Thursday, June 23, 2016

Argama Assault Cruiser Part 2: Structure and Systems

Argama Assault Cruiser Part 2: Structure and Systems

In August, U.C.0078, the Titans conducted Operation Apollo, the Von Braun City capture operation.  The AEUG's recapture operation commenced immediately after this photo, and the entire operation was documented and publicized by the AEUG.   Among the launching MS units the Gundam Mk II can be seen, which was to be transferred to the escorting Radish soon after.

Catapult Deck

While the White Base-class concept was envisioned as that of an 'Assault/Landing Ship' able to conduct raids on colonies and enemy ships, the Argama was closer in concept to a MS Carrier ship, deriving most of its firepower from its MS complement.

On the dorsal surface of there are two open-type catapults on both port and starboard sides of the ship, which launch Mobile Suits by locking their legs into the catapult units.   During orbital operations. the final launch angles of these catapults are variable, and adjusted based on calculations of incoming enemy speed and altitude, which means that the ship does not necessarily need to directly face the enemy in order to launch Mobile Suits towards a threat.  In some cases, the ship can launch Mobile Suits to the rear of the ship by reducing forward velocity and descending in altitude for a resultant increase in overall orbital velocity.

The electromagnetic catapults automatically measure the mass of the launching Mobile Suit and automatically calculate an appropriate launch velocity, and this system is linked with the ship's main computer in order to control catapult launches based on the ship's current speed and heading.  As a result, individual MS can make trajectory and velocity adjustments, and the ship can also use this information to provide corrections, and pilots can automatically or manually choose to adjust to match course projections.

Regardless of if the catapult launch is decelerating or accelerating, the most critical stage is the initial acceleration of the Mobile Suit, as interception of enemy forces is very difficult only using a Mobile Suit's own capabilities.    For this reason, the catapults are 1.5 times longer than those of the White Base class, stretching along over 50% of the length of the entire ship.   This length allows a much greater acceleration to be imparted during launches, with a 50-ton MS able to be launched at a maximum acceleration of 5.2G.  This acceleration capability rivals that of the much larger Dogos Gear class.  (As the Dogos Gear's Catapults are short relative to the overall length of the ship.)

In principle, the catapult system output could actually be increased considerably, however the design of the catapult launcher in only securing the legs and design limitations in the structure of the MS themselves, it can reasonably be said that the Argama-class and Dogos Gear-class have the highest performance catapults of the era.  (While it would be possible to launch MS with greater acceleration, it would result in considerable damage to leg units.)

The catapult launchers clamp onto the front and rear of a Mobile Suit's foot parts, and as a result are able to accommodate all but particularly unique designs of Mobile Suit.

The pilot, upon his MS being loaded onto the catapult launcher, must change the MS control program's settings to 'Catapult Launch Mode', and, after confirming this setting, the catapult officer conducts the launch sequence.    One second after the start of the launch sequence begins, the clamp locks disengage and the MS's back and leg thrusters are used to release from the launching system.

When launching the FXA-05D "G-Defenser" or other craft such as atmospheric reentry shuttles, a 'Catapult Launch Bar" or landing skids can be used to approximate the legs of a Mobile Suit to connect to the catapult launcher.

The open type catapults are a substantial 'double layer' design, or if the lower surface is utilized, a three layer design, allowing much greater ability to conduct emergency launches and relaunches in combat situations.   This results in much greater force projection and deployment capacity than the White Base-class's 'Box Hangar'* type system,

*Box Hangar Deck System:  The Argama, unlike the Federation Forces designs after the Trafalgar class, including the Pegasus-class and Nelson-class, did not use a 'Box Type Hangar Deck' as its flight deck system, but rather an 'Open Deck' type flight deck.

The benefits of the 'Box Deck' emphasize protection with the armored 'roof', however landing operations must be conducted on the deck surface itself, which would interfere with launch operations.   Additionally, these additional armored panels would substantially increase weight, and limited the length of catapults that could be installed, allowing only shorter catapult designs.


The bridge which controls combat and ship operations, is located above the MS deck on the centerline of the ship, and retains the 'Trojan Horsehead' appearance originating with the Pegasus-class.  This command center is somewhat reduced in size from the White Base class, and gives a somewhat cramped impression, however fewer crew members were planned to be needed to conduct ship operations.     During this period, detection of obstacles and enemies primarily relied on human means, and as such line of sight was of high importance, which meant that in order to preserve and enhance the field of vision, the bridge was mounted on an extendable 'neck'.  Naturally, rather than rely completely on the human factor, so a 'scout camera ball' system is equipped on the side of the bridge.

