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Author Topic: WSotW: Aegis  (Read 5160 times)

Weirdo

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WSotW: Aegis
« on: 30 September 2014, 11:34:26 »
WarShip of the Week? Bah! Weeks are for the weak! You'll get your articles when we please, and be happy about it!

Aegis Heavy Cruiser

 

Today, we're going to look at one of the oldest WarShips out there, the Aegis-class Heavy Cruiser. We're talking ancient, here. Not only is the Aegis one of the oldest capital ships known, it has managed to maintain a more or less constant active service for nearly eight hundred years. I dunno if Di Tron still exists as a company anymore, but if they do, that's a pre-won marketing campaign right there.

When the Terran Hegemony began fielding Aegis cruisers in 2372, interstellar warfare was still in a state of flux. Dreadnoughts and Black Lions had ruled the spaceways for decades, and with the addition of the new Monsoon-class, Terran starships were just beginning their centuries-long reign over the stars of man. This rule was not unchallenged though, and if Defenders, Leagues, and the upcoming Narukamis could not challenge a Hegemony line squadron directly, those squadrons could not be everywhere. The Cruiser-series was proving as unimpressive as it was unimaginative, and to fill that gap and supplement the Dart-class as heavy patrol vessels, the Aegis was born.

At 750 kilotons, the Aegis was the largest of any cruiser yet launched, and that mass is put to good use. A thrust curve that maxes out at 1.5 standard gravities is pretty standard for cruisers of this era, though it is quite sluggish compared to later vessels, and more worrisome, the just-deployed Winchester-class could fly rings around it. Unless you're far sneakier at the helm than I am(or you're hunting Aquilas and their ilk), you're not going to be surprising anyone with your maneuvers. This is compounded by a need to keep your engine pointed well away from enemy forces, as you have NO thrust reserves with which to absorb any critical hits.

So you can't outfly anyone, can you outlast them? Six hundred and twenty-seven tons of ferro-carbide armor coupled with a solid SI rating of 75 says yes, 736 total points of damage absorption proving superior to every other ship of the time save the brand-new Monsoons, higher even than the legendary Dreadnoughts. You obviously still have to worry about thresholding hits from anything destroyer-sized or larger(no corvettes need apply until the arrival of the Pinto), but anyone looking to put your ship permanently out of commission has a long slog ahead of them.

Offensively, an Aegis packs a mighty punch. Class-10 Naval Autocannons may not put out much damage individually, but the Aegis packs no less than forty-eight of the buggers, concentrated in heavy turrets scattered across the hull for complete all-around coverage, predictably focused on the broadsides. These are backed up by solid naval laser batteries located in the broadside and aft arcs, and twelve White Shark Missile launchers can launch in any direction. All this adds up to a vessel that can project heavy firepower in any direction and at any range, capable of effectively engaging large craft and fighters alike. Enemies of the Hegemony will be relieved to know that the Aegis's power and cooling grid struggles to keep up with this warload, so while it can put out fearsome firepower in just about any direction, doing so in all directions simultaneously is not possible, and an Aegis confronted with multiple foes will be forced to pick and choose who to strike down at any given time.

As a patrol and convoy escort vessel, it stands to reason that an Aegis be able to pull its metaphorical weight as a transport. A cargo bay rated over 120 kilotons means that you've got more than enough room for supplies, both to keep your own ship going on long journeys, and to support outside logistical needs. Four then-new docking collars allow the Aegis to carry even more cargo in DropShips, though most vessels will likely carry at least a few combat ships for additional firepower, fighter capacity, or to act as picket ships. (Go read the article about the Vincent Corvette to see why pickets are a very good idea.) As far as small craft go, the Aegis is very well equipped. A full wing of fighters is an excellent screen, and ten shuttlebays means plenty of room for cargo shuttles, gunships, boarding craft, yet more pickets...you name it. Even without other WarShips present, an Aegis is more than capable of operating as a one-ship task force.

