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-   -   Sci-Fi weapons with BAD design flaws (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=817802)

Dale Sams 01-30-2017 01:18 AM

Sci-Fi weapons with BAD design flaws
 
Death Star...no not THAT flaw...can only fire its mega weapon at approximentally 40%(?) of its viewable area at any one time. It really needs escorts. That it was unaccompanied by escorts should have been a dead giveaway that it WAS A TRAP!!

Doomsday Machine. Ok granted you can't penetrate its neutronium hull, but that doesn't mean you have to do strafing runs. Just sit over its axis. And btw....that thing being so ancient?? It would have its own eco-system by the time Enterprise encountered it.

Imperial walkers. Of ffs, stop flying in front of them. Ok yes theyre shielded. Still.

Others?

coremelt 01-30-2017 01:57 AM

Tie Fighters: The "wings" are either heat sinks or solar panels depending on who you believe. Either way they're a terrible design since they cut off a fair chunk of visibility for the pilot and don't seem to serve any purpose as armour.

snfaulkner 01-30-2017 02:51 AM

Pulse rifles firing 10mm explosive tip caseless standard light armor piercing rounds are good for rupturing primary heat exchangers inside what are basically giant fusion reactors.

Dr. Strangelove 01-30-2017 03:35 AM

Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret! Why didn't you tell the world, eh?

Spaceball 1/Mega Maid had a self-destruct button which was too easily pressed, and irreversible (like a rain coat).

MrDibble 01-30-2017 03:39 AM

Light sabres need crossguards.

Der Trihs 01-30-2017 04:55 AM

From one of the Vorkosigan novels I recall this quote on the subject of buying weapons:

"Stay away from the sale on neutron hand grenades. For those with a strong throwing arm."

CalMeacham 01-30-2017 06:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Der Trihs (Post 19961829)
From one of the Vorkosigan novels I recall this quote on the subject of buying weapons:

"Stay away from the sale on neutron hand grenades. For those with a strong throwing arm."

Actually, the real-life version was almost as bad.

The Davy Crockett was the smallest nuke the US ever designed and built. It had extremely poor shielding (so even hauling the thing around was dangerous) and no abort function. If it was fired, it would go off. And if it didn't go far enough, you were screwed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davy_C...lear_device%29

BeepKillBeep 01-30-2017 06:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dale Sams (Post 19961688)
Death Star...no not THAT flaw...can only fire its mega weapon at approximentally 40%(?) of its viewable area at any one time. It really needs escorts. That it was unaccompanied by escorts should have been a dead giveaway that it WAS A TRAP!!

This is not so. The Death Star was bristling with turbo laser and blaster batteries. We even see them in the movies. The Death Star definitely did not need escort ships.

asterion 01-30-2017 07:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CalMeacham (Post 19961936)
Actually, the real-life version was almost as bad.

The Davy Crockett was the smallest nuke the US ever designed and built. It had extremely poor shielding (so even hauling the thing around was dangerous) and no abort function. If it was fired, it would go off. And if it didn't go far enough, you were screwed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davy_C...lear_device%29

The Fat Man from Fallout is objectively a terrible idea. A man-portable (not crew-served) nuclear weapon launched via catapult on the battlefield. The only thing that makes it work is the game mechanics.

CalMeacham 01-30-2017 07:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by asterion (Post 19961965)
The Fat Man from Fallout is objectively a terrible idea. A man-portable (not crew-served) nuclear weapon launched via catapult on the battlefield. The only thing that makes it work is the game mechanics.

The Wikipedia article notes the similarity between the Davy Crockett and the Fat Man.

muldoonthief 01-30-2017 08:01 AM

A phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range is ideal for home defense, but can be very difficult to find.

RickJay 01-30-2017 08:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by muldoonthief (Post 19962061)
A phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range is ideal for home defense, but can be very difficult to find.

Hey, just whatcha see, pal.

Just Asking Questions 01-30-2017 08:30 AM

Next Gen "dustbuster" phasers. There appears to be no aiming mechanism at all, not even a rudimentary bump on top to aim by. I'm not convinced the beam even comes out in the same direction each time. It seems to be controlled more by the special effects folks than the actual internal mechanism. :)

Steve MB 01-30-2017 08:45 AM

My favorite is the lampshade hanging on the Goa'uld staff weapon:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jack O'Neill
This (holds up staff weapon) is a weapon of terror. It's made to intimidate the enemy. This (holds up P90 SMG) is a weapon of war. It's made to kill the enemy.


