From a post to DAVIDWEBER.NET forums on 5/25/2011

More on the BC(P) design

    Okay, so this can of worms has been opened again.

    First, in reply to one of wastedfly's comments, it is indeed proper to compare ships of comparable masses, not the considerably smaller Agamemnon to the Nike. I think those classes get thrown around because the Agamemnon is the only/biggest BC(P) the Manticoran's have built, whereas that Nike is the only BC(L) they've built. Your point is very well taken, however; the capabilities of a Nike-sized BC(P) should be the departure point for any comparison between the two types [which probably should be called BC(L) (Conventional) and BC(L) (Pod), but God knows we already have enough other acronyms running around this universe!].

    I would argue with your point that "shockwaves go through open spaces and human bodies get smeared by said waves, [but] the shockwaves don't bother the mechanical systems," however, since shock damage has always been a major factor in damage control problems on shipboard, and the shock in question is usually transmitted through the structure of the ship, not through water or even the air in the compartments. I'm not saying that shock can't be transmitted through those media, nor am I saying that the non-compressibility of water doesn't have a significant impact on the destructiveness of explosions external to the hull of a wet-navy ship, but simply that the shock damage which knocks bearings out of true, interrupts electric circuits, warps propeller shafts, warps watertight hatches so that they're no longer watertight, etc., is normally transmitted through the fabric of the vessel not through air or water.

    In terms of the structural weakness of the hollow-cored pod design versus the conventional design, the biggest problem isn't that the pod-layer doesn't have a central keel member, although that would constitute a slight decrease in iinternal strength, but that the mere existence of the hollow core pushes other, arguably more critical systems towards the outside — surface — of the ship. In a conventional design, magazine spaces are interspersed with engineering sections, life-support sections, etc., and individual weapons and magazine space are dispersed throughout the volume of the ship; in effect, those systems are given greater protection by a combination of redundancy and dispersal. With the amount of space taken up by the magazine requirements of a pod-layer, and given that all of that magazine space has to be in effect a single, continuous void at the center of the ship, that volume inside the armored core hull of a conventional design is lost over whatever length of the ship is dedicated to magazines. It isn't that the structural members are weaker, or that the armor is necessarily thinner, but rather that the physical placement of the systems moves them closer to the surface of the hull, puts them outside the traditional inner armored zone of the design, and thus exposes them to damage to an extent not present in the traditional design.

    A second "weakness" aspect of the design is that based on combat experience, the designers have (rightly or wrongly; I think rightly, but your mileage may vary) decided that the magazine well needs to be armored on its inner face. The armor there is not as thick as on the exterior of the hull, and the thickness of the "inner armored belt," if we want to call it that, is both absolutely and proportionately much thinner in a battlecruiser design than in, say, a ship-of-the-wall. Nonetheless, additional tonnage and depth of structure is devoted to ballistic and ablative armor and cofferdamming to protect against the possibility of a hit on the inner face of the pod well. The possibility of a hit in this area is limited, but don't forget why the faces of a warship's hammerheads are as heavily armored as they are; every incoming missile is a potential "up-the-throat" or "up-the-kilt" shot, and those are, in fact, the targeting solutions the tactical officers on the other side are striving most forcefully to score. What this means is that since there is a massive door in the after hammerhead of a pod-layer, a hit coming in from astern while the launch doors are open (or opening or closing, depending on where you are in the launch cycle) has a significant chance of evading the heavy external armor on the hammerhead and striking the interior of the pod magazine. That's why the inner face is armored… and it also means that any system in that portion of the vessel is not only closer to the outer surface of the hull but also to the inner surface. In other words, once again the system is more vulnerable by virtue of its placement not because of any structural considerations which go into building the system or the hull immediately around it.

    Now, there is another factor where structural strength is concerned in that very thinness of the hull. It is substantially "narrower," so even though it may be proportionally just as strong — or even stronger — than a conventional design, it has less "girder depth," which is going to reduce its strength locally in comparison to a design which is twice as deep. That, however, is not the major factor in BuShips concerns about the "fragility" of the type.

