Geeky Space Battle Overanalysis - Babylon 5: The Lost Tales

So, I’m bored. I’m a geek who can go nigh-OCD when it comes to analyzing battles in fiction. I want to overanalyze some space battles, and I figure B5: The Lost Tales is as good a place to start with as any. Spoiler spoiler spoiler lookawayohnoes.

The movie has really only one space battle, and it’s a hypothetical one at that, taking place in a technomage-induced dream. We see a force of EarthForce ships (two Warlock Destroyers, an Omega Destroyer, Starfury fighters, and various other ships) fighting a force of Centauri ships (mostly their Bird-of-Prey style attack cruisers, along with their crescent fighters). Long story short, the humans loose this battle (or will lose, or will not lose because it will never happen, eh, time travel makes things complicated), but it’s worth noting they got their punches in.

It starts off with a dogfight, the tried-and-true Aurora Starfuries fighting against the wicked looking crescent fighters the Centuari favor. Seems a bit weird that the humans are using the same space fighters for going-on 50 years, but whatever. These appear to have faster firing guns in any case. The human fighters fare poorly, though we see at least one Centauri fighter take a hit and go spinning out of control.

In the background, an involved battle is taking place, with several Centuari attack cruisers piling on against a Warlock Destroyer, blasting it to pieces. Just as this happens, one of the Centuari crusiers is blown apart itself by what we soon see is another Warlock, which then is attacked in turn by the Centauri ships. The last we see of this Warlock, it is being hammered and is spewing fire, but it still intact and firing back at its attackers, even firing a barrage of missiles at an off-screen target (possibly indicative of its imminent defeat, one last violent lash at its enemies). In the distant background, we can see a Centauri Primus battlecruiser duking it out with an Omega destroyer.

In all fairness, the humans don’t seem to be suffering from a particular tech disadvantage so much as just being outnumbered. The Centauri ships in question are rather regularly shown to be very effective warships, being fast and well-armed, not entirely unlike the White Stars used by the Rangers. The Warlock Destroyers used by the humans are shown to be powerful, able to dispatch one of their enemies in a single shot if given the chance, and both sides appear to still be using older warships (the Omega and the Primus are both older designs, and even the Centauri attack cruisers have been seen as far back as the Earth-Minbari War in at least one flashback).

It seems strange that the humans aren’t shown using the Thunderbolt Starfuries, a newer, more heavily armed variant on the Starfury design, which appeared on its way to be EarthForce’s primary frontline fighter in the later seasons of B5 and Crusade. If we assume that this is simply a hypothetical scenario used by Galen to show Sheridan in a way he’d understand what the war would be like, (I haven’t read the books, but we’ve never seen the Technomages do anything with time travel), then probably he only used ships that he was familiar with, and for whatever reason, just didn’t bother to learn enough about the Thunderbolts to make a convincing representation of them in the future. Maybe he just doesn’t like them. Maybe the B5 production staff had a limited budget, who knows.

So, anybody else have any thoughts, input on this, or perhaps my need for a more productive way to spend my time? :smiley:

One thing that always bugged me about Babylon 5 was how the various ships moved. They went to great pains to have the Earth ships obey the laws of physics. I liked that. One random scene from the series that I remember was an attack run by the EarthForce fighters. They accelerated on a line just off center of their target, cut the main thrusters, and used the ventral thrusters pivot in order to lay down sustained fire on the target as their momentum carried them past. Once clear, their momentum was making them travel backwards, and they engaged their main engines to brake and come back for a similar maneuver. That was cool as hell, because that is the way that a ship like that would work.

However, if it was an alien fighter, be it Centauri, Membari, whatever: those things would swoop like they were in an atmosphere and had wings. The writers tried to explain it in passing in a couple of the episodes with the fact that most alien technologies had artificial gravity and the humans did not, but if so, that’s still a bad tactic. You have artificial gravity! Why do you swoop through, and thereby create a very limited targeting window until your front facing weapons are not pointed in the right direction anymore? Good Lord, if you had that technological advantage you should be able to dance around your target like flies on a dying goat. Don’t swoop!

To be fair, there isn’t a lot the Minbari fighters NEED to make two passes on to take out. They’re remarkably well armed. I think Narn fighters use similar tactics to human fighters, just not as effectively (they’re big and bulky), and I’m not sure we ever really get a good look at Centauri fighters in an extended fight, but when we see EarthForce fighters training with Centauri tactics, they seem to use the same tricks, just more extreme (such as putting your fighter into such a sharp maneuver as to make you black out for a few moments in order to position yourself for a better shot).