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Ships of the Fleet – Aellr destroyer.

An Aellr design that pre-dates contact between the Confederacy and humanity, the Psirtas class (named after towns on the colony worlds of the Confederacy) was one of the workhorses of the Defence Fleet. The first human sighting of this design came in the calamitous days running up to the First Battle of Earth. The smallest of four ships that approached the planet, with its prominent missile launcher mounted to one side of the jump drive, Psirtas class was immediately categorised by the human defenders as a destroyer. Unfortunately this misinterpretation was one of a pattern mistakes made by both sides that would see the Confederacy and Earth blunder into the profoundly avoidable Contact War.

 

NOTE Given the ongoing political tensions between the Confederacy and Earth background have come from secondary sources and may not be entirely accurate.

Aellr destroyer 1

BACKGROUND

 

The Psirtas class originate approximately fifty years before first contact; as with most Aéllr designs the class was intended to provide the Defence Fleet with a multi-role platform capable of performing search and rescue, personnel transport and internal security. As with all Aellr ‘warships’ of this period, any military role was of very much tertiary importance and little more than a fading relic of the Aéllr Reunification War of more than a century earlier. Intended to compliment the much larger Hinhle (Province) class cruisers, the Psirtas placed emphasis on acceleration over range.

 

DESIGN

 

The design can be divided into three main segment. The forward-most section, mounted the jump drive, main bridge and the two hard points for mission specific equipment. When serving in the military or internal security role, these would mount a turret, each one carrying a single plasma cannon. Alternatives to these fittings were shuttle hangars, high definition sensor arrays or docking arm. The point defence guns – primarily intended for anti micrometeorite duties – and the probe/missile launcher were permanent fixtures.

 

Mid ships was the centrifuge with two large pods. It is believed a small secondary bridge is housed within one pod but for the most part this space is given over to crew facilities. Several members of the class, usually when de-militarized have been observed with six secondary pods fitted to a large circular ring that connects the two primary pods. It is believed that like the forward hard points this a mission specific fitted when more living space is required.

 

Astern is the engineering section, protruding from the ventral and dorsal surfaces of which are the engine nacelles. The length of these is to allow the engine plume to clear the centrifuge during breaking manoeuvres. The decision to extend the engine pod in the vertical axis appears to be to facilitate the class’s search and rescue role, allowing the ship to come closer along side another vessel while maintaining the same deck orientation. A side effect of this choice of orientation is that the ship’s profile in the broadside arc was considerably larger than would have been the case if the nacelles had been side mounted. This provides another clear indication how low a priority the class’s military role was. The ship’s radiator panels are housed in the broadside circular assembly which when deployed resembled paddlewheels, leading to the class’s human nickname ‘pedalo’. Physical protection was limited to anti-radiation shielding while sensors systems took the form of small clusters scattered across the main hull.

 Aellr destroyer 2

Overall the Psirtas class with its emphasis on adaptability was very much a conservative design, following with standard practice of the time. The only significant break from previous practice was the absence of a raised bridge, a feature of Aéllr government ships since the Reunification War.

 

SERVICE

 

By the time of first contact between Humanity and the Aéllr, the Psirtas class were in their middle years, with the expectation of at least another three decades of service. While an exact number constructed is not known, it is believed to be in excess of thirty, although by first contact the earliest members of the class had been withdrawn from service. When the Aéllr taskforce was dispatched to earth a single member of the class was included to act as a scout ship. The decision to include this vessel with the ships that directly approached Earth, seems to have been born of a genuine belief that the force would face no opposition. In fact the Psirtas was to prove very much a weak link. An early direct hit to the ventral nacelle rendered the ship virtually uncontrollable while the two point defence guns left a large blind spot astern. The taskforce’s attempts to support the ship meant that it neither closed on Earth nor retreated out of range between waves of human fighters.

