Review of the Month; Schwarzesmarken TV

To preface this review, I do have a bias for Schwarzesmarken as a fan of Muv-Luv overall. However, because of this bias I’ve decided to approach this series from the point of view that it is a singular entity without any ties to pre-existing franchises. This decision also stems from the fact Schwarzesmarken was marketed with that title alone without any naming connections to Muv-Luv. Within the fiction there is no pretence about the connection, and one can only guess why this decision was ultimately applied. Whatever the case may be, the show still needs to stand on its own and deliver a solid show for a positive review.

To expand upon the series needing to stand on its own, this review could compare Schwarzesmarken to the Light Novels and the Visual Novel, and to Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. This wouldn’t allow the work to present itself as it is. A comparison between different versions of Schwarzesmarken is worthy of its own post altogether.

A television series is a different beast to literal works. Total Eclipse is a lot of people’s first experience with the franchise and Schwarzesmarken served the same role to some extent. Because of this, in this review, I won’t hold against the staff for the changes that were made during the adaptation. Whatever is on the screen and how it is conveyed to the viewer are the only things that matters, supplemental and source materials be damned.

This’ll  be more or less in-line with the Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and Muv-Luv posts I’ve done. Expect a general outline of the whole series with commentary running along with it. Not the best way to make a review, but never thought I’d go over this episode-by-episode basis. Expect loads of terrible jokes to boot. If you want a short tl;dr version, you can slip straight to the end paragraphs.

Now that you know where this review will have its base stance on regarding the series, let’s start with the show.

Continue reading “Review of the Month; Schwarzesmarken TV”

Music of the Month; Airport

What, did you expect something Christmas themed this year? I’ve been on a Gundam W mood lately, been popping this in from time to time

So, what should I discuss this time? Things haven’t changed since last Music of the Month, so there’s that. Busy, tightly scheduled and all that. On top of all that, my apartment saw a water damage from one of the new pipes they installed, meaning I had to move to a new place for the time being, thou luckily I didn’t have to move all of my stuff. Then again, all my books, materials and whatnot are now in the apartment in the middle of being fixed, meaning I don’t have access to planned things and so on. Sucks to be me, I know.

On the flip side, the Director’s Cut patch for Muv-Luv on Steam got released, and you non-backers can pick it up from Denpasoft, if you’re a dirty old pervert like me. Feels like I’ve been talking less and less about Muv-Luv in general, but not by choice, not completely. I would like to write more about the franchise, but I always want to use time to form up something worthwhile. However, time’s a luxury now. The same could be said of my certain mental facilities, but that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, because I can’t read Schwarzesmarken as I am now, the TV-show’s review has been delayed. Because it took me a year to roll out a review of sorts for Total Eclipse‘s TV version, I’ll aim to rewatch Schwarzesmarken during Christmas and new Year’s holidays and roll a similar entry out around January. Much like with Total Eclipse, it will be taken as-is as a separate entity without ties to the source light novels or the VN. We’ll see if I do anything about the VN yet, which is probable to some extent.

In terms of video games for the year, I’ve already compiled a list of preliminary Top 5 of 2016, like usual, but now that I’ve looked back, there’s a not a whole lot I could do a mini-review out of. However, there should be at least two surprising entries on the list.

Speaking of lists, I waged through The Game Awards and it was terrible. The show was terrible to begin with. They had dedicated more time towards ads and skits instead of talking about games themselves, the choices of award winners and categories were questionable at best, not to mention when people on the stage also had their hands in selection and creation of games, mobile and handheld games lumped in the same category and again all Japan-only games were ignored. The show has become terribly irrelevant to the consumers and is nothing less than industry wanking itself off.

There are no plans for this month, I’m afraid. That means pretty much all posts that you’ll get for the time being will be rather ex tempore, which might affect their coherence, I’m afraid. I do have few idea nuggets polishing in the back of my head, but nothing that could kick off a Monthly Three. Unless you want me to talk about welding. Perhaps for 2017 I’ll plan each month’s themed entries out beforehand and start working on them as soon as possible. Whether or not that would be preferable is something only the readers can answer. Then again, if I write around eight entries in a month, six of them would be themed; Monthly Music, three Monthly Threes, a review and a mecha design post. That’s not a lot of room for other stuff if I want to keep this two posts per week rhythm. A second pair of hands would probably do this blog some good.

This month’s proper review will probably the Dual Shock 4 controller, because I caved in a picked myself a PS4 for some of the upcoming games, including Super Robot Wars V. That reminds me that at least one subject reserved for this month is BanCo’s Asian English translations based on Super Robot Wars OG Moon Dwellers and SD Gundam G Generation Genesis.

And oh, Drill Juice is doing Getter Robo Pai, a mahjong themed Getter Robo comic. Being a fan of all three, I expect it to be titillatingly bombastic. Here’s hoping they will make a proper mahjong tile set based on the comic, I could use a new set.

Music of the month; Lilia ~Winter Version~

Let’s dedicate this post to the changes that I need to make things viable again and what that means for my own time use and this blog. First, I won’t be dropping the two posts per week pace, that’s something I won’t back out on, unless something significant keeps me from doing it. The reason for this is that realistically I can’t make a living in my current profession. Craftsmen are not valued to any significant extent and their craft or skills are face the same end. The same tends to go towards designers across the board, and if you can’t make the right connections, there’s not much you can do. As such, I’ve taken a drastic decision to re-educate myself for a profession where I can utilise my previous experiences. To what exactly is something I will leave for the time being.

This means I don’t have much time in my hands. The aim is to go through three to four years of studies in one. That is stupidly fast pace, which requests me to concentrate my efforts and resources elsewhere. However, the nature of this blog won’t change too much if any because of this. Rather, I expect it to add further depth as I get more familiar with certain aspects of… well, that’s the open bit for you.

