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Subject: Star Trek Attack Wing Theory -- Warp nacelles rss

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David Griffin
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There has never been a satisfying or definite theory on what the warp nacelles do or what having different numbers of them gives us. Of course they are key to going warp speeds but we really know little more than this.

Star Fleet Battles and FASA (previous Star Trek games) considered the nacelles not only the keys to different warp speeds, but also the main power source for the ship. Thus to them more nacelles gave you more power. With the advent of the "Warp Core" that came into question since the warp core seemed to be different than the nacelles and could be ejected separately. In the previous games, especially SFB, saucer separation was used to ditch the whole engineering section to get rid of the explosive bits.

In STAW we have ships from all eras. We have the standard 2 nacelle ship, as well as 4 nacelle (Constellation, though the rumor is that somehow this is a 2 nacelle ship with 1 pair of physical nacelles being 1 virtual nacelle). On screen the Freedom class is supposed to have 1 nacelle though we never got a really good look on screen. We've seen the Saladin (1 nacelle) and Federation class (3 nacelle) ships on monitors onscreen but again not long looks. The Galaxy dreadnought has 3 nacelles though we are never told why.

So if you take a random ship in STAW and slap another nacelle onto it, what do all of you think SHOULD happen? What should be the benefit? Why did that alternate history Federation slap a third nacelle on the Enterprise D?
 
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Xander Fulton
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...and then, of course, you have the Borg, Ferengi, Cardassian, and Breen ships that have no visible nacelles at all.

Or the TOS-era Romulan Bird of Prey, which DOES have nacelles... but remains 'impulse-power-only'.
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Jesse Catron
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I always thought the warp core provides the power via matter/antimatter reaction through which the nacelles generate and stabilize the warp bubble. So I suppose more nacelles can more easily stabilize a warp field. I thought the basic gist was that the warp field is generated between the two nacelles. I believe Voyager is supposed to be faster because the nacelles are dynamic and can change orientation. Also I thought I read somewhere that the model designer for the D'deridex made it hollow between its nacelles to conform to the idea of the nacelles creating the warp bubble between them. Of course like most things in Trek they often don't follow there own rules and you get ships with one nacelle or no nacelles. You also see the Homer Simpson design philosophy that tacking on extra nacelles make the ship "faster".

Of course I don't have any credible references for this and I've been known to confabulate.
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Martin McCleary
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some earlier designs indicated the nacelles served a function similar to bussard collectors.

I would think having more than one would allow some redundancy for safety purposes and in combat; after all having a catastrophic jump drive failure a long way from homes means certain death.

of course the other thing to ponder is the size disparity among different faction ships - in any era they seem to all have equal capability regardless of actual engine nacelle size.
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Justin Hare
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Old school Trek logic held that an even number of warp nacelles were required to generate stable warp fields. If there was an odd number, the last one was always to power weapons. Nobody ever said how. It was just kind of the thing.

Other species ships always (usually?) had something that could be pointed to as an even number of warp nacelles/equipment.

As for how they work. Reduce density of subspace in front, increase in back. Move ship by having subspace push it. That or subspace osmosis and/or subspace Bernoulli's principle.
 
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Typheron Joyzxqk
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I always thought that the whole pairing of nacelles was a balance/steering thing much like engines on aircraft today. Although mileage may vary on that one since its mentioned in trek that warp drive is mostly in straight lines. Tom paris had a poem about it i think.

This is my own deranged idea of how it works, so yeh im probably contradicting something somewhere I have forgotten.

The nacelles set up the warp field and create the "wave" of expanded space the ship rides on. A single nacelle would generate a single oval bubble with space expanded behind and contracted at the front. Like standing on a surfboard this requires a lot of balance to keep stable (tweaking of the warp field).

A pair of nacelles crate two bubbles and act like a catamaran, keeping the ship in warp at a more stable arrangement as well as providing a backup should one of them become un-usable. This requires less tweaking of the warp fields to remain stable and lets you turn a bit by varying the power of the warp fields in each nacelle. Its a single line of force between the 2 nacelles providing left/right movement. If you want to turn sharply, you drop out of warp and do it via the ships sublight systems then kick the warp drive in again on your new heading.

Adding a 3rd nacelle or 2 pairs of nacelles would give you more movement in the 3rd dimension. a 3rd nacelle would allow you, under this idea, to "turn" up and down by increasing or decreasing the 3rd nacelles power. You end up with this triangle of force between the nacelles you can use to form the warp bubbles giving you 4 directions you could move the ship.

2 pairs of nacelles ala the Stargazer would allow even more freedom in the 3rd plane, with a higher degree of precision as you can turn the ship in 8 directions (lines connecting each nacelle to the others) while at warp since you can now move "diagonally" by using the warp bubbles off a top left and bottom right nacelle to vary the field.

Anything more than 4 is probably a waste of power and resources while the Vulcan ships just have a big ring that gives them much higher control over direction at warp probably at the expense of top speed rather than run 2 big nacelles your running a lot of little ones.

