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Author Topic: the Earthling Cruiser  (Read 13053 times)
Rados
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the Earthling Cruiser
« on: August 23, 2006, 06:43:04 pm »

A few thoughts on the Earthling Cruiser

Working on a Star Control fanfic recently I began wondering about the dimensions and crew capacities of the various Star Control Ships. Someone at the Pages of Now and Forever message board directed me to a wonderful discussion of this very topic here on the UQM forums. After reading the rather extensive thread I decided to do a little calculating of my own focusing on The Earthling Cruiser. So here goes. Let’s start off with a few bedrock assumptions.

Assumption #1 Due to the two dimensional nature of the Star Control games, the limitations of graphics technology at the time of their release and an intention by the authors to create a balanced gaming experience the Star Control Melee screen accurately depicts the combat capabilities of the various vessels involved in the Ur Quan Conflict, but does not accurately represent their dimensions.

Assumption #2 Given that the ComSim central starship databank from SC 1 contains in game terms “technical readouts of  hierarchy and alliance vessels” (even though we know that in reality they are simply awesome drawings done by fantastic artists) we can assume that the vessels depicted in those specifications are in fact properly scaled. So how do we determine the size of an object from a picture of that object?

Well first of all we need a point of reference (an object in the image whose dimensions are known to us) In the case of the Earthling Cruiser there is a very obvious point of reference as the entire picture is orientated on one plane and we don’t have to account for variations in distance. This point of reference is the nuclear missile identified as a “Fire and Forget Nuclear Missile (MX surplus)”

Although we do not know for certain what type of nuclear missile is depicted, the image does give us a few pointers from which we can make a fairly educated guess. Firstly we know that we are dealing with an MX or in other words Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) we also know that the ICBM used for this particular image was “surplus” that according to Star Control history came from the peace vaults established in 2015 after the Small War meaning the missiles were in use until at least 2015 Knowing these facts we can begin looking through various classes of ICBM’s for a suitable candidate. After doing a bit of research on the subject I determined that the Trident II ICMB fits the criteria quite well. Developed in 1990 and slated to be deployed well past 2020 (which fits quite nicely into the Star Control timeline) it is designed to be deployed from mobile platforms and is used in many of today’s nuclear submarines, (and perhaps starships of the 22nd century?)

If we take the missile in the technical specs of the Earthling cruiser to be a Trident II the length of the depicted object would be 13.4 meters (as per the length of a Trident missile)  The missile in the image being 44 pixels long would give us a measurement of 30.45 cm per pixel.
Applying this to the image of the cruiser proper we get a length of 136 meters (from the rear engine nacelles to the tip of the “saucer”) with the main body (minus the engines) being 126 meters long. Similarly we get a height of 26 meters (from the lowest part of the engine to the tip of the blue dome on the saucer) and a beam (width) of 38 meters (from engine to engine).
   

These measurements seem to me to be completely reasonable. The Earthling Cruiser seems roughly equivalent in size to one of today’s midrange nuclear submarines, such as the Benjamin Franklin or Resolution class. Submarines of this type usually carry an armament of between 16 and 20 ICBMs which I think is entirely reasonable for the Earthling Cruiser as well. They also typically carry a crew of well over 100 but in regards to SC ships crew is another discussion entirely. (If the Earthling Cruiser does indeed only have a crew of 18 then this allows plenty of space for accommodation and additional missiles.) I will be making calculations for other SC ships soon but for now this is as good as I can come up with for the Cruiser.

 


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pendell
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2006, 08:16:07 pm »

Seems quite believable to me. Job well done.

Respectfully,

Brian P.
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2006, 11:05:42 pm »

I think all the extra space that can be reclaimed from the crew of 18 is likely to be devoted to equipment that no submarine would ever need. AKA: a Hyperspace-capable engine, point-defense laser system and the targetting computers necessary to allow it to track a multitude of targets simultaneously, etc.
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Death 999
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2006, 03:39:55 pm »

Targeting computers being sizable? Come on, even if moore's law conks out now it'd take one heck of a computational load to require a volume of computers that's a noticeable fraction of the volume of a nuclear submarine.

