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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week, Issue #068 (repost) - Mk.7 shuttle  (Read 3885 times)

Trace Coburn

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Mark-VII/-VII(C) Landing Craft - 150t, TRO3057
Originally posted 19 Jul. 2006.

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


  At a hundred and fifty tons, either version of the Mk.VII LC falls right in the middle of the small-craft tonnage range, and it’s pretty clear that its every design-feature has been crafted towards doing exactly what it says on the box: land or retrieve light (usually infantry) forces from low orbit, with a secondary role as a short-range boarding craft.  (If you’ve seen that shitburger movie of Starship Troopers, the assault boats therein are of a very similar concept.)

  The speed curve is one of the key giveaways on that score: 4/6 isn’t fast enough to deal with hostile fighters, but it’s fast enough to land its precious cargo from orbit with a fairly low risk of interception and get back out into the black again.  (Significantly, it’s also a touch faster than a large number of conventional DropShips and many WarShips.  More on this later.)  Three tons of fuel is enough for one day at one g, meaning that the Mk.7 is constrained to either make its insertions from very short ranges or accept one-way missions in the hope that someone can find and refuel the thing later.

  Mark Sevens aren’t exactly super-tough.  An SI of 6 is just enough not to crack up under the stresses of max thrust; neither the 115/35/46 standard armour of the IS version nor the 130/42/50 standard armour of the Clan model will resist much in the way of a sustained pounding from a heavy starfighter, and a solid hit from even the lightest capital-grade weapon will rattle its cage but good; a single direct hit from an H-NPPC will simply evapourate the thing.  That said, they’re not meant to be exposed to heavy fire: they’re meant to slip past such defences while they’re occupied with more direct threats (like the screening fighters) and drop the troops where they’re supposed to go.  Similarly, the ordnance load is purely defensive: the Spheroid model mounts twin small lasers in the nose and twin mediums aft and in each wing, backed by ten SHS; the Clan model houses a battery of five C/MPLs (two in a nose-mount, one in each wing, and one to guard the aft sector) with ten DHS; each has juuust about enough firepower to see off an intercepting light-fighter or beat the hell out of an LZ with suppressive fire, but not much more.  (Note that while the Mk.7 can carry external bombs, according to its fluff it can’t pass through the atmospheric interface going in either direction while carrying them.)

  The be-all and end-all of a space-to-surface-and-back trash-hauler like the Mk.VII is its cargo space.  Unfortunately, the fluff assertion that the Mk.VII carries sixty-five tons of cargo holds water only if you count the crew quarters as ‘cargo’: the actual, useable cargo-space available to the Mk.7 tops out at only thirty-one tons (IS) and thirty-three-point-five tons (Clan), with crew quarters taking up another thirty-eight - ten(!) for the officer/pilot, and seven each for the two crew-men and the two gunners.
  [rant] Now THIS really burns my bacon, gentle readers.  The Mark.VII is a landing craft with only a day’s worth of fuel, yet for some reason it needs long-haul accommodations for all five of its crew?  C’mon, guys, a little frickin’ head-work here?  Giving ’em a chemical head and a small galley should be more than enough for the short-haul trips the Mk.VII makes and doesn’t consume anywhere near thirty-eight tons, as B-52 and B-1B crews will attest - if the crew gets tired, they can sleep in their frickin’ command couches or on the cockpit floor!  >:(  [Dr Evil]Why must I be surrounded with FRICKIN’ IDIOTS?[/Dr Evil]  (Thankfully, according to TRO3057R there’s no mass-allocation for dedicated food-stores - a single ton of the stuff would’ve lasted forty days, which is even more risible.  You want to eat on a Mark.VII?  Bring MREs.  Don’t like it?  Write to your Congresscritter.  #P) [/rant]
  (Worse, TRO3057R simply duplicated the old version’s stats and doesn’t update the accommodations to something more sane.  >:(  A couple of years after I originally posted this column, TRO3075 was apparently in less of a scramble and did exactly that for the Lyonesse and Aquarius originally shown in TRO3026R, assigning each of those ships five-tons-per-man steerage-quarters as per Tech Manual.  I guess somebody among TPTB was listening.  :D)
  Nonetheless, the Mark.VII’s cargo bay is pretty capacious in terms of raw mass (though we’ve no data as to its actual dimensions).  Being that the bay only ever gets used for short trips, I’m going to use the CBT ‘infantry carrier’ mass rules, rather than the AT2 ‘infantry bay’ sizes, and what you can cram into that bay is pretty considerable: ten platoons of ‘leg’ infantry at three tons each (a Binary or short battalion!), seven jump-infantry platoons at four tons each (a reinforced company/Star with some attachments), five motorised-infantry platoons at six tons each (another Star or reinforced company), or some thirty-one battle-armour suits.  :o  If you’re looking to get lots of guys in baggy clothes (or tinfoil suits) onto the ground from medium-to-low orbit without having to risk a full-scale Dropper, you can do one hell of a lot worse than the Mark.VII.
  (Interesting thing?  If my copy of Tech Manual isn’t lying to me, there’s no rule against mounting a light or heavy vehicle bay, a ’Mech bay, or even a fighter bay(!) on a small-craft; it’s just that the maths of all the other equipment the ship needs to be a ship make it very, very difficult.  Technically, it’s perfectly fine to pull an Aliens with a shuttle-craft and a fully-operational vehicle bay, like I suggest over in the Workshop thread....  }:) )
  The fluff I can find in HM:A doesn’t specifically mention if the Mark.VII has a ‘forced-entry’ airlock like the NL-42 “Lupus” battle-taxi, but even if it doesn’t come with one, I’d imagine it’d be a popular after-market accessory.  On the other hand, the fluff does specifically describe the Mark.VII as VTOL-capable (even if the construction system doesn’t allow for STOVL small-craft), which is a vital feature in the sorts of missions it performs.

