This is a reconstruction of the Federation Fleet of the Foible Federation Campaign (Cal State Fullerton 1977-78, Don Rollins, game master).
At this late date, the exact size, configuration, and naval organization of the Foible Federation is not known with any degree of certainty.
The Federation's size is estimated at eight subsectors, since the Federation was at rough parity to the nine-subsector Shavian Empire. (To reconstruct a ten-subsector Federation with 1Mt tonnage limits, increase all ship numbers by 25%.)
Fleet organization is known to be based on carrier task forces, which may have been grouped administratively into "fleets" but which had no hard-and-fast organization or permanently-assigned ships.
As a general rule-of-thumb for estimating fleet size, each subsector on the average can support 100kt of each major type of combat ship. This gives a tonnage limit of 800kt each of carriers, cruisers, and cans.
The Federation Fleet was a "carrier navy" like that of the TL7+ (Post-WW2/Early Cold War) American Navy, based around a large number of fighter carriers who would launch fighter strikes from long range. Nuclear missiles made Federation fighters far deadlier than their small size would imply, able to take down large ships in a "swarm" attack. Medium-sized ships emphasized heavy missile armament, continuing the doctrine of ship-killing missiles at long range; all ships were well-equipped with light anti-fighter turret mounts for close-in defense.
All Federation warships had a squadron speed of Jump-3/5-G. Ships with inferior performance (usually specialized merchant ship escorts) were classed as "auxiliaries" and not counted in regular Fleet strength.
Federation naval doctrine centered around defeating hostile ships/fleets in deep space, well away from the target planets; once enemy space forces had been defeated and "space control" established, the target planet could be blockaded and besieged at leisure. In practice, the Federation had a continuous pirate problem with Slishii raiders, requiring a continuous spectrum of warfare from low-end pirate suppression to high-end fleet actions. This led to fighters and missiles for maximum flexibility, using numbers to overwhelm enemy defenses.
Appearance & Markings
Federation naval architects preferred semi-streamlined, close-structure configurations with a rounded "primary hull" forward and a boxy "secondary hull" between the primary and the aft-mounted engine cluster, the whole reminiscent of the head/thorax/abdomen bauplan of an insect's body. Bank lasers were mounted on stub-wing outriggers to maximize arcs of fire, with small point-defense laser/sandcaster turrets in rows down the dorsal & ventral keels. (This was based on the miniatures used in the campaign -- the various cruiser minis from Valiant Miniatures' Stardate:3000 line.)
Carriers used a similar close-structure primary/secondary/engines config, but with fighter launch/recovery facilities in two outriggers port & starboard, for an "alligator on skis" look similar to Battlestar Galactica.
Only the smallest ships (Destroyer Escorts and Corsairs) were fully streamlined, usually of "arrowhead", "wedge", or "needle" configurations.
Coloration and markings were based on 1950s USAF practice: light silver-grey overall, with full-color markings and large ID "buzz numbers". Fighters, Corsairs, most Destroyers, and even some Cruisers also sported colorful squadron markings such as bright red tails, yellow-and-black fuselage bands, or checkerboard noses. Squadron graphics and individual "nose art" was common, especially on Corsairs and fighters.
Fighters were the Federation's specialty. The Federation fielded three main types of fighters (two light and one heavy), all with a minimum Maneuver drive of 8-Gs:
- Spider Fighter - 12.5 tons, single-seat, unstreamlined, missile-armed; 12-16 missile canisters flanking a boxy hull with a large engine cluster aft. Primarily carrier-based, but also based on space stations and airless worlds/moons.
- Canard Fighter - 12.5 tons, single-seat, streamlined, laser-armed; called the "Duckfighter" after the design's race of origin.
- Wedge Fighter - 25 tons, two-seat, streamlined, with mixed twin-laser-plus-missiles armament.
Fighters were normally organized into squadrons of 12 (three flights of four).
This reconstruction assumes three main types of Federation carrier:
- Fleet Carrier (CV) - 12,000 tons, 80-120 fighters. Equivalent to the Essex-13 and, like their USN namesakes, the backbone of the fleet.
- Large Carrier (CVB) - 25,000 tons, 160-320 fighters. Basically a doubled-up Fleet Carrier, equivalent to the USN's Midways or Forrestals.
- Light Carrier (CVL) - To achieve squadron speed with the heavier carriers, Federation CVLs were actually cruiser/carrier hybrids equivalent to the Mogami-13, carrying about 40 fighters in a 12,000-ton modified cruiser hull. These calculations divide their tonnage 50/50 between carriers and cruisers.
Assuming the same proportions as the USN's WW2 carrier-building program, the Federation Fleet consists of 8 CVBs, 32 CVs, and 16 CVLs. Typical task force organization would be two CVs and one CVL per force, for a total of 16 task forces plus the CVBs operating alone or in pairs for 4 to 8 more.
A subsector would average two CV/CVL task forces and one independent CVB.
Escort Carriers (CVEs) were considered auxiliaries and were used only to escort logistics or merchant convoys. A typical CVE would be a converted merchant hull such as the Type T Frontier Transport (2000 tons, Jump-2/2-G) with the cargo hold replaced by drop-in fighter-handling facilities for two 12-fighter squadrons.
This reconstruction assumes three main types of Federation cruiser, all of 12,000 tons with maximum hull and engine commonality with the Fleet Carriers:
- Missile Cruiser (CG) - 12,000 tons, two bank laser bays, six or eight heavy missile bays. These were the most common type of Federation cruiser.
