I was a shepherd to fools,
Causelessly bold or afraid.
They would not abide by my rules,
Yet they escaped. For I stayed.
-- Rudyard Kipling, "Epitaphs of the War: Convoy Escort", 1914-1918
Before the advent of nuclear dampers and meson guns/screens at TL12, missiles (especially nuclear missiles) remain the primary ship-killing weapon. Because a single nuke can cause catastrophic damage, doctrine up to TL12 is to spread the risk and firepower over many smaller and cheaper hulls.
In pre-High Guard Classic Traveller, nuclear missiles do 1D x the damage of a conventional (HE/fragmentation) missile; a light (turret) nuke missile does 1D x 1D damage, a heavy (bay) missile 1D x 1D x 1D. For simplicity, radiation effects are assumed to be part of the regular damage.
And the smallest hulls are those of fighters. Below TL12, "Carrier Navies" centered around fighters and small missile-armed "Torpedo boats" rule the sky. And fighters need a carrier to operate as anything other than ground-based system defense.
The Escort Carrier (CVE) is the smallest of fighter carriers, intended as an escort group flagship providing a fighter screen for merchant convoys. This particular escort carrier is intended as a minimal-sized carrier for small TL11 navies; larger/higher-tech navies would use it as an auxilliary in secondary convoy-escort roles.
Venetian Escort Carrier (CVE)
The Venetian-class Escort Carrier is a minimal-sized mothership for a wing of 10-ton lightweight fighters. In small TL11 navies, it acts as a "mini-carrier" and/or escort group flagship, carrying a fighter wing at the expense of any hull armor or ship's troops accommodations.
Venetian CVE (TL11). 3000 tons. Jump-2. 4-G. 800 tons fuel. Twin bridges & Model/5s. 120 staterooms, 120 low berths. 100-ton missile bay, 14 triple turrets (8 x BBB, 6 x SSS). 600-ton capacity hangar bay with rapid launch/recovery facilities for 10-ton small craft, 151 tons user-definable. Streamlined. 160 crew.
Designed loadout is 40 10-ton light fighters plus miscellaneous small craft.
Using a custom 3000-ton hull, the Venetian is a minimal-sized mothership for a wing of lightweight fighters. It mounts jump drive-X, maneuver drive-Z, and power plant-Z, giving a performance of Jump-2 and 4-G acceleration. Fuel tankage for 800 tons supports the power plant, allows one jump-2, and 160 tons for the fighter wing. The ship has dual bridges (main and backup), each with a computer Model/5. There are 120 staterooms and 120 low berths. The ship has one 100-ton bay, twenty hardpoints, and fourteen tons allocated for fire control. A single 100-ton heavy missile bay and fourteen triple turrets are installed, eight with triple beam lasers (BBB) and six with triple sandcasters (SSS); 12 tons of sandcaster magazines holds nine rounds per sandcaster. A dedicated hangar bay houses up to 600 tons of ship's vehicles, with rapid launch/recovery facilities for up to 40 10-ton small craft. Cargo capacity is 151 tons; the ship is streamlined.
The Venetian requires a crew of about 70, plus 90 for the fighter wing (10 launch/recovery crew, 40 pilots, and 40 maintenance personnel) and possibly some ship's troops/marines, assuming single occupancy for officers and double occupancy for enlisted men; total life-support capacity is 240. The ship costs MCr 991.6 (not counting the cost of the fighter wing and other small craft), and takes 34 months to build.
The ship's fighter wing consists of 40 single-seat, 10-ton lightweight fighters with the ability to launch/recover all fighters in one turn. Assuming 10% of the complement are "spares" down for maintenance, the wing is organized into three 12-fighter squadrons.
A variant increases the size of the launch/recovery facilities to fit 15-ton medium fighters with increased anti-ship capability (more effective against torpedo-boats), allowing the variant to serve as a miniature fleet carrier for small TL11 navies or a training ship for larger/higher-tech navies' fighter pilots.
