Issue: 20
System: Full Thrust
Publisher: Ground Zero Games

The Rise of the Fourth Temple*
by Steve Blease and Tony Francis

* The first Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, the second by the Romans in 70 AD and the third by Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists in 2027 AD. The Semitic Federation is regarded by Zionists as the Fourth Temple.

Introduction

Given the fact that the Society now has an exclusive range of starship models for its members, it seemed appropriate to provide them with a background to allow gamers to integrate them into their Full Thrust games. When he volunteered to produce the range Tony came up with the idea of the Semitic Federation and Steve was happy to help develop this as it tied in with much of the expanded background he had developed on the original outline designed by Jon Tuffley and himself.

Whilst what follows is not technically official, given the fact that Jon has pointed out in his rules that the background is optional and that both Steve and Jon have made considerable efforts to keep humanity as balkanised as possible to allow for gamers to introduce smaller nations without totally buggering the background up, you will find that the Semitic Federation of Space Faring Worlds fits in with the official background quite easily.

Timeline

2027 Destruction of the State of Israel by Islamic terrorist action.
2067 The Gilderstein Foundation sends the first manned FTL mission out of the Solar System.
2096 Foundation of New Israel on a garden world in the Epsilon Indi system.
2102 Jewish settlers colonize the harsh desert world discovered in the Wolf 47 system and name it Judea.
2112 Garden worlds discovered in the Eta Cassiopei and Tau Ceti systems by Jewish explorers. These are colonized and named Masada and Joppa respectively.
2127 One hundred years after the destruction of Israel on Terra the planets of New Israel, Judea, Masada and Joppa join together under the leadership of Rabbi Avarham Yoffe and form the Semitic Federation of Space Faring Worlds. Yoffe proclaims a "never ending war" against the "evil forces of Islam" to avenge the destruction of the first land that God have given the Jews. The Rabbi's speech is marked by the launch of Operation Jericho by the fledgling SemFed military against Islamic Federation targets on Terra, Mariana and Bismarck. Pressure put on the Islamic Federation by the Anglian Confederation prevents anything more than nominal retaliation.
2131 SemFed mercenaries clash with Islamic Federation mercenary units on the core world of Easter, despite both having been hired by the League of Latin American Republics. Both parties contracts are revoked. SemFed provides troops and naval units to aid the LLAR against Indonesian Commonwealth forces in the Mercenary War.
2147 SemFed forces are defeated fighting alongside Romanov space units as the ESU seize the Mikhailovka system during the Second Solar War.
2163 As the Islamic Federation is torn apart in a two year civil war between the ruling Saud Royal family and religious fundamentalists, the Semitic Federation takes the opportunity to seize a number of Islamic colonies.
2166 Neü Swabia hires SemFed mercenaries as the Third Solar War heats up. They are used alongside Romanov naval units attempting to stop the transport of Indonesian and LLAR forces through Hegemony space.
2171 SemFed forces in the pay of the NSL successfully overrun the FSE colony on the core world of Mariana.
2183 Indonesian Commonwealth naval forces defeat the SemFed naval elements defending NAC settlements on Salzburg.
2186 SemFed forces ally themselves with ESU and NAC naval forces against the alien Kra'Vak.

Naval Forces

Given their history the organisation and equipment of the SemFed naval forces has evolved by accident rather than design. Ships have been procured (sometimes by illegitimate means) as and where possible, rather than to any grand strategic plan. The organisation and tactics have then been modified to make best use of the forces available. Whilst the SemFed's naval flotillas tend to look like a fairly motley bunch with ships of varied origin and design often serving in the same unit, don't be fooled by appearances. The SemFed naval forces are some of the toughest and hard hitting around.

Naval Strategy

The SemFed Navy is one of the few to use the concept of BattleRiders and Tenders as part of its strategy. Non FTL cruiser sized vessels known as BattleRiders packed to the gunwales with weaponry and defensive systems form the core of the SemFed's strategic reserve forces. Although fairly small, they are capable of standing in the line of battle against Battlecruiser and Battleship sized vessels because of the fact that omitting the FTL drive provides space and weight savings that allow many more systems to be fitted.