- Beam Cruiser (CR) - 12,000 tons, six bank laser bays, two heavy missile bays. Equivalent to the Worcester-13, these were mostly used as flagships.
- Fighter-carrying Cruiser (CVL) - 12,000 tons, three bank laser bays, four heavy missile bays, 40 fighters. Equivalent to the Mogami-13, these are described under Carriers; tonnage is divided 50/50 between carriers and cruisers.
Fleet total (not counting the hybrid cruiser-carriers) would be around 60 cruisers; estimated breakdown 10 CRs and 50 CGs. Each subsector would average about eight - one or two CRs and six or seven CGs.
This reconstruction assumes Federation destroyers are similar in size to Shavian Empire destroyers, i.e. Destroyers (DD) of 2400 tons, Destroyer Escorts (DE) of 1200 tons, and Frigates (DL) of 6000 tons.
Federation emphasis on long-range missile combat argues for large destroyer-type combatants such as Frigates to mount missile bays and more anti-fighter ordnance. However, the Federation's continuing piracy problem (including Slishii raiders) argues for as many DEs and lighter "Corsairs" as possible, so the two probably balance out.
Assuming a 50/50 mix of DDs and DEs with DLs as flagships, this gives a maximum of 40 DL/CVEs, 200 DDs, and 200 DEs - about 50/subsector.
Corsairs (PGs) were the Federation's standard light warship/patrol ship, functionally identical to a 5-G version of the standard Type T Patrol Cruiser. They provided anti-pirate patrol and Federation presence at a lower cost than even DEs.
No available data on total numbers, as they were popular with local/system fleets and beyond-the-Rim privateers.
Organization by Fleet
The Foible Federation may have maintained "Subsector Fleets", but these would have been administrative only. The average subsector would have contained one CVB, four CVs, two CVL cruiser/carriers, eight cruisers, and about 50 destroyers organized into three task forces and a separate escort/patrol command.
Federation organization was built around the Carrier Task Force, usually of two CVs and one CVL (which usually served as flagship because of its cruiser protection). Task forces were normally organized for the mission or operation and varied in composition, though there was some attempt to match up ships on a long-term basis.
The effect was that "Subsector Fleets" varied considerably. A quiet backwater with a pirate problem could have a "fleet" mostly of CVEs, DEs, and PGs organized into escort groups; one with a major threat could have several task forces permanently assigned and/or grouped into a larger task force with dedicated carrier and cruiser squadrons.
Effect of the Federation/Empire War
The Foible Federation Fleet acquitted itself pretty well in its first conflict with an equivalent-strength power (the Shavian Empire). Federation carriers, nuclear missiles, and ISBMs held their own against the much larger Imperial battleships; only the Empire's introduction of super-tech K-ships put the Federation at a disadvantage and forced the cease-fire.
The after-action analysis led the Navy to the following points:
- Carriers and missile cruisers with nuclear missiles remained highly effective, but the Federation could not count on keeping their monopoly on nukes in the future.
- ISBMs remained an excellent surprise planetary-bombardment weapon, but Imperial K-ship Nova Triggers were an even more ultimate WMD.
- There was little defense against the Imperial K-ships than to just shoot them up until they were forced to withdraw.
- Imperial battleships demonstrated much more " staying power" and damage absorption than even federation large carriers or (well-armored) cruisers, making up for their fewer numbers. once an imperial battleship ran the fighter/missile gauntlet and got within effective heavy beam range, it could devastate federation carriers with continuous fire, never "running out of ammunition" as long as the powerplant was cranking.
- The Empire was unfamiliar with psionics; Guardian Knight psionic interrogation of POWs provided a lot of much-needed intelligence, including technical information. Like nukes, the Federation could not count on this disparity in the future.
The Federation Navy came to the following plan to prepare for any future confrontations with the Empire:
- Retain the carrier-and-missile-cruiser doctrine; so far it has served the Federation well, held its own against the Empire, and shows no sign of block obsolescence. Fighter losses and missile ammunition can be replaced more readily than the Empire could repair a battleship or K-ship, and the weapons fit can be customized and improved simply by changing the fighters/missiles.
- A crash R&D program to find ways to counter the K-ships, including "rooning" expeditions for similar Forerunner artifacts in the no-mans-space bordering the Empire.
- Reverse-engineer Imperial shield technology to improve protection (and to give some protection to carriers, since their fighter-handling facilities precluded heavy armor).
- Refit existing carriers and fit new-construction replacements with more bank-laser bays to increase close-in anti-ship defense, displacing some of the existing missile bays and and anti-fighter turrets.
- Counter the Imperial battleships with similar ships, along the lines of an enlarged, up-armored beam cruiser - the "Large Cruiser" (CB). Direct knockoffs of Imperial Battlecruisers, these 25,000-ton ships (sized for maximum commonality with the CVBs in hull and engines) were designed to plug the short-range gap in the task forces' combat power, and secondarily function as heavily-protected flagships or powerful deep-penetration raiders. After initial prototypes, build up to a total CB strength of 8 to 16.
- Increase system defenses of inhabited systems bordering the Empire, including special System Defense Monitors (giant SDBs the size of a cruiser with a CBs firepower and maximum protection) to defend forward-positioned inhabited systems against K-ships. (Nobody wants to think about a Nova Trigger in a heavily-inhabited system.) Deploying these to their assigned systems will present a problem, as will the strain on the shipyards atop the replacement and CB building programs.