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Author Topic: DropShip of the Week: Achilles  (Read 4143 times)

Jellico

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DropShip of the Week: Achilles
« on: 26 November 2013, 07:26:01 »
Achilles, TRO:3057, DropShips and JumpShips, RS3145 NTNU





Dating back to the middle of the Reunification War (2577-2597) the Achilles (2582) was one of the Star League’s primary assault DropShips. As one of the first assault ships introduced to Battletech it set the scene and practically defined the type along with the Avenger. Though the Intruder and Fortress were also described as assault ships, they never inspired imitators in the same way. Even the lightweight Avenger remains an afterthought in many minds leaving the Achilles the defining example of what an assault DropShip is.


Produced at several locations across the Inner Sphere by the Star League the Achilles would see service with two main other ships. The Pentagon (2540 and 2623) and Titan. It is important to note the differences between the three. As a spheroid ship the Pentagon is primarily a defensive platform, better suited to anti-aircraft work. In comparison the aerodyne nature of the Achilles allows it to concentrate more weapons on a single ship making it a more potent anti-ship platform. On the other hand the Titan is a carrier and a command ship. It is notably lacking in the Achilles’ small craft and marine capability, singling the Achilles out as the picket ship.
This was an age of WarShips which could basically ignore the Achilles and its ilk. Ignoring the Titan’s aerospace fighters, the primary role of all three DropShips would be supporting ASF strikes or defending against them. In this role they would provide electronic support, heavy firepower, or target other DropShips directly. If done properly, aerospace superiority would be achieved and the battle could be won without the SLDF WarShips firing a shot.


The First Succession War knocked out all of the Achilles’ production lines with the exception of Galileo Instruments on Schuyler in the Draconis Combine. This meant everyone else had to maintain their surviving ships with whatever leftover League supplies they could get. It is notable that before 3055 there was no known Achilles facility in the Capellan Confederation or Free Worlds’ League which would have put severe limits on their ability to operate Achilles. It remains unclear just how much access the Lyrans Commonwealth and Federated Suns had to spare parts.

By the end of the Second Succession War WarShips were essentially extinct and Achilles represented the most capable of the combat DropShips surviving. It is notable that Comstar Intelligence Summary – FB60 (DropShips and JumpShips) describes the Achilles as “the only surviving relative of the Star League’s massive battle cruisers.” Late Succession War tactics saw Achilles primarily acting as heavy escorts for fighter groups. With assault DropShips rare the Achilles was able to run riot in an anti-shipping role.


Post Helm memory core and Operation Revival was a period of renewal for the Achilles. It wasn’t just the closest the Successor States had to the WarShips of the Clans. It was the closest they had to a Clan heavy OmniFighter. Unfortunately Schuyler was captured by Clan Smoke Jaguar in the opening waves of the invasion leaving the Inner Sphere without a source for its most capable assault DropShip. Enter Rashpur-Owens Inc. of Capella. Somehow they managed to get a new version of the Achilles into production. The 3055 model had slightly higher structural integrity while upgrading many of the weapon systems. The primary beneficiary would be range with PPCs becoming ERs, AC5s gauss rifles, and LRMs gaining Artemis IV FCS. Double heat sinks meant the new Achilles could use all the extra firepower.

Now the story of the Achilles reaches an interesting point. The Inner Sphere is upgrading their old Achilles to the 3055 standard. But Objective Raids notes that the Smoke Jaguars were continuing production of the 2582 model on Schuyler. This is a very early source confirming Clan usage of assault DropShips. It creates an interesting situation of the Clans using 2582 Achilles from Star League and Smoke Jaguar sources. Later in the Field Manual 3085 RATs we see this with those Clans sourcing their Achilles from these sources using the old version while those Clans that had absorbed IS states post 3055 had access to their subject’s upgraded Achilles.

In any case, by 3060 Schuyler was in Combine hands again and soon upgraded to 3055 standard, meaning virtually all Successor State Achilles would be the 3055. Probably the most notable feature of the Achilles at this time was that its armor began to look substandard. While the 3050’s generation of new assault DropShips look to the Achilles for inspiration, those that followed pushed new boundaries. The 3070s saw a generation of heavy assault ships that reduced the Achilles from the gold standard, to bare minimum. The Achilles was still viable, but less so in a front line role.


