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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So apparently it's dangerous in the WH40k universe to fire some weapons while on a ship. It make sense. A lot of weapons deal with making holes in other things, and if you're in space, you definitely don't want to make a hole in the thing that's keeping you from dying (the ship's hull). Great! Makes sense...so far.

But you have to remember what sort of things a ship is designed to deal with. It's supposed to resist massive ship ordinances. Missiles the size of buildings, enormous fusion explosions, and hugely powerful lance blasts. The side of these ships aren't a thin shell of aluminum--some of them are dozens of meters thick made with fictional materials modern engineers dream of.

Something capable of destroying a human or even the relatively tough armor of, say, a Land Raider isn't going to hold a candle to something that would laugh at a volcano cannon.

I mean, even stellar dust is going to put to shame even a bolter. This is one of the big issues that's confronting our own space programs. Even some dust can ruin your day if you're going sufficiently fast.

We can assume that WH40k ships are mostly proof against this sort of damage. If this is the case...why worry about a little multi-melta in your hull?
 

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Did you consider what's in the walls? Ventilation systems, power grid and various other life supporting apparatus? The outer hull may laugh at plasma guns but I doubt the inner walls and hallways are anywhere near that durable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Who's worried?
Low velocity shotguns are mentioned in the Eisenhorn series and Night Lord series as marine armsmen weapons specifically to fight on board ships.

Also in the Night Lord series one of the Chaos Space Marines mentions how dangerous it is to fire a multi-melta on a ship:

"To fire a melta-weapon within a ship? It was a miracle the hull wasn’t liquefied yet and every one of them torn out into the rushing air."

Did you consider what's in the walls? Ventilation systems, power grid and various other life supporting apparatus? The outer hull may laugh at plasma guns but I doubt the inner walls and hallways are anywhere near that durable.
I thought about this to a certain extent...but you also have to remember how remarkably tough these ships are. Think about all the time the shields fall and damage certainly gets through the armor...but the insides of the vessels don't crumple like tissue paper.

At least Imperial ships are built tough.

I can't recall in the God-knows how many boarding actions I can recall off the top of my head where using "regular" weaponry (from las-guns, bolters, and Tau plasma guns) haven't had any real detrimental effects on the ship.
 

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DA GOLDEN WAAAGH
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Its not just damage to the ship itself that could be concerned. If anyones ever been on a military ship, the amount of space in most of the areas are quite confined, any discharge or weapon has the chance for to ricochet, causing harm and damage to other people and things.

So somewhat increase of safety is needed with lower velocity weapons and the like.

Also due to the lack of space also makes some weapons increasingly difficult to use aka the Accatran pattern lasguns being a "bullpup" design to allow ease of use in small confines which also include ship based combat.
 

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I think I recall reading in one of the earlier Guant's Ghosts books that fire arms for the guard were prohibited during transit between battlefields because the transport ships were very "fragile" and had weaker Gellar Fields (The thing to keep the Warp out when your traveling through it) and it was to also make sure that if there were any inter-regiment bitterness that they couldn't completely kill each over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If anyones ever been on a military ship, the amount of space in most of the areas are quite confined, any discharge or weapon has the chance for to ricochet, causing harm and damage to other people and things.
The size of even the small Imperial escorts dwarfs the biggest fighting ship we've put to sea. And they don't seem all that stingy with space.

Corridors where multiple men can fight shoulder to shoulder. Cathedrals multiple stories tall. The lower decks are an entire city unto themselves with their own economies and societies.

The ricocheting thing might have some weight, though. I know in Necropolis las rounds were ricocheting in the street. That could also happen on a ship, I suppose.

On the other hand of things...Space Marines who are really built for boarding actions and equipped for it, don't have any sort of boarding specific range weapons, do they? And the regular weapon of a space marine is probably heavier hitting than anything outside a crewed weapon a normal human would use.

