A BRIEF LOOK AT TERRAN CARRIER DEVELOPEMENT

INTRODUCTION

The debate over the role of large, space-going fighter-equipped carriers should be familiar even to the most casual observer of defense matters. Its advocates claim they are the priceless tool of power projection, offering matchless flexibility which cannot be achieved by any other means. Its critics argue that they are a pricy anachronism, a relic of outdated Interstellar War thinking which offer little, if any, substantive advantage over lower-cost alternatives. These issues have time and time again been raised in the Terran Federation, particularly in times of shrinking defense outlays.

What is not as clear to the casual observer is to what extent that very same debate is taking place within the Orion, Gorm, Ophiuchi, and Crucian navies. While the Khanate of Orion has always had a substantial battleline of cruisers, battleships, and heavy dreadnoughts to force open defended warp points during combat, the Khanate Navy (KON) has always had some organic fighter bays built into several of its capital ships, and the KON continues to be a carrier-dominated navy due to the fact that Orions tremendously enjoy one-on-one combat (overcoming a foe in single combat is the highest form of praise in the honor-bound Khanate society). The Gorm, although tightly allied to the Orions, have never favored carriers in any way, primarily because their large bodies do not fit well in cramped fighter cockpits, although they have taken to the heavily modified Gunboats with a passion. The Ophiuchi, for their part, have allowed the carrier to have complete supremacy within their navy (the OADC) since they are a bird-like race and the galaxies' best fighter pilots as a result of their avian heritage. Luckily, the OADC is strongly allied with the Terran Federation and both powers have built their navies to compliment one another: the TFN builds very large warships like monitors and superdreadnoughts and have some carriers while the OADC no longer has a warship larger than the battlecruiser in its inventory (as of 2401). The battlecruisers and destroyers are escorts for the large carrier fleets that the Ophiuchi have built up over time, not for warp point assaults unlike the large TFN units. The Star Union of Crucius, one of the most important powers during the dreadful Fourth Interstellar War, had no fighters or carriers during its' initial operations against the Bugs. When carriers were finally built, the Star Union Navy (USN) also had to endure some high-level sniping within their government over the use of carriers: most military officers wanted the carriers within the battleline (screening it and projecting long-range fighter strikes against its enemies), however the politicians wanted them to be used for planetary defense but the military won out in the end. Unfortunately, the Star Union Navy was initially forced to accept a series of design compromises consistently falling short of its naval goals in constructing their first carriers (the Fuuryss-class CVA). The Fuuryss carrier program got off to a late start; this slow beginning, like so many important things in history, may be attributed to a unique mixture of political and technological circumstances within the Star Union hierarchy. When Admiral Sommers (TFN) forces met up with the Star Union in early 2364, she introduced the Star Union to the Terran Federations' most advanced technologies, including the long-range strikefighter. The Union Star Navy had never seen small craft like fighters before and began crash developing several carrier designs over the next few months, while the Imperial Zarkolyan Navy (the Star Union's military allies) stayed with traditional fleet units like cruisers, battleships, and destroyers. The Crucian race took to fighters like a second skin, outflying any known race with the tiny craft. The role of carriers and their escorting fighter craft won overwhelming approval during ISW4 and their effect against antimatter-laden Arachnid gunboats intent on ramming PSU capital ships was undisputable.

The outbreak of the Armageddon War, however, would change the very nature of fighter combat and the role of the carrier as well. When fighting initially broke out in the Beijing Chain, the Terran Federation had over 8,000 fighters on hand for combat, and only 302 survived the initial 30 minutes of combat with the Hre'Daak forces. These catastrophic losses amongst its best fighter pilots forced the Pan-Sentient Union (the unified Terran and Orion states) to look to robotic fighters as a prompt replacement until new fighter pilots could be trained up or transferred from other locations deep within PSU space. In the end, fighters and carriers did play a significant role in the fighting but their efforts failed ultimately, and the Hre'Daak located the human homeworld and obliterated it from space. With the fall of the Pan-Sentient Union, additional carrier classes have been built to replace the heavy losses and several smaller Terran states have fielded unique classes as well: the Microcarrier (the Reformation Group) and the Premier Carrier (New Human League). This paper is a record of the history of carriers, primarily within the Terran Federation leading up to the Armageddon War.



