I generally tried to stay out of the B5Tech.Com vs. BabTech-onthe.Net nerdfight, given that I had other nerdfights to engage in myself.  But while searching for something recently I discovered that the person running the B5Tech forum (presumably the B5Tech author) once decided to weigh in on Trek technology, including photon torpedoes, phasers, and ramming incidents.

The article I found was the one on torpedoes, and I bookmarked it because it had me laughing so hard.   For instance, "I cannot find a single scratch of visual evidence to suggest that they are used as anything but high-tech impactors which use an energy field to burn through their target and drain shields upon impact."  That was a rich quote.  I guess the antimatter is there for decoration?  "In ST-WOK Enterprise was hit by a PhoTorp fired by the Reliant, right near their bridge while their shields were down", says the author.   Apparently, sparks on the bridge concurrent with a torpedo hit shown on the viewscreen mean that the bridge itself has been hit directly!

Or, "In ST-TUC a cloaked BOP hit a Klingon D-7 type cruiser, holed the un-shielded D-7 but there was no evidence of a multi-megaton explosion, which would have turned the D-7 and Enterprise-A into confetti."   Who said Kronos One got its hull penetrated ("holed")?   And why exactly would multiple megatons turn the Enterprise-A into confetti?   No help with such questions comes from the author.  "In every episode of Trek, PhoTorps impact against shields, but rarely have we seen evidence of exterior explosions against shields."  Praytell, exactly what would produce the fiery explosion he's wanting?   The torpedo itself would be vaporized, but that's just a two-meter casing.  There's no physical requirement that it stick around and stay on fire upon the shield bubble in flame for the benefit of anyone watching.

Using other misunderstood/misrepresented normal examples or known small examples (e.g. "Alliances"[VOY2], but strangely not Star Trek V as far as I saw), the guy claims that there's no "multi-megaton PhoTorp" in evidence. 

To bolster his claim, he laughably goes to all the trouble of extensively calculating the speed of (and diagramming atop screen captures of) a torpedo that struck Excelsior in Star Trek VI, making the obvious point that "now we know that PhoTorps do not travel at a high enough velocity to produce a megaton yield impact during combat".

Good lord man, how many hours did it take for you to figure that out?   It's almost sad.  Did he honestly think people thought that?

He then tries to argue that though he believes "PhoTorps" have some sort of energy field that burns through shields and hull, this is not the same thing as a regular shield.  So, in his effort to argue against photon torpedo shields (but in favor of his hungry forcefield zappy things), he goes through all sorts of silliness, like ignoring "Half a Life"[TNG] outright.  Perhaps the funniest bit is his handling of the Doctor's shootdown of one of Voyager's own torpedoes in "Workforce"[VOY], when the Doctor (in ECH mode) intentionally phasers a torpedo to create a 'photonic shockwave'.   The B5 guy thus states "it is clear that they can be shot down {and} also clear that they are not shielded in such a way, by their normal function, as to make them Invulnerable to energy weapons."

Let's be very clear here.  The Doctor, piloting Voyager alone, launches torpedoes for the express purpose of shooting them.  Rather than conclude that the Doctor made it possible to shoot them (whether via timing a shield shutdown, knowing the shield frequencies, having a hole in the shields, or any similar known quantities), the B5 guy claims this is proof that they are basically unshielded.  He backs this up with the claim that one torpedo shot down another in ENT . . . as if torpedoes having shields means that these shields should be impossible to penetrate no matter the yield of the weapon being shot at them!

Sadly, it doesn't get any better from there.  His final conclusion is that photon torpedoes aren't used as "multi-megaton bombs" but only used for their impact (which he previously argued to be no greater than kilograms of TNT).  He says they can be used in a different mode for explosive yields in the kilotons or low megatons, but only at great range.  "Thus, Federation ships will most likely never switch from impactor mode to explosive mode unless they were more than 15 kilometers away from a Federation vessel... ranges which we have never seen used in combat for any Star Trek series."  (Except, y'know, when we have.)

Can you see why I was laughing? 

His methodology regarding phasers and ramming is no better.  Regarding phasers, he takes Mike Wong's 1-10TW crap as gospel, calculates poorly from a couple of drilling examples, and then when his figures don't match Wong's values he throws out his own figures.  With ramming, he takes Nemesis and concludes that 4.8 terajoules of KE is all that is needed to penetrate the Scimitar's shields, and presumably by extension that the torpedo weapons must be substantially less capable than that.  In other words, pure silliness.

Rather than hang his head in shame, he gives the "FINAL NOTE" that "These figures are totally consistent with the work of many other people on the web, including Mike Wong".

Dude, that's not anything to strive for.

Lemme just say that I still neither know nor care anything about the Babylon 5 nerdfight (if it's even still afoot, given that BabTech hasn't been updated since 2004), but unlike this guy, I at least have the sense not to start making proclamations about the content of other nerdfights when I don't know the first lick about what I'm talking about.  That said, though, if this is the quality of his methodology, I'd have to throw my hat in with BabTech.


Anonymous said...

RSA, what you say here is consistant with the impression I got of B5Tech back when I first discovered both it and BabTech whilst sniffing about on the Internet for the tech-specs of ships from sci-fis other than Trek and Wars because I was curious how Trek ships might fare against ships like those from Babylon Five or Battlestar Galactica.