True Space Marines are proofed against the void (until their armor is penetrated...) but void suits are hardly rare. And plus if you're a few dozen decks deep, the chances of being let out into the void is pretty slim to none. In fact, if a shot managed to open up that much hull, there's probably bigger worries than your las gun hitting something it shouldn't.
 

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DA GOLDEN WAAAGH
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Well first thought bolters don't ricochet, they are designed as a "armor peircing round" as to boarding specific weapons. Boardijg sheilds seem to fit the bill, they are basically the same as the marines own armor but thicker and designed to take massive amounts of punishment and protect the marines from the same.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well first thought bolters don't ricochet, they are designed as a "armor peircing round" as to boarding specific weapons.
If the issue is that causing collateral damage to the surroundings is somehow dangerous, isn't an "armor piercing round" dangerous to have for a force designed to act as boarders and the main line of defense against boarders?

And if it isn't dangerous to have heavy, piercing weapons...why not equip your own armsmen with them? Maybe not bolters, but surely some heavy auto-gun?
 

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DA GOLDEN WAAAGH
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Specifically the auto gun class of weapons are basically similar to the majority of our own weapons, peices of metal propelled at speed by then explosive chemical reaction of gunpowder and air. Basically the main reason against these weapons is the possibility for ricochet.

I'm not too sure i made my point on the bolters clear though, as an armor peircing round they are designed for a forcefull impact with large impulse of force driving the projectile forward and into the target. By the principal they arn't ment to ricochet. Also they explode so no ricochet, then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I am fully aware of what an auto-gun is.

What you described for the auto-gun also aptly matches a bolter. If all the difference between an auto-gun bullet and a bolter is armor-piercing and explosive...then make an explosive, armor piercing bullet.

From my quick Google searching, we've had the technology for a long time. We just outlawed it for rifled-sized munitions, right?

Having adequately armed armsmen onboard seem a better idea than crippling them with less effective weaponry when alternatives exist.
 

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DA GOLDEN WAAAGH
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Gyrojet weaponry is outlawed? Didn't know that. Thought due to the much lower projectile velocity and difficulty for maintenance of the weapons, the devlopment was put on the backburner in comparison to other technologies.

Yes you are probably right but in most cases what can the armsmen actually do, boarding parties are often comprised of the most elite soldiers, spacemarine terminators, mega nobs and specialized units such as genestealers.
 

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I can see the OP's point here, but this sort of fluff inconsistency (whether there is or isn't one) doesn't bother me too much. Let the writers decide whether certain weapons are safe to use on board a ship or not to suit their own story

It's fun to discuss these things though. My understanding was it's considered extremely dangerous to be shooting bolter weapons where there are windows (on the bridge, for example) but everywhere else it doesn't matter. Maybe that depends on the size of the vessel?
 

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Technology is religion.

So potentially, a Techpriest found an article about the dangers of firing gun in a 747 and took it as the Omnissiah being against the use of guns in all flying things.

The current policy might actually be a vast improvement on the "boarding parties armed with sporks" policy it replaced.
 

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Rattlehead
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Why would you make tremendously thick steel/plascrete/adamantium/unobtainium walls on a ship when your primary defence is nigh impenetrable force fields? 40k space ships wouldn't be built to withstand lance strikes or volcano cannons; if your enemy has weapons that are breaking through your shields, and you can't get them back online in short enough order that the enemy can't disable all of your many redundancies (there's an upside to having absolutely gigantic ships, you can have about a million failsafes), you're absolutely fucked no matter how much metal you've got in the walls.

Also, the interior probably isn't armour plated. A bolter is a tremendously destructive weapon; sure, one shot probably wouldn't compromise the hull, but groups of people firing bursts on automatic? That's a recipe for disaster. In Soul Hunter, the Night Lords can bust open an albeit weakened bit of hull by less than a few seconds' worth of rapid fire from their Bolters. Meltas are a specifically anti-tank weapon; I'm not at all surprised you can burn through a ship's hull with one.
 

