Author Topic: Complete Absence of Nuclear Weapons in 3rd Succession War-extremely unrealistic?  (Read 1374 times)

Dayton3

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As far as we know in the 159 years of the 3rd Succession War the only use of nuclear weapons by anyone was the use on Skye of a small one kiloton nuclear device to breach a dam and flood the Combine forces that had broken the LC lines.

Is this remotely realistic?    Apparently nuclear weapons were fairly widespread as they were used in massive numbers in the first and second succession wars,   we know the Skye defenders were extremely desperate during the invasion.    But how reasonable is it that in fully a century and a half of war that on other planets there were not times that other forces either attacking or defending were desperate enough to use nuclear weapons.   Especially in areas where collateral damage was likely to be minimal.
« Last Edit: 20 March 2018, 09:57:35 by Dayton3 »

Maingunnery

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Nuclear weapons have gotten a really bad reputation because of the earlier succession wars.
It became a bit of a gentleman's agreement to not escalate conflict that far.
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Recklessfireball1

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It's not remotely realistic.  Nothing in BattleTech is, though.  Despite this (perhaps even because of it), the game is still a ton of fun.  ;-)

Dayton3

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Nuclear weapons have gotten a really bad reputation because of the earlier succession wars.
It became a bit of a gentleman's agreement to not escalate conflict that far.

I believe that "gentlemen's agreements" would only go so far when your regiment(s) is being killed to the last man and your homeworld is falling to invaders.

Maingunnery

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I believe that "gentlemen's agreements" would only go so far when your regiment(s) is being killed to the last man and your homeworld is falling to invaders.
It is that with the hope of liberating the world later, or just having a lifeless nuclear wasteland.
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Tai Dai Cultist

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I believe that "gentlemen's agreements" would only go so far when your regiment(s) is being killed to the last man and your homeworld is falling to invaders.

You might be surprised.  A huge part of the 3rd SW  setting is that you're absolutely willing to withdraw from a world and let the enemy have it if you so much as look like you might take serious casualties in a stand up fight.  Maneuver is more important than the actual fighting.  And control of a world was seen primarily on the 4th dimension:  you now control the planet, but only until I come back and re-take it.

And even when it comes to getting your butt whooped in actual fighting you just wave the white flag and congratulate the enemy on a well fought battle and discuss ransom terms to cede the world and discuss the price of being allowed to withdraw offworld.  What we now call Hegira was a thing in the Inner Sphere long before the Clans ever invaded.  Now if the enemy gets all unreasonable about the ransom of letting you withdraw, YEAH then you have nothing to lose and you go down to the gritty, dirty end, potentially to the extreme of lobbing nukes if you got 'em.  That's WHY if you're on the winning side you don't get unreasonable with your ransom terms and allow the defeated to withdraw ;)
« Last Edit: 19 March 2018, 18:59:22 by Tai Dai Cultist »

Dayton3

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It is that with the hope of liberating the world later, or just having a lifeless nuclear wasteland.

You know that the idea of a planet being left a "lifeless nuclear wasteland"  even after the detonation of thousands of warheads (like on Earth during the height of the Cold War) was always a myth?

I seem to remember an analysis that in the event of an all out nuclear war involving the U.S. and Soviet Union that there would be literally tens of thousands of cities and towns with populations of under 100,000 basically untouched around the world. 

And entire countries untouched for that matter.    And no,   don't bring up "nuclear winter" as it is a myth.

Kitsune413

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In the Battletech setting there are a lot of dead worlds. Planets that used to be populated or colonized that were dead.

They've also forgotten how alot of technologies work.

and most of all, if they use nuclear weapons, someone else will use nuclear weapons against them.

So it's not unrealistic to think that the agreement not to use nukes would be paid attention to while they get robed acolytes to praise Blake and maintain their terraforming equipment they no longer understand so they don't all die.
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Maingunnery

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You know that the idea of a planet being left a "lifeless nuclear wasteland"  even after the detonation of thousands of warheads (like on Earth during the height of the Cold War) was always a myth?

I seem to remember an analysis that in the event of an all out nuclear war involving the U.S. and Soviet Union that there would be literally tens of thousands of cities and towns with populations of under 100,000 basically untouched around the world. 

And entire countries untouched for that matter.    And no,   don't bring up "nuclear winter" as it is a myth.
A lot of worlds are a lot more marginal to human life, and have far lower number of cities.


