My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

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My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby Akira Takei » Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:06 pm

Hi all. :)

So, this is my first forum post, though I've been a fan of this site for several years. The recent article regarding the Magazine Capacity of Star Ships has spurred me to create an account, and start this topic. This is my hypothesis, organized into two main points, about why Star Ships carry so few torpedoes, relative to their volume.

#1 Volatility

It's possible that the reason why torpedo magazines aren't packed from top to bottom, is because of the volatility of the warheads. Now, however efficient the safeguards might be, the fact remains that photon torpedoes are filled with explosive anti-matter, being contained in a magnetic bottle. A well placed disruptor hit, could very well slice through that bottle, and allow the contents to spill out onto the deck, resulting in a chain reaction.

Some evidence to support the possibility that carrying too many munitions is hazardous, can be found in the TNG episode "Unification part 2:"

RIKER
On screen.

The screen shows the approaching ship. It is dark,
huge, sinister-looking, bristling with armament, and
carries absolutely no marking of any kind.

GEORDI
Sensors indicate a combat
vessel... origin undetermined...
heavily armed... mass and density
suggest it's fully loaded with
cargo. From the look of these
internal scans, I'd guess a good
part of that cargo is weaponry.


They don't specify what kind of weaponry the vessel's cargo bays are loaded with, but there's a good chance that at least some of that weaponry is torpedoes.

Sir, the ship is locking
phasers...

RIKER
Shields up. Red alert.

Red alert commences, and the tension on the bridge
escalates.

GEORDI
That ship easily matches our
armament, Commander.



The mercenary ship is "easily" comparable to the Federation's flagship, in terms of firepower.

WORF
There is an energy build-up in
their phaser banks... sir, they
are activating weapons!

And there is a blast from the dark ship and a resultant
THUMP to the Enterprise. Lights flicker, people are
knocked about.

WORF
Forward shields down to
seventy-two percent --

RIKER
Boost power to the shields...

GEORDI
Aye, sir.

RIKER
Mister Worf, target their weapon
systems only and prepare to fire--

31C EXT. SPACE - DARK SHIP AND ENTERPRISE (OPTICAL)

as the smuggling ship FIRES another heavy-duty barrage
into the Enterprise's shields.

31D INT. ENTERPRISE - BRIDGE

More shaking, lights going.

WORF
Forward shields at sixty-eight
percent, aft shields forty
percent...


It's capable of reducing the Enterprise's shields by almost half, in just two barrages.

RIKER
On my mark, a point-seven-five
burst only. We just want to get
their attention.

WORF
Ready, sir.

RIKER
Fire.


The Enterprise fires a reduced power phaser blast at the mercenary vessel.

WORF
Their forward shields are damaged,
sir...

GEORDI
We destroyed one of their phaser
arrays... looks like collateral
damage in the cargo area...
(beat, reacting to
sensor readings)
Sir, I'm picking up massive power
fluctuations... internal
explosions... with all the
armament that ship is carrying
-- it's gonna blow!


Had it not been carrying so many munitions, the mercenary vessel probably would have survived, with only a damaged phaser bank. Instead, a chain reaction, originating in the cargo bay, completely destroys the vessel.

The only problem I can see with this point, is that there's no evidence that the mercenary vessel was carrying a huge number of photon torpedoes, but still, it got me thinking. At the very least, it proves that over gunning any vessel, is a bad idea.

#2 Availability

My next point, is that perhaps photon torpedoes are difficult to manufacture. They apparently can't be replicated through normal means (Voyager) and since we don't see them being fired en masse from low-priority outposts, it would be logical to assume that the Federation simply can't spare the resources to arm every single installation with thousands of warheads. In other words, photon torpedoes ain't cheap.

This, and the fact that most ships wouldn't even get the chance to fire more than a few dozen torpedoes in battle, before being disabled or destroyed, would make the Federation skeptical about arming any one ship with tens of thousands of expensive warheads.

So, that's pretty much it. I know that this post isn't particularly well written, or researched, but hopefully my wild enthusiasm makes up for that shortcoming.

