"Armoured column spotted, heading east. 20 Armtracks spotted. Ground forces are going to have a hard time dealing with that!" "Fortunately for those groundhogs, they won't have to."The Boxer Barrow is a family of 2-seater, twin engine combat aircraft, designed by Boxer Aeroworks, of the Kingdom of Albion, which saw service in the The Islander War and First Great War under the United Commonwealth Army Air Service, and in the early years of the Second Great War under the then newly formed U.C. Air Force, as well as limited export service in the air forces of United Commonwealth allies.
Origin of Concept
In 145 A.S., the United Commonwealth had declared war on the Kingdom of Saxe-Mecklitz, which had been revealed to have been engaging in a mass campaign of persecution, sterilisation, and murder of multiple ethnic groups within their nation. As an opening act, the U.C.A.A.S. began a bombing campaign targeting both the major infrastructure and the military assets of the Kingdom. At the time, the aircraft tasked with carrying out the campaign was the Claude Chariot SF.4, the Barrow's closest immediate predecessor. Overall, the war would be considered a cakewalk, with the destruction by the Chariots, as well as Fleet Air Arm aircraft and Navy ship based missiles, of enemy infrastructure making the invasion by the Marines and Army a fairly easy and bloodless affair. While the Chariot would prove mostly adequate for the task at hand, it was noted that there were a series of major flaws in its design, some of which proved to major constraints on the aircrafts combat effectivness. One of the major problems faced by U.S.A.A.S. during the war was the problem of spare parts. All in all, 5 different models of aircraft were in use, each requiring almost entirely different types and designes of equipment, tools, and components to conduct even basic maintenance. This led to their at most being 30% of the entire fleet of Chariot SF.4s ever being operationally ready at any given time, with the other aircraft either having readiness rates just as low, or even lower. In an attempt to solve this problem, the Office of Army Research and Development, or OARD, began a study partnered with the Boxer Aeroworks company to look into ways of increasing the operating efficiency of the future aircraft that the U.C.A.A.S. would take on in the next procurement cycle The study concluded that, keeping in mind both current service technlogy and prototypes that were likely to succeed, they would be able to create a single basic air frame onto which a wide array of specific modifications could be added, while still utilising similar components and parts for ease for production and maintenance.
Development, Production, and Procurement
After the Barrow went from the concept stage to the design stage, the Directorate of the Army's civilian and military organisations that were involved in the process of procuring new weapons went into motion to turn the Barrow into reality. First, a contract was created with Boxer Aeroworks guaranteeing them the right over the end product, and forcing them to allow end production to be contracted out to the various aerospace companies within the United Commonwealth. Then, the teams OARD worked alongside groups from Boxer, as well as from Farouk Industries, which provided the Fire Control and Target Search and Ranging systems for the aircraft, and a series of other Military Production companies. This program, which began in 148 A.S., spanned across 30 nations in the United Commonwealth, and cost somewhere in the region of 7 billion Cheques, making it one of the most expensive defence programs of its time, taking up a full 5th of the OARD's budget at the time. The total production run of the aircraft over 6 years, spread across factories in 30 nations and conducted in 5 Blocks, resulted in over 10,000 aircraft of all variants being manufactured by the time the 1st Great War kicked off. During the war, production increased even more, and continued into the 1st Interwar period, and by the time the 2nd Great War started, over 18,000 Barrows of all 3 variants would be in service for the fight.
During the Barrow's purely theoretical stage, the teams at U.C.A.A.S decided that they wanted a single base aircraft body, that was capable of being converted into a number of variants, each of which was specialised towards achieving a specific type of task. Reasons for this decision include a desire for easier component compatibility for the aircraft, and the ability for a single aircraft body to be adapted to fill whatever role would be required of it. The Barrow family of aircraft came in 3 distinct variants:
Barrow SFThe Barrow SF, or Strike-Fighter, variant of the Barrow family of aircraft, which saw use by the U.C.A.A.S as the Barrow SF.5, was specialised in the task of breaking through light air defences to destroy enemy ground targets, be they airfield hangars and runways or columns of vehicles. For this, it had both conventional Wave Sensors and a set of Thermal Imagery Sensors to better detect ground vehicles and infantry, using the heat they gave off, as well as giving the Barrow SF the ability to lock on to targets designated for them by allied ground assets of other aircraft using Thermal Beams. The SF.5 was the first variant of the aircraft to see battle, when the squadrons armed with Barrow flew from airfields in Albion to support the United Commonwealth and allied ground forces fighting on the continent of Alphania against the Ocrisian Imperial Army.
Barrow DSThe Barrow DS, or Defence Suppression, variant, designated as the Barrow DS.2 in the U.C., was specialised in detecting, locating, and destroying the advanced Air Defence systems and weapons of enemy forces. It contained high grade passive and active sensors that could detect the Signal or Wave Emissions given off by enemy Air Defence systems, and both warn friendly aircraft of their presence and actively destroy the defensive systems in question.
Barrow ACThe Barrow AC, or Air Combat, variant, designated as the Barrow AC.9, was specialised in the task of fighting directly with enemy aircraft in the air. It too contained advanced sensors, but these were dedicated to guiding the advanced Air Combat missiles the aircraft carried to their target. The main target of the aircraft would be other enemy Air Combat aircraft, followed by their strike aircraft that could pose a threat to friendly ground forces.
The Barrow SF and DS variants were powered by a pair of Pragati Industries Mk.5 SuperSail engines, with the AC variant being propelled by a pair of TurboSail engines from the same manufacturer.
