Confederation A-17 Broadsword Heavy Bomber (Wing Commander):

The A-17 Broadsword Bomber was manufactured by Douglas Aerospace which is well known for the production of the Ferret patrol fighter in addition to the heavy bomber. The Broadsword bomber served as the Confederations primary torpedo bomber for over thirty-five years. The heavy bomber was considered with horror by most Kilrathi capital ship’s captain and crew. The Broadsword is the heaviest “fighter” in service with the Confederation military and is classified as a "Heavy Bomber." The bomber masses in the area of 100 tons, has massive armor, powerful shields, and three defensive turrets. Broadsword bombers have the most capital ship kills of any bomber in service to date. The big bombers have eight hard points with four stressed for anti-capital ship torpedoes.

The primary concern of most pilots regarding the Broadsword is the bombers lack of auxiliary thrusters and overall relatively slow speed which causes pilots to have to spend more time on the battlefield and in vulnerable attack positions. Engineers attempted to counteract the bomber's weakness with three dual neutron gun turrets on the sides and rear of the bomber and three forward firing mass-driver cannons mounted in the bomber's nose. Even though the bomber's maneuverability is limited, Attacking the heavy bomber can be deadly for fighters. In addition to the huge number of capital ship kills, the Broadsword bomber has a large number of fighter kills. There are reports of Broadsword bombers returning after taking damage which would have destroyed an entire squadron of lighter fighters.

Unlike most smaller craft, the Broadsword bomber mounts a jump drive. There are various fixed points which are weaknesses in the fabric of space which the craft can use to jump to another fixed point in a different star system. These weaknesses have been mapped so that ships know the location of the jump points and the destination of the jump point. These jump points gives the heavy bomber the ability to project power outside of the system it is operating from. The jump drives use massive amounts of fuel and the bomber is limited to two jumps without being refueled. Fuel for the jump drives is basically hydrogen but the heavy bomber lacks scoops to gather the hydrogen which most capital ships have. The fuel is also used on most fighters for the auxiliary thrusters.

There have been a variety of attempts to replace the Broadsword bomber These attempts include the Crossbow bomber. The Crossbow was much lighter at forty tons and more maneuverable but only a little faster than the heavier Broadsword. While forward firepower was increased on the Crossbow, the side defense mounts of the broadsword were eliminated. In addition, the Crossbow had less powerful shields and only around half the armor of the Broadsword. As a result, most pilots preferred the older heavy bomber. Because the Broadsword bomber was too large to operate from escort carriers, a strike bomber was developed from the Sabre heavy fighter. While much faster than the Broadsword bomber, the Strike Sabre was not as heavily armored and lacked the ability to make jumps out of the system. During the bombers service, various improvements were made including better tracking systems and improved electronics. Virtually all bombers were upgraded to the A-17F model.

Unfortunately, the Confederation military lost the majority of its remaining inventory of Broadsword bombers during the Battle of Earth during ill-fated torpedo runs against Kilrathi supercarriers. As a result, the Broadsword bomber was retired from active service after the engagement. The new Longbow bomber has since replaced the Broadsword and all surviving units are in use with reserve squadrons.

Notes of game conversion:

Because of the nature of the Video Game series “Wing Commander” and the needs to put the fighter into game mechanics, the fighter has several modification compared to the Video Game. The most important change it to change top speed to acceleration. Like fighters in Star Wars and original Battlestar Galactica, the fighters appear to act as if they are in the atmosphere even when they operating in space. This is incorrect. The Television series Babylon 5 and the new Battlestar Galactic are good series to watch to get a clearer idea on how space vehicles would probably maneuver although still not a perfect perspective. The fighter has been modified to uses my revised phase world starship rules and can hold their own against most C.A.F and Kreeghor fighters. See Revised Starship Rules for Phase World / Three Galaxies for more details.

Model Type: A-17F Broadsword Bomber
Vehicle Type: Heavy Fleet Attack Bomber
Crew: Five (Pilot, Weapons Officer, 2 Side Gunners, and Tail Gunner)

M.D.C. By Location:

Nose Mass Driver Cannons (3):40 each
Missile Hard Points (8):10 each
Turret Mounted Neutron Cannons (6, 2 each turret):50 each
Rear and Side Ball Turrets (3)100
[1] Engines (2):500 each
Landing Struts (3):20 each
[2] Main Body:2,000
Reinforced Pilots Cockpit:400
[3] Variable Force Field:500 per side (3,000 total)

[1] Loss of an engine will reduce performance of fighter by one half and loss of two engines will prevent fighter from performing beyond 5% of normal (This is using maneuvering thrusters and gravitic propulsion). Due to gravitic propulsion systems, fighter will not crash in an atmosphere even if both engines are destroyed
[2] Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body will put the fighter out of commission. All internal systems will shut down, including life support and internal gravity. The ship itself will be an unsalvageable floating wreck. In an atmosphere, the fighter will crash
[3] Shields positions can be varied and all could be combined in one shield. Shields regenerate at the rate of 5% (150 M.D.C.) per melee.

