the course of "Battlestar Galactica's" short television run,
both in the original series and later in the dismal "Galactica
1980", several different kinds of weapons were seen and mentioned.
Some were simply outgrowth of popular Sci-Fi culture of the
time, while others had a firm basis in real science. Listed
below are the most common weapons spoken of during the series.
Before we discuss the principles of the weapons
of Battlestar Galactica, it
is necessary that we define these weapon, as there is a great deal
of misconceptions and preconceived notions with regard to exactly
what these weapons are. Key to many of the misconceptions with regards
to the weapons of Battlestar Galactica
is the term "Laser."
As an example, what most people mistake as being Turbo-Lasers
are often not lasers at all. In truth the term "laser"
appears to be little more than a hold over anachronism in the Galactica
universe, harking back to the early days of the Cylon / Colonial
In the early
days of the war Humans used these simple light beams as weapons,
which is where the term took root in Colonial culture. Newer, more
powerful Laser weapons were developed as the years went on and those
weapons came to be refered to as "Turbo Laser", the term
easier to remember than constantly differentiating between gamma,
x-ray, microwave, particle and the mulititude of other types of
heavy laser cannons to be found across the civilized universe.
The term "Turbo
Laser" also came to extend to particle burst and plasma bolt
weapons as they came into regular use aboard Colonial vessels leading
to the term laser to become much like ther old anachronism
"Blue Print" which continues to be used today by engeneers
and architechs despite the fact that true "Blue
Prints" do not really exist anymore.
Most of the
current weapon affectionately refered to as lasers
by the Cylons and Humans, are infact pulsed plasma bolt werapons
that fire rounds of charged deuterium. True, Cylon and Colonial
vessels are also armed with real laser weapons, but the laser
weapons used at present are far more advanced than the simple carbon
lasers of old, capable of firing beams in the gama and x-ray spectrum.
That being said . . .
Blaster is the generic
term for the hand held weapons seen on "Battlestar Galactica", also
called laser Blasters. As lasers require a complex set of reflective
mirrors, focusing lenses and an extremely powerful energy source
to be effective, it is unlikely the weapons seen in "Battlestar
Galactica" were true lasers.
Along this line of thinking,
Blasters probably fired bursts of charged plasma. This plasma is
produced by a laser beam inside the weapon, which
is used to ionize simple compounds such as helium or argon into
a plasma state. These compounds would be relatively abundant and
easy to ionize with little energy, and as such the Blaster would
not need to be a contained fusion reactor. Judging
by the effects seen concerning Blasters in "Battlestar Galactica",
this supposition holds true, as a laser gun would create a thin
cutting beam, not an energetic explosion like Colonial/Cylon Blasters.
As far as how powerful
these weapons are, from what was seen, it looks as if the Colonial
Blaster can vaporize approximately 25cm^3 of metal, judging from
when characters blasted walls and control panels. If the target
destroyed is equalivant to iron, with a boiling point of 3,000°
C, a Colonial Blaster would have a power output of approximately
315 kilowatts. Given the armor on a Cylon troop and the gun's ability
to burn through flesh, this figure seems to more than hold true
to what was seen in the series. Cylon Blaster Rifles were able to
vaporize a similar mass as the Colonial hand gun, and probably had
an output of roughly 1.5 megawatts.
The Laser-Torpedo is
the main weapon of the Colonial Vipers and Cylon Raiders. Most likely
this weapon was a highly concentrated plasma weapon which discharged
bolts of charged deuterium. Unlike a Blaster, a Laser-Torpedo is
a highly concentrated fusion plasma burst rather than a simple ionized
the TV series, it was seen that this weapon had an exposive effect
upon impact and could cause almost any ship to explode if one had
a solid lock. Primary explosion was most likely the reactor or on-board
fuel tanks being struck during the fight. Given that the gun ports
on the Vipers were roughly 30mm, it is likely that the Laser-Torpedo
were able to bring at least 1,000cm^3 to its boiling point. If the
aforementioned mass was made of iron, with a boiling point of 3,000°
C, each individual Laser Torpedo gun would have a power of 12.5
watts), giving them a combined, low-end power
output of approximately 25 gigajoules per volley.
