Earthforce Monsoon Class Gunboat (Babylon Five):

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In the year of 2266 Earthforce general Meade opened a competition for the design of a Gunboat class ship, officially to replace the aging Olympus class corvettes. Unofficially the competition was held because Earthforce had been very impressed by the performance of the Whitestar class ships of the Interstellar Alliance. While all senior officials realized that even with gravitic technology now at their disposal the new ship would never equal the Whitestar design, they were also aware that a dedicated gunboat would be a very potent weapon when used in large numbers.

The competition itself was successful, attracting designs from half a dozen firms. The ultimate winner was the Monsoon Class design from Hyperspace Industries, and was the brainchild of their highly successful chief designer Lars Joreteg.

The Monsoon is a rather squat and blunt design, with as much machinery and weapons packed into a small hull. At the corners of the hull are four Ion engine clusters, made up of maneuvering thrusters, braking thrusters, and four main thrusters. The spacing of these engines gives the Monsoon a good maneuverability. Located on the bottom of the ship is a single hangar bay, used mainly to hold a single shuttle, although in a emergency it can also accommodate two Starfuries. The ship is however not designed to carry more fighters than that, not even with the shuttle removed. Internally there are two decks for the crew, and both are equipped with artificial gravity, just like the hangar bay. This protects the crew and the shuttle against the rigors of sudden combat accelerations.

These ships are too small to carry jump engines and must be escorted by a ship with jump engines to travel from system to system, or use Jumpgates to travel through Hyperspace. The ship is propelled by four Ion engines and a gravitic drive. The engines output is actually equal to that of a Olympus class corvette which, coupled with the Monsoons smaller size, makes for a very fast ship. However, at full power the ship needs to be refueled multiple times for long range missions.

The most dominant feature of the Monsoons is without a doubt the huge Particle Beam Cannon mounted in the upper part of the hull. This massive weapon is a (smaller) derivative of the GOD satellite weapons, and accounts for nearly 20% of the ships empty mass. It is a very powerful weapon for a ship this size, and it allows the Monsoon to take on much larger ships. The ship’s secondary weapons are a pair of Pulse cannons, located on the sides, between the engine blocks. These weapons are also quite powerful, but have a much lower range than the Particle beam cannon. Like the Particle Beam Cannon, they can only fire in a limited arc forward. Under the chin of the ship is a turret with another two pulse cannons. This turret gives the two cannons a much better arc of fire than the slightly larger fixed cannons. For defense against fighters the gunboat has four turret mounted pulse Gatling cannons. These are essentially the same weapons as carried in the Thunderbolt Starfury, although the turret mounted mounts have nearly double the range of the fighter mounted version.

For further defense there is a interceptor grid which fires low powered energy beams to intercept incoming fire and uses electromagnetic fields to disperse energy that is fired at the ships. The interceptor grid also employs a system designed to decoy incoming missiles. The systems is more effective against plasma cannons and pulse cannons (Actually another style of plasma cannon - does not work as efficiently on weapon systems that simply fire in pulses) than the system is on other energy weapons. The system quickly get overloaded though and cannot operate continuously and is not as effective as the shields on Minbari and Centauri ships. For Armor the Monsoons have a version of the Plasteel/Crystalline armor also carried by the Warlock class destroyer. This would seem to be a copy of the Armor on the IA Victory class Destroyers, but is less effective and is in reality a development of the EA itself. It has been made possible due to the study of Shadow Bio-armor, pieces of Minbari Crystalline armor, and the study of the armor the Dilgar used. .

The final weapons of the ship are located in two interchangeable mission dependant pods. In this case these are two missile pods, carrying four Long Range Missiles for anti-ship purposes and two Medium Range Missiles for fighter defense each. Other pods carry Pulse cannons or extra sensors. The last option changes the role of the ship to that of a Scout.

Although the ship has artificial gravity in all of its crew spaces, it is still very cramped, and the ship is much less luxurious than true capital ships. Since most of the ship mission will be short-ranged and/or limited to one system only, this is not a real problem.

The ship carries one shuttle and a maximum of 2 fighters. There are no facilities for marines on the ships.