Weapons & Armament
Barrow SFThe Barrow SF variant carries weapons designed for the destruction of conventional ground targets. These include:
- OUB Mk. 6 "Gravel" (Ordnance, Unguided, Break-up). This bomb was designed to destroy the surface or runways and major road networks, and make it as difficult as possible to repair. It works by flinging out large numbers of smaller bomblets as it falls, which can punch through the surface of the ground, rendering it harder to traverse over.
- OGL Mk. 6 "Hunter" (Ordnance, Guided, Longshot). This weapon was designed to be able to track a distant target and glide towards it, leaving the aircraft carrying it a fair distance away. This bomb saw use in destroying major enemy storage depots and other fixed facilities, while keeping the aircraft safely distant.
- OGC Mk. 5 "Solar" (Ordnance, Guided, Close-in). This weapon, the most commonly used one, was a short range, guided missile, which was used against a wide variety of targets, ranging from Armtracks and other armoured vehicles, to small missile boats, to defensive fortifications like bunkers and trenches.
Barrow DSThe Barrow DS variant carried weapons specialised in the destruction of enemy Air Defence systems. Its main weapons are the:
- OGS Mk. 2 "Flint" (Ordnance, Guided, Seeking). This weapon contained an advanced Emission Seeking and Tracking system in its head, allowing it to detect the Wave Emissions given off by Air Defence Wave Sensor systems. The missile, which can also be fed information directly from the aircraft, will then fly towards the source of the emissions, and destroy it.
- OGS Mk.4 "Hunter II". An adapted version of the Hunter, this missile was mostly identical, save for being able to lock onto enemy sensor emissions, or receive guidance information from the launching aircraft.
Barrow ACThe Barrow AC variant carried weapons dedicated to destroying other aircraft. These weapons included:
- OGA Mk.4 "Sprinter" . This missile locks onto the heat given off by enemy aircraft, and used its high speed and maneuverability to destrok it. This maneuverability made it the prefered weapon for close in battles with the enemy's air combat aircraft.
- OGA MK.5 "Snowfall" and Mk.6 "Snowfall II". This missile received guidance information from its launching aircraft's sensors, which it then uses to guide itself towards the target and destroy it. The "Snowfall II" is a more advanced version of the original missile, which is capable of being guided towards its target by another aircraft, such as a Air Coordination aircraft, which have longer sensor ranges, thereby increasing the missiles range.
- OGA. Mk.8 "Savior". This missile has its own self contained Active Wave Emission Sensor, instead of relying on other aircraft. This makes the missile's tracking resistant to jamming and interception, and allows the aircraft launching the missile to turn off its own AWES, which helps prevent it getting shot down itself.
30 million Cheques
Complement / Crew
2, 1 Pilot and 1 Weapon's Technician
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This is brilliant, very detailed and well written. The only question I have about them is why this frame specifically? The only basic trait mentioned for the criteria for developing the frame was that it be modular and adaptable, which is a great idea in theory... in practice, these jack-of-all-trades designs usually end up being too generic for some combat roles. I would recommend either highlighting that, or explaining it away. What did they sacrifice from the design to make it this versatile? Or was the frame SO epic that it was still able to fly higher/faster/longer than anything their opponents could field? Excellent ideas, though. I'm following so I can learn more. :)
Thanks for taking the time to review this article, it really means a lot! As for your questions: Well, as I pointed out, a big part of having a generalised air frame was to ease the availibility of components, which was hoped to save costs and time in production and maintenance. As for being too generic, the 3 variants mentioned are still caapble of performing their required tasks very well, and as for sacrifices made, I suppose there might have been a marginally lower maneuverability in the Barrow AC variant when compared to certain peers in theair combat category.
This was so well-written and detailed. I can't really give much else feedback, except I noticed a little typo in the last paragraph of 'Origin of Concept'. Adding illustrations would be awesome, but I can understand if it's too hard :)
I do love the very elaborate way that each of the aircrafts is described with, giving us a rather in-depth look at the production, variants and even their weaponry. A few things I would change up is maybe improve some of the formatting and add/move some content to the sidebar. You could use three columns for the variants, or for the specs of each of the aircraft variant you can also make a small table comparing it side by side. I would also try to cut up the vignette's sentence up in shorter ones too, because it is a lengthy sentence. Overall, a great article!
It's so detailed and yet to edible, even though I have no native affinity for aircraft and warfare! I do wonder though, how where they replaced? Was a defect notted in how it reacted to new battlefare, or was it simply generally old and underdeveloped? Was its successor developped by the same company?
My inner Shadowrun Rigger is salivating at the idea of an easily customisable aircraft. I really like the logic that went into how this vehicle came to be. A bit of feedback: Your sentences are occasionally very long, it might be nice to split them up more. And long-term going from prompts to freeform-vignette content may allow you to vary your layout, by using columns and full-width footers. That said, the current setup is still easy to read and presented the information well.
Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
Such variety and technical detail! They certainly give the vibe of advanced military craft. What I liked most was how the modular design was motivated - overly complex machines being troublesome to keep operational in a prolonged war makes a lot of sense. I do wonder how the opposition reacted to the Barrow - that would be a great addition for another section. Were any flaws in the design found, and how did it perform in the war? Were all variants equally effective? As war technology depends a lot on the conflicts and situations for which it is actually used, I think hearing more about these would be very interesting.
Great article and very detailed! Really digging how the vehicle could so easily be changed into one of its variants. You really seem to have thought about everything for this article, even a well written section of its development!