Fighter Introduction Dates

Nob Akimoto

Rear Admiral
Okay, since that wreck of a Saga Rapier thread had me thinking...I tried to compile a rough list of introduction dates on Confed fighters. I've added some conjecture (anything with a (?) next to it) and I tried to make sure that most variants seen throughout the series games, novels, movie, etc. are in place.

2500s - CF-105 Scimitar Introduced
2527 - CF-117 Rapier-I development begun
2530s - CF-117a Rapier-I introduced(?)
2600 - 2630s - Wildcat, Hurricane, Falcon, Gladiator, Gotha, Hummer, Minotaur, Trident in-service
2630s - Corsair planned introduction
2631 - Minimum date for Hornet introduction. (Paladin began his career flying Hornets), Wildcat retired(?)
2635 - A-17 Broadsword introduced, Trident retired(?)
2630s - Raptor introduction(?), Falcon retired(?)
2640s - F-27 Arrow Introduction(?), Gotha retired(?)
2654 - YF-44/F-44A Rapier II
2655 - CF-105 Scimitars retired
2650s - Hellcat V, F-54 Epee, F-57 Sabre, F/A-76 Longbow all in service to some degree. Possibility that they're all prototypes or undergoing trials?
2657 - 2664 F-44C Rapier-"C" series introduction (Manufactured at least until 2667?), retirement of F-44A/YF-44 models from service(?)
2661 - F-54 replaces Hornets in service
Sometime in the 2660s - F-44G/H models introduced, introduction limited to fleet carriers. (Per End Run use of F-44Cs on CVE)
2667 - P-64D Super Ferret, YA-18/A-18 Crossbow, F-57D Two-Seater Sabre "D", Morningstar, Wraith introduced. "New-line" A-17 Broadswords also debuted around this time (Fleet Action)
2668 - HF-66A Thunderbolt introduced
2669 - Phantom, Banshee, F-103 Excalibur introduced
Early 2670s - F-27 Cloak-equipped Arrow, Production Excalibur (Lacking Reapers Guns), Hellcat V revision (particle cannons), Thunderbolt revision (gun revision), Longbow revision (particle cannons) introduced, F-44C/G/H models, early F-27s, F-57s retired from active service, sold as surplus (seen as pirate fighters and Landrich/border worlds)
2672 - Bearcat, Lance, "Black Hellcat" introduced
2670s - 2681 "Recon" Excalibur introduced, Thunderbolt variant with tachyon guns/ion guns introduced
2680s - F/A-105 Tigershark, F-106 Piranha, F-108 Panther, F-109 Vampire, F-110 Wasp, TB-80 Devastator, TB-81 Shrike introduced

Obviously it's an early version, so critique and comments welcome.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
2600 - 2630s - Wildcat, Hurricane, Falcon, Gladiator, Gotha, Hummer, Minotaur, Trident in-service

I'll start off by trying to sort through the 'Action Stations' ships. Nearly a quarter of the forty-odd Confederation fighters we have names for are from Action Stations, most of which are simply one-off references. You already included most of them in your post (it's missing the Thor Bomber), but we can use what background we have about them to pare down the list somewhat.

The Hurricane, Wildcat and Falcon are definately current (2634) designs: "On the rung of fighter pilots, flying a Hurrie was considered more than a few steps down from a Wildcat pure space interceptor, or even a heavy Falcon fighter-bomber." (36)

The Falcon isn't mentioned again, but we do have some 'history' for the Hurricane and Wildcat (which are Confed's 'main' fighters in the book):

Hurricane: "[Tolwyn] had a couple of dozen hours in the twin seat variant, and the registration plate on that craft had showed the old bucket was nearly twice his age." (36) The book previously establishes that Tolwyn is twenty one years old and that he did his two-seat fighter training in the summer of his second year at the Academy (2630). This means that in 2630 a particular Hurricane training was between 36 (twice his age in Summer 2630) and 42 (twice his age in early 2634). That means the fighter definately existed between 2594 and 2600. There's no date for when it entered service.

Wildcat: "The Wildcat is thirty years old and its replacement, thanks to cutbacks, won't be fully on-linefor at least five more years." (21) This places the Wildcat's service entry at 2604.

The Wildcat's replacement isn't specified at this point, but the novel ends with a note that "... the crash program to bring the new Corsair fighter on-line is raplidy moving ahead." (344) This suggests to me that the Corsair was supposed to enter service in 2639, but that it will actually show up earlier.

