General Discussion

QUACKCAST 166 and 168 - Mecha and weapons in comics and other media
JoeL_CQB at 10:51AM, May 12, 2014
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bravo1102 wrote:
 
JoeL_CQB wrote:
also while reading into articles about the Army finding a replacement for the M4, “how familiar it is to an M4” always comes up in the discussion. i'm just saying that its probably something to put into consideration.
   

 Read this book: 
http://www.amazon.com/American-Rifle-Biography-Alexander-Rose/dp/0553384384
http://www.alexrose.com/american-rifle/
As for the replacement for the M4, yeah that's a military consideration.  Always has been.  You have a whole force to retrain can't introduce an entirely new weapon out of the blue.  Most presonal weapons develop in progression so you have the various Springfield muskets evolve from smoothbore flintlocks to trapdoors until the huge revolution of the Krag-Jorgenson bolt action.  But the US wanted a Mauser action so in came M1903 Springfield.  Then when it came time to replace the M1 Garand it was a progressive development; the M14 until a lot of field exercises and lobbying won them over to the Armalite.  

It took a decade to overcome resistence for the L1A1 FAL to replace the venerable Lee-enfield.  Then another 40 years to adapt the IW which had been developed and ready for adoption before the L1A1!  Now that was a revolution going from a bolt-action to a self-loader.  But more rare in the world of military firearms than you'd think.  Large militaries don't want soldiers to go to bed with a bolt-action and wake up with bull-pup selfloader.  Lots of re-training.
cool, i'll check the book out.
El Cid at 7:41PM, May 12, 2014
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A good thing about researching weapons and tech stuff is that a lot of times I'll come away with ideas that never would have occurred to me otherwise. For example, when I think of spacecraft designs, I usually just automatically imagine them being made of some kind of metal or ceramic plating. I think that's because subliminally I tend to see them as just big battleships or submarines in space. But I've seen designs with padded insulated outer coverings and inflatable structures which look pretty cool.
 
Also, creating weapons is fun. It's good to put your creative talents to destructive uses from time to time. Lasers, bullets, and missiles are all ubiquitous in comic book combat, but I'm trying to come up with some more unusual weapons (I wouldn't say “original,” because it seems everything's been done before by somebody!). “Small and insidious” is what I'm aiming for, like little wasp-sized flying bots that can zip into projectile mode and take somebody's head off, or little slithery things that burrow into your urethra. That kinda thing.
ozoneocean at 9:32PM, May 12, 2014
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@ElCid, in response to your previous reply to me- I'm sorry I offended you but it wasn't intentionalal and I've looked over that text again and can't really see any rudness.
Also, that wasn't a strawman, I wasn't mischaracterising your position, I was talking about a general misconception about armour that almost everyone has.
Given eveything I've already said previously though I'd still say you're in error, but I won't reiterate all over again, your ideas are set and so are mine and we're both welcome to them. I'm not trying to win a debate, just talking about ideas. :)
 
Now that's out of the way, I quite like what you said about creating weapons for your work.
The fact that Pinky TA is set in an alternative version of the recent past give me a lot of leeway with weapons- I can borrow a lot from history if I like, or I can modify them… Or I can come up with new stuff like Pinky's jet powered flame rifle and the heavy duty version on her Tromper. :)
 
bravo1102 at 6:58AM, May 13, 2014
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El Cid wrote:
 And then these superpowered imperialist mechas face low-tech guerillas in a conflict which questions both the superiority of their technology and the morality of their cause? 

It was called Vietnam.  High 1960's tech mini guns, jet fighter bombers, heavy artillery and night sights against a guy in sandals and  black pajamas with a fourth hand bolt action rifle.  Or Afghanistan 1982 with the heavy mechanized, helicopter flying Soviet army against a bunch of mountain folks with muskets.