The most modern Achilles variant would appear in 3088. While the Draconis Combine had developed a series of very capable heavy assault DropShips they still required a lighter platform to screen their large units. Making use of lighter armour technologies this new variant had much more protection. Some range was sacrificed in favour of heavy PPCs and ultra AC20s while a Naval C3 CPU linked it in with the rest of the Combine navy. Importantly the 3088 variant retained the small craft and marines that made the Achilles so valuable as a picket ship. Interestingly the 3088 variant retains the structural integrity of the 2582 variant. Does this mean that the Combine never produced the 3055 variant between 3060 and 3088? That is a question we can’t answer though it is interesting to speculate.


Over five hundred years the heart of the Achilles remains the Xevex-12s interplanetary fusion drive. This venerable system is able to push the Achilles at 6 Gs. This makes all Achilles rapiers rather than weapons of brute force. Tactics generally involve avoiding heavy concentrations of enemies and isolating the weak. This has enabled it to persevere despite its increasingly weak armour and middling firepower. Unfortunately prolonged use of the Xevex-12s at full thrust causes it to vibrate unbearably and cause ammo miss feeds that need to be cleared manually.

Weaponry has remained surprisingly consistent. A few sniping weapons backed by a mixed array of medium ranged weapons. What has changed is the damage levels. Under basic rules the Achilles (2582) has a basic fault that prevents all three arcs being fired at once, but with advanced rules a laser bay can be dropped to allow full salvos. At long range the 2582 does 72 points of damage and 148 points at medium range. The 3055 variant does 182 at long range and the same at medium range. In both of these variants AC20s add 40 points at short range. The 3088 variant does 134 at long range and 264 at medium range. The 3088’s extra medium range firepower is very much in sync with its heavier armour and role as point unit in a NC3 squadron.


Tactically thrust, weapons and armour establish the role of the Achilles. The 2582 and 3088 are best served closing to short range and brawling with their targets. The 3055 should use its range advantage to avoid direct combat until the decisive moment is reached. All three remain solid picket ships and should use their small craft and fighters to achieve first contact, and if necessary distract a target before the Achilles itself is committed.


Defeating an Achilles, especially an early model is merely a matter of applying fire power. A squadron of heavy fighters or a heavy assault DropShip can handle the threat easily. The problem is catching the Achilles. Few DropShips have the thrust to maintain contact with an Achilles once battle is joined, while only a select few medium and light fighters can keep pace with an Achilles. The challenge becomes preventing the Achilles running away which in turn becomes a question of mission objectives and tactics.
« Last Edit: 26 November 2013, 07:30:28 by Jellico »

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Achilles
« Reply #1 on: 26 November 2013, 14:34:49 »
Good write up. I did have a question, though: where was the 3088 version written up? I know the 2582 version was in DropShips & JumpShips and the two versions of Tech Readout 3057, the latter also covering the 3055 version, but I don't recall the 3088 one in a technical readout.
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Weirdo

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Achilles
« Reply #2 on: 26 November 2013, 14:40:50 »
3145 NTNU.
"Thanks to Megamek, I can finally play BattleTech the way it was meant to be played--pantsless!"   -Neko Bijin
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Giovanni Blasini

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Achilles
« Reply #3 on: 26 November 2013, 14:44:09 »
Crap. I definitely need to buy that now. Any other aerospace goodies that will have me drooling?
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Weirdo

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Achilles
« Reply #4 on: 26 November 2013, 14:58:38 »
Aside from various ASF upgrades, NTNU has 4 DropShips: Dragau II (3097), Achilles (3088), Interdictor (3115), and Tiamat II (3112). All are evil.
"Thanks to Megamek, I can finally play BattleTech the way it was meant to be played--pantsless!"   -Neko Bijin
"It's just that the Hegemony had one answer to every naval problem. 'I kills it with my battleships.'" - Liam's Ghost
"...finally, giant space panties don't seem so strange." - Whistler
"The BT universe is startlingly deficient in both wisdom and hindsight." - Cray
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Jellico

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Achilles
« Reply #5 on: 26 November 2013, 20:03:31 »
Yeah. Somewhat annoyingly the old Achilles DSotW has disappeared so I had to write a whole new one just to get the 3145 update.