RealityChuck 01-30-2017 08:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions (Post 19962123)
Next Gen "dustbuster" phasers. There appears to be no aiming mechanism at all, not even a rudimentary bump on top to aim by. I'm not convinced the beam even comes out in the same direction each time. It seems to be controlled more by the special effects folks than the actual internal mechanism. :)

It good design. It's just piss poor tactics. Trying to am a phaser is like trying to aim a machine gun: why bother?

The way to use the phasers is to wave them back and forth in the general direction of the enemy. The beams are traveling at the speed of light; no one is going to dodge that.

scr4 01-30-2017 08:54 AM

The Death Star has a more inexplicable flaw - while it can travel interstellar distances in a matter of days, it takes hours to get to the other side of a planet.

Maus Magill 01-30-2017 09:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scr4 (Post 19962190)
The Death Star has a more inexplicable flaw - while it can travel interstellar distances in a matter of days, it takes hours to get to the other side of a planet.

"I say we're in range now." - What Tarkin should have said.

gnoitall 01-30-2017 09:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RealityChuck (Post 19962163)
It good design. It's just piss poor tactics. Trying to am a phaser is like trying to aim a machine gun: why bother?

The way to use the phasers is to wave them back and forth in the general direction of the enemy. The beams are traveling at the speed of light; no one is going to dodge that.

Unless you're a Scalosian all hopped up on whatever radiation-induced weirdness makes them move faster than the Flash on meth. Then you can sidestep a phaser II beam just fine.

gnoitall 01-30-2017 09:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Maus Magill (Post 19962219)
"I say we're in range now." - What Tarkin should have said.

While it's true that a Grand Moff doesn't have to be reasonable or patient, it doesn't make the attack on Yavin IV practical until it's actually practical. The Death Star had to get around Yavin, the gas giant primary, to get a shot at the inhabited moon.

I suppose he should have had the on-duty navigator spaced* for not bringing the Death Star out of hyperspace with a clear line of fire. Seems like orbital insertion planning is a serious training shortfall in the Imperial Fleet.

*He even could have used Darth Vader's line: "You have failed me for the last time."

Intergalactic Gladiator 01-30-2017 09:50 AM

Maybe they had to come out of hyperspace on the other side of Yavin. Flying through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, you know.

Darren Garrison 01-30-2017 09:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gnoitall (Post 19962323)
While it's true that a Grand Moff doesn't have to be reasonable or patient, it doesn't make the attack on Yavin IV practical until it's actually practical. The Death Star had to get around Yavin, the gas giant primary, to get a shot at the inhabited moon.

I believe he was alluding to this.

The Stainless Steel Rat 01-30-2017 09:59 AM

Both Stars (Trek and Wars) have all these advanced ships with these ultra-modern weapons, but when they engage each other it's always in sighting distance of the other ship, a few thousand miles at most. You'd think that someone would have developed weapons that worked a long distances by now...which they have, no reason phasers or turbo lasers only have a limited range.

Jonathan Chance 01-30-2017 10:19 AM

My big issue with the whole Death Star Yavin IV thing is why didn't someone say, "Fuck it, blow up the gas giant."

I don't know what it would do to an orbiting moon but I'm willing to bet it won't be anything good.

Chronos 01-30-2017 10:26 AM

You're assuming that the destructive capacity of the Death Star is "One planet", regardless of size. Just because it can destroy an Earth-sized world doesn't mean that it can destroy a gas giant.

Speaking of Death Stars, the Starkiller Base from Ep. 7 has a big advantage over the original, in that it can fire through hyperspace, meaning that you don't have to bring it to the target. But it still needs to be hyper-capable, because each shot uses up a star, and so you need to bring it to a new star every time you fire it.

AtomicDog 01-30-2017 10:44 AM

The Ultimate Nullifier. Destroys not only its target but its wielder, with the potential to destroy the universe. So what was Galactus going to use it for?

Jophiel 01-30-2017 10:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chronos (Post 19962434)
Speaking of Death Stars, the Starkiller Base from Ep. 7 has a big advantage over the original, in that it can fire through hyperspace, meaning that you don't have to bring it to the target. But it still needs to be hyper-capable, because each shot uses up a star, and so you need to bring it to a new star every time you fire it.

Yeah, I was thinking about that. There's a lot of stars in the galaxy but they're not exactly conveniently placed by one another. And sometimes the closest star is going to be one you want to still be around later. That's a lot of shuffling around for bullets.

