Sunday, 17 February 2013

Mini Starships series #11

Below are some pictures of dazzle-camouflage ships.
From left to right: a heavy cruiser, a light cruiser, and a heavy frigate

    The camouflage is not intended at concealing the whole vessel, of course, but to confuse the fine-aiming of enemy energy beams upon the vulnerable spots of the hull. When 50.000 km away, any laser beam diverges and (the energy deposited by the photons) divided by (the target's surface hit) decreases. This is especially true if the laser has a high wavelength (infra-red or visible, say) and if the target's surface is heavily sloped.

    So if you want to hit your enemy before he hits you, you got to fire first, but focus the relatively weak beam where it hurts. Unmasked sensors and laser mirrors, radiators and propulsion are prime targets, but they might not be visible. Thus you got to hit the right spot and focus the beam long enough to melt/ vaporize the skin of the ship, and reach its inner organs.
    This is where the dazzle camouflage comes in. It disrupts the shape, mingles shadows and armor angles and by slightly moving or changing (yes, all those ships have octopus-like skin changing capability), it confuses the continuous aiming and moves away the beam from the weak spot. The camouflage covers a broad part of the spectrum (infra-red especially) and associated with fake surface hot-spots, hides the inner structure of the ship to prying enemy scans. Hard to hit Achilles' heel when it crawls all over his body !

Protection is further augmented by moving the radiators to the stern of the ship, and making them rotate (except for the central light cruiser). Moving systems down the stern of the ship generates problems: it is where the fusion propulsion is. Fusion engines that generates neutrons eats up metal and matter so that within a year, the metal incorporates neutrons in its atomic structure and looses 80% of its strength. So you have to use neutron-less reactors that are more massive and use more expensive fuel.

The armored cruiser above has two lasers turret mounts well clear of the hull, with exceptional firing arcs. Furthermore, the weapons are mounted on a tower extension equipped with vibration dampeners -so that the ship may fire while accelerating. The propulsion group is made up of four neutron-less fusion reactors, whose exhaust provide active protection to the weapon's system further down the hull.

The light cruiser has fixed radiators, although they are slightly armored. The two laser turrets are again well clear of the hull, while they are this time very close to the engines. This solution makes it easy to provide maximum protection to the trio "energy core - propulsion - laser core", even though it forbids precise aiming of the lasers while accelerating.

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