The book says of the Hurricane: "Its original intent was to serve as a space-to-surface escort for the old Gladiator bombers..." (36). The suggestion is that the Gladiator was in service when the Hurricane was designed (over forty years ago) and is now considered old. It does seem to be part of Confed's current strike force, though: "Geoff could not help but look in wide-eyed awe at the vast array of strike power lined up before him, entire squadrons of Hurricanes, Gladiators, Trident heavy bombers, and Hummer light recon and strike planes..." (39)

Those three are Confed's primary bomber force at McAuliffe (their largest forward base). The same scene goes on to introduce one more ship: "Further back in the rows of planes he could see craft that should exist only in museums, even a few old Minotaurs which must be well over a hundred years old." (39). So the Minotaur is still in service, but it's ancient - entering service 'well' before 2534 (we can also infer here that the Hurricane, Gladiator, Trident and Hummer are *not* over a hundred years old).

One other Confed bomber shows up in the same flight line, much later in the book: "As he ducked around a line of Thor bombers, most of them propped up on jacks, their wheel bays empty..." (245) That suggests to me that they're one of the 'antiques' from the earlier sequence - a very old design that's still in service.

One final design: "A couple of ancient Gotha surface-to-space interceptors lifted off...". These only show in in the service of the Landreich militia (then part of Confed, but not the same thing as the Navy), and Tolwyn considers them 'ancient' in 2634.


2500s - CF-105 Scimitar Introduced
2527 - CF-117 Rapier-I development begun
2530s - CF-117a Rapier-I introduced(?)
2635 - A-17 Broadsword introduced, Trident retired(?)

Next, the movie ships. This all sounds good, but I'll throw in some citations from the Terran Confederation Handbook to go along with it.

CF-117 Rapier: "... development of the Rapier began in 2527 and the first order of 700 was commissioned in 2536." (24) We also have a date for the second variant (the one seen in the movie): "The B model, with enhanced missile capacity and the more efficient rotary-barrel neutron gun, was phased in beginning in '45...". My guess is that this refers to 2645, since all references to the 26th century write out the entire year (as in the earlier quote).

CF-105 Scimitar: The Rapier's history also gives us some background on the Scimitar: "The Rapier has now largely supplanted the earlier CF-105 Scimitar, particularly in frontline operations..."(24) Meaning, as you noted, that the Scimitar probably entered service before 2527.

CF-131/A-17 Broadsword: "The first Broadswords were deployed during the Pilgrim War to support Confed's invasion fleet." This means it entered service in either 2633 (first Grand Fleet) or 2634 (second Grand Fleet).

Also, we need to add the Merlin fighter to the service history list: "According to the GFIO release, Blair was killed at about 0900 Terran Standard Time on .301, while flying alone in a Merlin-class fighter" (23), from an article dated 2634.302. The Merlin is one of the Confederation fighters used as part of the Grand Fleet.

I'll take a look at the game material in a bit.
 

Nob Akimoto

Rear Admiral
Okay so redoing the early timeline from your data...

2500s - CF-105 Scimitar, Minotaur, Thor, Gotha introduced

2527 - CF-117 Rapier-I development begun

2536 - CF-117a Rapier-I introduced

Late 2500s - Hurricane, Gladiator introduced

2604 - Wildcat introduced

2631 - Minimum date for Hornet introduction. (Paladin began his career flying Hornets), Wildcat retired(?)

2633/2634 - A-17 Broadsword, Merlin(?) introduced

Ca. 2634 - Scimitar, Minotaur, Thor, Gotha, Rapier-I, Hurricane, Gladiator, Wildcat, Hummer all in service.

2639 - Corsair planned introduction, Wildcat planned retirement

2645 - CF-117b Rapier-I introduced
 

Nob Akimoto

Rear Admiral
On an additional note, the reason much of the retirements of the Action Stations craft was set around the late/mid 30s was the assumption that they'd be phased out with the introduction of Grand Fleet fighters and perhaps the first generation of Terran-Kilrath War era fighters.

Would it be a fairly safe assumption to believe that a number of these designs were already on the drawing board circa McAuliffe, either as part of the Grand Fleet design, or as part of the second Grand Fleet?