This is also the reason why there has been no new podcast for some time now. Not only the translator staff is busy at their own with both Muv-Luv related matters but also with their personal stuff. Juggling the schedules together has become exponentially more difficult, and sudden changes in what happens and when will become a daily thing to yours truly, at least. ARG is not killed, it’s just biding its time. The same thing really applies to the idea of my voice blogs, as I noticed that producing those in the way I’d like them to takes about four times longer than just writing. Maybe I should just do a stream of thought without a script, but how that would come together nobody knows.

Winter’s arrived here, meaning that while snow is still a scarce, cold weather has arrived and things slow down to take things with certain sure and safe pace. It also means Schwarzesmarken‘s second VN has been released, which means I can read both VNs in one go and watch the animated series. I’ve pushed the whole review thing back for almost a year now because I want to have a proper perspective on both of them without being influenced by hype or other views. Needless to say, both the VN and animation needs to stand on their own two feet, and comparisons between the two can be made. However, it should be noted that the two were made based on the Light Novels, which essentially served as a base script more than anything else. The animation changes things around to fit in the allotted time, while the VN has a lot more time and space just to dwell into things. That’s just the nature of the mediums.

There was no Monthly Three last month  as those take a lot of reading and planning. It may not seem like that, but they really take their sweet time to come together, and I usually plan all three parts in one go. Exceptions happen, of course. The same applies to the whole mecha design things. I do intend to write a TSF comparison this month, which will also serve as the month’s mecha design post. I haven’t decided which one, I need to check what images I have in stash and what I can get. However, for the time being, I do not intend to force myself to do a Monthly Three, unless a subject pops up towards me. Of course, I could use that for the mecha design stuff. Speaking of mecha posts, the post Three Different Approaches in mecha design will get a complete rewrite at some point in the future, and the old one will be replaced with that. However, I will archive that older version for future.

I will most likely insert few personal posts about games on smart phones. This is because my old Nokia finally went bust and I had to purchase a new one. This post, or posts if I end up making multiple, will be observations about mobile gaming in contrast to e.g. handheld console gaming.

I admit that lately this blog has not been up to the standard I’d like to think it has stayed at for a long time now. A lot of news and events that I wanted to write about have come and gone, but my time and simple stamina have been used to a more pressing matters. As said, if I were paid to write, I’d take this more seriously. This is more or less a hobby. Sometimes it stresses, sometimes it feel almost cathartic.

For now, I’ll have to leave you with this, despite it leaving me with a lacklustre feeling. I need to fix my tyres, somebody had slashed them the other night along with seven other’s.

Plane elements in Tactical Surface Fighters; F-16 Fighting Falcon

The F-16 Fighting Falcon has proven itself to be highly manoeuvrable air-to-air and air-to-surface fighter that during its reveal was nothing less than a quantum leap in fighter design. After all, it was the first fly-by-wire electric combat aircraft. F-16 is a low-cost and high-performance machine that for a reason became a classic on its own rights and was imported to numerous other nations like Belgium.

F-16A saw its first flight in late 1976, and stepped into United States Air Force’s service in 1979. F-16B was a two-seat variant of the machine and engineered the path for F-16s to have built-in structural and wiring provisions and systems architecture that would allow expansions in multiple roles since 1981. These expansions vary from precision strike ability to night attacks and beyond-visual-range interception missions. This lead into F-16C and D variants that are single- and two-seat variants of the aforementioned while incorporating new technology. All current USAF units are converted to these models, while Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve still holds some A and B variants.

In comparison to its contemporary fighter aircrafts, the F-16 is a serious threat to the point F-35 losing to it in a direct dog fight. The comparison between the two is not as apt as it would seem. F-35 is mainly a stealth fighter meant to destroy the enemy before it is even spotted. Discussion whether or not manned fighters are the future with the advent of cutting edge drone technology is another discussion that we should have one of these days. Nevertheless, the F-16 is a beast that with an operation radius that exceeds many other fighters and is an all-weather fighter. In an air-to-ground missions the F-16 can fly more than 860km, deliver a pin-point strike to the object and return to base, visual or not. It’s weight, small size and well designed fuselage allows it to fly 2 125km/h with its afterburning F100-PW-100 turbofan engine and can take up 9Gs, which is helluva lot of thrust. It’s dryweight is 6 607kg, and maximum take-off peaks around 14 968kg, allowing it to carry numerous weapons with its nine hard points.  Internally, the F-16 has a M61 A1 20mm gatling gun system, which had some installation difficulties at first.

Rather than going on about the F-16, I recommend checking the F-16.net for a full coverage on the fighter, including full listing of its armaments, variants and its operational history in the Persian Gulf War and in Operation Desert Storm.

In Muv-Luv‘s BETAverse, the F-16 mirrors the real world fighter in that it’s a lightweight Tactical Surface Fighter with superior mobility and range, operating in junction to its weightier siblings F-14 and F-15. Similarly how the fighter has a long-range of operation in multitude of roles, the TSF has a long operation time on the field, derived from the Lightweight Tactical Surface Fighter competition, which aimed to create highly manoeuvrable and cost-effective unit to change tactics against the BETA. This cost effectiveness allowed the US to produce more units, as they could not completely replace their ageing first generation TSFs with the two aforementioned heavier models.

Just like in real world, the F-16 TSF was imported to numerous other countries, replacing their F-4Es and F-5s. The Benelux union has its own variant as a result of import, the F-16AM, which more or less has the usual mid-life upgrade with overall technological improvements. The same applies to F-16C, mostly used by the US and UN, with improvement Jump Units.