 Aellr destroyer 3

In the aftermath of Earth the casualty averse Defence Fleet appears to have come to the conclusion that the class was too fragile for front line operations. For most of the rest of the war the class remain within the Confederacy’s borders, covering for the Hinhle class ships that were being used to prosecute the war against Earth. The Psirtas would see direct combat when the cruiser Onslaught entered Confederacy space in the last year of the war, the Battle of the Three Systems being the most notable event of this campaign.

 

Post war it would appear that the remaining members of the class were returned to their civil role. It is believed that at least a dozen remain in service with the Defence Fleet with perhaps half as many again now owned either privately or by individual colony worlds. However sources indicate that the Defence Fleet no longer rates the class as part of it’s fighting strength.

 

 

Author’s Notes: As the first alien race humanity  encountered, with the war between them being the background event that did the most to shape the Battle Fleet Universe, the Aéllr are a very large part of the setting which I’ve wanted to explore for a while – especially since describing in Volume Two of Ships of the Fleet the human Contact War cruisers. Most of my ship designs are fairly brick like, in part because it is how I imagine then and in part because with the software I have access to, they’re a damn-sight easier to make. But I wanted to explore the possibilities of a design using much of the same basic technology but with a very different set of priorities at least as far as the limits of my talents and my computer processors capabilities.

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Pay attention to the man behind the curtain

Okay, so at the start of the month the final book of the Nameless War Trilogy hit the digital shelves and since then I’ve been pretty quiet here. I’m sure publicity types would say this is exactly when I should be trying the drum up every ounce of publicity but after ten years of effort and six months of frantic effort my brain was fried and I needed to step after from the keyboard. Since then I’ve been engaging in a bit of DIY, gardening, miniature painting and general re-engagement with planet Earth.

While I’ve been doing that though I’ve been thinking about what my next writing project should be, or to be more precise, what my next three should be.

First off there is going to be a second Ships of the Fleet book. I’m not sure on a time frame but provisionally Spring of next year. Subject is going to be the early cruisers of the fleet, so the likes of Hood and the rest of Geriatrics.  This is mostly because it will be easier to establish a consistent look if I start from the beginning.

Number two a stand a lone science fiction story, not related to the Battle Fleet setting. It was something I started as part of a writing group but had to set to one side when time started to press. Whether it will be a novel or novella, time will tell.

The third item which definitely in the slot marked ‘longer term planing’ is a return to the Battle Fleet setting and that is the one which I’m still pondering on. The question is forward or back?

To go forwards meaning going into the post Nameless War period. Beyond a few idle notions on ship design and probably about a postcard’s worth of rough ideas I haven’t got a lot to work with. Not necessarily a bad thing at this stage, but from experience I know that I need a starting point and where I’m finishing; the the stuff in the middle, that I can work out as I go a long.

The other alternative is backwards and that means the Contact War.  Quite a while back I talked about my lost book, the one that fell foul of a hard drive failure, the one I was sure I was never going to go back to. Like the forward option next to nothing is currently written down. However there is a lot of the history of the Contact War rattling around in my brain, not just background and world building but younger versions of some of the main characters from the Nameless War and the moments that shaped them. Also when I started writing the text for the first of the Ships of the Fleet books I found myself starting to fill in some of the gaps.

There is however one glaring problem – The Contact War would fall firmly into the category of prequel and – to put it mildly – prequels don’t have a great track record.

You don't say

You don’t say

The prequel as a concept has some pretty glaring problems built in. With the end point effectively known then the writer’s options are considerably limited, particularly in terms of physical danger (something close to my writing heart). It is hard to get any dramatic tension going, it doesn’t matter how big the bus the writer has gleefully thrown the character under is, if the reader knows that character X was still around thirty years later. There is also the question of fine details and avoiding inconsistencies. Details that were handwaved before now have to be filled it and that might be problematic. The earlier work might have had a throw away line about two characters having know each since a given time or event, so now you are going have have to make sure that actually happens. All of which means a prequel has to jump a lot more hurdles to be considered ‘good’

So as I say pondering is being done.