Maus Magill 01-30-2017 11:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darren Garrison (Post 19962351)
I believe he was alluding to this.

Close - There was one where he just blew up Yavin.

CalMeacham 01-30-2017 11:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AtomicDog (Post 19962478)
The Ultimate Nullifier. Destroys not only its target but its wielder, with the potential to destroy the universe. So what was Galactus going to use it for?

Possibly he was just keeping it there so no one else would use it. Its origin is never explained, IIRC. If I knew that one of the few things in the universe that could destroy me existed, I'd want to keep an eye on it.

Darren Garrison 01-30-2017 11:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Maus Magill (Post 19962570)
Close - There was one where he just blew up Yavin.

Yeah, that's the one I thought the link was, didn't even realize that there was a different version. And they might as well. Blowing up a gas giant is only a couple of orders of magnitude more idiotic than blowing up a planet.

tonyfop 01-30-2017 12:49 PM

Question: If Yavin was a gas giant, couldn't they just shoot through the top few layers and hit the moon behind it? Why wait for visual, or do they have no over-the horizon capability?

Steve MB 01-30-2017 02:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tonyfop (Post 19962863)
Question: If Yavin was a gas giant, couldn't they just shoot through the top few layers and hit the moon behind it? Why wait for visual, or do they have no over-the horizon capability?

If the moon is close enough to the planet's edge to be an achievable shot through "the top few layers" (instead of just blocked outright by the gas giant's bulk), a small shift sideways would give them a clear shot, so they might as well wait for that.

Chronos 01-30-2017 02:59 PM

Keep in mind, too, that the Death Star was relatively untested, only having ever made one full-power shot before that. So they probably weren't entirely sure what it would do to the gas giant, or how much matter would be sufficient to block it. At worst, a hit on the gas giant might have caused an explosion or other reaction which might damage the station.

msmith537 01-30-2017 03:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Stainless Steel Rat (Post 19962353)
Both Stars (Trek and Wars) have all these advanced ships with these ultra-modern weapons, but when they engage each other it's always in sighting distance of the other ship, a few thousand miles at most. You'd think that someone would have developed weapons that worked a long distances by now...which they have, no reason phasers or turbo lasers only have a limited range.

The weapons don't seem all that powerful either. Even when the shields are down, the worst a photon torpedo or phaser seems to do is maybe put a cannonball hole in the hull and short out some control panels.

A modern anti-ship missile or torpedo will basically do this to a warship. These guys are firing anti-matter bombs at each other.

mixdenny 01-30-2017 03:11 PM

I always thought the Star Wars laser cannons were silly. Speed of light weapon that has no targeting and has to be aimed from a WWII ball turret, like a B52.

Dennis

DrDeth 01-30-2017 03:13 PM

Blasters and Phasers dont seem to be any much better than modern small arms. Except Phasers can stun.

Dale Sams 01-30-2017 03:15 PM

Fan-wank on some of these.

Phasers don't move at the speed of light. In "Q-Who" they move as slow as a camera pans even.

Star Trek ships clobbering each other in visual range? My fan-wank is some kind of anti-weapon warfare means they HAVE to get that close.

Starkiller. Why does everyone assume it drained the entire star? (I mean it may have but that wasn't what I thought on initial viewing) I thought it just 'dimmed' the star, and the star would eventually return to normal.

Dale Sams 01-30-2017 03:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrDeth (Post 19963348)
Blasters and Phasers dont seem to be any much better than modern small arms. Except Phasers can stun.

As said above...in theory a phaser would be as effective as a "Death flashlight" Hell they even have a wide beam setting.

But I can only recall it being used once to sweep a group of people. That crappy second season TNG ep with the mute diplomat.

Morbo 01-30-2017 03:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrDeth (Post 19963348)
Blasters and Phasers dont seem to be any much better than modern small arms. Except Phasers can stun.

Blasters can stun too, which IIRC was used exactly one time.

Skywatcher 01-30-2017 03:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by asterion (Post 19961965)
The Fat Man from Fallout is objectively a terrible idea. A man-portable (not crew-served) nuclear weapon launched via catapult on the battlefield. The only thing that makes it work is the game mechanics.

Nuka Grenades in 4 aren't much better. Better be sure they won't be coming back! Learned this the hard way having played around with them in 3 and never got injured by bad bounces.

Finagle 01-30-2017 03:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrDeth (Post 19963348)
Blasters and Phasers dont seem to be any much better than modern small arms. Except Phasers can stun.

