Mineral & Fusion Battlecruiser ‘Blackbird’

Look forward to taking the Blackbird for a spin in UPDATE 7!

Missiles and other in-direct fire weapons both guided and unguided, were a technology quickly readopted after the great exodus. Both conventional Energy and Kinetic weaponry have issues with maximum range and many Commanders prefer to keep the enemy at an arm’s length.

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A Blackbird unleashes a salvo of missiles toward the recipient. Note the range delimiting rings and also note the missiles being fired at a ship outside of the Blackbirds sensor range, this is because the ships in front are relaying the required information.

Historically, in-direct fire armaments were reserved for larger Capital class ships which could afford the space to fit the large ammunition bins and the additional target tracking sensors required to use missiles and torpedoes to their maximum effectiveness. But with PLC and INC inventing new and novel ways to pack exceptional force into the smaller Cruiser sized ships, MFC instead opted to take what they knew about good warship design and shrink it; the ‘Blackbird’ prototype represents the convergence of many such R&D paths.

The Blackbird is actually based on the Cambridge Capital ship. Feedback from TCN held the Cambridge in high regard, particularly its longevity in combat, so the bow of the vessel was miniaturized incorporating smaller forward facing Torpedo Launchers. 2 Large Guided Missile Launchers were also added providing specific in-direct fire capabilities and 4 Large Turrets and the signature MFC reinforced hull provide it with a decent level of grunt in conventional combat.

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Configuring a Blackbird in the Ship Config screen

MFC market the craft as ‘negative space ready,’ one of the smallest ships to do so in fact and before even making use of that valuable tech to extend the support capabilities, the craft sports 4 Support Slots aimed at providing additional targeting and sensor reach. Sensor reach is actually this crafts Achilles heel, but as with any indirect fire solution the vessel requires an array of support vessels to be used effectively: Scouts should identify targets for the Blackbird to fire upon outside of its own sensor reach, resupply vessels are required to keep the Blackbird stocked with the quickly depleted ammunition and missiles are highly susceptible to ECM so EW craft should also be used to maximise effectiveness.

The ‘Blackbird’ undeniably adds something new and powerful to the battlefield, but it increases the burden on Commanders to use the ship properly and so the effectiveness of such an asset relies completely on the skill and logistics of the force using them. However used properly or not one thing is for certain; when the Blackbird is deployed in an arena, everybody takes note.

Shallow space – Blackbird-class Battlecruiser by Shallow Space on Sketchfab

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Pleiades Battlecruiser ‘Homan’

The ‘Homan’ is a unique kind of Cruiser created by the Pleiades Corporation [PLC] as part of the Pegasus series line-up. It distinguishes itself from the standard Cruiser by including capacity for a special weapon. With the MFC now creating similar special ships and INC furnishing the Armstrong range with such modules, the term ‘Battlecruiser’ has been adopted to describe Cruiser sized ships able to enact a far more destructive force than their ineligible peers.

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A ‘Homan’ Battlecruiser at FTL

The PLC are notorious forward thinkers; always choosing to focus on the next effective counter in space-based warfare. For example, with the rest of the Imperium focusing on Kinetic and Thermal weapons, PLC excelled in research of Energy weapons. While the rest of the Imperium focused on damage resistant hull plating, PLC focused on attenuating shield technologies and while the Imperium focused on creating large ships of war brimming with big guns, PLC focused on creating smaller ships that, in some cases, can enable the use of similar oversized weapons.

A notable feat of engineering, the Homan has the speed and manoeuvrability of the Algenib and matches its 4 Large [L] turret mounting points, but also brings a spinal mounted eXtra Large [XL] fixed weapon point to the table. The problem with XL weapons in turret form is that with so much energy being pumped into the base, often the turret needs a long recharge time in between cycles to ensure that its operation can be sustained. The XL fixed weapon has no such concession; sporting cooling solutions, focal apparatus and energy capacitance that the XL turrets cannot afford the space to fit. The end result is an overcharged and oversized cannon capable of a sustained and contiguous firing solution over a far greater range.

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A ‘Homan’ Battlecruiser in-game ready to be fitted for use

But the main disadvantage of such a weapon is that it is cumbersome.

The weapon simply doesn’t work in conventional combat situations as its ability to aim at fast moving or near targets is totally undermined by the requirement to swing the whole ship around to point at the target. With that in mind the Homan is best deployed outside of the scope of immediate conflict with its services called upon much the same as an indirect fire party, from a flanking position after the assault party has gained the aggravation of the intended recipient.

The TCN note the effectiveness of spinal mounted fixed weapons but mention that their effectiveness is easily offset by carrier fighter/bomber packages or a well-placed indirect fire solution. It is also quite unlikely that you’ll see the Homan deployed by the subversive factions who might overlook the expensive prototype in favour of easier to deploy and cheaper solutions such as the Cambridge or the alternative (and arguably more effective) in-direct fire Battlecruisers.

Shallow space – Homan-class Battlecruiser by Comrade1280 [iArtDrive Team] on Sketchfab

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Incorporated Modular Cruiser ‘Armstrong K’

The Incorporated faction [INC] prides itself on providing designs for ‘workhorse’ ships throughout the imperium.