Preventing nuclear escalation is also why NBC weapons are normally stored in secure bunkers. Which are under the supervision of the interstellar state, and not given to planetary commands.
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Daryk

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Nuclear winter is a bit less of a myth when the numbers of nuclear weapons are turned up by an order of magnitude or two...

Sartris

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there was that one time the Lyrans used a nuke to blow up a damn when the Kuritans invaded Skye in 2895 detailed in the Sea Skimmer's writeup

Dayton3

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there was that one time the Lyrans used a nuke to blow up a damn when the Kuritans invaded Skye in 2895 detailed in the Sea Skimmer's writeup

I referred to that in the OP.

RunandFindOut

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Nuclear winter is a bit less of a myth when the numbers of nuclear weapons are turned up by an order of magnitude or two...
It's not actually.  There's now proof of that as well.  After new data showed that the assumptions being used in the original work simply didn't pan out or match with known effects on the climate of events ejecting much more material, it was discredited.  And it has now been admitted that the original work was a deliberate attempt to use their 'nuclear winter' conclusion to discourage use of nuclear weapons via highly creative and unsupported conclusions about their effects.
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As far as we know in the 159 years of the 3rd Succession War the only use of nuclear weapons by anyone was the use on Skye of a small one kiloton nuclear device to breach and dam and blood the Combine forces that had broken the LC lines.

Is this remotely realistic?    Apparently nuclear weapons were fairly widespread as they were used in massive numbers in the first and second succession wars,   we know the Skye defenders were extremely desperate during the invasion.    But how reasonable is it that in fully a century and a half of war that on other planets there were not times that other forces either attacking or defending were desperate enough to use nuclear weapons.   Especially in areas where collateral damage was likely to be minimal.

Seems realistic to me. First, look how often nukes have been used IRL, despite how 'effective' they are.

Second, the first two succession wars resulted in the destruction of multiple worlds and factories. With fewer factories and resources, the goal became raiding supplies from those few remaining complexes to continue the fight.

Third, I imagine most of the Houses stockpiles had been depleted. Nukes became rare and valuable as well, and would not be committed to field commanders on raids. They'd be saved for the final push against the enemy, a final push that never materialized.


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glitterboy2098

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Seems realistic to me. First, look how often nukes have been used IRL, despite how 'effective' they are.

Second, the first two succession wars resulted in the destruction of multiple worlds and factories. With fewer factories and resources, the goal became raiding supplies from those few remaining complexes to continue the fight.

Third, I imagine most of the Houses stockpiles had been depleted. Nukes became rare and valuable as well, and would not be committed to field commanders on raids. They'd be saved for the final push against the enemy, a final push that never materialized.

also consider that on most worlds, the things worth fighting over (factories, water treatment plants, stockpiles, etc) either are located inside the cities or are nearby cities. nukes are the ultimate makers of collateral damage. destroying everything of worth in the process of conquering the planet is counter productive.

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Tactical Nukes are around, Strategic ones are a no-no, Ares Convention and all.

City destroying no, Planetbuster, no but HEX Destroyers? Yes.

The above Sea Skimmer attack is one such attack... a single HEX was destroyed causing the Dam to break. Planting micro-nukes to detonate within a hex to cause destruction is allowed, BUT anything over .25 tons is illegal, nuclear fallout would kill more than three hexes of physical damage.

Simple rules allow the Davy Crockett-I to be used by Infantry, might kill them but ....  :thumbsup:

All the Houses have a stockpile for " extreme circumstances ", if you will.

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Literally billions had died in the first two wars, thanks exactly to those sort of weapons; it's not at all surprising that they didn't use them in the next war.  Because of the porousness of borders on a Sphere-wide scale, there's no way you'd be able to guarantee air superiority everywhere.  They'd just gone through decades of war that proved that point, over and over.  Even in a universe without warships, your planets would start eating nukes again.

I see it as very similar to the staunch refusal of both sides to use chemical warfare in the Second World War, despite/because of its liberal use in the First.
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Iron Grenadier

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You know that the idea of a planet being left a "lifeless nuclear wasteland"  even after the detonation of thousands of warheads (like on Earth during the height of the Cold War) was always a myth?

I seem to remember an analysis that in the event of an all out nuclear war involving the U.S. and Soviet Union that there would be literally tens of thousands of cities and towns with populations of under 100,000 basically untouched around the world. 

And entire countries untouched for that matter.    And no,   don't bring up "nuclear winter" as it is a myth.


Do you happen to have a link to that analysis? Also something for the nuclear winter myth?