OTOH more Naval C3 should make people happy.

glitterboy2098

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Achilles
« Reply #6 on: 26 November 2013, 20:50:11 »
this DotW covers the history pretty well.. but i'm left with little improvement in my knowledge of the unit. the armament is called out as a special feature.. but no details as to what actually mounts, and where, is given. likewise i know this dropship has a combat compliment, yet details as to what that is and how best to employ them is missing. a quick perusal of the Sarna.net entry provides some detail on armament, but that lacks the context and enrichment of having it explained by someone who knows how it's used.
« Last Edit: 26 November 2013, 20:51:50 by glitterboy2098 »

Wrangler

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Achilles
« Reply #7 on: 26 November 2013, 21:45:51 »
Nice write up Jellico.

Achilles is iffy to me, it certainly has the speed few can rival, but i keep thinking its under armed by the 31st Century.  Its certainly be a commerce raider for sure, but if  look at it now with specially with the coming of the Sub-Capital weapons.

The ships like the Achilles don't have a chance to hold up on a fighter.  Interdictor, which is based on Achilles can beat pants of it.   

   
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Jellico

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Achilles
« Reply #8 on: 27 November 2013, 00:40:30 »
this DotW covers the history pretty well.. but i'm left with little improvement in my knowledge of the unit. the armament is called out as a special feature.. but no details as to what actually mounts, and where, is given. likewise i know this dropship has a combat compliment, yet details as to what that is and how best to employ them is missing. a quick perusal of the Sarna.net entry provides some detail on armament, but that lacks the context and enrichment of having it explained by someone who knows how it's used.
Not a big fan of spelling out a 'Mech Lance worth of weapons three times. We have TROs and RS for that.
As a spheroid ship the Pentagon is primarily a defensive platform, better suited to anti-aircraft work. In comparison the aerodyne nature of the Achilles allows it to concentrate more weapons on a single ship making it a more potent anti-ship platform. On the other hand the Titan is a carrier and a command ship. It is notably lacking in the Achilles’ small craft and marine capability, singling the Achilles out as the picket ship.
This was an age of WarShips which could basically ignore the Achilles and its ilk. Ignoring the Titan’s aerospace fighters, the primary role of all three DropShips would be supporting ASF strikes or defending against them. In this role they would provide electronic support, heavy firepower, or target other DropShips directly. If done properly, aerospace superiority would be achieved and the battle could be won without the SLDF WarShips firing a shot.


 Late Succession War tactics saw Achilles primarily acting as heavy escorts for fighter groups. With assault DropShips rare the Achilles was able to run riot in an anti-shipping role.

This makes all Achilles rapiers rather than weapons of brute force. Tactics generally involve avoiding heavy concentrations of enemies and isolating the weak.

Tactically thrust, weapons and armour establish the role of the Achilles. The 2582 and 3088 are best served closing to short range and brawling with their targets. The 3055 should use its range advantage to avoid direct combat until the decisive moment is reached. All three remain solid picket ships and should use their small craft and fighters to achieve first contact, and if necessary distract a target before the Achilles itself is committed.


Defeating an Achilles, especially an early model is merely a matter of applying fire power. A squadron of heavy fighters or a heavy assault DropShip can handle the threat easily. The problem is catching the Achilles. Few DropShips have the thrust to maintain contact with an Achilles once battle is joined, while only a select few medium and light fighters can keep pace with an Achilles. The challenge becomes preventing the Achilles running away which in turn becomes a question of mission objectives and tactics.

Articles for Small Craft generally handle boarding. You try to avoid it with DropShips. Likewise fighter tactics are generally covered by fighter entries.

Given the limits of weapon bays DropShip combat is often little more than get in range and fire.

Nice write up Jellico.

Achilles is iffy to me, it certainly has the speed few can rival, but i keep thinking its under armed by the 31st Century.  Its certainly be a commerce raider for sure, but if  look at it now with specially with the coming of the Sub-Capital weapons.

The ships like the Achilles don't have a chance to hold up on a fighter.  Interdictor, which is based on Achilles can beat pants of it.   

   
Not so sure about commerce raiding in BT full stop. Points of concentration where raiding can occur are usually well protected.

The Achilles (2582) can take down any two ASF in the game by itself. Even with the initiative penalty it can outmanoeuvre, outlast, and outgun any ASF. More than two and things get interesting, but not impossible.

The Interdictor bloody well should beat an Achilles. It is twice the mass.

ipopal

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Re: DropShip of the Week: Achilles
« Reply #9 on: 27 November 2013, 00:56:39 »
Reads more like a fighter to me. Best use would seem to have it target merchant/commercial dropships in a system. Run if confronted.

 

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