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Author Topic: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship  (Read 5150 times)

Giovanni Blasini

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Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends.  This week, we'll be talking about the Nightwing class surveillance ship.  First built in 2447 by DiTron Heavy Industries (designer/refitter of the Aegis), and first published as one of the "Lost WarShips" of Tech Readout 3057 Revised, this one is a doozy.

Like the Tracker, the Nightwing owes its existence to a throwaway line from Tech Readout 2750's entry on the Bug-Eye.  Like these other vessels, it's ostensibly a surveillance ship, designed to mimic civilian traffic, while gathering valuable intel.  That, however, is where things begin to diverge.

The first question one should ask oneself when looking at the Nightwing, a ship designed to mimic civilian transports, is what it's meant to mimic.  This is where things get interesting because there is a civilian primitive JumpShip that has the same baseline mass and identical length as the Nightwing: the Aquilla class.  While that vessel predates the Nightwing by three centuries, it's safe to assume updated versions must have existed, since there are also mentions of the Aquilla being pressed into ad hoc military service by the Canopians as late as the Reunification War.  So, that's a pretty safe bet.

Next, ask yourself if the Nightwing has the tools for the surveillance job.  Well, kinda.  Again predating the publication of Tactical Operations, the Nightwing was given an unstatted 75-ton sensor package in a cargo bay.  Were this ship redone in a newer publication, it's entirely possible it would be swapped for a small naval comm scanner suite.  But, it's something clearly devoted to the surveillance job, and while it might become an outdated sensor suite in the early 26th Century, it's something.

Something else the Nightwing is, though, is comparatively sluggish, and short on cargo.  With under 3000 tons of cargo available, and only 3/5 thrust, the Nightwing trailed the Tracker not only in acceleration, but endurance.  Perhaps that's why the Terran Hegemony frequently paired the two classes of ships together, where the larger cargo holds of the Tracker could help keep Nightwings operating for extended periods.

So it's slower than the Tracker and has roughly a tenth the cargo, while only massing 20 kilotons less.  Where did the Nightwing use up its mass?

"Guns.  Lots of guns."

Like the somewhat older Vincent, the Nightwing carries a quartet of naval autocannons, with one each gracing its fore-quarters and broadsides.  Unlike the larger corvette, though, engineers sprang for NAC/20s on the Nightwing.  Oh, but they didn't stop there.  The Nightwing lacks the Vincent's eight large lasers.  Instead, it has four NL-45s, arranged in pairs in each aft-quarter.  Capital missiles?  Nope, instead the Nightwing packs a medium naval PPC in the nose, with two more mounted aft.  Heat sinks are plentiful.  In fact, no other WarShip in Tech Readout 3057 Revised devotes as high a mass fraction to guns as the Nightwing.  And this is a surveillance ship?

Guns aren't the only area DiTron engineers went nuts, though.  With an SI of 65 and 146 points of armor, the Nightwing is durable as hell for such a small ship.  To find its equal, you really have to look.  Forget the Vincent or Vigilant.  The Mako two centuries younger, succeeds, but the Baron and Naga don't.  We're talking about a surveillance ship from the mid-26th Century that's got comparable durability to a mid-28th Century Clan Fredasa class corvette, with arguably better firepower.

So, the Nightwing then is a heavily-gunned corvette that has the durabil ity of a destroyer, with average thrust, woeful cargo, and some surveillance bits tacked on, built by the same people who made the Aegis class the overgunned monstrosity it is.

How do you use the Nightwing?  Depending on the era, it could hide amongst antiquated Aquilla like a wolf among sheep, spying on your enemies, or, alternatively, proudly advertising its presence as a convoy escort in later centuries, keeping up with its flock and using its guns and armor to hammer its opponents.

How do you kill a Nightwing?  Three options.  First, devote a much bigger WarShip you could probably better use elsewhere to hunting it.  Alternatively, risk those big guns to attack it with assault droppers or Pocket WarShips, accepting that you'll take losses to those big guns.  Third, and perhaps best, swarm it with fighters.  The Nightwing has only those naval laser bays to use against small craft, and only four small craft bays of its own, rendering it vulnerable to being swarmed. Expect losses here, too, though: an NAC/20 or MNPPC may be +5 to hit your fighters, but up close that's not much worse than shooting at large craft at long range, and 90-200 standard points of damage to the face can ruin a fighter jock's day.

What happened to the Nightwing?  It was taken out of active surveillance service around the same time the standard core JumpShip and docking collar became the de facto standard for civilian transports, when it could no longer hide in plain sight.  TR3057R tells us that none survived the Amaris Crisis, which means they probably alternated between mothballs and typical corvette duty until the survivors all broke down or got blowed up good.  Still, we heard similar about the Farragut, so the possibility exists you may one day stumble upon one. Stranger things have happened in the Battletech universe.

