Ships of the Kafer War
Above: The Bayeaux late in 2300 preparing to depart from Earth orbit on a scheduled trip to Beta Canum. The ship was taken up by Admiral Rochemont on arrival and supported his operations throughout the Invasion.
The Kafer War has effectively militarised an entire arm of space and raised tension through the worlds occupied by humanity. Against the Kafers there is no such thing as a non-combatant, and civilian ships from every nation have found themselves in the firing line. So while warships have born the brunt of the fighting there are many other ships that have made a major contribution to the conduct of the war.
The Claude-Louis Berthollet nosed silently into the orbit of another of the border system’s minor outer planets. It was an iceball so insignificant it didn’t even rate a name, but these were the worlds the Kafers liked best to hide in. After a number of orbits on passive scan the captain told the crew to begin the active scan.
This was the most dangerous part of the mission, if there was a concealed Kafer base down there they often responded with a volley of ASAT missiles. The Claude-Louis Berthollet was armoured and equipped with a self-defence armament but this was limited and could be quickly overwhelmed. As a result the Berthollet had its own goalkeeper the French frigate Aventurier. Indeed the Berthollet was such an important asset the fleet commanders feared a Kafer ambush and a full squadron was in-system on the FTL shelf as an insurance policy.
“Alarme! Alarme!” The sensors picked up the first pulses of ground to orbit targeting radars. Seconds later there was the flash of surface launched Zulu missiles erupting from their hidden silos…
Above: The Arapaho in 2303 operating at the end of the American Arm in support of 'Backdoor' operations.
The Cayuga is the United States Space Force’s current ‘Destroyer Escort’, a ship designed for escort work along the American and lower Chinese Arms. The Cayugas are regarded as something of an unlucky class, having suffered from design problems, cost overruns and combat losses. The Cayuga was a compromise right from the start, suffering from a shortage of funds as the USSF placed its budgetary surplus into the Kennedy, indeed the Cayuga was based of a design from the 2220s. As a result while the Cayuga had adequate armament, sensors and speed for its role its suffered from a serious drive problem and had no spin habitat to keep its crew in prime condition.
The drive problem was eventually solved after the first two ships were already commissioned. This expensive redesign along with the limitations of the design resulted in plans for building 13 ships of this class being reduced by two to 11. The problem of crew degradation through over exposure to Zero-G was solved by monthly crew rotations, something that was not seen as a problem on the American Arm. The final three ships of the class were built with expanded missile magazines for increased self defensive capability.
The first real combat test for the two ships occurred in the Rho Eridani system above the world of Heidelsheimat in 2298 while escorting a convoy of American ships bringing goods to the secessionist Bavarian colony there. The Apache and Cayuga found themselves caught between local Bavarian Raumwaffe and the blockading German DSKM squadron who believed the American transports were carrying a consignment of weaponry. In the ensuing fight the Apache was badly hit and eventually abandoned following the failure of the damage control teams to defeat internal fires.
In the same year the Pueblo was assigned to the aid of the Tanstaafl colony on Aurore as rumours of a hostile alien presence became known, protecting shipping moving between Eta Bootis and Hochbaden. The Pueblo was destroyed in the initial Kafer incursion and the outrage in America laid the way for the dispatch of a more capable USSF squadron to the frontiers of the French Arm. However the loss of two Cayugas in a year brought home the ship’s limitations to the USSF and the ship was firmly assigned to rear echelon duties, predominantly in the American Arm.
Two Cayugas, Sioux and Cayuga were dispatched in early 2302 to escort US military convoys between Sol and Beowulf, but were not committed to the Battle of Beowulf. Of the remaining Cayugas the Cherokee, sister to the Cayuga is at Sol as a training ship while the other six are stationed on the American Arm on routine duties. However the opening of the Backdoor may yet bring the Cayugas into the firing line; more cautious USSF and ADF strategists point out that the Backdoor can open both ways.
note: The scenario of the loss of the Apache proved somewhat
controversial. It resulted from an attempt to reconcile the original
article, which had the ship lost to Bavarian action in 2298, with canon,
Bavaria became part of Germany in 2292. As ever please feel free to
modify anything that doesn't fit in with the way you conceive the game.]
