The series played fast and loose with various terms, lasers, blasters, pulsars, rockets, missiles etc. Changing names from episode to episode. This is an attempt to bring some order to the chaos.
Laser vs Blaster:
In general, hand weapons, pistols, rifles etc are Blasters (They are dealt with in another document) Ship mounted weapons are lasers.
Canon vs Battery:
A laser canon is a single weapon. Turret mounted or fixed. A laser battery is a set, usually a pair unless otherwise specified, firing in tandem. They can be turret mounted or fixed. Quad batteries consisting of four lasers firing in tandem are possible.
A Fixed laser fires in one direction only and requires the ship to change course in order to adjust its aim. A common example is a Viper where twin lasers are fixed firing forward at targets in front of the Viper.
A turreted laser can be rotated and aimed independently of the ship.
Turbo Lasers as the Colonial weapons are called, fall into one of three categories. Light, Medium or Heavy.
Light Turbo Laser is the standard Civilian weapon. Capable of destroying incoming torpedoes, mines and damaging, sometimes destroying, attacking fighter craft. They do not inflict appreciable damage to large vessels especially armored targets. Popular on civilian vessels due to low cost and low energy consumption they are found on almost all civilian ships in the Fugitive Fleet and are generally positioned in Batteries to improve effectiveness. The effective range of a Light Laser is about 12,000metrics (8,000 miles.)
Medium Turbo Laser is a much heavier weapon. A single shot can generally destroy an enemy fighter and inflict significant damage to large vessels. Multiple hits can destroy large unarmored or lightly armored ships. Vipers mount Medium Turbo Lasers. They are rare on all but very large civilian ships due to their energy drain. (Vipers draw off their Solium Energizers and Power Banks. This drain is one of the reasons armed Vipers have relatively short operating ranges.) This is the heaviest laser the Fleet can manufacture and Medium Turbo Lasers have been retrofitted onto many civilian vessels. The effective range of a Medium Laser is about 48,000metrics (32,000 miles.)
Heavy Turbo Lasers are the largest energy weapon in the Colonial arsenal. Drawing massive amounts of energy they require dedicated power systems and are found only on major warships. Capable of inflicting major damage, even against armored opponents they can often destroy unarmored opponents with one shot. Unfortunately for the Rag Tag Fleet, construction of Heavy Turbo Lasers requires materials and foundry equipment unavailable on the Fleet’s factory ships. The only ships in the Fleet mounting Heavy Turbo Lasers are the Battlestar Galactica and the Cruiser Prometheus Aegis. The effective range of a Heavy Laser is about 200,000metrics (124,000 miles.)
Neutron Lasers, though differing in many particulars, have similar effects to Turbo Lasers. Neutron Lasers, especially the Mega Neutron Laser, give off dangerous levels of radiation when used. This has prevented the Colonials from utilizing the technology. This radiation is harmless to a Cylon.
Light Neutron Lasers are rare in Cylon service. The only documented use of the weapons is on Advance Raiders, the long range FTL recon/scouts of a Baseship.
The choice here was obviously to provide attack and defense abilities without degrading its FTL abilities. The Light Neutron Laser is similar in range and effectiveness to a Light Turbo Laser.
Medium Neutron Lasers are the staple of Cylon warships. Found on Raiders, Overhauls, Troop ships, cargo ships and Tankers. Similar to a Medium Turbo Laser in range and firepower.
Mega Neutron Lasers, or Mega Lasers, are found only on Baseships. These powerful weapons have greater firepower and range then a Colonial Heavy Laser. The weapon gives off dangerous levels of radiation when used and has a high residual level even when deactivated. The effective range of a Mega Laser is about 300,000metrics (186,000 miles.)
The use of mines to inhibit navigation and access is a well established strategy that is especially popular with the Cylons. Colonial forces have also employed the strategy and have designed a number of mines for the task.
These are utilized in and around planets that the Colonials wish to defend. Placed in various orbit patterns they are intended to prevent or slow the descent of attacking ships. Solonite charges, though weaker and less effective then nuclear mines, have no risk of environmental damage to the planet. The explosive power of a Solonite mine is 10x the largest solonite load mountable in a heavy torpedo. Detonation is by contact or close proximity. Exact ranges are variable but can range from 1 metron to 1 maxim. Cylons rarely use solonite mines.
These are mines outfitted with nuclear warheads. Used in the space lanes in and out of systems or where there is no risk of contamination to planet surfaces. Yield on a Radon Mine is equivalent to 500 megatons. Detonation is by impact or proximity, usually at a range of 1 hectar.
The maximum range of a torpedo is not reflective of its useful or effective range. When a ship identifies incoming torpedoes lasers are assigned the task of destroying them before they reach the ship. This is known as ‘Point Defense.’ The further away a torpedo is launched from its target the more time the enemy has to track it and destroy it. Conventional tactics call for closing the gap with the target prior to launching. Ideal launch range is less then 20,000 metrics (about 13,000 miles.) Since this is well inside the range of even medium lasers, and close to the maximum range of light lasers (12,000 metrics) it takes nerve on the part of a Colonial ship captain to use torpedoes to best effect.
Medium torpedoes are often carried into battle slung under Vipers. The pilots launch the torpedoes from as close as they dare, counting on their small size and maneuverability to avoid the defensive fire. Once the torpedo is away the Viper is free to press its attack with lasers. The presence of multiple targets, both the torpedoes and the Vipers, dilutes the effectiveness of point defenses.