Fiction thrives on hyperbole though so give the Soviets battle suits rather than Hind-D helicopters  Imagine a history where the are no tanks or helicopeters but instead steam turbines  and battlesuits.  
ozoneocean at 9:01AM, May 13, 2014
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Thininking about it, I will respond to this because it's interesting, but not quite right… Just for the sake of the disucssion and because I have done a lot of research on the topic of armour. I hope this is not offensive or mean, insulting or dismissive in tone, it's not supposed to be. I respect you and I appreciate your interesting ideas about things here.:
 
“Modern armor has evolved to be lighter, smarter, cheaper than the bulky
elaborate designs which peaked at the end of the Middle Ages. The
powered armor concept goes the exact opposite direction as historical
armor design has gone, and the opposite of any kind of smart engineering
would suggest.”
 
When I say “peaked”, I mean in terms of enthusiasim for the clever designs. The technology never peaked of course, development never ceased on that front. It was the early Renaissance, the armour was at its artistic hieght, and these are where classic suits of full plate art from. After that period armour was always used but no longer full plate due to styles of warfare, personal combat and fashions changing.
But that event has NO bearing on armour and its value and use as protection. However it does in the popular mind, for people who are not familiar with the history and the technology.
 
Modern armour is only a continuation of the same armour development from back in the stone age to the bronze age, to medival, to the midleages etc, not a seperate development.
Modern armour is no more lighter or more protective, or cheaper than armour in the past actually. I relation to ceratin specific types like the specially fitted suits of steel plate it is cheaper (these were custom made for the individual like a tailored suit), but in reation to most historial armour in general it costs about the same, even most plate armour.
 
It's also heavier than many types of historical armour, just as bulky, and not quite as protective- since historical armour was mostly made to protect against impacts from swords and axes, spears, maces etc. while most armour currently attempts to protect against bullets, which is a bit of a different chalange and requires more bulk among other things, as well as optimising which parts you can feasibley protect or are more likey to be hit (head and torso). It's also heavy, just as heavy the the heaviest sorts of historical armour if you want real battlefield protection.
Historical armour wasn't all that heavy generally, it was also easy to move in too.
 
Just like in the past there are other types of combat armour currently in use, not just heavy battlefield armour. The heaviest sort is bomb disposal armour, the lighter sorts can be seen on riot police in many countries officers are fully armoured from head to toe in impact resistant suits, including a sheild.
 
Now finally on to battlesuit development-
You can see Raytheon's work on a powred exoskeloton here, designed to amplifiy the strength of the soldier wearing it, allowing that soldier to be able to carry heavier loads:
http://www.army-technology.com/projects/raytheon-xos-2-exoskeleton-us/
(they're not the only company working on this)
It's not a stretch to say in the future, 10 or 20 years down the track, these will be in comon use. The strength allows heavier weights to be carried, so adding the kind of armour to them that is already in use for something like bomb disposal is logical. The capabilities of the exosleleton also make it possible for the soldier to carrier heavier weapons: mabye guided missles with severl rounds. normally this would require at least a two man team only able to carry a small number or missles. Maybe it would carry a heavy machine gun or even a semiautomatic 20mm rifle? A Grenade laucher with a large grenade loadout.
It would have integergrated networking with all other units (troops, command, other vehicles etc), nightvision etc. Maybe even its own drones.
 
This is speculation based on current technology.
Also, extrapolating from current development and trends I do not think they would be in use for every soldier, I would imagine they would be specialised units, most likley replacing the heavy weapons units currently in use, since ut currently requires two or more men for weapons systems such as heavy missle launchers, grenade lauchers, medium and heavy machine guns etc.
 
I hope this was not insulting, dismissive or derogatory in tone.
 
last edited on May 13, 2014 9:27AM
ozoneocean at 9:39AM, May 13, 2014
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bravo1102 wrote:
It was called Vietnam. High 1960's tech mini guns, jet fighter bombers, heavy artillery and night sights against a guy in sandals and black pajamas with a fourth hand bolt action rifle. Or Afghanistan 1982 with the heavy mechanized, helicopter flying Soviet army against a bunch of mountain folks with muskets.
  
