|Mitchell-Hyundyne SA-18 TIGER STARFURY|
The Tiger Starfury is an historic space fighter that, while put out of the limelight by the excellence and the fame of latter models, like Nova, Aurora and Thunderbolt, deserves to be presented because, from many points of view, it represents a turning point in the human fighter design, and, at the time of its inception, was really a revolution in terms of concepts and performances.
The First family of spacefighters "after First Contact" is represented by the Hyundyne "Aries" and by its successor, the Mitchell-Hyundyne "Foxfury", that was essentially an improvement of the precedent model in regards of the power and weapon systems and the structural design.
Both the Aries and the Fox performed remarkably well, and in that period proved themselves to be on par or superior to the vast majority of the models in use in that period among the known human and alien space forces. At the end of the XXII century, the Earthforce, well aware of the fact that the starfury corps was an essential asset of its power projection and defensive capability, perceived that the times were mature to attempt the design of a space fighter competitive in terms of overall performances with what was at the moment the best of the best of the Fighters, the Sentri, of the Centaury Royal Navy. Must be noticed that the sentri was seen as a target of excellence more than a potential opponent, due to the good relationship with the Centauri.
The goal was not achievable through the sheer "mirror policy", the technological gap was too deep to allow nothing more than a "rough copy" of the Sentri, and so was attempted to design something that, in some way, exasperated the classic design rules that until then gave good outcomes, the well known "five laws of Starfury".
The starting point was the classic Aries/Fox design, but at that point the formula had yet achieved its conceptual limits, so the chief engineer of the Mitchell corporation, that was the Prime contractor of the program and the Project leader, (being the Hyundyne tasked of the embarked systems integration), brought on a tradeoff study of different concepts, one of wihich was a small, compact interceptor with a strange design: the main engines were concentrated in a squat, short fuselage, while the manoeuvre engines were held in four pods, installed at the tips of four x-shaped, winglike pylons.
The formula had advantegs and disadvantages, but, unexpectedly for the industry and even for many observers, emerged as the winner of the competition.
The main advantages achieved with this unorthodox scheme were the following:
1-The compact design, with comparatively small inertia moments, allowed superior manoeuverability.
2-The placement of powerful manoeuvre engines at the tips of four pylons, instead of the conventional two, enhanced the nimbleness on the three axes: were allowed manoeuvres, like the z-pivot, the sidewinder and the reverse cobra, that until then were unexploitable in combat, because too slow to be performed - the Tigerfury was capable to do them with flashy quickness.
3-The evolution of the power generation and, mostly, of the weapon systems, allowed to place on a small design a powerful weapon payload, supported by updated sensors.
4-The compact design matched perfectly with the new concepts of warships of the Navy, that materialised, years later, in the Hyperion cruisers.
5-The matching of desihn concepts, materials and armour ensured an high durability to the Tiger, that was indeed a robust design, capable to survive punishments much harder than the Fox or the Aries.
The drawbacks of the formula, even if vastly outweighted by the advantages, were indeed significant: In first, the engine and manoeuvre thruster system was very complex (two main engines, six high power, low specific impulse thrusters (four rear facing and two forward facing) and twelve manoeuvre thrusters, for a total of twenty engines: the engines are expensive, and the Tiger was an expensive fighter, even due to the complex structure and advanced combat system. Even the missiles are expensive, and a Tiger owes a significant part of its combat effectiveness to its missiles.
the other drawback was the endurance, lesser than the precedent models, mostly in combat condition, due to the high fuel consumption of the high boost low specific impulse thrusters: a Tigerfury in combat was capable of brutal accelerations and impressive high jerk, high angle manoeuvres, but consumed reaction mass very quickly.
The prototypes shown to be a quantum leap in terms of combat performances, and, at the end of the XXII century, the full scale production was yet launched, and the craft was operational.
The Tigerfury was brought in combat for the first time by EFNI personnel, in the year 2205, when the Ch'lonas attempted a raid and a landing against the Leonis IV colonial outpost: the attempt was repelled by a taskforce of the EFNI ( four Artemis frigates, and a Dauntless class light carrier ), and in that occasion, the Tigerfury proved itself a very valid craft, thanks to its mix of nimbleness and powerful weapons.
The true glory days of the Tiger, the ones in which it proved to deserve its name, came at the end of its career, when it was yet flanked and progressively being replaced by the Nova Starfury: the Nova furies were standard issue of the Nova Dreadnoughts and of the fleet carriers, but almost all the Starfury wings embarked on the Hyperion cruisers, (Note: the hangar of the Hyperions held six Nova/Aurora starfuries, but originally it embarked eight of the smaller Tiger, with a tactically more rational structure of an half wing), many regular fighter squadrons tasked of intersystem and planetary defence and almost all the squadrons of the National Guard were still based upon the small, nimble Tigerfury: the year was the 2231, the proof was the Dilgar War.