The original launch/recovery facilities are replaced with larger ones of 15-ton capacity, sacrificing four of the sandcaster turrets to provide the required hardpoints. This shrinks the hangar capacity by 100 tons, and the fighter wing from 40 single-seat light fighters to 26 two-seat medium fighters (organized into two squadrons of 12 plus spares). The variant requires a crew of 66, plus 88 for the fighter wing (10 launch/recovery crew, 52 flight crew, 26 maintenance personnel).
CVE with medium fighter capability: 3000 tons. Jump-2. 4-G. 800 tons fuel. Twin bridges & Model/5s. 120 staterooms, 120 low berths. 100-ton missile bay, 10 triple turrets (8 x BBB, 2 x SSS). 500-ton capacity hangar bay with rapid launch/recovery facilities for 15-ton small craft, 168 tons user-definable. Streamlined. 155 crew.
Designed loadout is 24-26 15-ton medium fighters plus miscellaneous small craft.
The basic CVE is Tech Level 11. Upgrades ("TL11bis") are normally limited to higher-tech fighters and easily-replacable systems such as the computers. Nuclear dampers are also added where and when available.
Unfortunately, CVEs built at higher tech levels cannot increase Jump performance; the design is so tight, any additional jump fuel volume would sacrifice the fighter capability, defeating the purpose of the design. Because of this Jump limitation, higher-tech navies limit the Venetian to second-line duties -- escorting Jump-1 or Jump-2 convoys or serving as a training carrier.
The Venetian is based on a TL7 "Wet Navy" design: the Italian "Escort Cruiser" Vittorio Veneto. This ship combined the functions of a missile destroyer, helicopter/VTOL carrier, and escort group flagship on a small cruiser hull. The Venetian's missile bay represents the Veneto's multi-purpose missile launcher, the triple laser turrets the Veneto's eight 76mm autocannon, and the fighter wing the Veneto's flight deck and hangar. The small launch/recovery facilities use only five hardpoints instead of the usual ten.
The CVE designation originated at Tech Level 6, in Earth's Second World War.
In what was called the "Battle of the Atlantic", vital merchant convoys were being decimated by German submarine raiders and long-range maritime patrol/strike aircraft. Anti-submarine and fighter aircraft proved an effective countermeasure, but land-based aircraft -- even without range limitations -- couldn't be available on short notice to protect a convoy. So, merchant hulls were rebuilt into miniature aircraft carriers and attached to the convoys to provide on-demand air cover and anti-submarine patrol aircraft. Officially called "Escort Carriers" (CVEs), these ships were more commonly known as "Jeep Carriers" after the term for a general-purpose (GP) light vehicle.
On the other side of the world, in the "island-hopping" war across the Pacific Ocean against Japan, these mini-carriers provided air cover for naval logistics convoys and on-demand airstrikes for Marine amphibious landings, freeing up larger aircraft carriers for fleet actions.
After the war, the increasing size and ground-support requirements of TL7+ aircraft rendered the CVEs obsolete, though some soldiered on carrying anti-submarine helicopters through TL7 in the long standby mode ofthe Cold War. When helicopter facilities became standard on TL8 escorts, the CVEs finally passed into history.
While providing air support to Marine landings on the Phillipine Island of Samar, the six escort carriers of Taffy 3 found themselves the only thing standing between the transports and Marines and the main body of the surviving Japanese Combined Fleet.
These six small "jeep carriers", manned by reservists, threw themselves and their aircraft against a force of four battleships and six heavy cruisers. With a combination of ferocity, desperation, and bluff, they held off the Japanese main body until it broke off and withdrew at the end of the day.
|USS St Lo (sunk)
|USS White Plains
|USS Kalinin Bay
|USS Fanshaw Bay
|USS Kitkun Bay
|USS Gambier Bay (sunk)
After its massive losses around the Philippines and critically short of fuel, the Japanese Navy was never again able to sortie in force.