Given that we are theorizing
that armor in the Galactica universe is some 20X greater than iron,
the main weapons on Vipers and Raiders would be rated at roughly
500 gigajoules, 250 gigawatts per gun-port. Some argue that these
figures at too low, given the way Vipers and Raiders exploded, but
does fit what was seen when Apollo's brother Zack was struck by
Cylon fire. It is likely that the larger explossions were due to
the fuel tanks being ruptured and not the weapons..
CANNONS / TURRET WEAPONS:
Captial ships of the
Galactica universe are armed with a multitude of weapons, ranging
from energy beams to projectile weapons. Listed here are the primary
weapons seen used during Battlestar Galactica's
Blaster Turrets are those
defensive plasma bolt weapons lineing the hulls of Cylon and Colonial
the Blaster Turret pictured above). These weapons,
although refered to as lasers, were not lasers. Blaster Turrets
were infact plasma bolt weapons. This assertion is based on the
fact that these so called Turbo-Lasers, fired beams at sub-light
speeds, thus clearly demonstrating that they were not lasers as
a laser bolt would travel at the speed of light.
Main advantage of these
type of weapon over the Laser-Torpedoes found on fighter craft,
is that pure plasma weapons have greater range over hybrid plasma
bolt weapons and can sustain maximum power for greater distances.
Turbo-Laser plasma batteries, like those seen being used by Battlestars
and Base-Stars, are primarily for anti-starfighter defense but can
be adjusted for ship-to-ship combat, as well as orbital bombardment.
Turbo-Lasers on the
Galactica were powerful enough to destroy fighters, asteroids and
their combined power was capable of destroying another vessel. Unfortunately,
we were never really given an opportunity to see these guns in all
their glory, thus we must make some suppositions as to their tactical
Given what was seen
in the TV series, the Turbo-Laser turrets on the Galactica must
have had a low-end power rating of 60 Gigawatts (61,386,702,791
watts). This estimate is based on the fact that the Turbo-Lasers
most likely brought a cubic meter to its vapor point in one second.
If the mass of the effected armor was equivalent to iron, then the
total power required to bring said mass to it's boiling point would
have been 60 Gigawatts. This would make said weapon very effective
against fighter attacks, but if the ship's hull was the approximated
3 to 4 meters in width (as stated
in the "Capital Ship" section), it would take several
direct hits to punch the hull of another capital scale vessel at
this power level.
Armor used in the Galactica
universe was not iron. Given estimates that Colonial armor is some
20 times greater than that of iron, the power output of Colonial
Turbo-Laser turrets per volley is more likely in the neighborhood
of 1.2*10^12 watt or 1.2 Terawatts.
was also beleived to have been armed with two heavy laser cannons
set to either port and starboard of the forward hull, as shown in
the image to right. Only time this weapon was beleived to have been
seen fired was in the episode "The Hand of God", when
Galactica faced off against a Cylon Base-Star. This theory is supported
by statements from the production staff and Richard Hatch's recent
novels and images available from "www.BattlestarGalactica.com".
Given the damage this
weapon inflicted on the Base-Star in "The Hand of God"
when it made contact, it was obviously more powerful than the anti-starfighter
turrets dotting Galactica's hull. When calucating the amount of
damage inflicted I used Todd
Boyce's size figures for the Base-Star, the low-end figures
putting the Base-Star at some 1730 meters.
using the image of the laser cannon's effect, the image placed the
entire Base-Star at 572 pixels. This means that each pixel would
represent roughly 3 meters. Galactica's beam was some 62 pixels
in diameter or 187.5 meters. If the destroyed area was equal to
half a sphere, the maximum volume destroyed was 1,726,211
cubic meters. At 400 kg/m^3 the mass destroyed would have been 690,484,461
kilograms or 690.4 tons.