*<:*)X

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Death Threats? Please share your opinion. :)
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby IanKennedy » Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:55 pm

Welcome to the site. If you get any death treats let me know, I'll ban the user ;)

One slight problem. We have actually seen photon torpedoes stacked on top of each other, in racks exactly like Graham shows in the article, in Enterprise episodes and in a TNG : In Theory.

Another issue is that photons warhead is simply antimatter means that they can fuel it just prior to launching. Plus the fact that they are very very good at storing antimatter as it's the primary fuel for the ship. In the countless battles we've seen in ENT, TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY we've only seen one ship blow it's antimatter. That was the USS Yamato in TNG: Contagion.
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby Graham Kennedy » Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:55 am

Akira Takei wrote:Hi all. :)

So, this is my first forum post, though I've been a fan of this site for several years. The recent article regarding the Magazine Capacity of Star Ships has spurred me to create an account, and start this topic. This is my hypothesis, organized into two main points, about why Star Ships carry so few torpedoes, relative to their volume.

#1 Volatility

It's possible that the reason why torpedo magazines aren't packed from top to bottom, is because of the volatility of the warheads.

No it isn't. The warheads are matter and antimatter tapped off from the ship's own fuel pods and loaded prior to launch. Adding more casings would do absolutely nothing to make the ship more vulnerable.

GEORDI
We destroyed one of their phaser
arrays... looks like collateral
damage in the cargo area...
(beat, reacting to
sensor readings)
Sir, I'm picking up massive power
fluctuations... internal
explosions... with all the
armament that ship is carrying
-- it's gonna blow!


Had it not been carrying so many munitions, the mercenary vessel probably would have survived, with only a damaged phaser bank. Instead, a chain reaction, originating in the cargo bay, completely destroys the vessel.

The only problem I can see with this point, is that there's no evidence that the mercenary vessel was carrying a huge number of photon torpedoes, but still, it got me thinking. At the very least, it proves that over gunning any vessel, is a bad idea. [/quote]

Seems to me that the quote you provided showed that it was the destruction of the phaser bank that caused the problem for the ship. And as you say, there's really nothing here to indicate that it was photon torpedoes exploding.

My next point, is that perhaps photon torpedoes are difficult to manufacture. They apparently can't be replicated through normal means (Voyager) and since we don't see them being fired en masse from low-priority outposts, it would be logical to assume that the Federation simply can't spare the resources to arm every single installation with thousands of warheads. In other words, photon torpedoes ain't cheap.

Actually Voyager indicates the opposite. As I mentioned in passing in the article, despite Janeway's claim that they couldn't replace their torpedoes, they subsequently did exactly that, apparently quite easily.

This, and the fact that most ships wouldn't even get the chance to fire more than a few dozen torpedoes in battle, before being disabled or destroyed, would make the Federation skeptical about arming any one ship with tens of thousands of expensive warheads.

Most ships we see in combat fire torpedoes quite rarely. Watch any battle you wish, and you'll see them firing one every now and again, with plenty of time in between.
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby McAvoy » Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:23 am

Rule of thumb, TNG is not a good source of tactics. The whole wait awhile before doing anything doesn't work that well.
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby Akira Takei » Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:06 am

Welcome to the site. If you get any death treats let me know, I'll ban the user ;)


Thank you sir, it's a pleasure to be here. :)

One slight problem. We have actually seen photon torpedoes stacked on top of each other, in racks exactly like Graham shows in the article, in Enterprise episodes and in a TNG : In Theory.


Very true. At no time did I suggest that they couldn't stack torpedoes in such a manner, only that having such huge magazines, as described by Mr. Kennedy in his article, could be hazardous.

Another issue is that photons warhead is simply antimatter means that they can fuel it just prior to launching. Plus the fact that they are very very good at storing antimatter as it's the primary fuel for the ship. In the countless battles we've seen in ENT, TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY we've only seen one ship blow it's antimatter. That was the USS Yamato in TNG: Contagion.


