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Author Topic: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I  (Read 9465 times)

Jellico

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WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« on: 10 November 2013, 03:02:56 »
Roughly contemporaneous with the Dart and Dreadnought the Black Lion I is one of the Terran Hegemony’s first generation of ships. Supposedly designed by James McKenna, the Black Lion is intended to provide a more manoeuvrable version of the Dreadnought. It became the Admiral’s preferred flag ships and set the standard for all future Hegemony cruisers. Well that is the theory. Let us look at the reality.

The first point to be made is that the Black Lion is no more manoeuvrable than a Dreadnought. At least not in game terms. On the other hand the Black Lion shows remarkable commonality with the battleship. The auto cannon load is virtually identical, with streamlining to NAC20s being the only difference. The AAA fit is basically identical, based around auto cannon. This is important as laser systems were very new at this time. An interesting development is the missile system. The 2300 Dreadnought lacks capital missiles. The 2305 Dart mounts Killer Whales in the forward arc. The 2315 Black Lion mounts heavy triple batteries in the quarters. These heavy missile fits will become a feature of all future heavy cruisers up until the Luxor in 2727. Notably the abortive Quixote battle cruiser adopted a similar approach to capital missiles while later frigates largely abandoned them. Compared to the Dart the Black Lion is in a totally different class. The Black Lion has 28% more broadside weight, with more crit capable weapon bays than the Dart. The battleship roots of the Black Lion are most clear here.
Defensively the Black Lion is tougher than the Dreadnought with only 67 tons less armour and far stronger internal structure. This is probably due to the experimental nature of the Dreadnought. Later cruisers all had similar structural integrity to the Black Lion. More important is the armour layout. While pre-Reunification War ships tended to focus their armour forward, the Black Lion focused its armour on the broadsides. This would later become a defining feature of Star League WarShips, which can be traced back through the Aegis back to the Black Lion. The Black Lion is still not as tough as the Dart. The difference becomes clear later.

Compared to the Dreadnought and Dart the Black Lion has very limited combat persistence. It only has a fraction of the earlier ships’ cargo capacity. The heavy internal structure of the Dart begins to make sense here as it was a far ranging, hard traveling, work horse. The Black Lion seems more of a thoroughbred in comparison. Made to win battles and little else. It is interesting to note that this thoroughbred nature would be a common feature to all successful SLDF cruisers like the Aegis, Black Lion II, Avatar and Luxor. Failures like the Quixote and Cameron all featured far more cargo capacity.
Built in an age of flux, the Black Lion lacked docking collars. Not surprising considering the times, but it is interesting to note the Dart (designed for independent operations) received them. Implicit in this is that the Black Lion was not intended to operate independently. Rounding out the Black Lion’s fighting capabilities were bays for 24 Small Craft identical to those of the Dreadnought.

The Black Lion I served Terran Hegemony until the refitted Aegis entered service in 2582. At this time they were sold off alongside those Aegis’ that were not refitted. Where the Aegis was a recognisably modern ship the Black Lion had aged poorly. While still manoeuvrable with solid anti-fighter weapons, the armour and weapons compared poorly. The refitted Aegis combined more armour with 28% ranged broadside firepower and even more close in. Handled well they were adequate if expensive and antiquated. The Golden Age made it hard to justify keeping them and most were scrapped for their germanium.

In use Black Lions occupy a middle ground between modern destroyers and cruisers. They are approximately comparable to a Sovetskii Soyuz, though the later ship has far more modern refinements. Pick on the weak and avoid the strong. AA remains solid and the Black Lion is no more vulnerable than a Kirishima or Dante. The killers remain the NACs and missiles, not the auto cannon. The big problem is that in the modern environment a Black Lion could be left with no supporting assets due to its lack of docking collars. This is as true in 2750 as 3050.  In 2400 the Black Lion was a cheap alternative to a battleship. At least until the Monsoon redefined the type. By 2750 it is a glorified destroyer too big to be expendable.

UnLimiTeD

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #1 on: 10 November 2013, 09:09:01 »
Didn't even know the design is that ancient.
Quite interesting that it consolidates ACs compared to the Dreadnought.
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marauder648

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #2 on: 10 November 2013, 09:10:39 »
What book is the Black Lion Mk 1 in? Very intersting article. :)
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sillybrit

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #3 on: 10 November 2013, 09:25:20 »

VhenRa

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #4 on: 10 November 2013, 19:52:27 »
I hope we get the Riga II somewhere in that series....

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #5 on: 10 November 2013, 21:03:58 »
Nice write up, Jellico.

I'm happy that the early Hegemony Battlecruiser finally saw the day of light.  This thing was work horse for McKenna's big ambitions to truely form the Terran Hegemony.  It would be interesting to see this big boat in action against other early WarShips of the time period.  I guess the Liao's Battleship is properly only one who encounter this thing during glory days.
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #6 on: 10 November 2013, 21:58:31 »
with AutoCannon based AAA and big naval Autocannons for anti-ship work, i suspect TPTB were watching a lot of battlestar Galactica when they designed this ship. certainly gives off a very "Battlestar" vibe.. especially when you consider it has a larger, more advanced brother, not unlike the Galactica and the Pegasus. the only thing missing from the comparison is fighter bays for the Black Lion I, though it's possible Jellico just forgot to mention them.

