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Library: weaponry

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Author: Ran
Date:Jun 24 1997

This book outlines the history of weaponry development, and specific use of
pre-existing weaponry.

Second to defensive systems, existing weaponry is quite varied and the theory
behind it rather complex.

At first, very few ships were built designed to destroy other ships.  During
war and battle exercises, the typical way to disable other ships was to board
them, and fight the crew.  The weapons used by boarders were no different than
the standard anti-personel weapons described in other books.  For a while,
only weapons like large clubs, or whips were used by ship-raiders, the
supposed scientific reason being to not pierce the ship's hull and cause a
loss of air pressure.  Typically, even the boarders used no spacesuits, and
fighting while having to use a gas mask was "not much fun at all" so neither
side really wanted to use any weapons that could pierce the walls of a ship.
Full pressure suits were large and cumbersome, and made combat "not very fun
or rewarding".  So there wasn't much in the way of real ship-bound weaponry
until the people decided to try to conquer other worlds, some of which had
navys of their own.

The first ship designed to destroy other ships [name is untranslatable]
resembles a porcupine with many non-retractable spikes, and a large ram in
front.  It also had an extremely large reactive gas-thrust engine in the back.
To attack another ship, it would either ram it with the spike in front, or it
would turn so that the engine was facing the other ship and then fire the
engine.  Though they were never that useful tactically, piloting these became
something of a sport, and competitions and races were popular.  These races
were extremely destructive, and the company which produced these ships became
very prosperous.  The object was generally to ram the other ships and do as
much damage to them while suffering as little damage yourself. 

The first real effective anti-ship weapon was a guided missile with a powerful
(typically Fusion) warhead.  These were rarely ever used for "sport", or in
competition, because they were extremely destructive (defensive systems hadn't
been invented yet) and looked at as unfair and taking the fun out of ship
combat (which still consisted mostly of ramming other ships or trying to melt
them with huge rocket engines).  These were only used in foreign conquests.  A
small craft designed for speed and for delivering these missles was built, and
a great variety of these missles, with various guidance systems and warheads
were built.   Better fusion warheads were developed, they were made speedier
and more manueverable, etc.

Pressed to come up with a defensive system against these missles, since other
races used things similar, the people encountered a few problems.  The radius
of the explosion was far enough so that even if the ship fired its engines and
tried to melt a missile that was tracking it when it was close behind, the
missile could simply be detonated remotely and still inflict considerable
damage on the ship from far away.  This is where we see the first use of
high-power LASER weapons in ship combat.  Though they were  too useful against
other large ships, a concentrated LASER beam could destroy a smaller missile
before it got close enough to the ship to do damage.  To date, this is really
the only way LASER weapons are used on combat ships.  An earth president tried
to duplicate this missile defense system (which he dubbed "Star Wars" or
"Space Defense Initiative" and miserably failed, due to both lack of technical
knowledge and general stupidity of earth scientists.  

Improved version of these missles continued to come out.  The next major
innovation was a "railgun" which could use electric fields (EMF force) to
propell the missile at a very high speed.  Given enough electrical energy, any
conductive object could be accelerated to almost lightspeed where merely the
collision itself, followed by an explosion, could cause structural damage to a
ship.  These weapons were much more deadly than LASERs to ships because rather
than simply make clean holes through ships, they would often shatter a whole
section of the hull (if the ship was poorly built -- as many ships are) and
then explode shortly after.   These weapons were very large and long (one
version was almost a kilometer long, and had to be mounted on a specially
designed ship) and required massive power, but could destroy enemy ships in a
single hit.  Even with its enemies possessing meager defensive systems, which
might have helped them withstand the far-under-lightspeed original missles, a
LASER was useless against a projectile moving almost as fast as it.  The navys
of a few systems close by quickly fell, and the people of "planet U" quickly
overtook their ground forces and occupied their worlds.  About this time,
personal defensive systems were first created and used. The sensors of enemy
ships were not even equipped to see objects moving so close to lightspeed
(there's a great deal of red/blue shift when you get that close) and didn't
even understand close-to-lightspeed physics as well as the "U" people did, so
to them it was like the "U" navy got near them and suddenly their ships
started exploding.

Despite their short range in the atmosphere, with the navy taking over other
planets, ships designed for ground attack (rather than destroying other ships)
were made.  These ships used mostly bombs and missles, as the railgun-like
weapon described above was too large for an atmospheric ship.  When these
bombers were first used, most losses were due to ground fire, and this is when
research on defensive systems for ships begins.   The defensive systems
discussed in "combat" were first used around this time.


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