Listed is the formula to allow player and game masters to calculate the Earthforce Monsoon velocity and distance traveled:

Model: Earthforce Monsoon Class
Class: Gunboat
Crew: 46 (5 Officers and 41 Enlisted)
Troops: none

Vehicle Compliment:

2SA-23E Aurora Starfuries.
1Standard Shuttle

M.D.C. by Location:

Particle Beam Cannon:1000
Pulse Cannons (2):300 Each
Double Pulse Cannon Turret:400
Gatling Pulse Cannons (4):150
Mission Packs (2) :300 each
[1] Main Sensor Cluster (1, front):800
[2] Main Body:8,000
[3] Bridge:2,000
[4] Ion Fusion Engines (4):1,000 each
[5] Interceptor Grids (6):300 per side

SPECIAL: The ship’s armor looks to be a copy of the new Earth/Minbari armor used on the Victory class destroyer and deflects 40% of all incoming energy away, not counting purely kinetic energy weapons. Substract 40% of all damage done to the ships hit locations by energy weapons and explosions! Kinetic energy weapons do full damage.
[1] The Main sensor cluster is located under the chin of the ship, just above the pulse cannon turret. Destroying it means that the ship will have -40% to read sensory rolls, all sensor ranges are halved, and all long range weapons have a -2 to strike. It is however a small target, and is -3 to hit.
[2] Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body will put the Escort Carrier out of commission. All internal systems will shut down, including life support. The ship itself will be an unsalvageable floating wreck.
[3] In reality this is how much damage needs to be done for a weapon to hit the bridge through the ship’s armor. This ship does not have an auxiliary bridge. Even if the ship’s bridge is destroyed, the ship can still be piloted from engineering but ship is -3 to dodge and all weapon systems will be at local control. Weapon hits near the bridge that do not penetrate the ships integrity can injure crew members on or near the bridge.
[4] The Destruction of one Ion engine reduces the ships maximum acceleration by one eight. The destruction of two Ion Engines reduces the ships maximum acceleration by one quarter, and gives the ship a - 2 penalty to dodge. Destroying three Ion Engines will reduce the ships maximum acceleration by three eights. Destroying all four Ion Engines means that the maximum sublight acceleration is reduced to half, and imposes a -4 penalty to dodge. In order to destroy the gravitic engine the entire main body must be destroyed, as it is part of the main body. Thus, the Monsoon will always have the ability to accelerate at least 5 G.
[5] The Interceptor Grid gives only partial defense against energy weapons and as the system absorbs more damage this percentage of damage will be reduced. The system will absorb up to 300 M.D.C. per side. Initially, the system will absorb 80% of damage from plasma weapons and pulse cannons (Actually another style of plasma cannon - does not work at this higher efficiency on other weapon systems that fire in pulses). This is because is it much easier to disperse plasma than an actually energy beam. The system does not absorb damage from rail guns, other projectile weapons, and from missiles. Initially, the ships will also absorb 40% of other styles of energy weapons as well (This includes non plasma style pulse weapons as well). For every 30 M.D.C. that the system absorbs, the system will be reduced in effectiveness by 10% for subsequent strikes (Example: If an Interceptor Grid absorbs 60 M.D.C., the Interceptor Grid will only absorb 60% of plasma damage and 20% of the damage for any other energy weapon when struck next.) The defense grid recovers at the rate of 30 M.D.C. per minute. The missile decoy portion of the system is described separately below.

Driving on the Ground: Not Possible.
Space Propulsion: The starship does not have an effective top speed but is limited by acceleration. The Monsoon Class Gunboat can reach a top acceleration of 10 G but due to high fuel consumption and extra strain on the engines, the ship will normally travel at 1 G for any extended trips. Top acceleration is only meant for emergencies and combat maneuvers.
Because the Monsoon IS shielded from the effects of radiation and hypervelocity atomic particles , the gunboat can be operated at speeds of up to 40 percent of light.
Atmospheric Propulsion: The Monsoon cannot operate within an atmosphere. If the ship enters an atmosphere, it will crash.
Note: It is rumored that Earthforce HAS a few Monsoons available that are capable of atmospheric flight and even landing. These ships have not yet been seen, and it is suggested that they carry significantly reduced weaponry and armor to lighten the ships sufficiently. If these craft exist they are used for black ops.
Stardrive: The ship does not have a jump drive but can use already formed jump points such as those formed by jump gates. While in hyperspace, the ship to reach a maximum of 6.5 light-years per hour. This means that the Monsoon Class Gunboat can cover the Galaxy in about 18 months (will need to refuel periodically and these ships were not really designed to travel that far).
Maximum Range: Conditionally unlimited, while the fusion reactors give power for over a decade of service, the ships Ion Engines are limited by the ships reaction mass. It is not recommended to fly the ship on Gravitic drive alone, because they are a new system and might prove unstable over longer periods of time. Therefore it is recommended to always refuel the ship when possible. The ship can be refueled at ground based facilities, space stations, and other star ships as long as they have the special facilities. The ship can also be refueled by fuel shuttles.
The Gunboat carries four months of reaction mass for travel at 0.5 G of acceleration using only Ion engines. Double the consumption of fuel for 1.0 G of acceleration and double the consumption again for every 1.0 G of acceleration beyond 1 G. This means the ship will burn the fuel 32 times faster at maximum acceleration than at 0.5 G of acceleration, using only Ion Engines! There is no fuel consumption for the Gravimetric engines, other than the fact that it drains large amounts of power. The ships fusion reactor can cope with that easily though. The ship will often accelerate for a period of time and then shut down the engine and travel using the ships velocity. Should the ship use more than half of its reaction mass when accelerating, the ship will be unable to decelerate fully using only Ion engines. Therefore the ship will normally only use a third or less of its fuel on accelerating so it does not run into a problem. If the ship runs out of fuel then it can be refueled by another vehicle traveling faster than it, or it must decelerate using gravitic drives only, which is currently discouraged for safety reasons.