(Image credit to Masterunitlist.info.  Link can be found in the title)
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Liam's Ghost

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #1 on: 09 May 2014, 03:54:02 »
I find myself somewhat torn concerning the Nightwing. On the one hand a person tends to think of a surveillance ship as a non-combatant rather than something that outguns several classes of combat warships.

On the other hand, it's exactly what I would do. The noble spy ship seeking to evade his dangerous pursuers makes for good drama, but the noble spy ship breaking them in half is hilarious. It seems a product of its uncivilized time, when the Hegemony decided to say "yeah, we're spying on you, I dare you to make an issue of it".
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Giovanni Blasini

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #2 on: 09 May 2014, 04:00:29 »
I find myself somewhat torn concerning the Nightwing. On the one hand a person tends to think of a surveillance ship as a non-combatant rather than something that outguns several classes of combat warships.

On the other hand, it's exactly what I would do. The noble spy ship seeking to evade his dangerous pursuers makes for good drama, but the noble spy ship breaking them in half is hilarious. It seems a product of its uncivilized time, when the Hegemony decided to say "yeah, we're spying on you, I dare you to make an issue of it".

That's one of the reasons why I suspect the mixed Tracker/Nightwing flotillas were probably something like three Nightwings and one Tracker in later days.  The Nightwing postdates the Tracker, and was probably built in response to its flaws...but it didn't replace the Tracker either, with the two instead working together.

What's the biggest flaw on the Nightwing?  Extended operations with its smaller cargo hold.  What's the biggest flaw on the Tracker?  A lack of guns.

Of course, once ships like the Liberty and Merchant put the Nightwing out of business, since they more-or-less put the post-Aquillas out of business, there'd be little reason not to be brash and obvious with the Nightwing.  For that matter, a pair of them would make a lot of destroyers have to sit up and take notice.
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marauder648

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #3 on: 09 May 2014, 07:27:29 »
Another revised 3057 gem :) Love the artwork and background info for all the ships, terrible shame they can't re-do the rest of the book to a similar art quality especially the Clan Warships, they look like they were redesigned with a set square :s
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #4 on: 09 May 2014, 10:30:42 »
To me, the comparison between a Tracker and a Nightwing could be best expressed as the difference between a real spy and James Bond. Trackers are real spies, and their anonymity is their greatest defense, backed up by the ability to bug out at a moment's notice and abscond with their intel. A Nightwing is James Bond.Sure, it can go in under cover just fine, but it has no problem with dropping its cover at a moment's notice and shooting its way in or out, leaving nothing but debris and scantily-clad women in its wake. (Okay, the metaphor breaks down quickly, but you get my drift.)

Much like Bond, the Nightwings are even capable of doing their job with no cover at all, relying on guns, armor, and/or the presence of too many witnesses to keep itself intact.
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Auren

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #5 on: 09 May 2014, 11:05:01 »
I'd think the Nightwing subscribes to the school of intelligence that is "Well, if they're a smoking ruin, nothing stops you from sifting through what's left of their stuff to find out what they were doing."

Pretty sure Black Boxes would have travel logs and such, and a black box is much easier to liberate from a burned out wreck then an active ship.  ;D

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #6 on: 09 May 2014, 15:13:38 »
I'd think the Nightwing subscribes to the school of intelligence that is "Well, if they're a smoking ruin, nothing stops you from sifting through what's left of their stuff to find out what they were doing."

Hegemony Intelligence 101: Your cover's intact if no one is left alive to report it...
Look, dude, when you are a real mechwarrior you don't need to get all dressed up in cooling suits and cool helmets to work on your mech. You just strip down to your 1980s panties and crop top vest and start wrenchin' it.
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #7 on: 09 May 2014, 15:15:33 »
...and now whenever I get a Nightwing mini, I have to try and modify their naval colors into a tux...
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glitterboy2098

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #8 on: 09 May 2014, 15:55:14 »
Hegemony Intelligence 101: Your cover's intact if no one is left alive to report it...
Tracker captain: First rule of battle, cadet, don't ever let them know where you are.
Nightwing Captain: [arrives at the jump point at full burn and guns blazing] Woo-hoo! I'm right here! I'm right here! You want some of this? Yeah, you do! Come on! Come on!
Tracker Captain: 'Course there are other schools of thought.

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #9 on: 09 May 2014, 16:51:48 »
...and now whenever I get a Nightwing mini, I have to try and modify their naval colors into a tux...

