Leaky Wounded Megawatts

"The Wounded" HD coverage at Ex Astris Scientia is here:  http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/observations/thewounded.htm

The high-def version of "The Wounded" now features weapons energy readings and shield effectiveness percentages, as well as a frequency attached to the rapid nadion effect.

Specifically, it seems the Cardassian warship that was destroyed fired a 700 MW coherent disruptor beam with a rapid nadion effect of 340 kHz.   Another image shows that the Phoenix is then seen to be hit with an estimated impact of 120 MW and a secondary impact (huh?) of 82 or 92 MW.

Another hit against shields shows a shield effectiveness percentage of 62% with a separate weapon penetration figure of 37% shown.

The megawattage numbers are consistent with the TNG Tech Manual and suggest that the beam weapons of a Cardassian ship are on the order of 75% as powerful as a shot from one of the larger arrays on the Galaxy Class, at least in the TNG-TM-iverse.

However, almost everyone agrees that you can't take the TNG TM values at face value, because they just don't fit.  For instance, the TNG TM suggests hand phasers are limited to ten kilowatts, and yet we see them perform tasks requiring dozens of megajoules of effective yield.   Moreover, in "The Mind's Eye"[TNG5], a phaser rifle is tested and, per Data, "energy cell usage remains constant at 1.05 megajoules per second."

Either phasers operate in the megajoule range at least, or else phaser rifles are suddenly 100 times more powerful than hand phasers . . . a rather unique concept which has never been indicated before.  And, of course, at TNG TM levels, this would put phaser rifles at 20% the power of a phaser emitter segment.  Even at 200 segments, at that point, you might as well just strap 1000 phaser rifles to the hull.   It'd probably take less room.

Similarly, if photon torpedoes were as powerful as the midrange claim of 64 megatons in the TNG TM and if shipboard phasers were, too, then even assuming it took a full second for a photon torpedo to release its energy, they would still be hundreds of millions of times more powerful than phasers . . . or, in other words, assuming a gigawatt discharge from the large saucer phaser array, it would take a sustained shot lasting about 8.5 years for the phasers to match the energy of the photon torpedo.  

Obviously, this is not what we saw in the show.

Of course, as noted by Mike DiCenso, the TNG TM gives figures ranging from 4.8 kilotons to 2.39 gigatons for photon torpedoes, depending on where you look.   Assuming a one-second detonation and energy release (which is, again, awfully slow), that puts torpedoes between 20,000 gigawatts and 9,999,760,000 gigawatts.  Using the "sustained phaser shot to match" standard, that's somewhere between 5.5 hours and 317 years . . . neither one of those figures matches the canon, either.

The point here is that I view the megawattage numbers as pretty useless.  As noted by Mike Okuda, though, we need not feel beholden to the new material, which is a blessing in this case.  Otherwise we'd be in Contradiction City, and I hate that place.

As for the other details, I'm not sure what to do with them.   The notion of shields allowing 1/3rd bleedthrough damage is certainly disconcerting . . . this would imply that a Tech Manual torpedo (where one figure gives 64 megatons) would involve over 21 megatons of energy striking the ship . . . 33 megatons using "Rise" figures, or up to 800 megatons using the highest TNG TM torpedo value.  That seems awfully messy, too.

I'm thinking at the moment that it's best to just pass on the new version of the scene altogether.


  1. Didn't the Cardassian ship have the Phoenix's prefix codes at that point, though? They were supposed to have been using those to try and penetrate her shields.

  2. TNG: Hero Worship
    DATA: Fracture points indicate that the energy burst came from a range of less than three thousand metres.

    PICARD: But that's a strategy consistent with a cloaked vessel. Romulan. Or Klingon. But we're quite a distance from either of their territories.

    That sounds like Disruptors are short range weapons?

  3. This might explain why the Federation barely noticed the war with the Cardassains? If the Cardis could barely hurt Federation ships then there wouldn't be much of a war from the Federation's point of view, and actually feel sorry for the Caris.