The tactics available to an Aegis are defined by its speed. You don't have the thrust for anything fancy, so don't bother. On the offense, close with the enemy, and shoot him until he ain't there no more. Don't fly straight in mind you, as that's a good way to get surrounded by more threats than you can respond to. Pick a flank and fly around it, allowing you to pour fire in one direction, using your small craft and any DropShip escorts to cover your own vulnerable spots. In defensive scenarios, position yourself so the enemy has to fly through your position to get to their objective, and thus must pass through your engagement envelope. Above all else, keep your engine safe. There's a difference between sluggish and adrift, and for an Aegis, that difference is two lucky hits.

How do you beat an Aegis? If you can, outfly it. Get around to his aft, and take advantage of that vulnerable engine. You'll need to do this with something big though, as fighters and DropShips simply don't have the concentrated punch to get through that hide without scrubbing it all off first. If you can't outmaneuver an Aegis, you'll have to beat it down the hard way. My advice is big-bore energy weapons like the main bay of a Du Shi Wang, or a sustained bombardment from capital missiles. Aegii may have a lot of guns, but they're concentrated into big bays, with only one or two such bays in any given arc. If you can go for the crits from far out, taking out even a small number of weapons bays can quickly open up large holes in an Aegis's threat envelope. And if your mission is to get past the Aegis  and get to the juicy transports or whatnot being guarded, a particularly cold-blooded commander can try to swarm the cruiser, accepting heavy losses on one side, knowing that ships on the other side simply cannot be effectively fired upon.

Now in the early 26th century, the Aegis-class was retired and mothballed in favor of the faster and more powerful Avatar. This "only" lasted about fifty years, as the looming Reunification War created a need for heavy combatants in multiple theaters of combat. 30 cruisers were reactivated and then gifted to the navies of the Great Houses, where they would see service in the same convoy escort and patrol roles they did in Terran service, and sometimes also operating as heavy combatants alongside battlecruisers and battleships, or leading entire fleets on their own. The remaining 70 hulls had a different fate, however...


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Weirdo

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #1 on: 30 September 2014, 11:35:02 »
Refits

While thirty Aegis CAs gave the House navies a badly-needed strengthening, the bulk of the class went back to Di Tron's shipyards, going in for a decade-long refit to prepare them for a universe that had left them behind. These vessels were seemingly rebuilt from the keel out, and while much of the design was actually left untouched, what did change served to transform what was a solid patrol vessel into a completely different kind of beast.

The Aegis(2750) (an odd name, given that the first of the refitted vessel reentered service in 2592) retains the armor and engines of the original, so the new vessel is still slow, but also still sturdy. Advances in armor technology and shifting design priorities cost it the title of 'tough' though, so SLN captains used to an Avatar or Kimagure will need to exercise a bit more caution than before when going into the line of fire. The DropShip and small craft transport capabilities are similarly identical.

A lithium-fusion system is added, greatly increasing the Aegis's strategic utility. An independent vessel on patrol can quickly respond to trouble several systems away, and once in system, a good list of nonstandard points means you can use in-system jumps to cut off fleeing ships, evade your own pursuers, reinforced friendlies in distress almost immediately, and generally make yourself a completely unpredictable pain in the ass. The Aegis is also one of those that can be used as a heavy scout, either jumping to multiple systems in rapid succession to recon entire sectors, or jumping to a system before your main fleet does, allowing you to jump back and report on the situation before they go.

The biggest change brought about by this refit is in the weapons suite. The lasers are unchanged, and while most of the missiles stayed as well, the tubes on the broadsides and aft quarters were replaced with Barracuda launchers, sacrificing punch and crit-seeking ability in favor of boosted accuracy and anti-fighter performance. The cannons are where the transformation is most evident, though. The numbers and placement are unchanged, aside from replacing the forward quad mounts with twin turrets. What truly sets the 2750 Aegis apart is the fact that every single one of those NAC/10s has been replaced with either a NAC/20 or a NAC/35. That's right, what was a powerful weapons suite saw every gun at double it's firepower, with a quarter of them seeing their damage output go up by 250%. The cooling system is similarly upgraded, so while the Aegis still isn't an alpha-baby, you need only leave off one or two arcs to avoid blowing your grid, and those who calculate heat by bay instead of by arc can probably just leave off the lasers to achieve the desired effect. This is a monster, pure and simple. What was a perfectly respectable 249-point broadside can now dish out no less than 418 points of damage, and it can deliver that treatment to targets on either side simultaneously. There are a grand total of two WarShip classes that can take that kind of punishment to an armor facing without being stripped bare, and neither of those would enter service for almost half a millennium.