Comparing BabTech and B5Tech's takes on the same incident (a Shadow Warship either getting blown up by ore surviving the explosion of a 500 megaton nuclear bomb, depending on who you ask), I noticed that whilst BabTech's arguemets seemed calm, clear and concise (rather like yours, RSA), B5Tech's invovled a a fair bit of yelling (some of it in all caps) and yielded much higher figures for the shield/hull resilliancy of a Shadow Warship than BabTech's did. In case you're wondering, BabTech pegged the hull resilliancy of the Warship at just over 60 megatons (meaning a single photon torpedo could destroy one easily), while B5Tech pegged it at 330+ megatons minimum

The higher figures from BabTech on their own I would have probably accepted as being valid, but the yelling and all-caps that acompanied them made me suspicious and ultimately made me think that BabTech had it right if only because they sounded more like people who could honestly say that they had it right...

I know you said you didn't want to get invovled in the B5Tech vs BabTech debate, but feel free to compare the two if you like...



Anonymous said...

By the way (same anon as above here), according to this website I also found back then, the Wave Motion Guns of the original BSG can only put out about 25 megatons (with 50 being a rather high-end figure), rendering them far less powerful than standard Federation weapons that can be readily fired in vollies... Check it out if you like...


Ilithi Dragon said...

A quick thought on Q'onos 1 (and very quick - I've tried five times now to make a long response to the blog over the last two weeks, and either lose it or get yanked away before I can finish it):

I would say that the ship almost certainly suffered a hull breach. The torpedoes were specifically targeted to take out the ship's artificial gravity generators, and it's unlikely that such a system (which we see to be highly robust throughout Trek) would be so thoroughly disabled by a pair of torpedoes that didn't even penetrate the hull.

Oh, another quick thought... Given this guy's apparent failure in grasping the physics of any kind of explosion in space, I can't help but suspect that he thought the nuke detonation cutscene in COD4: Modern Warfare 2 (where the shockwave of a kiloton-range warhead hitting D.C. shatters the ISS, which is sitting somewhere west of Texas (if not the west coast), and 300 km up in SPACE) was realistic.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Another thing to consider on the hull breach point (maybe short tidbits will let me get it all out).

We saw in TWoK that a closer-range phaser blast was sufficient to penetrate the hull of a refit Constitution-class Heavy Cruiser, which is (by volume) larger than the K'Tinga class Battlecruiser. Now, as Klingon ships tend to be 100% pure combat ships, unlike Fed ships, the K'Tinga is probably still more powerful than the Constitution, despite being smaller (my own calculations put the size-to-combat-power ratio at 3- or 4-to-1 in favor of Klingon ships over Fed ships in the TNG era), so Q'onos 1 can probably take a considerably heavier hit than the Enterprise before her hull is breached. That said, a torpedo is a considerably heavier hit than a phaser blast, even at close-range, and Klingon torpedoes apparently are VERY heavy hits, as demonstrated later in that same movie. We even see a Klingon torpedo fired from that same BoP that, after depleting the Enterprise's shields, blows completely through the E-A's saucer. Even if the torpedo struck a section of the hull that had already been weakened by a previous torpedo strike, it still had to blow through at least three decks and the undamaged hull on the dorsal side of the saucer, and possibly the undamaged hull on the ventral saucer. Even if the Q'onos 1's hull and armor was much thicker and more resilient than the E-A's hull, such a torpedo should still be able to penetrate it.

Author said...


It was two different 2MT bombs, not a 500MT bomb.


I've been flirting with the idea of doing some sort of timeline post of Federation/Klingon technological matters. For instance, ST3 to some extent and ST5 to a great extent feature effortless Klingon eavesdropping on Federation communications, though the same can be said for Epsilon IX and the Amar in TMP.

Maybe they got smarter post-Divergence? Maybe dumber? Or was it always give and take? Is the Negh'var badass or just big and therefore badass? Interesting stuff.

Anonymous said...

I observed that many claims of higher ends for B5 largely stem from bizarre interpretation of the words of those canonical "EU" books.
B5tech is notorious for wanking up figures as well.

I think Fivers largely left versusdom because more universes proved superior in many ways.
They didn't lose time coming with new and better numbers while enjoying the isolation of their hideout that so few people care about.

I wonder when they'll return with their new batch of hilarious claims though.

Author said...

Updated the main post with a direct link to B5Tech's torpedo posting, since I forgot to do so initially.

Anonymous said...

There is a simple explanation for such figures: all calculations on B5Tech site are done by none other that Mike Wong himself. Just in case you missed it.

Author said...

To the first anon, sorry I gave you short shrift, and yes I was thinking of the 2 megaton anti-blue-ship-whatzisname bombs rather than the anti-Shadow bomb you refer to. My bad.

To another Anon, regarding universe superiority . . . who really cares about such things? I would prefer a universe that's plausible (and for enjoyment, interesting) to one that really spanks everything else. Once you get one that spanks all the others, it starts breaking down internally because Capability A doesn't match Lack B.

Even Trek has this at times, like the NX being able to float around NYC but Voyager being one of the only ships capable of landing.

Anonymous said...

So a disciple of Wongless is trying to make Trek look bad, simply because his pet franchises yields are low? Sad.