Well, Phasers are intelligent weapons. They can heat a rock to glowing heat or, just as easily, completely disintegrate a person leaving no residue, depending on the current need :-)

I once read an article (Larry Niven? Isaac Asimov?) on the whole idea of laser pistols. Apparently, not a really great idea. If the other guy is wearing the right color garment, it might just (briefly) reflect off. And you don't get a nice hole when you shoot someone -- you get, at the cost of a massive expenditure of energy, a messy sort of steam explosion. Hard to see any real benefit vs passing a piece of high velocity steel or lead through the same object. Maybe for long distances, you don't have to worry about windage or gravity, but you do have to worry about diffraction and beam spreadage. Also, if there are any specular surfaces around, you could put your eye out.


Also, I wouldn't want to be *anywhere* around a variable sword or any other type of monofilament infinitely sharp weapon unless I was wearing a protective suit, because the mere idea of fighting or even being in the same room with a flailing length of "cut anything in half" gives me the willies.

Blue Blistering Barnacle 01-30-2017 03:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mixdenny (Post 19963343)
I always thought the Star Wars laser cannons were silly. Speed of light weapon that has no targeting and has to be aimed from a WWII ball turret, like a B52.

Dennis

A lot of Star Wars "silly" stuff is what makes it so good. Yes, it needs a LOT of fan-wonking, but...

Not a great show if everyone is blowing up everyone else from bunkers and ships so far away no one sees anything.

The WWII turrets with flash-zip-bang and screeching fighters were way cool. I fan-wonked the noise by imagining that they had wired the ships to provide better auditory feedback.

But it was pretty cool how a farmhand or pilot could basically take their ships and droids apart, maybe slap on a patch or modification, put it back together, and off you go...

It's a return to pirate movies and a retreat from 2001: a Space Odyssey.

I guess my point is that things ought to be a bit silly.


(BTW- despite my above post, I hated the episode VII planet buster. What!? a biggerer betterer planet buster? What will they think of next?)

Trinopus 01-30-2017 04:06 PM

Another real-life story: in an autobiography of a WWII B-29 pilot, the author wrote of accidentally dropping all his bombs...while the plane was stationary on the field. He pushed the wrong button.

Later re-designs shielded the button.

RadicalPi 01-30-2017 04:26 PM

The weapons in Galaxy Quest look suspiciously like submarine sandwiches with triggers.

Ethilrist 01-30-2017 04:27 PM

TOS phasers had five settings: Heat, Stun, Disrupt, Dematerialize and Overload. On a slide selector. Try to set it to "make the wall go away" in the middle of a firefight and... boom.

Drum God 01-30-2017 04:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Trinopus (Post 19963506)
Another real-life story: in an autobiography of a WWII B-29 pilot, the author wrote of accidentally dropping all his bombs...while the plane was stationary on the field. He pushed the wrong button.

Later re-designs shielded the button.

So, how did that not leave him in a crater afterward? How were the errant bombs cleaned up without blowing a hole in the tarmac?

BeepKillBeep 01-30-2017 04:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RadicalPi (Post 19963553)
The weapons in Galaxy Quest look suspiciously like submarine sandwiches with triggers.

Oh great now I want a sub for supper.

snfaulkner 01-30-2017 05:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drum God (Post 19963587)
So, how did that not leave him in a crater afterward? How were the errant bombs cleaned up without blowing a hole in the tarmac?

I think the detonators arm themselves from an impeller on the nose of the bomb. Falling a few feet wouldn't be enough to arm themselves.

Ethilrist 01-30-2017 05:07 PM

I bet it was enough to make the ground crew wet themselves, though...

Alessan 01-30-2017 05:15 PM

Are SW blasters laser weapons? I always assumed that they fired charged particle beams.

Declan 01-30-2017 05:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BeepKillBeep (Post 19961960)
This is not so. The Death Star was bristling with turbo laser and blaster batteries. We even see them in the movies. The Death Star definitely did not need escort ships.

The DS was armed to hold off capital ships, not fighter attacks. Even when the republican forces started their attack run, they only had 30 x and y wings, so when Darth takes it to them, they only had maybe four or five ties on screen, when they should have had 10 or 20 squadrons hitting the republicans in a meeting engagement, even before they got within range of the DS.

The only thing that we can conclude from this, is that the DS was designed to be assaulted by Imperial forces, should the commander of said DS go rogue and reach for the purple. As that worthy would have been the second most powerful man in the galaxy, with no apparent fail safes.


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