From an email posted to Baen's Bar Honorverse dated September 24, 2004:

Variable geometry starships

    The Handy-Dandy Folding Starship. This idea apparently stems from the observation/belief that missile combats are going to be short and very intensive, and that being able to throw the heaviest possible weight of missiles as quickly as possible is ultimately going to be decisive, or darned close to it, at any rate. So the theory here is that you build a ship which is basically a skeletal framework on which you mount only the essential systems -- fusion plants, impeller nodes, hyper generator, etc.. For all intents and purposes it would be an open girder-work construct around the maximum possible number of missile pods, and its sole function would be to transport the pods to the scene of combat and then to deploy its entire loadout as quickly as possible. Thereafter, it would literally "fold up" into a much smaller- dimension hull, which would use its smaller size and much decreased tonnage to permit it to attain higher acceleration rates as it ran rapidly away from the other side. I don't think the idea is for the ship itself to control the pods, only to get them into position as rapidly as possible for more capable units to control and target.

     

    Folding Starships. Not a good idea. This sounds like one of your war-gamers came up with it. (Don't tell me if I guessed right about that, by the way.) The tactical advantages in being able to drop that many pods into space in a single go aren't as great as they might appear on the surface. The total numbers of pods which can be controlled are limited by the capabilities built into the ships available to control them. There's nothing out there which would have sufficient redundant fire control to handle the sheer numbers of missile pods you seem to be talking about here. Basically, you'd have a huge traffic jam in the firing queues of the fleet which deployed them. At least, if I'm understanding the concept correctly, you would. Even leaving aside the question of "gunsmoke," you simply wouldn't have sufficient control links to handle that many pods without major degradation in accuracy -- far more degradation then would be necessary to offset the advantage of simply chucking that many missiles down-range in a single mighty flush. Even leaving aside the fact that the tactical utility of the concept strikes me as doubtful, there would be serious engineering difficulties involved in producing a ship which would basically reconfigure itself. Even freighters in the Honorverse are built with a structural strength which would make the Brooklyn Bridge look fragile by comparison, and for very good reasons. Not only that, but each ship's alpha and beta nodes are built to function in a very specific spatial relationship to one another. In other words, nodes are built and installed to produce a specific size and shape of impeller wedge and "sump" to feed the mounting ship's inertial compensator. You don't futz around with those relationships once they're established. That doesn't mean that you can't lose nodes and continue to produce a wedge, or to feed an inertial compensator's requirements, obviously. But even when you lose nodes out of a damaged impeller wedge, those nodes are still physically located where they always were, and that physical relationship has to be maintained. You could, in theory, I suppose, build your ship with two completely separate sets of nodes and inertial compensators. If you did that, then you could probably build a "folding" starship with the structural integrity for your proposal, and by providing it with one set of nodes for "unfolded" and a second set for "folded" operation, you could probably produce the effect you're after. You'd pay a fairly high price in terms of internal volume and tonnage, and the capability wouldn't be cheap in financial terms, but you could do it. Given the fact that I don't see it as providing any truly significant tactical advantage, however, I can't see any real point in plowing the money, effort, and resources into building what would essentially be the chief exhibit in the Interstellar Freaks and Rarees Show.