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Dragon Cat

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #10 on: 09 May 2014, 19:02:01 »
Tracker captain: First rule of battle, cadet, don't ever let them know where you are.
Nightwing Captain: [arrives at the jump point at full burn and guns blazing] Woo-hoo! I'm right here! I'm right here! You want some of this? Yeah, you do! Come on! Come on!
Tracker Captain: 'Course there are other schools of thought.

Haha haha haha!  It never goes away

THS Bond, hull number PF-007.  Name and hull number previously used by a Vigilant.

I think I need a ship called that

Love the look of this ship and the idea behind it that the Hegemony was all big and powerful and could spend the little extra on these guys to stay ahead the Bug Eye being the eventual evolution of the concept with that DropShip in Liberation of Terra 2 being another.

I don't think any of the Succession States were ever fluffed as having similar craft?

Wrangler

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #11 on: 09 May 2014, 22:09:01 »
Nice article, Giovanni Blasini!   I hadn't realized that Nightwing was such a beast, in comparison.  Aquilla angle was something i didn't think was possiblity due to the age difference of the primitives.  I thought they were all out service by the time Nightwing and Tracker came around.  Still, if such civilian like-Warships still existed, it make sense to have Nightwing around.
I hope we do get more primitive jumpships to give Nightwing and Track plausable cover!

Part of me keeps thinking its pitty, Boomrang wasn't aerospace fighter.  I would been nice addition to the Nightwing's small craft assets.  :D


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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #12 on: 09 May 2014, 22:55:06 »
I don't think any of the Succession States were ever fluffed as having similar craft?

Well, there's always the Scout...

THS Bond, hull number PF-007.  Name and hull number previously used by a Vigilant.

Told my wife about this, and she's right. The Nightwing isn't Bond. The Tracker is James Bond. The Bug-Eye is the real spy. The Nightwing...is Sterling Archer. 8)
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #13 on: 09 May 2014, 23:52:02 »
THS Bond, hull number PF-007.  Name and hull number previously used by a Vigilant.
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #14 on: 10 May 2014, 00:03:27 »
Well, there's always the Scout...

Told my wife about this, and she's right. The Nightwing isn't Bond. The Tracker is James Bond. The Bug-Eye is the real spy. The Nightwing...is Sterling Archer. 8)

True though I meant a WS or DropShip specifically tasked for it

Kinda shows the gap between Hegemony an it's neighbours when the HAF has at least 3 "WarShip" classes for the task and the Successors have a JumpShip

Giovanni Blasini

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #15 on: 10 May 2014, 01:08:59 »
True though I meant a WS or DropShip specifically tasked for it

Kinda shows the gap between Hegemony an it's neighbours when the HAF has at least 3 "WarShip" classes for the task and the Successors have a JumpShip

They didn't even have that.  The Scout and Explorer classes are both products of the 28th Century.

Nice article, Giovanni Blasini!   I hadn't realized that Nightwing was such a beast, in comparison.  Aquilla angle was something i didn't think was possiblity due to the age difference of the primitives.  I thought they were all out service by the time Nightwing and Tracker came around.  Still, if such civilian like-Warships still existed, it make sense to have Nightwing around.
I hope we do get more primitive jumpships to give Nightwing and Track plausable cover!

Part of me keeps thinking its pitty, Boomrang wasn't aerospace fighter.  I would been nice addition to the Nightwing's small craft assets.  :D

The Aquilla managed to hang on at least as long as the Reunification War, where the Carolinas used them as minelayers and combat auxiliaries.
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #16 on: 10 May 2014, 07:53:19 »
The Aquilla managed to hang on at least as long as the Reunification War, where the Carolinas used them as minelayers and combat auxiliaries.

I know what you meant, but I still must say that if the South truly did rise again during that conflict, it probably would have gotten at least a mention in Historical: RW. :)
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"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
"Damn you, Weirdo... Damn you for being right!" - Paul
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Wrangler

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #17 on: 10 May 2014, 08:35:56 »
I find it surprising that this ship wasn't written up later as being a Q-Ship, because unlike the Tracker. This baby has the firepower and sustainablity to pull it off.
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #18 on: 10 May 2014, 11:34:20 »
I know what you meant, but I still must say that if the South truly did rise again during that conflict, it probably would have gotten at least a mention in Historical: RW. :)

Don't you remember? There were like three chapters dedicated to it, starting with how the Taurian Concordiat unfroze Jefferson Davis, and how the Terran Hegemony cloned Abraham Lincoln in response.