  Now, when ’Ships need craft for specialist roles, they have those specialist craft available to them: NL-42’s specifically for boarding actions in the middle of ’Ship-to-’Ship combat, ST-46’s for VIP transport and longer-range surface/space/surface personnel or light-cargo transfers at medium distances in secure space, S-7A Buses for mass space/space personnel transfers, K-1’s for heavier surface/space/surface cargo lift.  But it strikes me that the Mark.VII is a pretty damned good ‘jack of all trades’ for those jobs and would be the best choice for a ’Ship captain or force commander who didn’t know exactly what his ’Ship (or Marines) might end up dealing with.
  You can load a Mk.7 up with elite pathfinder or assault troops (equivalent to US Army Rangers or even strike commandos like SEALs) and send it off a little ahead of your slower, heavier transport DropShips to drop its precious cargo into the enemy’s backfield so they can raise hell and prepare the way for the main body.  (Key enemy personnel, C4I nodes, and supply depots are good choices for this, and nobbling their ability to shift troops rapidly might not hurt either.  ;D)  Depending on the opposition expected in the target area, you can either drop jump- or parachute-infantry from altitude, or land and offload slightly heavier forces as a slightly sharper thorn in the enemy’s rump.
  You can stack in a few squads/Points of battle-armoured Marines and try blasting your way into an enemy ’Ship or space-station - few things can do more to damage a captain’s calm than the prospect of a bunch of bootnecks stealing their precious command out from under them.  However, in this sort of situation you need to shield and/or screen them with a fighter squad or two, to draw enemy cap-missile fire away from the assault troops (the only kind of capital fire which isn’t sharply penalised for trying to shoot such a small target).  (By the way, this precise capability also makes the Mark.VII a decent customs-enforcement cutter operating from space-stations or ground-based space-ports, as they can run down a fair few DropShips in short-dash situations.)
  Mark-7’s also make very good ‘Jolly Green Giants’.  A commander who’s keen on the “Leave no man behind!” philosophy and who has a good idea of a downed ASF pilot’s position behind enemy lines can dispatch a small but rather potent rescue force from a WarShip’s organic resources, rather than having to risk a full-sized (and hugely expensive) DropShip: a pair of heavy fighters to beat the hell out of any heavies who start closing on the pilot’s position with fell intent, two pairs of top-cover interceptors, and a brace of Mk-7’s to conduct the actual rescue (holding off any pursuing enemy infantry with their onboard armaments and a few hand-picked Marines).  Make sure the top-cover is solid, though - there’s no point rescuing a pilot only for all onboard the rescue shuttle to be KIA when it gets sliced in half by some scoot who got lucky.  >:(

