LACs as kamikazis
[T]he notion of using LACs as kamikazes. This thread began out of a proposal to use smaller ships to damage/take down larger ships' wedges. That proposal was, I think, quckly shot down. The proponents then suggested that a LAC might kamikaze into an SD's sidewall and at least take that down with its impeller wedge. Objections to the notion center around: (a) we don't know it would have that effect; (b) why would a LAC crew kamikaze if all they can do is take down the sidewall; (c) could a LAC physically reach the sidewall before wedge fratricide killed it; (d) could a LAC with modern Manty-style EW survive the fire of the target ship to reach ramming range; and (e) could the crew lock out the compensator safety locks and deliberately max their accel out at several thousand gravities and have the LAC hold together long enough to make the strike (I think the theory is that the sudden burst of acceleration would make it harder for the active defenses to stop it).
Richard, why would any of the present adversaries in the Honorverse throw away LACs as kamikazis, of all damned things? These aren't Rigelians or Arachnids. Kamikazes (among reasonably sane individuals) are a weapon of desperation, to be used when there's no other alternative. You and I have discussed enough naval history that I know that you know that even the Japanese only embraced the kamikaze attack because, in effect, any aircraft they committed to attacking a U.S. Navy carrier force after early 1943 was going to be shot down anyway, probably before it was able to reach attack range. Neither side in the current war is so frightfully outclassed as to be driven to this sort of desperation attack.
If you could get a LAC's impeller wedge into direct contact with a superdreadnought's sidewall, then, yes, the sidewall would go down. Exactly how many of the superdreadnought's sidewall generators would be affected would be something I'd have to think about. Basically, though, what you would do would be to open a "hole" in the sidewall, which damage control would then close up again by spreading the surviving generators' capacity across. The resulting sidewall would be flimsier and less effective than the undamaged sidewall had been, but it would still be there.
I don't think it would be possible for a LAC to bring its wedge into contact with the sidewall in the first place, however. "Threading the needle" of a SD's wedge with a LAC-sized wedge would not be a trivial exercise in piloting even if the SD in question wanted to cooperate in the effort. Clearances would be extremely tight, and if the LAC's wedge contacted the waller's in the slightest, the LAC would disappear very quickly and very violently. Given that I think we must assume that the SD in question would be actively not cooperating, the challenge goes from "not trivial" to "downright impossible." I can think of two or three evasive maneuvers a ship of the wall could employ to thwart this sort of attack right off the top of my head. The simplest would probably be a "back-and-forth" version of rolling ship.
Even leaving aside any difficulties in simply flying the necessary approach path, there's the fact that the superdreadnought in question will probably be shooting at the LAC in question. The probability of a LAC's survival when approaching on any vector which would make it remotely possible for it to travel the necessary roughly one hundred and fifty kilometers between the roof and floor of a waller's wedge brings Doc Smith's proverbial celluloid dog in hell forcibly to mind. It ain't gonna happen. By the time a LAC gets close enough to physically contact the sidewall of a ship of the wall, point defense laser clusters would kill it without a great deal of trouble. And ships of the wall have lots of point defense clusters.
In theory, there's no reason that a sufficiently suicidal LAC crew couldn't take out the safety interlocks in the way that Rafe Cardones did in "With One Stone." The LAC could not sustain missile-level acceleration rates even so, however, and even missile acceleration rates are insufficient to get through modern point defense. Arguably, the LAC would have better EW capabilities than a missile would, but its trading off a larger base signature and a bigger target to get them. And while I couldn't estimate the degree of degradation in EW capabilities that killing of the entire crew and going to such ridiculous acceleration levels would create right off the top of my head, I think I can safely say that it would not be good.
I suppose that circumstances might arise under which a sufficiently fanatical crew would choose "death before dishonor" and make a defiant gesture by attempting to ram a larger warship. However, I can't conceive of their attack succeeding against a ship which wasn't already in such bad shape from cumulative damage that a conventional attack would inflict much more significant damage than simply taking down a sidewall, which is about all you could hope to achieve with this particular form of attack.