    It may be that part of the problem here is the way in which people (myself included) have employed terms like "fragile" and "weakness." It's been pointed out, for example, that "drilling holes" in a ship's armor introduces weak points and that a ship with fifty broadside tubes has fifty such holes in its armor, whereas a pod-layer has only a single "hole" to worry about. There is some truth to that contention. The single hole in question is a heck of a lot bigger, and the chances of taking a hit on it are greater than the chances of taking a hit on any single missile tube, but the aggregate chance of taking a hit on a missile tube on a BC(L) as opposed to the "missile tube" (or, at least, its door) on a BC(P) is certainly greater. I haven't attempted to work it out mathematically, although my very rough WAG would be that the missile door on a BC(P) would probably have the same surface area as fifteen or twenty conventional tubes, since you're able to fit four pods (each containing more than a dozen missiles) through it in a single launch. If my WAG is off, I'm probably underestimating the size of the door, I suspect, which would (obviously) increase the proportionate target size and hence the vulnerability to being hit.

    The conventional broadside missile tubes, on the other hand, represent individual, relatively small, cofferdammed openings in the protective armor. They have heavily armored hatches which are closed when not firing. They are also protected by the ship's sidewalls, which will tend to attenuate and substantially reduce the damage potential of any hit which gets through, which the pod bay door is not. Their feed tubes are arranged to come in under armor from the side, rather than constituting an additional "well" deeper into the ship, leading to the magazines, so the possibility of something traveling down or "flashing" down the RMN's equivalent of the "powder hoists" is considerably diminished. Anything traveling up the central bore of a pod-layer is expending its energy immediately on the pods and missiles (and pod rails) in its way, and is probably going to cripple or destroy the entire launch capacity of the ship, as opposed to losing individual tubes and/or individual, dispersed magazines to single hits. And while the central shaft of a pod-layer is equipped with blast doors, those doors are neither so heavily armored nor as thick as the armored bulkheads which can be built into the conventional launcher for several reasons, including interruption of the launch rails themselves. They will have a very significant degrading effect on plasma or debris, but not as significant an effect as the armor built into and around the conventional broadside mounts. To some extent, in terms of the survival of the ship, the pods themselves will become a form of "armor" in terms of their ability to absorb damage, but see the immediately following paragraph. Again, as in virtually everything having to do with warship design, all of the above represents a series of trade-offs. The trade-offs any navy chooses are going to be the ones which suit its doctrine and operational philosophy.

    The most legitimate and irrefutable critique of the BC(L) as compared to the BC(P) (in my opinion) is the point about the need to spin up the fusion plants of Mark 16 missiles in the launcher. The pod can spin them up once it has launched and is clear of the ship; there is a brief moment in the launch cycle of a conventional tube, however, when it has a "live" Mark 16 with a functioning fusion plant still in its tummy. This would be a Bad Time to be taking a hit on that tube, and the people who have pointed this out are completely correct. Each pod represents something of an explosion threat all on its own, given the enormous amounts of energy stored in its capacitors, but that threat is both smaller than a "live" Mark 16 and (absent one of those "up-the-kilt" hits) much better protected until it is beyond the ship where it no longer poses a threat. Arguably, I suppose, the greater number of already "charged" pods represent a greater cumulative explosion threat, but that would assume that all of them were going up simultaneously or in fairly rapid sequence from a single hit or small cluster of hits, and I have some significant doubts about how likely that would be.

    The Admiralty's decision in favor of the BC(L) over the BC(P) rests on the following considerations. You may or may not agree with them, but they are the basis for the Admiralty's decision. They are (not necessarily in order of priority):

    (1) There are certain structural weaknesses, primarily in terms of systems arrangement and of the arrangement of internal armored protection, in any pod-layer design. They are more readily overcome in a ship-of-the-wall because of the greater depth of hull and the greater proportion of total hull volume normally devoted to protective design features.

