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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week, Issue #050 (repost) - Starfire  (Read 2670 times)

Trace Coburn

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Fighter of the Week, Issue #050 (repost) - Starfire
« on: 31 March 2011, 00:30:45 »
SF-1X Starfire - 55t, TRO3026R
Originally posted 21 Dec. 2005.

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


  When the Helm Memory Core reached the NAIS, it was a godsend for the Inner Sphere as a whole... and House Davion and its munitions manufacturers in particular.  They knew that between the economic might of the Lyran Commonwealth, the military acumen of the Federated Suns, and the foundtech of the Helm Memory Core, the new Federated Commonwealth had the potential to void all of the old strategic equations and actually establish itself as the Inner Sphere’s dominant superpower.  Even the incomplete melding of those first two factors that started 4SW at THAT Wedding Reception all but eviscerated a fellow Successor State and had the other two looking very, very nervous; a monopoly on military foundtech would be the death-knell of the old strategic balance.
  The thing is, when almost all of the background knowledge necessary to manufacture that sort of advanced battletech has been lost - when you have to (re-)learn almost from scratch the principles behind the tools to build the machines that make the ‘new’ equipment, then actually build those tools, then the machines, and so forth - one must take baby-steps, or risk stumbling from the path down blind alleys (or into a patch of thorns).  So it was with the NAIS’ duplication of aerospace foundtech.  One of their first steps was building a small batch of Hammerhead heavy strike-fighters to test their ‘new’ ferro-aluminium armour... which would produce something of a sensation in the FedCom when one of the ships was lost in an accident in 3042; an armour fragment was recovered by an outside agency and publically proclaimed “too advanced to be human-made!”, leading to a media frenzy that Kai Allard-Liao and Dierdre Lear would remember and discuss (mainly with amused derision) during the events of Lost Destiny.
  (Incidentally, this skewering of the UFO/Roswell/Area-51 ‘paranoid kooks’ would not be the last time Stackpole referenced and pungently debunked a twentieth-century ‘conspiracy’ in a CBT novel set in the thirty-first century; his description of a sniper assassinating Ryan Steiner in Assumption of Risk contains remarks that read like pointed commentary on the whole JFK mess, especially Jim Garrison’s investigation and the ‘grassy knoll’ theory.  Uhm, Mike?  Used in passing, as counterpoints to the Grand Tale of the Warrior Trilogy, the pop-culture references like “Doctor Buckaroo Banzai” were cool; making fun of them in-depth, especially in ‘grittier’ fare like the Clan-era novels, smacks more of self-indulgence, so please: get your hand off it.  :P  )
  About the same time, but more in the nature of a next step along the path to proper modernisation of the FedCom fighter corps. was building a fighter not to Star League-era blueprints, by hand, in a laboratory, but to an entirely new design which used both that more advanced older technology and modern, less sophisticated techniques in design and construction; a design built not to merely imitate Star League methods, but to understand them and methodically expand on that understanding.  Assembled in a workshop environment (in a joint effort between the NAIS and Doctor Banzai’s people! ;)) specifically as a testbed which combined old technology and new, the SF-1X Starfire was never intended for frontline combat service - and indeed, the type never saw action, according to all records of the type which have been made public.  (Though given the foregoing discussion of conspiracies and underhand dealings, exactly how much weight the reader should give that last phrase is entirely subjective. ;)  :-X)

  Drawing heavily on the Hellcat II, but not quite able to completely duplicate it for various reasons - including inexperience with SL tech that mandated a heavier spaceframe, and limited facilities for production of ferro-aluminium which limited the armour thickness - the SF-1X was also, intriguingly, intended to use something akin to OmniTech, though once again the makers’ ability fell short of their aspirations.
  The Starfire’s heart is a 275SFE with the usual five tons of fuel that gives it a very respectable 7/11 movement curve - one of the features it shares with the HCT-213B it was partly based on, one might note.  One might expect a testbed to use an XL engine, and I don’t doubt that some Starfires may well have served as trials for XLFE starfighter technology.  Once the idea was introduced to the IS by the Clans.  The original Star League could not put extralight powerplants in their fighters (TRO2750 suggests it’s an engineering limitation, though the Clan experience would indicate that it may well be more in the nature of a mental/philosophical block), and even if some out-of-the-box NAIS type came up with it (despite the limitation of working from SL data), I sincerely doubt that anyonw would be willing to take such a drastic risk from the outset.  After the Clans proved that XL’ing fighters was possible and they had some actual hardware to work from to get around whatever ‘problems’ existed, the Starfire probably would have been first in line for the tests, sure; but when first built?  Not on your life - it’s just too radical.  (Struck-out section overtaken by events.  Hooray for the defeat of ComStar’s historical bias!  ::) )
  With facilities for ferro-aluminium production sharply limited (that ‘workshop environment’ thing at work again ::)), the SF-1X carries only seven tons of protection, 42/31/21 - vulnerable to ML thresholding across the wings and aft, but again, it was built as a technology demonstrator that was never actually meant for real combat, so that’s probably less important than it might be.  The canon ordnance load is less than overwhelming, again for those same reasons of limiting risks: an Ultra-5 with a ton of ammo in the nose, with MLs in each wing and a small laser after to discourage tailgaters, backed by twenty SHS.  (Now, does anyone else think that those weapons make the SF-1X look like the inspiration behind the Dagger? ???)  The UAC/5 isn’t especially powerful, but it offers decent range and a good damage:heat ratio.  However, it was a rare occurence for any two Starfires to be exactly alike, as the designers had a habit of field-refitting them at a whim so they could play with this week’s IS2 ‘shiny kit’.  (It would be this depth of experience that would give the FedCom a slight edge in its understanding of IS2 ‘do’s and don’t’s’ in the 3050 era... though that would be a matter of degree.)  DHS, LB-10X autocannons, ERLLs and Artemis-enhanced missile launchers are all specifically mentioned, albeit not in any specific combinations.  It would also have made a very useful medium attack-plane, carrying eleven tons of external warload at 4/6... though it would more likely have been ten tons or less at 5/8, letting it keep pace with the Stuka as an escort or fellow bomber....  }:)

