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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week, Issue #049 (repost) - Strike Fighter, Heavy  (Read 2680 times)

Trace Coburn

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Meteor Heavy Strike Fighter - 45t, AT2/TRO3039
Originally posted 14 Dec. 2005.
Please forgive any typos - the woodcraft place had me manning a six-head router the afternoon I first wrote this and my hands were still tingling....  :-\

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


  Planetary militias and home-defence units need air-cover and ground-attack capabilities, too, and given that they are usually very far down on national procurement priority lists, they most often can’t get aerospace platforms, or afford adequate numbers of them even when they’re available; indeed, for most planets’ self-defence needs, surface-to-space capability is not an absolute necessity so much as an expensive luxury.  Thusly, they find themselves in need of purely atmospheric aircraft which can move fast, deal damage... and be fielded in adequate numbers, often through indigenous manufacture.  This is the thought process which brings us the assembly of generic conventional platforms known as the Strike Fighter family.

  I used that same opening spiel for the other two Strike Fighters to emphasise their ‘generic’ nature, and it can stay for the last of them... even if it was a little harder to justify in this case, at least for a great while.  I always took the Strike Fighters’ lack of fluff to be a conscious decision by TPTB, seeking to preserve the ‘generic’ status of these conventional fighters so that players could take their stats from the back of AT2 and play them without regard to issues like ‘faction equipment’.  Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for the Heavy Strike Fighter (HSF) as presented in AT2, as someone got a little eager and deployed a faction-specific weapon on a supposedly generic platform, which means that those playing “canon designs only/faction equipment restrictions” games will find themselves denied one of the heaviest platforms going, ironically because of the very weapons system that makes it worth fielding in the first place.  :(
  Of course, with TRO3039 in hand, it seems that this is actually little more than the Leaguers getting a bit of their own back.  Jalastar Aerospace saw how well the LSF and MSF were selling to the other Houses, and decided to do much the same thing by selling a CF to the Hegemony’s militias.  When the Hegemony fell, the other five Houses appropriated hordes of HSFs from the Hegemony worlds they stole annexed, and it seems that after seeing how abundantly the other Houses were pirating the Angel and Defender, with little more than a hoisted middle finger by way of licencing fees, the FWL in turn chose to swipe the baseline model of the HSF off of the Federated Suns and turned it into the LGR/SSRM machine we saw in AT2.

  For conventionals, the Meteor is an ‘assault’-scale airframe, so the 5/8 movement curve isn’t too bad, especially given its very decent 480 points (3 tons) of fuel; the 225SFE that allows it is a little less usual, but given that the whole point of slow movement curves on big birds is to allow heavy throw-weights, it’s no real kick.  The airframe carries a decent two-point-five tons of armour, the maximum it can have without ‘wasting’ tonnage/armour-points, and while 12/10/8 doesn’t rank with zombie-monsters like the Gotha, as with the LSF and MSF it’ll let you shake off a few glancing strikes.
  Jalastar were clearly deep in the throes of Davion’s famous ‘autocannon fever’ when they whipped up the Meteor, opting to make the centrepiece of its armament the not-unimpressive Mydron B AC/10, mounted in the nose with two tons of ammunition.  Heavy enough to credibly threaten many ’Mechs, much less ASFs and CFs, the Ack-10 makes the Meteor a system to be wary of - especially when the wing-mounted SRM4s, each with a ton of ammo, can follow to exploit any breached armour.  Coupled with up to nine ‘points’ of bombs/rockets/other XO at 3/5 (though I’m not sure I’d want to slow down that much), even a single pass by a Meteor can make a difference on the battlefield... and aerial opponents need to look out for the single Arrow AAM or four(!) Light AAMs an ‘escort’ Meteor might choose to carry.  :o

  Again, anyone using conventional fighters is probably balancing on C-bills rather than BV, and being that the HSF costs a mere fraction of what a comparably-sized ASF would do (1.8 million C-bills, 520 BV), a force-size worthy of the word ‘horde’ is a distinct possibility.  }:)  The mantras are crucial, of course: plan your mission ingress routes to avoid heavy concentrations of defensive firepower, mass fire on the objective, then beat feet.  Never engage enemy aircraft if you have any choice, and that goes double for ASFs; you’re simply too slow and vulnerable to have any chance in a turning fight.  A barrage of AC/10 shells at Medium range should be enough to discourage any singletons you run across, even if it doesn’t connect, but a wing-pair or more of ASFs will run wild on your formation like it’s wearing red-and-yellow and finishes with the Big Leg-Drop.  :P

