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Analysis of Imperial technology
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Old 30 Oct 2006, 10:01   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Ui
 
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Default Analysis of Imperial technology

Just how does Imperial military equipment stack up against real-world systems?

I didn't think there was enough information to make a meaningful comparison, but in this thread, Dra'Tuisich-Novae pointed out that the Imperial Armour books provide the appropriate technical specifications. In particular, the following quote concerning the Land Raider:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imperial Guard Update 2002
ARMOUR: 91 - 95 mm
(2 ceramite layers, 1 titanium/plasteel layer, 1 adamantium layer, 1 thermoplas layer. Equivalent to 365mm of conventional steel)
The equivalent thickness of conventional steel sounds a lot like Rolled Homogeneous Armour equivalent (RHAe), which is used in measuring the protectiveness of real tank armour. For comparison, a T-90, a current Soviet tank, has front armour equivalent to 800 mm RHAe against kinetic penetrators, or 1250 mm against shaped charges. The Land Raider, then, seems to be less well-armoured than modern tanks.

Imperial Armour 1 also specifies the thickness of the Leman Russ's armour as 40-200 mm. Presumably that describes the variation - the weakest parts have only 40 mm, while critical components are protected by a full 200 mm. If we assume that the Leman Russ's armour is equally effective per unit thickness to the Land Raider's, its armour ranges from 150-800 mm RHAe. This would probably make it superior to the Land Raider against frontal attack, but still slightly inferior to the T-90.

I've also been pointed towards a quote from one of the 40k novels which provides us with an additional basis for comparison:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Honour Guard, pages 182-183
When it fired, the breech of the main gun hurtled back into the turret space with one hundred and ninety tonnes of recoil force.
Apparently this tank was a Leman Russ Conqueror, which has a barrel length of 2.42 metres according to Imperial Armour 1. With these statistics, we can calculate the energy of the projectile, like so:

The force of the recoil was 190 tonnes, or about 1.9*10[sup]6[/sup] Newtons. We will assume that this is the same as the magnitude of the force on the projectile, by Newton's third law. This force is exerted over a distance of 2.42 metres before it ceases, so the amount of work done on the projectile is equal to the force multiplied by this distance, or 4.5 megajoules. Since the projectile was initially at rest, this is the kinetic energy of the projectile as it leaves the muzzle.

There are a couple of problems with this analysis. One is that 190 tonnes may have been the peak recoil, rather than the average. Another is that the recoil includes the effects of accelerated muzzle gases as well as the round itself. Both of these mean that the figure of 4.5 MJ is likely to be an overestimate. I'd put the real figure at about 3 MJ, judging by figures for recoil from muzzle gases that I've seen.

For comparison, let's look at the depleted-uranium M829A2 round fired from the Rheinmetall L44 on the M1A1 Abrams. The penetrator has a mass of 4.9 kg and a muzzle velocity of 1680 ms[sup]-1[/sup], for a kinetic energy of 7 MJ. And that's not counting the mass of the sabot.

The Conqueror's main gun isn't as powerful as those of the other Leman Russ variants. The Vanquisher (Gryphonne IV pattern), by contrast, has a 6.5 metre barrel. Assuming the same calibre and gas pressure as the Conqueror, that gives it a muzzle energy of about 8 MJ, which is on par with modern guns.

It seems that, in general, Imperial tanks are somewhat less armed and armoured than their modern-day equivalents. In terms of general capabilities, I'd put them on par with Western tank designs of the 1980s, except in their maneouvreability: Imperial Armour specifies the maximum speed of most Leman Russ variants as around 30-40 kph on roads, which is slow even by the standards of WW II.

Does anyone else have any passages or scraps of background material from which we can extrapolate the performance of 40k technologies?
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Old 30 Oct 2006, 10:24   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analysis of Imperial technology

I would ask people to view this information as "hollywood" statistics.

In other words, they are made to look good, not to be accurate.


The Land Raider armour, for example. It's 95mm thick (about as thick as your hand is wide), and equivalent of 365mm armour. The point of that is to make you go "wow, that's good armour!"

It's not going to be realistic, in the same way that cars don't really explode when they fall off a cliff... or how you can't actually make jumps Dukes of Hazard style without totalling the car.