    (2) In the Admiralty's opinion, the battlecruiser [whether a BC(L) or a BC(P)], by virtue of its smaller size (and even a Nike is "small" compared to a waller), is inherently weaker in defense if only because it cannot mount as many active and passive defenses as a waller. That being the case, the battlecruiser has no business in a wall-of-battle confrontation, and designing for that particular combat environment is not a central feature of BuShips' thinking.

    (3) The primary role of the battlecruiser is to dominate space in the absence of a wall-of-battle. It is to be as tough as it possibly can, to have as much combat endurance as possible, and to be able to deal with other battlecruisers or smaller vessels. To deal with its intended opponents, it doesn't need the firepower and sheer destructiveness of the Mark 23, and it can carry a hell of a lot more Mark 16s then it can of Mark 23s, whether it is a pod design or a conventional broadside design.

    (4) With the Mark 16's ability to fire staggered salvos (at no sacrifice and maximum range compared to the Mark 23, as long as one accepts a ballistic phase in the middle of the flight profile), the limiting factor on salvo size becomes fire control not launch speed. That is, how many control links do you have, rather than how many tubes (or pods) can you fire (or roll) simultaneously? If you need a really big salvo, you can stack them as readily — at least within the limitations of your fire control — from broadside tubes as from pods. Note also (6) and (7), below.

    (5) Given the ability to stack salvos and the limiting factor of fire control, the Admiralty prefers to go with dispersed launchers on the theory that while they may be more likely to lose some of them in any engagement they are far less likely to lose all of them in any engagement. In other words, they prefer sustainability of combat capability in the face of even severe damage, and that is what they've designed for.

    (6) Going back to (2) above, the Admiralty has deliberately designed in the Nike a ship which cannot fire all-up Mark 23s. At the time that decision was initially made, Apollo was not anticipated or projected, so the accuracy of the Mark 16 and the Mark 23 at extreme range would have been equally bad. At the same time, the improvements in the Mark 16's warhead were anticipated (although they were somewhat underestimated in the development stage), and so the Mark 16's "terminal effect" was going to be more than enough to take care of anything the size of another battlecruiser. Equivalent improvements in the Mark 23 would basically consist of blowing even bigger holes all the way through a battlecruiser-sized opponent. (Okay, slight exaggeration.) The point was that the Mark 16 was fully adequate for the projected requirements of the type, whereas depriving the type of Mark 23 capability was seen as a way to remind fleet commanders that battlecruisers are not superdreadnoughts.

    (7) [SMALL SPOILER] The evolution of Mark 16 tactics, using Ghost Rider platforms and FTL communications buoys to reduce the control links' effective lightspeed lag have provided a sort of "poor man's" Apollo for Mark 16-equipped combatants (which will be seen more clearly in A Rising Thunder's sequel, which is currently being called "Shadow of Freedom," although that's still subject to change). Work is currently underway to provide genuine Apollo capability for the Mark 16, and (in fact) that should be happening fairly shortly. The problem is going to be that not even the Nike is equipped with Keyhole-Two, so until a fix is found for that, the capability will be useful only when in company with a sufficient number of Keyhole-Two-equipped combatants to provide enough Apollo control links to make it worthwhile. The Agamemnon is too small to be equipped with Keyhole-Two. In terms of evaluating the BC(P) versus the BC(L) as a type, that is a nonfactor; in terms of evaluating the currently available BC(P)s and BC(L)s, which is something the Admiralty has to do when deciding where to assign the ships it actually has, it is a very significant factor.

    (8) On a per-missile basis, there is a significant mass and volume saving on a missile launched from a tube and a missile launched from a pod. Some mass and volume is saved by the fact that a pod-layer has, in effect, a single magazine and so doesn't have to pay for the additional bulkheads which are necessary to frame in and armor the multiple, smaller, dispersed magazines of a conventional type. Overall, however, the conventional design is able to stow a greater number of missiles for the same mass and volume. Don't forget that while each pod's launchers are individually lighter than the single, heavy duty tube of a conventional broadside mount, every missile in that pod requires its own individual launcher, while those fired from the broadside mount don't. If you saved only 10% of the mass penalty for those individual launchers, a ship with 800 missiles could fit 880 into the same mass and volume without them.

