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Brian Young

Star Wars Shields part 2

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All in all, the issue of shielding still seems to be pretty messy. Which honestly is probably more realistic. On a modern battlefield, there are so many weapons involved across one planet that for example, we can't really say for certainty what is a direct threat to a first world destroyer and what isn't within a significant amount of wiggle room. There might be parts of the ship that a rocket propelled grenade could damage but if it hit something that was hardened against a ship to ship missile, then that grenade would just leave a small, ashen pockmark.

 

Some notes of consistency that I did see:

 

With the exception of one of the two sets of missile spam clips you showed, most physical objects like crashing objects tend to break up on the surface rather than above the hull. This was shown in the Endor scene with the TIE pilot not reacting fast enough to avoid hitting the Mon Cal cruiser. It looks as if he hits in what may be an unarmored part of the ship causing no visible damage, which means either a skin shield was present (and in the Special Editions, there are blue sparks for some weapon impacts) or it hit the hull but didn't cause any obvious structural damage.

 

The asteroid in the Hoth belt also appears to hit on the skin of the ship (as far as we can tell, the asteroid is so small compared to the Star Destroyer there's no sure way to tell if it actually hit or not) rather than breaking up some distance from the hull as Tantive IV's turbolaser shots did.

 

One scene I think would be interesting to look more closely at that was absent is the Rebel frigate skimming the trench of what is possibly the Executor, exchanging fire at extremely close ranges.

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True there are many types of shield in that civilization, and undoubtedly there would be different strengths and weaknesses for each type. My primary intention is to show that, at least on some types of starships and ground shields, even though they are very resilient, there are ways to circumvent them. In this vs that scenarios, some people tend to just compare stats. This does provide a lot of information, and shows a lot of advantages and disadvantages, but I think there is more to it than that. For instance, if we compared the stats of the Death Star vs Luke's X-Wing, we may be surprised to discover that the small one won. :)

Similarly, we talk a lot about how powerful, resilient, and fast Imperial ships are. But I feel it is equally important to note such a glaring weakness that can be exploited.

I don't think it is an oversight, nor a fatal weakness in most cases. These ships are also armored, and are therefore probably more resilient than lots of shielded ships, even after one penetrates the shields. But this advantage, while significant, is not as great as the stats alone would suggest.

To attack in this manner would take guts and training, and usually be minimally effective. One must make the approach under heavy fire, slow to a crawl at point blank range under heavy fire, and hit one of the few vulnerable spots quickly, and get out without being shot down under heavy fire. Did I mention the heavy fire? Note that starfighters would be in pursuit, along with the ship's guns. And Imperial ships at least are probably 95% covered in armor.

But the point remains that it can be done.

It is logical to suggest this is the very reason starfighters are so popular in that culture, along with their hyperdrives of course.

I intended to keep this under wraps until I did Star Trek vs Star Wars, but Captain S challenged me on it, so I had to call the bluff, and let the cat out of the bag, who promptly spilled the beans. :)

Like many of my commentaries, it is a tough pill to swallow for some, but once the evidence is seen, all together, it is difficult to argue.

 

My idea is that these shields are hull-hugging, but being larger ships, the gap is larger. If the gap between shield and hull on Anakin's fighter is 1/4 meter, for instance (there was a noticeable gap), and that scales up to the length of an ISD, that would yield 36 meters separation between shield and hull, which appears about right, given the video clips.

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Even a space you could squeeze a fighter into would probably be difficult to determine if a turbolaser shot is hitting above or on the hull. However, I think you should check out the Nebulon B strafing the trench of Executor. I seem to recall shield flares and unlike the Hoth and Tantive IV vs Devastator scenes, it's close enough that if the frigate is outside the shield envelope of the ship it is exchanging fire with, the bolts should clearly be exploding above the surface of the hull rather than on it. I don't know if this is the case or not but I think it's a scene that might be as important as Tantive IV and Hoth for understanding Imperial shield mechanics.

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There are a plethora of shield interactions in the battle over Endor, some flares are blue and some are green. Theres a couple of good exaples (for distances from the hull) betweem ISD's and Mon Cal's at extreme close range. With the Nebulon, every strike seemed to cause large explosions tearing large chunks out of the Frigate, probably penetrating right through the shields. The first couple of shots from the Frigate impact and instantly dissipate into localized white flashes, however at least one causes an explosion, and then more appear to just hit then dissipate. The explosion persists for as long as we see.

 

If the Nebulon was under the shields, then the white flashes don't match up with the red dissipation effects of the AT AT and the ISD.

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In the face of all that it is hard to dispute fighters can't get under the shields.

