I have been primarily flying the Vanguard for a few years now, and have seen the ups and downs of its performance. While I am in love with the idea of the ship, the design falls down with me in several areas. In this post (mostly copy-pasted from a post I made on Spectrum that didn't gather much response), I would like to gather some feedback on my thoughts for a dream rework. The one massive disclaimer with my idea is that it's highly unlikely to happen - it constitutes a massive internal redesign.
I appreciate that many will disagree with me, but I would still like to hear what others think.
When approaching this rework my first priority was improving survivability, and the second was increasing the offensive capabilities. Whilst attending to those tasks, I also wanted to retain a degree of versatility.
The core idea of my rework is the amalgamation of the cockpit and the life pod. The dorsal turret would become unmanned and move to the rear to allow the pod to eject upwards. In the cockpit, the Pilot and RIO would sit side-by-side in fixed seats, with access to the rear between their seats. There would be an airtight door behind them leading to the life pod, which would now be directly attached to the cockpit. In the event of an emergancy, either operator could initiate the ejection sequence, firing the whole escape system upwards.
This achieves my primary aim, as it drastically reduces the time to escape. Previously, both crew would have to make their way to the life pod and launch it from there, which would take valuable seconds. Furthermore, combining the pod with the cockpit and separating them with an airtight door would mean that a pressurised environment could still be created in the event that either the cockpit or the pod were vented. It also results in a reduction in pressurised volume, lowering the chances of a depressurising hit.
The pod would contain beds, personal weapons, food/water supplies, facilities to cook, and a toilet/shower combination, shrunk as small as possible. Life support systems, emergancy patching and repressurisation kits, and extended supplies would be stored in the roof space. Normal access to the pod would be through a hatch in the floor, leading down a ladder fixed to the forward landing gear. To exit the pod in an emergancy, the main cockpit glass could be blown out by detcord or small arms fire.
The pod itself could not survive atmospheric braking, but would come equipped with parachutes and small thrusters to ensure a safe landing if ejection occurs in atmosphere.
As for the weapons, I would do away with the proprietary nose guns altogether. I would also try to recess the main gun as much as possible, to reduce the exposure to fire. To give a higher forward firepower, I would add a gun to the bottom side of each nacelle. For missiles, I would have interchangable racks stored in the volume between the life pod and the nacelles.
This covers my secondary aim, as the much wider distribution of the weapons reduces the chance of a one-shot disarm.
My personal opinion (and this is where many will differ) is that internal missile bays should be limited in their refit options. This leads my on to my final aim, the retention of versatility.
I have imagined four role configurations for this Vanguard: The Fighter, the E-War Platform, the Fighter-Bomber, and the Scout. The differences between them would only be the standard loadouts, making one frame reconfigurable for multiple tasks.
As the standard model, the Fighter would have a gimballed S4 ballistic repeater in the nose (with no spin-up time), a gimballed S3 energy repeater under each nacelle, and would have it's missile bays configured to hold many S2 and S3 missiles.
The E-War Platform would have a fixed S5 distortion cannon in the nose, a gimballed S3 energy repeater on each nacelle, and would replace 1/2 the S2 missiles with dataspike missiles. Finally it would replace the S3 missiles with an enhanced computer package, to work in tandem with the dataspike missiles.
The Fighter-Bomber would have a fixed S5 ballistic cannon in the nose, a fixed S4 ballistic cannon on each nacelle, and would replace all of the missiles with four S6 torpedoes
The Scout would have a gimballed S4 energy repeater in the nose, a gimballed S3 energy repeater on each nacelle, and would replace the S3 missiles of the Fighter with an enhanced sensor package.
All of the variants would carry two S3 energy repeaters in the turret by default.
Thanks to Aniron from Spectrum for mentioning that the nacelle weapons should be underneath instead of on top, to aid access. The Vanguard may have to operate from distant FARPs, where advanced loading equipment would be unavailable.
I have used my barely existant MS paint skills to provide a basic diagram to aid this description. All of the volumes are vague, and may be adjusted somewhat to make the design feasible.
The red outline indicates the ejection pod and cockpit, and the ladder on the landing gear.
The red dashes indicate the storage space above the ceiling above the ejection pod.
The orange areas indicate the landing gear.
The yellow areas indicate the unmanned turret position.
The green areas indicate the volume to be filled with other internal systems - e.g. fuel tanks and power plants.
The blue areas indicate the modular missile bays.
The purple areas indicate the new weapon positions.