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Author Topic: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger  (Read 9175 times)

Trace Coburn

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Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« on: 14 September 2011, 04:09:04 »
S-2 Star Dagger — 30t, XTRO: RetroTech

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


  BattleTech writers have a long and honoured tradition of name-checking otherwise-undetailed designs in fluff as a way of giving texture to the BT universe, and BattleTech players have an equally enduring and venerated tradition of bugging those writers for the actual specs on these mystery machines, sometimes for years, until TPTBs cave and add another entry to a TRO to shut up the naggers and get back to less trivial aspects of universe-building.  ::)  The S-2 is another step in this ancient dance, first given a throwaway reference in TRO3039 as one of the Combine’s ‘ageing fighters’ that was superceded by the SL-21 Sholagar in the 29th century (incidentally, the other was the Swift, though how the Dracs got their hands on that SLDF type eludes me).
  ‘Throwaway’ seems to have been the word of the day when it came to the Star Dagger, because apparently it was a Terran Hegemony design that was pensioned off to the Dracs in the late twenty-fourth century.  This is an interesting datum in itself: many BT designs serve for hundreds of years, yet the S-2 was introduced by the Terran Hegemony (established 2315) and withdrawn before the end of the same century, which says something either about the type itself or the simple march of technology.  It’s probably the former, since ER:AoW says the Hegemony didn’t introduce ‘modern’ BattleTechnology until 2470 (and, well, we’ll deal with the stats in a moment).  Of course, the Star Dagger’s unimpressive capabilities came with a very affordable per-unit cost, which might explain why the type managed to survive in the face of competition from the Combine’s own Sabre and was only finished off by the Sholagar.  (Ignore the claim in the Star Dagger’s fluff that the Sabre came ‘centuries’ later; although the iconic SB-27 might just fall into that timeframe - although personally I doubt it - the original SB-26 was introduced by the Alliance of Galedon, somewhat before the formation of the Terran Hegemony or said Hegemony could design all-new starfighters.)
  Of course, the Jihad meant that RetroTech got a second glance by people who said “we need lots of replacements now, which means ‘cheap’ and ‘fast’ and screw ‘good’!”, and the Protectorate Defence Conglomerate in what used to be loyal Taurian territory has resurrected the design and started unobtrusively shoveling new-build Star Daggers out the door, patriotically selling half the units produced to the Calderon Protectorate’s defence-forces and cynically dumping the rest onto the open market for cash-in-hand, consciously treating legal niceties like ‘end-user certificates’ and ‘due diligence’ as little more than empty formalities as long as the buyer’s credit was good, so they can use that cash to expand their own production facilities.  This means that it’s almost a statistical certainty that many of these machines are going to such ne’er-do-wells as low-end mercenaries, pirates, or Blaker front-companies - note the subtle hint to would-be scenario builders ;) - but the PDC has clearly spoken to Tagon’s Toughs and taken heed of their aphorism that “morality pays poorly”.  ::)

  Now, the early twenty-fourth century was before people had worked out certain fundamentals of starfighter design - though the Centurion and Sabre would come along to show them the way soon enough - and the Star Dagger’s design reflects that.  At thirty tons, it’s twenty percent heavier than the Sabre which relegated it to benchwarmer status (see below), but its primitive contruction mandates that its mere 8/12 thrust-curve demands a 220 SFE that takes up a third of the spaceframe’s mass-budget.  (The XTRO lists the engine weight at 11.5 tons, which puts the type 1.5t overweight; I raised this in the ‘Official Interaction’ boards, since it looks like someone started with a 240SFE for 10/15 thrust-curve, then forgot to correct the engine-mass when converting to primitive construction, but I’ve heard nothing about this and the .pdf hasn’t been corrected, which speaks to TPTBs having bigger fish to fry.)  The fuel-fraction is a full ‘standard’ five tons, giving it 2.5 times the endurance of the SB-26 (which might explain why the S-2 stuck around so long), and there’s no need for additional heat-sinks above the base ten singles.  The use of primitive armour hurts the type’s ability to withstand a hit, since six tons of primitive laminates only get you protection equivalent to four tons of standard (22/15/12); only the nose is immune to threshold-checks from a small laser, and the entire spaceframe is open to ML TACs.  (Conversely, this might have been seen as quite tough in its day, since that same armour was immune to TACs from single SRMs, machine-guns, or AC/2s - which formed most of the AAA systems of that period.)
  Offensively, the S-2 is... unimpressive.  The nose houses two lasers, a medium and a small, both of which can threaten to threshold its own armour (which is probably typical for the mass-bracket and the era) but don’t deliver a massive degree of raw punch byeond that point; the rest of the armament volume is taken up by three machine-guns, one in each wing and a third covering the tail, fed from a common one-ton(!) magazine.  Similarly, the weapons-load tops out at six tons at 6/9 thrust, which is daunting enough when you’re looking up at it from the ground but leaves the design meat-on-the-table against hostile interceptors; of course, it’s also just enough for a single Arrow-IV (AAM?  Guided?  Vanilla air-to-mud?  Davey Crockett?), six RL/10s, or a trio of Lyran Light AAMs in the Jihad era and beyond, so the Star Dagger can still make a meaningful contribution.