If the mass was brought
to it's vapor point, low-end output of these heavy laser weapons
would be approximately 5.38*10^15 joule or 5,385 terajoules. As
we have estimated armor strength at 20x greater than iron, the low-end
output of a Battlestar's heavy lasers would be 1.07*10^17 joule
or 107,716 terajoules.
There is however a significant
problem with the figures above. As you can see in the image featured
top left, the beam diameter is significantly greater than the barrel
of the Galactica's cannons. As such, the beam seen in the image
most likely represents both of the Galactica's cannons focused
on one spot, making the output per barrel to be roughly 5.38*10^16
joule or 53,858 terajoules per gun port.
Of all the weapons
mentioned in the universe of "Battlestar Galactica", the Pulsar
weapons were the only true anti-capital ship weapon ever mentioned.
Capable of destroying another vessel with only a few shots, the
Pulsar weapons are an extremely powerful type of fusion gun and
only the dreaded Cylon Base-Star is armed with them (guns
located at the top of the north saucer, and bottom of south saucer).
Essentially the Mega-Pulsar
gun is a hybrid Neutron / Particle beam cannon. Neutrons are condensed
together as they are accelerated within a magnetic chamber at speeds
near that of light. When two masses of neutrons becomes too great
to contain, they are allowed to collide together. The massive energy
release of this collision is then forced through the weapon's projection
matrix creating a beam of pure destructive energy comprised of potons,
x-rays and neutron particles.
Mega-Pulsar cannons are
the heavy weapon of choice for the Cylon's largest capital ships
and planetary defense as the poton/x-ray burst is capable of cutting
through any known armor. Electronic countermeasures are equally
useless against this weapon as the defensive electromagnetic shields
employed by both Cylon and Colonial forces offer no resistance to
neutron weapons, as a neutron has a neutral electrical charge.
Given that these weapons
must take out enemy capital ships, and the fact that we've never
seen these guns in action save the episode "Gun on Ice Planet
Zero" where it was stated that the planetary based weapon could
destroy the Galactica in a single shot, we must make some guess
work as to the effectiveness of these weapons.
The cannon found on
Ice Planet Zero was designed for planetary defense against enemy
ships. We're guessing that the Mega-Pulsar cannon was capable of
bring 3.5 million cubic meters of iron to its vapor point in one
second, giving it a power output of 1.1*10^16 joule or 10,920 terajoules.
If this is indeed the low-end power output, taking into consideration
the strength of Galactica armor, I estimate that the Mega-Pulsar
gun found on Ice Planet Zero must have an output of approximately
2.18*10^17 joule or 218,402 Terajoule. Given that the Base-Stars
are not beleived to be capable of destroying a Battlestar in a single
shot the Mega Pulsar cannons found on the Cylon Base-Stars likely
have an output no greater than 100,000 Terajoules.
Mega-Pulsar weapon seen
in the episode "Gun on Ice-Planet Zero" required
a massive ammount of energy to be fired and, while the power reserves
of the Base-Star are impressive, firing this weapon probably drains
the ship of almost all her energy, every time it was fired. This
is probably why we never saw it in use during the series' run.
The reason why these fusion - fusion/mass-driver weapons are referred
to as Pulsar weapons, is due to the massive radio wave and x-ray
burst accompanied by firing.
Primary means of defense
employed by they Cylons and Colonials was dense armor as clearly
illustrated on the bridge of the Battlestar Galactica during Cylon
attacks. With every attack Commander Adama ordered "Positive shield!"
and the heavy blast doors that protected the forward view port would
close. Still, debate on whether the races of the Battlestar Galactica
series employed any form of electronic defense like those found
on "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" continues.
There is no visual evidence
to support the theory that any type of shield technology existed
in the Galactica universe, but given their level of technology and
the open ports on the landing bay, a small part of Galactica cannon
does suggest some form of invisible barrier technology was indeed
at play. Screen captures from the Colonial War-Book also supports
the idea that some form of electronic defense was available.