The technical specs are a way for people who don't actually go out and study real armour to enjoy cool-looking info.
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Old 30 Oct 2006, 11:43   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analysis of Imperial technology

Indeed, because you have to presume, the guys at FW realise that they are making their tanks inferior to modern armour, therefore, either they did it because a LR is supposed to be weaker than a modern tank, or, and more likely, they do it as real world comparisons are irrelevant, though they make good reading, and it is to make you think "Wow".


And Wargamer's right - I jumped my car DoH style over a bridge, and the engine fell out....... not wise.
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Old 30 Oct 2006, 16:41   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analysis of Imperial technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wargamer
I would ask people to view this information as "hollywood" statistics.
In other words, they are made to look good, not to be accurate.
This is a big problem with 40k. Most of the stuff would be laughed out of the room in real military. But there is a simple reason for this. I believe ground war in 40k is stuck to time before nuclear weapons. 40k in general is like science fiction written before WWII. Huge armies, big guns, tough armor, giant war machines. Except it is purely ridiculous from todays point of view. After the developement of nuclear weapons there would be no point in making Titans. They are simply too big fire magnets, and can be nuked. In the same way 40k shows aircraft roles being small, even though by the end of WWII it was clear they are a major part of military.

Imperial vehicles, compared to modern, are hopelessly outdated, even obsolete. However, if you would view it with the eyes of person living in 1930s, or 5 year old child, it would be the most powerful and coolest thing ever. They either would be unable to imagine anything that could beat it, and simply take it as the greatest things in warfare.

On an interesting note, Imperial tech does seem to be quite good on infantry level, in the form of bionics, lasgun (because of possible recharge on field, not power), armor and most handfeld weaponry. 40k tech seems to have gone in direction if cannons and energy weapons instead of missiles and rockets like real world. This is propably supply issue, energy cells and grenades are easier to make then guided missiles.

Of course, the thing also continues in BFG too. It is all made up with big numbers and no realism. (has anyone ever wondered how imprial escorts have crew of 1000 is 1km long ship, when engines take up to two thirds of space, and ammo and guns propably atleast 20 % given the shape of imperial ships?)

Honestly, in real life the 40k stuff would either becompletely superior (power armor for infantry) or totally obsolete (heavy tank that would be blown up by infantryman with LAW or APC ).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abanim
Imperial Armour 1 also specifies the thickness of the Leman Russ's armour as 40-200 mm. Presumably that describes the variation - the weakest parts have only 40 mm, while critical components are protected by a full 200 mm. If we assume that the Leman Russ's armour is equally effective per unit thickness to the Land Raider's, its armour ranges from 150-800 mm RHAe. This would probably make it superior to the Land Raider against frontal attack, but still slightly inferior to the T-90.
I would assume the Leman Russ is the "conventional" armor the Landraider is measured against, As land raider is supposed to be a better tank.
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Old 31 Oct 2006, 02:04   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analysis of Imperial technology

I should imagine that simple 'thickness of armour' is probably a mistake, or simply an oversight. I'd be tempted to suggest that, applying holywood physics, modern day tanks would not get a shot of any worthy in against a Leman Russ, let alone a Land Raider.

The simple truth of the matter is that they do not think things through when writing them. And sense, as we well know, the fluff and background is extremely prone to change, we can safely assume that it is 'supposed' to be better, even if it isn't actually better as literally described.

LordDemon: Would you like to put your "modern day vehicles" against a Lascannon? As I say: the fluff, and certainly the wargame rules, are typically largely irrelevant. It can be safely assumed that if the Imperium of 40k was worse than we are today, then it simply wouldn't be anymore...

LR (russ or raider) typically >> anything today

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Old 31 Oct 2006, 08:46   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analysis of Imperial technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xisor
And sense, as we well know, the fluff and background is extremely prone to change, we can safely assume that it is 'supposed' to be better, even if it isn't actually better as literally described.
Do we have any basis for that judgement? I see a few specific technical statistics, and an abundance of general themes (tactics, design, etc) which all point towards the Imperium's ground forces being slightly inferior to conventional armies of today. Can you supply a quote, no matter how obscure, suggesting that Imperial vehicles are superior to their modern equivalents? The only such evidence that I've seen so far is a thousand unsubstantiated assertions like this one:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xisor
LR (russ or raider) typically >> anything today
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Old 31 Oct 2006, 09:51   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analysis of Imperial technology

Well, consider the opposition.