    (9) Another reason for the Admiralty's preference for the Nike format over the Agamemnon format (note that I said "format," not "design," because we are not comparing equivalent size ships here) is that building the Nike, and deemphasizing the percentage of the vessel devoted to missile pods, permits a greater percentage of the final design (regardless of actual size) to be devoted to defenses and survivability features. Part of this is an (admittedly) emotional response to the massive losses pod-layer warfare has entailed, but that response has a solid grounding in cold-blooded terms of conserving valuable, trained military personnel, as well. The RMN is making a concerted effort in all of its designs to maximize (a) crew survivability and (b) platform survivability (in that order), and its defensive doctrines are also being shaped and reshaped in that direction and by that emphasis.

    Now, it's entirely possible that other people aren't going to agree with the Manties (or me) about these aspects of the ships' design. I can't do much about that, except to explain the factors which shape the entire combat matrix as I currently understand it. Given the fact that I'm the guy writing the books and that my understanding of it is going to govern who wins and who loses — and that I genuinely do do my best to stand back and look at the actual technology and its capabilities, rather than simply saying "this is the outcome I want, therefore this is what the technology can/cannot do" — I'm afraid you're just going to have to put up with me if I do things in what you consider to be a suboptimal fashion.

    Yes, a BC(P) can carry Mark 23s whereas a BC(L) cannot. This is a well taken point. And, yes, Mark 23s can be used exactly the same way that a Saganami-C or a Nike (or a Roland) uses the Mark 16 in conjunction with FTL com ability.

    I beg to differ on the "encouraging admirals to use them" point. True, Honor did use BC(P)s in the example you've cited, but that was one of those "needs must when the devil drives" occasions which I've always agreed are going to arise. Honor's entire fleet structure was based around what was available, not what proper doctrine would have assigned to her, and she was deliberately operating in a high-risk mode and using ships which were not necessarily the ones she would have wanted to use. Her initial tactical plan had gone to hell on her when she found herself required to engage SD(P)s at all, and far worse when she encountered the surprise Giscard, Foraker, & Co. had arranged for her in the inner system, which left her no choice but to add the BC(P)s to her offensive fire. What happened to those BC(P)s — and her other screening elements — simply confirmed what the Admiralty had already begun to believe about the type's vulnerability when put up against ships-of-the-wall. I've never argued that having Mark 23 capability when a battlecruiser has to fight a ship-of-the-wall is not a good thing; I've argued that having a battlecruiser fight a ship-of-the-wall in the first place is never a good thing. :-)

    The comparison between the 12-inch and 16-inch shell is both illustrative and misleading. I say that as the person who first made the comparison in question. A 12-inch shell either is or is not going to penetrate its target's armor before it explodes. If it doesn't penetrate, damage is going to be superficial and minimal; if it does penetrate, the explosive effect is actually going to be quite similar to that of a 16-inch shell, because most of the additional volume of the heavier shell goes into additional steel (weight) to increase its penetrative power in order to get through the armor in the first place. The bursting charge is the smallest part of the increase in shell weight. I'm not saying there is no difference, but the difference is far more pronounced in high-capacity shells, not the armor piercing shells used against heavy warship armor. A Mark 23 has more penetrative power than a Mark 16, although not for the same reasons that a 16-inch shell has more penetrative power than a 12-inch shell. The missiles' effect on armor has much more in common with a shaped charge weapon than with a conventional armor piercing shot or shell; that is, they burn through armor rather than smashing physically through the armor and then exploding to release their chemical/explosive energy. The energy being deposited into the target is going to produce different effects on different materials, which is the primary reason warship armor is such a complex composite of "alloys" and kinetic and ablative/absorptive barrier levels. It's also the reason that so much of the outer area of a ship's hull inside the surface armor is designed expressly to absorb and dissipate incoming energy before it hits the inner armor of the vessel.