[Author's note: The scenario of the loss of the Apache proved somewhat controversial. It resulted from an attempt to reconcile the original article, which had the ship lost to Bavarian action in 2298, with canon, Bavaria became part of Germany in 2292. As ever please feel free to modify anything that doesn't fit in with the way you conceive the game.]
Above: The Atalante in transit to Kimanjano from Queen Alice's Star loaded with drop capsules containing the frontline AFV strength of the 2e Division de Marche Coloniale. The drop of this equipment would be one of the turning points of the Liberation of Kimanjano.
The Metal is a design which is now over eighty years old and long superseded by more modern types of craft. The Metal was built to move massive amounts of raw material from France’s colonies to earth to feed the voracious French economy. The design was a relatively simple one with a forward module containing the crew, drives and flight systems and a spindle to which many cargo containers could be attached.
At the outbreak of the Kafer War there were few Metals in service, although the French government still operated three of the designs. When the Invasion of the French Arm occurred these ships were pressed into service moving large consignments of military equipment and supplies. One of these three was caught and destroyed attempting to reach Beowulf following the fall of Beta Canum. The other two were at Beowulf and were trained and equipped to be a key part of the operations of the Armée de Libération.
The usual cargo modules of the Metal were replaced by dead drop capsules packed with armoured fighting vehicles and supplies. A single Metal could carry all the fighting equipment of a French Division de Marche and drop it onto a landing zone in minutes, although for safety and logistics reasons the troops would have to meet their equipment on the ground.
The two surviving Metals performed this role to perfection during the Liberation of Kimanjano where the Atalante and Pacifica landed two divisions of fresh armour at a key point in the invasion saving the landings from disaster. These two Metals continued with similar operations across the Beta Canum Cluster, usually dropping supplies and reinforcements to fighting troops far from the lines of communication.
The techniques used by the Metals were far from new, but had never been applied on such a scale before. The two Metals are assigned to the MSIF’s Escadre d’Interface and are a key asset in the on-going war to expel the Kafer Remnants from the French Arm.
Above: The Verteidiger and Moniteur during 2301 trials in the Alpha Centauri system.
The Moniteur is a joint project being developed by the Freihafen Raumwaffe with help from France. The Raumwaffe inherited several warships from the Bavarian Stern Marine but had only limited resources to build newer combat ships although it has capacity and expertise to build merchant ships. France has offered practical support to help the Freihafener’s efforts to expand her force of warships. The Freihafen designation for this ship is PSVK-1, but the French term Moniteur has been adopted by virtually everyone.
The ship is designed to fulfil a system defence role, replacing more expensive deep space capable warships with cheaper but still powerful vessels. The Moniteur is a short ranged ship equipped with a whole range of modern devices and armaments but built largely to civilian standards. The ship is designed as a purely in-system craft with only limited ability for interstellar travel and planned to be based primarily at a high orbital station rather than staying on station for long durations.
The Moniteur is a very distinctive design, bearing a passing resemblance to the old British Donovan Class fighter with its spherical lay out. The ship has had a fairly prolonged gestation period following its inception after the 3rd Battle of Alpha Centauri, with the first three ships being completed after 2300. The French have recently deployed the Moniteur to Beta Canum on the French Arm to act as a guard ship. The use of the Moniteurs as enhanced, but still economic, system defence boats has raised the interest of several nations who have suffered heavy ship casualties in the Kafer War.
The Moniteurs are heavily armoured and rely on a combination of MHDs and solar panels for power, and the stutterwarp drive is currently the same pattern as that used on the Aconit. Armament includes eight laser systems and four submunition dispensers with provision for two missile packs. The ship is very heavily armoured.
Above: An image recovered from the ruins of a Hochbaden orbital habitat in 2303 of a Beta closing to finish the destruction of the habitat. Seconds later the recording finished.
