Monday, November 21, 2016

Virtual Wings: Slayn & Korpil A/SF-01 B-Wing PIREP

The corporation had one final Alliance fighter for me to try: the Slayn & Korpil A/SF-01 B-Wing, or "Blade Wing" to its pilots. Developed as a replacement for the venerable Y-Wings that provided the backbone of the Rebellion's strike packages during the Galactic Civil War, the B-Wing packaged a light capital ship's firepower into a slim, single pilot snubfighter.


Other innovations included a gyroscopic stabilized cockpit, modular weapon pods adaptable to varied mission profiles, and rack launch/storage similar to TIE series craft. The stabilized cockpit proved a particular point of debate. It added significant maintenance complexity to the design, and proved a difficult adjustment for most pilots, as I would soon find out. However, it was an important design element for carrier operations, since while the B-Wing could be rack stored in the vertical position, it took off and landed in a horizontal position.

Climbing into the cockpit provided a huge contrast to the A-Wing I'd recently flown. Where I'd practically needed a shoehorn, second person, and a vat of droid lubricant to fit into the cockpit of the "Slim", the B-Wing's front office was almost big enough for two. In fact, a two-seat variant for armed VIP transport did exist, and required very little modification to the cockpit area.

Startup procedures for the Quadrex Kyromaster engine were conventional, and familiar to any YT-1300 series light freighter operators. The corporation normally uses TIE launch racks for its B-Wings. However, for this flight, I took off conventionally, departing the hanger under repulsor power, switching to engine thrust after exit, and opening the S-Foils once I'd cleared the arrival/departure lanes.

In standard configuration, the B-Wing held a perfectly acceptable 91 MGLT for top speed. Increasing charge to one system dropped speed to 80 MGLT, or the same as a flat-out Y-Wing, and with all systems at maximum power, the B-Wing positively waddled at a max speed of 45 MGLT. Pushing all power into the engines gave an absolute maximum speed of 137 MGLT. Not bad, but definitely no speedster.

Maneuvering the B-Wing was unlike anything else I've flown. Pitch-only motion felt normal enough, but the moment any yaw or roll movement entered the equation, the cockpit would begin rotating to maintain level. Save for completely disabling the gyro system (a solution favored by some users both for its simplicity and maintenance) I could not find an adjustment that would prevent some quantity of uncomfortable side loading during aggressive maneuvers. Ultimately I tried to get as comfortable as I could manage before engaging in some mock dogfights.

Like the Y-Wing, the B-Wing is slower and less maneuverable than the common interceptor and space superiority fighters field during the GCW. It is faster than the Y-Wing, and carries a massive set of shields, allowing it to soak up an impressive amount of fire from both enemy fighters and capital ships. A typical weapons configuration of three lasers and three ion cannons backs up twelve proton torpedoes. In combat I did okay in one-on-one and two-on-one engagements, but even with the heavy shielding, going to four-on-one was simply overwhelming, with enemy fighters able to use their superior speed and maneuverability to pick me apart.

My time testing Alliance fighters from the GCW era complete, I would consider the B-Wing the third best of the bunch. For me, the X-Wing probably ranks on top for its sheer adaptability to all roles,while the A-Wing is one of my all time favorite hotrods. The B-Wing provided an excellent replacement for the Y-Wing, but definitely suffered from a few oddities.

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