Monthly Archives: January 2018

The Opinionated Bastards: Propus Part V (Dec. 1, 3050)

And we’re back!

The Action of November 21, 3050


Today’s terrain is wooded hills, a nice large map with room to maneuver.

Heavy Lance will deploy in the northeast corner, since the Flashman and Awesome aren’t due until Rounds 2 and 3.

Round 1

Private Ngo and Double Dog deploy in that northeast corner, behind some trees from the main body of the enemy. They begin to maneuver toward the enemy, still well out of range.

Round 2


Rook’s Flashman takes the field. The enemies are still out of range to the southwest.


Round 3

Drake arrives in the Awesome. He’s just barely out of range with his PPCs. The enemy, having initiative, manages to stay out of Ngo’s firing arc, too. Rook and Double Dog have shots, though; Double Dog cracks off a Large Laser shot at an enemy Pegasus, while Rook opens fire on an enemy light mech, a Raven.

Everyone misses everything, except for our brave ally in the Hermes; he cracks the Raven’s center torso.

Round 4


Drake can hit from here; he aims for a Pegasus hover tank. The remainder of Heavy Lance, taking cover behind a convenient hill, has a shot on the same tank. In the hopes of removing it from the field, we focus our fire on it.

Round 5


The friendly Hermes is suddenly in a bit of a jam. It seems likely it’s going to die now.

Heavy Lance is solidly in engagement range now. Drake has a solid shot at a Scimitar hovertank, and takes that in preference to a less-solid shot on the Raven. The remainder of Heavy Lance has a better shot on the Raven, and all three take it.

Drake immobilizes the Scimitar, which should make it easy prey going forward.

Round 6


The friendly Hermes is now dead.

Cadre Lance will arrive before the next round.

This round, we’ll be working on the nearby Pegasus scout tanks; they carry SRM-6s, or what past experience leads me to call ‘mech-bane’. Drake and Ngo will shoot for the nearer one, while Rook and Double Dog go for the further one.

Ngo pads her tally with a kill on the nearest Pegasus, while Rook adds to her lead with the kill on the other.

Round 7

Cadre Lance arrives, and with its high speed is already close to the fight.


Drake aims for the Scimitar he immobilized; at this range against a stationary target, he’s automatic, a leisurely kill.

Ngo and Rook look to kill the last Pegasus, while Double Dog aims for the Scimitar hover tank directly in front of him.

Cadre Lance fires at what they can, but they’re still largely out of range.

As expected, Drake scores with all three PPCs on the immobilized Scimitar, punching through its armor with the first, cutting deep into its internal structure with the second, and scoring the kill with the third.

Ngo immobilizes the Pegasus, but Rook, everyone’s favorite glory hog, gets the kill.

Round 8


The enemy reinforcements arrive. At this stage, we’ve already won per the battle requirements, but once again, we’re in a sufficiently good position that I decide to fight it out. Drake, hidden from enemy fire by woodland, shoots at the only enemies he has a line on, a pair of Vedette medium tanks. Rook and Double Dog team up on the Scimitar in front of them.

Cadre Lance is still mostly out of range.

Round 9

Finally, Cadre Lance is mostly close enough to shoot. They, along with Heavy Lance, mainly engage the Raven. Drake and Ngo take aim at a Vedette and the currently-immobilized Scimitar, respectively.

Ngo and Teddy Bear are the only two to hit anything; Ngo finishes off the Scimitar, while Teddy Bear inflicts light damage on the Raven.

Round 10

The battle is truly joined now; not much movement occurs.


Drake polishes off the Raven, Rook scores on a Vedette. Wojtek lands a 15-missile volley on a Bulldog medium tank, nearly destroying it; Milspec, however, lands the killshot, delivering the largest amount of damage I’ve seen yet.



At this point, the enemy is scattered and nearly destroyed. Double Dog finishes off a heavily-damaged Scimitar which limped away from the battle early. Rook (of course) gets the Hetzer. Lastly, Severe scores a critical hit on the enemy Wasp’s SRM ammo, knocking it out.