Driving on the Ground: Not Possible.
Sublight: Has a special sublight engine that allows the ship to travel up to 40 percent of the speed of light. Bomber can accelerate/decelerate at the rate of 0.72 percent of light per melee maximum.
Atmospheric Propulsion: Unlike most fighters, the bomber is not very aerodynamic and not very maneuverable in an atmosphere. As a result, the fighter can achieve escape velocity (Mach 32.6 / 25053 mph / 40320 kph) but cannon fight effectively in an atmosphere and is generally limited to Mach 2.68 (1,988.4 mph / 3,200 kph) or less and flies through brute force. The bomber also has Gravitic propulsion systems enabling it to leave an atmosphere even at low velocities.
Stardrive: The bomber mounts a jump drive which is capable of jumping instantly from a fixed point in a system to another fixed point in a system. These points are weaknesses in the fabric of space and have been mapped in most cases. The jump drive has enough fuel for two jumps. Fuel is hydrogen.
Maximum Range: Effectively unlimited by internal fuel (10 year duration) although jump drive is limited to two jumps without refueling. Bomber uses a very small fusion cell system for power systems. The bomber carries three weeks of consumables for bomber's crew.

Statistical Data:
Length: 118.11 feet (36.0 meters)
Height: 47.24 feet (14.4 meters)
Width: 106.30 feet (32.4 meters)
Weight: 110.23 tons (100 metric tons) unloaded
Power System: Fusion power supply with a 10 year duration.
Cargo: Small Storage Space, 3.5 ft x 3.5 ft x 4 ft. Used for emergency equipment and weapons.
Market Cost: 110.09 million credits.


  1. Triple Mass Driver Cannons: These cannons are mounted on the nose of the heavy bomber. Cannons are shorter ranged than lasers but inflict greater damage. The mass driver is a very solid weapon which is basically a rail gun that uses a linear accelerator to fire projectiles of metallic mass at a target. In addition to range, the mass driver needs to use ammunition and has a limited payload.
    Maximum Effective Range: 1,242.7 miles (2000 km) in space and 6.21 miles (10 km) in an atmosphere.
    Mega Damage: 2D6x10 per cannon per 20 round burst and 6D6x10 for all three cannons firing a 60 round burst
    Rate of Fire: Equal to the combined hand to hand attacks of the pilot (usually 4 or 5).
    Payload: 10,000 Rounds (500 Bursts) per cannon.
  2. Twin Neutron Cannons in Ball Turrets (3): The bomber has three ball turrets, one in the rear of the bomber with the other two turrets mounted on the sides of the bomber. While not as long range as lasers, they pack a much larger punch. Turret can rotate about from centerline to track targets. The weapon inflict about equal damage to most energy weapons carried on most C.A.F. Starfighters but, even though short range by Confederation standards, have a longer range than most fighter weapons in the Three Galaxies.
    Maximum Effective Range: 1,534.3 miles (2,500 km) in space and 7.8 miles (12.5 km) in an atmosphere.
    Mega Damage: 2D6x10+10 per cannon and 4D6x10+20 for both cannons
    Rate of Fire: Equal to gunners hand to hand (Usually 4 or 5).
    Payload: Effectively Unlimited.
  3. Missile Pylons (8): The Broadsword bomber has a total of eight hard points with four stressed for anti-ship torpedoes. Individual pylons must carry all the same type ordnance but each pylon may carry different types of ordnance. Cruise missile are normally carried when on an anti-capital ship role and long and medium range missiles when fighting other starfighters. Cruise Missiles have a top speed of Mach 25 in an atmosphere and in space has an acceleration of 10% of light per turn (far faster than any starship). Long Range Missiles have a top speed of Mach 20 in an atmosphere and in space has an acceleration of 8% of light per turn (faster than any starship). Medium Range Missiles have a top speed of Mach 15 in an atmosphere and in space has an acceleration of 6% of light per turn. Since starships will no longer engage at rock throwing distances, 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 starships (Great for hitting bases and planets because target does not move and missile when dead is at -25% to be detected.) Cruise missiles have penalties to hit small targets but are all missiles are normally considered to be smart missiles. Missiles can be launched on multiple targets simultaneously.
    Heavy Inner Fuselage Hard Points (4): One Cruise Missile, two Long Range Missile, or four Medium Range Missile each.
    Medium Fuselage Hard Points (4): One Long Range Missile or two Medium Range Missile each.
    Maximum Effective Range: Cruise Missiles range is 8,000 miles (12,875 km) in an atmosphere and 4,000,000 miles (6,437,376 km/ 21.5 light seconds), Long Range Missiles range is 3,400 miles (5470 km) in an atmosphere and 1,800,000 miles (2,897,000 km/9.7 light seconds) in space, and Medium Range Missiles range is 160 miles (257.5 km) in an atmosphere and 80,000 miles (128,750 km/0.43 light seconds).
    Mega-Damage & Properties: See revised Phase World / Three Galaxies missile tables for details (Cruise Anti-Matter does 4D6x100 M.D.C. and Long Range Fusion does 2D4x100 M.D.C.).
    Rate of Fire: One at a time or in volleys of two, three, or four missiles.
    Payload: Varies by hard point
  4. Anti-Missile Decoy Dispenser: Located at the very tail of the bomber are two decoy dispensers. When a missile if fired at the fighter, a decoy can be released to confuse or detonate the enemy's attack. Decoy system works against Phase World missiles although has a -10% penalty against Brilliant missiles.
      01-50 Enemy missile or missile volley detonates on decoy - Missiles are all destroyed.
      51-75 Enemy missile or missile volley loses track of real target and veers away in wrong direction (May lock onto another target.)
      76-00 No effect, missile is still on target.
    Payload: Twenty Four (24)

COMBAT BONUSES: The A-17 Broadsword Bomber is not very maneuverable compared to most fighters but is very accurate. Use the Phase World Starfighter combat (Elite or Basic) skill.

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CGI / Artwork of starship created by Howard Hill / Howie. Picture taken from Wing Commander CIC.

Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Rifts Conversion Copyright © 2004 & 2013, Kitsune. All rights reserved.