The "crash program" for the Corsair makes it sound like Confed was pushing for a new generation to be put into production soon after McAuliffe, which makes it sound like there's either already a fair set of plans in motion or the development cycle got drastically reduced. (Noting the 9 year development programme for the CF-117)
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Wing Commander I Ships:

2500s - CF-105 Scimitar Introduced
2631 - Minimum date for Hornet introduction. (Paladin began his career flying Hornets), Wildcat retired(?)
2630s - Raptor introduction(?), Falcon retired(?)
2654 - YF-44/F-44A Rapier II
2655 - CF-105 Scimitars retired

Hornet: Can anyone find a citation for Paladin starting his career in Hornets? According to the WC1/2USG Paladin has been flying for 22 years (so 2632), and Shotglass notes that they flew together during the war in Wing Commander I... but I can't find a reference to Paladin having flown Hornets back then (Shotglass even mentions that *he* flew Scimitars and Raptors for most of his career). Failing that, the earliest appearance of the Hornet may be in Wing Commander 1 itself.

As for its retirement, the WC1/2 strategy guide claims that the Epee replaced the Hornet: "... the light attack fighter that had replaced the Hornet jus five years before." (198) That statement was said in 2666 (at Heaven's Gate), so that's 2661 for the replacement. That said, it seems unlikely that the Hornet was removed from service... because it shows up in 2668 in Fleet Action, as part of the Confederation fighter fleet defending Sirius: "The forward edge of Rapiers, Raptors, Ferrets and Hornets..." (248). The Landreich flies Hornets in False Colors - one of their opponents identifies them as "Obsolete light fighters from ConFleet's old stock." (280)

Rapier II introduction obviously happens in Wing Commander I (2654). Rapier II retirement - well, obviously the Rapier II hasn't retired yet (Arena - 2701). The CCG says that the Hellcat V replaced the Rapier in Black Lion squadron, so that's something to think about... and then they're also flown by the Landreich and the Union of Border Worlds in False Colors and the Wing Commander IV novelization, respectively.

Scimitar: We've already dealt with the Scimitar's introduction. As you note, it's removed from service in 2655. From Secret Missions 2: "The first news is that--- ---the Scimitar has been officially retired as a Confederation combat fighter." The Landreich continues to fly them in Fleet Action (2668) and the Union of Border Worlds has some in 2673.

The Raptor is first mentioned in 2639, as part of the Enyo/McAuliffe Engagement story. Victory Streak: "The Confederation regroups under the leadership of then-Captain Geoffrey Tolwyn and brings in an attack force of Raptor-class heavy fighters." They're last seen in Confederation service in the same Fleet Action reference quoted above, and then the Landreich flies them in False Colors.

Lets sort out the Hornet, then move on to Wing Commander 2...

Would it be a fairly safe assumption to believe that a number of these designs were already on the drawing board circa McAuliffe, either as part of the Grand Fleet design, or as part of the second Grand Fleet?

Which designs are you referring to here?
 

Nob Akimoto

Rear Admiral
The CIC ships database makes the suggestion that Paladin started out flying Hornets. https://www.wcnews.com/ships2/wc1hornet.shtml (General James Taggart began his career flying the nimble fighters)

Ah as for the "on the drawing board circa McAuliffe" it was on the subject of the WC1 era fighters, Hornet and Raptor at the least, and perhaps even the Arrow (given its rather low designator)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Nob Akimoto

Rear Admiral
Rapier II introduction obviously happens in Wing Commander I (2654). Rapier II retirement - well, obviously the Rapier II hasn't retired yet (Arena - 2701). The CCG says that the Hellcat V replaced the Rapier in Black Lion squadron, so that's something to think about... and then they're also flown by the Landreich and the Union of Border Worlds in False Colors and the Wing Commander IV novelization, respectively.

Theoretically the Black Lion squadron thing could simply refer to an older model of Rapier-II (such as the F-44A) that was replaced by the Hellcat V rather than necessarily it being a frontline F-44C or F-44G/H model being replaced. It could be that the Hellcat V was somewhat easier to maintain or some other factor that leads to seeing more of them in WCIV as a frontline design.
 

R.Mitchell

Spaceman
Just thought I would drop a note in here.

Interesting quote in Nob's signature. And I thought I was the only one who ever read the Grafton novels from Stephen Coonts.
 

Sarty

Rear Admiral
I thought the Thunderbolt was another older design when we first saw it in WC3. On page 18 of the novel:
"When the wing went into combat, Blair planned to be flying with Gold Squadron in the cockpit of one of those steady and reliable old fighters."

Maybe not necessarily a pre-war design but I wouldn't think a fighter introduced in 2668 would be described as a 'reliable old fighter' in 2669.
 

