Service entry dates for Confed fighters

Star Rider

Rear Admiral
It sucks that no updated Raptors were available. If we were able to pick ships at will based on rank in WCI, I would mostly fly the Raptor, with switches to the other ships when the mechanics needed time for repairs or upgrades. If I wanted a challenge ("Hard mode"), I would go to the Scimitar.

Respectfully, I'm not sure what your post has to do with this thread.
Simple, being able to pick your ship is privilege of rank. Same as being able to pick who you fly with.

Until we get to Wing Commander III we're not the top of the chain of command in the Fighter Wing on the Carrier.
That said, I would not have minded seeing the Raptor in WCIII. Confed is getting more than a little desperate after the Battle of Earth, and pulling (hopefully upgraded) fighter craft from early in the war makes more sense in that context. I should have added that to my original post, and I apologize for that failure on my part.
Okay, so TCS Victory was an old ship with a bunch of old , possibly hastily upgraded, fighters.

Except maybe the Longbow.

Simple, being able to pick your ship is privilege of rank. Same as being able to pick who you fly with.

Until we get to Wing Commander III we're not the top of the chain of command in the Fighter Wing on the Carrier.


HOLY CRAP! Pressing alt-s during fighter selection in WC3 gives you additional info on each fighter - INCLUDING WHEN THEY ENTERED SERVICE! 🤯

Here is the info:
  1. The Arrow - May 11, 2660. So it is an older design
  2. The Hellcat - Sept. 12, 2669. WHAAAAAT!!???
  3. T-bolt - Dec. 25, 2665. Seems about right I guess.
WC3 takes place in 2669, so obviously there was some miscommunication during game design. However, we can use the above info to zero in on what the game designers intended for the ages of the fighters.


Longbow was supposed to be state of the art I would guess. Victory only receives them for the Ariel campaign perhaps?

Everything else is old or middle aged. The Arrow must have been intended, as was speculated many years ago in this thread, to be a modern advanced variant (auto-slide capability, heavy missile armament, sidestick controller etc.)
Yeah! I found the entry dates odd (especially the Hellcat and Longbow), because if we're back to "old tech", I would expect to see more of the WCI and WCII ships mixed in out of necessity. Maybe throw in the Rapier (either design works, though I prefer the WCI look) and put afterburners on the Broadsword/ Crossbow

That said, I wonder if the service dates were put in before the in-game universe timeline for WCIII was actually established.

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
What you're seeing here is a confluence of two unintended shifts that are sort of propping each other up.

You've discovered the ALT-S data which is unfortunately both fascinating and pretty hard to square with any later continuity… or in some cases the continuity included in the box. The fact is that Wing Commander III on its own doesn't especially care when Wing Commander III happens. 2669 doesn't come up anywhere in the game itself and was in fact decided after the fact by Creative Services when they were putting together the Victory Streak manual. As much as Chris Roberts and the development team had an idea or care when the game happened, the thought was that it was about ten years after Wing Commander II: 2676. As you've noted, the interesting thing there is that from the early ship specs (which are pure lore) you can see that at least the Arrow and the Thunderbolt were in fact suppose to be around before Wing Commander II… so years of whining about what a retcon it was to have new ships that were old have always been wrong on their face. So our first behind-the-scenes shift is that Wing Commander II got kicked back about seven years in the timeline.

The second is that Wing Commander Academy was originally developed as a sort of 'Wing Commander III Babies' concept. All the way up to the very start of production the idea was that it would retcon Secret Missions 2 and instead tell that story with Wing Commander III characters as the wigmen: Cobra, Flint, Rachel, etc. Model sheets for characters and vehicles were already completed and the first episode was already being animated when the late decision was made to instead stay in continuity with Wing Commander I. But that change came too late for large portions of the first episode and as a result it aired including both Hellcats and Arrows. Two other later game ships that had model sheets finished show up in blink-and-you-miss them moments later on when scripts called for something different and they happened to be available: the Longbow and the Avenger.

