Monday, April 3, 2017

Virtual Wings - Sienar Fleet Systems TIE/sa Bomber

After my adventure in the TIE Fighter, the next ship on my list was the twin-hulled TIE/sa Bomber,known to Rebel and Republic pilots as the "Dupe". LIke nearly all TIE series craft, the Dupe features a common cockpit layout, engine systems, and lasers. It's also unshielded, lacks a hyperdrive, carries no life support, and requires a significant amount of external support to be effective.

Imperial Star Destroyers would typically carry a squadron of Dupes for heavy attack roles. This slow speed made them vulnerable to attack, necessitating a fighter escort. However, when loaded with Concussion Missiles, sixteen of which could be carried in the internal weapons bay, the Dupe could be highly effective at standoff ranges. As a last resort, the Dupe was also equipped with a pair of wingtip mounted lasers. As I would see later, these were best reserved for strafing vulnerable targets.

Ingress was typical of the series, requiring ground support and a launch gantry to exit the hanger. Start-up was simple to accomplish and the Dupe shares the trademark TIE howl with its faster siblings. Max cruise topped out at 80 MGLT. Full throttle with max charge was 60 MGLT, with standard combat configuration yielding 70 MGLT. Essentially the Dupe shares identical performance figures with the later single-seat Y-Wing variants, though without the latter ship's shields, ion cannons, or hyperdrive.

Engaging static targets in the corporation's practice area revealed the Dupe's major flaw in laser placement. Positioned at the center of the Dupe's bent solar panels, the unzeroed laser spread is worse even than that of the X-Wing, without any of that fighter's benefits. Against fighter-sized targets, the Dupe is effectively guaranteed to miss at least fifty percent of its shots. It's only when engaging static or slow-moving targets that the laser armament is effective.

Combat maneuverability was roughly as expected. Turn and roll rates were slow, but the Bomber did provide a stable , sturdy platform for deploying various ordnance types. Given the typical training and replacement rates of Imperial pilots, common controls and ease of use were helpful factors.

Its size, particularly compared to other Imperial fighters, also lent the TIE Bomber to be adapted to a variety of other rolls. Troop transport, crew shuttle, and additional hulls for greater weapon capacity were some of the common modifications. Much like the Y-Wing, the venerable Dupe outlived many of its replacements by being an adaptable, easily modified platform.

Even modified with a hyperdrive, shields, and life support it wouldn't be my choice for touring the galaxy, but at least you'd find common parts nearly everywhere.

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