At this point, the refit performed by the Clans on their cruisers amounts to little more than an afterthought, doing nothing but increasing the fighter capacity to twenty, lining up with their base-ten organization scheme.

How do you use the Unholy Spawn of Satan's Armies and the Mother of all Chainsaws that is a refit Aegis? Tactics for this class are both simple and complex. They're simple, because all you have to do is get your ship into range, tell your gunnery crews there's a stack of Canopian gift cards waiting for the highest-performing crew, and all your problems will shortly take care of themselves by transforming into a fine semiparticulate mist. The complex part is getting there. You're still slow and not-so-thickly armored, a lot of your guns actually lost a lot of range with the refit(though the remaining long-range guns can still bracket pretty nicely), and unless this is a Reunification War fight, your ship has been around long enough that everybody knows what you have. Everyone will be gunning for you, so you're going to have to use every trick in the book(and probably make up a few of your own) to actually live long enough to unleash your not-so-little apocalypse.

What do you do when you encounter the Four Wombats of the Apocalypse, and Aegis rides with them?

Do not taunt Happy Fun Aegis. Pregnant women, the elderly, and mere mortals should avoid any exposure to Happy Fun Aegis. Caution: Happy Fun Aegis's ammunition may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds. Happy Fun Aegis contains a wrathful core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at. Do not try to hide from Happy Fun Aegis under concrete. If Happy Fun Aegis begins to target you, get away immediately. Seek shelter and pray it is satisfied with merely consuming all you hold dear.
"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
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Giovanni Blasini

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #2 on: 30 September 2014, 12:14:03 »
As much as I love the class, one of the drawbacks of Happy Fun Aegis is that its utterly astounding terrifying weapons array writes checks its armor jus can't cash.  When a ship's captain is faced with one, the reaction is invariably an Eric Bana as a Romulan "FIRE EVERYTHING!" at which point Happy Fun Aegis tends to go away.

You don't need to be able to continuously weather the Happy Fun Aegis' guns to beat Happy Fun Aegis.  You just need to weather them long enough for your own guns to do the job. In practice, I've found the Cameron to be up to the task.
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UnLimiTeD

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #3 on: 30 September 2014, 20:42:06 »
Now that looks like some happy fun.
But the range...
I think I'd have preferred the original with an armour overhaul.  :-X
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Diablo48

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #4 on: 01 October 2014, 07:50:39 »
Looking at its capabilities and limitations, I see two really good uses for the Aegis besides bullying much smaller ships that cannot crack its armor.

The first is as a heavy bodyguard for your transport assets where that bubble o' doom can be used to control the enemy's actions and take some of the burden off the comparatively thin armor.  It seems like a lot of ship for this roll, but then again it was designed by the SLDF so this may have been the plan from day one.

The second is as an independent striker making slashing attacks using the engines to build up momentum for a high speed pass before you get in range of the enemy so they do not have time to beat you down on the way in.  The huge ballistic mounts will make this work even better than usual and the LF Battery could also help to offset the low thrust, although the odds of survival are still not great against most opponents.

Also, if you are going to reference the discussion in the article about the Vincent, it is probably a good idea to provide a link to that thread so we do not have to go dig it up.


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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #5 on: 01 October 2014, 08:39:12 »
Looking at its capabilities and limitations, I see two really good uses for the Aegis besides bullying much smaller ships that cannot crack its armor.

The first is as a heavy bodyguard for your transport assets where that bubble o' doom can be used to control the enemy's actions and take some of the burden off the comparatively thin armor.  It seems like a lot of ship for this roll, but then again it was designed by the SLDF so this may have been the plan from day one.

The second is as an independent striker making slashing attacks using the engines to build up momentum for a high speed pass before you get in range of the enemy so they do not have time to beat you down on the way in.  The huge ballistic mounts will make this work even better than usual and the LF Battery could also help to offset the low thrust, although the odds of survival are still not great against most opponents.

Also, if you are going to reference the discussion in the article about the Vincent, it is probably a good idea to provide a link to that thread so we do not have to go dig it up.