Due to F-16s being everywhere, they were seen in action in numerous places like Yukon base, Battle of Rhodes and during Operation Cherry Blossom in Muv-Luv Alternative. TSFs don’t tend to vary in armament a whole lot, and F-16 is not really an exception. WS-16 Assault Cannon has been TSF bread and butter since F-4 Phantom, thou later F-16 were updated to handle the AMWS-21. CIWS-1 Close Combat Knife is the choice F-14’s for combat, a good choice for a TSF that should excel in close combat. F-14 is also capable carrying MGM-140 ATACMS missile containers, which reflects the real world fighter’s multirole function.

Historically and in idea, the TSF hits close to the fighter, but the design is more derived from the in-universe sources. This is best seen in the idea that most of the TSF’s design is that of angles rather than smooth curves like with the fighter. This is because almost none of the TSFs have what could be called smooth lines. That in mind, common points between the TSF and the fighter can be made, e.g. the intake in the TSFs abdomen is the same as the fighter’s, just more angular.

As usual, here's the original imageboard version
As usual, here’s the original imageboard version

After you get use to the idea of looking at certain aspects in the F-16 TSF, you end up noticing common points. It seems like the gatling gun and loads of sections on the fuselage’s back made some of the TSF’s detailing. It’s interesting to note that the thighs didn’t see any additional details, while otherwise you see a lot of red dots downwards. Shoulders are interesting, to say the least, as they incorporate F-16 rising parabola silhouette, just with wings cut off. The arms follow this idea to some extent, but are surprisingly clean of any needles detail

The groin guard on the other hand is a flip of the coin; either it is inspired by that parabola silhouette, or was thrown in there just because. While I’m not a fan of the knees American TSFs have, they have their function in housing the CIWS-1.

Happy to see they're free of this switch blade bullshit
Happy to see they’re free of this switch blade bullshit

The knees however do make the TSF look a bit cumbersome. Despite the F-16 being the lightweight unit, it doesn’t really look like it. The shoulders look far too ornate for that, and shaving down the skirt’s and kneeguard’s sizes would’ve done good. Maybe even take elements of the shoes too. It does resemble the fighter while not really pushing those elements forwards enough. A slimmer version of the this design would’ve probably been the best middle-ground in tying it down to the TSF tech tree while pushing the idea of these being in-universe versions of the fighters.

And on top of all that, it has a face on back of its head.

face
I WILL DEVOUR YOUR SOUL

And while we’re discussing things from âge, today’s the 27th of August. Happy birthday, Hayase Mitsuki.

Let’s talk about Muv-Luv’s changes

By now those of you who’ve got the Steam release of Muv-Luv have most likely noticed changes in there. Most changes have been for the better, some out of necessity.

Before we go on, let’s re-iterate how the companies are related to each other. Degica is the company localising, they are in charge of translation and publishing, while ixtl is the rights holder and makes the final decisions what’s in and what’s out. âge’s the developer, and ixtl was put up to manage their IPs. Both âge and ixtl are under Acid Company Limited.

Degica may be the one in charge of the translation and publishing part, but whatever changes they do ultimately has to go through ixtl. If they decide to veto e.g. a translation title, Degica’s translation staff got nothing to say to it, unless they can provide some hefty evidence, as you may have noticed that both Takimekazuchi and Chizuru are properly romanised instead of using the more archaic forms Takemikaduchi and Chiduru. You can probably expect some bullshit things left in along the line anyway. I’m half expecting something along the lines of not using the official English title of  Sado Island. Hell, it’s even on the island’s own official tourist brochure. I don’t know how the hell Amaterasu missed this one, it’s not even an obscure tourist location. I can even pick up my 1970 World Atlas and take a photo of the page where Japan and its islands are showcased. Give me a moment, and I’ll take it!

DSC_4669
Page 70, Suuri Karttakirja, based on Reader’s Digest Atlas of the World, 1970

To be fair again, Sadogashima too is used (sometimes as Sado-ga-shima to boot), albeit not as common worldwide. Even on modern maps, like the one Google uses, lists it as Sado Island. Other languages seem to mainly use Sado, thou I admit Isla Sado sounds awesome.

The most clear cut changes are the new songs in the soundtrack, and music is almost always the hardest thing to license when it comes to Japanese products, especially TV-shows and movies. This is because a single show can include music from various different rights holders, and some may want their music be licensed episode-by-episode, which is why sometimes opening songs are replaced with instrumental versions in Western releases, like The Skull Man‘s or Mobile Suit Z Gundam. Sometimes music pays homage to other songs, and hits a bit close home. Metal Gear Solids theme is reminiscent to The Winter Road, and âge is known for their musical homages. Just like how Metal Gear Solid’s theme was essentially dropped after it was accused of plagiarism, and ixtl wants to avoid such controversies at all costs. They’ve dealt enough with plagiarism claims as is.

That said, while わるだくみ/Warudakumi had its own fans, Drama Bomb! isn’t really bad by any means. It and the other additional song are most likely leftovers from Schwarzesmarken‘s development, as both of them were composed by Evan Call. They have a distinctly different sound to them from the rest of the soundtrack, but like with most things, it’s really up to taste if you like them. It was probably the best for ixtl to replace the songs rather than risk accusations and possible lawsuit. That’s business for you.

This issue extend to Muv-Luv Alternative. One of its more iconic songs, Assault Landing, is similarly a direct homage to Basil Poledouris’ Kledanthu Drop from Starship Troopers. Then you have that pastiche of Buster Machine March and the other examples. You should be half-expecting their removal for the exact same reason.

Another big change people have noticed is that the script has been completely revised to the point of it essentially having no traces of Amaterasu’s fantranslation. If we’re completely honest here, that translation had issues. At points it was incoherent with issues with language, outright missing cues and throwbacks to âge’s previous works and top it all, had inaccuracies to the point of changing some of the characterisations. One of the reasons I never felt strongly for Ayamine was because the English subtitles didn’t really reflect the Japanese, giving her a slightly but significantly different impression what sort of person she was. The same applies to Class Rep. Ixrec or however his nick is spelt has said that he himself didn’t care for Extra, and it shows in his script.