  In the Star League or Succession Wars eras, I might have expected to find Star Daggers in tertiary-level ‘reserve’ formations, relegated to aviation-militia units that couldn’t afford a full complement of Sabres or something similar.  In that combination, the SB-27s would be playing ‘interceptor/escort’, while the S-2s were used as bomb-trucks and strafers, ripping up pirate looters infantry formations or, in a slightly more Draconian context, suppressing ‘riots’ by ‘disloyal citizenry and enemies of the Dragon’ with machine-guns and cluster-bombs.  #P  Even in the Clan or Jihad periods, such a practice might continue; after all, you don’t need super-sexy fighters to bomb the hell out of raiders and insurgents (witness the A-10 Warthog!).  Of course, if you’re SOL for other options, the machine-guns also mean that a squadron of Star Daggers can provide a limited degree of point-defence capability for heavier assets; it’s really, really thin point-defence, but when the nukes are flying even a ‘thin’ defence beats the hell out of ‘grit your teeth and wait to die’.
  Funny thing is, if ever there was a fighter I would have expected to see continue/resume production during the Succession Wars (if the Primitive-Tech rules had existed back then), something like the S-2 would be it.  The lower technical demands of producing it would have let the makers put spaceframes in the sky when people who were stuck on building ‘modern’ designs were still sucking wind, and at the lower per-unit cost they could have done it in ‘Sherman swarm’ numbers.  If nothing else, it could do what I said above and take over the ‘bombing peasants and pirates’ roles carried out by many fringe (and some interior-world!) militias, letting the brass reassign modern killware to the front lines.  (Yes, you don’t need transatmospheric performance for a defensive bomber, but if the Duke of Planet X locates a pirate base and decides to get a little proactive, it becomes near-mandatory.  Stamping out a band of pirates at their source is a laudable achievement in its own right, assuming you don’t get ‘invited onwards’ for shortstopping the JumpShip(s) you needed to do it.  ::) )

  Frankly, the Star Dagger is only likely to see combat when ‘real’ machines are nowhere to be found, and if the other side has properly-maintained modern equipment, the S-2 drivers aren’t going to have much fun.  Nonetheless, they’ve got a decent platform with which to deliver bombs, rockets, and stand-off missiles, though they’ll do better in those functions if someone else is keeping the enemy’s interceptors out of their faces and they manage to avoid concentrations of AAA like the bubbles of death they are.  Attacking in numbers that look like sandstorms or swarms of locusts wouldn’t hurt the ‘mission success’ probabilities, either.  Y’know, all that stuff you find in Tactics 101;)
  On the other hand, in good conscience I can’t recommend pitching these ships into an air-to-air fight unless there’s no alternative: by modern standards they’re far too slow for ships their size, and effectively unarmed to boot.  If you find yourself at that dire extreme, however, send entire squadrons after a single target and pray you can give him the ‘death of a thousand cuts’ before he kills too many of your people.

  Defensively, ground-commanders who know they’ll be facing Star Daggers without fighter-cover of their own will make sure their Partisan crews and Rifleman/JägerMech drivers know there’s a bounty on each fighter they smoke, payable in cash (or better yet, free bottles of Scotch) after the operation’s end.  ::)  Any modern interceptor you care to name would be a good choice for shooting up S-2s, though you’d probably get extra style-points for doing it with Sabres to reinforce exactly why the older machine was retired.  ;D

  As to how I’d modify the Star Dagger?  Well, that’s why I set up...

