Somtaaw wrote:Jonathan_S wrote:First I think you're slightly underrating the warheads on LAC missiles - they're going to be dangerous to at least a CL and probably a CA.
But even against and SD, where I agree they're not going to get hits against it's vitals, you can still seriously reduce it's effectiveness with non-penetrating hits. It isn't only drive nodes that can't be armored. The sensor arrays are surface mounted, as are fire control links, and PDLCs. Weapons hatches are armored, but direct hits are likely to render that weapon at least temporarily out of action - by jamming the cover closed if nothing else.
So enough pin pricks can send even a mighty SD back to the yards to get it's exterior mounts repaired or replaced.
But Theemile has a good point about LACs normally being used to augment heavier defensive forces. The missiles from the LAC might not be able to hit an SD's vitals, but even before they start hitting and eroding your point defense and tracking capabilities they tend to obscure the bigger nasties capital missiles that the system's forts, moon bases, or own SDs might be throwing.
Yes, given a little time, you can distinguish between them. But the one-shot swarm of LAC missiles can still make it harder to stop the enemies first wave of heavy missiles. And if they hit and degrade the sensors and point defense, well, that just gives the defenders a better chance of winning the missile fight and causing the attackers to break off before the clash of energy range combat.
All that side mounted fire control is protected by the sidewalls. And LAC missiles were/are tiny, and prior to the Trojan series, can't possibly have had warheads larger than a megaton or two (after all, Manticore Mark 16's as last as 1909 were only 15 Mtons, and those are cruiser weight)
Even assuming you launch at point blank, look how easily CA Fearless and CL Apollo just ate up the missiles 3 LAC's launched. Would have been even more efficient if McKeon's destroyer Troubadour had involved in the missile defense, but at that time he was too far forward, and busy rolling ship to avoid the low beam count (I'd have to double check, but out of the 3 shots, only 1 hit wasnt it?)
Even with enourmous numbers of LAC's, you'd have to get quite a few missiles through the active defenses, and up-the-kilt or down-the-throat to actually deal damage to anything more important than superficial armor damage on the hammerheads. Which after all, are the second most heavily armored portion of a warship, after the broadsides.
I might be able to grant LAC's beams might still be a threat to light cruisers, but heavy cruisers and up would be for all intents just about immune to LAC's. Their sidewalls are just too powerful for most LAC weapons (don't remember if Fearless managed to get sidewalls up in Grayson against the Masadan LACs). Even with crossing the T, LAC's would die in swarms to the heavy hammerhead defenses and they still aren't guaranteed to get those "golden BB" node hits.
By the time you involve capital ships of battlecruiser or larger, they actually almost could totally ignore LAC's as long as they keep doing minor course corrections to prevent a LAC from trying to slip inside their wedge for missile launches on their drive nodes from inside the wedge/sidewalls.
You forget that prior to 1880, combat was done with contact nukes. Even DD scale missiles carried contact nukes larger than the Tzar Bomba, so if any missile got through, it was going to do serious damage. Also, not all LACS carried wimpy missiles, some designs carried Capital class missiles. These "eggshells armed with sledgehammers" carried fewer missiles in the trade off for more effective missiles.
Essentially, LACS were the 19th century PD missile pods. They were the only way to get thickened salvos out into mobile combat. In mobile combat, they were cheap attrition units which could be used to overwhelm a target with numbers and multiple firing angles.
A trio of LACS could salvo 15-30 missiles (twice), enough to overwhelm many point defenses, so they were a threat that had to be respected when they were deployed with other units.