Kitsune413

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Do you happen to have a link to that analysis? Also something for the nuclear winter myth?

Yeah. I feel like whenever someone makes a claim like that a citation is necessary.
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Kitsune413

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Yeah. Looking into it a bit on google and the only other models I see say maybe it would be a "Nuclear Autumn." But I don't see anything at all that's a hard scientific study that disproves the models.
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Tai Dai Cultist

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I'm not sure I'll be able to find it again this far after the fact, but about 15 years ago I read a paper that argued that argued in the short term at least nuclear war would cause even more casualties than forecasts predicted- from the behavior of firestorms.  Yeah, it's not a rebuttal to whether or not there'd be a nuclear winter but I did find it fascinating in how it explained just how unsurvivable it'd be to have virtually everything in a city be exposed to insta-burn levels of thermal energy.  Even if people were somehow protected from blast and energy, the resulting firestorm would kill them.  Probably via sustained heat, and if not by asphyxiating them as it consumes the oxygen.
« Last Edit: 20 March 2018, 12:36:05 by Tai Dai Cultist »

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Two of the Kell Hound scenarios in their scenario pack involve a Lyran raid on a FWL storehouse on Castor containing "illegal nuclear weapons" in 3011.  There's no context given as to what makes them "illegal" in a post-Ares Conventions universe, or why the LCAF took it upon themselves to take out this storehouse of WMDs at this particular time (the FWL doesn't seem to have been in the process of readying them for use), nor what class the warheads were. 

3011-06-07: Lowering the Boom (Scenario - The Kell Hounds - Jim Brunk, Dale L. Kemper & Michael Lee) - Castor (FWL)

3011-06-07: Delta Romeo (Scenario - The Kell Hounds - Jim Brunk, Dale L. Kemper & Michael Lee) - Castor (FWL)
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Luciora

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Probably in the sense that, If I don't own them, they are illegal.

Two of the Kell Hound scenarios in their scenario pack involve a Lyran raid on a FWL storehouse on Castor containing "illegal nuclear weapons" in 3011.  There's no context given as to what makes them "illegal" in a post-Ares Conventions universe, or why the LCAF took it upon themselves to take out this storehouse of WMDs at this particular time (the FWL doesn't seem to have been in the process of readying them for use), nor what class the warheads were. 

3011-06-07: Lowering the Boom (Scenario - The Kell Hounds - Jim Brunk, Dale L. Kemper & Michael Lee) - Castor (FWL)

3011-06-07: Delta Romeo (Scenario - The Kell Hounds - Jim Brunk, Dale L. Kemper & Michael Lee) - Castor (FWL)

Kidd

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I see it as very similar to the staunch refusal of both sides to use chemical warfare in the Second World War, despite/because of its liberal use in the First.
Nice one.

There are also conventions IRL against cluster bombs and victim-triggered antipersonnel landmines, even if in our case not everyone has ratified the treaty. Also flamethrowers are generally avoided.

The former 2 are similar to nukes in that they render areas uninhabitable and are difficult to clean up. If you're fighting a war to gain usable territory, as in Battletech, you don't want to use those kind of weapons.... it increases the cost in time, effort and money of restoring the place.

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I seem to remember an analysis that in the event of an all out nuclear war involving the U.S. and Soviet Union that there would be literally tens of thousands of cities and towns with populations of under 100,000 basically untouched around the world.

Sure, but you've wrecked the economies in the Allied and Warsaw Pact countries (and the world economy as a result), as most GDP is created in and around major urban centers.  You've also wrecked their national and regional governments, industrial centers, major transportation and communication nodes, medical centers, and knowledge centers, all of which are located in or near major urban centers.

You've probably also wiped out the bulk of their energy supply, as petroleum production and storage was the other major Cold War target for strategic nukes besides urban centers and governments.

And radiological elements will spread far from blast radii, inducing life-shortening illnesses and cancers and reproductive problems for decades or longer.

You're certainly not wiping out the population or turning the land into a moonscape.  But until recovery takes hold, you're basically setting the standard of living for the surviving population back to the 1700-1800s, highly localizing their organization, and adding radiation damage to their health to boot.

Quote
And no,   don't bring up "nuclear winter" as it is a myth.

It's not a myth.  It's an outcome of certain atmospheric models.  And like any model, the outcomes depend on the assumptions going in.

