Excalibur (DropShip class)
|Manufacturer|| Aldis Industries|
Semier Data Tron
Rashpur-Owens Incorporated
|Tech Base||Inner Sphere|
|Drive System||GM 48000|
|Safe Thrust||1.5 g|
|Max Thrust||2.5 g|
|Fuel (tons)||300 tons|
|Fuel (days)||163 days|
|Armament|| 2x PPCs |
3x Large Lasers
10x Medium Laser
|Armor|| 47 tons standard |
|Crew|| 50 + 1,080 bay personnel
|Escape Pods/Life Boats||25/4|
Entering service in 2786 just prior to the First Succession War, the Excalibur is one of the largest military DropShips in the Successor State militaries and can transport a complete combined-arms regiment, comprising a full infantry battalion, two tank battalions and a BattleMech company. Due to immense losses suffered in the Amaris Civil War and because it was cheaper to produce, the Excalibur was chosen as a replacement for the Colossus class by the Star League Defense Force before its dissolution. Still, the costs associated with the Excalibur meant that during the Succession Wars only the Great House militaries, certain mercenary units and large corporations could afford to operate them.
The command deck for the Excalibur is located towards the nose, isolated from the rest of the ship by a single access elevator protected by security codes. Below that is the main crew deck, with eight single-occupant rooms for the captain and senior officers and twenty-one double-occupant rooms for the rest of the crew. These rooms run along the outside of the deck, while the center was given over to dedicated mess hall and recreational facilities for the crew. Below the crew deck are the troop decks, cargo bays, and the 3,150-ton GM 48000 fusion drive with four Risley F-10 thrusters. The fusion drive is noted for giving the DropShip a high mass-to-fuel consumption ratio, making it more efficient and cheaper to operate. Along the bottom of the outside hull are four box-like structures which both serve as fixed landing pads and contain the rear-facing weapons.
While cheaper than comparable Star League era craft, the Excalibur is not above criticism. One of its biggest drawbacks is a lackluster weapons array, little better than for seeing off uncoordinated fighter attacks, as well as a slow and cumbersome unloading sequence. It could take anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours to completely unload the DropShip's cargo. For this reason the Excalibur is only used for major military operations - during a planetary assault it will be one of the last ships to enter the atmosphere after the way has been cleared by other craft - and will only disembark its cargo in a secure area. Once units carried by it have been deployed the Excalibur continues to serve as a logistics transport to ferry supplies in support of combat operations.
The class seemed doomed when production of the GM 48000 fusion drive ceased in 3022 after their last manufacturer folded. Many Excaliburs began to suffer serious drive maintenance failures, and with no new spare parts they were increasingly scrapped and salvaged. However the Draconis Combine soon commissioned an engineering team to research an alternate to keep its sizable Excalibur fleet flying. The team's proposal of a modified version of the Mule's smaller GE 2080 drive system proved successful and most Excaliburs produced since the 3030's operate this drive system.
For such a large craft, the Excalibur carries a relatively tiny weapons array. Mounted in the nose is an Autocannon/5, an LRM-10 launcher, and a single Medium Laser, with one ton of autocannon ammo and two tons of missiles. Facing the forward left and right firing arcs are a PPC, two LRM-10 launchers with two tons of missile reloads, and two medium lasers. The aft left and right firing arcs are covered by a single Large Laser and a pair of mediums, while directly aft is a single large laser and a medium laser. This pathetic array is barely adequate to overcome a poorly organized aerospace fighter attack, and helps ensure that each Excalibur receives significant protection if it enters into unsecured combat zones.
Five huge bays make up the bulk of the Excaliburs interior, with four fitted as Heavy Vehicle Bays to carry a total of 90 heavy vehicles and the fifth as a 'Mech Bay able to carry a company of twelve 'Mechs. Each of the roomy vehicle bays was designed with a maximum capacity of 1,500 tons, but increasing structural stresses have led many Excaliburs to impose a 1,000 to 1,250-ton limit. While not posing much of a hardship on light cavalry units, those which use primarily heavy and assault weight tanks have been forced to sacrifice as much as an entire company in order to be transported. Additionally the Excalibur's cramped 'Mech bay barely has enough room for its twelve 'Mech cubicles, lacking any space for repair facilities or Drop Pods common to dedicated 'Mech carriers like the Leopard, Union or Overlord. The vehicle bay and 'Mech bay are each serviced by a single access door.
Above the vehicle and 'Mech bays are six troop decks, each accommodating 100 troops in barrack style housing. These decks provide quarters for not only the embarked infantry battalion but also for the technical staff, vehicle crews and MechWarriors of the other units. Each of the twelve infantry platoons have their own dedicated living area, mess hall and recreation rooms, while each company is assigned their own training and medical facilities. A single access door allows the infantry battalion to deploy for combat. Finally the Excalibur can carry an additional 440 tons of general cargo.
- Attempting to combat the Excalibur's weak offensive abilities, Semier Data Tron of Tharkad introduced an upgraded version with advanced weaponry in 3056. The modifications are relatively minor, however, adding Artemis IV FCS to the LRM launchers, replacing the Medium Lasers with pulsed equivalents, and switching the PPCs and Large Lasers with extended-ranged versions, but with no increase or modification of the original's coolant circuit. This newer Excalibur also exchanged combat transport capability with general cargo capacity, carrying 72 heavy vehicles, 12 'Mechs and 9 foot infantry platoons alongside 2,238 tons of general cargo. BV (1.0) = 3,393, BV (2.0) = 3,024
- Pocket Warship
- The Pocket WarShip refit of the Excalibur has a convoluted genesis, with the project triggered by the DCMS who blackmailed the Steffelbus family's Interconnectedness Unlimited into "convincing" the Federated Suns premier shipbuilder Federated-Boeing Interstellar into doing the work. The refit guts the vessel's interior to mount eight AR-10 Capital Missile Launchers and two Kraken-T launchers, fed by an impressive 6,000 tons of capital missiles. The lowest vehicle deck was converted into an Aerospace Fighter squadron bay, while the infantry deck was converted to a flag deck, allowing such craft to function as fleet flagships. The refit's main flaw is that it retains the original's internal structure and armor, inferior to the many other purpose-built assault ships and only partly augmented by an array of Anti-Missile Systems and Screen Launchers. BV (2.0) = 24,056, 30,106
- Dropships and Jumpships, ComStar Intelligence Summary FB-60, p.15
- MUL online date for the Excalibur (DropShip class)
- AeroTech 2 Record Sheets, p. 257
- Dropships and Jumpships ("ComStar Intelligence Summary FB-60"), pp. 36-37
- Technical Readout: 3057 Revised, p. 60
- Technical Readout: 3075, p. 198
- AeroTech 2 Record Sheets, p. 258
- Jihad Hot Spots: 3070, pp. 139-141 "Excalibur-class "Pocket WarShip" Upgrade"
- Record Sheets: 3075 Unabridged - The Cutting Edge, p. 228