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Old 09-01-2019, 05:32 PM   #1
hcobb
 
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Default In defense of hovertanks

I planning to record this in response to

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfgifHh5R4Y

as soon as my allergies clear up, unless somebody else wants to respond?

Hi, I'm Henry Cobb and this is my defense of the hovertank concept.

I'm posting this video in response to Lindybeige's Tanks of the Future, who drew most of his examples from Steve Jackson's OGRE/GEV game system.

As a fan of both sides I thought I might offer some additional observations about Mr. Jackson's assumptions that may have been overlooked.

First Lindybeige is correct to call out the deficiencies of the missile tank design. It does okay on the flat dessert areas of the OGRE map, but is hopeless against the forests and streams on the GEV map. Nobody who plays the game for long considers it their favorite unit.

Lindybeige spends a lot more time finding flaws in the concept of a hovertank and concludes that in all cases aircraft or other land vehicles would be superior.

Here is where Mr. Jackson's future history comes into play.

The initial question is how can you have an extended war between major powers that isn't cut short by an exchange of ICBMs. The current answer is to deploy defensive missiles. Try to hit a bullet with a bullet and pray you don't miss.

The response to BMD is to deploy decoys and other penetration aids such as maneuvering warheads or even hypersonics.

This offense/defense cycle is then assumed to be resolved with arrays of massive ground based lasers that are considered impractical to overwhelm because they have unlimited ammo in the form of electrical power. These lasers are then mounted on towers to give them clear lines of fire to deal with cruise missiles also.

Once all sides have effective laser defenses then satellites in fixed orbits and manned aircraft are doomed. All that remains are ground forces that can carry heavy armor and hide behind clutter and the curvature of the Earth to defend themselves against laser fire.

But without satellites, planes and helicopters how do you track where the enemy is? The requirement for a fast scouting force remains and hovertanks offer the best balance between speed and protection. These remain close to the ground for ground effect lift of their heavy armor and to remain below the horizon of hostile laser towers.

Lindybeige assumes that these hovertanks will be stopped by the first ditch they encounter. The answer is to temporarily boost the lift fans with battery power to jump out of ground effect into free flight for a few seconds at most. You don't fly around for hours at a time due to battery weight, thermal issues, and those lasers.

As the requirement is for power density rather than energy storage density the batteries can instead be capacitors. These are then placed all around the hovertank to function as electric reactive armor. Incoming rounds short circuit the capacitors and so are disrupted by the electromagnetic discharge.

So under a reasonable set of assumptions hovertanks become inevitable rather than improbable. At least that's my take on the issue. Please leave your comments below.
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Old 09-01-2019, 08:25 PM   #2
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Default Re: In defense of hovertanks

I find it fascinating that the OGRE universe's technology progression was mapped out with such detail to not only support the game's units, but actually do a very good job of explaining how such technology could exist and what impacts it would have on the battlefield. This is one of the things that drew me to OGRE in the first place. The feeling of "This could actually happen one day." One of the few other sci-fi battlefield environments I can think of that does this at least as well is Drake's Hammer's Slammers universe. Though not nearly as detailed as OGRE does it.

GEVs in OGRE have (for a long time) always had the ability to "bounce". I believe the first time this was pointed out in OGRE fiction was J.D. Bell's excellent short story "G.E.V." Although that might have been predated by Steve's vignette at the beginning of "G.E.V. - A Designer's Introduction." So I don't think Lindy actually knew that. Possibly because he doesn't have a copy of "The OGRE Book". Quick, somebody buy him one! Also, GEVs have had turbine engines (in addition to the fan that powers their plenum chamber) since the very beginning, so Lindy's objection that a hover can't go up steep hills is wrong (at least as far as an OGREverse hover is concerned.) He is right that GEVs are more akin to aircraft, -just not able to "fly" more than about a foot or so off the ground.

Also, the OGRE universe has always acknowledged that GEVs are just as susceptible to mines as any other unit.

I think Lindy also missed the concept of the Ogres being articulated (from the MK IIIs forward) and that it (possibly) solves the instability limitation of having shorter, fatter tracks. This made me think of the Fencer (and Dopplesoldner.) These two cybertanks are VERY long and narrow compared to Combine Ogres. But they are articulated as well. Does this mean that the Combine favors maneuverability while the Paneuropean designs favor speed? Does that mean that the MK IV was even more a radical departure from Combine Ogre design philosophy than normal given it's length and width?

I do find the concept of "liquid propellant" guns to be interesting. Though if the AFV took damage and the liquids mixed in the fighting compartment you might still have an ammo explosion.
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Old 09-02-2019, 09:44 AM   #3
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Default Re: In defense of hovertanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by hcobb View Post
I planning to record this in response to

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfgifHh5R4Y

So under a reasonable set of assumptions hovertanks become inevitable rather than improbable. At least that's my take on the issue. Please leave your comments below.

OK. I can see why you would want to defend GEVs. GEVs are cool. But, they're very specialized platforms and I'm not convinced that outside of the "rule of cool" they would work as described in the Ogreverse.
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Old 09-02-2019, 12:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: In defense of hovertanks

I have looked at hovercraft off and on since the 80s. The only problem I have ever seen is the turning arc of one moving at speed.