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I had all the shield interactions from the battle of Endor cut out if anyone would like to see. The shield effects we see on the Executor are of the fast blue explosive type, which is seen when Akbar is giving orders to concentrate on that SSD.

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I fleshed it out as a full case study. I addressed some of the things brought up in the other thread.

http://www.scifights.net/starwarsshields2.mov

 

 

 

Very nice Brian, I always learn a lot when I watch your videos. They usually leave me wondering why I didn't notice that when viewing the movies myself! You seem to have a very fair even handed approach to the vs debate which is why I am here instead of many of the other sites like sdnet.

 

So question for you, in the armor thread we pointed out how the ST powers have access to a/m weapons and how these weapons nullify the effectiveness of armor. Then on the other hand, this thread, backed with a mountain of canon evidence, shows that SW shielding can be bypassed by small runabout sized ships at slow velocities as well.

 

With those two points made, do you feel the ST nations now have a chance of fleet on fleet victories with the galactic empire utilizing small ships (perhaps with cloaking technology) delivering a/m payloads?

 

(Please note, asking about a single battle not a large scale question of victory in a war.)

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In the face of all that it is hard to dispute fighters can't get under the shields.

 

I wouldn't go that far. It's clear that you can push through grounded shields, but starship shields are another matter. On the one hand you have the plethora of CW examples appearing to shows fighters doing precisely that, on the other you have Hobbie's disbelief at the notion of taking on an ISD with a couple of fighters (rather than simply requiring a bit of fancy flying) and especially Ackbar's explicit statement that the Imps' shields had to be down for fighters to stand a chance. I see two possible solutions:

 

1) G-canon outranks T-canon, ergo Ackbar's statement means that those ships must have had their shields down for some reason.

2) Between the PT and the OT, starship shield technology improved to prevent fighters penetrating them.

 

I prefer 1), given that 2), on the face of it, implies a far more rapid pace of development than should be occurring in a multi-millennia old civilisation, and frankly, albeit from eyeballing, I can't see any difference in speed between the attack runs from the CW clips, and the asteroid and TIE that were destroyed from hitting shields.

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Cap: you're forgetting once again that ISDs are incredibly large targets and there is simply no way that two fighters can inflict severe enough damage to a Star Destroyer to prevent the Star Destroyer from blowing the transports to smithereens as casually as you'd swat a fly. Consider the timing. Even with the astonishing speed they're able to make orbit and book it, they're going to spend a good half minute or more in the forward firing arc, the most devastating arc on an ISD, In order to disable the Star Destroyer, they have to fly directly at the Star Destroyer in full view of virtually every gun that mile long beast can bring to bare and then disable every gun capable of harming the transport before the transport gets smoked: which given the artillery pieces used to disable Tantive IV were not even the main battery, that could be a LOT of guns. It gets worse considering there are multiple Star Destroyers present whose field of fire the fighters have to approach through.

 

In Clone Wars, the ships that get shredded more often than not by fighters in the clips Brian shows are Confederacy ships which are very, very poorly armored against starfighter attacks. The Munificent for example has those great big slabs on its nose that can shake off an asteroid hit and presumably hold up well to turbolaser fire but virtually everything in the shadows of those slabs appears to be virtually unarmored. The Recusant looks to have less of its vital bits exposed but still does not have a lot of surface area to soak up damage. Venators do still appear to be threatened by fighters in spite of their better armoring scheme (as Ventress demonstrates in that one clip) but we don't see total destruction of Republic ships by fighters, just mission kill from having lost weapons and exposed systems.

 

Presumably we don't see ships being stripped of their vital components at Endor (except Executor) because of the abundance of fighters present to counter any strafing runs on both sides. The attack runs on Executor suggests that the Empire might have been losing the fighter battle later in the battle.

 

Vince: isn't the Nebulon strafing the trench of Executor? Which does not appear to be armored so that might account for more severe damage if there is any (your phrasing is a bit jumbled in that post so I'm not sure which scenes at Endor you're referring to.)

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Cap: you're forgetting once again that ISDs are incredibly large targets and there is simply no way that two fighters can inflict severe enough damage to a Star Destroyer to prevent the Star Destroyer from blowing the transports to smithereens as casually as you'd swat a fly.

 

Fly through the shields, torpedo the bridge, job done - one mission-killed ISD. It worked at Endor against the Ex.

 

It gets worse considering there are multiple Star Destroyers present whose field of fire the fighters have to approach through.

 

No there weren't, at least not along that axis - the Tyrant was the only ship the ion cannon had to disable to allow the group through.

 

Presumably we don't see ships being stripped of their vital components at Endor (except Executor) because of the abundance of fighters present to counter any strafing runs on both sides.