While it's true that the Yamato was the only example of an Anti-Matter pod containment failure, Anti-Matter pods have been shown to be extremely volatile. One example would be the Voyager episode Resolutions, when they detonate an ejected pod, and the resulting explosion disable several Vidiian ships. Indeed, every time a ship explodes on screen, wouldn't that be the result of an Anti-Matter containment breach? I could be wrong.

Anyway, If a single Galaxy class Star Ship held 380,000+ casings, logic dictates that it would also need extra Anti-Matter pods to fuel those casings. The danger to the Star Ship would then be from the extra pods, not the casings themselves.



No it isn't. The warheads are matter and antimatter tapped off from the ship's own fuel pods and loaded prior to launch. Adding more casings would do absolutely nothing to make the ship more vulnerable.


See above. :)

Seems to me that the quote you provided showed that it was the destruction of the phaser bank that caused the problem for the ship. And as you say, there's really nothing here to indicate that it was photon torpedoes exploding.


We destroyed one of their phaser
arrays... looks like collateral
damage in the cargo area...

(beat, reacting to
sensor readings)
Sir, I'm picking up massive power
fluctuations... internal
explosions... with all the
armament that ship is carrying
-- it's gonna blow!


Geordi makes it clear that it wasn't the damage to the phaser bank alone that destroyed the vessel. It seems obvious that the explosion was fueled by the contents of the cargo bay.
Mostly, that example was to illustrate that over arming a Star Ship, whatever the munitions, can be dangerous.


Actually Voyager indicates the opposite. As I mentioned in passing in the article, despite Janeway's claim that they couldn't replace their torpedoes, they subsequently did exactly that, apparently quite easily.


Voyager picked up quite a bit of technology on its journey. It's possible, they found a way to replicate torpedoes. Otherwise, we have to assume that Janeway was lying or incompetent, and there's no reason to suspect either.

Most ships we see in combat fire torpedoes quite rarely. Watch any battle you wish, and you'll see them firing one every now and again, with plenty of time in between.


Which only supports my conclusion that torpedoes are expensive/hard to manufacture.

Oh, and just to make it clear, I'm not trying to poke holes in your article, I'm only trying to cover the plothole you so rightly revealed. :wink:
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby Graham Kennedy » Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:44 am

Akira Takei wrote:While it's true that the Yamato was the only example of an Anti-Matter pod containment failure, Anti-Matter pods have been shown to be extremely volatile. One example would be the Voyager episode Resolutions, when they detonate an ejected pod, and the resulting explosion disable several Vidiian ships. Indeed, every time a ship explodes on screen, wouldn't that be the result of an Anti-Matter containment breach? I could be wrong.

But the point is that you HAVE to have matter/antimatter pods for your ship to even use warp drive. We already know that the breach of a M/AM pod will destroy a GCS easily. Thus, the "it might destroy the ship" threshold is already crossed. Adding a whole bunch of empty casings in the saucer section doesn't do a damn thing to make that situation any worse.

Anyway, If a single Galaxy class Star Ship held 380,000+ casings, logic dictates that it would also need extra Anti-Matter pods to fuel those casings. The danger to the Star Ship would then be from the extra pods, not the casings themselves.

To be clear, I didn't suggest that a GCS should go around with 380,000 casings; that was to show the kind of thing that could be done, in theory. In practice, I'd have given an Intrepid around 5,000 casings and a GCS about 25,000.

As for saying more M/AM would be needed, that's far from clear. Remember, the ships do not carry just enough AM for the torpedoes; they carry enough for the torpedoes and running around on warp drive for god knows how long. It's entirely possible that firing all 250-275 torpedoes on a Galaxy class only uses a tiny fraction of the AM the ship carried.

But even assuming that more were carried, I don't see it as a major problem. Like I said, the amount already there is more than enough to destroy the ship completely. Adding more doesn't make the consequences of a hit any worse. You can argue that with more of the ship occupied by AM pods there is more chance of them taking a hit, but I find that quite dubious myself.