Statistical Data
Height: 495 feet (70 meters)
Length: 1,482 feet (200 meters)
Width: 1052.3 feet (120 meters)
Weight: 5,100,000 tons (4,600,000 metric tons)
Power System: 1 General Fusion C-600 Fusion Reactor (1 year duration). However, it is recommended that the drive and power system have routine maintenance every 6 months. Also, the ship only carries about a four month supply of reaction mass.
Cargo: 120,000 tons
Cost: 3,4 billion credits to construct

Weapon Systems:

  1. Particle Beam Cannon: The Monsoons most powerful weapon, this mighty cannon is a derivative of the huge GOD satellite guns. Mounted forward in a rigid mount the cannon has only a limited arc of fire, but a tremendous power and range for a weapon mounted in such a small craft. The cannons takes credit for almost 20 percent of the Monsoons weight. Due to the needed recharge and cooling time, the cannon has a limited rate of fire.
    Mega Damage: 4D6x100
    Maximum Effective Range: 74.6 miles (120 km) in an atmosphere and 74,600 miles (120,000 km) in space.
    Rate of Fire: ONCE per melee
    Payload: Effectively Unlimited.
  2. Pulse Cannons :Two pulse cannons that are placed on both sides of the hull, just forward of the engine blocks. Each gun can only fire forward, but their solid mounting means that they are more powerful than the Pulse Cannons in the chin turret, and have a better range too. These cannons can be fired linked.
    Mega Damage: 1D6x100 per cannon, for 2D6x100 per double blast.
    Maximum Effective Range: 7 miles (11 km) in an atmosphere and 7,000 miles (11,260 km) in space.
    Rate of Fire: Two times per melee
    Payload: unlimited
  3. Double Pulse Cannon turret : A Turret located under the chin of the monsoon, it carries two linked pulse cannons which are quite powerful, but short ranged. The pulse cannons are normally fired together. This weapons has standard penalties to hit small targets. When the Monsoon is used in the Scout role this turret is usually swapped for extra reaction mass and supplies.
    The turret has a 90 degree arc, and a rotation of 240 degrees (cannot fire backwards)
    Mega Damage: 1D4x100 per cannon, for 2D4x100 per double blast.
    Maximum Effective Range: 5 miles (8 km) in an atmosphere and 5,000 miles (8,050 km) in space.
    Rate of Fire: Two times per melee
    Payload: unlimited
  4. Gatling Pulse Cannons (4) : These cannons are the Monsoons main Point Defense weapons for missile and starfighter defense. Basically these are the same Gatling Pulse cannons that are also mounted on the Thunderbolt Star Fury. This cannon holds six rotating barrels, and is capable of firing bursts of up to six pulses at a time, but it has a range nearly twice that of the fighter mounted cannon. This cannon fires rapid bursts of super charged Plasma and is similar in function to the pulse cannons on the larger Earthforce warships. However, due to it firing bursts, it has a better overall chance to hit. Each weapon is controlled by a gunner, and the cannons are mounted in single turrets. Author Note: The source on this weapon system lists the weapons range as 160,000 km. It has been reduces to fit more with Palladium frameworks.
    The cannon is +2 to strike, has no penalties to hit small targets, and each cannon has a 360 degree rotation and 180 degree arc of fire.
    Mega Damage: 1D6x10 for a single pulse, can fire up to six pulses per burst for 6D6x10. Each burst counts as one attack.
    Maximum Effective Range: 20 miles (32.1 km) in an atmosphere and 1400 miles (3,210 km) in space.
    Rate of Fire: Equal to the combined hand to hand attacks of the gunner (usually 4 or 5).
    Payload: Effectively Unlimited.
  5. Mission Pallets: The ship can carry a variety of different mission pallets on the two side mounts. Right now there are three different packs available for mounting, although it is expected that more varieties will be available in the future.
    These packs are usually carried in pairs, and there is usually no mixing of different types.