The new script basically does away all these issues, but it’s natural to complain about these changes. It is a normal psychological reaction to feel negatively towards a new translation you’ve grown with. One example would the the Finnish retranslation of Peter Pan. The original wasn’t exactly accurate and took a lot of liberties, translating the names in a more Disney-esque way than anything else. The new translation is more accurate and representative in what ideas the book holds, but people disliked it anyway because it was new and against what they were used to.

As for the cropped CGs, âge’s been doing that since 2007. This isn’t exactly anything new, and these complains are coming in about a decade too late. The reason again is corporate politics. It’d cost more to add more content to the CGs to fit in the new resolution than to crop them. For purists, it is bullshit, but hardcore purists wouldn’t want to play anything but the original CD release anyway. Gotta read it as originally intended. In addition, depending how the CG is stored in the files, ixtl shouldn’t have much problems showcasing the whole CG in the Gallery mode.

As for the lack of porn, Steam doesn’t allow adult content like that. Secondly, producing a patch on itself is its own thing, separate from the rest of the deal. It may sound bewildering, but as the Muv-Luv Steam Version is based on the All-Ages version, it takes work from ixtl’s side to even create a patch to put in the necessary scenes and their script.  My guess is that patch isn’t high on the task list, not by a long shot. A wild guess would be that we can expect to see some proper news about the patch closer to Alternative‘s release. Then again, most people tend to say erotica scenes don’t matter or add to the story, but as soon as they’re missing, people seem to go ballistic.

There is also the issue of them being porn. ixtl and âge have been trying to clean their image, despite their streams not showing that, and there’s also the issue of age, or rather, the assumed age of the characters. Miki’s not the most legal looking character out there, and such things will cause certain troubles if not handled properly.

Still, I’m willing to bet it’s mostly about the money that goes into developing patch, as it might possibly break game saves and the like. From what I’ve seen, even when âge showcases how powerful their editing software are, they’re barely able to anything complex. Every game they’ve developed, like Faraway Dawn and those minigames in Altered Fable‘s Before the Shimmering Time Ends  have been horrible. Hell, the beach ball minigame in bugged to the point winning and losing really is dependent on said bug. I doubt the current release of Muv-Luv would even be out now if they didn’t have outside help.

Outside these, all the rest are more or less in line with the usual updating that don’t require any special mention. Some don’t like how large the user interface is, but I bet these people forget it’s supposed to work on tablets too, hence the design. Some have complained about yakisoba sandwich not being yakisoba bread, when in all actuality it should be baguette with fried buckwheat noodle. There’s some corporate bullshit in the background as usual for Japanese companies, and if you’ve ever really looked into how ixtl and age handles stuff beside their publicity, there’s some rotten stuff in there. The same applies to all Japanese companies, but it’s sad to see that being a rule in their corporate culture than an exception.

If we’re completely fair, if you have complaints that are about the CGs, music and the like that does not concern the English script or Degica’s English publications and PR, you should throw a message to ixtl instead.

Plane Elements in Tactical Surface Fighters; F-15 Eagle

The F-15 Eagle was designed to be successor to the F-4. As such, the F-15 needed to be an all-weather, high manoeuvrable fighter that would keep the US Air Force at the top in air superiority. The F-15 had a legacy to stand up to.

F-15A made its first flight in 1972, and two years later the first USAF F-15B Eagle was delivered for service. Early 1976 saw the first front-line combat squadron delivery, and things carried on from there. However, the F-15’s first fight was not with USAF, but with exporter Israel who shot down four Syrian MiG-21s in June 1977.

The F-15 is probably fighter with the best combat record, with 100.5 victories over zero losses. This record is mostly due to the fighter’s maneuverability combined with high acceleration, work range, advanced avionics and range of weapons.

With two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-100 turbofans that allow 11 340kg of afterburner thrust, the F-15 is a nimble and relatively low profile fighter with maximum take-off weight at 25 402kg, achieving maximum speed of 2 655km/h rather easily. Mainly armed with the N61A1 20mm Vulcan cannon in the fuselage, the F-15 can carry four AIM-7 Sparrows, AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs and loads of other options up to 7 267kg ranging from rockets, missiles and bombs with its five hardpoints. With a range of 966km and ceiling of 19.2km that can be climbed in 15.25km/s, the F-15 was extremely well equipped.

It also helped that the F-15 had a low wing load and with the low weight-to-thrust ratio, the fighter is capable of doing sharp turns without losing airspeed. Another thing that helped was that the D-15’s avionics were superb for their time and are still serviceable. HUD on the windscreen displayed all necessary information and was visible in any light conditions. Due to its position, the fighter had no need to look down to the instruments for additional information. The radar that would provide the information was a versatile pulse-Doppler radar capable of doing pretty much any sort of tracking the fighter needs. The electronic warfare with the F-15 provided both threat warning as well as automatic countermeasures against selected threats.

The F-15 was initially a single-seat fighter with a TF-15 as the twin-seat variant, and these designations were changed to F-15A and F-15B after the first flight. In 1978, single-seat F-15C and two-seat F-15D models entered production. Furthermore, F-15 Multistage Improvement Programme was enacted in early 1983, with first F-15Cs produced in 1985. Upgrades included a new central computer for new versions of AIM-7, AIM-9 and AIM-120A missiles, and expanded radar functions. Existing Eagles were retrofitted with these improvements, unifying the fleet as a whole.

During the Gulf War, the F-15 Eagles were the deadliest thing in the air. When Operation Desert Shield was put into action, U.S. Central Command deployed F-15C/D Eagles into air within hours, and forty-eight Eagles made the longest fighter deployment in history between 14-17 hours of nonstop flight from Langley to Dhahran. When the situation went from defence to offence to remove Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait, the air was effectively dominated by Colonel Richard Parsons’ 58th Tactical Squadron The Gorrillas, which were running on Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 low-bypass turbofans at this point, further pushing the fighter’s speed. On the first night of the war, USAF F-15s kept shooting down numerous MiGs, including MiG-29 Fulcrums. It bears to repeat; during all of Gulf War’s operations, F-15 simply dominated the air.

