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Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW?

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Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW?
Post by cthia   » Sat May 29, 2021 5:59 pm

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Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW

It has plagued me in my waking hours for years. I hate it that Helen died. There are other options which I don't understood why she didn't take.

To begin with, she had the tech edge in n-space. I don't know why she didn't drop out of hyper and deal with the Peep's six Heavy Cruisers in n-space.

I also don't know why she didn't order the convoy to scatter when the Peeps were first detected on their six more than two hours away from intercept. The cocky Peep Captain even banked on the entire convoy - escorts and all - scattering.

Why couldn't Helen use her ships to block the sensor read of her convoy's exit from hyper, after which they could scatter. Sensors were barely functioning there. The Peep Cruisers should not have been able to see the freighters exit from hyper through Helen's ships. The freighters could have even shut down everything and became holes in space after translating, instead of scattering. There were options.

At any rate, after almost an hour after the freighters translated and scattered, Helen could have declined battle. The freighters were ordered to scatter anyway.

Another option is an hour or so after the freighters scattered - or even less - Helen could have used her accel to get beyond sensor range and dodge into n-space unseen or simply outrun them, no longer having the slower freighters to protect.

What am I obviously missing?

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
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Re: Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW?
Post by cthia   » Sat May 29, 2021 6:45 pm

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The Short Victorious War, Chapter 18 wrote:Thomas Theisman's jaw clenched as the drive sources came back toward him in attack formation. He folded his hands tightly behind his back and made himself look at Commodore Reichman without expression. She'd been so sure the Manty commander would order the entire convoy, escorts and merchantmen alike, to scatter. After all, she'd pointed out, the grav wave would strip them of the long-range missile advantage, which might have given them the chance to achieve anything worthwhile. That was the whole reason for intercepting here rather than between waves, as Theisman had suggested. No commander would throw his ships away for nothing when scattering meant at least four of his ten ships would survive.

Thomas Theisman had known better, but Annette Reichman had never fought Manticorans before. And because Theisman had lost when he fought them, she'd ignored his warnings with barely veiled patronization.

"Orders, Ma'am?" he asked now, and Reichman swallowed.

"We'll take them head-on," she said after a moment. As if she had a choice, Theisman thought in disgust.

"Yes, Ma'am. Do you wish to change our formation?" He kept his tone as neutral as possible, but her nostrils flared.

"No!" she snapped.

Theisman raised his eyes over her shoulder. His cold glance sent her staff and his own bridge officers sidling out of earshot, and he leaned toward her and spoke quietly.

"Commodore, if you fight a conventional closing engagement with your chase armaments, they're going to turn to open their broadsides and give us everything they've got at optimum range."

"Nonsense! That would be suicide!" Reichman snapped. "We'll tear them apart if they come out from behind their sails!"

"Ma'am," he spoke softly, as if to a child, "we out-mass those ships seven to one, and they have to close to energy range. They know what that means as well as we do. So they'll do the only thing they can. They'll open their broadsides to bring every beam they can to bear, and they'll go for our forward alpha nodes. If they take out even one, our own foresail will go down, and this deep into a grav wave—"

He didn't have to complete the sentence. With no forward sail to balance her after sail, it was impossible for any starship to maneuver in a grav wave. They would be trapped on the same vector, at the same velocity. They couldn't even drop out of hyper, because they couldn't control their translation attitude until and unless they could make repairs, and even the tiniest patch of turbulence would tear them apart. Which meant the loss of a single sail would cost Reichman at least two ships, because any ship which lost a sail would have to be towed clear of the wave on a consort's tractors.

"But—" She stopped and swallowed again. "What do you recommend, Captain?" she asked after a moment.

"That we do the same thing. We'll get hurt, probably lose a few ships, but it'll actually reduce our sails' exposure and give us far heavier broadsides and a better chance to take them out before they gut our sails."

He met her gaze levelly, strangling the desire to scream at her that he'd told her this would happen, and her eyes fell.

"Very well, Captain Theisman," she said. "Make it so."

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
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Re: Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW?
Post by Jonathan_S   » Sat May 29, 2021 8:28 pm

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First, I want to thank you for bringing this up. It's something that had kind of bothered me, and even on reading your post I was initially tending to agree with you. But it made me think a bit deeper about it and try to come up with supporting data; which actually led me to reverse my initially assumption.