Whatever direction I do go in the important thing is that it widen and enrich the setting. As said when announced the release date of the Last Charge I am proud of my work and anything that gets attached to it be it sequels, prequels or attachments must also be something I’m proud of because if I’m not proud of it, then why bother that all?

ahem...

ahem…

Well yes apart from that.

Until next time.

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Announcement: Book Three of the Nameless War – The Last Charge

So if you have clicked into this post, you are likely a reader of the first two books of the Nameless War. Having presumably enjoyed them you are now wondering when book three – The Last Charge will be out.

The answer is two years – October 2014 to be more exact. Why so long? Well as you maybe aware I am an amateur writer, I have a day job, so writing has to fight for space in my ‘hobbies’ time slot.  Believe me if I could release book three next month I would. But that isn’t an option and in my opinion it is very bad form to promise a delivery date you know you can’t meet. Whatever else I am proud of my first two books and I want to be equally proud of book three, that means writing it well rather than try to write it fast.

In the mean time I plan to continue to put up background information here and I welcome any comments anyone would like to make.

Thank you

 

NOTE: Just bumping this one up to the top in case people are having problems finding it.

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Ships of the Fleet – Luna Class Flak Cruiser

The Luna class cruisers a class of six ships designed as dedicated escort/area defence vessels in response to Aellr missile and fighter developments in the 2050s.
Deimos Escort
Background

Since the end of the Contact War there has been an ongoing debate regarding the role and usefulness of fighters in deep space operations. While there are those who have stated publicly that fighters are only good for fighting other fighters, Battle Fleet’s position has been existence of Aellr carriers and fighters is enough reason for them to be retained as a deep space component of the fleet.

While the development of fighter jump drives allowed carriers to launch from stand off range the Fleet wargames of 2052 indicated that while destroyers and gun cruisers were capable of defending against enemy starships, they proved less capable against enemy fighters. Only point defence guns were effective against such small targets and these weapon lacked sufficient in range for one starship to cover another. It was clear that a weapon system was needed that could effectively engage small targets at stand off range.
Design
While Battle Fleet has generally favored multi-role warships it quickly became clear that a specialist design was required. To lay down the necessary level of fire, a significant number of the newly developed firing flakguns would have to be mounted. If the vessel size was to be kept with reason, this meant the class would need to be be dedicated escort ships. Since it was decided that two would be required for each of fleet’s carriers is was clear the vessel need to be of modest dimensions if eight (dropped to six with the cancellation of the third Yorktown class carrier) were to be afforded.
Luna Class Views 2
The biggest design challenge of of the Luna Class was to take the form of magazine space. Early in the project it had been decided that weight of fire would be more important than ammunition duration. With a total of sixteen quad flak gun mounts planned it was clear than in an extended encounter, ammunition would quickly become an issue. The only solution to this would be to either enlarge the hull or remove other systems. It was suggested that no plasma should be mounted, making the class pure flak ships. This was seen as a step too far – to produce a cruiser incapable of engaging other starships and four medium plasma cannons were seen sufficient to stand off enemy destroyers.
At the same time the designers were keen to try out a number of new ideas. The last of the Myth Class Cruisers were being completed and the Statesman Class were in the preliminary design stages, so the Fleet looked upon the smaller Luna’s as an opportunity to test these. The stepped hull, angled broadside passive arrays and radiator paneled embedded in the wings were all trialled, with mixed levels of success.  The effects of this experience can be seen the Statesman Class Heavy Cruisers.
The level of protection is relatively limited, with armour thicknesses and coverage inferior to even that of the River Class. Given that their intended role does not include battle line duties this was seen as acceptable. With lighter armour a lighter structure could be used and engines better suited to extended use over high end output still used and allowed for performance that match any human cruiser.
Service
Deimos 2

The Luna Class entered service in 2059 and have seen service principally in the Second and Third Fleets, as well as escort missions to and from the colonies. While the class is expected to have a thirty year lifespan, a number of problems have emerged. The lightweight structure has experienced cracking and routine maintenance cycle have included reinforcement.