Nob Akimoto

Rear Admiral
There's something that suggests the T-Bolt is new circa 2669, I believe it's from one of the WC3 files that someone dug through?(Which is where I think HF-66A comes from, too.)

I've tried to do snapshots by era, during the T-K war as a brief outline.
Immediate Pre-War/McAuliffe (ca. 2634)
Mainline Fighter: (McAuliffe) - Wildcat (30yrs), Hurricane(40+ yrs); (Grand Fleet) - Merlin(?), CF-117a Rapier-I(98 yrs)
Light/Scout Fighter: (McAuliffe) - Hummer(?)
Fighter-Bomber: (McAuliffe) - Falcon(?)
Bombers: (McAuliffe) - Gladiator(40+ yrs), Trident(?); (Grand Fleet) - A-17 Broadsword(New)
"Out of Date"/"Ancient": (McAuliffe) - Minotaur(100+ yrs), Thor(50+ yrs), Gotha(50+ yrs); (Grand Fleet) - CF-105 Scimitar(100+ yrs)

Enyo Engagement (ca. 2639)
Mainline Fighter: Wildcat (34yrs), Hurricane(40+ yrs), Corsair(New?), Merlin(?), CF-117a Rapier-I(103 yrs)
Light/Scout Fighter: Hummer(?), F-27 Arrow Orig.(New?)
Fighter-Bomber: Falcon(?), Raptor(New?)
Bombers: Gladiator(40+ yrs), Trident(?), A-17 Broadsword(5 yrs)
"Out of Date"/"Ancient": CF-105 Scimitar(100+ yrs)

Custer's Carnival Offensive(ca. 2648 - 2649)
Mainline Fighter: Corsair(10 yrs?), Merlin(?), CF-117b Rapier-I (3 yrs)
Light/Scout Fighter: Hornet(New?), F-27 Arrow Orig.(5+ yrs?)
Fighter-Bomber: Raptor(~10 yrs)
Bombers: A-17 Broadsword(15 yrs)
"Out of Date"/"Ancient": CF-105 Scimitar(100+ yrs)
Presumably Withdrawn: Gladiator (50+ yrs), Trident(?), Hummer(?), Wildcat(34+ yrs), CF-117a Rapier-I(110 yrs), Falcon(?), Minotaur(100+ yrs), Thor (50+ yrs), Gotha(50+ yrs)

Wing Commander(inc. Movie, Academy(TV), SM1/SM2, ca. 2654 - 2656)
Mainline Fighter: Corsair(10 yrs?), Merlin(?), Hellcat V(New?), YF-44/F-44A/F-44B Rapier-II(New, 2654/2655/2656)
Light/Scout Fighter: Hornet(~5 yrs?), Arrow(~10 yrs?), Epee(New?)
Fighter-Bomber: Raptor(10+ yrs), Sabre(New?), Longbow(New?)
Bombers: A-17 Broadsword(20 yrs), A-17 Broadsword Acad.(New?)
Withdrawn from Service: CF-105 Scimitar(100+ yrs, 2655), CF-117b Rapier-I(2654)

Wing Commander II (ca. 2666)
Mainline Fighter: Hellcat V Acad.(10+ yrs?), Hornet(30+ yrs?), F-44A Rapier-II(11 yrs), F-44C Rapier-II(5+ yrs?), F-44G/H Rapier-II(New?)
Light/Scout Fighter: Arrow Acad.(~20 yrs?), Epee Acad.(10 yrs?), Epee Attack Variant(5 yrs)
Fighter-Bomber: Raptor(20+ yrs), Sabre Acad.(~10 yrs?), Longbow Acad.(~10 yrs?), F-57"A" Sabre(WCII vers., 2-3 yrs?)
Bombers: A-17 Broadsword(33 yrs), A-17 Broadsword Acad. (10+ yrs)
Presumably Withdrawn: Corsair(20 yrs), Merlin(40+ yrs?)

End Run/Fleet Action (ca. 2668)
Mainline Fighter: Hellcat V HotT?(New?), Hornet(30+ yrs?), F-44C Rapier-II(5+ yrs?), F-44G/H Rapier-II(2-3 yrs?), Gladius(New?), Wraith(New)
Light/Scout Fighter: Arrow Arm.(New?), Arrow HotT(New?), Epee Attack Variant(7 yrs)
Fighter-Bomber: Raptor(30+ yrs), Longbow HotT(New?), F-57"A" Sabre(5-6 yrs?), F-57B Sabre-CVE(New), F-57D Sabre-D(New), HF-66A Thunderbolt VII(New), Morningstar(New)
Bombers: A-17 Broadsword(35 yrs), A-18 Crossbow(New), "New Line" A-17 Broadsword(New)
Presumably Withdrawn: Arrow Acad.(20+ yrs?), Hellcat V Acad. (10+ yrs?), F-44A Rapier(11 yrs), A-17 Broadsword Acad. (10+ yrs), Epee Acad.(10 yrs?)