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #19 on: 10 May 2014, 22:05:29 »
I find it surprising that this ship wasn't written up later as being a Q-Ship, because unlike the Tracker. This baby has the firepower and sustainablity to pull it off.

Forget Q-ships, I would keep these in protection as convoy escorts because they would be brutally effective in that roll.  It is a light WarShip with a mountain of armor and guns to beat the stuffing out of heavy opponents, and it has a high power sensor suite to make sure nothing sneaks up on the convoy.  Operating with a convoy also eliminates its two weaknesses because it can get supplies and fighter cover from DropShips carried by the JumpShips so the lack of cargo and fighter capacity actually becomes an asset which helps make it a cost effective counter to DropShips and WarShips.

I would also look into upgrading them with at least one DropShip collar to allow them to serve as independent patrol ships in concert with a support tender/fighter carrier.  I am thinking it might also be a good idea to replace the Small Craft bays with a half dozen fighters to give it a bit of integral fighter cover as an independent patrol craft and update the sensors while it is in the shop (or more accurately, the drawing board because I would keep them in production), although the old ones work fine as is.


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Giovanni Blasini

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #20 on: 10 May 2014, 22:29:08 »
I know what you meant, but I still must say that if the South truly did rise again during that conflict, it probably would have gotten at least a mention in Historical: RW. :)

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #21 on: 10 May 2014, 23:11:18 »
Let's be fair: The Nightwing exists because even the SLDF navy had limits to to its budget. Limits that prevented them from from using McKennas as forward scouts except for situations requiring exceptional cheekiness

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #22 on: 11 May 2014, 04:30:30 »
I've always figured the SLDF had to use other Warships then the McKenna due to the fact that they update all yards to be able to produce McKennas. So I've always wondered if the Procurement Bureau had this discussion:

Bureaucrat A: So we've capped out on McKenna production this year. Again.
Bureaucrat B: That's a problem. Is anyone making a smaller McKenna?
Bureaucrat A: Afraid not. Looks like we have to deal with peasant ships. Again.

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #23 on: 11 May 2014, 08:11:50 »
So, I'm currently kicking myself as I can't find my copy of the TRO entry for this to better inform my comment (so please be nice if I've got the wrong end of the stick) but...


Does this ship do surveillance where the people being watched know they are being watched, for example a very obvious patrol through potentially hostile space, rather than sneaky-spying, at least later in the career?


Also, with all of that lovely detection gear, wouldn't it make a lovely scientific research ship when not escorting convoys?
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #24 on: 11 May 2014, 08:24:02 »
Also, with all of that lovely detection gear, wouldn't it make a lovely scientific research ship when not escorting convoys?

"These are the voyages of the starship Nightwing."?

I don't know that it would have the on-board resources for any sort of long-term science mission though, to be honest. Not with that comparatively tiny bit of cargo space to carry the necessary supplies in.

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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #25 on: 11 May 2014, 08:25:53 »
"These are the voyages of the starship Nightwing."?

I don't know that it would have the on-board resources for any sort of long-term science mission though, to be honest. Not with that comparatively tiny bit of cargo space to carry the necessary supplies in.


Yeah, I realised that as I was typing  :-\


I'd send it along with a supply carrying JumpShip as on any deep space mission it would be better to have two jump cores available in case of accidents etc
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #26 on: 11 May 2014, 08:32:03 »
Hmm... I know this may be a dumb question but, what are the chances of this class in a fight against a Lola III?

Many thanks in advance!!
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #27 on: 11 May 2014, 12:11:23 »
"These are the voyages of the starship Nightwing."?

I don't know that it would have the on-board resources for any sort of long-term science mission though, to be honest. Not with that comparatively tiny bit of cargo space to carry the necessary supplies in.

Yeah, the cargo is a bit sparse for a five-year mission.

Hmm... I know this may be a dumb question but, what are the chances of this class in a fight against a Lola III?

Many thanks in advance!!

It would die, leaving a wounded Lola III.  I'd expect two of them to possibly win, though.  The Nightwing has around 75% of the durability of a Lola series, but it's mostly in SI, not armor.  I'm on my phone, so don't have my PDFs handy but, as I recall, two Nightwings still trail the Lola III in firepower.  The Lola III has other advantages, though, like bracketing fire and fighter support that would make it a hard fight for paired Nightwings, but the Nightwing's guns can still threshold any location on a Lola series (or a Cameron, or Black Lion I/II, or...), and facing two small, durable opponents with six solid attack rolls each turn would make for an interesting fight.
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Re: WarShip of the Week: Nightwing Class Surveillance Ship
« Reply #28 on: 12 May 2014, 12:15:04 »
Many thanks!
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