THAF, not SLDF.

Weirdo

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #6 on: 01 October 2014, 10:31:51 »
Diablo, it seems like you and I have similar views on the usage of heavy cruisers in a decent navy. O0

Heavy escort, light attack ship(mind you, this is light on a scale that rates a full line division as heavy), independent patrol, there's a lot of jobs you can do with an Aegis that frees up your other vessels for other jobs.

What really makes things interesting to me is the L-F system. This makes the Aegis part of a very small group of ships, even during the Star League. Grouped with other L-F cruisers like the Avatar, this makes the Aegis the close-in element of fast first-responder divisions, probably paired with Avatars and later Luxors, with those vessels being the primary long-range combatants while the Aegis finishes off anything that gets closer in. During the early years of the League, we probably even saw a few fast line divisions built around L-F Monsoons, and an Aegis/Monsoon combination is a pwerful one indeed. When Mckennas eventually entered service and took over the first-responder role, Aegises probably continued to serve as close escorts for those vessels as well.
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Diablo48

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #7 on: 01 October 2014, 17:47:40 »
THAF, not SLDF.

The refit was early Star League and is the one that takes real thought.  In its era, the original was a solid slugger with plenty of armor, firepower, and range to do whatever needs doing, not a short range murderstick with questionable armor like the refit.

Diablo, it seems like you and I have similar views on the usage of heavy cruisers in a decent navy. O0

Heavy escort, light attack ship(mind you, this is light on a scale that rates a full line division as heavy), independent patrol, there's a lot of jobs you can do with an Aegis that frees up your other vessels for other jobs.

I feel like I should probably be worried that I am thinking the same thing as you, but that just amuses me more. ;D

Quote
What really makes things interesting to me is the L-F system. This makes the Aegis part of a very small group of ships, even during the Star League. Grouped with other L-F cruisers like the Avatar, this makes the Aegis the close-in element of fast first-responder divisions, probably paired with Avatars and later Luxors, with those vessels being the primary long-range combatants while the Aegis finishes off anything that gets closer in. During the early years of the League, we probably even saw a few fast line divisions built around L-F Monsoons, and an Aegis/Monsoon combination is a pwerful one indeed. When Mckennas eventually entered service and took over the first-responder role, Aegises probably continued to serve as close escorts for those vessels as well.

That it does.  That LF battery opens up a lot of possibilities, and the Aegis definitely makes a good short range deterrent for the longer ranged designs you mentioned.


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Weirdo

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #8 on: 01 October 2014, 17:52:15 »
I guess the best way for a ground playerto visualize a refit Aegis is to imagine a Hunchback IIC that happens to somehow have a handheld Gauss Rifle. Dangerous at long range, murderous up close, but getting close alive is tricky.
"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
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Diablo48

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #9 on: 01 October 2014, 18:11:01 »
I guess the best way for a ground playerto visualize a refit Aegis is to imagine a Hunchback IIC that happens to somehow have a handheld Gauss Rifle. Dangerous at long range, murderous up close, but getting close alive is tricky.

That sounds about right, although you do have the high speed pass option in space to let you get in quick which makes the whole thing less insane than the Hunchback IIC (not that that is saying much...).


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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #10 on: 01 October 2014, 18:22:10 »
I've always loved the Aegis-Class ships, the TRO:2750 look was the best.   

You really out did yourself writing up this one, Weirdo. 

I wish the Clans were nicer too their Happy Fun Aegis.  Least there four left in the Inner Sphere by 3145.

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Diablo48

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #11 on: 01 October 2014, 19:28:06 »
I wish the Clans were nicers too their Happy Fun Aegis.

Yeah, a little more armor on a Clan upgrade would have gone a long way on this beast.


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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #12 on: 01 October 2014, 19:49:08 »
Honestly, I wouldn't mind seeing some of these ships get refits every 200-300 years.  For that matter, a 32nd Century Aegis FRAM refit would be cool as heck. :)
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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #13 on: 01 October 2014, 22:52:13 »
That sounds about right, although you do have the high speed pass option in space to let you get in quick which makes the whole thing less insane than the Hunchback IIC (not that that is saying much...).

I still consider high-speed passes to be voluntary suicide.