  Once more, defenders need to keep their interceptor-cover fresh and alert, site their ground-defence units well, and do everything they can to deny enemy HSFs use of the airspace.  A single AC/10 shot isn’t overly concerning to heavy- and assault-grade ground units; half a dozen can cause significant distress... especially when followed with salvoes of SRMs and/or external rockets.  }:)

  As with the other two breeds of conventional strike-fighter, variants abound.  The Dracs were perfectly happy to take the Meteor and turn it back around at the FedSuns, even dubbing it the Inseki (“Meteorite”) to put a little salt in the wound.  Nor were they blind to the potential of the fusion engine, coming out with the Inseki II refit package that traded the AC/10 for a PPC (making full use of the engine’s heat-sinks), the SRM-4s for LRM-10s(!) with a ton of ammo apiece, and installed a machine-gun and a half-ton of ammo aft ‘to deter close pursuit’.  ::)  Apart from the marginal utility of the MG, this is one of those near-flawless upgrades that’s so ‘blindingly obvious’ you wonder how the heck any of the BT Houses could’ve ever tumbled to it, much less the hidebound Snakes.  :D  With more firepower at better range than the baseline Meteor, the Inseki II would be a natural choice to ‘escort’ standard Meteors the way the two Lyran models of MSF, the Steinadler and Kaiseradler, routinely operate in militia formations.  ;)
  On the other hand, the Taurian Defence Force didn’t have a Great House’s budget to play with, so they had to go low-tech.  Shedding the fusion powerplant for a simple turbine, the Taurian “Bat Hawk” manages to retain the centreline Ack-10, but the larger engine’s pinch on mass and cubage obliges it to offload the SRM-4s and their ammo for a single nose-mounted SRM-2 and a single ton of ammo.  :-\  That the Bulls kept the main gun is good; that they couldn’t more of the secondary armament to go with it is... entirely understandable, but still galling.  The Bat Hawk can still crit-seek after punching holes - especially if it’s got external RL/10s - but is far less effective at it.  If only the old “Inferno = insta-kill” rule still applied to vehicles, this one might be a little better than it is... but then, I’ve always felt that “if only” is one of the most futile phrases in the English language.  :(
  In the era of foundtech and newtech, the FedSuns were quite happy to improve the firepower available to their militia air-wings.  The Meteor-U upgrades the old AC/10 to a Mydron Ultra-10, then replaces the SRM-4s with ML-pairs in each wing and picks up a pair of heat-sinks to run them, as well.  The Ultra’s extra weight costs the Meteor-U a ton of fuel, but given how fast it’ll run through its ammo, long sorties are probably contraindicated anyway - especially since the raw power of a UAC/10 ‘double-tap’ and the follow-up quad-ML treatment mean that Meteor-Us will quickly attract a great deal of “make that evil thing GO AWAY!” ground-fire.  :D
  The other advanced model is the one first showcased in AT2, the Free Worlds-built Meteor-G.  Downgrading the fuel-reserves like the Feddie Meteor-U does, this model replaces the baseline model’s AC/10 with a light Gauss Rifle and a single ton of ammo, while the SRM-4s are upgraded to Streak capability.  Now with a ridiculous degree of reach to its main armament and with phenomenal damage-concentration once the action gets ‘into the phone booth’, the Meteor-G plays very well to the FWL’s ‘sniper’ style of warfare and, especially when used en masse, can make even the heaviest ground-units long for clearer skies in a great hurry.
  (When the Meteor-G was the ‘default’ HSF, as in the only one we knew about, the LGR was something of a sticking point for all involved.  Now, as a matter of personal preference I’m rather fond of the Light Gauss Rifle: while not the lightest weapon going, it combines near-obscene range with low heat, decent ammo capacity and a respectable clout on the un-fun end.  Hell, in the stillborn Fan Councils ’48 campaign, one of my Minnesota Federation’s ‘great spoiler’ tricks would have been supplying the Inner Sphere states (through Wolf’s Dragoons) with significant quantities of LGRs; used as direct replacements for already-installed AC/10s, they would have offset much of the Clan range advantage and severely thrown off their strategic calculus.  (Cue pleasant daydream of ‘refit-kit’, 5/8/5 ES/LFE Enforcers pelting OmniMechs with LGR slugs from 750m out.... }:))  Unfortunately, in canon it was a weapon peculiar to the Free Worlds League (and their Blaker allies), meaning that it made using the AT2-‘standard’ HSF a little awkward for other powers.  :-\)


  [VARIANT PROPOSAL(S) REDACTED] All proposed fan-variants - including my own - belong in the corresponding “FotW Workshop” thread: http://www.classicbattletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,3840.0.html