 

More likely they weren't getting stripped because they were still shielded. The Ex, as was noted moments after the strike, wasn't.

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Fly through the shields, torpedo the bridge, job done - one mission-killed ISD. It worked at Endor against the Ex.

 

Had anyone actually thought that torpedoing the bridge would bring down the Executor, then that's what those A-Wings would have been doing instead of going for her shields. Its either not an easy target to line a shot up at while every gun on the top of the ship is trying to knock you down or no one thought that torpedoing a bridge would put a ship out of commission. For that matter, Executor wasn't destroyed by having her bridge rammed, she was destroyed by flying into the Death Star AFTER the bridge was lost.

 

It is entirely possible that had the Rebels attempted this at Hoth, the crew would have regained control over the ship and that the gunners would continue shooting at any Rebels in their field of fire.

 

Speaking of field of fire, you zipped on by the little issue of the fighters having to approach the Star Destroyer head on in full view of virtually every gun it has. We don't know how many guns a Star Destroyer has that can track a maneuvering fighter with any degree of reliability but we do know how many of them the fighters would have to deal with approaching the Star Destroyer: almost all of them. Nearly every gun a Star Destroyer has versus two fighters. That is not odds I'd like to try in a fighter several millionths the size of the capital ship. Nor would I particularly like to try lining up a shot at the bridge windows (presumably the only vulnerability since the A-Wings didn't try it) while half the ship's guns are trying to shoot me and my wingmate down.

 

No there weren't, at least not along that axis - the Tyrant was the only ship the ion cannon had to disable to allow the group through.

 

One is clearly enough according to the pilots, who know perfectly well any strategy they try against a Star Destroyer with TWO fighters is a suicide run.

 

 

More likely they weren't getting stripped because they were still shielded. The Ex, as was noted moments after the strike, wasn't.

 

I was making a general observation about the difficulty of pulling off system strike attacks on capital ships in the midst of a melee like Endor, not the condition of Executor itself.

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Had anyone actually thought that torpedoing the bridge would bring down the Executor, then that's what those A-Wings would have been doing instead of going for her shields. Its either not an easy target to line a shot up at while every gun on the top of the ship is trying to knock you down or no one thought that torpedoing a bridge would put a ship out of commission. For that matter, Executor wasn't destroyed by having her bridge rammed, she was destroyed by flying into the Death Star AFTER the bridge was lost.

 

It is entirely possible that had the Rebels attempted this at Hoth, the crew would have regained control over the ship and that the gunners would continue shooting at any Rebels in their field of fire.

 

Speaking of field of fire, you zipped on by the little issue of the fighters having to approach the Star Destroyer head on in full view of virtually every gun it has. We don't know how many guns a Star Destroyer has that can track a maneuvering fighter with any degree of reliability but we do know how many of them the fighters would have to deal with approaching the Star Destroyer: almost all of them. Nearly every gun a Star Destroyer has versus two fighters. That is not odds I'd like to try in a fighter several millionths the size of the capital ship. Nor would I particularly like to try lining up a shot at the bridge windows (presumably the only vulnerability since the A-Wings didn't try it) while half the ship's guns are trying to shoot me and my wingmate down.

 

 

 

One is clearly enough according to the pilots, who know perfectly well any strategy they try against a Star Destroyer with TWO fighters is a suicide run.

 

 

 

 

I was making a general observation about the difficulty of pulling off system strike attacks on capital ships in the midst of a melee like Endor, not the condition of Executor itself.

 

 

First if Rebel had taking the Star Destoryer defector shields if like see evidnece. 6 minutes to 6 minite and 12 secounds. Then see fighter crash into the Star destoyer watch 6 minute 31 secounds. Classic example of why intellegnece be biggest factor who wins if UFP ever going have fight Star War GE.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZDa09gRDq8

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I have no idea what you're trying to argue or why. I do know that "Classic example of why intellegence be biggest factor who wins if UFP ever going have fight Star War GE," is hands down the most ironic statement I've seen in a long time.

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Very nice Brian, I always learn a lot when I watch your videos. They usually leave me wondering why I didn't notice that when viewing the movies myself! You seem to have a very fair even handed approach to the vs debate which is why I am here instead of many of the other sites like sdnet.

 

So question for you, in the armor thread we pointed out how the ST powers have access to a/m weapons and how these weapons nullify the effectiveness of armor. Then on the other hand, this thread, backed with a mountain of canon evidence, shows that SW shielding can be bypassed by small runabout sized ships at slow velocities as well.

 

With those two points made, do you feel the ST nations now have a chance of fleet on fleet victories with the galactic empire utilizing small ships (perhaps with cloaking technology) delivering a/m payloads?