While not as powerful and advanced as the Nova (that was a design 30 years younger), the Tiger was indeed very competitive against the Thorun used by the Dilgars. The Thorun had a superior linear acceleration, more advanced engines, much better sensors and more endurance and range, but the Tiger had its advantages: it was much more nimble, capable of manoeuvres not conceivable with the Thorun, it was vastly sturdier, and its weapon system, based upon a couple of powerful plasma bolters, a 27mm railgun and up to 8 missiles was devastating, and perfectly tuned.
In fact, the Nova Starfury conquered the space dominance against the Dilgars, but the Tigerfury was much more than a second line instrument: it fought and was able to put to the ropes the Dilgar forces from the first to the last day of the war, and achieved more than 30% of the fighter-to fighter victories of that conflict. This was the last, glorious dance of the Tiger.
After the war, and during the reorganization (and reduction) of the Earthforce of the 2230's, the Tigers were decommissioned, essentially because of the expensive maintenance (related even to the ageing of the crafts, but a Tiger, due to the complex design, requests more than twice the maintenance time for hour flown respect to a Nova) and because a relevant part of their combat capabilities were based upon their missile system, logistically heavy and expensive in terms of ordnance and training. Overall, the Nova was a superior design (except for the lack of missile capability, that at that time was deemed as not necessary), but the Tigerfury left a good memory of itself as an effective and well built craft, capable to bring back its pilot even in case of heavy damage, and a deadly fighter. Still today, some aged veterans of the Dilgar War says proudly "I was a Tiger of the Starfuries".
The First Times of the Tiger Starfury.
The Tigerfury was an innovative fighter, and was "the first" in many fields, but, being the first of a new generation, was even "the last" in others. This is a short list of "first time" and "last time" of the Tigerfury
-First Starfury with x-split pylons design
-First Starfury to perform effectively (less than one second) the "Pivot" (180° turn on the Z axis), the "Cobra" and the "Sidewinder" maneuvres
-First starfury to use revolver plasma bolters as dual antifighter and antiship weapon
-First starfury (and last until the inception of the Badger) to use a Railgun as weapon
-First starfury capable to outmanoeuvre the Sentri
-First starfury without Lasers as main antifighter weapons
-First starfury of compactised design (low inertia moments respect to y and Z axes)
-First starfury to use linear fusion reactors
-First starfury built with the use of carbon nanotubes in polymeric matrix (Plasteel) and to use the molecolar glue bonding for structural building.
-Last starfury with the main engines in the fuselage
-Last starfury until the 2249 with missiles
-Last starfury until the 2249 with optical weapon sight and head-up pilot display
-Last starfury without rear firing interceptors.
-Last starfury without monocoque fuselage frame.
The Frame is a semimonocoque fuselage of trapezoidal section, with two main longitudinal integral beams/bulkheads and six structural ribs, four of them integrated by an armored bulkhead, with sandwich scheme covering.
The material employed is a laminated composite of carbon nanotubes in polymeric matrix (Plasteel), and the assembly is obtained through molecular bonding glued joints. The passive defence is obtained through an external layer of ablative beryllium/ceramic whiskers spaced armor, easily replaceable.
The sponsons (Wings) are a triple torsion box with stiffeners, of the same materials of the fuselage, holding internally four Gel-ES capactive accumulators acting as energy feeding buffers and as auxiliary/emergency power source.
The fuselage holds both the liquid propellant (liquid xenon) tanks and the slush deuterium tank for the reactor feeding. The main fusion reactors (Hyundyne-General Electric LF7K linear fusors) that feeds directly the two main high specific impulse (35000 seconds) plasma engines (General Electric PMEK-47-GE300 and the two side mounted low specific impulse (4500 seconds) braking thrusters and, through plasma channels running through the structure of the wings, it feeds the thruster clusters at the wingtips and the bolters.
The main engines and the auxiliary and manoeuvre thrusters are plasma rockets, the main engines in the fuselage operate even as energy generators (magnetoplasmadynamic principle).
The main engines, equipped with deflection foils, are used for both cruise and combat, but in combat are used even six General Electric "Hellfire III", two of them placed on the sides of the fuselage and four on the wingtips, rear facing, that, at the price of an high fuel consumption, enhance enormously the longitudinal peak accelerations, both positive and negative (braking), and, used differentially, enhance the nimbleness respect to the Y and Z axes.
four smaller forward facing "Hellfire IV" and eight Vernier thrusters placed in the wingtip pods enhance and complete the manoeuvre and attitude control system.
As can be seen, it is a complex system, with four different types of engines and an emplacement that optimises the functional aspect, but with relevant drawbacks in terms of fuel consumption in combat, acquisition cost and maintenance, even due to the large number of spare parts requested.