Deimos 1

Authors Notes

Readers might have guessed that in form and concept the Luna Class were heavily inspired by the Dido and Atlanta Class AA cruisers of World War Two . With multiple gun batteries the trick with this one was making sure turrets didn’t get in each others way.

Additional: I re-edited the images in December, I was never really happy with the wings so I decided to have another go.

Nameless War is available on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and paperback.

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Weapons in the Battle Fleet Universe

Lasers:

The laser is a tight beam of coherent photons that is projected over significant distances. A laser weapon systems greatest advantage lies in its status as a light speed weapon. The target will only become aware it is under fire when struck. It is also the only known form of energy weapon that will function effectively within planetary atmosphere. While laser based weapon systems are used in ground based point defence batteries and the Star Forts of Planetary Defence, to date Battle Fleet has declined to arm any ships with laser weapon systems. This reluctance stems from a number of inherent problems. Against all but the most fragile target the beam will be required to focus on one location long enough to achieve a burn through. Under combat conditions with both target and firing maneuvering, this may difficult to achieve, especially if the target is armoured, thus requiring an even longer focus period. Exacerbating this problem is the localised nature of any damage inflicted, on the target. At present laser weapon systems are used as primary armament by most of the star nations of the the Tample and in the point defence systems of the Aellr.

Laser cannon

Plasma Cannons:

Standard anti-ship weapon system in both Battle Fleet and the Aellr Defence Fleet, this weapon launches a bolt of fusion temperature plasma at high speed. The bolt integrity is maintained by magnetic field, generated with bolt by a device known in human service as a sustainer rod. While the rod itself is vaporised within moments of the bolt being formed within the cannon firing chamber, the magnetic field fades only over the course of several seconds. The bolt is launched via an modified railgun type assembly. The dissipation effect means a hit from plasma bolt at point blank, will strike with considerably more force than at extreme range. The plasma cannon is not a light speed weapon therefore across standard fighting ranges more deflection will have to be applied to compensate. Starships are equipped with four or more guns to allow them to fire salvo at four subtly different location, to cover all possible locations of the target by the time the plasma bolts arrive. While there are currently numerous versions of plasma cannon in service they can be broadly broken down into three categories: Light, Standard and Heavy. Light are found on destroyers and other small craft. They have the short range at only 60,000 kilometres but the lowest weight and power requirements. Standard size is the most numerous form is found and provides cruiser classes with their primary armament. These weapons are considered effective out to 100,000 kilometres. Heavy Plasma Cannons are currently at the pinnacle of energy weapon technology. While at least twice the size of contemporary Standard Plasma Cannons with a matching power requirement, they allow Battleships to deal out shattering damage at ranges up to 160,000 kilometres.

Plasma Cannon 1Plasma Cannon 2Plasma Cannon 3

The only significant difference between Human and Aellr is in terms of physical dimensions. Aellr plasma cannon are roughly two thirds the size of contemporary Human designs.

Railgun:

A railgun is an electrically powered electromagnetic projectile launcher firing unguided projectiles along a ballistic course. While impact is likely to prove catastrophic for any vessel, irrespective of armour or any other passive defences, the relative slowness of the projectiles and the lag between firing and impact mean a direct hit is unlikely against a maneuvering target at standard combat ranges. However the sheer lethality of large caliber railgun rounds means that even at standard range, they can be used to break up an opposing starship formations. In recent years Battle Fleet has sought means by which the effective range of Railguns might be improved. Ammunition with proximity fuses have entered service and linked fire from several ships concentrated on one target, hemming it in has been experimented with.railgun turret

Flakgun:

A sub category of the Railgun, the Flakgun is designed for long ranged defence against fighters and missiles. Flakguns have a higher rate of fire and smaller explosive projectiles. To date Flakguns are only found in Battle Fleet and even there only in a handful of dedicated escort craft. Flak guns have been developed in single, double and quad mounts.