The F-15 saw an upgraded version with F-15E Strike Eagle. The F-15E was envisioned to be a replacement to F-111 Aardvark and to support the existing F-15. To oppose the F-15 role as air superiority fighter, the F-15E was a ground attacker. Its basic airframe is the same with internals changed for what is essentially a multi-role fighter. It can fight its way into enemy lines, bombs its target and fight its way back. Just like how the F-15 has been imported, the F-15E has seen exported by the different countries.

It would seem that the story of F-15 is about to end. In 2015, the F-15C faces cuts or retirement due to sequestration, and the willingness to push the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II as its successor. It is proposed that the F-15C fleet would remain at 51 aircraft even with the introduction of the aforementioned advanced fighters. Here’s a list what F-15 might need to go through in order to be completely viable in the future.

In Muv-Luv, the F-15 is dubbed the strongest 2nd generation TSF due to its performance and track record.

The initial need for superior TSF to fight the BETA comes from the failure of Operation Palaiologos, where NATO and Warsaw Pact tried to attack the Minks Hive, but after numerous attempts at capturing it during the following months, the BETA amassed a counter attack after Soviet’s failed 43rd Tactical Armoured Division’s failure to assault the Hive, leading both NATO’s and Warsaw Pact’s lines to be completely broken and allowing the BETA to advance further into Europe. The combat data and Volk Data gathered from this didn’t just launch the F-15 series, but also the Rafale and EF-2000.

The US department saw that the largest threat to the TSFs was the Laser-class, as over half of the units were lost to their fire. Increasing armour would not be an option, as the rest of the strains would simply destroy the units if they were heavier. Mobility and manoeuvrability   became the goals of the new TSF-X project as opposed to F-4’s armour. The F-15 mirrors its real world counterpart in having great weight-to-thrust ratio, advanced avionics and pioneered Operation by Wire further. It’s build is simple with optional hardpoints or weapon bays allows it to care spare ammo magazines or CIWS-1As in Blade Sheaths.

Unlike the real world counterpart, TSF F-15A entered service in 1984, which was rushed out rather than wait for the technology to mature. Only few years later the F-15 series saw its proper performance with upgraded fuel cells and Jump Unit engines, and upgraded avionics with F-15C. It wouldn’t take much to assume all existing F-15s went through these upgrades, much like how they did in real life.

Japan has its own F-15 variant in the F-15J, or Type-89 Kagerou. On the outside, nothing changed, but under the hood, the Kagerou saw large changes in order to accommodate Japan’s close combat doctrine.

F-15E on the other hand essentially an upgrade to F-15C instead a supplementing fighter. F-15E had completely overhauled insides, meaning that it looks the same from the outside, but out-performs its previous variants to the point of standing up to a Type-94 Shiranui without any problems.

Generally speaking, F-15s have basic armaments that all TSFs carry in their respective armies during respective time periods. This includes the Type-74 PB Blade for the Japanese variant. Outside the F-15 ACTV Active Eagle, all F-15 variants share the same basic outer frame (i.e. they all share the same sprites and CG resources), and as such in this comparison will use TSF F-15E Strike Eagle and base F-15 Eagle fighter. If we ever see the base F-15, then I’ll just rework this one.

Let’s get to the meat. You’re not here to read my ramblings on fighter history, you’re here for the design comparison.

 

F-15 EAgle
And the image board variant as per usual. We’re starting to run out of these. Click for larger size

The F-15 seems to be a repetition of the Tomcat in terms of what was lifted from the fighter itself is lacking. There are no real soft and curved shapes like on the fighter’s back, as most of the shapes in the torso and shoulders are straight. The nozzles on the shoulders would’ve been an excellent spot to curve things up a bit, but straight lines were used to make a hexagon casing. You can see that they have a slight slope to them on the back-view image, but most of the time it’s almost like they just straightened it out.

The torso really is a missed opportunity, as nothing has been lifted from the fighter itself. It is largely original, and the only thing that remotely resembles anything from the fighter are those round bits near the shoulder joints. Their general position looks like that of the fans in the intakes, relative to the head if it was the cockpit.

The arms have a softer look to them, but re really just straight lines. They’re generic TSF arms with no real elements from the fighter. Just like the legs, they’re more or less inspired by the fighter in some ways. The strangest bit out of them all is the vaguely hourglass shaped knees under the kneeguards. Unlike the sideskirt armour that’s just the top of the intake, the knees have no place in the fighter. Most likely they were done for the sake of the design.

Speaking of the legs, they display simplicity the fighter also carries. There’s nothing out-of-place or special about them. Just straightforward legs with no bells and whistles. The F-15 is supposed to be no-bullshit design after all, so maybe this sort of slightly angular simplistic look is supposed to drive that idea in. And of course, you have the fighter’s nose as the ischium, as per usual.

However, the must unusual thing about this is the Jump Units. They’re run-of-the-mill most of the time, but the nozzles it has looks like they’re from a pre-production F-15 STOL/MTD that has 2D nozzles. The usual nozzles are round, but these are flat. This would’ve been a really nice spot to use further from the base F-15, especially with the round shapes, but no dice.

There’s nothing much else to say. It’s the idea and role that carried over the real life F-15 rather than its sleek and aggressive shapes. This TSF just went lanky instead of those. It would seem that America’s TSFs are governed by straight lines most of the time and it shows. Maybe I’ll change to Japanese TSFs next time and go over how Mitsubishi F-2 served as a sort of inspiration for XJF-01a Shiranui 2nd Phase 2.