 

(Please note, asking about a single battle not a large scale question of victory in a war.)

 

In short, yes.

Since they don't have to use any special tactics to destroy enemy ships, but just fire on them like always, Imperial ships still have an advantage. But by having a weakness that can be exploited using special tactics, that advantage is not as great as fanatics would have us believe.

Romulan scout ships, such as seen in The Defector, are armed with disruptors according to the DS9 TM. It may therefore be the most deadly ship to the Imperials in the Alpha Quadrant. Romulan disruptors use antimatter.

The Federation, like the Rebellion, would have to learn to focus their efforts on using small craft with quick surgical strikes under the enemy's shielding. Bring down the shields and take out the heavy turrets to give their capital ships a chance.

But yes, it could be done.

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Vince: isn't the Nebulon strafing the trench of Executor? Which does not appear to be armored so that might account for more severe damage if there is any (your phrasing is a bit jumbled in that post so I'm not sure which scenes at Endor you're referring to.)

 

Yes the Nebulon strafing. It makes sense that the tench not be armoured, much like the wafer thin armour of the Venator's trench, but all the shots besides one actually dissipate with a white flash leaving no damage. A small white flash looks more like a shield effect than an armour effect to me. But there are white flashes both before and after we see one bolt causing vaporization.

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Ah okay, poor eye-sight. Watched the clip in slow motion and ALL of the red bolts fired from the Nebulon disparate into harmless local white flashes, and it is actually shot Tie Interceptor spiraling out of control that causes that explosion.

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Had anyone actually thought that torpedoing the bridge would bring down the Executor, then that's what those A-Wings would have been doing instead of going for her shields.

 

They did go for the bridge. What do you think Crynyd was trying to do when he was hit? Incidental, you're also making the usual mistake of thinking the first pair of A-Wings were shooting at shield generators - they weren't, those domes are sensors.

 

It is entirely possible that had the Rebels attempted this at Hoth, the crew would have regained control over the ship and that the gunners would continue shooting at any Rebels in their field of fire.

 

Or they simply couldn't do it because the shields were in the way. The fact that the response was "can't be done" rather than "if we take out the bridge they'll just switch to local control" strongly suggests the latter.

 

Speaking of field of fire, you zipped on by the little issue of the fighters having to approach the Star Destroyer head on in full view of virtually every gun it has. We don't know how many guns a Star Destroyer has that can track a maneuvering fighter with any degree of reliability

 

We saw them take a while to draw a bead on the T4, and they never did land a solid hit on the Falcon escaping from Hoth and Bespin.

 

One is clearly enough according to the pilots, who know perfectly well any strategy they try against a Star Destroyer with TWO fighters is a suicide run.

 

I agree. My point is that the statement would have been nonsense if fighters could pass through the shields. It would be tricky, but doable.

 

I'm not entirely sure why this discussion has taken the turn it has. We've got an explicit statement from Ackbar that the shields have to be disabled by capships before the fighters stand a chance, so why are we talking about ESB? :huh:

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The domes are not definitively shields or sensors. They clearly are meant to mimic the radar domes on real life warships but the scene is cut in such a way that the viewer cannot be sure if the domes being shot to bits is to inform the audience of the failure of the shields or if it is the cause of the subsequent failure. Hence the compromise in Into the Worlds of the OT making them sensors and also the bridge deflectors.

 

I thought Ackbar was talking about bringing the shields of the Death Star down to get a chance for the fighters to make their attack run, hence concentrating on the SSD to buy time for the strike team to take out the shield by trying to take the Empire's most powerful warship out of the fight, evening the odds of the melee.

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The domes are not definitively shields or sensors.

 

It makes more sense though, given that no other shielded ships have such domes while most have some form of visible antennae.

 

I thought Ackbar was talking about bringing the shields of the Death Star down to get a chance for the fighters to make their attack run

 

No, it was at the start of the main fleet action, just after the Liberty was destroyed and Lando suggested moving in closer to the Imp ships as cover, in response to a report that the Rebels' forward ships had made contact with the Imperial fleet.

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Using *only* the films and cartoons, it appears fighters can pass through shields and cause damage. You have the domes, you have the the debris hitting the venator, and a plethora of evidence from TCW.

 

You have to delve into the EU and the DK books for statements that the fleet bombarded the shields into submission (i think SDN had a thread on it). In the films, it cuts straight to two fighters, blowing the domes away with ten torpedoes and THEN the Imperials announce shield failure. Not the other way around. Consistent with the evidence from TCW and the debris in the new trilogy. It does look like the most straight forward explanation and harmonization of sources.

