The word 'cavernous' gets overused a lot when talking about carriers, but the main launch bay is huge, around 35,000 m^2 of deck space, all dedicated to spacecraft launch and recovery. No ship is allowed on deck unless it is ready to fly. Eight elevators (four in the portside launch bays) provide access to the hangar bay below, which, while not as tall as the launch bay, is almost as spacious. I didn't get a sense of how much space that really was until somebody told me to visualize three and a half soccer fields end to end stacked over another three. Translate that into regulation sumo rings and you've got a whole lot of Dohyo!
Thanks guys! There's about 80 bazillion lights in the scene, but everything you see is a raw render. I'm working on detailing more of the bays now, and rigging the scene so I can turn parts on and off to minimize render times for animation. There's lots of room on deck for a full load alpha strike, with 8 elevators (white squares) to bring up a few reserves from the hangar deck below. I still stand by my numbers of 60-80 craft, including shuttles and perhaps a few marine landing craft in keeping with the self sufficient 'strike carrier' concept.
I used to stare at the Wildcat statue at the Academy. I drew energy from it in a way, when times were rough. It got me back on track just to gaze up at that old bird for five, or ten minutes and remember why I was there. Which is why it wasn't really a big deal for me to walk off disciplinary tours in the square. Even in the rain, I could just keep marching, do an about face, and she'd be right there with me, cheering me on.
Objectively, the Wildcats weren't much to look at, a little ungainly, a little underpowered, and don't even think about an atmospheric dogfight in one. In space they could hold their own, at least in the early days of the war. To think of the history behind those early ships! Wow. I can still close my eyes and see that workhorse physique riding that durasteel exhaust against the sunset.
At New Edwards I got a chance to fly one of the last ones around. It had been down for maintenance for almost a decade. The techs had fixed her up in their spare time, hoping to fly it as part of the heritage wing. I lunged at the chance to strap on a Wildcat. Can you imagine flying a Sopwith Camel, P-51 Mustang, or a CF-58 Peregrine? She was a classic. A true beauty, and I HAD to fly her!
I bribed MCPO Venkata with a case of Scotch and wound up with an ancient copy of the Wildcat NATOPS and a slot on the schedule for Saturday morning. The manual was dog eared, bookmarked, and covered from cover to cover in handwritten notes. Pre-war budgetary constraints had delayed much needed engine and spaceframe upgrades, as well as the replacement of fatigued or weakly designed parts. There were many, many provisos to the flight regime. The Wildcat was, to say the least, a soft touch. It's not her fault for having osteoporosis, she was a grand old lady, and I was going to get to fly her!
But, like dancing with grandma, you can't just start her off with the tango. You gotta limber her up a little. I showed up early. Preflighted for two hours, going through every patch, fastener and rivet. The run-up checklist? Did it twice. Taxi was done at a snail's pace. Takeoff was done at 60% of recommended throttle just to save on engine and lubrication temps. She ate up a lot of runway that way, but even shuffling along as she was, climbout was a dream. Turns were gentle and honest. I eased into a slow, 1G roll, and I could tell she wanted more. So we began to dance. Slowly at first, then we moved faster and faster. We were really having a wonderful time together when a missile trail scorched over my right shoulder as we entered a left turn.
The ship shuddered into a crab, snap rolled, spun, and twenty thousand feet later I finally started thinking again, "Someone is shooting at you! You took a hit!"
Recovering at about 200 meters AGL, I began climbing again and began looking around visually (there was no radar to speak of) for threats. Those old combat instincts die hard. Eventually realizing there were none to be seen, aside from my own very sick spacecraft. My CW panel was lit up like a Christmas tree, and I had some spectacular adverse yaw that I was able to mostly trim out using left and center engine gimbals.
The right engine had, apparently, become cleanly separated from the ship. It had shot out like a missile, still developing full power and scaring the crap out of me. I had permanently bent the spaceframe recovering from the spin, but everything else about the limp home was sweet and honest.
Even with one of her engines lying somewhere on in a smoking crater on the desert floor, she showed me three green on downwind and the two engine landing happened just like the checklist said it would. Bless her heart.
When we rolled to a stop in front of the astonished ground crew, I managed to escape the wrath of Master Chief Venkata and his crew by promising them even more more cases of scotch and, to my everlasting credit, a very humble apology. I honestly felt terrible for bending that precious old bird. Still, loosing a month's pay beats a lynching any day, and I even managed to sneak in a kiss and a pat on the rear of that beautiful old lady before they wheeled her sadly back into the repair bay. She was, unfortunately, never to fly again.
Still, I smiled every time I passed her, sitting regally up on her pole at the main gate. I'd been her last fling, and we'd had a hell of a time.
-Excerpt from "Me: The Life and Battles of 'Maniac' Marshall."
Just playing around, I doubt this will ever appear as anything but a model in Commodore Tolwyn's quarters, but still fun. A lot smaller than the Hellcat, about 14 m long (I believe the Hellcat is 27). Compare that to the ancient original!
I wanted to create something that could have been that statue we saw in the Academy Cartoons, just a little more stylized.
The suit, helmet, ejection seat and umbilicals had everything a prospective vacuum breather needed if you needed to punch out or put down. Air, water, sidearm, survival equipment in a drop bag, you name it. We wore our thermies (Thermal Protection Garment) underneath the suit. Those kept us cool or warm depending on the situation, and you could even drink your own recycled pee if you had to, though I preferred to keep my piddle pack on "store" mode.
Did we NEED the jacket? Hell no. But you felt ten feet tall when you wore it. It was a badge of honor, and gave you confidence, like a good luck charm. The more beat up, the better. Guys would jump up and down on them, soak them in water, hit them with sandpaper, beat them with pipes to make them look even more ratty and used. In the pilot's lounge, we all looked like a bunch of kids wearing dad's coat- they looked at least one size too big when you wore them over a normal uniform or baggie. But over the flight suits, they were like a suit of bulletproof armor. Not even a laser beam could pierce your ego when you wore it. Mine literally saved my hide in the Battle of Earth, but that's another story
-Excerpt from "Me: The Life and Battles of 'Maniac' Marshall."
Progress on the flight suit! I'm trying to incorporate elements of a lot of things, the WC-1 leather jacket look, the Academy helmet style, a hint of the WC2 style "backpack", "flip up" faceplate as described in the books, WC3 style "g suit" on the legs. Along with some other things. This is pure modeling right now, with a placeholder head. Texturing should hopefully make it look a lot better. Now starting work on the requisite patches, wrinkles, and wear and tear.
Nice, looks very close to that old concept sketch now. I kind of liked the short overjackets they wore in the movie, though i can't say they could have been much more practical than the leather jackets.
But seriously, what kind of pussy pressure suit requires GLOVES?
Blair woke me up from a nap. "They're here." he said, filled with reverence and awe.
He and was out the door before I could fall out of bed after him. Nearly the whole air wing was down in flight control, fogging up the LSO's viewports and pressing our noses against the glass until he chased us all out.
Even after a lifetime of experience flying them, I still get a thrill just thinking about those ships. Every F-44 Rapier was a classic. From A to G. And the postwar models are STILL holding their own too. They were-are a true artist's ship. Origin knows how to build 'em, man!
I still like my -C model (Middle) the best, and that's what you'll see flying off my Tiger's Claw, but I wanted to pay homage by making the "prototype" YF-44 more similar to the WC1 version, I also took some inspiration from the movie concept art.