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Hereford Eye
December 31st, 2002, 04:47 PM
Stewart has a different problem he's trying to solve in another thread but I keep coming back to his scenario. Heavy cruisers in space, fighters either flying close ground support or fleet protection (what does that mean in zero g?), and infantry on the ground. Even Hammer's Slammers were never hired to conquer a planet yet George Lucas keeps us fighting WWII in space. I got to thinking about the numbers involved in conquering an earth-type planet and put this chart together. If you oversimplify and state the army will have to fight its way across the planet, then this is what you get.
Surface area of a sphere = 4PiR2
Earth
Pi = 3.141592654
Radius = 4000 miles
Radius2 = 16000000 miles2
x Pi = 50265482.46 miles2
x 4 = 201061929.8 miles2
x 2/5 = 80424771.93 miles2
x 80% = 64339817.55 miles2
Square plot = 8021 miles on a side
x 5280 2 = 1.79369E+15 feet2
Soldier = 4 feet2
1 Battalion on Line = 2400 feet2
1 Brigade on Line = 7200 feet2
1 Division on Line = 21600 feet2
1 Corps on Line = 64800 feet2
1 Army on Line = 194400 feet2
1 Army on Line = 37 miles
5 Armies on line = 184 miles
Armies Rqrd on Line = 217 armies
# miles to advance = 7984 miles
@50 miles day = 160 days
@2 miles day = 11 years
An army's manpower is roughly 50,000 troops. Why in the world would you tansport 50,000 bodies across a galaxy to fight a war?
Much less 217 * 50,000.
As for the above numbers, 2/5 of the earth's surface is land and I swagged 80% of the 2/5 as habitable. Look at the amount of land surface that must be conquered!
Far simpler to blow the planet out of existence.
Okay, there is some resource you just have to have. Trouble is I cannot think of any reason why I wouldn't turn 90 degrees north, south, east, west, up or down and go looking for an uninhabited planet that had what I need. Has to be far cheaper than trying to conquer a world.
So, am I on to something or is this just the foolishness of a frustrated engineer?

Cephus
December 31st, 2002, 04:54 PM
Originally posted by Hereford Eye
So, am I on to something or is this just the foolishness of a frustrated engineer? [

From your calculations, it didn't look like you took water into account. The figures are far smaller than you calculated, but that doesn't really matter. Even in a ground assault, it's very unlikely that you'd have to cover the surface of the planet to take it. Just taking out strategic political and military sites should be enough for the planetary government to give up.

Or, if as Stewart wanted, the utter elimination of an alien species, nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure. ;)

Stewart
December 31st, 2002, 07:07 PM
In my scenario my characters want to completely annihilate an alien species. You could always bombard a planet from space but there is a problem with this. In most wars you can never use the same trick twice. If you are battling a galactice empire of fifty planets and you smear the surface of one the other forty nine are either going to the very, very difficult and risky job of evacuting when they have a heavil armed fleet on their tail, or they're going to build shelters UNDERNEATH the surface. If you can't kill them by blowing away the surface you'll need soldiers to go down and do it for you.

Cephus
December 31st, 2002, 07:21 PM
Originally posted by Stewart
In my scenario my characters want to completely annihilate an alien species. You could always bombard a planet from space but there is a problem with this. In most wars you can never use the same trick twice. If you are battling a galactice empire of fifty planets and you smear the surface of one the other forty nine are either going to the very, very difficult and risky job of evacuting when they have a heavil armed fleet on their tail, or they're going to build shelters UNDERNEATH the surface. If you can't kill them by blowing away the surface you'll need soldiers to go down and do it for you.

Why not? If you can get close enough to land troops, you can drop nukes. If you jump in out-system and launch asteroids at relativistic speeds, it's virtually impossible to stop them no matter what weapons you have. It really doesn't matter where they build their shelters, you're talking about pretty well detonating the planet into smaller pieces. Nobody survives. Period. If you nuke the surface, it becomes unliveable for centuries. Nothing will grow on the surface. You break down the entire food chain. Nobody can have that much food stockpiled, sorry.

Stewart
December 31st, 2002, 11:04 PM
But if they're a space faring race with technology advanced enough to utilize things like hyperspace and such they are probably advanced enough to protect themselves from radiation long enough to aqcuire a means off the planet. And who says nukes are going to be used? Think about it, right now the world is working toward being nuke free, in the future the very idea of using nuclear weapons on anything could be considered very distasteful.

Cephus
January 1st, 2003, 05:01 AM
Originally posted by Stewart
But if they're a space faring race with technology advanced enough to utilize things like hyperspace and such they are probably advanced enough to protect themselves from radiation long enough to aqcuire a means off the planet. And who says nukes are going to be used? Think about it, right now the world is working toward being nuke free, in the future the very idea of using nuclear weapons on anything could be considered very distasteful.

The only reason we're trying to control nuclear proliferation is because it is utterly suicidal to use them here. We launch, everyone launches and humanity dies out. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with nukes. Far from it, in fact. The most efficient and effective weapon in anyone's arsenal is going to be some form of nuclear fission or fusion weapon. Even more effective would be some direct mass/energy conversion weapon, but I assume that's going to be way beyond the capability of your world. By the time you have that, warfare is passe. You pop in, launch a handfull of torpedo-sized missles at the sun and it goes nova. Kills everyone and everything.

As for shielding against radiation, sure that's possible, but radiation is the secondary killer. At the very heart of a nuclear explosion, temperatures reach higher than the surface of the sun. You can't shield against it. You can't barricade yourself. You simply die. Everything at the heart is obliterated, no matter what precautions are taken.

Drop enough of them and the dust blown up into the atmosphere blots out the sun and you get nuclear winter. More than likely, you have worldwide forest fires as well as the good chance of worldwide volcanic eruptions. More ejecta is put into the atmosphere. Photosynthesis stops. All plants die. The food chain breaks down. Virtually all animals die. Sunlight will not hit the surface for a matter of years. The only chance a species has that has gone underground is to escape the planet entirely.

Not exactly a pretty picture, is it?

Hereford Eye
January 1st, 2003, 07:10 AM
Originally posted by Cephus
Just taking out strategic political and military sites should be enough for the planetary government to give up.
;)
Didn't the French try that in the 50s in Vietnam?
Why did the Allies have to fight every inch of the way from North Africa through Italy and Europe?

I, Brian
January 1st, 2003, 03:11 PM
Has to be far cheaper than trying to conquer a world.

Historically speaking, cost was never the reason for making war. Politics - especially acquisition of resources - was usually a major drive. Short-term loss but long-term gain.


So, am I on to something or is this just the foolishness of a frustrated engineer?

Yes - you are reducing everything far too much into figures. And you've completely negated population density from your equations - assumed a median distribution?

Either way, do try and rationalise a little more in terms of the human element. That's precisely what you're missing.

Maybe you'd make a great Stoic - but fictional characters in the process of conflict will generally have other drives.

I, Brian
January 1st, 2003, 03:14 PM
Oh - you also negated terrain.

Cephus
January 1st, 2003, 04:52 PM
Originally posted by Hereford Eye

Didn't the French try that in the 50s in Vietnam?
Why did the Allies have to fight every inch of the way from North Africa through Italy and Europe?

If they had dropped a nuke on Berlin and killed Hitler early in the war, the war would have ended much more quickly. That's why generals lead from the rear, without them, you don't get a cohesive, intelligent war plan and everything falls apart.