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First Steps: The Pegasus-class CVL

Names: Pegasus and 24 additional units

Displacement: 60,000 tons

Overall length: 600 feet

Speed: 67 mikes

Crew Compliment: 1,200

First Built: 2245 AD


With Admiral Erik Addelman's ouster and the military buildup that came with Admiral Rickover Wellington's assumption of power, the first Terran carriers were laid down at Galloway's World(Orbital Shipyard No. 334). The lead vessel was launched in 2245 and named Norn; she entered commission two months later. Norn was followed by Oroborous, which was commissioned in early 2246; there were fourteen further vessels built during the war and nine after it ended.

The Pegasus-class were very light carriers and they were crash built as an emergency measure to counter the Rigellian advances into the Federation. Their space wing was comprised entirely of first generation strikefighters and they were designed primarily as anti-shipping vessels. Her defenses and sensor suite were optimized against the overwhelming Rigellian threat. Shipboard armament was not included for self defense but anti-fighter point defense were added at the last moment. The Pegasus' served well during the war and additional units were purchased even after the fighting wound down.


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Stellar Barges: The Ypres

Names: Ypres and 14 additional units

Displacement: 180,000 tons

Overall length: 1,300 feet

Speed: 10 mikes

Crew Compliment: 1,850

First Built: 2245 AD


With the successful deployment of CVLs within the Terran Navy for the first time and their bold use by Admiral Minerva Waldeck (the Mother of Terran Carrier Ops), additional Terran "carriers" were laid down at Alpha Centauri in late 2245 as a fighter-replacement vessel whose initial role later turned into a platform for massive planetary bombardment by the wars' end. The lead vessel was launched in 2245 and named Ypres; she entered commission two months later. Ypres was followed by Aisne, which was commissioned in early 2246; there were thirteen further vessels built.

The Ypres-class were not true carriers; they were an naval measure built on dreadnought hulls to bring additional fighter craft to the front lines, albeit at very slow speeds. The Ypres herself was an inpresive vessel and a masterpeice of Terran engineering; nearly three times the size of her predicessors. The ships' weapons, ECM, and sensor suite were optimized against the overwhelming Rigellian threat. Shipboard armament was not included for self defense but anti-fighter point defense were added at the last moment. The Ypres served well during the war but they were immediately scrapped at the end of the conflict due to their hideous maintenance costs.


Note: the Independence-class CVs(12 total) were also built during this war.



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The New Vision: Project Wolfhound

Names: Wolfhound and 40 additional units

Displacement: 100,000 tons

Overall length: 850 feet

Speed: 57 mikes

Crew Compliment: 2,000

First Built: 2277 AD


While the Ypres were revolutionary in the sense that they were the first extremely large space-going vessels dedicated to carrying a fighter wing, it was clear that they were insufficient to fulfill the full role of carriers in fleet operations. The key problems were their very low speeds and hideous maintenance costs, which were a substantial drag on the defense budget. After the Third Interstellar War ended the Independence-class CVs were quickly discarded by the battleship admirals but by 2275 a new crop of naval officers were running the TFN and they were open to new ideas. The Terrans took the next step, creating a Naval Development Board to assemble a new class of fleet carriers to carry the TFNs latest generation of strike fighters.

This resulted in the most ambitious design specification for any TFN carrier to date. Named Project Wolfhound, this huge ship displaced 100,000 tons and carried thirty standard strikefighters. These fighters would serve as typical smallcraft escorts: capable of fulfilling the attack, escort, and spacebourne early warning roles. There were differences between the Wolfhound vessel and other previous carriers: they mounted no offensive weaponry. The Wolfhounds were the first carriers to make full-scale production, with forty-one units ordered. They primarily fought in the Theban Campaign and a half dozen were lost in the first shots of that war, prompting a Naval Review over the design (faulty placement in the battleline was eventually ruled as the cause of their initial high losses). During the Review elements within the Defense Ministry itself intervened on the Wolfhounds' behalf, citing the carrier’s superior design and cost-effectiveness. When the war finally wound down, the Wolfhounds had been joined by the uprated Essex CV and the diminutive Sandfly CVEs(most of which were built in the Danzig System under Commodore Hannah Avram).



