Home Forums Sci Fi General Sci-Fi Lazers and airplanes

This topic contains 14 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by John Treadaway John Treadaway 5 months ago.

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  • #90508
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    Quick question: in the sci-fi settings you play, are there aircraft as well as lasers or other LOS beam weapon?

    In the Dark Star setting combat aircraft are generally not present due to the high number of beam weapons.  Once heavy hitting lasers were developed anything that came over the horizon was a “dead duck”, as if you can see it, you can kill it with a laser…

    However, I do play in other settings where beam weapons are not as high power, and VTOLs really shine in these (still very lethal) environments.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #90512
    Ruarigh
    Ruarigh
    Participant

    I do include aircraft and/or sub-orbital fighters that function in atmosphere like aircraft. My armies have lasers too, but the balance between offence and defence is probably slightly different from your setting. It’s all very well being able to kill something with one hit, but you need to get the lock on something that is travelling at mach 10 (or whatever improbably fast speed these things go at) and is running a full suite of counter-measures. If you can’t get that lock, you can’t kill it regardless of your firepower.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    https://emidsvikings.ac.uk/
    #90519

    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Mach 5-6 is about the upper limit in an Earthlike atmosphere I think, before air friction starts causing aircraft components to melt. But I guess with high temp composites or variable-geometry energy shields you could do practically anything. Of course what’s good for the goose is good for the gander – an aircraft flying fast enough to evade laser detectors could have a lot of problems locking on its own systems against a ground target zipping past at near-orbital speeds.

    Still, I find LOS air defense a nice idea but difficult to justify – an energy weapon that could fry an aircraft would be just as easy to mount in an aircraft as well, and a tank that can resist such a weapon could have composites and shields or armor that could just as easily be used in a TRANSAT fighter such. The sky is so vast it’s rather like talking about something invalidating sea power, when if you’re in a world with spacecraft you could well see surface ships with guns that could engage targets in orbit – the theory works so long as you assume what you’re targeting doesn’t also target you right back.

    #90521
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    If you can’t get that lock, you can’t kill it regardless of your firepower.

      I’d think the rub here would be that you don’t need a lock, if you can see it you can hit it in the blink of an eye.  Tracking movement would be a lot simpler that using radar.  Anything flying that fast could be detectable due to heat build on surfaces, heating up of the air it passes through, or even the disruption it causes to the air.  And at those speeds a target wouldn’t be able to jink or dodge.  The USSR actually developed a shotgun-like device in the early 80’s to be used against hypersonic aircraft.  All they had to do was get a few pellets in the way and the aircraft basically destroys itself by flying into them…

    I’d think that air and space craft would have a lot more difficult time dodging laser fire.  But at extended ranges even small movements can cause a miss.  I was thinking more down at the tactical scale though, like an attack VTOL trying to direct fire against a laser armed AFV, or even lasers vs. mechs…

    (i do love a good orbital bombardment!)

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #90524

    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Actually aircraft make good places to PUT lasers, come to think of it. There was a plan in the late 1990s/early 2000s to put a high energy missile defense laser on board a C130 or 747 for on-call missile interception. With a mirrored targeting system it could fire in practically any direction.

    And isn’t there a laser in the front hull of the USS Ponce de Leon? Hm.

    #90526
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    Tis true on both accounts.  I wonder if heavy seas would make firing the laser extremely difficult on the Ponce?  From what I recall reading it needs a full second discharge to be effective…

    As for the aircraft: as an anti-ICBM weapon for that time it would probably have been useful.  In a future context, I’d be afraid of it getting knocked down from concealed ground forces with LOS.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #90538
    Ruarigh
    Ruarigh
    Participant

    The USSR actually developed a shotgun-like device in the early 80’s to be used against hypersonic aircraft. All they had to do was get a few pellets in the way and the aircraft basically destroys itself by flying into them…

    Heh, that reminds me of the old Traveller sandcasters. I wonder that there isn’t anything designed like that for the 15mm sci-fi market. I think I would buy one or two to add to my forces just for a bit of colour. It would probably be a good, cheap defence system for a mid-tech force.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    https://emidsvikings.ac.uk/
    #90543
    Don Glewwe
    Don Glewwe
    Participant

    Actually aircraft make good places to PUT lasers, come to think of it. There was a plan in the late 1990s/early 2000s to put a high energy missile defense laser on board a C130 or 747 for on-call missile interception. With a mirrored targeting system it could fire in practically any direction.