Their modular design discipline is somewhat different to the other human factions who generally engineer complete schematics to a predetermined specification, ICN instead split their ships into self-contained sections which can be assembled bespoke to suit a mission or role. This methodology has placed them leaps ahead of the competition in terms of blueprint sales with the only real competitor for civilian and military ship design being the Mineral and Fusion Corp [MFC]

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An ‘Armstrong K’ with cargo side installed.

The Battle for Pleiades conflict kicked this organisation into gear and it was a war that matured quickly. The PLC faction possessed a nimble and technologically superior force which were able to out manoeuvre the bulky TCN Capital ships. As this information fed back from the field, INC spotted the opportunity to apply its modular freighter design techniques to a military landscape to create smaller vessels to escort the Capital ships.

The ‘Armstrong’ was the answer to that yet the first generation, a design rushed to man the front lines, was a disaster and was instrumental in marking the TCN as losers for that conflict. Despite this INC stuck with the design; testing, adjusting and perfecting until the present iteration the ‘Armstrong K’ was born.

The ‘Armstrong K’ is a set of blueprints that can be used to assemble a Cruiser or Battlecruiser class ship. It comes in a variety of pieces tailored for specific roles, but once the parts are assembled they cannot be removed or changed. As such it’s difficult to give information on the ‘Armstrong’ as a whole as it can come in a number of configurations, but here is a common sample configuration used presently by the TCN.

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The equivalent PLC or MFC ship class is a Heavy Cruiser.

It sports ‘Heavy Rear Engines’ module designed to provide strong sub-light thrust to a larger assembled mass, this module has 2 x Large [L] turret mounts top and bottom and notable armour around the generators. It also has the ‘Medium Centre’ piece with additional generators, living space and room for additional expansion and the ‘Heavy Front’ which contains advanced tactical sensory equipment, additional armour and a further 2 x Large [L] turret mounts top and bottom.

In the Sketchfab, the ship is also equipped with the ‘Cargo Wing’ typically used to transport precious goods quicker that a freighter and a Battlecruiser component ‘Heavy Launcher Wing’ making the ship into a very capable indirect fire platform.

Shallow Space – INC Armstrong modular Cruiser by sflow on Sketchfab

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Pleiades Heavy Cruiser ‘Algenib’

We’ve got this little beauty to look forward to in UPDATE 5 folks!

Typically used in a heavy escort role, the ‘Algenib’ heavy Cruiser is designed to play wingman to larger craft in the ‘Pegasus’ series of PLC ships.

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With no unconventional or special weapons to speak of, the Algenib is more a natural progression of the series rather than an attempt to advance any one particular area of space combat. The engines on this craft are noted to be weak as the ship is designed specifically for combat, with the bulk of the power running the 4 Large [L] Turret sockets and much of the interior capacity used up by support modules.

Although some critiques call the design into question noting that it’s peak fire coverage points are the same as the Matar’s, the craft sports far stronger generators making the Algenib a more capable energy weapons platform. The Algenib is noted as having a higher armour rating than any other cruiser of it’s size in production and the craft sports 2 Large [L] Support sockets further extending its practicality.

The Algenib is often found escorting smaller Capital class vessels or as part of a spearhead attack force lead by a Battlecruiser class.

Shallow space – Algenib-class Heavy cruiser by Comrade1280 [iArtDrive Team] on Sketchfab

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Pleiades Command Carrier ‘Sadalbari’

The PLC Sadalbari is the current Pleiades flagship design and it is a third generation ‘Pegasus series’ craft.

Shortly after the completed exodus, many years after the worldships were stripped of resources and the major colonies established, the focus remained at ‘bigger is better’ with humanity constructing huge ships of war covered in primitive kinetic weapons to safeguard their resources. With the advance of energy weapons, better composite alloys and autonomous systems the focus shifted to creating smaller, more nimble craft that packed a harder punch.

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The Battlecruiser was a prime example of that shift of focus, dubbed ‘the capital ship killer’ their agile characteristics and unconventional weapons posed a problem for the big expensive capital craft especially in larger numbers. In the Omega series of ships the PLC faction had two Battleship designs, now it has shifted it’s focus to creating a more diverse fighting force across the spectrum of it’s latest line-up, with ships playing to each others strengths and weaknesses, that potent punch coming from the smaller craft; death by a thousand cuts.

In addition, PLC recognise the threat to it’s distribution of craft through the highly modular and cheap INC faction ships so they are making attempts to economise in their normally excessive design. The Sadalbari boasts 2 Extra Large [XL] and 2 Large [L] turret mounts, berthing for 20 standard Corvettes and still room enough for 3 Extra Large [XL] support mounts. In addition PLC have configured the internal dimensions of the craft so they can boast that it is ‘negative space ready’ which will further enhance the crafts capabilities when the technology arrives to market.

Shallow space – Sadalbari-class carrier by Comrade1280 [iArtDrive Team] on Sketchfab

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