If your assumptions are that nuked cities would create firestorms like Hiroshima, that the soot from those firestorms would rise high into the atmosphere, and that rains would not quickly wash the soot out of the atmosphere, then your assumptions will create a long nuclear winter outcome in the model.  Studies in the past ten years using modern climate models and these kinds of assumptions verify the hypothesis of nuclear winter in their models.

If your assumptions are that modern cities will not create firestorms like Hiroshima, that soot will not rise too high in the atmosphere, and/or that rains would quickly wash the soot out of the atmosphere, then your assumptions will create a short or no nuclear winter outcome in the model.  Critics have pointed out these issues in the past decade but AFAIK have not run models showing a short or no nuclear winter using their preferred assumptions.

Regardless, there's no way to completely verify these assumptions and models without running the experiment.  And that is an experiment you do not want to run. 

Is this remotely realistic?    Apparently nuclear weapons were fairly widespread as they were used in massive numbers in the first and second succession wars,   we know the Skye defenders were extremely desperate during the invasion.    But how reasonable is it that in fully a century and a half of war that on other planets there were not times that other forces either attacking or defending were desperate enough to use nuclear weapons.   Especially in areas where collateral damage was likely to be minimal.

There's a big difference between limited tactical use of nukes in military engagements and an unlimited, widespread, mutual exchange of strategic arsenals.  The worry during the Cold War was that the former would lead to the latter.

With few exceptions (the Regulans at the end of Jihad, mainly), the BT universe seems to focus on the former.  Even the hundreds or thousands of nukes employed during early Succession Wars were spread across hundreds or thousands of planets.  Worlds or even continents weren't cleansed in nuclear fire, as was the Cold War fear.  Rather a shipyard here or a water processor there were nuked.  This still lead to massive loss of economic/industrial/technological/military capability and the loss of many planets when their terraforming equipment or economic reason for being were destroyed.  But the Houses have never feared mutually assured nuclear destruction -- they're just too damn big.

Given this, there may have been some dwindling tactical nuclear use in the early 3rd Succession War that simply didn't get noted in the top-level, in-universe histories that we have access to.  I think there's certainly room for some more incidents like the dam on Skye in one's own campaign.

But the trend in political and military thinking in the Houses was clearly towards preservation of their remaining industrial and military base.  That ultimately meant no WMDs and more limited military engagements.

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Dayton3

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Weren't there a couple of nuclear weapons (Honest Johns) fired off during one of the earliest battles involving the Knights of the Inner Sphere?   It was mentioned in a novel IIRC.

And note I've never thought there was any kind of widespread (city busting) type of nuclear weapons usage during the 3rd Succession War.    I just found it difficult to believe that even small tactical nuclear weapons were never apparently used as during the Combine invasion of Skye when the damn was breached with the 1 kiloton nuclear demolition charge.

Also one would think that the Lyrans violating the unofficial "rules of war" would at least prompt the DCMS to "retaliate in kind" by using a similar size nuclear device on a strictly military target on Skye.

Tai Dai Cultist

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Nukes don't fit in well with the medieval warfare paradigm.  And that's what the Succession Wars was... but with giant robots ;)

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Weren't there a couple of nuclear weapons (Honest Johns) fired off during one of the earliest battles involving the Knights of the Inner Sphere?   It was mentioned in a novel IIRC.

Ideal War.  They were "Davy Crocketts," the smallest caliber of SLDF-created nuclear warhead, intended to be launched by infantry or from a light vehicle, with tactical applications on a battlefield (rather than - boom, everyone dies).  The next step up is the "Alamo," (fighter carried) and then the "Santa Ana." (capital missile or cruise missile warhead).  However, that was post-Third Succession War, and involved Regulan radicals fighting the Word of Blake, neither of which had any serious hesitation to use WMDs.
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Dayton3

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I'm not sure I'll be able to find it again this far after the fact, but about 15 years ago I read a paper that argued that argued in the short term at least nuclear war would cause even more casualties than forecasts predicted- from the behavior of firestorms.  Yeah, it's not a rebuttal to whether or not there'd be a nuclear winter but I did find it fascinating in how it explained just how unsurvivable it'd be to have virtually everything in a city be exposed to insta-burn levels of thermal energy.  Even if people were somehow protected from blast and energy, the resulting firestorm would kill them.  Probably via sustained heat, and if not by asphyxiating them as it consumes the oxygen.


You do know that a firestorm wouldn't always form after a nuclear detonation due to various factors (including hilly terrain).

Nagasaki did not suffer from a firestorm.