  Be advised: the attached .txt transcript(s) 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.  ;)

Trace Coburn

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  While the extensive rewrites I made above (as a force-of-habit! :-[) more than likely obviate the need to repeat the content below ::), invalid effort sought my permission to write the ’39 Update for the HSF back in 2008, and as a matter of courtesy for the time and pains it took him, I’m re-posting his article below.  ;)  (Complete with my excessive editorialising, which I probably should’ve kept down to a dull roar....  :-[)

Quote from: Trace Coburn, 13:48:19 17-02-2008
Quote from: invalid effort

Hello again!  It's invalid effort with your (conventional) fighter of the week, this time here to look at the Meteor heavy strike fighter.  The Meteor comes to us courtesy of the FedSuns based Jalastar Aerospace.  It was designed as an exportable conventional fighter aimed specifically for the Terran Hegemony, even though it eventually became the standard for HSF’s everywhere once the Terran Hegemony fell.
  The thing goes back *that* far?  Ye gods, no *wonder* it's so prolific (and proliferated)!  :o

Quote from: invalid effort
  What differentiates the Meteor from other conventionals is the use of a fusion engine (yes, ladies and gentlemen, an SFE! :D).  The use of the fusion engine, even though it raised the price, allowed for a speedy, agile craft with one big gun, and heavy armor (please remember that this is with regard to conventional fighters, and that its armor and fire power when it comes to ASF’s might as well be tissue paper and a spitball gun #P).

  As far as deployment is concerned, who in the Inner Sphere *doesn't* have one, I mean really?  The only people who don't are the Clans (I think?).

[SNIP base Meteor stat-block]
  Stat wise, the base Meteor is a relatively robust craft.  It has a 225 SFE giving it a thrust curve of 5/8, with three tons of fuel.  Its armor is spread out 12/10/8, which is OK for a conventional but not something to brag about :-[.  As for armament it has a nose-borne AC-10 with two tons of ammo, wing mounted SRM 4’s with a ton of ammo each, and ten heat sinks to chill it all down.
  Not that it actually needs them in this form, since CFs only build heat from energy weapons, but it's not like you can do after-market work on an SFE.  :P  It's interesting that the designers chose to install such capacious ammo bins for a craft with such a mayfly battlefield life expectancy - the added per-salvo throw-weight of SRM-6s might have been more desirable - but there *are* compensations in that choice (see below).
  As invalid effort notes, this is the baseline, pre-foundtech, pre-Amaris version of the Meteor from which all the others are descended - and while it's no BFG-toting MechBuster, it's certainly got guns enough to make its presence felt.  The combination of an AC/10 and SRM racks makes for a classic 'punch-holes/find-crits' combination against ground targets, and a little luck on the Cluster Hits rolls will force a PSR on a 'Mech.  }:)  And for those who think these 'old-style' Meteors may no longer be viable in the foundtech era, I have two words for you: "specialised munitions".  You've got *two* tons of each type of ammo, remember, and not enough armour to last long enough to expend your full internal loads, so I'd recommend that you go right ahead and load up on all that cute Davvie-designed trick ammo.  AP shells for the Ack-10 and those fun through-armour criticals?  Precision rounds to hunt down hovercraft and scout 'Mechs?  Frag missiles to shred enemy infantry?  Infernoes to roast tanks and debilitate 'Mechs?  }:)

Quote from: invalid effort
[SNIP Inseki II stat-block]
  As far as variants go there are a few.  First is the Kurita version, where all its weapons are traded out for a nose mounted PPC, wing mounted LRM 10’s, and a rear mounted machine gun (sounds awfully familiar to one of Trace's original upgrades O0).
  Yeah, well, for a bird with an SFE, the ten 'free' SHS that come therewith, and as much weapons cubage as the Meteor, a PPC was *always* going to be one of those 'well, duh!' design options, even during the SW era.  :P  I can't say that the machine gun strikes me as an inspired choice, especially for dissuading tailgaters; personally, I'd have been a little happier to see it in the nose, so where it can be put to more effective use in air-to-ground squishie-chewing.  }:)  OTOH, there's not much you can do with a single ton of weapons cubage in the pre-foundtech era - all the SHS are fully occupied with the PPC, and the thing already has more ammo than it's likely to use in its battlefield lifespan - so let's call it a wash.  :P