Your question is something the book definitely doesn't address. And I can't recall RFC speaking directly to it either.
The book covers why the convoy didn't attempt to break out of the grav wave within the current band of hyper-space (it'd take more hours than they had), but not why it didn't drop to a lower band or even to n-space to attempt to evade.

However, thinking about that question, there is one example in a later book (HAE) where a ship does attempt to evade a mid-hyper intercept by dropping to n-space. That's when Honor, in HMS Wayfarer, was trying to cover the liner Artemis. And if we look at that later fight it may give us some clues about why Helen didn't try a similar approach.


So to start with, the differences:
- The later fight was in the Selker Rift, not in a grav wave - so sidewalls and missiles were in play.
- The later fight had only a single Peep BC within sensor range, rather than 6 CAs.
- The later fight had 1 AMC defending, rather than 2 CLs + 3 DDs
- The SVW convoy was 5 unarmed freighters. While Artemis basically had the shielding, sidewalls, point defense, and propulsion of a BC - but a far, far, lighter offensive weapons fit. (Heck, she even had most of a BC's EW/stealth suite and a post-Grayson compensator; though not the absolute latest one)
- Artemis had taken some damage already while the SVW convoy's freighters were undamaged.

But the similarities:
- Both combats appear to have occurred in the Delta bands.
- Both, for different reasons, were limited to the acceleration and rad shielding of a freighter ship.
- In both cases the civilian ship(s) were [now] unable to climb above the Delta bands


So let's refresh ourselves on how the Wayfarer fight went:
Despite only one Peep ship being in sensor range (rather than 6), and it being 2 hours out of missile range, Honor still felt that the single BC would be able to find and run down Artemis after she'd slipped down into n-space; unless the Artemis was given hours to get away from it's last known position and hide. And even then Honor wasn't sure that would work if the BC was undamaged and given free reign to search.
That's why Honor did the trick with the EW drone, to create uncertainty about exactly when Artemis separated and slipped out of the Delta bands.

And yet, even with only a single ship in range to see she wasn't confident that would be enough to let a ship with the stealth and EW of a pretty modern RMN BC successfully hide from the BC should it come back and start looking.


If it's that hard to hide from a single ship, it must be nearly impossible for the convoy escort in SVW to have long hidden that the freighters they'd been escorting had slipped away; given that there were 6 CAs watching them -- providing more redundancy as well as multiple angles of view on each target. Certainly the ruse wouldn't have lasted longer than it took to run down the first EW drone - at which point the CAs can easily double back and find the hiding freighters (since those will be far easier to find than a single well equipped liner)

As for dropping the whole convoy out en-mass to fight a missile duel in normal space; remember that Theisman (who'd fought RMN cruisers and destroyers already) was far more confident that the 6 Havenite CAs would be able to win a missile fight against the heavily outmassed RMN CLs + DDs. Haven's got more ships, each of which is tougher and carries more point defense and more missile tubes than any of the RMN escorts. The RMN has a tech edge in missile combat - but at this point it's not enough of one for CLs and DDs to fight outnumbered against heavy cruisers with any likelihood of victory. Maybe, maybe, an RMN CL is a near even match for the bigger more armored Havenite CA. But the RMN DD's aren't, and the RMN only has 2 CLs there. Plus Haven's got an extra CA anyway so even if the fight was a toss-up one on one, in a 6 on 5 fight and given the tonnage imbalance it's Haven's fight to lose

And when the RMN escort does lose then the freighters have little chance of escape in the deep interstellar void of n-space.


How about if they all drop to normal space and the freighters are ordered to scatter while the escort turns to engage the CAs? Well the CAs outnumber the escort - Haven could afford to detach one or two to run down the slower freighters while the rest fought the escorts. So that seems like a failing plan too.