Wing Commander Armada/Privateer/III (ca. 2669)
Mainline Fighter: Hellcat V HotT?(2-3 yrs?), Hornet(30+ yrs?), F-44C Rapier-II(5+ yrs?), F-44G/H Rapier-II(5-6 yrs?), Gladius(2-3 yrs?), Wraith(2-3 yrs), F-103 "Reaper" Excalibur(New)
Light/Scout Fighter: Arrow Arm.(2-3 yrs, same as "Interceptor" Arrow?), Arrow HotT(2-3 yrs, same as "point defense" Arrow?), Epee Attack Variant(8 yrs), Phantom(New)
Fighter-Bomber: Raptor(30+ yrs), Longbow HotT(2-3 yrs?), F-57B Sabre-CVE(2-3 yrs), F-57D Sabre-D(2-3 yrs), HF-66A Thunderbolt VII(2-3 yrs), Morningstar(2-3 yrs)
Bombers: "New Line" A-17 Broadsword(2 yrs), A-18 Crossbow(2 yrs), Banshee(New), A-17 Broadsword Patrol Fighter(Same as WCA ver.? 5-6 yrs?)
Presumably Withdrawn: A-17 Broadsword(36 yrs), F-57"A" Sabre(6-8 yrs.)

Wing Commander IV (ca. 2673)
Mainline Fighter: Hellcat V PoF(2-3 yrs?), F-44G/H Rapier-II(7-8 yrs?), Wraith(3-4 yrs), F-103 Excalibur Prod.(2-3 yrs?), F-104 Bearcat(New)
Light/Scout Fighter: Arrow Cloak(New?), Epee Attack Variant(5 yrs), Phantom(4-5 yrs)
Fighter-Bomber: Longbow PoF(2-3yrs?), F-57D Sabre-D(4-5), HF-66 Thunderbolt VII PoF(2-3 yrs?)
Bombers: "New Line" A-17 Broadsword(4-5 yrs), A-18 Crossbow(4-5 yrs), Banshee(4-5 years)
Presumably Withdrawn: Arrow Arm.(4-5 yrs?), Arrow HotT(4-5 yrs?), F-44C Rapier-II(10 yrs?), "Reaper" Excalibur(2-3 yrs?), Hellcat V HotT?(2-3 yrs?), Longbow HotT(2-3 yrs?), Raptor(30+ yrs), Hornets(40+ yrs?), F-57B Sabre-CVE(5-6 yrs), HF-66A Thunderbolt VII HoTT(3-4 yrs?)
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Here's a few more notes. I'll work on the FMV games tomorrow:

WC2:

Ferret: The earliest reference to the Ferret is 2638, in the Confederation Handbook. The complement of the Iason included "Two towed Ferret-class scout fighters with enhanced sensor arrays" (103). They last appear as part of the Confederation Navy in Fleet Action (2668): "The forward edge of Rapiers, Raptors, Ferrets and Hornets..." (248)

Epee: As earlier noted, the Wing Commander I & II Ultimate Strategy Guide says that the Epee is "... the light attack fighter that had replaced the Hornet jus five years before." (198) The Epee's last appearance is in Special Operations 2, in the background on the Concordia (2667). The issue here is that the fandom has long referred to one of the unidentified Wing Commander Academy fighters as the Epee, based on its rough geometric similarity. Given the contradicting reference, I'm willing to suggest that the Epee (and the Sabre) attributed to Wing Commander Academy may be different ships entirely. Unlike the Arrow, Longbow and Avenger (which are exact drawings), the 'Epee' and the 'Sabre' are only rough silhoutte matches.

Sabre: See above for a discussion of the animated 'Sabre'. The Sabre otherwise earliest appears in the WC2 manual's Joan's Update, dated 2664. Its last appearance in Confederate colors is Fleet Action, in 2668. Its designation, F-57, suggests that it entered service after the Epee.

Broadsword: We've already talked about its introduction... and it's obviously still in service in 2701. False Colors notes that as of 2672 Broadswords are only flown by Confederation 'Reserve Wings'.