Salvage, Repairs, Injuries


Drake is moderately wounded, and his Awesome will need a good bit of armor. No mechs took internal damage, and no other pilots got hurt. An easy victory.

Only the Raven is available for salvage, mech-wise; we take that, because it has medium lasers and armor.

We ransom five prisoners for 60,000 C-bills, and make a few thousand more in battle loss compensation.

Kill Board(s)

Rook continues to trounce all comers.

Last Mission


All-Time Leaders

  1. Lieutenant “Rook” Ishikawa (15, 4 mechs)
  2. Captain “Drake” Halit (8, 3 mechs)
  3. Private Ngo (6, 2 mechs)
  4. Lieutenant “Linebuster” Atkinson (5)
  5. Lieutenant “Double Dog” Dare (4, 1 mech)
  6. Private “Euchre” Kojic (2, 2 mechs)
  7. Private “Ker-Ker” Ec (2, 1 mech)
  8. Private “Teddy Bear” Jamil (2, 1 mech)
  9. Private “Wojtek” Frajtov (1, 1 mech)
  10. Private “Woad” Kohler (1, 1 mech)
  11. Private Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel (1, 1 mech)
  12. Private Cathrine “Severe” Payne (2, 2 mechs)
  13. Sergeant “Milspec” Ortega (2)


It is now December 1, 3050.

Contract Status

After this month’s victories, the Capellan forces break and the contract is complete. Despite the general wimpiness of the Capellan armed forces, this was nevertheless a good test for the Opinionated Bastards. We fought at a very high tempo, and still managed to keep our unit in good fighting trim.


We have 11,361,817 C-bills in the bank. We’ll use a million or two to get home to Piedmont.

Unit Market

We purchased a Thunderbolt.


Woad gets his Grasshopper back, now that we have a replacement Thunderbolt for Double Dog. Lance tweaks to come.


Now that the contract is over, we arrange for the following spares from the Federated Commonwealth. (Their price is deducted from the finances note above.)

  • Three large lasers, one to replace the missing one on the Frankenstein Lancelot, and two to have in reserve.
  • One three-ton gyro.
  • One 70-ton jump jet to bring the Grasshopper up to a full complement.

MechWarrior Claims and Assignments

  • For the record, the following mechwarriors are claimed.
    • Captain Huri “Drake” Halit, Awesome AWS-8Q (Mephansteras)
    • Lt. SG George “Linebuster” Atkinson, Lancelot LNC25-02 (Hasek10)
    • Lt. SG Mariamu “Rook” Ishikawa, Flashman FLS-7K (Culise)
    • Lt. JG Sung-min “Double Dog” Dare, Grasshopper GHR-5H (a1s)
    • Sgt. Jose “Milspec” Ortega, Phoenix Hawk PHX-1 (milspec)
    • Pvt. Ferdinand “Woad” Kohler, n/a (A Thing)
    • Pvt. Jan “Euchre” Kojic, Trebuchet TBT-5S (EuchreJack)
    • Pvt. Cathrine “Severe” Payne, Locust Custom (Burnt Pies)
    • Pvt. E-Shei “Ker-Ker” Ec, Lancelot LNC25-02 “Frankenstein” (Kanil)
    • Pvt. Ed “Hanzoku” Yuksel, Guillotine GLT-4L (Hanzoku)
    • Pvt. Ik-jun “Wojtek” Frajtov, Trebuchet TBT-5N (Blaze)
    • Pvt. Tedros “Teddy Bear” Jamil, Vulcan VL-2T (Knave)
  • The following mechwarriors remain to be claimed. They’re listed with their current mech assignment. To claim a mechwarrior, give me a callsign for one of them. I’ll refer to them by their callsign in most places, and bold it so it’s easier to find them.
    • Pvt. Ngo, Crab CRB-20

Action Items

  • Should we refit the new Thunderbolt to remove the missile weapons, or leave it be? Note that refitting units to a non-standard configuration makes them difficult to maintain.

On the Glock 19X

Glock has released their MHS entrant to the civilian market: the Glock 19X.