So we seem to come back to the plan the RMN escorts did follow. Order to freighters to scatter, and then turn the 5 escorts back en-mass in an attempt to cripple as many of the attacking CAs as possible -- taking advantage of the grav wave environment to magnify the effects of the damage. That seemingly giving them their best chance to minimize the number of CAs that would be able to hunt down the scattering freighters (and as it was they managed to reduce that number all the way to zero - so the sacrifice of the 5 escorts ensured the survival of all 5 freighters. Something that seems quite unlikely in the scenarios where they try to move the combat out of the grav wave)

So while RFC didn't give us this full infodump during SVW the more I think about it the more I'm coming to the conclusion that given the forces involved that trying to move the fight to normal space, or trying to let the freighters hide while the escort scattered, would be extremely risky if not totally unworkable strategies.
Last edited by Jonathan_S on Sat May 29, 2021 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW?
Post by Jonathan_S   » Sat May 29, 2021 8:29 pm

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Now if the escort had been 5 RMN CAs, especially if they'd all been modern Star Knights, then the calculus changes significantly and they'd have a quite good chance of defeating the 6 Peep CAs in a missile fight. In that scenario it would make sense to try to move the fight into normal space.


Though even so, going to missile combat with freighters nearby does increase the risk that one or more of them will eat a missile during the combat. You might have missiles get lost and go after the big juicy signature of a freighter. Or you might have the Havenite ships deliberately target some missiles on them to force the RMN warships to divert the majority of their point defense to keep those missiles off the otherwise defenseless freighters; potentially making it easier to start damaging the RMN warships...
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Re: Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW?
Post by Galactic Sapper   » Sun May 30, 2021 6:32 pm

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Jonathan_S wrote:Now if the escort had been 5 RMN CAs, especially if they'd all been modern Star Knights, then the calculus changes significantly and they'd have a quite good chance of defeating the 6 Peep CAs in a missile fight. In that scenario it would make sense to try to move the fight into normal space.


Though even so, going to missile combat with freighters nearby does increase the risk that one or more of them will eat a missile during the combat. You might have missiles get lost and go after the big juicy signature of a freighter. Or you might have the Havenite ships deliberately target some missiles on them to force the RMN warships to divert the majority of their point defense to keep those missiles off the otherwise defenseless freighters; potentially making it easier to start damaging the RMN warships...

Correction: aim ALL of their missiles at the freighters. The point of the exercise was to kill the freighters, not the escorts.

The same goes with splitting the freighters in normal space or anywhere else. The Peeps would simply follow the scattering freighters and kill them, while effectively ignoring the escort. Any situation that results in a missile combat is a loss for the convoy, as only the energy-range combat that actually occurred allowed them to get quick kills or disabling damage on the much heavier Peep ships.
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Re: Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW?
Post by ZVar   » Sun May 30, 2021 9:15 pm

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Three words describe it better than any dissertation can. Simply "The tradition lives!"

It's as simple as that. The RMN has a reputation of protecting every possible civilian ship, not just the easy ones.
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Re: Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW?
Post by cthia   » Sun May 30, 2021 11:07 pm

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The overall problem I have is the Peeps were more than two hours away from intercepting the convoy. And sensors were almost nonexistent there. Sensors were so unreliable that the Peeps were able to reduce their accel to allow the convoy to pass right by without detecting them. (Initially the Peeps were ahead of the convoy in hyper.)*

If sensors were so shoddy that the Manty CLs - which were leading the convoy - couldn't detect six Peep CAs while passing right by them, then how could Peep sensors detect the freighters if they dropped out of hyper at more than two hours away?

As far as I know, sails don't radiate the telltale bleed in hyper upon leaving hyper.


*Actually, TBH and IINM, I think the Peep ships were sitting motionless in a hyper bubble... but still.


Thanks for the post Jonathan, and for admitting that the scene bothered you too. Misery loves company.

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
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Re: Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW?
Post by Jonathan_S   » Mon May 31, 2021 10:43 am

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cthia wrote:The overall problem I have is the Peeps were more than two hours away from intercepting the convoy. And sensors were almost nonexistent there. Sensors were so unreliable that the Peeps were able to reduce their accel to allow the convoy to pass right by without detecting them. (Initially the Peeps were ahead of the convoy in hyper.)*

If sensors were so shoddy that the Manty CLs - which were leading the convoy - couldn't detect six Peep CAs while passing right by them, then how could Peep sensors detect the freighters if they dropped out of hyper at more than two hours away?

As far as I know, sails don't radiate the telltale bleed in hyper upon leaving hyper.


*Actually, TBH and IINM, I think the Peep ships were sitting motionless in a hyper bubble... but still.


Thanks for the post Jonathan, and for admitting that the scene bothered you too. Misery loves company.