  4. Dragon, not sure about the prefix code timeline in reference to the images.

    Zwzn, I would think the idea is that a cloaked ship *can* sneak up to point-blank and fire, not that it *has* to. Cardassian disruptors from this very example fire at hundreds of thousands of kilometers.

    Noone, the Cardassians couldn't have been that outmatched.

    There's an excellent thread at StarfleetJedi in which your suggestion is discussed, and the basic premise regards a difference of two orders of magnitude. That, quite simply, makes no sense. It'd be like a BB gun army trying to take on a Desert Eagle army.


    I refer to the thread as excellent because it follows up with the duck blind 4.2 GW suggestion, as well as the 0.6 TW variance that was so improbably precise.

    Put simply, the numbers don't fly . . . somebody was trying to be cutesy with an old TNG TM and screwed up a great scene with unnecessary information made worse by the fact that it was simply incorrect.

  5. Personally, I've taken the TNG:TM figures and bumped them up from 5.1 MW to 510 TW per emitter. A good friend of mine did an approximate calculation of material vaporized by the E-D in their opening shot against the Cube in "Q Who?", and his estimate came to pretty close to 500 TW per emitter, once we calculated out how much energy each emitter discharge. Given that his estimated yield based on initial volume vaporization (not counting the extra volume vaporized by the NDF effect after the beam passed through) so I just assumed 510 TW per emitter, since it was close enough. This coincidentally puts the typical phaser shots observed by the Enterprise-D into energy ranges reasonably comparable to that of a photon torpedo's standard payload of 1-1.5 kilos of matter and 1-1.5 kilos of anti-matter. The energy yields of the E-D's heaviest phaser shots are still on the low side compared to a photon torpedo, but allowing for the Nuclear Disruption Force effect, which seems to magnify a phaser's effective yield (at least against materials not hardened against the effect) by at least a factor of a thousand (based on "Q Who?", as the E-D's opening shot against the Cube resulted in a vaporized hole whose total was at least 1000 times greater than the initial hole burned into the Cube by the beam while firing).

    Given all of the above, I am personally inclined to take the 700 MW figure and increase it by the same factor that I usually increase the 5.1 MW figure, putting it at 70,000 TW. The Cardassian icon changed color to indicate that it was charging, and again to indicate that it was firing. The firing time on the display was 0.875 second, by frame count, so the total energy discharged was actually 61,250 TJ.

    By comparison, the most powerful energy discharge of a Galaxy class starship (observed in the single shot they got off in TNG "Rascals") was about 150,000 TJ, with typical shots ranging from 30-60,000 TJ. (The shots in "Q Who?", for example, were 37,782.5 TJ, 59,075 TJ, and 69,232.5 TJ, in order.)

    Regarding the Federation-Cardassian conflict, the Federation without doubt outmatches the Cardassian Union. The Federation considered the conflict nothing more than a border skirmish, but in TNG "Chain of Command", during Picard's interrogation, it is implied that the war caused the Cardassian economy to crash (for a second time, as it was the exhaustion of the resources in their home system, and probably other core systems, that caused their economy to collapse and allowed the military to take over and start their aggressive campaign of expansion to gain new resources to feed the homeworld and possibly other core worlds).

    It was made clear in TNG "The Wounded" that the Federation's new capital ships, the Nebula and Galaxy classes, completely outstripped anything the Cardassians were capable of fielding at the time. No surprise, as both are ~5.2 million m^3 in volume, and the Galor class Battlecruiser is only about 1.1 million m^3 in volume, and it was made clear that the Federation has a significant tech advantage over the Cardassians. The Federation's newer cruisers, which are nearly as large or lager than the Galors, probably also outstrip them in performance, even the newer Type-III Galors, that were the most advanced and powerful versions prior to their alliance with the Dominion.

