Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Argama Assault Cruiser Part 3: Ship Systems and Armament

Argama Assault Cruiser Part 3: Ship Systems and Armament

 The Argama as photographed by a MSA-003 'Nemo' on patrol.  The date of the photo is not known, but is estimated to be around May 0087.

Mobile Suit Accommodation Deck

The Mobile Suit accommodation deck (also known as the main hangar deck or MS deck), is located in the rearward section of the front deck block, located in approximately the exact center of the ship.  The concept differs from that of the White Base-class in that it is concentrated in the center of the ship and completely separated from the catapults, similar to the Salamis-Kai class layout.

The deck is comprised of two levels, with the upper deck able to accommodate two Mobile Suits in both standard flight and combat conditions.  The lower deck is normally able to house 6 MS, however if attempting to maximize capacity only without consideration for maintenance or support requirements , a maximum of 12 MS can be housed.   Since it depends on the number of maintenance personnel and other factors, the MS sortie cycle is fairly variable, but a complete standard maintenance cycle on all embarked units will take no less than 12 hours.

The hangar was designed to perform maintenance on any MS used by the Federation Military in the post-war era, and can accommodate any Mobile Suits in the 18 meter  to 25 meter range with a few exceptions.

The hangar is of simple construction, with latches installed on the exposed structure of the hangar to secure the arms of Mobile Suits, which are supported by restraining systems for the shoulders.

The supporting pillars on the sides of the MS along with their associated work catwalks and boarding platforms can also be moved to accommodate different MS, and in order to interface differing MS backpack styles, wall panels behind the MS' back can be added or removed to adjust to individual MS configurations.   While the walls for the hangar deck are relatively fixed in place, they can move forward or back around on rails by 5 meters to adjust for length.  When carrying units other than Mobile Suits, like Mobile Armor or the transformed MSZ-006 and MSZ-010, linear motors in the floor railing allow the units to be moved, and units can be secured using tiedown points and skids on the floor, allowing maintenance to be performed.

When launching the Mobile Suits housed on the lower deck, the floor panel itself can be moved with the forward deck elevator.   The floor panels are also deigned to integrate seamlessly into the catapult launcher, meaning that MS can be loaded directly onto the catapult while still attached to the floor plates.  This means that MS can be slid directly onto the catapult from either side of the open hangar doors to conduct launches.

Though not a standard procedure, the 3rd and subsequent MS waiting to launch can shorten the interval between launches by walking to the elevator platform and loading directly onto the floor plate as soon as it returns to the elevator after the previous launch.  By alternating port and starboard launches in this manner, the efficiency of catapult launches can be greatly improved.  In order to facilitate this type of launch sequence, priority is given to Mobile Suits with other configurations of fighter-type units launched last.

  As the Argama-class uses the same platform unit for all catapult launches, the door openings are a trapezoidal shape which narrows near the top.  The lower portion of the doors are 25 meters in width, which allows sufficient clearance for large units like the G-Defenser's long rifle, and the Mega Hyper Bazooka Launcher to be launched without changing the orientation of the unit to clear the doors.   While originally the design should be able to handle most Mobile Suits in current operation, the tip of the Methuss' backpack reaches to 26 meters, which necessitated the Methuss to bend at the knees and waist in order to be launched.

If the catapults are unable to be used, for example if Mobile Suits are staged on the catapults for emergency interception duties, a hatch on the ventral surface of the front deck block can be opened and Mobile Suits can egress directly from the lower deck.  As on the White Bass-class, the open door areas of the MS deck completely lose their airtight seal during combat operations, and in standard cruising conditions, the MS deck is depressurized, thus necessitating that normal suits be worn.  The lower deck can operate at a minimum of pressurization, and bulkheads between the two decks can be sealed completely.  Once the order for second stage combat alert is issued crews begin preparing for depressurization, and only crew members wearing normal suits will be able to enter the hangar deck,

Habitation Block

The Argama-class, in order to facilitate long deployments on the ship, is equipped with a rotation-type artificial gravity system.  Space ships, unlike colonies, cannot have completely closed circuit air, water, and waste recycling systems and must have access to resupply bases at scheduled, regular intervals.    However, this does not mean that the design is incapable of longer cruises or independent movements without resupply, but rather it is the human factor which limits the endurance in this particular case.  Since the AEUG cannot guarantee enough personnel to provide a replacement crew, the same crew must become accustomed to spending long periods on ship.