    There is no doubt that a warhead the size of the Mark 23's and a warhead the size of the Mark 16's are going to have drastically different "terminal effects," assuming equality of technology in their designs. The gap between their terminal effects, however, is shrinking. It's not going to disappear, by any means, and the heavier missile will always have an advantage in striking power (and probably in the number of lasing rods), not to mention a bigger, more flexible maneuvering envelope because of the inclusion of the additional drive stage. The question in the Manticoran Admiralty's mind is where that advantage fits into an entire constellation of tactical, strategic, design, and logistic choices.

    The Admiralty does not see the role of the battlecruiser as being to engage ships-of-the-wall. Striking power, per se, is thus less important in their design criteria. This may be a wise decision or a foolish one, but it is a factor in their thinking. And so is the question of survivability

    In point of fact, the Nike (along with the entire generation of designs, waller as well as battlecruiser, of which she is a member) also represents the Admiralty's rethinking on unit survivability. There is an analogy here with thinking about aircraft carriers in the 1920s and 1930s, although it probably shouldn't be pushed too far and too hard. Essentially, the Brits went one way with the design of purpose built carriers while the Americans and the Japanese both went the other way. Because the Royal Navy had lost control of its own aviation arm, it was forced to assume that its shipboard aircraft were going to be inferior to land-based aircraft they were likely to face, and the Brits had gone from being the navy with the most far-flung global responsibilities to being the one most likely to be forced to fight in "narrow waters." It had to worry about combat in the Mediterranean and the North Sea, whereas the "broad reaches" of the Pacific, while not precisely immaterial to its thinking, were definitely secondary. It was firmly focused on the Atlantic and the approaches to Europe, if you will, whereas the Americans and the Japanese were looking at a Pacific war from the outset, which meant their carriers were more likely to operate outside the reach of land-based airpower and that they could anticipate operating much farther away their shore-based logistical support. Because of that, the Brits produced heavily armored flight decks, despite the fact that it drove up the tonnage devoted to "platform" costs at the expense of striking power, whereas both the Japanese and the Americans used unarmored flight decks in order to maximize displacement that could be devoted to striking power. There were other factors in the American thinking, as well, including stability issues with placing the primary armored deck that high up and the use of habitability and "housekeeping" spaces built into the deck's underside, but the primary concern was how to pack the maximum possible striking power into a hull of a given displacement.

    Because the Americans and Japanese (let's call them the "Pacific powers") had different operational problems and design philosophies, their operational doctrine also differed from that of the Brits. In American service, it was called the "deckload strike," but prewar Japanese thinking was quite similar. The theory was that carriers were inherently fragile and vulnerable ships, packed full of gasoline as well as the ammunition any warship carried, and with huge internal spaces which literally could not be subdivided, all in a hull which was not armored. Essentially, it was a cruiser hull which was going to attract the attention of weapons designed to kill battleships as the primary target of any opposing aerial strike group. The logical conclusion of that theory was that the side which hit the other side's carriers first would win by the simple expedient of destroying the bases upon which its opponent's aerial power was totally dependent. As a carrier admiral put it during World War II "Carriers are Joe Lewises with glass jaws." So proper technique consisted of getting the absolute maximum number of aircraft into the air for a saturation strike on the opposing carriers the instant they could be located. In order to make this tactic work (to maximize the number of aircraft available), the American practice was to use the flight deck as a place to park and store aircraft, as well as one from which to launch and recover them. This is one reason American carriers were able to operate so many more aircraft than their British counterparts, because the British practice was to strike all aircraft below the armored deck in order to protect them (from wind and weather as well as enemy fire). The American practice simply let them physically cram more aircraft into the available space at the expense of increased vulnerability. Since they'd already assumed that the carrier's vulnerability — at least to a mission-kill — was effectively total, there was no logical reason for them not to do that and all kinds of reasons to do it.