Eldar are advanced... amazingly advanced. Necrons are as well. Heck, Tau make us look stone-aged too. If the Imperium really was using junk from the 1920s, mankind would be extinct by now.


Clearly, the Imperium can fight against foes that would obliterate our modern military forces without breaking a sweat. Let's not start quoting stat-lines here, let's just look at what we know. Take the Eldar... the Wraithlord is all but immune to Bolters, which are rocket-propelled grenades for all intents and purposes. Nothing short of a tank can dent it. Bright Lances make a mockery of everything, D-tech sucks bits of the target into another dimension, their fighters can turn on a pin, literally, and their main battle tank can engage at superior height and speed than a helicopter gunship!


There is also, as I have stated before in arguments like this, "Omissions for sake of Gaming". There's a reason "Bomb from orbit" is not an option in 40K; because it would be a turn 1 win for the guy doing the bombing. You must sacrifice realism for the sake of gaming. Even "realistic" wargames don't allow you to field an army composed entirely of air-strikes, ICBMs and "Empty Battlefield" combatants... no, you have to fight up close. Even if it's not realistic, you still have to do it.

So, in order to make a tabletop wargame, some realism must be sacrificed.

Now another theory I have is that many weapons are simply rendered useless. After all, what use is a guided missile if you can't lock on to the target? Against Eldar especially, all tactics seem to primarily revolve around firing as many shots in vaguely the right direction as you can, and praying something hits.

Now, consider this; how would you represent a "guided" weapon in 40K? I have always assumed that Hellstrikes and Hunter-Killer Missiles are meant to be "Guided", in that you lock on to the target, fire, and let it explode. Presumably, the use of Bs represents the difficulty in scoring a lock, or enemies employing chaff, flares, sensor-scramblers, etc. Tau Seekers usually do better, but again you rely on another unit acting as an independant designator, so if anything Tau "guided" tech is less accurate than Imperial... Bs 3 is always better than Bs 3 followed by Bs 5.


Let's see... what else... ah, the Imperial love of bombs and shells over missiles. I agree that this is down to ease of production. The Imperium is still based largely on STC technology, and it is made to create the most efficient weapons with whatever you can get. If your objective is to equip 30,000 soldiers and 500 tanks using nothing more advanced than a coal-burning steam engine, then I hardly think the STC will build you fusion generators and plasma-warheads... but it will tell you how to mix up something bloody nasty all the same.


Oh yes, on that note... Imperial tech doesn't break down. Well, not often. A lot of the stuff in the Guard is built with the description "This will be used by someone with an IQ of 60". The Lasgun is a great example; it may not be all that powerful, but it can be kicked, hit, burned, submerged, frozen, hacked, slashed and mauled by a Mastif... and odds are it'll keep working. The ammo clips can be recharged by throwing them in a fire for feth's sake! We have nothing, save maybe the AK-47, that comes close to that kind of reliability.

Likewise, the Leman Russ can be modified easily to operate on anything from Isolinear Fuel Rods to wood-burning boilers, and will function in anything from the atomic hell of Krieg to the frozen waste of Valhalla. The British army can't even get its tanks and guns to work in Iraq, so we'd be screwed.


Finally, has anyone considered the weaponry employed? What do we use? Bullets, bombs, missiles, shells... all of which the Imperium uses, and can counter.

What would a Challenger II do against an Executioner? How would our tanks fare against hits from a Plasma Destructor? Let's not even consider the horrors of Heavy Gauss Cannons or Tyranid Bio-Acidic rounds, let's just look at what the Imperium would lob at us. Could any of our tanks, or infantry, sustain laser attack? What about Melta-tech? How long would our tanks last against a concentrated blast from a pyro-promethium fuelled cooker? Titans are indeed worth considering... because nuking them isn't an option. Nuclear weapons have serious side-effects, and that's not even considering the implications of what the Imperium would do if we made it clear we wanted to fight with WMDs... a nuke is nothing compared to Exterminatus.