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« Last Edit: 29 December 2013, 20:59:40 by Trace Coburn »

glitterboy2098

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #1 on: 15 September 2011, 01:05:57 »
why even bother with machineguns on an aerospace fighter? did the Terran Hegemony designers watch too much battlestar galactica?   ???

the lasers don't have a hope of taxing the onboard heat dissipation, so one would assume that the same mass would have been invested in some more lasers, or maybe some SRM's or LRM's..

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #2 on: 15 September 2011, 02:35:06 »
You get the feeling we are in for a wave of transatmospheric designs that help justify conventionals fighting with only one-on-one odds?
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #3 on: 15 September 2011, 04:39:28 »
This one is among with the Firebird, if I recall correctly, the only canon primitive ASFs from the Age of War era. Hence it helps fill a big cap in ASF history.


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Trace Coburn

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #4 on: 15 September 2011, 08:03:45 »
why even bother with machineguns on an aerospace fighter? did the Terran Hegemony designers watch too much battlestar galactica?   ???

the lasers don't have a hope of taxing the onboard heat dissipation, so one would assume that the same mass would have been invested in some more lasers, or maybe some SRM's or LRM's..
1] Anti-infantry work, especially during the first hours of a planetary assault.  You can't carry external ordnance through the atmospheric interface, so you can't use cluster-bombs/napalm/rockets to shoot defending troops off the first assault-waves of your squishies, and while atmo-craft are generally better at such work once you've set up an airbase on the surface, you need something to do the job (and protect your spacehead's perimeter) until said airbase is complete.
2] Lack of alternatives.  Some of them might have existed in the timeframe when the S-2 was designed, or been introduced during its TH service-life, but the standard autocannons are all too heavy to fit on a bird this light; ditto most missile-racks (remember, according to Tech Manual battlefield SRM racks weren't fielded until 2370, which is near the end of the Star Dagger's tenure with the THAF).  That leaves your armament choices limited to MGs and the smaller lasers; given the 'planetary assault' assumptions from 1], MGs become the logical choice as back-up weapons (though I've already noted my issues with their placement and magazine-space over in the Workshop thread).

You get the feeling we are in for a wave of transatmospheric designs that help justify conventionals fighting with only one-on-one odds?
  I'm certainly not going to bet against it.  :-X

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #5 on: 15 September 2011, 11:55:03 »
1] Anti-infantry work, especially during the first hours of a planetary assault.  You can't carry external ordnance through the atmospheric interface,

Yes, you can. AT2R and TW/TM specifically address this: the "hard point mounted" "external ordinance" of aerospace fighters is generally in internal bays.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #6 on: 15 September 2011, 14:16:02 »
It sucks?

Mission accomplished. I had this stinker sketched out while doing 3039.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #7 on: 16 September 2011, 19:51:15 »
Yes, you can. AT2R and TW/TM specifically address this: the "hard point mounted" "external ordinance" of aerospace fighters is generally in internal bays.
This was, in fact, a major change back in AT2r.

Also: Just how does a MG attack infantry from an ASF? Is it infered somewhere you could preform a strike with it?
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #8 on: 17 September 2011, 05:40:05 »
Also: Just how does a MG attack infantry from an ASF? Is it infered somewhere you could preform a strike with it?

Sure you can. Strafing is limited to direct-fire energy and pulse weapons (and then apparently only those not using ammo, so no chemical lasers or plasma weapons), so despite everything you may have heard about aircraft doing just that in WW2 you can't actually strafe with machine guns (::)) -- but strike attacks don't have that same limit and so you can use MGs with them just fine.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #9 on: 17 September 2011, 11:59:36 »
so despite everything you may have heard about aircraft doing just that in WW2 you can't actually strafe with machine guns ::)

Sure you can. But just like in the movies, they never hit anything but dirt.  ;D
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #10 on: 18 September 2011, 11:05:42 »
I thought it was because firing the machine guns in the atmosphere meant they didn't have enough range to hit the ground...  ;D

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #11 on: 05 January 2014, 06:51:31 »
S-2 Star DaggerFR:2765:DCMS Update