In those conficts it is probably us spectators who questioned the superiority of the technology more than the people fighting on either side in Afganistan or Vietnam.
In both cases the superior tech resulted in far higher casualties for the sides without it. Though they were still lost conflicts, not because of the abilities of the soldiers (though the ones that were left had to be clever and devolop ways to stand against the superior agressor), but due to the tenacity of the civilian populace and their refusal to submit. Much like the Spannish after Napleon conquered the country.
Like having the best firefighting equipment and being great at putting out all the main fires, but if the bush is really dry it can be hard to get all the stray sparks and eventually you'll run out of water and one of those sparks will restart a blaze you can't stop.
 
Skullbie at 6:47PM, May 13, 2014
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Oh god the quackcast bout made me pee my pants laughing. Banes evil voice was so fricken funny. Was his throat sore after that? XP
Also i liked the tanks getting cut up by power sword comment.
~welcome to the magical realm of anime~
 
El Cid at 8:10PM, May 13, 2014
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It's all good, Ozone, and I'm sure you didn't mean to come off sounding rude earlier.
 
About that, just a quick pointer: When somebody tells you that two plus two equals five, you're well within bounds when you tell them “You're wrong. The answer is four.” When somebody says, “I think Los Angeles is nicer than New York,” or “I think the Cleveland Browns will win the Super Bowl this year,” starting off a reply with “You're wrong” is only going to start a fight. You've spoiled the value of whatever you're going to follow that up with, because you've begun by saying “my opinion overrides yours,” which immediately turns a friendly conversation into a contest. It's poor form in a real debate, and completely uncalled for in a discussion like this one, which (I thought) is supposed to be more about people discussing the different ways they approach a creative challenge. Arguing a point as if to reach some kind of consensus as to which idea or approach is right/wrong would be counterproductive.
 
I've seen those exoskeleton monstrosities before (maybe an earlier, rougher version). Whoever was the creative consultant for ‘Elysium’ (and that new Tom Cruise movie as well, for that matter), must have been riffing off that concept. It's definitely intriguing to see how the exos evolve, and if they offer enough benefit as a weapons platform to take more soldiers off the battlefield and put them maybe in more of a support role behind the scenes. I think that's the major factor: As you beef up the design, does it reach the point where it out-produces a comparably valued asset before it just becomes absurdly impractical. If one guy in an exo suit can do the job of ten regular grunts, then I could see it catching on. You might have a handful of armored heavies operating with a supporting cast of lighter-armed troops, small robots, and a convoy of support staff mostly out of harm's way. Given people's increasingly squeamish attitudes toward putting soldiers in harm's way, that's a perfectly believable (and cool-looking) scenario.
 
Personally, I favor less anthropoid designs in robotics. If I were building a robot/battle suit, it would probably look more like some kind of big menacing insect. Physically, we humans are slow and inept when you compare us to the rest of our animal kin, so why build something based on us? I picture something like Boston Dynamics' Wildcat robot with weapons and think that's just terrifying. The sky is absolutely the limit when it comes to what you can do with robotics and prosthetics.
 
Also, since a lot of the cool gear in comics isn't built by governments or militaries, they don't necessarily need to be all that practical for general purposes. Superhero comics tend to use a lot of implausible-but-cool gear, while more gritty comics try to more closely mirror real life. I guess that's the “Batman vs. Punisher” question: Would you rather whack the bad guy with a batarang or blow him away with an M-16? Just depends on what kind of comic you're doing!
El Cid at 8:17PM, May 13, 2014
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bravo1102 wrote:
It was called Vietnam.  High 1960's tech mini guns, jet fighter bombers, heavy artillery and night sights against a guy in sandals and  black pajamas with a fourth hand bolt action rifle.  Or Afghanistan 1982 with the heavy mechanized, helicopter flying Soviet army against a bunch of mountain folks with muskets.
 
Yunno, I wasn't even intentionally trying to do that, but you're right. I just described every asymetrical warfare scenario in history without even meaning to!
 