Radio and laser antennas are also located on the sides of the bridge, with a movable microwave energy receiver panel located to the rear of the bridge, which can be can be angled to receive transmissions.  The front of the bridge has four layers of anti-radiation and anti-UV filter screens installed, along with a physical shutter screen that can be lowered during combat and atmospheric reentry, to complete the defense.

The very top of the head section is comprised of the Captain's floor, with the captain's room and several adjoining private spaces, however given the typical lack of space on a starship, during combat deployments (and even quasi-combat deployments where combat was not expected), this space was used as common space.   This section did not have any artificial gravity generation systems, so it is thought that the captain or fleet commander would live their day-to-day lives in a separate room in another part of the ship.

Directly underneath the bridge was an elevator passage and an emergency passage, as well as the ship's main computer core, according to the plans.  While this computer system could not compare to the advanced computers st Luna II or other bases, the computer is said to have the approximate electronic warfare and analysis capacility of a One Year War-era Gunperry SIGINT.  (TL Note: MSV-R)

Forward Central Hull

The forward central hull (front deck block) was primarily designed to house the main armament section and main hangar deck.  The port and starboard sides of the lower hull were originally designed as munition and equipment stores, with the advent of the First Neo Zeon War in April UC 0088, this section was remodeled to house a high mega cannon, replacing the standard mega particle cannons mounted there.  This high mega cannon differed from the previously installed mega particle cannons in that it used an I-field to control the angles of fire and beam acceleration, making it a highly effective weapon for both anti-ship duties, and the clearance or destruction of debris and other obstacles.  The circular door sections also serve as solar energy collection panels.

The mega particle cannons which serve as the secondary armament also have thermonuclear jet/rocket engines installed for braking.

A vehicle storage section is located at top of the forward central section of the upper hull, with the main hangar deck split into two decks which house MS and combat support craft, with just enough room to accommodate space launches and other light vehicles.

On top of the forward central hull, one of the anti-ship mega particle cannons serving as the Argama's main armament is mounted, which, until the installation of the high mega cannon, had the highest output of any gun in its class.    Additionally, another cannon was mounted on the aft deck, as well as on either side of the lower hull near the weapons stores, which were all the same type of particle cannons as the forward gun.

Aft Central Hull

The 'rear deck block' or aft central hull of the Argama class is where the fusion reactors that comprise the main power source and the Minovsky Craft Engine (MCE) are installed.  The energy supply system is divided into two main reactors and four sub reactors,  While these reactors supply electrical power to the MCE and internal systems of the ship, the Argama class can also generate electricity from solar batteries and microwave power generators connected to microwave receiver panels, meaning that the ship has much greater survivability than previous ships.

While the MCE was installed since the commissioning of the ship, it was mostly used for orbit changes and inertial control on the Lunar surface.   However, the investment ultimately paid off with the Earth drop operation following the July U.C.0088 overhaul at Granada.

The ballute storage blocks are spread around the aft nozzle units like a cover, and when the aft nozzles are disengaged, the unit is pulled rearward to deploy the ballute.  The ballute system was used twice during the Grypps conflict and once during the Haman war, and since the system is jettisoned after each use, it must quickly be reinstalled at a resupply point in order to be used again.

The two cylinders on the ventral hull are optional mission-configurable payload areas, which can contain reactant (water), goods, or ballistic missile launchers.

Engine Block

The aft engine blocks are, like the White Base class, attached to either side of the aft central hull, with each side housing combination thermonuclear jet/rocket engines, with triple engines as well as two directional thrust engines on each side, which can be used in both regular flight modes as well as deceleration for atmospheric reentry and attitude control.   When combined with the aft deck's main engine output, the Argama has much more efficient thrust relative to its mass than other ships, in accordance with the original plans which predicted frequent operations requiring orbital altitude changes.  

In addition, this increased mobility on Earth's surface when compared to other large ships meant that the Argama was much more combat effective and mobile than the standard space warships landed by Neo Zeon on Earth.

The semicircular projections on either side of the rocket engines contain attitude adjustment thruster arrays, and are capable of  precise attitude adjustments.

The ventral fins located under the rear deck blocks contain communication antennas and rear-facing surveillance radar, but also allow greater attitude stability during yaw and roll when the ship is 'lifted' by the Minovsky Craft Engine.  The ventral fins also have the ability to adjust the strength of the field, in essence functioning as adjustable ballast in atmospheric conditions.

Other features of the rear deck block include a docking 'sling arm' which can be used to connect to other space ships which conform to international design standards, like the sling arm housed on the Federation Military personnel shuttle 'Temptation'

Source: Mobile Suit Master Archive Zeta Gundam, GA Graphic, 2012

Part 1Part 2 | Part 3

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