So as a result, you have Hellcats, Arrows and Longbows in 2654 which isn't exactly what anyone ever entirely attended… but it's canon, in so much as that means anything. (Actually, if the Arrow in WC3 was supposed to be 16 years old it should've been around in WC1…)

I should also point out that that's ALL we know. You will hear fan stories about how the Longbow 'used to be a shuttle' or the Hellcat was really a Wildcat… those are both fun explanations but they aren't anything that has ever been published. (I'm a big fan of the Wildcat story, I think the Longbow/Avenger one is kind of stupid… they're just being used for SAR on the show like they are in the game…)


Rogue Leader
The original intent of ten or so years between WC2 and WC3 (even if only to mirror the ~10 years between WC1 and WC2) makes sense to me. Purely from the games, everything seemed so positive at the end WC2 in terms of the overall impression of the war. Yes, the end of SO2 seemed to end on a downer: win the battle but lose the sector/quadrant, but I find it's only with the novel stories - the Raid on Kilrah followed by the disastrous False Armistice and subsequent Battle of Sol - that the sudden turn-around (from a big picture perspective) in the Confederation's (and by extension, humanity's) fortunes makes any sense. Then again, I suppose war fortunes can change quickly so whether it was only a couple of years or 10 doesn't really matter too much for folks who just want to enjoy the games...

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Yeah... we fans love the tiny details and building timelines from separate parts... but an individual production doesn't care so much for that at all. Think about a Star Wars movie... there's never any detail given about 'when' it happens beyond that one comes after another.


Playing WC3...once again! The Excalibur just got unlocked for me. Service entry date is listed as March of 2676. So, Loaf is right again; the developers intention was to have WC3 take place 10 years after the end of WC2 SO2. Even the Morningstar would have been old news by then!


...and the Hellcat is garbage for a fighter designed in the mid 2660s! Anyone want to mod a "Super Hellcat" variant for WC3? Maybe give it to us starting with the Ariel campaign?


@Bandit LOAF So where does that leave when we look at the intended age of the fighters in WC3, and then adjust that for the fact that the game takes place in 2669 instead of 2676? Much of what follows is of course speculative (as in all of it! :))

The Arrow
  1. entered service in 2653
  2. A concurrent design with the Hornet?
  3. It had a remarkable spaceframe that; with weapon, engine and other improvements, made it a top notch light fighter even 16 years after it entered service.
The Hellcat
  1. Entered Service in 2662
  2. Proved to be an unsatisfactory replacement for the Rapier? Which is why Concordia still has Rapiers instead of Hellcats in 2666?
The Thunderbolt
  1. Entered service in 2658 replacing the Raptor or Scimitar?
  2. The Sabre was it's replacement? Makes since given the rather light WC1/2 style weapons loadout of the Thud.
  3. A updated variant seems to be on the Victory (plasma and meson guns are the main upgrades) I wonder what a WC3 version of the Sabre would look like?
The Longbow
  1. Ah, this one makes sense!
  2. Entered service in 2666 (late)
  3. A replacement for the Broadsword. This I can totally see; the Longbow has guns geared toward heavy fighter, bomber, and lighter capship attack and possesses a vastly improved torp and missile loadout. Plus afterburners!!!
  4. Unrelated note - the WC4 Longbow seems a lot more maneuverable in-game (I am replaying WC4 right now) vs. the WC3 version.
The Crossbow fits in nicely as a design concurrent with the Longbow (they even have similar names), but intended for the smaller Confed carriers and cruisers. They both have only one turret as well, which seems the way torp bomber development was going (with better maneuverability and/or afterburners to compensate for the loss of side turrets). I would love to fly the crossbow in WC3 and blast away at Vaktoths, Paktahns, Corvettes, and Sorthaks with my dual neutron guns and triple mass drivers!

For any of the above to make sense we have to ignore the novels though. :(

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I think the problem with all of this is the assumption that there'd ever only be one kind of fighter for a particular role at a time… and I don't think history really backs that up. Look at World War II: why do the allies operate Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs, Wildcats, Thunderbolts, Hellcats, Corsairs, Bearcats (and a dozen more) all in the same four year span instead of just one Fighter Plane? Because in any one country you had dozens or hundreds of companies developing weapons at once, consistently improving on their own designs and each doing their best to make sure the government buys their particular weapon. And the Confederation isn't just one or two countries on Earth, it's a thousand planets and a dozen allied species.

Why does the Concordia have Rapiers and the Victory have Hellcats around the same time? Maybe Rapiers are preferred by top pilots and they're going to the hottest front line units while Hellcats are going to the light careers which are more expendable or see less action. Maybe it's because of the region of space: there's a supply chain for Rapiers in the Epsilon Sector and Hellcats in Vega in 2669. Or maybe there's some aspect to each of these ships we don't consider in the course of the game… maybe Rapiers need the longer runways on fleet carriers while Hellcats are capable of shorter landings… maybe Origin Aerospace has maxed out production of Rapiers and it's not enough so the government buys Douglas' Hellcats too… there's just infinite possibilities and I think the absolute least of them is that there'd ever supposed to be *one* ship design at a time.

For any of the above to make sense we have to ignore the novels though. :(

And the cartoon and the movie and the official guides and the later games… :)