Crossbow: The Crossbow prototype was tested in 2667 in WC2SO1: "It's very new, an improvement on the Broadsword technology. The Gettysburg was testing the prototypes." It enters actual service during the course of that game, as Olympus Station later recieves Crossbows for its defense: "I need to check with the station commander about the new shipments of Crossbow bombers..."

Morningstar: The Morningstar prototype is tested on the Concordia during WC2SO2 (2667): "We've got a job to do shake down this new fighter, the Morningstar."> By Wing Commander Academy it has entered regular service: "The Morningstar is generally recognized as the current Confederation state-of-the-art capital ship destroyer." Wing Commander Academy (game) seems to take place in 2667 or 2668. The two prototype ships from the Special Operations disks are in regular service and the small amount of character background tells us that the manual's author was flying with Maniac off the Concordia (Maniac was assigned there during the campaign before End Run).

Academy

Wraith: The Wraith is introduced in Wing Commander Academy: "The Wraith, currently in development at the Terran Tech Laboratories in New York, will herald a new technological age in the fighter ship field." It is in production by 2669: "...command has issued us the production model of the Wraith, a medium fighter equipped with Leech missiles..." (Armada).

Privateer

Stiletto: There is no background on the Stiletto. It appears in Privateer (2669) and nowhere else.

Gladius: No background exists on the Gladius. It appears in Privateer and Armada (both 2669). I have a theory that it's an evolution of the Raptor, based on its similarity to the SWC variant thereof and its similar role... but that's just one fan's speculation.

Talon: The age of the Talon is unclear. Many people have speculated 2654, because the Privateer manual says that Gov. Meshach standardized the commodity exchange at that time before falling due to the sale of Talons to the Church of Man... but it actually doesn't make clear how much time passes between those two years. Righteous Fire says only that "He had used his connections to sell Confederation ships, mostly Talons, to outlaw groups such as the pirates and the Retros. It’s been years since his administration collapsed...". Talons are still serving with militia units in 2669 (in Privateer).

Armada

Arrow: The Arrow first appears in the first episode of Wing Commander Academy, Red & Blue (2653 or 2654). Based on its designation (F-27), it may be one of the oldest war-era fighters. Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander Prophecy suggests that Arrows are being replaced by Piranhas in 2681: "The military is using [the Piranha] as a replacement for the out-of-date Arrow." (103) Of course, the Arrow is still around in several forms in Wing Commander Arena, so it must not have been replaced entirely...

Phantom: The Phantom is new in 2669. From a mission briefing in Armada: "You will be piloting the new medium class Phantom fighter."

Banshee: The Banshee is new in 2669. A Kilrathi mission briefing in Armada, refering to the Banshee: "The Confederation is receiving a convoy of a new class of ships which you must intercept and destroy before they can use them."
 

Nob Akimoto

Rear Admiral
Thanks, Loaf.

Now the next question..

Is there any way we can split the games by the sector they take place in?

WC1 takes place predominantly in the Vega Sector, while WC2 takes place in Enigma/Deneb, right? Privateer in Gemini, etc.

I'm just wondering if we can't narrow down service sectors of the fighters and find some commonality there, as well.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
CF-117 Rapier: "... development of the Rapier began in 2527 and the first order of 700 was commissioned in 2536." (24) We also have a date for the second variant (the one seen in the movie): "The B model, with enhanced missile capacity and the more efficient rotary-barrel neutron gun, was phased in beginning in '45...". My guess is that this refers to 2645, since all references to the 26th century write out the entire year (as in the earlier quote).

CF-105 Scimitar: The Rapier's history also gives us some background on the Scimitar: "The Rapier has now largely supplanted the earlier CF-105 Scimitar, particularly in frontline operations..."(24) Meaning, as you noted, that the Scimitar probably entered service before 2527.
A question - do we know whether or not the Rapier's 2536 commission date was intended by the author of the Confed Handbook? It smells to me like a typo - it would be strange that the Rapier would still be used so much in 2654 when it's way over a hundred years old. And it makes the Scimitar's story more confusing, too - sure, the Scimitar is old, but if it's older than the Rapier, and it was to be replaced by the Rapier... then how come they didn't manage to completely replace them, having over a century of time for it?

Of course, whether it's a typo or not may not really matter, since it's still there in the book, and without any other more reasonable figures, it just wouldn't make sense to reject these... but then again, we do disregard the 2654 date from the Armada manual, which otherwise would have to be interpreted as meaning that all of Armada's ships were around in 2654.
 