Flakgun

Missiles

Self propelled guided projectile. Common to all of the known races while details and level of sophistication alter between them. In theory able to inflect far greater damage than any of the gun types, the requirement for a missile to close on a manoeuvrings target and penetrate point defence fire makes these subordinate weapons to guns. In Aellr and Human the missile is seen as a mid range weapon to be used against target already damaged and slowed by gunfire. Where they are used at longer range, it is generally in massed salvos, to saturate defensive fire.

Point Defence:

Point Defence can be loosely described as a collection of small, low powered versions of the weapons listed above designed to provide a ship with an active defence against fighters and missiles. With short effective ranges they are not suitable for anti-ship roles and are the only weapon type to be routinely found on non-military vessels – for protection against micro-meteorites. At present the Aellr have tended to favor Plasma pulse guns, while the Mhar have only been able to manufacture small caliber railguns. The Tample use a mix of small lasers and railguns, while humanity uses a mixture of all three.

Point defence 1Point defence 2Point defence Laser

The Nameless war now available on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.

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Aéllr Vélrre (Province) Class Heavy cruiser

Aéllr Vélrre Class Heavy cruiser

Province class Cruiser 3
The Vélrre Class (English translation: Province Class by which it will be here after referred to as) has been the workhorse of the Aéllr Defence Fleet and the most visible symbol of the Confederations military strength. Although the class is to date not believed to have fired a shot in anger, encounters between members of the class and Battle Fleet ships are common on the frontier regions and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Provinces versus the Human Myth Class remain a firm favorite of armchair admirals.

Background

While technically victorious(1), the end of the Contact War was catastrophic for the Aéllr Defence Fleet. Physically victorious but psychologically shattered, the exit from the Defence Force on mass by the veterans of the war stripped it of much the experience hard won in the war against humanity. The ten years following the Treaty of Mars were characterized by both a lack of manpower and political indifference to the fleet’s requests for funds as Aéllr society largely turned its back on the fleet. What funds could be sourced were expended on the new battleship program(2) and system defence boats. The cruiser fleet, which made up the bulk of the interstellar fleet was ignored. So as humanity started to develop and build its second generation of cruisers, the Defence Fleet was forced to largely make do with increasingly worn pre-war and wartime designs.

The respective discovery of the Mhar by the Aéllr and Humans at the start of the 2040s would prove the trigger for a reinvigorated Defence Force.  The Aéllr sought to gain an ally on humanities right flank but in 2045 at the Treaty of the Three Planets, the collection of aged Aéllr cruisers dispatched to represent the strength of the Confederacy, were completely overshadowed by the presence of a powerful force of human warships including the brand new Battleship Fortitude. While this show of force ensured that humanity was able to present itself as an equal to the Aéllr it also proved – as the Defence Force’s leadership had been warning for years – that despite the vast difference in economic strength, the Aéllr Confederacy enjoyed no meaningful superiority in military quantity or quality. In the event of a human first strike, the Confederation might be defeated long before its vastly greater economic strength could be mustered. When Alfha Qehie was appointed to the post Fleet Senior in 2046 her first priority was to develop new generation of cruisers to both strengthen and re-invigoration of the Defence Force.