    It turned out that both the Pacific powers and the Brits were right… and wrong. American and Japanese carrier task forces had far more striking power than a similar-sized British force could have projected. American carriers, however, proved vulnerable to attacks by handfuls of kamikaze aircraft because only a single plane had to get through to inflict major damage through their unarmored flight decks. British carriers tended to sweep the wreckage over the side and go right on operating when hit by anything short of a very large, properly designed armor piercing bomb. Their greater vulnerability was the reason the American Midway-class (and the Japanese Taiho-class) was designed on rather more "British" lines, yet it is significant to note that the Midway was designed well before the kamikaze threat was ever encountered. The classic explanation for why the Americans went to heavily armored flight decks is the kamikaze experience, but the real reason they went to armored flight decks even before the kamikaze was ever as much as projected was their analysis of how well the British designs had stood up to heavy bombing with 1,000-kilo armor piercing bombs in the Mediterranean. In other words, the American navy had been rethinking its position on survivability of its most critical platforms, and not simply in terms of armor. When you look at the ability of American carriers to take heavy damage and not merely survive the kinds of infernos that turned their decks into crematoria but actually return to battle in very short periods of time, you are seeing a triumph of changes in design, enormous improvements in damage control, and a very careful consideration of ways in which survivability features (many of which, especially in the short term, pertained primarily to ways in which design changes could further facilitate damage control work rather than to considerations like armor thicknesses and placement) could be improved.

    The Manticoran Admiralty's current thinking is headed in the same direction as the thinking which produced the Midway as the Essex-class' successor. There were some significant drawbacks to the Midway design, including what was probably excessive compartmentalization in order to increase survivability against underwater attack (the torpedo plane was considered the most dangerous form of aerial attack at the time the Midway design was finalized, and with pretty good reason), but overall it represented a vast improvement in the survivability of American carriers, and its survivability features have been preserved and built upon in subsequent carrier design.

    Initial pod-based missile tactics were very much the "deckload strike" with non-piloted "aircraft." The MDM had a huge range advantage over conventional single-drive missiles, but the new missiles weren't exceptionally accurate at their extended ranges. The podnought offered the opportunity to make saturation attacks which substituted sheer mass of fire for accuracy of fire, overwhelmed missile defenses which had been oriented around the far smaller "traditional" salvos of conventional ship designs, and literally pounded their targets out of existence. And because of the overwhelming torrent of destruction they could pour out, it seemed axiomatic that platform survivability had just become a numbers game in which the fellow with the last ship left won. And that, unfortunately, was expensive not simply in terms of ships which could never be repaired to fight again another day but also in terms of the highly trained (and hopefully motivated) manpower which crewed them. So, like the Brits in the 1930s and the Americans in 1942, the Manties began looking for a way to improve survivability.

    They are coming at this problem in multiple ways, some of which you have already seen in the books, some of which you will see in ART, and some of which you won't see still for a while. They are approaching it in terms of doctrine, in terms of active and passive antimissile defenses, in terms of ship design, and in terms of rethinking the operational requirements for various fleet roles and traditional ship types. The Roland and the Saganami-C are both transitional types in this process, which is where that 300,000-ton notional "destroyer" comes in. They also have to think in terms of affordability. For example, there seems to be very little question that the United States Navy would be best served if every single blue water combatant in its inventory was nuclear powered, with effectively unlimited high-speed cruising endurance completely free of fossil-fuel limitations, and if the fleet was served by a dedicated force of nuclear-powered logistic ships. In addition, all USN warships ought to have Aegis, VLS, towed sonar, LAMPS capability, Phalanx (and its successor), a shore bombardment capability, and enough designed in reserve generator capacity to supply the directed energy weapons currently under development. A small force of four or five VTOL aircraft would probably be nice, too. Unfortunately, the Navy faces fiscal constraints which limit what it can actually build. I guarantee you that in an all-out war situation on the model of World War II those fiscal constraints would be considerably loosened, but even then there are going to be limitations which are imposed by resource availability, building capacity, manpower, etc. The Manticoran Admiralty has to grapple with precisely those sorts of limitations, and that too is a factor in its analysis of the force structure it can build and maintain.