Diablo48

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #14 on: 02 October 2014, 00:27:50 »
I still consider high-speed passes to be voluntary suicide.

I am perfectly happy trading an Aegis for a McKenna.


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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #15 on: 02 October 2014, 00:48:07 »
If the McKenna captain allowed his/her ship to be shot at by the Aegis during a high speed engagement, then they deserve to be fed into a paper shredder. That's what the escorts are for: position them ahead of the McKenna so that they're the ones to engage the Aegis, with their sacrifice allowing the more important McKenna to get through. Thanks to the size of their navy compared to potential rivals, the SLDF could afford this cold-hearted luxury.

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #16 on: 02 October 2014, 01:07:18 »
I am perfectly happy trading an Aegis for a McKenna.

I'm perfectly happy trading six Pentagons for an Aegis, myself.

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #17 on: 02 October 2014, 02:37:11 »
My biggest problem with most early warships is how easy it is to make them unilaterally better, and not even in a particularly thought-intensive way.  There's 120,000 tons of this ship eaten up by storage, and yet it can't fire all its weapons?  Even taking out enough tonnage for heatsinks to fire every single weapon on the ship twice in one turn, you're never going to go below 100,000 tons of cargo.

That's the thing that bugs me the most about warships.
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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #18 on: 02 October 2014, 07:27:56 »
My biggest problem with most early warships is how easy it is to make them unilaterally better, and not even in a particularly thought-intensive way.  There's 120,000 tons of this ship eaten up by storage, and yet it can't fire all its weapons?  Even taking out enough tonnage for heatsinks to fire every single weapon on the ship twice in one turn, you're never going to go below 100,000 tons of cargo.

That's the thing that bugs me the most about warships.

That should make you wonder what the Star League considered important enough that the 120,000 tons of extra space was more important than more heat sinks.  Were there Star League versions with more heat sinks and thicker armor?  Were there Star League versions with 120,000 tons worth of CASPAR equipment as a test bed?  Were there internal planetary bombardment packages for dealing permanently with pirates?  Massive ECM suites to impose targeting penalties on enemy firepower?  Massive targeting computers and sensors to turn the Aegis from a slugger into a sniper?

Time for paranoid fantasies.   >:D

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #19 on: 02 October 2014, 08:36:56 »
Honestly, I wouldn't mind seeing some of these ships get refits every 200-300 years.  For that matter, a 32nd Century Aegis FRAM refit would be cool as heck. :)

FRAM?

Fast Response Anti Missile?

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #20 on: 02 October 2014, 08:47:03 »

sillybrit

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Re: WSotW: Aegis
« Reply #21 on: 02 October 2014, 09:09:09 »
That should make you wonder what the Star League considered important enough that the 120,000 tons of extra space was more important than more heat sinks.

Supporting ground troops with supplies, etc. The HAF and SLDF navy was as much a fleet of armed transports as they were a fleet of warships. Although there could be individual classes with smaller cargo fractions, for the majority of the existance of the SL the Navy pretty much danced to the Army's tune. There were changes late in the SL (2680-2707), when the Navy finally got one of their own as the overall SLDF commander (Admiral David Peterson), but even he could only make some doctrinal changes rather than alter how the SLDF's WarShips were designed and built.

In addition, the SLDF had a lot of space to cover, having to patrol and fly the flag not only in inhabited systems, but also monitor the swathes of uninhabited systems that proliferate the white space on the maps we have. Thus they could potentially be away from base for months, and that means you need to haul along a lot of supplies and spares unless you want to tie yourself to a logisitics train (which would mean vulnerable JumpShips and non-jump capable DropShips).

EDIT: That's the in-universe answer and it's also not to say that many of the canon designs aren't terribly undersinked or underarmored given the relatively small fractions of their mass that they dedicate to heat sinks and armor. There are some that are very poorly armed too, although capital weapons in particular do require a larger slice of the mass pie. Out of universe, the problem lies with the original TRO2750 designs, that appear to have been "designed" based upon whim and approximation rather than a fully developed construction system. Those ships set the theme for BattleTech WarShips and unfortunately the eventual construction system didn't really do much to help.
« Last Edit: 02 October 2014, 09:16:52 by sillybrit »

 

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