Geordi makes it clear that it wasn't the damage to the phaser bank alone that destroyed the vessel. It seems obvious that the explosion was fueled by the contents of the cargo bay.

But the cargo bay was only damaged by the collateral damage from the destruction of the phaser array. And read the quote again; Geordi says NOTHING about the contents of the cargo bay exploding. It's entirely possible that the further explosions were simply more secondaries resulting from the phaser array explosion. Indeed, I'd say that is the more reasonable interpretation, given that Geordi says nothing about the cargo bay causing more damage.

Mostly, that example was to illustrate that over arming a Star Ship, whatever the munitions, can be dangerous.

I don't disagree with that in principle. But in this case, I tend to think the problem was more about damage resistance and control. The ship was a merchant ship fitted with heavy weapons, not a warship. I'm reminded of the WWII Q Ships; merchant vessels fitted with weapons. It's nice in theory, but in practice you have to be able to take hits as well as dish them out. Warships have armour and extensive subdivision, large crews trained in damage control duties and so on. I doubt that ship had any of that. Add in routing high power conduits all over the place and it's a recipe for disaster.

The one thing I see as very unlikely is that a few thousand inert lumps of metal and plastic sitting in a magazine would make it more vulnerable.

Voyager picked up quite a bit of technology on its journey. It's possible, they found a way to replicate torpedoes. Otherwise, we have to assume that Janeway was lying or incompetent, and there's no reason to suspect either.

I'm sorry.... did you ever actually WATCH Voyager? :)

Joking aside, it never really made sense to me that they claimed they couldn't replace torpedoes. We know they can replicate complex items like computers. We know they can replicate functional weapons. How hard can it really be to make a torpedo casing? It's not even like they are all that big.

Which only supports my conclusion that torpedoes are expensive/hard to manufacture.

Or that sci fi writers have no sense of scale. :)

Oh, and just to make it clear, I'm not trying to poke holes in your article, I'm only trying to cover the plothole you so rightly revealed. :wink:

Poke away, arguing about it is all part of the fun. :)
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby IanKennedy » Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:20 am

Akira Takei wrote:Very true. At no time did I suggest that they couldn't stack torpedoes in such a manner, only that having such huge magazines, as described by Mr. Kennedy in his article, could be hazardous.


Just for clarity there are actually two Mr Kennedy's. Ian (me) and Graham (my brother). Graham wrote the article. It's nice that you are polite enough to use a surname, however, we're both more than happy to be called by our first names. :)
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby Coalition » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:47 am

What if the merc ship stored the extra antimatter in the cargo bays?

The shot hits the phaser strip, which has a blowback effect along the power grid. This gets down to the cargo bay, damaging several of the empty tanks, which have barely enough antimatter in them to explode. This damages other tanks, causing the chain reaction.

Against smaller ships, or less precise ships, the merc vessel would have been a dangerous threat (and from the losses to Enterprise's shields, it was a threat to the Ent-D). However, the sensors and precision of the Ent-D allowed a lucky shot to bypass most of the shields and armor.

Makes you wonder what the reaction on the bridge was during this sequence.

"We can take it, the Federation flagship! Open fire!"

"Sir, they disabled our phasers, we only have torps."

"Then reload the torps."

"Sir, power feedback grounded out through the gravity plates, three canisters have exploded in cargo bay 2, the others are losing containment!"

"Oh Cr-" BOOM
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby Akira Takei » Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:53 pm

IanKennedy wrote:
Akira Takei wrote:Very true. At no time did I suggest that they couldn't stack torpedoes in such a manner, only that having such huge magazines, as described by Mr. Kennedy in his article, could be hazardous.


Just for clarity there are actually two Mr Kennedy's. Ian (me) and Graham (my brother). Graham wrote the article. It's nice that you are polite enough to use a surname, however, we're both more than happy to be called by our first names. :)


Thanks for clarifying that, Ian. :)

So, I've done a bit of research, and this is what I've discovered:

Every Photon Torpedo requires 1.5 kilograms of deuterium, and 1.5 kilograms of anti deuterium.