Given that we do not see many battles while at warp, its probably more about getting from a to b than doing barrel rolls while at warp speed so high levels of manoeuvrability while at warp are not need. Most weapons probably cannot even catch you while your at warp anyway given your going FTL.

yeh so, that's how I figure it works, in my head anyway. Given its a fictional universe a Scottish Space Wizard probably does it.

So yeh, increased manoeuvrability at warp speed would be my idea as to what the additional nacelles do. Not sure how this would factor into Attack wing as we appear to be running at sub-light speeds for most of it.
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Martin McCleary
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only in TOS do I recall any attempt at "maneuver" at warp (pivot at WF 2...). What I noticed was that as the various series matured they came to the conclusion that warp was good for position changes but combat was conducted at sublight velocities. For story line purposes they did sometimes violate this rule (the Scimitar knocking Enterprise out of warp) but for the most part it seems to hold true - at least from what I've viewed.

I don't think the nacelles have anything to do with maneuver but that's just my opinion. Since all of this is fantasy no one is going to have a "real" answer.
 
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David Griffin
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One would have thought that ejecting your warp core would leave you almost powerless (impulse power only plus Aux power and batteries?). I mean if SFB is wrong and the nacelles DON'T power the ship then it has to be the warp core right? Then why in Star Trek Insurrection was the ship apparently unimparied (except maybe for warp drive)?

It seems to me that is an argument in favor of the nacelles providing power. Maybe the warp core is just the conversion of nacelle power to warp travel? Like much in Star Trek, it is inconsistent.

 
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Typheron Joyzxqk
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Given we have seen inside a TNG nacelle and its basically a big plasma coil doing technobabblle I would think that the nacelles are probably not power generators.

Its pretty much confirmed that the Warp Core is the bit that makes the ship go, but that's not the only place that energy could be generated, the impulse engines use fusion power plants with deuterium as a fuel supply.

Its entirely possible that the warp core only provides some of the power for the operation of the ship with most of it going into powering the warp drive. The Fusion power plants from the impulse drive could keep the ship going with the core gone and they are also spread out (typically in front of the impulse drives). The ship would probably be more sluggish one way or another but would keep flying, just not at warp.

You could probably get a decent amount of electrical energy just by using the excess heat they generate to power a steam turbine and im sure the federation have far more advanced tech than that on hand.

In this case im on the "nacelles make the ship go" side of things, rather than having them generate power. The Starfleet Battles way of doing this has been contradicted too many times on screen to be entirely right IMHO.

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David Griffin
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Typheron wrote:
Given we have seen inside a TNG nacelle and its basically a big plasma coil doing technobabblle I would think that the nacelles are probably not power generators.

Its pretty much confirmed that the Warp Core is the bit that makes the ship go, but that's not the only place that energy could be generated, the impulse engines use fusion power plants with deuterium as a fuel supply.

Its entirely possible that the warp core only provides some of the power for the operation of the ship with most of it going into powering the warp drive. The Fusion power plants from the impulse drive could keep the ship going with the core gone and they are also spread out (typically in front of the impulse drives). The ship would probably be more sluggish one way or another but would keep flying, just not at warp.

You could probably get a decent amount of electrical energy just by using the excess heat they generate to power a steam turbine and im sure the federation have far more advanced tech than that on hand.

In this case im on the "nacelles make the ship go" side of things, rather than having them generate power. The Starfleet Battles way of doing this has been contradicted too many times on screen to be entirely right IMHO.

SFB (and FASA) took the total power of the ship from a set of sources including the matter/anti-matter reactor (which it placed in the nacelles), the impulse engine (fusion power), auxillary power (SFB also fusion), and the batteries. The idea was that the anti-matter power was the lion's share of the power and the impulse was much less. In FASA the impulse engine could be a bigger share, especially if you designed a ship yourself and especially for ships with 1 nacelle. In SFB only some kinds of power could be used for some things.

None of this is contradicted by TOS. But Yes in TNG things became more dicey. So decades of playing those games makes it hard for me to not take those things for granted but that isn't right obviously because SFB doesn't control the Star Trek universe.

All we really know if that if the core breeches and you can't eject it (which seems to be the usual condition) you blow up. So something about the core is explosive. If you do eject it, presumably you can't go to warp but beyond that, if Insurrection is a guide, there are no other obvious effects. Frankly it makes me wonder if they shouldn't just shut the core down for battles and bring it up again to leave the scene of the battle. Escaping would be more difficult though.

What happens in SFB or FASA if you get the nacelles really damaged is that you still have power but a lot less of it. If the Warp core is the matter/anti-matter reactor, then if you ejected it you'd be safer but virtually unpowered. But I just don't see how that could be. Nothing I can come up with makes any sense really. It implies that the matter/anti-matter stuff isn't a primary generator of ship power.
 
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Typheron Joyzxqk
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Honestly, don't try to think about it too hard would be my advice, were talking about trying to rationalize science fiction physics from a show that changed it to suit the plot.

From what we have seen there must be a secondary power source for the ship, therefore there is a secondary power source. These could be aux generators that kick in to keep the ship running for a limited time, or power siphoned from the impulse reactors. Regardless if the warp core goes, then the ship can still function either at limited power or at full power for a short period of time.

Remember the MST3K mantra!
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