WEAPONS AND SYSTEMS
The main cannons of the Tigers, two side mounted Copeland JCR-180 ("the fangs of the Tiger") were the very first revolver plasma cannons ever used, with a four chambers revolver burst feeder. as known, in each one of these chambers is accumulated and energised a plasma bolt, and the four bolts can be released through a short acceleration and stabilization barrel, with an average rate of fire is 120 shots/minute for each weapon, and a burst rate, (the rate of fire obtained when the bolts accumulated in the revolver chambers are fired) is 750 shots/minute.
This weapon allows excellent cumulative damage against a warship, even due to the high concussion-detonation effect of the plasma bolts, and it is extremely effective in a dogfight against another fighter, allowing to exploit the few instants of the ballistic contact thanks to the high rate of fire burst capability.
This type of weapon, used even on the Nova Starfuries, was devastating against the Thorun Fighters of the Dilgars, that were fast (and so with low ballistic contact times), but large and relatively fragile, unables to survive the punishment of the Earth Made plasma cannons.
The Artillery is completed by a Mauser ARK 27 U railgun, a recoilles model with a rate of fire of 1200 shots/minute and a V° of 22000 meters/second, that was an effective dogfight weapon (below the 2000 meters the trajectories of the plasma bolts and of the railgun prjectile were nearly coincident), whose piercing power was a good asset in the antiship attacks, and a bad surprise for the Dilgars.
The feeding box holds 800 projectiles, fed through a linkless system of proprietary Mauser design, compact and highly affordable.
The Tigerfury was missile capable, with eight hardpoints (Frazer-Nash LARP Missile Racks), two on each wing, and the combat system was designed from the origin taking into account an optimal use of the missiles.
The ordnance used were the "Mamba" short range missiles, a powerful and affordable weapon, the first human built missiles with an high boost, solid propellant, battery fed plasma rocket engine, that ensured a quantum leap in terms of performances. Produced in both radar and infrared homing types, it was equipped with a continuous rod adaptive warhead, highly effective in antifighter (impact/proximity detonation) and antiship (delayed impact detonation) modes.
The missiles can be launched off-boresight thanks to an helmet mounted cueing sight, that aligns the seekers with the head of the pilot. This system was later reintroduced with the Badger and the Thunderbolt starfuries.
The Avionic system is centerd upon a Dell AWG-4 medium range dual band phased array radar, whose conformal antennas are integrated in the forward edges of the wingframes, and on the upper and lower faces of the rear fuselage, with a detection range of more than 800 kilometers against a fighter class target and about 5000 kilometers against a warship class target.
The short range tracking is allowed by a Westinghouse-Duffy 600 MJS microwave tridimensional scanner, while for the artillery combat was used an head up reflex targetscope, controlled by a strapdown gysrolaser/accelerometric platform and with the range data provided by the Duffy M600 scanner.
The Navigation and communication systems includes a short range UHF tactical system, a KU band directional data link, a long range R band Tachyon link, a gyrolaser strapdown inertial platform, for normal space and hyperspace navigation, and a Sperry WL 7 hyperspace beacon locator/navigation system.
The Electronic warfare suite includes a wideband RWR (Radar warning receiver), an automatic decoy dispenser and active jammers for self protection.
Type: Light space fighter - Interceptor.
Length: 10.18 meters
Span: 12.6 meters
Height: 7.75 meters
Mass: 26.3 Metric tons (empty) - 33.4 Metric tons (basic w/o external payload) - 38.4 Metric tons (Maximum payload)
X-axis acceleration: +8,1/-4 G
Y-axis acceleration: +/- 1,9 G
Z-axis acceleration: +/- 1,9 G
X-axis angular acceleration/roll rate: +/- 1280 deg/sec*2 / 180° roll in 0.75"
Y-axis angular acceleration/pitch rate: +/- 1070 deg/sec*2 / 180°pitch in 0.82"
Z-axis angular acceleration/yaw rate: +/- 1650 deg/sec*2 / 180° yaw in 0.67"
Endurance: Life support+economy cruise navigation: 28 hours normal space/24 hours hyperspace.
Standard mission: 2 hours+25'combat power
2*Copeland JCR-190 revolver plasma cannons
1*Mauser ARK 27 U 27mm. Railgun, with 800 projectiles
8*wing mounted Frazer-Nash LARP missile ejector racks
Max external payload: 6000 Kgs.
Typical payload: 8*Raytheon-Dell "Mamba" antifighter/antiship missiles.
Mitchell - Hyundyne SA-18 C TIGER STARFURY - Belonging to the 12th wing, 4th Interceptor Squadron of the Orion National Guard-2231
The fighter in the figure participated to the battle of Orion
VII against the Dilgars - Piloted by the Ensign
Dieter Vögel, of the Orion Colonies National Guard, allowed to
its pilot to become "Ace in One Day", when he destroyed
six Thorun fighters.
The Tiger in this figure carries a payload of eight Raytheon-Dell "Mamba" missiles, in the Mk6 Infrared homing variant.