We know from comments
made by Colonel Tigh and Commander Kane that jamming technology
did exist. We know from Adama's comments made during "Experiments
in Terra" that the Galactica has Force Shields. Thus the
question becomes less of "Do
the Colonials have shield technology?" but
rather "What is the nature
of Colonial shields?" To this end, let us examine
some of the facts pro and con regarding shield technology in the
- FACT: Throughout the whole of
the "Battlestar Galactica" series we often see Colonial Vipers,
shuttles and a wide assortment of craft enter the Colonial, landing
bay. There is NO evidence of a pressure doors and there is clearly
some invisible force at work to keep the oxygen inside the bay.
On several occasions we see data called up from the Colonial War-Book
that states the Vipers, Raiders and even the electronics ship
Celestra had "shield depth."
In "The Living Legend" Commander Kane notes that he wants to fire
his missiles at point-blank range and states - "not even their
(THE CYLONS) shields will be able
to protect them."
During the episode "Fire in Space" the bay remains pressurized,
allowing the fire to spread throughout the ship, rather than be
extinguished by the vacuum of space out through the landing bay
In "Experiments in Terra" the Western Nationalists had prison
cells protected by what some have dubbed a shield.
In "Experiments in Terra" Adama orders his crew to "Raise Force
In "Saga of a Star World" Vipers and Raiders, when struck by laser-torpedo
fire, are destroyed or heavily damaged, in the case of Apollo's
brother Zack. There is no evidence of any shield technology, despite
later screen shots of the Colonial War-Book clearly refers of
Cylon Raiders having shield depth.
During the "Battle of Carolon" a Cylon fighter collides with the
port landing bay, starting a fire just inside the maw of the bay,
despite what is most assuredly a shielded area as later seen in
"Fire in Space."
In "The Living Legend" Apollo and Starbuck are able to fly their
Vipers in close and successfully destroy the Cylon's missile launchers
and blaster turrets, giving the Battlestar Pegasus a fighting
chance. There is NO evidence of any shields to stop the two Vipers.
In "Fire in Space" Cylon fighters collide with the Galactica and,
via the use of Solonite charges, do serious damage to the Battlestar,
again there being NO evidence of any form of shield technology
protecting the ship.
In "The Hand of God" we clearly see Cylon and Colonial weapons
striking and doing damage to each other's hull. There is no bubble
shield effect as seen in "Star Trek" or energy deflection as shown
in "Star Wars." Impact zones do however glow red-hot before cooling,
though some may argue that this is indicative of skintight shields
protecting the hull.
We know that the Colonials
have some form of intense field covering the mouth of the landing
bays, keeping the air inside. In theory a combination of gravitational
and electromagnetic fields could sustain this field, but it is obvious
that this system has it's own power supply (given
they could not shut it down during "Fire in Space"),
and may very well require opposing forces from all directions to
keep the field constant and stable. If this were true, than such
a shield could not be used to cover the ship. Also, we know that
mass and even energy was capable of penetrating this barrier, as
all manner of craft was able to pass through it, suggesting it is
just strong enough to keep low mass particles like oxygen
Adama's comments in
"Experiments in Terra" confirm that the Colonials do have some form
of defense, but all other evidence from the series contradicts the
idea they have "Star Trek" or "Star Wars" style energy shields.
More specifically, let us examine Adama's dialogue:
Stand by on force shields.
Force fields standing by.
Stand by on maximum laser power.
Maximum laser power standing by.
Negative shield now.
Firstly, if the "Shields"
Adama always refers to are in fact the ship's energy shields, why
order "negative shield" and open the blast doors if this
defense system is still only on standby? Given observations of the
special effects and comments made by Adama, it is my opinion that
the "shield" order often refers to activating the ship's blast doors
and NOT activating energy barriers like those seen on other sci-fi
Adama's comment to Omega
"Stand by on force shields", also suggests that this system
is indeed different from the armor shield we know so well. The word
force means "4: an agency of influence that if applied
to a free body results chiefly in an acceleration of the body and
sometimes in elastic deformation and other effects", "4a:
to press, drive, attain to, or effect against restraint or inertia."