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The Compromise: The Independence CVLs

Names: Independence and 49 additional units

Displacement: 60,000 tons

Overall length: 600 feet

Speed: 67 mikes

Crew Compliment: 1,200

First Built: 2289 AD


While the struggle over the future of Terran carrier design was taking place in the Admiralty, an interim carrier design aimed at providing Fringe coverage was undergoing development at planet Skidblader under the direction of Commodore Robert Rooks. This smaller vessel was 60,000 tons and carried 18 fighters; a somewhat light space wing to be sure but the their numbers were sufficient to provide round-the-clock coverage of light task forces that were based in the Fringe areas of the Federation. This class carried significant anti-fighter point defense and a single gun/missile launcher with 200 rounds, consisting mainly of costly anti-fighter munitions.

The first unit, Independence, was launched from Skidblader Shipyard in late 2290, commissioned a month later, and quickly reassigned to Task Force Victory. The second and third units were also assigned to Victory as well. The last unit, Formosa, was launched in 2303; she was used as a development platform for a variety of command-and-control technologies. Central to the Formosa's new CIC suite was the "Space Watch" 3D planar array sensor system, which would eventually was to go into the Scylla. Unfortunately, Space Watch was unable to overcome its considerable technical problems and never achieved its' full potential(which included a highly integrated battle management system). Later in her career, the Formosa served as the test platform for the next generation Strikehawk fighter. Historical Note: Surviving Pegasus-class were upgraded to Independence-class during this conflict.



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The Workhorses: Borsoi and Shokaku

Names: Borsoi and 81 additional units

Displacement: 100,000 tons

Overall length: 850 feet

Speed: 57 mikes

Crew Compliment: 2,000

First Built: 2346 AD


Names: Shokaku and 62 additional units

Displacement: 60,000 tons

Overall length: 600 feet

Speed: 67 mikes

Crew Compliment: 1,200

First Built: 2363 AD


After the highly successful run of the Wolfhound-class CVs, the Terran Navy began looking for a replacement in 2345 when it was shown that the surviving Wolfhounds were getting long in the tooth. The Defense Naval Board (under Admiral Jaroslaw Anders) began working on a new fleet carrier design which would evolve into the very effective and massively produced Borsoi-class. The Borsois were mainly an updated version of the Wolfhound-class and encorporated everything learned from carrier operations up to that point. The first vessel, the Borsoi, was fielded in mid-2346 from the Midgard Naval Station and entered service with the Fourth Fleet patrolling the Ivy Chain of Terran space, completing her shakedown a month later. The original Borsoi was one of the last surviving Wolfhounds and she was considered a lucky ship, so the new class of fleet carriers was named in her honor. No other class of carrier was mass produced as the Borsois were (over 80 built) and they fought effectively in the gruesome Fourth Interstellar War alongside the more capable Scylla-class assault carriers. The Kodiaks' were the Borsois command-carrier counterparts and perfomred with excellence during the war but most were scrapped after the fighting ended.


The Shokaku-class light carriers were designed and thrown into service more quickly than any Terran carrier ever built; design time was literally just two months and construction completed at Hecate Naval Base within two additional months. The major fighting that had broken out between the Grand Alliance and the Arachnid Omniovoracity had also pushed forward funding and design needs. The Shokaku-class was basically an updated version of the Independence CVL and performed admiralbly during the Fourth Interstellar War. These light units were quickly shifted to escort and Fringe patrol duty immediately after the war ended, sparing them from mothballs or the breakers like so many other surviving carriers of the war. A total of sixty-three units were built and twenty-seven were lost in combat, a high atrittion rate for any class of vessel.