  The Amaris Coup is, of course, that glorious moment of BattleTech’s future fictional history when everyone in the Inner Sphere gave up on that silly idea called ‘nominal peace’ and reasserted their ancient and treasured traditions of dropping in on their neighbours to Blow Up Everything Everywhere Forever.  :D  However, the backslide was a thing of stages and years, like a slow-motion avalanche — many people don’t fall straight off the wagon, after all — and the Field Report:2765 series is meant to detail the tools available to them at the start of the backslide into old (bad) habits.  Each includes a summary of its respective military’s force-structure, strengths, weaknesses, and speculation about its projected expansion plans for the near future (though virtually no-one saw the actual Coup coming) and gives us details on some of their more advanced hardware of the time.  WarShips are so rare and complex that you have to take the time, tools, and page-space to detail them fully, like the Narukami ‘destroyer’ Jellico recently gave us a thumbnail sketch of, but fighters and ’Mech are more common and less complicated, and most people in the BT community are so familiar with their design-conventions so you can give them sketch-descriptions in what are, essentially, marginalia.  Foot-notes to RATs, in the case of the Field Reports to date.

  At first blush, you’d think the Combine would have considered the ancient, clumsy, underarmed, and distinctly unpretty Star Dagger too much of an historical relic — and an Hegemony-born one, to boot! — to be worth upgrading.  But if you look past the primitive technology that went into it, the Star Dagger is a pretty decent piece of kit, and certainly useful.  Remember the original descriptive text:
Quote from: XTRO RetroTech, p.14
Originally a Terran Hegemony design, the Star Dagger was sold to the Draconis Combine in the early twenty-fourth century when the Hegemony upgraded its aerospace fleet.

  Think about that: if the Star Dagger was being pensioned off in the first half of the 23XXs, it was certainly in the first generation of aerospace fighters, if not the Hegemony’s first ASF outright, and almost as certainly preceded the FedSuns’ deployment of the Centurion.  Per the Centurion’s descriptive text, the Star Dagger and its contemporaries spent most of their career opposed only by combat-shuttles (which were basically flying targets), airbreathing fighters (which its lasers would shred), or ground-forces like tanks and infantry (ditto, backed by those wing-mounted machine-guns).
  The Combine’s SB-26 was faster and better-armed for stand-up fights, and it was an indigenous design to boot, but that didn’t make it the perfect design for all occasions, and the DCMS/DCA would have been happy to have supplemental spaceframes, especially when they were armed like the S-2.  Remember, the Dracs have always had a... firm approach to dealing with food riots peaceful demonstrations political unrest uprisings against the Dragon, and ground-based spacedromes can be overrun; trans-atmospheric fighters based in orbiting space-stations or DropShips are rather more immune to such things, and a few napalm-strikes and gun-runs from twin rotary 30-mike-mikes will take the starch out of almost any ‘rebel’ force.  And assigning the S-2s to internal security lets the Dragon put the Sabres where they belong, in open-field combat on the front-lines.

  Now, that’s all well and good, as far as it goes, but one of the other duties of such rear-area garrisons is dealing with pirate raids, and to be honest, the Primitive Star Dagger would be... erm, distinctly over-matched by a modern interceptor.  The DCA did make missteps, every rare so often — the Lucifer II and the Sholagar being cases in point — but when it came to the Sabre and the Star Dagger, their footwork was pretty neat.  The former, they upgraded into the SB-27 at first convenience; the latter, well...
Quote from: Field Report 2765 Draconis Combine, p.20 (footnote)
[S-2B]  Use S-2 Star Dagger with standard components. Replace engine with 240 rating. Replace small laser with medium laser. Armor layout is 34/22/18.