A Galaxy Class Star Ship carries 250 torpedoes, which means it needs to store 375 kilograms of deuterium, and 375 kilograms of anti deuterium, in addition to the fuel it reserves for its engines.

The Cardasian Dreadnaught Missile carried 1000 kg of deuterium and 1000 kg of anti deuterium, a yield sufficient to destroy an entire moon.

To fuel 1000 torpedoes, you would need 1500 kg of deuterium, and an equal amount of anti deuterium.

To fuel 5000 torpedoes, DS9's complement, you would need 7500 kg's each of deuterium/anti deuterium, giving the station more explosive firepower than 7 Dreadnaughts!

In conclusion, unless the average Federation Star Ship carries more fuel than the Cardasian Dreadnaught, a super weapon, they wouldn't be able to fuel more than a small number of torpedoes, making it pointless to shelve thousands of empty cases.
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby McAvoy » Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:38 pm

...or they carry more than enough to fuel a thousand torpedoes but choose not to in the interest of security;safety/budget/Geordi cutting hours on daily torpedo checks and so forth.
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby Graham Kennedy » Fri Nov 22, 2013 3:06 am

Akira Takei wrote:So, I've done a bit of research, and this is what I've discovered:

Every Photon Torpedo requires 1.5 kilograms of deuterium, and 1.5 kilograms of anti deuterium.

Bear in mind that this is not canonical information.

In conclusion, unless the average Federation Star Ship carries more fuel than the Cardasian Dreadnaught, a super weapon, they wouldn't be able to fuel more than a small number of torpedoes, making it pointless to shelve thousands of empty cases.

And since Dreadnought was rather smaller than Voyager, and still had room for all sorts of weapons, shields, defence systems, a warp drive, fuel for itself, etc etc etc, then a typical Starship should easily be able to carry that much.
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby Akira Takei » Fri Nov 22, 2013 4:15 am

GrahamKennedy wrote:
Bear in mind that this is not canonical information.


Noted. :) 1.5 kilograms is still the most widely acknowledged figure. So, I'd suggest we use it, until a hard canon number comes along.

And since Dreadnought was rather smaller than Voyager, and still had room for all sorts of weapons, shields, defence systems, a warp drive, fuel for itself, etc etc etc, then a typical Starship should easily be able to carry that much.


A typical starship "could" carry that much, or more. But that doesn't mean it would be practicle. Just think of what an ecological disaster it would be if such a fully loaded Star Ship were to explode in orbit of a planet. Or, the damage a warp core breach could do to a large fleet in close formation.
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby Graham Kennedy » Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:12 am

Akira Takei wrote:
GrahamKennedy wrote:
Bear in mind that this is not canonical information.


Noted. :) 1.5 kilograms is still the most widely acknowledged figure. So, I'd suggest we use it, until a hard canon number comes along.

And since Dreadnought was rather smaller than Voyager, and still had room for all sorts of weapons, shields, defence systems, a warp drive, fuel for itself, etc etc etc, then a typical Starship should easily be able to carry that much.


A typical starship "could" carry that much, or more. But that doesn't mean it would be practicle. Just think of what an ecological disaster it would be if such a fully loaded Star Ship were to explode in orbit of a planet. Or, the damage a warp core breach could do to a large fleet in close formation.

Those things are already true, or should be.

but it wouldn't be difficult to deal with them. Simply orbit planets from further out, or make fleet formations more dispersed. It's already ludicrous how close they show ships being anyway.
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby Akira Takei » Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:41 am

Those things are already true, or should be.

but it wouldn't be difficult to deal with them. Simply orbit planets from further out, or make fleet formations more dispersed. It's already ludicrous how close they show ships being anyway.


Maybe fleets fly in close formation, so they can transfer shield strength.
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Re: My thoughts: Magazine Capacity

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:10 am

Perhaps. But they've certainly never so much as hinted at that. And extending shields around other ships makes them weaker, not stronger.
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