For strategic mobility these vessels are ferried around by giant Tender vessels which are capable of carrying as many as six BattleRiders at once. However the time consuming necessity of docking with the Tender vessel before a FTL jump makes it difficult for the BattleRider/Tender combinations to disengage from actions without casualties.

Although many military thinkers thought the idea was perfect for planetary and when hired out by its Government the SemFed Navy has often found itself utilised in this role, the painful lesson typified by the defeat at Salzburg has resulted in all BattleRiders being consigned to the reserve where they can be deployed en masse to meet any defending force.

Following Salzburg the SemFed Government has made the decision not to hire out BattleRider/Tender combinations as mercenary forces again. The SemFed Navy also makes extensive use of conventional FTL ships and rather than send a full BattleRider squadron to a trouble spot (having enough firepower to prevent another Salzburg), which is definitely overkill, the more flexible and compact mixture of a regular Battlegroup comprising of escorts, cruisers and capital ships as required has now gained favour.

As mentioned earlier the SemFed navy has had to make do with whatever vessels it can get and SemFed armament production has tended to result in a wide variety of designs being made available. This can often result in there being no common pattern to the ships within a Battlegroup, which is of course a logistical nightmare! The Navy tries to keep ships with squadrons to the same design, though even this isn't always possible as they also make use of one off prototype vessels, of which the SemFed armaments industry has produced no small number.

Given their limited resources, the SemFed Navy also has to make use of vessels that it captures or has bought, bartered or stolen. Consequently do not be surprised to see NAC,PAU, FSE (especially given their use by the Islamic Federation), ESU and NSL designed and built ships with the Star of David painted on their sides. Rumours persist that the SemFed Navy has also been experimenting with Kra'Vak material captured in engagements on the Rim in 2186.

There are a high proportion of Fighter Carriers in the SemFed Navy, which makes considerable use of the firepower and flexibility of massed fighter squadrons. These serves in both offensive and defensive capacities and are flown from a number of different designs of carrier, ranging from giant Attack Carriers to small two squadron equipped Escort Carriers. They have also pioneered the use of the non-FTL Strikeboat flown from the larger carriers for anti-ship missions. These are small ships in their own right, equipped with submunition packs and PDAFs, and replace some or all of the fighters on a carrier. Two Strikeboats pack as big a punch as a full fighter squadron with a much higher survivability rate.

Equipment

What follows is a run down of SemFed naval vessels covering the initial releases in the Society exclusive range of models. As more releases are made, the details will be published in future Ragnaroks (editor permitting).

NB These stats are for Full Thrust 2nd Edition. Updated versions compatible with the revised design rules presented in the Fleet Books are available from the Brigade Miniatures' web site gaming pages.

The Brigade Models starships range has now been re-organised is no longer tied to the SemFed background. Brigade have provided a conversion list showing the product codes in the old and new ranges.

Dayan Class Fleet Carrier

The Dayan class carriers are essentially enormous flight decks dominated by the towering command and control centre which oversees deck operations. Space below decks is provided for a full wing of thirty six fighters or twelve strikeboats, or any combination of these. Two large hanger-to-deck lifts are provided under the protective umbrella of the control tower which are capable of handling both fighters and strikeboats. Defensive armament is kept to a minimum, the ship relying on its fighter wing for protection. One or more carriers form the core of most SemFed battlegroups, either fleet carriers or larger attack carriers.

Full Thrust Stats: Mass 100, Damage Points 50, Thrust 2, FTL, 4 x PDAF, 2 x B Batteries (one bearing port, one starboard), Level 2 screens, 6 x fighter groups. 692 points if equipped with normal multi-purpose fighters (change points values accordingly if equipped with strikeboats or different fighter types).

Bar Lev Class Battleship

This class of vessel is equipped with FTL drives and is often used as a patrol vessel stationed on forward areas. Designed to accompany the Dayan class carriers, they are also slow and ponderous compared to other classes of battleship.

The design is now regarded as obsolete and in need of replacement.

Stats: Mass 44, Damage Points 22, Thrust 2, FTL, 4 'A' Batteries (2 bearing port & forward, 2 bearing forward & starboard), 4 PDAF, Level 2 screens, 322 points.

Meir Class Heavy Cruiser

Standard heavy cruiser design used for escorting battlefleets and also as a colonial patrol ship. Heavy enough to stand in line of battle, but also used as the flagship of convoy escort groups or small fleets.