It’s got all the Gen 5 improvements: no finger grooves, an improved trigger, and ambidextrous slide stop, plus the texture and replaceable backstraps from the Gen 4 models. By all accounts, the Gen 5 models are awesome. I’m most excited about the improved trigger. It’s better than previous factory models and very competitive with the aftermarket options.

Of course, there are Gen 5 options available for the Glock 19, the Glock 17, Glock 34 MOS, and Glock 26 out there already. The Glock 19X is different. It pairs the full-size frame of a Glock 17 with the compact slide and barrel of a Glock 19.

Glock made this design to fit the “box” of the MHS size specifications. It will probably do well on the civilian market, as short-slide, full-size grip 1911s, snubnosed K-Frames, and subcompact pistols with grip-extending magazines are very popular.

I’m not a fan of the 19X from a concealment perspective, because the height is more annoying to conceal than the length. If I’m going to carry a full-size grip, I might as well get the sight radius of a full-size gun. Plus, those tend to recoil a little softer. I’d be a little more interested in a Glock 19 frame with a Glock 17 slide and barrel for concealment, but that’s just me.

However, if you wanted to build an Open Glock, the Glock 19X is a great base gun. It just needs an MOS model or some milling for an optic. The shorter slide means that if you opt for a smaller compensator like the KKM or Black Rifle units, your pistol will fit in a Glock 34 holster. So you’ll be able to find a holster quickly and cheaply. With a bigger compensator like the SJC, you’ll still have a shorter overall pistol to help transitions, plus a lighter slide that improves recoil characteristics.

You also get the longer, Glock 17 grip. This is nice partially because I prefer the grip on the Glock 17. Your mileage may vary. What doesn’t vary are the magwell options. There are a wide variety of large, competition magwells available for the Glock 17 size frame. Small differences make these not viable for Glock 19s. Bigger magwells are more forgiving than small ones. Plus, there are a wide variety of materials (and therefore weights) available.

There you have it. A concept with plenty of admirers, albeit for different reasons. It’s good to see more options.

A Cruiser By Any Other Name

I’ve discussed before that the Arleigh Burke-class is the best destroyer afloat today. It’s got a good radar, plenty of missile capacity, and comes at a pretty reasonable price due to its large production run. Competitors like the Daring class cost entirely too much and deliver entirely too little. Let’s look at a a follow on. Nothing lasts forever, and something newer, with newer systems, will be fun to sketch. This will be my version of something like the Zumwalt class. Though, because I prefer things evolutionary, it will be rather less ambitious. Admiral Zumwalt would have wanted it that way, anyway.

We’re not going to compete directly with the Burkes in terms of size, because that makes it really hard to justify the changes. And we’ve already sketched smaller. In case the title didn’t give the game up, we’re going bigger.

As always, we must first define our mission. Being a large cruiser, we’d like it to focus on air defense and air control, with plenty of land attack capability (i.e. plenty of missile tubes). We’d also like reasonable antiship capability and some antisubmarine capability, though this last is negotiable. I’ll pencil in some nice, off-the-shelf sonar systems now, with the understanding that designers can make adjustments as needed for cost reasons there.

On to the sketch! First thing to do is to forget about the stealth nonsense baked into the DDG-1000 design. Some low-observability features are a good thing, but the excessive stealth optimization of the Zumwalts with their special superstructure and ridiculous tumblehome hull is silly. A more normal hull design, bow raked forward, has far better seakeeping, and that’s much more important. Not only is it a patently obvious ship if one bothers to look out their windows, but we’d expect it to be able to handle Air Defense and Air Control, which means the radars have to be on, which means it will be pumping out electrons like the Las Vegas strip. And if we don’t turn on the radars, what exactly is protecting the carriers? Accepting that not every new design has to be a ghost’s shadow will help keep costs down. We need to limit the use of new technologies in new designs so the costs don’t explode. Nobody bats 1,000 with new designs. Some will fail, and we need to be resilient about this. Also, a more conservative design means we’ll be able to reuse some things from existing designs. Or, test out some new stuff elsewhere. Like we used to.