Plane Elements in Tactical Surface Attackers; A-10 Thunderbolt II

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known by its nickname Warthog, is an iconic piece of aviation. It entered service in 1976, it is still the US Air Force’s primary low-altitude close air support aircraft. It was designed to counter enemy (i.e. Soviet) armoured units and artillery, nothing less and nothing more. Its core design was to allow it to fly low, take hits and litter the battlefield with bullets. Its high-lift wings have large control surfaces, making the A-10 very manoeuvrable during its flight. It also helps the A-10 has a short take-off and landing allows it to function near the frontlines in rougher environment. These wings also cover the craft’s engines from down below, adding an extra layer of protection. Its ease of control allows pilots to do night missions with just a pair of night-vision goggles.

These engines are General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofans with 4 115kg of thrust. Turbofans were selected over conventional jet engines due to the fact that they gives off less heat, thus making them less vulnerable to heat-seeking weaponry. Their high position gives them an extra layer of protection from ground fire.

In addition, the A-10 was designed to be largely symmetrical. Many of the parts are interchangeable between sides, including the engines and main landing gear, making it easy to be operated from austere bases with limited facilities.

A-10’s primary weapon is the GAU-8 Avenger, a 30mm gatling gun that takes most of its internal space. Somebody once told me they designed a cannon awesome and big enough that they needed to bolt an aircraft around it. It is the largest cannon ever fitted to an aircraft, and uses both depleted uranium armour-piercing and high explosive incendiary rounds, firing either one 35 rounds per second. In addition, the A-10 can carry a large range of general bombs, cluster bombs, rockets and missiles, including the Maverick anti-armour and Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles. It can carry up to respectable 7 264kg of additional weapons weight.

 

This BRRRRRRRRRRRT is a well spread meme

Essentially, the Thunderbolt II flies in, shoots the ever-living shit out of everything, makes the battlefield radioactive with depleted uranium and leaves metal wreckage in its wake, possibly with a distinct smell of napalm.

A-10 Thunderbolt II saw numerous little upgrades to it over the years, like the Pave Penny laser receiver pod in 1978, inertial navigation system in 1980 and the like. GPS systems were installed in 1999, and in 2005 the A-10 fleet began to receive the Precision Engagement upgrades to improve it to the new electronic warfare. This included better fire controlling system, electronic countermeasures, digital stores management, LITENING, Sniper advanced targeting pod integration SADL, VMF, GPS-guided weapons and upgraded to DC power among other upgrades. Now, the A-10 fleet carriers the A-10C designation.

The main difference between a Tactical Surface Fighter and Attacker is their role. Whereas TSFs are all about mobility and Hive infiltration, the TSAs are all about ranged combat with overwhelming fire power. They are, without a doubt, the shield to TSFs’ sword. The A-6 Intruder proved itself in beach landing operations, but due to the lack of Jump Units their role would always be limited. The answer to this was the A-10 Thunderbolt II, designed to litter the field with bullets like its real world counterpart.

The A-10 is essentially designed on F-4’s frame, and it shares its problems with increased bulk and weight. The A-10 balances these out adding even more armour (some optional!), superior Jump Units and sheer amount of fire power it carries. On its shoulders the A-10 carries two GAU-8 Avenger gatling guns in addition whatever weapon they can carry in their arms, like the WS-16 Assault Gun. It doesn’t have any Mount Pylons, but it needs none. In addition, the A-10 has Javelin CIDS Mk. 1 system installed all over its body. These are essentially explosive spikes that can be shot out in an explosive manner to get Tank-Class BETA off its surface.

 

The additional armour makes it look like it's hiding from its sempai. Just add blushing lines in there
The additional armour makes it look like it’s hiding from its sempai. Just add blushing lines in there

The role A-10 serves on the field is simple; massive crowd control. Its main role is to keep the smaller BETA strain under control, mainly the Tank-Class, while the TSFs can concentrate on the larger strains. The two comp each other, as A-10 is not terribly good against the larger strains due to its lack of mobility and melee weapons. Their main moment of glory was in late 1983, when Attack Squadron Pit Masters defended Hamburg from BETA invasion. Despite 50% losses, the invasion was halted, and the German civilians gave the craft an affectionate nickname Kanonenvogel after the Ju-87 Bomber.

Much like the real world version, the TSA A-10 gained some upgrades throughout the tears, mainly upgraded to use Operation by Light controls, newer and lighter armour plating as well as access to the Mk.57 Squad Support Gun and AMWS-21 Assault Gun. Much like with the real life version, the TSA has overall better performance after the upgrades.

A-10
The only officially coloured lineart of A-10 can be found in Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse World Guidance’s upgraded tech tree in a very miniscule size. There’s a fan render out there that’s using wrong colours too. Technically, the one used here is a A-10C, but the two share the same lineart

This TSA has the least of lines out of any piece I’ve done thus far. The main reason for this is the same as with MiG-21; it adheres to the in-universe logic that F-4 was the starting point and directly ascending it or using its frame use its main form. The TSA A-10 follows more the idea of field littering support unit than the form of the craft. This is applied to the armouring as well. Even the Jump Units are unique in that they replicate only the latter part of the craft and one of the sides.

There is very little A-10 in A-10 in terms of clear visual cues. The additional armour gives it more curved surface resembling the aircraft, but outside that it’s very stripped down. I would have preferred to see a more direct adoption of sleek curves from the plane itself instead of opting to follow the F-4 TSFs. At least the legs could’ve used some elements from the landing gears.

Plane elements in Tactical Surface Fighters; MiG-27 Alligator

Let’s point out that the English name of this TSF can be disputed. In Japanese, the name is アリゲートル, Arigeetoru. The little Russian I know, it should be written as Аллигаторы, or Alligatory. Seeing how no other TSF name is plural, I’m going to use my own head here and assume my ass out that its name was supposed to be Alligator, Аллигатор. It’s not uncommon to see âge misspelling names, like Schwarzesmarken or Valkylies.