Jellico

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #7 on: 10 November 2013, 22:04:20 »
Rounding out the Black Lion’s fighting capabilities were bays for 24 Small Craft identical to those of the Dreadnought.


The Black Lion I doesn't have fighter bays, though the Small Craft bays can be used.

Reunification War's Dreadnought was Galactica homage. Too much so in some minds.

Also you need to understand the tech of the time. I would need to check specific items, but lasers were very new at this time. Basically a designer was limited to NACs and ACs.

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #8 on: 10 November 2013, 23:04:54 »
Don't forget capital missiles. ;)

Also, adding energy weapons were almost immediately thrown out after considering the later Black Lion.  The Black Lion I was designed to be both a a direct extension of the Dreadnought program, but also as an older vessel that could have directly inspired the later Black Lion II (NAC Boogalo) of the 27th Century.
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Khymerion

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #9 on: 10 November 2013, 23:29:28 »

Reunification War's Dreadnought was Galactica homage. Too much so in some minds.


Well, obviously they are ultimately the no fun allowed types.
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mikecj

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #10 on: 11 November 2013, 00:14:21 »
At least no one has created a circular or y-shaped WarShip loaded with Angel Light Strike Fighters (TRO 3039)
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #11 on: 11 November 2013, 00:18:42 »
Well, obviously they are ultimately the no fun allowed types.

The obvious reason is that if everything in Battletech was a reference, then how would others reference Battletech?
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Khymerion

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #12 on: 11 November 2013, 00:31:48 »
The obvious reason is that if everything in Battletech was a reference, then how would others reference Battletech?

I understand that.   But two sentences never killed anything... plus, there are plenty of others in all the books to fill a book of just references if one looks with anything but the most casual of readings.
"Any sufficiently rigorously defined magic is indistinguishable from technology."  - Larry Niven... far too appropriate at times here.

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Do not offend the chair leg of truth.  It is wise and terrible.

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Jellico

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #13 on: 11 November 2013, 01:28:11 »
Go read P78 of Liberation of Terra 1. :-X

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #14 on: 11 November 2013, 02:14:21 »
Yeah, that whole page is nothing but one big nuBSG reference, effectively summing up the entire premiere miniseries.
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Khymerion

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #15 on: 11 November 2013, 07:50:49 »
I now stand educated, thank you for pointing that out.   Now it lingers as something quite obvious now but in five or six years, might not be so obvious to newer fans.   Much like some of the references in earlier books are not so obvious to players who pick the books up.   Plus, the ship does meet quite a different fate in the end.   But again, thank you for pointing it out for me, I must have missed the short story as I only seemed to have remembered Dreadnaught's class entry in Reunification War, thus the two sentence comment.
"Any sufficiently rigorously defined magic is indistinguishable from technology."  - Larry Niven... far too appropriate at times here.

...but sometimes making sure you turn their ace into red paste is more important than friends.

Do not offend the chair leg of truth.  It is wise and terrible.

The GM is only right for as long as the facts back him up.

Dragon Cat

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #16 on: 11 November 2013, 08:42:48 »
Yeah, that whole page is nothing but one big nuBSG reference, effectively summing up the entire premiere miniseries.

Still quite fun

sillybrit

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #17 on: 11 November 2013, 12:03:37 »
Also you need to understand the tech of the time. I would need to check specific items, but lasers were very new at this time. Basically a designer was limited to NACs and ACs.

AC2s, Medium Lasers and Small Lasers all came out circa 2300, which puts me in two minds regarding the inclusion of the AC2s on the Dreadnought, but not the lasers. On the one hand, the in-universe designers and admirals were perhaps just more comfortable with ACs due to the AC5 being 50 years old at this point, giving plenty of experience of their field usage in space, with the AC2 probably viewed as just a variation of the AC5. On the other hand, with the Dreadnought being the showcase of Terran might and technology, why not flaunt all the new shinies and include a few lasers; even if they failed to live up to expectation there was plenty of other armament to pick up the slack.

On the gripping hand, an all-ballistic armament is a deliberate theme and perhaps better sits in a real world reader's mind as more primitive, thus suiting the image of the first true WarShip class. That gives the only comfortable explanation for the Black Lion I, which really has no excuse to have avoided the lasers given that they would have been out in the field for over a decade at the time of its launch.

LRMs fall into the same boat as the lasers, as they were also introduced circa 2300.

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #18 on: 11 November 2013, 15:27:16 »
Might also be worth mentioning that at the very least the concept of the "Big gun go boom" variety of naval asset is well over 800 years old at this point, regardless of the actual introductory date of the AC/2.
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #19 on: 11 November 2013, 15:34:57 »
Yeah, that whole page is nothing but one big nuBSG reference, effectively summing up the entire premiere miniseries.