Kavok

Spaceman
I got to wondering about displaying this graphically.

I thought about time on the x-axis (obviously), then fighters (grouped by game-era or book-era) up the y-axis, then horizontal bars to show from and to when they served. That would look nice and neat - especially if the colours of the bars could indicate where they were produced and/or commonly used.

But reading the discussion above, would it not be possible that out-of-service fighters could be returned to duty in certain circumstances?

Say, for example, the Broadsword, for any hypothetical reason, might have been retired or more likely given the disaster at the Battle of Earth, 'mothballed', if it proved unsuitable or dangerous for use against the Nephilim. But circa 2701, the Kilrathi war is back on again, and perhaps given Kilrathi technology and tactical doctrine, there may again be a use for them.

That hits the B-52 analogy - had the Cold War still been on today, they would have unquestionably been retired and replaced by B-1s and B-2s. But a new kind of operation against insurgents or less-advanced opponents has meant that they are again widely used. An even better example was the SR-71, actually retired if I remember it right, then brought back into the active inventory due to a reconaissance capability shortfall.

At least, something to think about, don't rule out the possibility of 'split bars' on the chart.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Some morning commentary!

The CIC ships database makes the suggestion that Paladin started out flying Hornets. https://www.wcnews.com/ships2/wc1hornet.shtml (General James Taggart began his career flying the nimble fighters)

I mentioned on IRC, but I'll do so again here for the record - I think this entry is inaccurate. I can't find an actual reference anywhere in the canon. My bad, folks.


Is there any way we can split the games by the sector they take place in?

This is possible, but there are a few stories that take you all over the place... you may ultimately end up separating out only the Stiletto.

There's something that suggests the T-Bolt is new circa 2669, I believe it's from one of the WC3 files that someone dug through?(Which is where I think HF-66A comes from, too.)

HF-66 comes from the Heart of the Tiger novel - it's later reprinted (sans H) in the Prophecy Gold manual. The 'internal data' you're thinking of is here: https://www.wcnews.com/articles/art52.shtml It's not reliable, though - it didn't appear in the game, and in several cases the fighters don't enter service for months (Hellcat) or years (Longbow and Excalibur) until after the game ended. The popular '2668' date for the Thunderbolt ended up being an incorrect assumption. The Wing Commander III Authorized Combat Guide notes that Colonel Hart flew them for 'six months, which was a long time in a war zone', or something similar... and we decided that must mean it was six months old. In retrospect that's highly inaccurate...

A question - do we know whether or not the Rapier's 2536 commission date was intended by the author of the Confed Handbook? It smells to me like a typo - it would be strange that the Rapier would still be used so much in 2654 when it's way over a hundred years old. And it makes the Scimitar's story more confusing, too - sure, the Scimitar is old, but if it's older than the Rapier, and it was to be replaced by the Rapier... then how come they didn't manage to completely replace them, having over a century of time for it?

We don't. My gut feeling switches every time I see them. It's odd that there's no Pilgrim War history in the writeup, which suggests the wrong century... but it'd be darned odd for *one* point in the book to forget what century it is twice in a row. It even feels like McCubbin intentionally giving us an 'out', which happens in a few other cases in the book.

I don't worry about the Scimitar part, though, since it's entirely internalized and not a result of meshing the WC1 and movie backstories... the Rapier has 'largely supplanted' the Scimitar by the time the guide is written in 2654... and the Scimitar is gone the next year.

As for the speed with which it's replaced, I don't think there's any set yardstick - did anybody think we'd be retiring the stealth fighter well before the F-15?

Of course, whether it's a typo or not may not really matter, since it's still there in the book, and without any other more reasonable figures, it just wouldn't make sense to reject these... but then again, we do disregard the 2654 date from the Armada manual, which otherwise would have to be interpreted as meaning that all of Armada's ships were around in 2654.

The Armada manual is clearly a typo - it's not 2654 in human years, it's 2654 in the *Kilrathi* voice (which everywhere else is the human year run through a base-8 conversion). If you want to argue that the Armada fighters were in service in the 1400s, be my guest. :)

In all seriousness, there are plenty of easy explanations for this one - it's a document that was started in 2654 and has been updated over the years. We know the Arrow, at least, was around back then... it's less easy to figure out internally than why the Handbook would suddenly switch to not knowing the current century for part of one article.

But circa 2701, the Kilrathi war is back on again, and perhaps given Kilrathi technology and tactical doctrine, there may again be a use for them.

