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Running Ox-class Merchant Ship

The Long Shin Running Ox class of merchant ships were built sporadically between 845 and 1064. Some 3-4000 of the class were constructed, both by Long Shin and by various other yards under license.

The initial examples were 1G, J1 800T cargo ships, streamlined hull, built with the minimum specs necessary to gain mail carriage (A single turret hard point was installed in the A and B models; the C model had three hard points installed, and boosted jump to 2, optionally 3, though they rarely shipped with three fully equipped turrets.)

The class quickly acquired the nickname 'The Stumbling Block' once you realized the anemic 1G rating was specified with the ship fuelled, but unladen, due to the poorly performing, but rugged and low maintenance Marsden-Wallach drives.

The A model had an enormous amount of cargo space, over 600 tons in the most minimally equipped model, but when fully loaded could muster barely 0.4 gee. It also lacked fuel purification facilities, and to say the crew amenities were sparse is putting it kindly.

Fortunately, an unarmed Ox could be run by a crew of three, or even one in a serious pinch. Moreover, the base airframe was astoundingly rugged, an Ox could be overloaded by 200% and still move. Dreadfully slowly, of course, but many Oxen have made landings on worlds with more gees than their drives.

One even suffered a total drive failure, and fell some 30 feet to the landing pad. Some patching was necessary to repair the hull where the landing gear had punched its way into the cargo bay, but the Ox was able to lift under it's own power once unloaded and got itself to the repair yard.

The poor maneuver performance limited the Ox to highport, shuttle loaded and small world operations only. Still a fair number sold, mostly because they were cheap.

The B model included the far more capable Whindyne model 34f thruster drives, and this could at last lift a laden ship off the ground on a 1G standard world. Unladen performance went to 2.87 G. Their installation, however, necessitated an additional engineering support position, due to their increased maintenance needs. This model also added an optional J2 drive.

The C model added fuel purification facilities, though no scoops were ever added to these ships, better sensors, additional crew quarters and an upgrade of the life support systems (a needed improvement, as evidenced by it's *other* common nickname 'The Stinking Box' ) and a J3 option but all of these improvements in toto increased the costs fairly dramatically (by 35% for the B and an additional 30% in the C) and reduced cargo space by nearly 50 dt, in addition to the tonnage given over to fuel for the J2 or J3 drives. Very few of the J3 model were ever built, though rumor has it that the IISS modified some for covert operations with J4 and J5 drives.

Even so, the Ox was still a marginally competitive design, and given Long Shin's low licensing costs, and aggressive sales personnel, many examples were made by second-rate shipyards subsidized heavily by various planetary authorities, from both ends of the political spectrum.

In particular the neo-fascist ruler of Novy Madrid, Generalissimo Gerhard Ramirez von Peron was particularly smitten with this ship.

Envisioning a vast mercantile empire with these ships flying the green, purple and orange flag of the Novy Madrid Partidad Central del Pescadores, he ordered the Bertsward Shipyards there to produce no fewer than 150 of them in a crash 5-year building program.

These were perhaps the most dangerous starships to ever attempt spaceflight. As Novy Madrid was a poor world to start with, their shipyards were no great shakes, and since the crash program produced a dire shortage of skilled labor, Peron's handpicked Minister of Starships, Ingevald Jones, simply forced farmers to move off their lands and come to the shipyards, where barely literate peasants were entrusted with the installation of purchased Jump drives.

Five of this series of ships simply vanished on their maiden voyage.

Some 15 of the infamous Novy Madrid Oxen are still known to be flying.

Fortunately, the majority of the class still registered in the Imperium (some 863 of them at last count, and there may well be many more registered as 'Modified' class) are much safer, if unglamourous ships, shuttling cargoes about the backwaters. Most have been heavily modified, with drives, sensors, additional passenger spaces, life support and other parts scavenged from a thousand other ships, military and civilian, building on the rugged frame of the original Ox.