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Full-Scale Carrier: The Scylla CVA

Names: Scylla and 35 additional units

Displacement: 180,000 tons

Overall length: 1,300 feet

Speed: 57 mikes

Crew Compliment: 3,000

First Built: 2359


Touted as "the best carrier design Terrans' ever built" by veteran Admiral Vanessa Murakuma, the Scylla-class assault carrier was constructed at the outbreak of the most brutal conflict the known galaxy has ever seen: the Fourth Interstellar War. Begun as a pet project by the Admiralty Board on Terra (with Rear-Admiral Ian Waldeck as its' senior chairman), the Scylla-class CVA was a completely new design, one of the largest carriers Terrans had built to date, and with that new design came new ideas. The first important idea for the Scyllas' was the idea of their usage: the TFN had a specialized need to send heavily protected carriers through a well-defended enemy warp point (they had learned of this need from the annual Brandenburg War Games). Although the Scyllas' carried approximately the same strike group as a Borsoi-class CV, the rest of the extra tonnage was put in as defenses: armor, new heavy shields, and even an advanced gun/missile launcher for self defense. The first ship in her class (the Scylla) was laid down in 2359 in orbit of Kawasaki Heavy Industries and five other units were completed two months after the Scylla completed her successful test trials. The class saw first use during the Centauris Raid (First Battle of Centuaris) under Vice Admiral Jessica va der Gelder and the 19th Carrier Assault Group and although the new assault carriers used specialized tactics to increase their survivability on the warp point (the so-called "launch-and-leave" tactic), over sixteen vessels were ultimately destroyed and 14,445 of their crew perished while battling the "Bugs". The Scyllas' went on after the war, making their mark during the outbreak of fighting within the Terran Federation which eventually became known as "the Insurrection" and later the final Armageddon War, which cost humanity so much.


Historical Note: The Thor-class CVAs were also built in large numbers as they were the command carriers for this class.


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The Behemoth: Minerva Waldeck MT/V

Names: Minerva Waldeck and 11 additional units

Displacement: 285,000 tons

Overall length: 2,000 feet

Speed: 30 mikes

Crew Compliment: 5,000

First Built: 2363


One of the largest carrier-hybrids ever built, the Minerva Waldeck-class (named after a famed ISW3 Admiral) were titanically huge, massing over 285,000 tons and almost triple the size of standard TFN carriers. This monitor-sized vessel was a direct result of watching the effectiveness of Orion MT/Vs in combat, and after three years of fighting the "Bugs" the Orion’s had learned allot. Since this vessel took an inordinate amount of time to build, the Terran Federation Navy was only able to construct twelve of these stupendous vessels before the war ended and put them immediately into mothballs (at The Boneyard in the Deuteronomy System) the moment the fighting wound down. These ships are regarded as specialized assault units, with heavy armor, shields, and point defense that allowed them to survive the holocaust of point blank warp point fighting. Only three of these vessels were ever lost in combat: the Gregor Pappas(Second Battle of Pesthouse), the Janet Dupre and the Samuel Ascot(both at Home Hive IV), a grand testimony to their builders as they were used heavily in WP assaults. The first unit (the Minerva Waldeck) was begun three years into the war at the renowned Torricelli Naval R&D Center in the Deuteronomy System and the construction of these monsters put a severe crimp in normal battle-line MT production, but they proved their worth in the end by pulverizing every Bug fleet that came near. The Minerva Waldeck-class was never refitted and all surviving vessels were eventually sent to the breakers in 2430.


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The Unfulfilled Dream: The Volga Class CVA

Names: Volga(uncompleted)

Displacement: 180,000 tons

Overall length: 1,300 feet

Speed: 57 mikes?

Crew Compliment: 1,250(projected)

