTN-G16S with a HGR. (Rapiers have autocannon or in one case, an HGR. The Morgenstern has an iHGR variant).

sillybrit

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #23 on: 29 June 2013, 01:40:20 »
The Royal Lightning is noted as general Inner Sphere usage in the Republic Era, so presumably it's still around 15 years later.

Hopefully the Suns still has the Royal Stuka and Royal Thunderbird alongside their Cutlasses, assuming they kept the same production after the Republic Era. The former only has an AC20 alongside its energy weapons, but the latter has twin Gauss. If I was the Suns, I'd be trading with the Sea Foxes for lots of Clan Gauss Rifles.


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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #24 on: 29 June 2013, 01:43:17 »
Seems to me that the reach out option of ELRMs will be appreciated, allowing repeated strikes against the iron hogs that the are only minimally able to respond to unless they themselves are appropriately armed. I admit that on the battlefield I am not overly enthused with how heavy and ammo limited these are, but in the battlespace that is less important to one degree or another.

Also, I wonder why we don't see more light gauss guns? An 8 point hit would matter to some of these designs, maybe not all of them, and maybe not to all sections, but still, an 8 point hit to a wing would have to hurt somewhat, right? And while the weapon itself is heavy (perhaps too heavy to twin mount in most circumstances), the ammo bins would provide impressive endurance with minimal expenditure, and they would still be heat one weapons. I would expect say a 70-75 ton fighter with a pair of them to be a pretty good response to many modern threats such as the Cutlass and Koroshuyas represent.

Bear in mind, my exposure to aerospace is somewhat limited, so I could easily be well of the mark. That and I have to admit to having a small "fetish" for the LGR...

HEH! Don't judge me!!!     :-[

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #25 on: 29 June 2013, 03:29:25 »
All this reflective armour is going to make the use of Air-to-Air Arrows in the first volley the go-to opening move for anyone who can procure the requisite quantities of missiles.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #26 on: 29 June 2013, 03:37:44 »
You know with all these reflec armor designs appearing LAMs could become very powerful from a meta-game perspective, they might be able to mount/use some of the weapon and ammo combo's that can really hurt reflec designs and use them exo-atmospheric, which would give them a useable in-game niche

Jellico

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #27 on: 29 June 2013, 03:47:20 »
You know with all these reflec armor designs appearing LAMs could become very powerful from a meta-game perspective, they might be able to mount/use some of the weapon and ammo combo's that can really hurt reflec designs and use them exo-atmospheric, which would give them a useable in-game niche
I don't see what is so special about LAMs this way. Omnis can do the same more easily.

Also extreme range wears a +6 to hit. ELRMS are going to need a lot of ammo to be effective at those ranges.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #28 on: 29 June 2013, 04:31:17 »
It's not the whole swap out weaponry thing. Admittedly I haven't read the aero rules in depth and with the rules for LAMs not yet finalized I could very well be wrong but here goes: Weapons restrictions for ASF's likely DON'T apply to LAMs so they could (in theory) use that do double damage against reflec armor (My mind is drawing a blank on what would defiantly work and can be mounted in a LAM at this point but)

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #103 — CUT-01* Cutlass
« Reply #29 on: 29 June 2013, 04:31:56 »
...I don't think LAMs can melee fighters that are in the air...