    The Nike represents a battlecruiser built to be survivable, to take advantage of weapons systems already in the production stage or projected to become available in the very near future, and to provide a platform which can be further developed in the directions Manticoran design is already headed. There are certain aspects of the Nike which will make more sense to the reader when hardware that the designers knew was already in the final development stage actually reaches fleet deployment. Without going into a lot of detail, I'll simply say that one aspect of the Mark 16's launchers is going to be that it has a considerably more effective "dual-purpose" role than the Mark 23 does as part of the Navy's new defensive doctrine. I'm not going to tell you any more than that now, and you can feel free to speculate all you want. In general, however, the Admiralty is moving away from the concept that the deckload strike is the only way to go because of the inherent vulnerability of its platforms. The RMN has had more experience with MDMs than any other navy in space, and its operational and tactical thinking is moving past second-generation theory and into third-generation theory. It may or may not be right, and you may or may not agree with my own analysis of the logical implications of my own technology, but there is a reason that I introduced the Nike type when I did, and when (or, of course, if) Manticore is in a position to begin putting the SD(P) equivalent of the BC(L)'s generation (in other words, I'm not saying that Manticore is going to abandon the SD(P) in favor of a "conventional broadside" design) into production, I think you'll see where their thinking was coming from.

    As far as the relative lethality of the Mark 16 G and the Mark 23 are concerned, I'll just say that it begins to become a bit more apparent in ART. I know, I know, bad of me not to just go ahead and tell you now, but why spoil the surprise? [G]

    I will say this, however, about the numbers of hits required to destroy superdreadnoughts. It takes fewer hits — substantially fewer hits — to destroy a Solly SD than it does to destroy a current-generation Manticoran or Havenite ship-of-the-wall, despite everything I've said about the potential chinks in a ship's defenses which the missile core creates. The sheer lethality of the newer and more powerful weapons being produced in the Havenite Wars is mostly to blame for that evolution in survivability, but another factor is that the Sollies haven't actually had to fight anyone in so long. Considerations of peacetime economy and convenience, as much as that sublime overconfidence we've all come to know and love so well, have contributed to weaknesses in Solarian naval doctrine and design which are most pronounced in its lightest and its heaviest units.

    And I will leave you with one final thought. The initial introduction of the MDM led to the sort of "deckload strike" thinking I've talked briefly about above specifically because fire control — and sophistication — had been tremendously outpaced by the abrupt, qualitative change in weapons range. The Manties and the Havenites, but especially the Manties, have been working steadily ever since to bring fire control and sophistication up to match the increases in range. As one consequence, they are getting into territory where their ships' lethality may actually exceed their tactical requirements, which is one reason that they are turning their attention to increased survivability and operational flexibility rather than simply continuing to concentrate on striking power. I'm not saying that they are not interested in ways of continuing to increase striking power; only that they are willing to give other aspects of design a greater proportionate degree of attention and emphasis. The USN in the 1930s and 1940s saw absolutely no need increase the caliber of its battleship guns from 16-inch, since it was quite content with what Norman Friedman has described as the "magnificent destructiveness" of the "superheavy" armor piercing 16-inch projectile it had already produced — a projectile which actually had better armor-penetrating capacity at range than the Japanese 18.1-inch. Instead of devoting the tonnage the monster Japanese guns ate up to their battleships' main batteries, US designers chose to use it in other aspects of their ships' design. When they did increase the battery of the Montana-class ships, it was by adding an additional turret with the same caliber weapons, not by increasing gun caliber, and considerably more (proportionately) of the Montana's tonnage increase over the Iowa and South Dakota-classes went into protection and survivability features than into striking power. The same thing happened with postwar carrier design, in many respects, with the number of aircraft carried actually shrinking substantially from those envisioned for the wartime-designed Midway class. Of course, the individual size, weight, and capability of the aircraft in question increased hugely, but the proportion of the ship's tonnage dedicated to non-aircraft use went up significantly.