You don't get a hyper transition 'flash' in the hyper band you're leaving. But by the point the Peeps[1] were seen they had the convoy's sails on their sensors. So, while they wouldn't see a 'flash' when the freighters dropped out of hyper they'd see the disappearance of the sail. (And since it's suicide to drop the sail while in a grav wave they'd know without a doubt that they'd changed hyper bands)

I'm not sure why the RMN would be so confident that ships that try to hide will be successfully hunted down.
But if Honor believes a modern liner that's got the next best things to a BC's speed, stealth, and ECM needs more than 3 hours head start to successfully hide from a single enemy then I'm not in a position to gainsay her. And, if that's true, then what possible hope would slower, less stealthy, freighters have in trying to hide with even less time and against many more searchers?


Technically incorrect; Rob S Pierre hadn't yet launched his little coup to create the People's Republic; and hence they weren't yet the People's Republic of Haven Navy. So the nickname 'Peeps' is technically premature for this time period.
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Re: Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW?
Post by cthia   » Mon May 31, 2021 11:05 am

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Jonathan_S wrote:
cthia wrote:The overall problem I have is the Peeps were more than two hours away from intercepting the convoy. And sensors were almost nonexistent there. Sensors were so unreliable that the Peeps were able to reduce their accel to allow the convoy to pass right by without detecting them. (Initially the Peeps were ahead of the convoy in hyper.)*

If sensors were so shoddy that the Manty CLs - which were leading the convoy - couldn't detect six Peep CAs while passing right by them, then how could Peep sensors detect the freighters if they dropped out of hyper at more than two hours away?

As far as I know, sails don't radiate the telltale bleed in hyper upon leaving hyper.


*Actually, TBH and IINM, I think the Peep ships were sitting motionless in a hyper bubble... but still.


Thanks for the post Jonathan, and for admitting that the scene bothered you too. Misery loves company.

You don't get a hyper transition 'flash' in the hyper band you're leaving. But by the point the Peeps[1] were seen they had the convoy's sails on their sensors. So, while they wouldn't see a 'flash' when the freighters dropped out of hyper they'd see the disappearance of the sail. (And since it's suicide to drop the sail while in a grav wave they'd know without a doubt that they'd changed hyper bands)

I'm not sure why the RMN would be so confident that ships that try to hide will be successfully hunted down.
But if Honor believes a modern liner that's got the next best things to a BC's speed, stealth, and ECM needs more than 3 hours head start to successfully hide from a single enemy then I'm not in a position to gainsay her. And, if that's true, then what possible hope would slower, less stealthy, freighters have in trying to hide with even less time and against many more searchers?


Technically incorrect; Rob S Pierre hadn't yet launched his little coup to create the People's Republic; and hence they weren't yet the People's Republic of Haven Navy. So the nickname 'Peeps' is technically premature for this time period.

That is the only possibility I could come up with as well, that Peep sensors were locked onto their sails. But at that same point - where the convoy's trailing destroyer first caught sight of the Peeps - interception was still beyond two hours.

Therefore, your post still doesn't explain why the convoy's CLs couldn't detect the sails or ships of six Peep CAs while passing right by them. Since sails so easily burn through the disturbance in hyper at greater than two hrs away.

Now, textev does say the Peep force was using hellish ECM to thwart the sensors of the convoy's lesser capable trailing destroyer. But if it was also effective enough to defeat the sensors of the convoy's CLs while passing right by them, then the LDs are going to have a field day.

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
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Re: Captain Zilwicki's options in SVW?
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Mon May 31, 2021 11:39 am

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Jonathan_S wrote:Technically incorrect; Rob S Pierre hadn't yet launched his little coup to create the People's Republic; and hence they weren't yet the People's Republic of Haven Navy. So the nickname 'Peeps' is technically premature for this time period.


Oops, yes they were. They'd been the People's Republic of Haven and the People's Navy for a century and a half, since the Constitutional Convention of 1750, which is about 70 T-years after the Economic Bill of Rights. Hereditary President Harris was its chief of state. They'd been known as "peeps" for that long -- the slang name couldn't have caught on if they'd been that for just 10 T-years.

Rob S Pierre's coup created the Committee of Public Safety, but didn't change the republic's official name.
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