The Contact War had been largely fought within Earth’s solar system, with a human fleet of true interstellar cruiser  it was anticipated in the event of a second war, the Defence Fleet would have to fight its way towards Earth. But much like in the first war, human raiding cruisers would be dispatched into Confederation space(3). Therefore while the Defence Fleet needed a platform sufficiently robust and well armed to stand in the main battleline, it also had to be small and cheap enough to be built in numbers.
Province class Cruiser 2

Province Class over the Mhar homeworld

Design

While a number of small test cruisers had been designed and built since the end of the Contact War, the Province Class would be the first major cruiser design since the wartime WaLivt Class Heavy Cruisers. Given the changes to military and political environment since then this experience was of limited usefulness. In addition designer were also faced with a political dimension unknown to their human counterparts. While the most virulent of the anti military sentiment of the 2030’s had faded, a pure military vessel following the human model remained politically unacceptable. The Defence Fleet decided to make virtue out of a vice and develop a hull larger than at first they intended. While all designs are by their nature compromises, much as Battle Fleet did a decade earlier with its River Class, the Aéllr realised a larger ship required fewer such compromises.

While described by some observers as revolutionary, the Provinces have proved far more evolutionary, following and refining existing Aéllr design philosophy. Given the long standing Aéllr aversion to casualties, the Provinces place a greater emphasis on ship and crew survival within a given tonnage than their human counterparts. The layout followed existing Aéllr conventions with the main armament is concentrated in the forward section. This section is also believed to house stores and auxiliary craft. The distinctive offsetting of the plasma cannon turrets allows for better firing arcs astern at the slight expense of the broadside arcs. Astern of the three point centrifuge is storage, auxiliary craft and the engineering spaces. To date there have been four batches of Province Class cruiser, each with incremental improvements. The Batch Three were the first to receive the two gun drones which have become a feature of Aéllr warships.

Province class Cruiser 1

Province Class sighted on border patrol Circa 2055

While the combat performance of the Provinces remains unproven, the appearance of these large modern cruisers laid to rest the myth of the Aéllr unwillingness to fight. Prior to their introduction there had been suggestions in some quarters on Earth that Battle Fleet should assume a more aggressive posture in the border regions. The appearance of the Provinces made clear the the Confederacy lacked neither the will nor the means to defend itself and were probably instrumental in the One-for-Two declaration of 2055. While Batch one ships have been mothballed, it is expected the class as a whole will remain in service until at least the 2080s.

(1)Although it would be decades before the Confederation would learn it had come within hours of dictating terms.

(2) Which would in time yield excellent results in the form of the Autumn Shadow Class.

(3) Declassified Battle Fleet documents have confirmed that in the event of war during the 2040s at least one River Class Cruiser would have been dispatched to act as a raider.

Author Notes

I may well be returning this to one at some point in the future as my old computer basically hit the wall when it came to the computer model. There were a number of details – like the gun drones – I would have liked to have added but the processor and my patience threatened to melt.

This one was an interesting one to do, even though the Aéllr have never been centre stage in either of my books, I’ve always had a desire to explore them more thoroughly. They were to be the main opponent in my lost book and their technology is fairly similar that of Battle Fleet (or to be more precise humanity had borrowed a lot from them) but I wanted to see if I could design something that used similar elements but was clearly different. Okay I’ve ended up with the SF cliché of grey slab-sided human ships and curved alien ships but no-one is perfect

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Sky Shield Class Star Fort

Authors Notes:

Within the Battle Fleet Universe the fleet is not responsible for fixed defences, instead this role is shared out among the nation states within a NATO-like command structure. The Sky Shield Class is an US design used by a number of the western powers and a good representation of human star fort design philosophy.

Hampton Road in orbit over Landfall

Designed with a heavy forward armoured shield behind which the reactors, centrifuge and radiator panels are all protected. Since forts are generally based around planets or other fixed installation, they have no requirement for the same level of fuel and stores required by a starship. This allows a fort to carry a much heavier level of armament than a starship of matching size. Armament of the Sky Shield Class is based around a pair of fifty centimeters laser cannons in ball mounts. The secondary armament is four turret mounted plasma cannons, with laser based point defence grid again in ball mounts.

Sky Shield Class, plan view.

The majority of human star forts are located around Earth, with the second greatest concentration around the hydrogen facilities of Saturn. To date only one fort – the Hampton Road – has been positioned outside Earth’s solar system.

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