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While the outer hull of an Imperial ship is designed with vast sheeting of ablative materials and armour plating, what really protects a ship in battle is a combination of its void screens and flak/chaffing fire. The void screens are why these grand ships are not torn to shreds by space dust and debris, and they take the bite out of most ordnance hurled across the vast reaches in battles. The BL authors are getting much better at noting in ship battle scenes that when a vessel's void screens go down they pretty much get ripped to shreds.

Ships are also a labyrinth of compartmentalized chambers- hull/void breaches are met with the automatic slamming of bulkheads and deck/area lock downs, isolating the damage until repair crews can restore the void integrity. While void suits might be considered a somewhat 'common' item in regards to other equipment in a ship's holds, a vast majority of the normal human crew will never see one, nor have time to don one in the case of a hull breach.

In the matter of weapons for boarding/repelling boarders- you also have to think about what the reason for the boarding action is and Who the boarders are. Are the boarders astartes, xenos, or humans? It takes a lot less in the way of firepower to kill a normal human than it does an astartes and, since astartes are supposed to be 'rare' in the case of the 40k lore, most ships would be more inclined to be armed to repel boarders with the least possible damage to the ship's internal systems.

Are the attackers boarding the ship to disable/destroy it? If they are seeking to disable/destroy it then collateral damage to the ship's cabling and systems might not be on the forefront of concern to the boarders, if they are seeking to take the ship then the boarding actions tend to be far more surgical in nature.

Also, astartes are (as far as lore is concerned) far better shots than standard humans. They don't tend to go randomly spraying bolter rounds around hoping to hit something so your collateral damage to the ship's systems is going to be lessened just from their nature and training, unless the astartes in question are aiming for system damage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Gyrojet weaponry is outlawed?
Not gyrojet tech, but the small explosive bullets. They're deemed, I think, inhumane in warfare.

My understanding was it's considered extremely dangerous to be shooting bolter weapons where there are windows
You would think that these windows wouldn't be single pane stuff like we have in our bathrooms.

These warships are designed to take immense damage. The bridge is probably one of the most vital parts of the ship. If a little bolter round is going to be enough to even damage the glass...imagine what happens when a grain of dust going even a small fraction the speed of light would do...then scale that up to a hit from a macro battery.

Ships are tough.
Why would you make tremendously thick steel/plascrete/adamantium/unobtainium walls on a ship when your primary defence is nigh impenetrable force fields
The same reason why we a tank can have multiple layers of defense--from active jamming, explosive reactive armor, to composite armor underneath.

Redundancy and not all threats interact with a given defense the same way. Trying to spoof a "dumb" shoulder mounted rocket would be silly, right?

Surely you aren't suggesting ship hulls are unarmored in the WH40k universe? Breaching a shield would mean death in a void fight.

But we've seen plenty of ships survive without their shields--at least for a time. The Sword of the Emperor is one, from the Soul Hunter novel you cited. Also the Blessed Lady lost its shields amongst one of the strongest orbital defense systems in the Imperium--the Ultramarine training planet, Armatura-- and survived.

Pick a reasonably fair void fight and there's probably a time when a ship loses its shields, takes damage, and doesn't crumple like tissue paper.

Also, the interior probably isn't armour plated. A bolter is a tremendously destructive weapon; sure, one shot probably wouldn't compromise the hull, but groups of people firing bursts on automatic? That's a recipe for disaster. In Soul Hunter, the Night Lords can bust open an albeit weakened bit of hull by less than a few seconds' worth of rapid fire from their Bolters. Meltas are a specifically anti-tank weapon;
It took the firepower of four automatic, armor-piercing rocket launchers to breech a wall? Not surprising.

And if anything, bringing a weapon capable of penetrating the cover of an enemy seems awfully useful to me.