So, what could we do against a Titan? Die, probably. These things are built to be nigh on invincible. What would our weapons do against a Void Shield anyway? The Titan can pack all manner of weapons, from Vulcan Mega-Bolters and Turbo-Laser Destructors to Hellstorm Cannons and Plasma Annihilators. Whatever they point our way, we die.
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Old 31 Oct 2006, 10:34   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analysis of Imperial technology

Quote:
The British army can't even get its tanks and guns to work in Iraq, so we'd be screwed.
I take great offense at this seeing as our tanks and weapons do work in Iraq, sure the SA80 A1 was more prone to jam, however it was modified and upgraded, can the Imperium do that, no.

What would a lascannon do to a challenger 2??

easy about the same as it would to a russ or any other tank, possibly put a hole in the side of it.
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Old 31 Oct 2006, 10:51   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analysis of Imperial technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by shas o runil
I take great offense at this seeing as our tanks and weapons do work in Iraq, sure the SA80 A1 was more prone to jam, however it was modified and upgraded, can the Imperium do that, no.
Umm... yes, yes they can. There are countless references regarding Imperial forces retrofitting tanks to serve a new purpose... the Predator Annihilator, the Marauder Destroyer, the Thunderer... these are but three examples of vehicles being rebuilt for a new role. Heck, vehicles like the Ragnarok are scratch-built!

The Imperium is more than capable of adapting.

Quote:
What would a lascannon do to a challenger 2??

easy about the same as it would to a russ or any other tank, possibly put a hole in the side of it.
Except that, presumably, tanks in 40K are built with laser-weaponry in mind, and will have some form of protection against it. Our tanks have nothing but the thickness of their armour, and thick armour is not a sure-fire defence against most modern anti-tank guns, let alone whatever the 41st Millennium throws at you.
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Old 31 Oct 2006, 11:53   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Analysis of Imperial technology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wargamer
There is also, as I have stated before in arguments like this, "Omissions for sake of Gaming". There's a reason "Bomb from orbit" is not an option in 40K; because it would be a turn 1 win for the guy doing the bombing.
That's right. In fact, the entire 40k universe has a lot of unrealities specifically so that there can be colourful battles on the ground. Compared to the notion of a space-going civilisation having armies of soldiers with brightly-coloured uniforms and bayonets, it's really quite a minor foible for their tanks to be a few decades behind current standards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wargamer
Let's see... what else... ah, the Imperial love of bombs and shells over missiles. I agree that this is down to ease of production. The Imperium is still based largely on STC technology, and it is made to create the most efficient weapons with whatever you can get.
Yes - this is the best way of justifying the state of the Imperial Guard, for what it's worth. Their guns and vehicles aren't really at the peak of what their technology can theoretically produce - they're just the result of their standardised manufacturing procedures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wargamer
So, what could we do against a Titan? Die, probably. These things are built to be nigh on invincible.
If a Titan can be destroyed by a group of Land Raiders, then a smaller number of modern tanks could do the same job. An Abrams or a Challenger 2 is better armed, better armoured and faster than a Land Raider, based on the information available to us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wargamer
Except that, presumably, tanks in 40K are built with laser-weaponry in mind, and will have some form of protection against it. Our tanks have nothing but the thickness of their armour, and thick armour is not a sure-fire defence against most modern anti-tank guns, let alone whatever the 41st Millennium throws at you.
Well, modern tanks don't exactly rely on simply having thick armour. They have explosive reactive armour to disrupt incoming rounds, spaced plates to deflect shots and permit them to tumble, ceramic tiles to blunt penetrators, synthetic fibres to catch the fragments, foams to absorb shock waves and liners to prevent spalling. (They also use a technique that seems to have been lost by the 41st millenium, known as 'sloping the armour' so that shots don't hit it dead-on.)

On the other hand, they don't have any armour specialised to deal with laser weaponry. It wouldn't be too hard to produce, but I doubt that anybody will bother until anti-tank laser weaponry begins to look viable, which won't be for a while. The layers of Land Raider armour indicate that its armour is somewhat specialised, too. (Might the 'thermoplas' be a material with a high thermal capacity, for absorbing energy from lasers?) I'd expect 40k vehicles to be better-protected against laser weapons, compared to modern vehicles, than my earlier comparisons indicate.
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