I would guess that a decent fraction of the mass goes to armor that can withstand a few nuclear blasts...
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2006, 08:29:33 pm »

Meh, that too. Then again, maybe in 20 years, they'll decide that vacuum tubes were way ahead of their time. Wink
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Neutrino 123
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2006, 10:01:00 am »

Hello everybody,

Maybe the MX missile refers to the MX missile? Grin

http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/icbm/lgm-118.htm
Given legnth is 21.8 meters.
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Rados
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2006, 04:13:42 pm »

from our 2006 perspective the Trident II seems the more apropriate choice but as Eth pointed out on the pages of now and forever the Authors probably intended to use the LMG 118-A seeing as in 1991 they had no reason to think it wouldnt survive to the small war of 2015. Using this as our yardstick we get a cruiser that is 221 mtrs. However this in my opinion makes 18 crew a little sparce...even if you include anti nuclear armor..hyperdrives...computer systems...etc....221 mtrs is...quite a fair amount of space. These calculations are always open to all kinds of interpretation. Thus the debate. I don't think we can ever really establish exact specifications unless TFB comes out and says this is how it is. (maybe in the next star control eh?) i think it's safe to say that the Cruiser is somewhere between 130 and 220 mtrs, yes I know, quite a range but it all depends where your coming from I guess.
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2006, 02:09:15 am »

I decided to do a more detailed comparison of the two missile candidates compared to the missile in the picture. Assuming that the internal components of the MX missiles were modified, but the outside structure at least kept relatively intact, the length to width ratio should be the same as today. Using the entire image, it came out to be in between the Trident and Peacekeeper. However, the top part of the missile in the image is dark. Since the top part of the cruiser is fairly bright, this leads on to think that part of the top pixel (actually four pixels together) is just empty space. Thus, taking only half of the top pixel in the calculations (and leaving out the very front, which is also quite dark), one gets a ratio extremely close to that of the Peacekeeper.

Using this method gives a conversion ratio of 0.5 meters per pixel in the picture below.


For the small crew, it doesn’t seem at all implausible to me. The Ohio class submarine carries 155 crew and has 24 Trident missiles. It is smaller then the Earthling Cruiser, but not much smaller after factoring out the protruding engines (presumably for hyperspace). Futhermore, even today, efforts by the navy are underway to greatly reduce the crew of many ships (see DDX program). There is no reason to expect this would be greatly changed in the future.
Here is a cutaway of the Ohio class SSBN (linked on this page):
http://americanhistory.si.edu/subs/const/anatomy/boomers/index.html#

Finally, I highly doubt that “crew” really refers to crew. It is probably an combination of damage resistance and crew, so is really just an approximation.

Here is a scale comparison of the Ohio and the Earthling Cruiser:


Just to note, the size I arrived at does seem a bit large to me, but I can’t see any way around it right now. The Umgah size might be able to be calculated from the picture, and it will probably be fairly big.
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2006, 08:22:40 am »

The MX missile is meant to work on a planet with gravity and thus has a ton of fuel that isn't needed in space. As with all rockets, much of the fuel is just there to propel the other fuel because it has to fight gravity. The warhead itself is the size of a traffic cone, and could be made much smaller.

A nuclear explosion doesn't work well in space, so that might explain why they're a little weak. I think if they were real nukes as they function on earth, any warship armour would have trouble standing up against a direct hit. That image of a nuke towering over a fleet of guinea-pig warships comes to mind. The MX is 25x as powerful as the nuke that leveled an entire city in Japan.

Remember, if we go after the sprites, art and text, the Shofixti scout is some 5 meters long and a 25x Hiroshima nuke only deals 66% damage to it. The small Scout also carries a nuke that's far more powerful than the MX. If you start reasoning about it you'll soon end up with terribly inconsistent results, unless you cherrypick some data and ignore other.

I think it's fine to assume that the sizes of the ships aren't to scale. However, if one were to do a sequel with more realistic proportions, it wouldn't feel right to me to make the UrQuan cruiser some some 1km long, and then make the Shofixti Scout 5 meters. It just wouldn't be playable without having some sort of crazy HW2 zoom, which I think detracts from gameplay (i.e. overview).