Quote from: invalid effort
[SNIP Bat Hawk stat-block]
  Another variant is the Taurian-made craft known as the Bathawk.  This aircraft replaces the fusion engine with a 225 turbine engine. The nose armament gets a SRM 2 pack but this is only to make up for having to sacrifice the wing mounted SRM 4’s in order to add that beastly engine.  Quite simply this is the poor man's HSF. :'(
  Cheap?  Yup.  It gets even cheaper when you realise that fitting the engine and the stated weapons mix means that you have to drop either a ton of AC/10 ammo or a ton of fuel - and since a downgrade to the fuel-fraction wasn't mentioned....  :-\
  Nonetheless, this *does* give Weirdo's 'air hicks' something to play with, and as long as you don't mind the low per-turn throw-weight compared to its fusion-powered buddy, it's an adequate (if underwhelming) platform for low-cost aerial bombardment.
  (Odd thing is, if they'd accepted a 4/6 movement curve and only three tons of ammo all-up, they could have kept the AC/10 and backed it with as many as three two-ton missile racks (be they LRM-5s or SRM-4s), in any combination, and turned a 5/8 fighter with lacklustre firepower into a 4/6 fighter that could really smack somebody about while it survived.  Were I a cold, calculating member of the Taurian General Staff, I'd accept the loss of a single thrust-point for that much more potential damage to the enemy.  :D)

Quote from: invalid effort
  As for recent upgrades you have the Meteor that Trace covered in his original HSF article, the Meteor-G which mounts Streaked SRM’s and a nose mounted LGR with two tons of fuel.

  This brings us to our final variant (and my personal favorite O0) the Meteor-U.
[SNIP Meteor-U stat-block]
  The Meteor-U is a Fed-Suns refit in which the AC is upgraded to an Ultra series and the wing mounted SRM’s are swapped for two pairs of ML’s as well as two heat sinks.  The only downside to this variant is that it sacrifices a ton of its fuel, dropping it down to 2 tons, but it nearly doubles its hitting power.
  Oddly, HM:A says that downrating the fuel-tank as noted and going with only twenty rounds for the UAC/10 would have left the type two tons underweight - so either the Meteor-U also drops a half-ton of armour somewhere to become V/STOL capable(!), or it packs a forty-shot magazine that's arguably excessive for the tactical niche the craft occupies, 'Ultra' rates-of-fire notwithstanding.  :-\  I'm going to work on the assumption that they took the V/STOL option.  (He says, readying himself to 'take a pair of over-easy right in the kisser'....  :P)
  Now, the Feddies never struck me as the sort who'd build a CF for the guerrilla style of warfare, but it's entirely possible that they picked up a thing or two during their head-butting sessions with the Cappies - or they wanted to create a platform for ground-support that could leave the fixed airbases open for their ASFs (like the DARO-1 }:) ).  Either way, given the unholy lust with which House Davion is supposed to regard all things 'autocannon', this makes a damned fine platform for that sort of thing.  The Ultra-Ack-10 can deliver two ten-point whacks per Strike pass, with the MLs to exploit the resulting armour-breaches, and that's pretty respectable (if not quite as good at crit-seeking as the SRMs might have been).  O0  The need for capacious ammunition stockpiles isn't such a great thing, but if it's intended as a weapon of aggressive warfare, rather than guerrilla harrassment, the invaders are more-than-lickely to have brought along goodly amounts of ammo anyway.
  (Interesting note?  The Meteor-U has enough room to replace its UAC/10 with a RAC/5 and five(!) tons of ammo.  'Ghetto Dagger', anyone?  }:) )


  [VARIANT PROPOSAL(S) REDACTED] All proposed fan-variants - including my own - belong in the corresponding “FotW Workshop” thread: http://www.classicbattletech.com/forums/index.php/topic,3840.0.html

Quote from: invalid effort
Well once again thanks to Trace and everyone else for putting up with my articles, and next time I'll most likely be covering the Defender medium strike fighter (but I'm very open to suggestions).
  Show of hands: who thinks invalid effort's doing pretty well for himself so far?  O0

Moonsword

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I recommended mixed squadrons of these with the fearsome MechBuster last time around.  The SRMs aren't as useful as they could be for ground attack anymore (aerospace cluster rules strike again!).

To really scare someone, consider that the Inseki II and the 'Buster probably operated together sometimes.  That's going to hurt no matter what you're in.

Nebfer

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Well due to the fact that despite its popularity the mechbuster is not a common bird, Which makes this probably one of the more common fighters one might see.

Though this bird has deep ammo bins allowing it to stay over a battlefield for protracted periods of time, and it's got the fuel endurance as well.
Though staying over an active battlefield is not a good idea in B-tech, considering that any real hit is hitting you with considerable force (though I suppose the Strat ops rules would come in handy). And the fact that you do not have that much armor in any case. Though It could be useful on battlefields where their is a lack of active AA units.


 

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