There are videoes I have seen of them in swamps and other types of terrian that prove the only challenge to hovercraft is moving fast in a forest.

And yes, ditches are a challenge. But at a good speed, they can clear them and bottom out on landing at the other side.
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Old 09-03-2019, 09:05 AM   #5
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Default Re: In defense of hovertanks

I think the biggest flaw in the anti-hovertank argument against GEVs is the artists depiction of PE GEVs as hovercraft. From the beginning, GEVs are described as essentially very low flying aircraft, i.e. Ground Effect Vehicles. NAC GEVs are depcted as such - yes they have downward thrusters, but at speed their primary lift is from Ground Effect and not a hover cushion. It's not that the Ogreverse doesn't have aircraft, it's that in a combat environment the airspace above about 10-20 meters is unsafe for anything due to lasers so the aircraft have been tailored to operate in that sub-20 meter altitude band. In other words, GEVs aren't hovertanks, they're specialized aircraft designed to operate in the Ogreverse battlfield's particular conditions.

We know that large transport aircraft do exist and are used for ferrying things long distances, just out of range of enemy lasers and/or their tracking capabilities. Chances are there are still fighters that are able to escort and/or intercept them, but other than over the ocean they probably have very little use. As for true hovertanks? I don't know how they would do vs. an aircraft-style GEV, but they probably have a place as well. Just my $0.02.
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Old 09-03-2019, 10:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: In defense of hovertanks

Okay I 've got 2 cents for the pot. As we have started adding Vulcan drones into the mix I don't think we're that far from low level drones acting as scouts and Forward observers. The VR concept of directing them as an extension of the pilot himself isn't that far fetched.

With that in mind then the next step comes to mind of increasing the size of the drone to something more offensive; ie a GEV and having that GEV crewed via VR and linked up with the drone scout.

Of course the ECM of the day may negate that. I stand ignorant on that aspect. I think the real issue isn't whether a GEV can exist but just how well can it be armed and armored.
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Old 09-03-2019, 10:46 AM   #7
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Default Re: In defense of hovertanks

My read on the drone situation is that at least in the Ogreverse, low-level drones are beyond common...the Vulcan's compliment is referred to as a 'swarm' after all and there's nothing saying anyone in-universe has so much as blinked at either that or the 'control channel' ability...but that the power level of the equipment needed to link up with and stay linked up with a 'hands-on' drone on an active battlefield drenched in ECM is so outlandish nothing smaller than an Ogre can carry it and power it effectively, and even then a super-specialized Ogre like the Vulcan can run a mere 4 channels.

Oooh. Scenario idea, BRB.
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Old 09-03-2019, 01:07 PM   #8
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Default Re: In defense of hovertanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAmishStig View Post
My read on the drone situation is that at least in the Ogreverse, low-level drones are beyond common...the Vulcan's compliment is referred to as a 'swarm' after all and there's nothing saying anyone in-universe has so much as blinked at either that or the 'control channel' ability...but that the power level of the equipment needed to link up with and stay linked up with a 'hands-on' drone on an active battlefield drenched in ECM is so outlandish nothing smaller than an Ogre can carry it and power it effectively, and even then a super-specialized Ogre like the Vulcan can run a mere 4 channels.

Oooh. Scenario idea, BRB.
Interesting. I see a scenario also. Vulcans loaded with VR Pilots....
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Old 09-03-2019, 01:12 PM   #9
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Default Re: In defense of hovertanks

I was under the impression that small, short-range sensor drones were all over the place (even INF have them, at least per Battlesuit), but that the ability to control a large vehicle, especially under combat conditions as an effective weapons platform, was generally hampered by the widespread use of ECM (not to mention the EMP effects of throwing nukes around). So the way (e.g.) the USAF uses drones controlled from halfway around the world just isn't going to work very well - not because the remote control capability isn't there, but because maintaining the bi-directional signal integrity between vehicle and control station requires more effort than it's worth.

A Vulcan, with it's heavy armor and limited weapons, has major incentive to be able to take over uncrewed armor and defend itself, but you wouldn't want to use that capability in a primary combat role because crews (and armor) are a lot cheaper than Vulcans...
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Old 09-03-2019, 02:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: In defense of hovertanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by offsides View Post
I think the biggest flaw in the anti-hovertank argument against GEVs is the artists depiction of PE GEVs as hovercraft. From the beginning, GEVs are described as essentially very low flying aircraft, i.e. Ground Effect Vehicles.
I do so wish this was true, but no, GEVs are definitely hovercraft in Ogre. The plenum skirts of the PanEuro models are dead giveaways. The type of machines you're describing are WiGEs - "wing in ground effect" - vehicles. WiGEs and hovercraft together form the more general propulsion class of ground effect vehicles.

No, I don't think Ogre's hovertanks need defending because, simply, it's a game. Having units that are faster than the Ogre allows for more complex strategies than "move unit into range, shoot, next turn die." That SJ chose to make said units armored fighting hovercraft is irrelevant (but do note that the Viet Nam war had just ended, and armed hovercraft were deployed in that conflict). Ogre is not, and has never been meant as, a serious examination of potential future warfighting. Its entire design process stemmed from practical concerns: how many counters MetaGaming could fit into what would become a MicroGame.
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