A rotational type system is used to generate gravity, which, in order to maintain the compact nature of the ship, the habitation blocks which are pulled in close to the ship during combat operations and are extended on long arms during normal flight conditions.   The construction and placement of this system means that the fore and aft parts of the ship are completely separated by the rotation system, and it was feared that this narrow section separating the ship would present itself as a design vulnerability. However, utilizing layered construction techniques gained from colony construction, this section cannot reasonably be said to be a weakness, but instead lends additional structural strength to the ship.

The rotating section (which rotates clockwise) is connected to the main hull by an outer shell housing linear drive motors in a ring, which covers the central connecting section.  This central section which connects the fore and aft hull is a reinforced strength-bearing section composed of four spars wrapped in monocrystal which connect with the outer hull plating in a semi-monocoque construction.

The interior of the habitation block consists of four 5-meter diameter cylinders,  and a single 'pipe', which is located inside the retractable arms that connect to the central hull of the ship.  Inside the cylinders is a series of living quarters, which can rotate the orientation of their 'floors' by 90 degrees to generate gravity when the section rotates.   All of the room doors open to passageways which are all connected to the central 'pipe'.   The 'pipe' contains an elevator shaft that connects to the central hull, with elevator capsules that allow movement throughout the ship.

These elevator capsules (typically called 'habitation block elevators') are designed to time the deceleration when moving to the central hull so that the velocity is synchronized with the main hull, so that the elevators can smoothly enter the main hull from the arm interior, allowing easy movement of crew to the main hull.

The central passageways branch off towards the MS deck, with the Bridge accessed via elevator, and also allows access to the aft hull.  The passageway which connects to the MS deck is interrupted by an area where crew members can change into normal suits, with separate areas for maintenance crews and MS pilots.   Past this area is an airlock and a briefing room (typically used for operational planning) located just in front of the bridge elevator.

Inside the box-shaped habitation blocks, the space between the habitation cylinders and the outer hull contains life support modules (including water recycling equipment, air circulation, and etc.) operating in parallel.  The cylinders themselves are also reinforced, and located with at least two meters of clearance to the outer hull. which means that even if the outer hull is damaged in combat, there is no immediate risk to the airseal.   Additionally, the interior of the habitation blocks are equipped with a supplemental resin balloon system which can automatically seal minor air leaks.

The port and starboard sides each contain four cylinders, for a total of 8 habitation cylinders, with the outer four designated as crew quarters.   Pilots are typically given single occupant quarters, while regular maintenance personnel and other crew members are billeted in two or four person quarters,

Each quarters room has its own shower room, but toilet facilities are communal.   The inner two cylinders are officer quarter, as well as the mess facility and recreation room, which are all communal spaces.

This rotational habitation block system was omitted on the Earth-constructed Number 2 ship, 'Pegasus III', and the habitation blocks are of simpler box construction.   Though there were some issues with robustness and planning efficiency, these problems were common to the Number 1 ship 'Argama', and there is ultimately no difference in berthing capacity.   While the standard crew complement consists of approximately 300, additional personnel could also be housed for a short time.  While not able to achieve the desired crew circulation capacity of 200%, an additional 150 personnel could be housed in this manner.


As noted previously, the main armament consists of single-barrel mega particle cannons on the forward dorsal hull, rear dorsal hull, and two cannons on the ventral hull, for a total of four cannons.   These weapons form the main firepower of the ship, excluding the Mobile Suit complement.   Later, a High Mega Cannon would be installed on the port side of the central hull, allowing the ship ample firepower.  This high mega cannon was particularly devastating, with a output approximately 25% that of a colony laser-class weapon.  That the energy drain from using this weapon would hinder ship operations for a short time after firing is a testament to the output of this weapon.

The standard mega particle cannons were the same type as used on the previously constructed Irish-class battleships, and were considered ample anti-ship firepower for ship of this era. The small probes mounted underneath the barrels are rangefinding probes, and each gun can traverse 120 degrees to the left or right, though the aft turret is limited to only a 90 degree traverse due to the location of the habitation blocks.  

In addition, air-to-surface missiles and small anti-aircraft/Mobile Suit missile launcher platforms are located in various locations throughout the main hull, and anti aircraft machine gun platforms are located on the sides of the catapult platforms, on the sides of the aft deck, and on the ventral surfaces of the hull,

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

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