Which means, that idea's *definitely* been done over and over again (though it still sounds cool)
bravo1102 at 5:38AM, May 14, 2014
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ozoneocean wrote:
   
In those conficts it is probably us spectators who questioned the superiority of the technology more than the people fighting on either side in Afganistan or Vietnam.
 
 The various service journals and US Army War College was and is full of papers about it by the participants.  Read On Strategy and Bright Shining Lie :John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. Then there's The Generals: American Military Command from World War II , Rise and Fall of an American Army and The American Way of War.  The list is endless of participants wondering why are they fighting the war in this overblown way and why not tailoring their response to the enemy.  But as The Generals and Fiasco: The American Adventure in Iraq points out for every saavy general oficer there are a couple of political types (including ones in uniform) who want to do it the same old way.
 

The French in the Penninsula was hardly asysmetrical neither was the American War of Indiependence.   People with muskets fighting people with muskets.  But both were large deployments of traditional forces from the great military power of the time fighting popular uprisings.  And not doing very well.  But of these examples none were won without traditional outside military intervention. The guerillas could never have won the Pennisula without Wellington and his army.  The American colonists would not have won without the French and South Vietnam would not have fallen by the 1970s without a conventional North Vietnamese invasion.  

Sorry for the tangent but then mecha is warfare so war-fighting properly is a part of the depiction of mecha isn't it?  There's the nuts and bolts depiction of fighting systems and then there are the larger questions of strategy that writers have no idea about either.  Often we get black and white.  The occupiers have to big and evil and the insurrgents noble patriots.  Much too easy to turn it into partisans versus Nazis.  The Nazis are just always wrong just like the evil redcoats or evil English in The Patriot or Braveheart. Twern't like that all.  
last edited on May 14, 2014 5:42AM
El Cid at 9:10AM, May 14, 2014
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We do have a tendency to turn history into moral melodrama, don't we! To be fair though, probably a lot less people would be interested in following history otherwise, and it makes for easier fiction writing. (hey, I said “easier,” maybe not necessarily “better!”)
ozoneocean at 7:36PM, May 14, 2014
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@Skullbie-
Glad you liked the Quackcast! We don't get many comments on them so it's always good to know we're doing things the right way. :D
 
@Bravo- With Spain I did not mean asymetry, I meant that even though the country was conquored the people did not stay passive and kept on violently resisting and rebelling, and it was that fact not their own military that made it hot for the French. Of course the British and others came in to get the French out in the end.
In Vietnaam the US approach was extreme overkill, and if that'd just been against the poorly armed local North Vietnamese forces and militias there would have been no issue, but since they had the support of their populace so firmly behind them weapon technology wasn't as much of a factor. The only way to fully conquer a people who don't want to be conquered is by extermination like they used to in ancient times, thank goodness we've moved on from there.
 
@ElCid-
Their wildcat and Bigdog 2 are pretty amazing creations so far. I imagine they'd work in a way similar to packmules (if the tech got cheap and reliable enough), because there is a LOT of groud innaccessable to wheels or tracks and too dangerous for choppers to fly in.
I can see armed versions, armies already used tracked drones with light machine guns on them. They'd make great shock troops.
 
bravo1102 at 1:27PM, May 15, 2014
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You don't win against popular uprisings unless you squash the will to resist or provide a better alternative.  You can't squash the will with just piling up the TNT and blowing everything away.  Sure I can get rid of the termites by burning my house down but that leaves me with nothing.  Lookng to technology to find a bigger hammer won't result in driving a screw in more effectively.

So using mecha to fight a light infantry war ain't the way to go and that can be the story.  The blunderheads and their powered suits blowing everything up and the infantry with light enhanced armor who kill surgically. 
ozoneocean at 9:17AM, June 2, 2014
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An interesting Coda to the disussion:
http://news.discovery.com/tech/robotics/military-iron-man-suit-debuts-this-month-140527.htm?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=MythBusters
The company Battelle, M.I.T. and the US army organisation RDECOM are developing just the suit I was talking about; adding armour to a strength enhancement exoskeleton.
 

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