Category:SFJ on weapons
General Comparison of Weapons See the [[Orders of Magnitude]] article for useful details on power outputs and energy consumption levels of various weapons systems. ==Light weaponry== ===Bolts and beams=== There are several key similarities and differences between hand weapons used by [[Star Trek]] and [[Star Wars]] factions. All Star Wars weapons and some Star Trek weapons share in common the feature of firing distinct bolts; however, some Star Trek weapons may also fire continuous beams (or autofired bolts frequent enough to seem a continuous beam). This is mainly an aesthetic differenc. ===Power levels=== The primary difference lies in the power of the weaponry at high settings. [[Blaster]]s have a per-shot yield that ranges from around the potency of a pistol to ~100 kilojoules, with peak firing rates similar to modern-day automatic weapons; meanwhile, the [[Cardassian phase disruptor rifle]]'s three-millisecond 4.7 [[joule|megajoule]] discharge represents the destructive power of a squad of stormtroopers firing several times. Even considering the relatively short time in which a blaster bolt impacts, the instantaneous power a blaster bolt delivers is at least an order of magnitude lower than an equivalent Star Trek weapon. The megajoule-range standard single bolt of a Trek rifle is roughly equivalent to the shots fired by a light assault vehicle (AT-ST), while a typical 1-2 frame long continuous burst, capable of mostly vaporizing a humanoid or creating a noticable explosive blast, rivals the standard shots of a heavy vehicle or even light fighter. Even a 22nd century [[Klingon]] disruptor appears quite destructive, although the plasma and phase rifles seen in [[ENT]] do not seem to have the sheer destructive power associated with later weapons. Earth weapons of the 22nd century have yet to make the revolutionary leap to phaser weapons made in the 10 years prior to [[TOS]]; Klingon weapons appear to have already made this leap. ===Flexibility=== Federation [[phaser]] rifles have an incredible array of settings, allowing them to double as entrenching tools, rock drills, emergency heaters, and demolition devices. This requires substantially more training to use than a standard Imperial blaster carbine or Cardassian phase disruptor rifle, but is otherwise the sign of a superior weapon. ==Large energy weapons== ===Bolts and beams=== As with hand weapons, Trek and Wars large energy weapons tend to be differentiated by being seen as beams and bolts, respectively, although this distinction is not as clear as with hand weapons. There are more Star Wars beam weapons fired by vehicles and ships, and more Star Trek bolt weapons fired by ships. Both TOS phasers and Star Wars turbolaser bolts have been seen to explode spontaneously at fixed distances as flak, although this feature has not been seen in any other category of Star Trek. One notable beam weapon in Star Wars behaves very Trekishly; the Death Star shoots a continuous beam that propagates at a significant fraction of c for a range not dissimilar to TOS weapons. It is echoed in this behavior by several prequel-era weapons. ===Power=== 23rd and 24th century capital grade Trek phasers regularly output gigaton-range blasts, giving them similar energy yields to the theoretical throw weight of an entire broadside by an Imperial Star Destroyer. Although this seems to be an expression of parity, ISDs do not appear to fire broadsides quite as continuously as Star Trek vessels fire their phasers. Indeed, ISDs do not appear to fire broadsides at all, limiting themselves to perhaps one large bolt every 5-10 seconds. This gives a notable firepower advantage to Trek ships, from the Constitution class forward. 22nd century Earth ships appear notably different. The NX class mounts three phase cannons, and its overall output through these weapons is low in terms of raw energy. It is difficult to determine an exact standing, but it can be considered certain that ISDs have stronger energy weapons, and mount far more of them. It is difficult to be precise, but it seems likely that the NX class's phase cannon firepower is comparable to the turbolaser firepower of a noticably smaller corvette. ===Speed, accuracy, and range=== Star Wars weapons also appear slower. As discussed at some length in the TESB and Notes sections, the bolt speed typically seen in the Wars movies is entirely too slow for weapons seen used against surface targets from orbit, and orbital targets from the surface. Even the flight time from surface to orbit, however, suggests that Trek has far faster beam weapons, while the fine accuracy of beam weapons demonstrated so clearly in TOS has no demonstrable analogue in real-life or Star Wars. In terms of range and accuracy, Star Wars weapons are comparable at best to those seen in Star Trek: Enterprise. Measured against the weapon ranges stated in later series, and in particular measured against the ability to strike at tens of thousands of kilometres, Star Wars ships fall far short, with capital ships engaging at hundreds of kilometres (ENT-scale ranges), with fighters firing (and being fired on) at kilometre ranges. ==Grenades and Explosives:== Those looking for remarkable