So I decided to make my ships almost  the minimum size they could be, because that's less arbitrary to me than being able to make them any size and fit anything you want in them. It also explains the low crew number, and works as a gameplay scale while also being logical, and it can explain their agile dog-fighty behaviour. This makes my version of the cruiser some 33 meters. Some 30% of the crew will always be sleeping, so it'll be about as crowded as a sub.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2006, 08:40:52 am by Arne » Logged
Neutrino 123
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2006, 11:54:11 am »

A 5 meter long Shofixti scout definitely wouldn't make sense in terms of power compared to other ships.

However, I'm fairly sure that the Earthling Cruiser calculation I made above is accurate. The warhead might be small, but the design is supposed to use MX missiles, not jsut warheads. The missile works out well in size ratio comparison. If the missile were to be changed, it would have to have reduced legnth, not diameter (or else it would be a whole new missile), which seems to rule this out. Besides, the missile needs to travel very far, very fast, with great acceleration (presumably supplied with futuristic technology).

As a side note, a nuclear explosion in space would still be very, very powerful. In addition, the warhead might have a modified tip, and use kinetic energy from its great speed to penetrate a small ways into the target before exploding.

Back to the Shofixti, I thought about this for awhile, and believe I can use all evidance to justify a Scout that is larger then it appears. Basically, the picture during melee only shows a small portion of the scout, at the base of the blue triangle in the melee picture. Thus, only a tiny portion of the scout would be dedicated to the cockpit. How does one explain the diagram picture then, with a Shofixti seemingly in the window? Well, to be consistant with the melee picture, the cockpit would be entirely transparent. Furthermore, the controls the Shofixti works (and probably the hands) would be visible, and in melee, the back area of the cockpit is verticle, while it is at an angle in the diagram picture. This leads me to believe that the 'shadow' is just a random blob, allowing the Scout to be scaled like the cruiser was using in-game images.
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2006, 04:43:07 pm »

Quote
Using this as our yardstick we get a cruiser that is 221 mtrs.

I once guestimated the cruiser to be about 200 meters long, based on a pic that shows a crewmember next to a porthole on the outside of the ship (removing a limpet with a jack hammer) and one on the inside looking out. Since people are about 2 meters, I then looked at how big the portholes were in the schematic view at compared that to its overall length in pixels.

So yea, about 200-220 meters or so.


Quote
However, if one were to do a sequel with more realistic proportions, it wouldn't feel right to me to make the UrQuan cruiser some some 1km long

But is it proven the dreadnaught is 1km long? It could just be as long as the cruiser, or maybe 50% longer.
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2006, 06:53:14 pm »

Size aside, how long does it take to build a star ship? The
game seems to produce ships in seconds, but surely it
takes longer to build a cruiser? The number of ships
in the game seems symbolic (endless defensive fleets, for example)
but it makes me wonder how many ships a star base can pump out in a year.
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2006, 07:00:36 pm »

I would think that there are ships in stock, and that whilst your out in space they'll be making them, that's what I think anyhow...
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2006, 09:48:51 pm »

A nuclear explosion doesn't work well in space, so that might explain why they're a little weak.
Weak?  Compared to a nuke in atmo, yes (no huge area shockwave), but since they detonate on impact, they'll still do quite a bit of damage per hit (more than other technologically advanced races' weapons) because the impact point  (along with the missile itself) will be vaporized, allowing for a minor kinetic push.

The small Scout also carries a nuke that's far more powerful than the MX.
Well, the Shofixti bomb is an anti-matter reaction which is most of the mass of their ship...
Edit:  Hmm, can't find a source for this assertion.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2006, 05:35:54 am by Culture20 » Logged
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Re: the Earthling Cruiser
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2006, 12:08:08 am »

I don't see why the sizes of the ships in super melee can't be taken to be accurate comparisons. This would put the Dreadnought as slightly shorter  then the Cruiser. Of course, it will still be significantly larger in volume, which is more indicitive of combat capability.
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