The MiG-27 inherited the same basic airframe the MiG-23 had, but got a revised nose. It was first introduced to the service as MiG-23B as the ground attack variant of MiG-23, and after initial runs it saw some additional changes. Flogger-D, as NATO designated it, serves as battlefield  attacker and thus these changes accommodated its role. Both sides of the cockpit are protected from small arms fire and frontal view was increased. New terrain-avoidance radar and nav/attack systems were installed to give the pilot the edge they’d need.

MiG-23 and MiG-27 were one of the first swing-wing fighters with three sweep settings; 16-degrees for take-off, 45-degrees for cruising and 72-degrees for high performance flight. Sukhoi would continue using swing-wing in its fighters down the line. Sadly, it would seem this variable geometry configuration is more or less obsolete nowadays now that relaxed stability flight controls systems have negated most of the disadvantages the fixed platform fighter had. That, and it takes much fewer resources to designs and maintain solid fighters with no variable control surfaces.

The Tumanksy R-29B-300 turbojet engine the MiG-29 uses gives it a respectable thrust of 11 500kg. The fighters’ empty weight is 11 300kg with a maximum take-off weight at 20 300kg. The armaments are respectable, having one 30mm cannon in the belly pod with seven pylons for missiles and rockets up to 4000kg, including nuclear carry capability. Nevertheless, MiG-27 was in production almost three decades until 1997 with  around 4000 units build. It is a potent fighter with ceiling of 14 008m, range of 1080km and climb rate of 12 007m per minute, the MiG-27 can be still found serving different airforces around the world due to Soviets and Russians importing it to countries like Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan and India.

Overall, a classic fighter, but I’m still partial for MiG-21.

Aligatori_2
Original here

I’m always surprised how tightly knit MiG variants are, but ultimately that showcases how it’s not feasible to have a fighter that would excel in all roles. As such, I’ve noticed how TSFs are either shooty or knify, but the ones trying to do both don’t really stand out at all. TSAs on the other hand stand apart from their TSF brethren just fine.

While the MiG-27 is variant of MiG-23, it’s TSF version is more or less an upgraded standalone version, and its performance and changes made to the frame were supposedly significant enough to give it a separate designation. The two look pretty much the same, having only one or two actually important changes, like on the arms and in certain details here and there, like on the knees and on the holes of the shoulder armours neat the head.

WhY mY ShOuLdErS hUrT?
An argument for all TSFs looking the same, unless you recognize how the real fighters look almost the same as well

The Alligator uses nicely surfaces and elements from the MiG-27 fighter. It’s more inspired than some other TSFs and has instantly recognizable, boxy look to it. The groin guard is a relatively unique in that it encompasses more elements than just the fighter’s nose. The head isn’t anything special, but I would argue the shapes on top of the head are inspired by the point where the variable wings are attached to the fuselage. The shoulders and arms should’ve been just a tad slimmer to follow the surprising thin nature of MiG-27, but overall there’s a healthy amount of plane elements in there, especially in the line language, mixed with TSF original materials, notably in the legs.

It would appear that close-combat focused TSFs function as equivalents for ground attack fighters. As such, the Alligator has a larger Soviet Army Combat Knife for better BETA cutting power. I’m not sure how this translates as better close combat capabilities, as the Alligator doesn’t have any more sharp points on its armour than its predecessor, Cheburashka. It’s got the WS-16 Assault Cannon and the same DS-3 MPSA shield MiG-21’s use. I guess it’s just quicker and more nimble than its predecessor, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into better performance at close range. That translates into better performance overall.

Much like the real life MiG-27, the Alligator is supposedly still in action during the events of Alternative, making  about 40% of Soviet Surface Fighter forces. It’s a competent, basic TSF that doesn’t do anything too fancy, but has the basics down just fine for a Second Generation TSF. It’s direct descendant MiG-29 Ласточка/Lastochka/Swallow and MiG-29OVT Fulcrum do everything the Alligator did and then some more while still staying in the range if Second Generation TSFs.

Of course, Su-37 and Su-47 would totally eclipse the MiG-27 in their time in terms of performance, close combat capabilities and fire power.

I just wanted to throw this in here
I just wanted to throw this in here

Remember to check the Tactical Surface Fighter tag I have for all the previous posts with TSF/plane comparisons.

Music of the Month; Crusader

This one will be short. For a while now I’ve been emphasizing on these Music of the Month bits how I’ve been living in a period of change and how I have been busy with work. Well, let’s just say that work business has now died down, and I will be busy with other matters. That said, I will not put the blog down and will continue to do two posts per week, more if possible.

This week we recorded a podcast with Evan from the Alternative Projects and few other special guests. This is one of those special podcasts that will appear on this site, but it’s a long one and as such will take some time to edit down. It was supposed to be ready today, but I had a two-day gig again, which took all of my time.

All previous ideas from last month are still valid and on paper. I tend to play the long game. You might remember it took almost two years to make that laserdisc player review. To continue from that on, there’s is nothing new on the Muv-Luv front. Sure, Schwarzesmarken first part was just released and I have read it a bit, but it’s less relevant for the Western fan that doesn’t understand the language. What I mean is that currently the Kickstarter is at production phase, where some products are going through final revisions whereas others, like the reworked translations, are under being worked on. As such, this is pretty much the storm’s eye moment, where we went through the first part of the storm with the Kickstarter, but we still need to go through last gusts of winds.

And that spot is was worries me quite a lot. Recently you have seen some news of game companies refusing to release games in the West if they have sexy characters. Dead or Alive Extreme has been on the news for this and Koei Tecmo made an official announcement on the issue. Next to them, Idea Factory and Compile Heart have stated that they will follow the suit. This is pretty fat bullshit, and we all know it. Here’s the thing; no company or no person should be forced to censor their product for a foreign audience, especially if this product is already for teens or older.