    1. Type 1 (standard) Missile pallet: Each rack holds four launch tubes for anti-ship LRM`s, and two tubes for anti-fighter MRM`s. Each tube only holds a single missile, and the tubes cannot be reloaded during a mission. Missiles are assumed to accelerate at 2 times normal mach speed in Gs greater than the starships speed when used in space. Whether weapons can be shot down is calculated from the speed of target, launcher, and missile. When drive goes dead, missile will continue to travel in a straight line unless set to self destruct but has very low odds of hitting star ships (Great for hitting bases and planets because target does not move and missile, when unpowered, is at -25% to be detected.) All missiles are considered smart missiles. Each of these launchers can be targeted and fired at different targets.
      Maximum Effective Range: varies with missile type, long range missiles (Powered range is 8 x normal in space - Go to revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
      Mega-Damage & Properties: Varies with warhead type (Go to revised bomb and missile tables for details.) Heavy fusion does 2D4X100 M.D.C.
      Rate of fire per Rack: One at a time or in volleys of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 per melee attack. The ship can fire a total volley of 12 missiles in one turn.
      Payload: 6 per rack, for a total of 12 Long Range Missiles.
    2. Type 2 (Pulse Cannon Pallet): Each of these pallets carries a turret with two pulse cannons. These turrets are identical to the turret carried as a standard item under the chin of the Monsoon. Due to limitations in the ships power supply these turrets have a lower rate of fire than the chin mounted turret.
      The turrets have a 360 degree arc, and a rotation of 180 degrees.
      Mega Damage: 1D4x100 per cannon, for 2D4x100 per double blast.
      Maximum Effective Range: 5 miles (8 km) in an atmosphere and 5,000 miles (8,050 km) in space.
      Rate of Fire: once per melee
      Payload: unlimited
    3. Type 3 (Sensor pallets): These pallets carry no weapons, instead, they carry a powerful array of sensors and ECM systems. These give the Monsoon the ability to be used as a scout.
      When used as a scout it is normal that the chin turret of the Monsoon is also removed, and is replaced with a hull section which holds reaction mass and supplies for a extra month.
      Bonuses: Each of these two packs gives the Monsoon a 25% bonus on sensor rolls, and increases its sensor range by 50%. Thus, with both packs in working order the Monsoon has a + 50% bonus on its sensor rolls, and its sensors have twice the normal range.
      ECM: The additional ECM makes the Monsoon harder to detect, and gives a -1 penalty to strike per Pallet. This ALSO works for sensors employed by the Minbari and the Centauri, but does not work on First Ones sensor systems.
  6. Missile Decoy System: These systems launches clouds of chaff and electromagnetic decoys around the ship. This system is the final part of the interceptor grid. The decoy cloud will remain around the ship for a period of time unless the ship accelerates, decelerates, or changes course which will take ship out of the chaff cloud within one melee. The system is a series of decoy launchers that are placed around the ship. Even if the main interceptor system is not functional, this system will still operate.
    Mega-Damage: any vehicle flying through take 2D6 M.D.C.
    1. Has a 50% chance of confusing or deflecting missiles from most younger races. This system does not work on missiles from Centauri, Minbari, or other Race with similar or more advance missile systems.
    2. Disguises ships radar signature. This gives a -2 penalty to strike. (Does not work on Centauri, Minbari, and races that are as advanced or more advanced than the Centauri and Minbari) As long as the ship does not accelerates, decelerates, or changes course the chaff will take five melees to disburse. If the ship accelerates, decelerates, or changes course, the ship will leave the chaff cloud in one melee.
      Maximum Effective Range: Ship and 1,000 feet (305 m) radius around ship
      Rate of Fire: Once (1) Per Melee.
      Payload: 10

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Technical information sourced partially from Babylon 5 Technical Manual!

Original Monsoon Concept and Picture Copyright by Lars Joreteg ( He has his own website at Hyperspace: A Guide to the Ships of Babylon 5 and Crusade

Writeup by Mischa (E-Mail Mischa).

Formatting and minor revisions by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Rifts Conversion Copyright © 2000, Mischa. All rights reserved.