The Beta Class Battlecrusier was the first class of Kafer warships encountered by humanity in Eta Bootis and Arcturus. Indeed it has proved to be one of the more frequently encountered Kafer ships and no fewer than 15 ships of this type were involved in Triumphant Destiny’s assault on the Beta Canum Cluster. The Beta is one of the better understood classes thanks to the capture of the hulks of two Betas during the fighting at Eta Bootis in 2298.
Human space naval intelligence agencies believe that the Beta is a class designed for independent, long duration operations on the borders of Kafer Suzerainties. This theory states that the larger Alphas and Deltas are reserved for major combat operations when the Betas will act in a supporting role. Analysts point to the generally superior combat record of Betas against human ships which suggests the Betas have more experienced crews and captains.
Betas are faster than the heavier Battleships but less robust and more lightly armed, however they are still significant combat platforms. There are several fugitive Betas still at large in the Beta Canum Cluster and Eta Bootis Finger and encounters between them and human shipping are all too common.
In common with most Kafer ships the Beta has no spin habitat and human analysts are interested in working out how prolonged exposure to Zero-G effects the efficiency of Kafer crews.
Above: The Claude-Louis Berthollet undergoing its armour refit prior to being deployed with the MSIF.
The Lavoisier Class is the most modern of France’s fleet of survey vessels, three of these ships were completed during the 90’s after having been laid down by the junta. The Lavoisiers are modern, comfortable and highly capable ships which can be tasked with long duration survey missions. The lead ship the Antoine Lavoisier undertook some pioneering exploration work in the Wolf Cluster, expeditions which were curtailed by the outbreak of hostilities with the Kafers.
During the war the Kafers have made excellent use of concealed bases in the outer edges of remote, and not so remote, systems to support their fleet operations. Human forces have found these immensely difficult to identify and destroy. As an interim measure the Claude-Louis Berthollet was refitted with appliqué armour and submunition dispensers and dispatched with the Liberation fleets to help in tracking down the Kafer bases.
The Berthollet has been very successful in its operations so far and its exploits have earned it the nickname of the‘limier de Rochemont’. The ship can be found with its escorts along the Eta Bootis Finger and there are rumours that a special Kafer ship akin to the Lone Wolf has been tasked with its destruction.
Above: The Bayeux closing with its stutterwarp module following the landing of troops on Joi in the spring of 2302.
The Marseilles Class is a popular and economic class of passenger carrying liner operating across human space. Modified from an unsuccessful design for a military troopship, the Marseilles have a unique layout. The ship has two components, the main body carrying the passengers which is detachable and interface capability and a stutterwarp and engineering module which makes the whole ship capable of interstellar travel.
Operated mostly by the French national carrier, Lignes Aérospatiales Françaises, the ships of the Marseilles Class provided a cheap and efficient travel service between France’s colonies. However the Kafer War seriously disrupted this network and some Marseilles were, ironically, taken up by the military to move troops up to Aurore. With Triumphant Destiny’s offensive Marseilles were taken up en-masse to supplement France’s MSIF interface assets and were involved in the evacuation of key personnel from threatened worlds as well as the movement of troops.
The Marseilles were used as auxiliary ships, moving up large numbers of troops to the edge of the warzone to marry up with assault shipping which would then take the soldiers into harm’s way. The main benefit of the Marseilles was its inbuilt interface capability which enabled it to uplift an entire battalion of soldiers in a single movement. Many of the Marseilles have been put back into Lignes Aérospatiales Françaises service but others remain under military control.
All of the ships in this article are detailed in GDW’s Ships of the French Arm or Invasion Sourcebooks except the Cayuga and the Moniteur. The Cayuga is by Clare Hess and more details can be found on the Pentapod’s World site (http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/Arcade/2303/kevin.htm). The Moniteur is by Laurent Esmiol. All images are by Laurent Esmiol.
Copyright, 2004 Laurent Esmiol and D Hebditch