To be clear, the Kilrathi War *isn't* back on in Arena - the game takes place in the aftermath of the Nephilim War on a volatile and fractured frontier where everyone is fighting everyone else... the Confederation and the Kilrathi (in so far as they still exist) are at peace and trying to rebuild their core worlds.

(That said, your explanation is completely reasonable - Broadswords presumably came back into service from the Reserves when the Nephilim invasion started... they may even have reopened the production lines. I think we'll find out more about that soon.)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Wing Commander III

Hellcat V: The Hellcat appears earliest in the first episode of Wing Commander Academy (2653 or 2654), "Red and Blue". A popular speculation is that the Hellcat is similar to the Wraith, in that it is only a 'simulated' ship in the episode - that's somewhat nullified by the fact that the Flight School also has a large statue of the ship. Hellcat debris also seems to appear in the last shot of the *final* episode of the series, "Glory of Sivar". A favorite uncited speculation of mine is that these are actually *Wildcats*, from Action Stations - appearing similar in the same way that the F4F and F6F did in World War II. There's no evidence of that, though, and the creative desire was certainly to have a recognizable WC3 Hellcat in the episode. The Hellcat is last seen in TCSF service in Wing Commander IV (2673), though no exit date is known. Another speculation might be that it is being replaced by the Bearcat, as in World War II. Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander Prophecy says that the Tigershark is "the culmination of the Hellcat's evolutionary path." (104) The first WCSO lecture, about the Panther, introduces that ship with: "After several years of putting your faith in the Hellcat or Excalibur..." Of course, the Excalibur is clearly still in service during that game.

Thundebolt: Already discussed. First appears in Wing Commander III (2669). The HotT novelization calls them "... steady and reliable old fighters." (18) Designation (F-66) suggests an appearance after the Sabre but well before the Excalibur. The Thunderbolt last appears in Secret Ops (2681).

Longbow: The Longbow earliest appears in a brief cameo on Wing Commander Academy ("Word of Honor", 2654). It is last seen in Wing Commander IV (2673). The WCSO fiction claims that the Longbow has been retired (2681): "Today, I'm going to give you an overview of the worthy successor to the now retired Longbow: the TB-80a Devastator." (Episode 6) Nevertheless, it must have been brought back from the reserves for the Nephilim War: lines of Longbows are clearly visible in Arena's Polaris Roads map (2701). The later designation (F/A-76) suggests that it's a lot newer than its apparent appearance on WCA would suggest. In False Colors (2672), Tolwyn notes that "... the recent Longbow bomber was still a novelty." (180)

Excalibur: The Excalibur prototype is introduced in Wing Commander III, as are the first production models (2669). It last appears in Wing Commander Secret Ops (2681).

Wing Commander IV

Bearcat: There is little background on the Bearcat. It is first seen in Wing Commander IV (2673), where factories are churning out the production model in preparation for war with the Union of Border Worlds. Fan speculation designates it F-104 (after the Excalibur), but it could have appeared earlier.

Lance: The Lance ("Dragon") enters service in 2673 (a Wing Commander IV PSX 'car advertisement' makes clear that it is a 2673 design). Fan speculation designates it F-107 (I would bet money on this). It has not been seen after Wing Commander IV.

Banshee (II): The Banshee is seen in Confederation service as an apparent trainer at the end of Wing Commander IV. There's no real background, though fan speculation is that it is the 'obsolete three-man patrol fighter' referenced in the TPoF novelization. A fun backstory might be that it has some different name in Confederation service (much like weapons shared by the US and England on occasion) and that it would have a 'T' designation (or the rare 'P', if it's an older patrol ship).

There isn't much to say about the Prophecy ships, except to make special note that the order of their designations doesn't match their order of apperance in the game:

F/A-105 Tigershark
F-106 Piranha
F-108 Panther
F-109 Vampire
F-110 Wasp

Note that the Tigershark and the Piranha may both be as old as/older than the Lance (if it's the F-107).

The Shrike (TB-81) also comes after the heavier reward-ship Devastator (TB-80).
 

DangerousCook

Rear Admiral
I could've sworn that the Wing Commander Academy series has Bearcats shown... I think it's in Word of Honor, maybe someone could double-check on that?
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Speaking as the guy who's encoded and re-edited WCA from tapes several times now... no Bearcats. The unidentified ships from Word of Honor are what we've previously called Sabres:

wcatv-sabre.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Top