  (OOC, I think this may be where the quirky engine-weight in RetroTech came from: IIRC, Kit deSummersville designed this one, and if I read things correctly, he started with the ‘modern’ version with the 240SFE, then worked backwards to get the Age-of-War stat-block and missed correcting a couple of digits when he installed the 180PFE.  [Kerr Avon]  We all have our off days.  [/Avon]  ;))

  In its assignment as a garrison/internal-security fighter, the uprated S-2B is more than sufficient to its task — enough to do the job, and no unnecessary flourishes or expenses.  If the planetary population forgets that their fealty to the Dragon is forever, well, the napalm bombs and thirty-millimetres are still as potent as ever, and with modern armour and twin medium lasers, the -2B can meet the interceptors of pirates — or hostile deep-raiders — on near-even terms.  Of course, if someone at the DCA had been fiendishly inventive enough to come up with the Light AAM or Arrow AAM before the Coup, rather than the Lyrans doing it during the Jihad, well, the type’s newly-boosted 10/15 thrust-curve means that a fully-laden -2B would have the performance of a clean S-2, and if you were expecting the latter, wouldn’t running into that little surprise be rather nasty, the first time around?  }:)  Or a great way to keep the other guy guessing as to your capabilities, if they knew about it but their intelligence types hadn’t managed to ferret out whether or not the ships of your planetary garrison had been uprated to the -2B standard?  >:D
« Last Edit: 05 January 2014, 06:53:58 by Trace Coburn »

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #12 on: 05 January 2014, 10:48:52 »
Thanks Trace, i hope they end up caving in and making a Record Sheet for the 2B.  I don't think with state of Record Sheet making aids out there that it would be easy to make record sheet for this thing. I have issues trying do it by hand.  #P
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #13 on: 06 January 2014, 14:09:53 »
So in the Jihad/Dark Age era, I would use this as a conventional fighter that happens to go into space?

What about using it as a training craft for aero pilots? Once they've mastered conventional flight have them move up to this.

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #14 on: 06 January 2014, 15:31:51 »
The S-2B wasn't from Kit.  XTRRetrotech was done well before the FR2765DC RAT, and it was because of the text from XTRRetrotech that the footnote came about.
One of the first feedbacks on the FR2765DC RATs was why is a primitive aerospace fighter prominent on the RATs?  The reason for it was that the Star Dagger was supposed to be a common light DC aerospace fighter until finished off by the Sholager...in the 29th century.  I said I'd love to put an upgraded Star Dagger in the S-2's place, but there weren't any.  And we got OK to put a footnote for an upgraded Star Dagger.

(Honestly, the entire DC pre-Succession Wars had some messed up production..)
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #15 on: 06 January 2014, 15:50:40 »
Yeah, the only thought behind the Star Dagger was to make the Sholagar look stellar next to it. The continuation if the DC's "S" theme was a happy coincidence.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #16 on: 06 January 2014, 19:46:15 »
Yeah, the only thought behind the Star Dagger was to make the Sholagar look stellar next to it. The continuation [of] the DC's "S" theme was a happy coincidence.
  In all honesty, between the SL-21 and the S-2B I think I’d rather drive the Star Dagger — at least then I’d only have to worry about the enemy trying to kill me, without adding my own ship to the list.  :D

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #17 on: 06 January 2014, 21:13:30 »
  In all honesty, between the SL-21 and the S-2B I think I’d rather drive the Star Dagger — at least then I’d only have to worry about the enemy trying to kill me, without adding my own ship to the list.  :D

Kit was referring to the S-2 that he designed/wrote, not the 2B.
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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #18 on: 06 January 2014, 21:33:34 »
Kit was referring to the S-2 that he designed/wrote, not the 2B.
  Point taken.  But in terms of purely looking out for my own skin?  -2 or -2B, I’d still rather be driving a Star Dagger than a Sholagar^-^

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #19 on: 07 January 2014, 01:04:39 »
  Point taken.  But in terms of purely looking out for my own skin?  -2 or -2B, I’d still rather be driving a Star Dagger than a Sholagar^-^

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Moonsword

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #20 on: 07 January 2014, 13:19:55 »
I'd prefer a Thrush, but I'm crazy.

That's why we love you, man.  Besides, Thrushes have a certain cachet that other, less propulsionally endowed fighters just lack.

Alexander Knight

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #21 on: 07 January 2014, 20:04:56 »
That's why we love you, man.  Besides, Thrushes have a certain cachet that other, less propulsionally endowed fighters just lack.

A Thrush has two speeds.  Landing, and "OMGHAIRONFIREGONNAFLY!!!"

Weirdo

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Re: Fighter of the Week, Issue #088 - S-2 Star Dagger
« Reply #22 on: 07 January 2014, 20:56:28 »
Three Internets to A-K! ;D
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