Key word that pops out
from the paragraph above is the word inertia. Energy, power
and force are three completely different things. Force fields are
likely denoted as such due to the fact they shield the ship from
the effects of outside force. NOTE: we never saw the crew of the
Galactica sent flying or reeling from explosions outside the ship.
This suggests to me that the "Force Shield" Adama was referring
to was some form of inertia dampening field to protect the crew
from the effect of kinetic impact and offset the effect of acceleration.
Given that hundreds or perhaps thousands of high yield nuclear weapons
were about to start going off across the Galactica's nose, defense
against the kinetic force of those explosions in the upper atmosphere
was likely a concern for the Galactica's crew.
Next on the list are
Commander Kane's comments about the Cylons' being in possession
of "shields." We know that Kane's attack on Baltar and his two supporting
Base-Stars was based primarily around the use of a close range missile
attack. Shields to resist the kinetic force of those missiles, given
what was stated in the aforementioned paragraph, would have obviously
been a concern and this rationalization is not too far fetched.
We know that, unlike
the Colonials, the Cylons had managed to develop inertialess propulsion
systems but given that Cylon Tankers and fighters still relied exclusively
on ion propulsion this advance was most likely a new development.
It is possible that the Cylons had managed to develop a means of
augmenting this propulsion system to reduce the effect of incoming
weapons fire. Unfortunately the fact that Starbuck and Apollo were
able to fly in close and destroy the Base-Star's turrets seems to
disprove this assertion.
In the episode "Take
the Celestra" a display from the Colonial War-Book noted that the
Celestra had a means of defense called a "Point Diverter." It was
apparently listed as both defensive and offensive. No hard data
is available on this means of defense but the name suggests that
it is only capable of protecting a single point at any one given
time, hence the name "Point Diverter."
As for the supposed
shield technology of the Western Nationalists on the planet Terra,
there is no evidence to suggest they did have shields. It is more
likely that the energy barrier that kept people inside most likely
consisted of lasers and was not a true shield.
My personal theory is
that Cylon and Colonial warships did have shields, but they were
NOT the all powerful, encompassing defense as seen in other sci-fi
series. It is more likely that the shields of Battlestar Galactica
fell into one or all of the following categories:
Armor Shields: The
deployment of armor over exposed/vulnerable targets.
Armor was most definitely the primary means of protection
for Colonial and Cylon ships. It fits the majority of all our observations
and given that Adama's order to activate or deactivate shields was
always followed by the opening or closing of the blast doors, armor
was a key if not primary means of defense.
Force Shield: Localized
artificial gravity field capable of negating the effect of kinetic
impact and offsetting the effect of inertia.
This method of defense was likely the means by which
the crew avoided becoming pasty red stains on the deck every time
the Galactica accelerated or stopped. This means of defense would
not only protect the crew from the effect of high acceleration but
it would also have protected them from the jarring explosions just
outside the ship. Unlike armor however, the nature of this defense
does not appear to extend beyond the resistance of kinetic force
and is likely all but useless against weapons, energy weapons in
Intense, localized field of electromagnetic radiation capable of
refracting and/or reducing the effect of energy weapons.
This is probably a key part of the defense of any
ship in the Galactica universe as electromagnetic radiation would
disrupt incoming energy weapons, causing them to become subject
to the inverse square law, and thus cause a focused
energy weapon fire hose out, reducing the weapon's intensity and
spreading the energy beam over a wide area rather than a lancing
Interceptors designed to strike incoming weapons, like missiles
or laser torpedoes, and negate its effects before impacting a target.
Similar nature to a flack cannon, this defense system
can obviously be found on some of the ships in the Rag-Tag fugitive
fleet and could likely be used for both offensive and defensive
purposes. Effectiveness of such a defense system would, obviously,
diminish as the battle draws closer giving this defense system less
time to target and shoot down incoming weapons fire.