Well, all of that HAD happened before, and would happen again...
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #20 on: 11 November 2013, 15:37:31 »
Well, if you can find any references to original Galactica in any of the Housebooks...
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Giovanni Blasini

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #21 on: 11 November 2013, 16:49:38 »
Quote from: sillybrit
That gives the only comfortable explanation for the Black Lion I, which really has no excuse to have avoided the lasers given that they would have been out in the field for over a decade at the time of its launch.

Question: why did the Black Lion II carry no energy weapons?
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Alanith

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #22 on: 11 November 2013, 17:53:51 »
Question: why did the Black Lion II carry no energy weapons?

Off the top of my head, I would suspect the reason would probably have something to do with the flop that was the Cameron class Battlecruisers. Not mounting energy weapons would allow you to have a smaller and less complex energy distribution system, which was the whole reason the Cameron class had that big scandal in the first place.

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #23 on: 11 November 2013, 18:52:40 »
Except it isn't like energy weapons weren't clearly understood by that point, or even that the people who flubbed the Cameron built the Black Lion II.  And it isn't like Boeing Interstellar, who built the Black Lion II, hadn't used energy weapons on their various Lola I Class destroyers or the Riga class frigate.

There's also the tiny problem that the Black Lion's TR3057 fluff mentioned how well it performed during the Reunification War, which ended 94 years before the 2691 construction date of the Black Lion II per TR2750 and TR3057.  That meant that, like the Dreadnought,the Black Lion I would have served in the Reunification War, and been beholden to the no energy weapons limitation.

It would also have been vaguely odd for the namesake to lose energy weapons while the original had them, and, like the Black Lion II, emphasized that the original I was meant for naval beatdowns.
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Jellico

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #24 on: 11 November 2013, 19:02:26 »
AC2s, Medium Lasers and Small Lasers all came out circa 2300, which puts me in two minds regarding the inclusion of the AC2s on the Dreadnought, but not the lasers. On the one hand, the in-universe designers and admirals were perhaps just more comfortable with ACs due to the AC5 being 50 years old at this point, giving plenty of experience of their field usage in space, with the AC2 probably viewed as just a variation of the AC5. On the other hand, with the Dreadnought being the showcase of Terran might and technology, why not flaunt all the new shinies and include a few lasers; even if they failed to live up to expectation there was plenty of other armament to pick up the slack.

Some misuse of equipment in TROs around these dates forced some erratas which confused the issue.

Original Tech Manual
2250 AC2
2300 AC5
2400 Medium and Small Laser
2430 Large Laser.

Revised Tech Manual
2316 Large Laser

Original Tac Ops
Circa 2200 Naval ACs
2305 Naval Lasers
2358 Naval PPCs

sillybrit

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #25 on: 11 November 2013, 19:03:38 »
Question: why did the Black Lion II carry no energy weapons?

Setting aside the fluff reason that it allowed a lighter power system, something the construction rules sort of support given that the heat sinks are kind of meant to represent the power system, the reason that the Black Lion II mounts no capital energy weapons is that it went for the most bang for the buck in the form of NACs. Ton for ton, NACs are the best capital damage dealers, but pay for that with a shorter range plus ammo requirements.

The Black Lion II then doesn't mount any standard energy weapons because it doesn't mount any standard weapons at all, keeping to the main SLDF theme of leaving anti-fighter work to DropShips and ASFs.

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #26 on: 11 November 2013, 19:48:31 »
Yeah, but, as per Jellico's post, standard size energy weapons weren't quite available in 2315: they debuted a year later, and skipping prototype weapons on your shiny new battle cruiser makes sense.  Sharing parts with the Dreadnought also helped keep costs down, and simply reused "proven" components.
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sillybrit

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #27 on: 11 November 2013, 20:11:30 »
Yeah, but, as per Jellico's post, standard size energy weapons weren't quite available in 2315: they debuted a year later, and skipping prototype weapons on your shiny new battle cruiser makes sense.  Sharing parts with the Dreadnought also helped keep costs down, and simply reused "proven" components.

Small and Medium Lasers were available in 2300, so would be 15 years old by the time of the Black Lion I. It's only the Large Laser that came out after the lead ship of the class.

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #28 on: 11 November 2013, 20:42:32 »
An argument could maybe be made for the small laser...if any other TH WarShip of the era had point defense. The Dreadnought, Dart, Bonaventure, Vigilant, Lola I and Aegis certainly didn't.

Medium lasers are too limited in range for a big battlecruiser. They also don't really feature on its contemporaries.  When designing a ship from the early 2300s, it's usually best to make it fit into its era.  Standard laser batteries would not have fit.
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Black Lion I
« Reply #29 on: 11 November 2013, 20:54:23 »
and 15 years before commissioning is a pretty limited window.. odds are the design spec's and requirements for the Black Lion I were finalized only a few years after lasers became available. not enough time for anyone to figure out how to apply them to large craft naval warfare yet.

 

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