  What are the Mark-VII’s shortcomings?
  > Misallocation of mass for crew-quarters which are, in all frankness, absurdly and criminally extravagant for a craft which is going to be in the air for two days at most before landing-on and undergoing proper replenishment of consumables while the crew get to sleep in proper-sized shipboard bunks.  [VARIANT PROPOSAL REDACTED]
  *> The IS version hasn’t been updated to account for IS2 tech, which can make its self-defence capabilities a heck of a lot more respectable and make it a goodly bit sturdier.  [VARIANT PROPOSAL REDACTED]
  *> Similarly, the Clan Mk.VIIC uses only standard armour, and there’s little reason why it should.  Clan pulse-lasers being what they are there’s no need to alter the armament or heat-dissipators, so [VARIANT PROPOSAL REDACTED]
  > Lack of tactical speed.  It’s unavoidable in a trans-atmospheric craft meant for utility/cargo duties, but the Mark.VII is slower than every single ASF on the book and can only keep up with a Lola-III DD, not overtake it - so there is no way in hell you’re going to outrun most forms of trouble.  If you’re trying to board a ’Ship that’s also on an outbound course, you’d better hope the other guy slows down for some reason - and that you can catch him before the guys on your back can catch you:D

  As the stats for the Mark.VII and its Clan variant don’t seem to appear online at my favourite reference links (Marauder’s working on getting them up at mechground.com, though no joy just yet), I’ll leave you with the ‘proper’ stats in the first post of this column and show my ‘upgrades’ in a reply.  Next week?  Ah, what the hell: we’ll see what the Lyonesse from TRO3026R has under the hood, shall we?  ;)


  [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,6033.0.html


  Be advised: the attached .txt transcript of the previous run of this thread may contain numerous reader-proposals for variants.  I’ll try to change it out for a ‘sanitised’ version of that thread when I can, but I can’t promise it’ll be soon - that’s a lot of ground to cover.  ;)


  PS: Strictly speaking the "Overview/ComStar" was supposed to be next in the sequence, but it's kicking my ass at the moment, so I'll come back to it in a few days.  This one gave me enough trouble as it is....  ::)
« Last Edit: 19 May 2011, 08:51:26 by Trace Coburn »

boilerman

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #068 (repost) - Mk.7 shuttle
« Reply #1 on: 19 May 2011, 12:17:05 »
For the sake of completeness I think I should say the original Mk.VII from DropShips & JumpShips is a short-ranged lander designed with the aerospace fighter rules of the time and is quite capable of hauling a 65-ton tank.  I believe it was Battlespace that outlawed cargo on fighters.  Now that TechManual has made cargo on fighters legal again the Mk.VII can be what it was originally.
« Last Edit: 19 May 2011, 12:35:38 by boilerman »
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Jellico

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #068 (repost) - Mk.7 shuttle
« Reply #2 on: 19 May 2011, 17:37:57 »
There were certain rule problems (like crew needing officers) that messed up crew assignments. Since TRO3057R has come out this has been resolved.

sandstorm

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #068 (repost) - Mk.7 shuttle
« Reply #3 on: 20 May 2011, 06:20:21 »
Hmm... Wonder what anyone with access to ProtoMechs and VII(C)'s could do to make people's lives nasty in preparation for full-scale invasion without-Zellbrigen?

Pity it wouldn't be canon to have a "brown robe day" on Terra... ^.^
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Wrangler

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #068 (repost) - Mk.7 shuttle
« Reply #4 on: 23 May 2011, 19:10:15 »
(Note that while the Mk.7 can carry external bombs, according to its fluff it can’t pass through the atmospheric interface going in either direction while carrying them.)

Wasn't it stated that small craft couldn't carry external bombs period, that TW rules were reason why?
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A. Lurker

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #068 (repost) - Mk.7 shuttle
« Reply #5 on: 24 May 2011, 11:11:04 »
Wasn't it stated that small craft couldn't carry external bombs period, that TW rules were reason why?

Well, under TechManual construction rules external stores hardpoints are limited to fighters (both aerospace and conventional) and fixed-wing support vehicles; the former get a number for free, the latter may install some but don't get them automatically. Small craft are neither, so no bombs for them.

Tactical Operations additionally allows VTOLs to carry external bombs and use them. Since they notionally follow the same rules as fighters except where stated otherwise, I imagine that combat VTOLs at least get their hardpoints free as well if that rule is used (though that's not explicitly spelled out); not sure about support designs. Anyway, nothing new for small craft here.

Strategic Operations, to the best of my knowledge...doesn't add anything, either. At best a small craft might have the "Internal Bomb Bay" quirk (emphasis mine), allowing it to use its cargo capacity as bomb space; but that obviously only works if quirks are in fact being used and if that particular small craft then actually does have that one plus the cargo space to make it worth taking (the Mk 7 has the latter, at least), and it's not entirely safe either due to the chance of return fire hitting the open bay and touching off the bombs still remaining (you can only drop up to 6 per turn that way). In any case, that's still a different story from having actual external hardpoints to hang bombs or fuel tanks from...I'm not aware of any rule allowing small craft those, period.