Star Wars, Newtonian motion and the principles of Starfighter combat

Under Newtonian physical modelling, a starfighter faces no opposition to its thrust. Broadly speaking, the more thrust applied to the craft, the fast it goes and as there is no air resistance-caused maximum speed, the maximum speed is effectively limitless.

However the methods of manoeuvring under Newtonian physics are not favourable to the defender, as in the time required to change direction whilst under attack, the craft is horribly vulnerable, manoeuvring in a near straight-line, while changing facing and applying thrust to counteract the kinetic energy built-up in the craft.

This is where “ethereal rudders” can change the nature of combat and restore the balance between attacker and defender. The principles appear to be that the ER creates negative velocity in the direction into which movement is desired, probably through the simulation of “mass”. A craft flying at 100 units per second will fly in a straight line as the velocity is equally applied; if 20 units of movement are deducted from the port side of the craft (assuming that there are two ER units either side of the craft), then with one fifth of the thrust removed, the craft will tip in the direction of the lower velocity at a rate of turn, proportionate to the difference in velocity.

It is obvious that bi-directional rudders will only produce lateral turns, so we must have two or more pairs or a single unit capable of compensating for velocity in any direction. This is not going to produce motion similar to that of aerodynamic craft, where the effect of “lift” is being used, and slight changes in direction merely redirecting the flow of air over the body of the craft. Instead, movement is going to be freer than aerodynamic craft but with the downside that there is no “free” energy as from diving. All movement off “0” is going to cost energy, not just to recover speed level but to actually effect the turn.

Consequently energy, or rather energy generation is going to be the key factor here. A craft will find a turn harder to achieve the higher the speed and weight of the craft. Engines need only be used to create additional thrust, so the energy generated on board the craft will be divided between the following system areas:

  1. Engines.
  2. Ethereal Rudders (including the “braking” principle).
  3. Weapons.
  4. Sensors.
  5. Life support (includes G-compensation).

As an addendum, craft being carried upon other ships (the carrier-fighter principle) will need to either approach at low speed in order to be recovered, enter a resistance field to induce loss of kinetic energy or be captured in a tractor beam and brought into the docking bay.

The speed unit is the MGLT which corresponds to 100 metres per second. The Fw190a8 flies at a maximum speed of 656km per hour, or about 182 metres per second. As the X-Wing and TIE/In fighters both have MGLT maximum ratings of 100, this means that an FW190 can outrun both these fighters in a straight comparison, while the Sopwith F.1 Camel can do 49 metres per second. The F-15C could pull 739 metres per second, while the F.4 could make 658 metres per second.

These aircraft adapted to space combat would outrun the canon fighters so badly that we need to rethink the basis of these speeds in order to pin down the starfighters for comparative purposes.

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