  6. However, it is worth noting that the Federation-Cardassian War appears to have begun circa 2347, and carried on until an armistice in 2367. Starfleet, however, does not appear to have fielded many new designs between the end of the 23rd Century and the middle of the 24th. We know of the Ambassador and Niagara class, both the premier capital ships of their day, launched circa 2323 and 2349, respectively (by NCC numbers and extremely scientific guestimation based on hull design), but Starfleet does not appear to have fielded any other significant new designs until the 2350s, when we see a slew of new Light and Heavy Cruiser classes being launched. Prior to the 2350s, Starfleet seems to have instead opted to mass-produce Miranda and Excelsior class starships, with the Excelsior filling the role of an over-sized Heavy Cruiser and then Light Cruiser for the first half of the 24th Century, and the Miranda filling the role of a Light Cruiser and then Destroyer.

    So for the first ten years of the war, the vast majority of the Federation fleet would have consisted of TMP-era starships that would have been starting to really show their age. An Excelsior class was probably a match for a Type-I Galor, and probably outstripped by a Type-II, let alone a Type-III (which seems to be capable of throwing out shots comparable to a Galaxy's main phaser array, though probably not very often if they needed the Phoenix's prefix codes to have a chance against her). It wasn't until the late 2350s, when Starfleet was fielding new cruisers that really took advantage of the Federation's newer tech, that they would have had a real ship-to-ship advantage outside of the relatively few Ambassador and Niagara class capital ships, and once the Nebula and Galaxy classes were put into service in 2360 and 2363, respectively, the war would have been effectively over, even though it officially dragged on until the armistice 2367 and the official peace treaty in 2370.

    Realistically, the Federation should have had such a numerical and industrial advantage over the Cardassians, that had they actually had the political will to fight it as a real war and launch a serious offensive against the Union, they would have won hands down even with their outdated fleet, but given the rampant pacificsm in the Federation government and Starfleet we saw in the 2360s, it's not hard to extrapolate why Starfleet seems to have been restricted to a purely defensive war, and why the armistice and DMZ was such a political nightmare and mess. With the Klingon Cold War long over, and no official declaration of war in the Federation's history prior to 2347 (I do not believe flair-ups in the Cold War ever resulted in a formal declaration of war), the politicos would have been ready to declare the end of war and "peace in our time." Then Federation-Cardassian War broke out, there was a war with the Tzenkethi sometime in the 2350s, and also apparently some kind of significant conflict, if not outright war with the Tholian Assembly in the 2350s as well (there was at least one battle with the Tholians where they destroyed an entire starbase, and the Tholians were treated as a significant enough of a threat race to have notable training and simulations in fighting them at the Academy). It seems that the pacifist politicos tied themselves in knots over the whole mess and bent over backwards to keep Starfleet from actively engaging in a real war, and then bent over backwards to appease the Cardassians to end a war that the Federation had won, despite Starfleet's hands having been tied behind their backs.

    All in all, it was probably a good thing, though, because it is disturbing to think what might have happened in the 2360s and 2370s had the Federation NOT been challenged by the Cardassians and Tzenkethi and Tholians, and not been prompted to massively update and increase their fleet. If the Starfleet of the first half of the 24th Century had carried into the second, the conflicts with the Dominion and the Borg would have ended very, very differently.

  7. I was always under the impression that it was the occupation of Cardassian space that the Federation didn't want to deal with.


    Starfleet up-grades everything with new tech. Runaboutrs in DS9 get something like 4 or 5 up-grades, and go from being disabled if you look at them funny to being able to being a credible if minor threat to Dominion bug fighters.


    That said, Cardassian ships aren't exactly painted as being horribly powerful by Picard.
    TNG: The Wounded
    PICARD: Be on the lookout for a Cardassian patrol ship, Mister Worf. They should be hailing us soon.

    RIKER: Even with a treaty, they're still skittish about protecting their border.

    PICARD: Last time I was in this sector, I was on the Stargazer, running at warp speed ahead of a Cardassian warship.

    TROI: Running, Captain? You? That's hard to believe.

    PICARD: Believe it. I'd been sent to make preliminary overtures to a truce. I'd lowered my shields as a gesture of good will. But the Cardassians were not impressed. They had taken out most of my weapons and damaged the impulse engines before I could regroup and run.

    WORF: The Cardassians have no honour. I do not trust them.

    The Constellation class isn't really known for being impressive combat ships, but Cardassian ships could barely disable one with its shields down.