    Did a ‘sales/demo’ model of that for McD-D in the mid/late 80’s – a bit after doing their ‘StarWars’ platform that deployed from the shuttle.

    The truth is out there… ; )

    http://www.glewwe-castle.com/brawl-factory/

    #90581
    John Treadaway
    John Treadaway
    Participant

    I think that the best form of defence against lasers (and, ahem, Slammers powergun weapons) would be a constant spray of water. Tanks could truely be ‘tanks’ with light armour and a huge bladder full of water and fitted with a line of spray nozzles to form a ‘curtain’ around the vehicle. Sure, water’s heavy but who needs all of that armour, right? Not when you have water mist… So – replace the cast iridium with tanks of water!

    Oh, right until the water runs out or they shoot holes in your thin skinned tank (and your tank) with standard AP rounds from a pop gun.

    Good for emplaced positions, perhaps (especially one’s near the sea side) but for tanks and aircraft… not so much!

    John Treadaway

    www.hammers-slammers.com
    http://www.hammers-slammers.com

    "They don't have to like us, snake, they just have t' make the payment schedule" Lt Cooter - Hammer's Slammers
    #90591
    irishserb
    irishserb
    Participant

    I don’t use a lot of lasers, generally assuming that fire control is the weak link, and in my games, they are energy hungry.  A lot of stuff runs on batteries, so vehicles armed with them have few shots and specific roles.  Ground installations are a different creature, but I haven’t done much with them yet.

    Aircraft are relatively conventional, or based on conventional technologies projected into the near future, so yes I have them, but the beam weapons are rare.

    Also haven’t done naval applications, though conceived that counter-measures using screens of sea water might not be out of the question.

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by irishserb irishserb.
    #90593

    Etranger
    Participant

    The USSR actually developed a shotgun-like device in the early 80’s to be used against hypersonic aircraft. All they had to do was get a few pellets in the way and the aircraft basically destroys itself by flying into them…

    Heh, that reminds me of the old Traveller sandcasters. I wonder that there isn’t anything designed like that for the 15mm sci-fi market. I think I would buy one or two to add to my forces just for a bit of colour. It would probably be a good, cheap defence system for a mid-tech force.

    Even today, birdstrike can cause a catastrophic problem for an aircraft. At higher (or relativistic) speeds, even a handful of gravel in the way will ruin your day. You will need plenty of shielding/armour to keep it out of your hull/engines/sensors etc. Choose any two from speed/protection/mass.

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by  Etranger.
    #90625

    greg954
    Participant

    Interesting stuff, I’m currently working on my rules for such lasers. The trouble is one particular model (DZC huge Walker) is very pokey. So, although the huge tail gun/laser maybe a bit “overpowered”. I’m hoping to try and work Starport Scum rules with it. Since the rules are quite open ended. Thus balancing it out a bit, probably by juggling defense and offense abilities.

    This tends to be the trend with most of my walkers.

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by  greg954.
    #90631
    Darkest Star Games
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    tanks could truely be ‘tanks’ with light armour and a huge bladder full of water and fitted with a line of spray nozzles to form a ‘curtain’ around the vehicle.

    Currently undergoing testing for armored vehicles is an anti-laser aerosol that is auto deployed when a sensor detects a targeting laser painting the vehicle.  It’s supposed to scatter the beam enough that a positive lock cannot be maintained thus forcing targeted missiles to land elsewhere.  Wonder how well it works!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #90633

    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Plain old tinfoil chaff can do the same – futuristic “nanochaff” might be more persistent.

    #90634
    John Treadaway
    John Treadaway
    Participant

    Tinfoil will certainly work – as would any particulate, I guess (sandcasters from Traveller etc). The problem with all of them is the limitied supply of each, I suppose. Water is cheap and – if you are next to a lake or ocan – effectively in infinite supply.

    Anti-laser aerosol will work if the laser takes a split second to heat up enough to do damage. I don’t think the reaction times will work against Slammers powerguns (travelling at SOL but delivering the hit all at once).

    John Treadaway

    www.hammers-slammers.com
    http://www.hammers-slammers.com

    "They don't have to like us, snake, they just have t' make the payment schedule" Lt Cooter - Hammer's Slammers
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