I do understand why these companies want to avoid localisation. It’s not just about the bad press they would get, even if it really would be from limited sources like Gawker. It’s amusing to see how the US has become a hugbox where nobody’s feelings can be hurt in any way, and France is the nation that is picking up a fight. There’s also a monetary aspect, and just not having to deal with bullshit expenses is always welcomed.

Companies like XSEED have been treating their products and customers well. Degica, while a company that doesn’t put itself too much in the front, really need to be noticed. Not only they handled Muv-Luv’s Kickasterter incredibly well, but they’ve been pushing out games like Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours. Hell, Degica has been digitally publishing large numbers of shooting games, including a bit obscure titles like Judgement Silversword. Now if they could just partner with GOG to the same extent. However, I am expecting to see some level of shitstorm brewing about when Muv-Luv’s release draws near. I know NeoGAF already had issues with it, and whenever they release the patch that adds the ‘important bits’ back, things may get a bit heated. The best thing for Degica in this case would not to back on their word. After all, it’s a million dollar Kickstarter, breaking promises will affect their possible future fund raisers.

So, what’s store for us? I’ll be finishing year’s last TSF comparison, I wanted to do some more reading on it, but I feel all of it was for nothing. There’s that aforementioned podcast and then… something I need to check, I have a horrible memory. One thing I require to do is to take time for myself and make myself better at things. There most likely will be a personal entry, haven’t done one of those in a long time. Let’s have some more Keldian to lighten up the mood, shall we?

Plane elements in Tactical Surface Fighters; EuroFightas Typhoon

The canard-delta wing craft  multi-national pride Eurofighter Typhoon first flew in March 27 1994. The Typhoon began as a joint project between Great Britain,  France, Germany, Italy and Spain. As we know, France split from the group in 1985 to pursue their own fighter, which became the Rafale. The two fighters share a similar overall appearance because of their common origin.

Whatever you want to call the Typhoon, there’s no denying that the fighter is well-suited for its air dominance role with instantaneous and sustained turn rates, low wing loading, high thrust-to-weight ratio, excellent all-around vision and ease of handling. It’s two turbofans generate a combined thrust of 18 396kg, which is comparable to the F-14 Tomcat’s, but an unladen Typhoon weights half as much as the weight of an empty Tomcat. This is due to the Typhoon being constructed by using lightweight composite materials and glass fibre.

The good vision the pilot has from a Typhoon serves it’s sophisticated attack systems well, and its identification and defence systems include Infra-Red search and track, advanced medium and short-range air-to-air missiles and largely a comprehensive electronics warfare suite. Despite it lacking stealth the Typhoon can put up a tough fight, especially when you realise that it doesn’t just have chaffs and flares, but decoys as well carried on its wingtip pods.

Despite it’s intended role, the Typhoon is really an all-around multirole combat fighter. It’s basic armaments consist of one 27mm cannon and 13 hardpoints carrying up to 6 500kg of ordinance from short and medium range AAMs to wide range of stand-off weapons, bombs and rockets. It’s underside looks like they just bolted every single sort of missile and rocket they could and made it fly fast.

All this sounds good, but it could’ve been even better, if not for Germany threatening to remove themselves from the joint project in 1992 due to rising costs.

The Typhoon requires fly-by-wire system as it is aerodynamically unstable. This offers the fighter  high levels of agility, enhanced lift and reduced drag. Fly-by-wire has become standard to a large extent, which can be equated to power steering in cars. The pilots also have a relatively advanced cockpit with wide angle HUD and three monitors displaying the needed instrument information and flight data. The helmets even have a sight for the weapons, and direct voice input allows the pilot controls by talking to the fighter. That’s some serious sci-fi shit right there; Next  thing you know is that some poor bastard falls in love with their machine while fighting some strawberry jam aliens.

The British variants of the Typhoon are assembled by BAE Systems from components produced in partner countries, and partner countries have their own assembly lines in Munich, Turin and Madrid. There are numerous variants of the Typhoon, and even a navalised variant has been proposed.

Unlike the F-14 Tomcat, the TSF version of the Typhoon stands well next to its original counterpart. Numerous elements are instantly recognizable, despite the legs again being more or less based on nothing.

F-14 Tomcat
Original and image board version

Much like the fighter, the TSF EF-2000 is a fast hitting machine wielding sharpened components in almost every part of its body, which gives it an edge in engaging the BETA over American F-22A. These components also work as control surfaces during high speed maneuvers. Then you have the Euro Front only weapons: BWS-8 Flugelberte with the Germans, a goddamn axe, and the choice of weapon of the British Storm Vanguards, the BWS-3 Great Sword that’s made so insanely over the top that it’s nickname’s the Fort Slayer.

It's a ridiculous sword
It’s a damn ridiculous sword. Type 74 and Type 77 PB Blades, XCIWS-2B, BWS-8 Flugelberte are all reasonable weapons, but the BWS-3 and Falcate Sword are just way over the top, BWS-3 topping everything else

Despite all these close-combat abilities, the EF-2000 is able to carry the more or less usual GWS-9 Assault Guns, but also has the access to the absolutely bombastic Mk.57 Squad Support Gun, which is essentially a high-mobility support gun for the TSFs. While the US doctrine is to shoot everything and most others combine traditional armour forces with the aforementioned traditional forces, the Euro Front employs the Mk.57 with its TSFs to support each other, freeing thanks and others to stay at defensive positions. With the range of over 20km and high mobility of the EF-2000, the Mk.57 has made its impact.

093
Outside the GAU-8 Avenger the A-10 carries, this gun is the best gun ever. Then again, the A-10 is a TSA and not a TSF

What more to add? While visually the real life fighter is a bit dull, the TSF is absolutely spot-on.