Light torpedoes or ‘rockets’ are most effective when launched in quantity. An average of four per attacking fighter is considered optimal. Their small size makes it difficult (though not impossible) to utilize point defence techniques and having several torpedoes chasing after a fighter can seriously distract the pilot from pressing an effective attack.
Typically, during a Cylon attack on the Rag Tag Fleet, where the number of attacking Raiders is 75 to 100, an average of 600 light torpedoes are launched. This creates a formidable defensive screen that largely frees the Viper force for counter attack and clean up. With the average freighter able to launch 24 light torpedoes, tankers carrying over 80 and even the SkybBuses mounting a dozen or so, the Fleet can launch thousands on short notice. The main difficulty is that most of these torpedoes are mounted on external launch racks and reloading is time consuming and hazardous under fire. Multiple attacks by Cylon forces could, if pressed in rapid succession, leave the Fleet defenseless.
Laying an effective minefield does not require a large quantity of mines. A few real mines, mixed in with various pieces of metalic junk, can have much the same effect as a mine field thick with the real thing.
Experience has shown that while Cylon Basestars are more heavily gunned then the Colonial Battlestar, the Battlestar and the Colonial Cruisers and Destroyers have heavier armor.
The base of the Colonial warships defense is its massive armored hull. Called ‘star shield’ this armor is made of super dense Magna, a virtually indestructible metal, and is found in the hulls of warships from Destroyers on up. Smaller patrol and scout ships are made of strong and light alloys. Though not as strong as magna it is cheaper to make and allows better power to mass ratios for the small ships. This is the same material used in Vipers.
Late in the war the Colonials began producing larger warships, primarily destroyers, with the alloy hulls in an effort to step up production.
Civilian vessels are not manufactured from magna. Aside from being prohibitively expensive it would add considerably, and unprofitably, to the ship’s mass. The Cylons do not use magna in their hulls.
A thick layer of dense plastic foam is sprayed over virtually all the warship’s surfaces. This foam can be over a metron thick (except where regular access is required or venting is needed.) When an energy weapon (laser) impacts on an area covered with the foam, the foam ablates or boils away, drawing off the energy of the attack in the process. How much energy is drawn off depends on the power of the laser and the thickness of the foam.
Light to medium thickness coatings can be sprayed on to almost any surface (it is even used in protective clothing) but thick, heavy layers require a specially textured surface to securely bind to. Warship hulls are textured in this fashion.
Civilian ships often add light to medium coatings, all the ships in the Fugitive Fleet are so coated. A few have added hold fasts to their holes to allow thick layers to be applied at critical points.
Damage to ablative armor is easily repaired. Techs in vacc suits can use pressurized applicators to patch missing areas. Layers must be built up, light to medium to heavy, allowing a centar or so for curing between layers.
The Cylons do not use Ablative Armor on their ships.
Electronic Defense Fields (Shields)
The EDF is a generated force field that envelopes the ship. Energy weapons impacting the EDF are stripped of some, or all, of the accelerated particles in the beam. These particles are dissipated across the force field reducing its effectiveness against the ship beyond the EDF. An active EDF can stop most active scans.
EDF has no effect on incoming torpedoes and missiles. Nor does it repel astralons.
EDF generators are large, bulky affairs. Extremely expensive and energy pigs they are rarely found on civilian ships and are impossible to retrofit without a complete rebuild.
EDF technology is very common on Cylon ships of medium to large size. It is not found on their fighters.
Not truly a defensive device, but rather a variant of EDF technology is the Electronic Particle Field or EPF. These low energy fields inhibit the passage of gases and substances of molecular sized material. They do not inhibit larger objects or energy weapons. They are utilized primarily on the Landing Decks of warships and large civilian vessels that handle a lot of shuttle traffic. They permit the shuttle or Viper to enter the landing area while at the same time retaining the atmosphere in the Bay for the crews working there. EPFs have been utilized as temporary hull patches after a hull breech.
Though part of a warship’s defenses the Stealth Suite is not armor. Instead it is designed to make a ship harder to detect, locate, track and target. It does this by generating an energy field that masks and blurs the normal energy signals given off by a ship.
Virtually everything a ship does, its sensors, communication, weapons, shields, its thrusters, even its energizer, gives off some type of energy signal. The Stealth Suite generates a field that dampens these signals by cutting out their peaks and vales, thus making it harder to detect and isolate from the normal background signals of space.
A Stealth Suite needs constant maintenance and tuning to accommodate changes in its ship’s signal. The techs who maintain the Stealth Suite rely on sensor data and feedback from other ships to help fine tune the suite. Some activities, such as active scans, broadcasts, firing weapons, cannot be masked by the suite so a ship wishing to pass unnoticed must refrain from these activities.
For a stealth suite to be effective, the ships electronics must have been designed and built with the goal of signal minimalisation. Few if any civilian ships have this feature.
Due to the need to maintain and tune a Stealth Suite, they are not suitable for small one man craft in so far as it would be impossible for the pilot to devote is attention to the task.
Cylons do make use of Stealth Suites even in their fighters. Tuning the stealth suite is one of the reasons for a three ‘man’ crew.
A design feature of all Colonial ships, military and civilian. It allows the interior sections of the ship to be internally sealed. This ensures that a hull breech at one location will not cause catastrophic environment loss throughout the ship. It also limits the effects of explosions, fire and smoke.
Cylon ships have minimal if any internal compartmentalization. Most Cylon vessels carry no atmosphere, except in special labs, guest quarters or prisons. A hull breech causes little problem for a Cylon ship and the presence of vacuum through most of the vessel inhibits fire and smoke damage.