visual and conceptual similarities between Wars and Trek need look no farther. The blue "boomas" of TPM look exactly like the photon grenades of TOS, while the thermal detonator of ROTJ seems to be a similarly destructive item. Both Trek and Wars use shaped charges, satchel charges, and grenades in a similar fashion. Grenades, in both cases, see noticeably little use in combat. ==Missiles== ===Frequency and role=== There is a clear departure of military design philosophies between Star Trek and Star Wars, and with regard to weapons, this is most clearly visible in terms of the use of missiles. In Star Wars, missiles are used primarily by fighters, most often for attacking larger ships, in a similar fashion to the microtorpedoes used by [[runabout]]s in DS9. The short blasts have brief power levels likely exceeding those of the heaviest turbolasers in use, but seem to have overall yields that fall short of a single heavy turbolaser bolt. Their primary use seems to be in the exploitation of weaknesses in shielding that fail to defend against missiles, or possibly in overwhelming shields with a brief but intense bursts. Missile weapons larger and more powerful than than fighter-grade proton torpedoes are seen occasionally in Star Wars, although rarely used. They nonetheless do not compare in range and power with the missile weapons used extensively in all eras of Star Trek. [[Photonic torpedo]]es, by contrast, are the best weapons the [[NX class]] carries, while later era ships' [[photon torpedo]]es rival heavy ships' phasers. To add insult to injury, photon torpedoes are heavily [[shield]]ed and can be repurposed as scientific probes and long-range personal transports. [[Quantum torpedo]]es and [[transphasic torpedo]]es are apparently superior to these in power, although not in subtlety; they may have a higher minimum yield. Other missiles are unusual, ranging from the high-energy [[plasma torpedo]]es of the Romulans to trilithium sun-destroying missiles to long range strategic warp capable missiles, representing a range and order of magnitude of power not seen in conventional Star Wars weapons. ===Yields=== The yield gap between a proton and a maximum yield photon torpedo is six full [[orders of magnitude]]. Even considering that photon torpedoes used against ships are likely to have 1-1.5 orders of magnitude less yield, they still outclass the heaviest missiles seen in the entire Star Wars saga. The gap in beam weapon firepower and overall power generation is much smaller than this. ===Range and accuracy=== The gold standard of accuracy is hitting a [[womp rat]]. Indications are that while a Star Wars fighter can hit a womp rat with proton torpedoes occasionally, a photon torpedo is accurate enough to nail a given womp rat from high orbit. ==Problems to ponder== There are a few interesting problems that crop up in analyzing fictional weapons portrayed on television or the movie theater. ===Speed and scale=== The speed photon torpedoes come out of the tube has little to do with how fast they have to be to strike targets 40, 50, 90, or 300 thousand kilometres away in a couple seconds; the speed turbolaser bolts fly at is slow enough to make even orbital bombardment seem fairly iffy. Even the ion cannon bolts seem a bit slow, considering the ability to peg orbital targets. This is a basic problem of depiction. If the weapon truly moves at a significant fraction of lightspeed, there would be little or nothing to see; a blur in a single frame and it's over. If it doesn't move that fast, it would be completely ineffectual against an opponent who did have fast weapons. ===Yields=== A truly high yield weapon should produce dramatic effects on inert objects... and very specific effects planetside. We rarely see those in either franchise. Dramatic effects are either absent or displayed in a distorted and unrealistic fashion, such as the enormous - but small - bloom in "[[Skin of Evil]]". ===General physics violations=== There are plain old physics violations from time to time, which we should ignore. For example, hand phasers bowl targets over on some settings, yet have absolutely no recoil for the user. When a "laser" bolt, moving far slower than light, strikes a metal hull in ROTS, there's a big orange fireball as of a gasoline explosion; we should not assume that the hull armor contained a combination of pressurized air and fuel. A gram of antimatter doesn't release any more than 180 terajoules when reacted with matter - being nowhere near enough to rip off the atmosphere of an Earthlike planet, as seen in TOS once. A torpedo or grenade or missile may generate an explosive effect that simply doesn't behave as an explosive effect should. ===Consistency problems=== Fiction is usually inconsistent. A weapon that behaves in one fashion in one movie or episode may behave differently in another, either in range, appearance, or effect. For these reasons, we're going to have to take everything we see and hear about ST and SW weapons with a grain of salt; the above conclusions are reasonable, but not the only possible set of conclusions that could be made. [[Category:SFJ overviews]]
Category:SFJ on weapons
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