  Being a TRO3026R design, it’s highly, highly unlikely that a Starfire will ever see combat in a campaign set in the Clan era or later - only a few were built, and those that weren’t destroyed during/by testing were scrapped and stripped when the programme was over, with only a single example surviving to be put on static display at the NAIS “as a testament to Davion ingenuity”.  ::)  (Sounds much like my beloved F-16XL, dammit!  >:()  Of course, the deranged crowd around this place will try anything ::), so in case someone decides to stage a “Firefox” scenario or an alternate history where it was put into front-line service, I’ll look at deployment nonetheless.
  Those using the Starfire need to remember that, for all that it’s a medium-sized fighter, it’s armoured like many lights and cannot stand up to much punishment; nor is it especially well-armed.  My preference would be to restrict it to bombing duties, where it can be escorted by Corsairs (or free them up for other duties) and avoid the rough-and-tumble of air-to-air combat.  If attacked by enemy fighters, sting him with the Ultra-gun, then use your (presumably) superior manoeuvrability to blow through him, extend, and get out of Dodge while the getting’s good.  Of course, if the other guy is using lots of conventional birds like the Strike Fighters of the last few weeks articles, the Starfire can make a fair job of hunting them for you: the Ultra-gun and mediums give it hideous crit-seeking ability against their tissue-paper armour (and one-salvo-kill potential against Light SFs), and that 7/11 movement curve means that Medium and Heavy Strike Fighters have a very, very rough time of trying to shake a determined attacker riding an SF-1X.  As always, keep the mantras in mind.

  For preference, those gunning for Starfires should do it in better-performing birds; indeed, an intriguing scenario which just popped into my head would be a ‘battle of the prototypes’, pitting the FedCom’s testbed the 7/11 Starfire against the Draconis Combine’s own advanced-technology fighter, the 8/12 Sai.  (I call it intriguing mainly from the viewpoint of a “what if?” argument, because in the actual event it’s unlikely to be any contest; as written, the S-4 out-reaches, out-turns and out-guns the SF-1X.  :-X)  Failing that, go for him with a pack of interceptors and/or a pair of fast-dogfighter mediums and swing around behind him, where a medium laser will chew past armour into vital components with glorious regularity.  }:)

  [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,3880.0.html

  Be advised: the attached .txt transcript(s) of previous runs of this thread may 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.  ;)

Moonsword

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #050 (repost) - Starfire
« Reply #1 on: 31 March 2011, 08:11:25 »
Personally, I'd really rather not be the guy in the Starfire trying to throw down with an S-3.  The Ultra/5 is probably going to get a nice little ping in but when it gets into the juke-'n-jab section of the night's entertainment, the Sai's greater thrust and heavier firepower are going to be telling.  It's a testbed bird and evidently did very well for itself in that role.  It's not really armed or armored to function well as a combatant.

nerd

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #050 (repost) - Starfire
« Reply #2 on: 31 March 2011, 23:48:43 »
It's the Gloster E.28/29 to the Dagger's Gloster Meteor.
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skymarshall

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #050 (repost) - Starfire
« Reply #3 on: 09 April 2011, 18:37:20 »
I really like the Starfire for its adaptablility.  They Lyrans should have bought the rights to them after the NAIS was done using them.  Oversinked like crazy means you can install 10 DHS and that saves you 10 tons right off the bat.  I would add 5 tons of armor giving you a respectable 12 total that matches up quite well with other dog fighters.  You still have 5 tons for a LL or you could strip the Ultra AC out with its ammo and give yourself 15 tons to do with what you will.  Blake knows the Lyrans need an honest to got dogfighter to call their own to help guide their Lucifers and Chippewa's (or revamped Typhoon :P) in. ohh the possiblities [drool]