 

The A-Wing and the asteroid which both destroyed bridges both likely would not have occurred if the shields were up, because their velocity was to great. Same maybe with those torpedoes?

 

One of the big old time anti-ICS arguments was the discrepancy between cap ship and fighter firepower. And hell, if fighters can't fly through shields, why so many fighters?

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You have to delve into the EU and the DK books for statements that the fleet bombarded the shields into submission (i think SDN had a thread on it).

 

Not at all - the statement about the fleet bombarding the shields came from the RotJ novelisation, not the EU.

 

In the films, it cuts straight to two fighters, blowing the domes away with ten torpedoes and THEN the Imperials announce shield failure. Not the other way around.

 

What does the order matter? We see evidence that the shields are gone (i.e. the A-wings can hit the dome), then the Imps explain why the entire ship hasn't been blown up by stating that only the bridge shields are gone. If anything the whole scene demonstrates that fighters can't fly through shields. If they can, then why did Piett only then order intensified firepower (too late)? If fighters can fly through shields then there shouldn't be any difference to anything the guns can do anything about be the shields up or down.

 

The A-Wing and the asteroid which both destroyed bridges both likely would not have occurred if the shields were up, because their velocity was to great.

 

We see slow-moving asteroids produce shield effects in ESB and fast-moving fighters apparently pass through shields in the CW cartoon. We also see the Devastator having to drop shields to admit the very slowly moving T4.

 

And hell, if fighters can't fly through shields, why so many fighters?

 

Reconnaissance, chasing down ships that ISDs are either too slow to keep up with or aren't worth the effort, and ground strikes. The rebels only ever intended to use them to fly into the DS2 rather than the Imp guard fleet.

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Not at all - the statement about the fleet bombarding the shields came from the RotJ novelisation, not the EU.

Do have the quote from RotJ?

 

What does the order matter? We see evidence that the shields are gone (i.e. the A-wings can hit the dome), then the Imps explain why the entire ship hasn't been blown up by stating that only the bridge shields are gone. If anything the whole scene demonstrates that fighters can't fly through shields. If they can, then why did Piett only then order intensified firepower (too late)? If fighters can fly through shields then there shouldn't be any difference to anything the guns can do anything about be the shields up or down.

The order matters because it suggests shields dropped after the fighters attacked and not before. Unless the Imps took quite some time to realize their shields were downed.

He ordered intensified forward firepower because the shields had been dropped, and now fast moving high energy projectiles like fighters and torpedoes could strike the bridge directly, at any velocity without shields to interfere.

 

We see slow-moving asteroids produce shield effects in ESB and fast-moving fighters apparently pass through shields in the CW cartoon. We also see the Devastator having to drop shields to admit the very slowly moving T4.

The asteroids were high energy... perhaps this matters? Perhaps surface area also matters, and this is why very large constructs cannot pass through shields, even at very slow velocities? Fighters at higher velocities such as the A-wing will have significantly more KE, which might be what causes interaction between projectiles and the particle shields. Thus fighters have to be quite specific about their velocity? Asteroids being far more massive would gain greater KE at much lesser velocities.

Edited by Vince

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If velocity did not matter. And if KE did not matter. But all fighters and objects could pass through shields, then fighters could gain gigatons of KE with only a small run up and ram warships. Shields must be effective against high KE impacts.

If shields were not lowered, the A wing might have indeed impacted with the shields.

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Say, a 200,000 metric ton corvette (guess) pulled in at 10 meters per second (guess) would have 1.e+10J of KE, which required shields to be lowered. Though surface area could be independent to velocity or KE, and require shields to be lowered regardless.

 

All the asteroid collisions we saw impact with shields have KE >>>1e10J. :)

 

Anderson on ST V SW estimated the Falcons velocity to be at 273 meters per second when she performed an attack run over the pursuing Avenger. Imperials ordered the shields raised. Perhaps standard protocol, or perhaps they would actually be effective at stopping the Falcon. Most likely they were raised to prevent a laser blast through the bridge window.

 

At this velocity, a 200 ton Falcon (fighters can mass up to 50ish tons so) would impact with 7.4529e+9J.

 

A ten ton A-wing for example traveling at 1km/s would impact with 5e9J.

 

These are all very rough (besides the one from Anderson!) and based on no actual specifics, just guesses. Non the less, if velocity is important because of KE, then the Corvette example pulled in at such a slow velocity need not be inconsistent.

 

Fighters would have to hit velocities that keep KE at less then 5 gigajoules (just over 1 ton of TNT) to pass through shields without being vaporized. Assuming the SSD's shields would have stopped the A-wing.

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