First Built: ---


A radical new design for carrier construction was proposed by Fleet Admiral Edward Solomon in 2436, the Volga-class assault carrier. While Scylla and Thor-class CVAs performed admirably during the Fourth Interstellar War it was thought among several prominent Terran Admirals that their fighter wings were much too small for a ship of their size, so Admiral Solomon promoted the experimental Volga-class CVA at the Twelfth Naval Conference on Terra. The assault carrier would mount new rapid-reload fighter launchers and a brand new Flight Deck (FD); it was hoped that the Flight Deck system would double the total numbers of fighters carried by carriers. Another major design feature of the Volga-class was increased automation to lower personnel needs, since the TFN was severely strapped for pilots and experienced NCOs during the inter-war period. Primary research and development took place at Skidblader Shipyards and for four months Admiral Solomon oversaw the beginning phase of Project Volga, until he was killed in a freak accident on Skidblader later that year. The project went on and while the Navy wanted the new Flight Deck instead of standard fighter hangar bays (V) the (FD) concept failed feasibility tests and the TFN ultimately scraped the design just six weeks before the Insurrection broke out. Although the Volga-class design ultimately failed to meet expectations, several important technological features meant for the Volga were incorporated into the new Unicorn-class CVA, which saw heavy action in the Terran Civil War.


Historical Note: The Sparrow-class CVE was built during the Terran Civil War(the Insurrection) and the Unicorn-class CVA as well.


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The Armageddon War

Names: Direwolf and 53 additional units

Displacement: 100,000 tons

Overall length: 850 feet

Speed: 57 mikes

Crew Compliment: 2,000

First Built: 2460


Names: Hellhound and 22 additional units

Displacement: 100,000 tons

Overall length: 850 feet

Speed: 57 mikes

Crew Compliment: 2,000

First Built: 2463


Names: Adamant and 61 additional units

Displacement: 60,000 tons

Overall length: 600 feet

Speed: 67 mikes

Crew Compliment: 1,200

First Built: 2464


The Direwolf-class was the Pan-Sentient Unions' latest fleet carrier design, a poweful breakthrough in technologies and tactics led the Pan-Sentient Union to deploy large numbers of these warships prior to the outbreak of the Armageddon War. The innovative strikefighter accelerator (Va) system that was incorporated into the Direwolf-class enabled fighters a breathtaking take off speed that could literally outpace any ship in existence, regardless of the fighters' payload. Additional features, including super dense armor alloys and a cutting-edge cloaking field allowed Direwolfs to operate independently from the primary battleline. Although the strikefighter accelerator increased fighter speed on take off, their was a serious drawback: the new fighter bays took up 50% more space than the original V systems. However, under the supervision of Admiral Adam Troxel and Skymarshal Ellen Devore the class saw production, just in time for the brutal Battle of Red Rocks and the complete decimation of 30% of the PSUs standing fleet. Only twelve Direwolf-class fleet carriers escaped destruction that day, sheltering Admiral Noah Houses' retreat back to the planet Esteel. Direwolf-class CVs saw continual use throughout the conflict and most of the class was upgraded to the Hellhound-class once the fighting wound down.


Just before the outbreak of the Armageddon War, the Terran Admiralty in conjunction with their Orion counterparts, began work on a different type of fleet carrier: the highly advanced Helhound-class. Three Direwolf-class battle carriers were modified to the Hellhound-class which began performing as test bed platforms for new CVH technologies in late 2363 at the Harn Shipyards (Akwaterra). The brainchild of Commodore Ian King, the Hellhounds had fitted out late that year but they were desperately needed in the defense of the Beijing Chain and were lost in combat on January 15th, 2464 during the Battle of Red Rocks. The Hellhound-class has the new Fighter Mechanical Link (Vm) system installed on board, which virtually doubles the warships fighter component. Additional Hellhound-class vessels were procured throughout the war and by its' end over twenty had been built. All Terran CVs were upgraded to the Hellhound-class at the end of the war, except for a dozen which were evetually turned over to the Reformation Group and the Terran Republic.


The new Adamant-class light carriers were crash designed for the Armageddon War and the class performed admirably during that conflict. The Adamant CVLs have continued in inventory in several Terran navies after the war ended. They have Flight Deck (FD) system installed, making it a unique design from its' predecessors and literally doubling its' fighter component. The Flight Deck system was so virsatile in fact that the large hangar bay could handle other small craft as well, including (if large enough) the Terran Hardtack-class gunboats. A total of sixty-two of these CVLs were built, primarily at Galloway's World, Majipoor, and Militar.




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The Future

The Terran forces are now experiencing a division of carrier designs now that the Terran Federation has broken into ____ competing micro-states........CVH: possibility of being built........new CVV and CVX in Fringe states...





 

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