There you have it. Some gentle angles, avoid corner reflectors, keep the nice clipper bow. As a side effect, that’s a lot prettier.

Next: radars. I really like the original, un-neutered suite planned for the Zumwalts, namely the SPY-3 and the SPY-4. The SPY-3 is an X-band AESA radar, optimized for best tracking accuracy. The SPY-4, deleted from the DDG-1000s to save costs and still fitted on the Ford-class Carriers, is an S-band AESA radar optimized for high volume search. This split of functionality mirrors what NATO testing found to be best in the late 90s. These were integrated into a dual-band array system, which is some pretty revolutionary stuff. I’m fine with that as one of the key new technologies embarked, though the emitters could also be separated. The overall concept is right though. And, of course Aegis-type integrated fire control and combat management systems.

As a bonus, from an emissions perspective, a cruiser with a dual band radar looks a lot like a carrier with a dual band radar. Or maybe that other contact is another cruiser and the carrier is somewhere else. Or has its radars off. Emissions doesn’t tell you. With the right ECM and radar signature management, your active radar won’t help you either at range. Better go look, and hope you can radio your buddies back before you eat a missile.

On to missiles, and the tubes that launch them. The Mk. 57 can handle a greater volume of exhaust gasses than the Mk. 41, but the sheer number of deployed Mk. 41 tubes means missiles will be developed for that. Also, while the Mk. 57 is a bigger tube, it’s not much bigger, and there’s no missile around that would not fit in a Mk. 41 but would fit in a Mk. 57. Plus, the Mk. 57 modules are rather bulkier than those of the Mk. 41. So Mk. 41 it is! And we’d like to pack her with missiles. To hell with 80 missiles on nearly 15,000 tons. If we can’t do better than the 128 cells of a Ticonderoga, we should go home. Ideally we’d fit four of the big 64-missile clusters off the Ticonderogas for a total of 256 missile tubes. This gives us plenty of space for SAMs, including ballistic missile defense capable ones, LRASMs, Tomahawks, and VL-ASROCs.

Now, let’s talk about the gun. DDG-1000 originally had an ambitious vertical gun with guided shells, but this was shelved. The impact of development costs remains on the final design. I am not sold at all on ambitious gun projects that aren’t railguns, and those are nowhere near ready. The best estimates on the range of the Advanced Gun System put the ships entirely too close to shore. I’m fine with 155 mm, but 155 mm without being able to share shells (and shell development projects) with the army is patently absurd. And I’m still not entirely sold on the need these days, given how many other options there are for getting firepower on the beach, and how nasty coastal defenses can be. For my design, I’m quite satisfied with the 127mm/64 LW gun from Oto Melara. 127mm is a pretty standard naval gun caliber, and there are plenty of guided shells in that caliber under development.

There’s no need for extra antiship missile launchers given plenty of VLS cells and LRASM, so we don’t need to worry about those.

Point defense duties will be handled by at least two Rolling Airframe Missile launchers, mounted, well, wherever there’s room. Possibly amidships. Possibly fore and aft, which is rather more traditional.

Since we’re not obsessing over stealth, we can throw in some remote weapons stations and pintle mounted heavy machine guns to hose down any suicide bombers. Who will have no trouble finding a stealth boat because they use their eyeballs, not radar.

For propulsion, we’re going to go for Integrated Electric Propulsion, which has also been done on the Zumwalts. And could have been tested somewhere else. There’s no reason why it should be hard. Generators are run by diesel engines and gas turbines, and electric motors drive the screws. I’d like to take some time on a demonstrator to explore steerable propulsion pods for the electric motors in a military context, specifically focusing on cost, agility, and noise.

Helicopter fit is the usual hangar for two SH-60-size birds and beartrap-equipped deck. No reason to change it. Though, given the size, we should probably expand the hangar a bit to accommodate several drones.

Antisubmarine warfare is not our focus, but we should make a bit of effort to be prepared. A nice bow sonar and variable-depth towed array will do nicely, as will the usual pair of triple 325mm torpedo tubes amidships. Something like the Thales UMS 4110 CL sonar for the bow and a Captas 4 in the towed role.