Battlestar Galactica vs. USS Enterprise
Science fiction fans often pit their favorite hero/ship/weapons against each other in to see who would win and it invariably comes down to who talks loudest. I attempt to match two fairly common vessels against one another. In point of fact, I dislike both series slightly so I’m not nearly as biased as most.
In one corner of the solar system, we have the USS Enterprise, a Constitution class Heavy Cruiser of the United Federation of Planets. For the purposes of this post, I will be using the Constitution class ship from Star Fleet Battles with the + refit. For those that aren’t familiar with Star Fleet Battles (shame on you), the Constitution CA+, has 4 forward firing photon torpedoes. These torps fire in a 60 degree arc centered on the centerline of the ship. It also has eight phaser-1s. These are the large, heavy phasers that you generally see in the various series. At least two phasers can hit any target around the ship. Directly forward, six phasers can be brought to bear. Finally, as far as weapons are concerned are a pair of phaser-3s. These are light phasers primarily for missile and fighter defense. Defenses include some quite heavy energy shields that are effective against energy and particles. Maneuvering is provided by both impulse and warp engines. In Star Fleet Battles, all combat is conducted at low FTL speeds.
In the other corner, the Battlestar Galactica, a Galactica class battlestar. For the purposes of this post, I will be using the re-imaged battlestar. The ship is nearly a mile long and contains a minimum of 80 active fighters. Weapons include 24 twin mount anti-ship gun turrets, some 514 twin mount point defense guns, and at least 12 launch tubes for nuclear and (presumably) non-nuclear weapons. Defense is mainly heavy, dense armor, capable of withstanding a strike from a medium range nuclear weapon with the ship remaining functional. Maneuvering is provided by large, powerful engines and a separate FTL jump drive.
If these two belligerents happened upon each other in deep space, the battle would very likely be a total draw with the more damaged ship escaping at FTL speeds. Since the two ships have completely different styles of FTL travel, there is almost no way for one ship to chase the other, provided it can go FTL.
The battlestar will have the maneuverability edge in non-FTL combat. That’s what it’s designed for after all. However, it is much easier for the Enterprise to make very short FTL hops to gain position. Edge to the CA+ here.
The Enterprise should be able to shrug off most of the battlestar’s weapons. Photon torps are matter/anti-matter and a CA+ can take 3 torpedo hits on the rear shield (the weakest) before damage can be transmitted to the ship. However, the battlestar has LOTS of weapons. If the battlestar can hit the CA+, then it should be able to do a lot of damage, pretty quickly. Even if the 48 heavy cannons do 1/20th of the damage of a single torp, then a alpha strike hit on the CA+ will cause some significant shield degradation. A hit is by no means guaranteed though and the estimate of the battlestar’s main cannons is probably very optimistic. Nuclear weapons are another story and could cause serious damage t the CA+. However, there are only 12 launchers and they are not FTL.
On the other hand, the CA+ doesn’t have nearly the weapons that the battlestar does. Since photon torps are physical objects, then the sheer amount of point defense fire from the battlestar would make it very difficult for the CA+ to hit with missile weapons. The phasers are relatively short ranged and weak. A photon hit would cause significant damage to the battlestar, but the phaser hits might wipe out a weapon mount. Since the main weapons of the Galactica did survive a direct hit from a nuke, phasers might not be nearly as effective here. There are also very few weapons on the CA+. For every phaser-1 that the CA has, there are 6 heavy cannons and there are 128 point defense guns for each photon torpedo launcher.
Edge: This is a tie
Now we haven’t mentioned the battlestar’s primary weapon system here. The 80+ fighters and raptor multi-role small craft. In a strict space battle, these will be almost useless as the CA+ can just FTL beyond the range of the fighters.
No effect on outcome.
The previous describes a strict space battle… an encounter if you will. Which would never happen between these two ships anyway because of the nature of their FTL systems. Much more likely would be one or the other defending a fixed point (planet, space station, convey).
Battlestar as Defender
This is much more interesting battle as the FTL capable Enterprise can come from any direction and the battlestar will be forced to remain very close to the target. If this is a space station, no problem, but a planet will cause a huge blind spot for the battlestar. On the other hand, here’s where the Vipers and Raptors come into play. The battlestar can create a sphere of small sensor posts (the small craft) at long distances from the target. With the Raptor’s jump drive, they could actually beat the warp drive CA+ back to the target and the battlestar can jump or maneuver into position.
Basically, no matter what the warp drive ship does (theoretically), the battlestar can always preempt it, and with a little luck do some damage during each run in. However, the battlestar must be lucky and stay lucky. One mistake and it’s all over for the battlestar’s defendee.
CA+ as Defender
Again, the battlestar’s jump drive will play a huge role here as it can be in position and firing before the CA+ is aware that it is present. This will give the battlestar an edge in any attack scenario like this. If the CA+’s shields are down, a few lucky hits could cripple it. The fighters provide a huge edge here. They could be dropped and come in on a completely different vector from the battlestar, forcing the CA to accept one attack while dealing with the other (the smart CA+ will go for the battlestar here) or the fighters could lure the CA+ away from the target whlie the battlestar pops in to destroy it. Again, the defender must be very lucky or the target will be crushed from many directions at once.
The main factor outlining a duel between these two ships are the engines. It is much more likely for the Enterprise to get a lucky hit on the engines, crippling the battlestar. No matter what, the battlestar must work it’s way through the shields to get to the CA+’s engines. In spite of the sheer volume of fire coming from the battlestar, this will be difficult at best because of the Enterprise’s warp drive system.
The battlestar’s fighters are almost useless against the CA+. They just don’t have the speed and the CA+ can disengage at will. If the Enterprise has damaged engines, then even with full shields, the battlestar will destroy it in seconds.
In a chase situation, I have to give the edge to the battlestar. The jump drive is much faster than warp drive and can be used for many days at least 33 minutes apart.
Without a doubt, a fight between these ships would be interesting. It really would depend on who makes the first mistake. I must give a slight edge to the USS Enterprise though. The always on FTL drive and shields give it a much needed maneuverability and survival time against the battlestar. Please keep in mind that this is a very slight edge. A combat between these ships will either end in a draw or be over in minutes at best.