Stats: Mass 30, Damage Points 15, Thrust 4, FTL, 2 'A' Batteries (3-arc), 2 'B' Batteries (3-arc), 2 PDAF, Level 1 screens, 225 points.

Sharon Class Light Cruiser/Panther Class Cruiser

A lighter cruiser, the Sharon class is used as a screening/flank protection vessel for large battlegroups and also as a leader to destroyer/frigate/corvette flotillas. The Semitic Federation's police organisation, the Federal Law Enforcement Agency , also use a variant of the Sharon called the Panther with uprated drives for high speed pursuit of smugglers and pirates. The Panther class is equipped with a needle beam for disabling suspect ships' drives to prevent them escaping.

Stats: Sharon class - standard light cruiser design, Mass 22. 190 points.

Panther class - as per light cruiser except replace 1 x B Battery with needle beam and uprate thrust to 8. 209 Points.

Hofi Class Frigate

A fairly standardised design in a non-standard navy, the Hofi class frigate is found in most SemFed battlegroups as a fleet escort/picket ship. It is also used as a patrol vessel and convoy escort.

Stats: Mass 12, Damage Points 6, Thrust 6, FTL, 1 'A' Battery (3-arc), 1 'B' Battery (3-arc), 1 PDAF, 79 points.

Saar Class Strikeboat

The Saar class strikeboats are used from military installations and large carriers, replacing fighters at a ratio of three fighters to one strikeboat. Thus a standard design fleet carrier could carry thirty six fighters, twelve strikeboats or any combination thereof.

Only the largest carriers have handling facilities capable of carrying strikeboats - escort or light carriers may not carry them.

Full Thrust additions: treat the strikeboat as a normal ship, needing movement orders and a threshold chart. Use the same rules as fighters for launching and recovering. Strikeboats should be mounted in flights of two, similar to fighters, which is convenient because one stand of strikeboats (two ships) replaces one stand of fighters (six) on a carrier. The two strikeboats are then given the same movement orders (bet you saw that coming, eh?).

Stats: Mass 3, Damage Points 2, Thrust 8, no FTL, 1 x Submunition Pack, 1 x PDAF. 24 Points.

Lavi Class Interceptor

The Lavi (Young Lion) is named after an abortive 20th century atmospheric fighter. Retaining it's namesake's high manoeuvrability and dogfight capabilities, albeit at the expense of anti-ship firepower. Built by SSI (Semitic Starship Industries, the successor to the IAI aerospace corporation), the Lavi has been standardised upon as the SemFed's carrier borne interceptor.

Stats: Interceptor fighter (More Thrust p.12). 20 points for six fighters.

Negev Class Heavy Freighter

A modular heavy freighter built to military standards. Used to transport men and equipment in support of the planetary invasion forces, although it isn't equipped to launch surface assault ships. Instead the Negev forms part of the second wave, carrying follow up forces including heavy armour into established beach heads. In addition to the standard short freighter, additional fuel, personnel or cargo modules can be fitted to extend carrying capacity.

Stats: Standard or Short freighter: standard heavy freighter design. Mass 60. 306 Points. Extended version: standard bulk tanker design. Mass 100. 502 points (although not necessarily a fuel tanker, the stats will remain the same for cargo/personnel versions).

The Merkava Class Surface Assault Ship

Named after the infamous twentieth century Main Battle Tank, the Merkava (Chariot) class was designed as a multi-functional planetary assault vessel capable of transporting ground troops to a combat zone, getting them down to the surface of a planet and then providing support from orbit. Previously a surface assault action required separate ships to perform these functions, whereas the Merkava rolls everything into one large (and expensive) hull. A task group of one Merkava plus a small number of escorts is capable of inserting a standard SemFed marine assault group into a combat zone and providing all necessary support including fighter cover.

