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What do lasguns fire?
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Old 05 Jun 2008, 22:31   #1 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default What do lasguns fire?

I'm writing a book at the moment about the Elysian 23rd on Taros and I want to get all the details right. Sounds like a dumb question I know, but does anyone know what las weapons actually fire? The Imperial Munitorum manual describes it as an explosive energy blast, but In my understanding, cutting lasers focus intense light into a single point, generating enormous heat...nothing explosive there.

Additionally, the Imperial Muntorum manual describes long las sniper rifles as the marksman's weapon of choice over a needle rifle as it requires more skill to use effectively. But if the laser weapons of the 41st millenium fire conventional laser beams as we understand them, wouldn't that make the needle rifle harder to use on account of the effect of the coriolis effect, gravity, drift, crosswind wind etc.? On a similar note, why are Imperial fighters not equipped exclusively with lascannons for dogfighting? Wouldn't that eliminate the need for deflection estimations?

Here's another question - If the lasgun does indeed fire a laser beam, is it considered to be visible? I've read in Gaunts Ghosts and whatnot about dirty red beams and bright white beams, but at the same time you've got references to snipers taking measures to conceal their muzzle flash...so why is the flash relevant if there's a honking great shaft of light connecting with the shooter?
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Old 05 Jun 2008, 22:46   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do lasguns fire?

Right, here's the answer as best I can give it.

The Lasgun "bullet" is a confined beam of laser energy that causes massive thermal damage to whatever it hits. The shot extremely heavy (for light), and thus is relatively slow. This also means it is not easily reflected or refracted. In other words, it works more like a bullet than a laser.

As to how visible the shot is, they are going to be moving very fast. If they are visible, it will be from behind Tracker-style.

I don't personally buy in to the "beam" imagery; all Lasweapons are described has having a fixed number of "shots" per magazine / battery, meaning there must be a distinct cut-off.
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Old 05 Jun 2008, 22:51   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do lasguns fire?

From what I've gathered, las weapons, in theory, would be capable of beam shots. However, because of the relatively massive capacitors that need charging and overheating concerns, they never do fire that way. And because they are closer to bullets than light, as Wargamer suggested, they do experience ranging concerns and the coriolis effect and all that jazz.

I think in Gaunt's Ghosts it mentions that they have recoil, too.

Also, as for air combat, could Autocannons have proximity rounds, for example? So they explode if you get a couple feet away, still doing some damage. And as for fuel tanks, I think an explosive autocannon round would do much more than a laser, especially when the fuel tank is self-sealing.
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Old 05 Jun 2008, 23:37   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do lasguns fire?

Oh ok, so it's not a single sharp beam of laser light then; las bolts do have a mass and they're not conventional lasers at all? They're affected in similar ways to conventional ballistic projectiles?

I know Dan Abnett is not exactly the definitive source for consistent canon, so everything written must be taken with a pinch of salt.

Thanks then.
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When all was finished, the battlefield was a smoking crater. UDC, Valoran, US Army, Tau, the Nazis, a random pirate ship, and a bunch of ninjas, all were enemies to the Vulture. All were turned into scrap metal. Or plastic. Depends which game system you play.
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Old 05 Jun 2008, 23:55   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do lasguns fire?

Yes. From Abnett, they behave much more like projectiles than lasers, with mass and all. I havn't read anybody else's work from official BL stuff, but its safe to assume its some sort of concoted sci-fi light-but-not-light type of thing.

As for writing; yes, you have to aim, it takes time to arrive at its target, and is affected by windage and all that stuff. From what I've read.

Slightly related; Tom, are you going to enter the summer story contest this year?
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Old 06 Jun 2008, 06:02   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do lasguns fire?

Modern cutting lasers, the type used in laser engraving, laser cutting, and drilling operations produce so much heat they burn stock off the workpiece, you are correct. However, there's also the chance of a laser, if it had hugely fantastic power output beyond any kind of power generation we have to day, of heating the material up so quickly it cracks or shatters before it can expand, kind of the way a porcelain plate out of the oven will explode into tiny fragments if you pour iced water over it.

There are chemically-powered lasers, as well that the US Military were trying to put onto 747s as part of an anti-missile defense system. I forget where I've heard of 'em, probably Popular Mechanics or some sci-fi magazine back when I was in elementary school, but they have a limited number of charges. One of the theories I had as to why the Las Cannons can only fire as quickly as they do was either because A) They can only sustain charges for so long before overheating and rendering the weapon useless, B) someone who isn't very disciplined, under stress cannot be trusted with fully automatic fire to not fire rapidly and drain his weapon in the first two seconds of the encounter.

That said, if the las-guns' beams take time to reach their target, then we can assume laser is a nickname or a misnomer, and/or the writers didn't do their homework.
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Old 06 Jun 2008, 06:52   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do lasguns fire?

Lascannon power cells also usually need to be replaced after every shot in the infantry borne version. The amount of extra weight and space you'd need to carry a generator big enough to power lascannons on a small plane for a significant duration would be impractical/impossible.
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Old 06 Jun 2008, 06:57   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do lasguns fire?

From reading about lasguns throughout my long 40k career, I've come to the conclusion that they just aren't real laser weapons. As others have said, they're described to have a recoil and stopping power. The lasbolts act like bullets. I'm convinced that they aren't real lasers, but are more like some sort of particle weapon, like star wars blasters.
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Old 06 Jun 2008, 09:13   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do lasguns fire?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordan
Lascannon power cells also usually need to be replaced after every shot in the infantry borne version. The amount of extra weight and space you'd need to carry a generator big enough to power lascannons on a small plane for a significant duration would be impractical/impossible.
Well, if you read Dan Abnetts book about flying called... (Forgot the name hang on..) Double Eagle. then you will see that the ships do have on board Las Cannons, but they have very few shots, then they switch to quad auto cannons
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Old 06 Jun 2008, 09:26   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: What do lasguns fire?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris..Nuff said.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordan
Lascannon power cells also usually need to be replaced after every shot in the infantry borne version. The amount of extra weight and space you'd need to carry a generator big enough to power lascannons on a small plane for a significant duration would be impractical/impossible.
Well, if you read Dan Abnetts book about flying called... (Forgot the name hang on..) Double Eagle. then you will see that the ships do have on board Las Cannons, but they have very few shots, then they switch to quad auto cannons
Thunderbolts and Lightnings both have battery power for thirty shots. In Double Eagle the pilots primarily use lascannons for dogfighting, though Imperial Armour 1 would have us believe autocannons are the weapon of choice for dogfighting; lascannons for strafing runs. There's just no consistency between authors. Gah, well I suppose the Thunderbolt would be a far less interesting plane if it only had las weapons. I think the guns are what make it so damn cool. As Dan Abnett put it, Thunderbolts are armed with "a snout full of killware".

Alright, I guess I have something I can use now...in fact it seems apparent that if anything, I have great poetic license to do whatever I please. Cheers.

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Slightly related; Tom, are you going to enter the summer story contest this year?
No, I'm not. I want to concentrate all my literary efforts on finishing my book, with the ultimate aim of getting it published.
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When all was finished, the battlefield was a smoking crater. UDC, Valoran, US Army, Tau, the Nazis, a random pirate ship, and a bunch of ninjas, all were enemies to the Vulture. All were turned into scrap metal. Or plastic. Depends which game system you play.
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