The Merkava is based on the Dayan class fleet carrier hull, with an abbreviated flight deck and new superstructure. The minimal main batteries are sited at the front of the ship giving maximum fire arcs. Under the front of the main deck arc the large triple-barrelled Orbital Artillery ('ortillery') turrets that can provide devastating fire support tor ground troops. The small main flight deck is used tor the ship single fighter group, and can also accommodate larger vessels when required. Access for the fighters is via the main hanger doors which lead to a hanger designed for six atmosphere-capable fighters, but which could alternatively house two additional shuttles if necessary

Two POSTIT shuttles (Planetary Orbit to Surface, Tactical Interface Transport) are carried as standard equipment. They are situated at the rear of the superstructure on two secondary flight decks. The ship's small anti-fighter batteries are sited so as to cover the launch and recovery of the vital shuttle craft. If additional ground support I required, the shuttles could be replaced by a second atmospheric fighter squadron.

Stats: Mass 72, 36 Damage Points, Thrust 2, FTL, 2 'C' Batteries (FPS), 2 PDAF, 1 Ortillery Battery, 1 Fighter Group, Level l screens, Troop capacity 700 CS, 2 Mass 3 dropships in Mass 6 hangar, 459 points.

The Merkava Class Surface Assault Ship has been designed around the More Thrust/Dirtside II interface rules written by Mike Elliot (as seen in More Thrust, pp.15-l8). The marine assault group carried by the Merkava class consists of 1 Medium Battle Tank Platoon, 2 Mechanized Infantry Platoons, l Self-Propelled artillery section, l AA section and 1 HQ vehicle.

The cargo space requirements are as follows:

  Vehicles Crew Total
4xMBT 48 64 112
8xMICV 96 320 416
3xSP 48 48 96
lxHQ 12 16 28
2xAA 24 24 48
TOTAL 228 472 700

Soltam Class Supercruiser 'Hammerhead'

Commonly known as the 'Hammerhead', the Soltam, named after the Israeli Weapons Company, is another classic example of the SemFed's predilection for cramming as many long-range heavy weapons as possible on a ship at the expense of other systems. Although relatively inexpensive in comparison to their size and firepower, the Soltams have not proved particularly successful in action.

Problems encountered include the lack of forward firing main armament, vital in the first stages of an engagement. In addition. the lack of FireCon in comparison to slightly larger ships such as BattleCruisers has seen at least one Soltam lost when attacked by several smaller vessels which could not all be simultaneously engaged.

It has been when properly deployed as an escort flotilla leader or as a screening vessel to larger ships that the 'Hammerheads' have proved their worth. Their more than adequate screens save them from attacks that would destroy most other cruiser-sized ships, and a broadside of three 'A' batteries represents a lot of firepower from what is a medium sized vessel.

Although not popular with their crews due to numerous design deficiencies, the Soltams continue to be deployed as first line ships in the SemFed fleet, and with the struggle against the Kra'Vak intensifying they will he required to soldier on for many years to come.

Stats: Mass 36, Damage Points 18, Thrust 4, FTL, Level 2 Screens, 3 PDAF, 3 'A' Batteries (1 FPS, 2 PS), 272pts.

Kfir Class Experimental Frigate

After studying the remnants of Kra'Vak vessels recovered after a number of skirmishes out on the Rim, SemFed Scientists have been experimenting with Kra'Vak weapon systems. A standard Hofi class frigate was modified to carry a complete railgun installation plus a scattergun. In case these systems should fail during an engagement, the ship also retained some of its conventional beam and anti-fighter weaponry The ship's sensors were displaced by the railgun mounting and moved amidships below the heavily altered command centre.

Following successful field tests and operational trials, the SemFed put the modified Kfir into very low volume production, thus fielding the first human warship armed with alien weapon systems.

In service the modified ships are fielded at the rate of one ship per escort flotilla. It was felt to be unwise to create dedicated groups or modified ships, since any unforeseen system failure could result in the loss of many lives and ships during an engagement.

Stats: Mass 12, Damage Points 6, Thrust 6, FTL, 1 Class-2 Railgun, 1 Scattergun, 1 'B' Battery (all arcs), 1 PDAF, 85 points. (Kra'Vak weapons systems subject to 50% additional points cost as suggested in More Thrust, p.26)

See also:

Ed Note: Full Thrust is a simple, flexible and highly popular game of starship combat which must rate as one of the all time Classic games. Full Thrust has won the Best SF Rules category every time the SFSFW Awards have been held. For further details regarding price and availability, send an SSAE to Ground Zero Games PO Box 337, Needham Market, Suffolk, IPA 8LN.