The void screens are why these grand ships are not torn to shreds by space dust and debris, and they take the bite out of most ordnance hurled across the vast reaches in battles.
Then why aren't ships automatically shredded when they lose their void shields? Let's say you can't use an auto-gun because it's dangerous. It might breech something. Fine, sure. First rifle I think of is the M16, so let's do some calculations.

It comes out the barrel at ~990 m/s. Weighing in at 3.6 grams, that leave us with ~1765 joules of energy. Okay, great.

So let's say a ship is in battle and has accelerated in a straight line for just 2 hours. Enough to get some speed, but no where near the sort of speed it would get when actually trying to go to a planet (since they generally have to enter from the edge of the system and accelerate for days to reach the planets). I figure it's a good place to look.

Let's take a look at the Dauntless-class cruiser. It accelerates at a tidy 4.3 gees a second.

Feel free to check my math, but that gets you moving at around 291,666 meters per a second, right?

Let's say you meet a grain of sugar in space. That weighs 0.000000625 kilograms.

That leaves us hitting something with 26,000 joules of energy. Over 15 times the energy of the bullet and over a much smaller area.

The idea of a ship worrying about a rifle penetrating its hull or something vital is like worrying whether or not your super-soaker will penetrate the hull of your tank.

Voidships are designed to withstand nuclear explosions at least in the megaton, probably closer to the gigaton range.
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If anyone has a point they feel like I didn't reach properly I'll try my best to address it. I have a pile of work to do, so I might be a bit scarce the next week or so. I'll try to poke in my head as often as I can.
 

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If you note around the quote you took that I do make the point the ships of the line Do have ablative plating and thick sheets of specialized alloys, but this physical armour is also kept from the everyday wear and tear by the void screens.

Breaches to the outer hull are less of an issue in all truth (as I noted with the fact void breaches tend to be met with area lockdowns), the greater threat I would think is all the wiring and pipework that is carrying throne knows what through it that weaves its way though the inner guts of the ship.

I would also say that some of this falls under the lines of 'suspension of disbelief' for the WH40k/30k setting.
 

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The same reason why we a tank can have multiple layers of defense--from active jamming, explosive reactive armor, to composite armor underneath.

Redundancy and not all threats interact with a given defense the same way. Trying to spoof a "dumb" shoulder mounted rocket would be silly, right?

Surely you aren't suggesting ship hulls are unarmored in the WH40k universe? Breaching a shield would mean death in a void fight.
Sure, so why don't the Imperium build their ships with a mile of solid steel as armour plating, and have two thousand void shields, and have them travel in fleets six thousand strong? I assume that Imperial battleships cost a colossal amount of resources, taking dozens of years to build (at the height of human power, at the very end of the Great Crusade, it took Mars fifty years to build three Abyss-class warships), with just the 'standard' loadouts.

But we've seen plenty of ships survive without their shields--at least for a time. The Sword of the Emperor is one, from the Soul Hunter novel you cited. Also the Blessed Lady lost its shields amongst one of the strongest orbital defense systems in the Imperium--the Ultramarine training planet, Armatura-- and survived.
In Soul Hunter the Sword lasts for half an hour, but is cited as "[the loss of the bridge] was the signifying event that pulled the mighty Sword of the God-Emperor out of the close-pitched void war." It's also cited as being "robbed of its glorious fury and its expected honourable last stand. Instead it unleashed its reduced rage, directionless and limping, while it was systematically torn apart by the Warmaster's cruisers". Later, Talos says they're headed to the bridge because "It has several decks beneath it that won't explode if a lance strike hits them". From that, we can assume most decks do explode if hit by a lance strike. While half an hour is certainly longer than I had originally thought, the rest of the chapter focusses on how the ship is coming to pieces gradually. Combined with the earlier point that it was removed from effective service, I think that it's fairly safe to say that when a ship's shields are down, it's in a very bad shape; in Void Stalker, I seem to remember Deltrian or Talos saying that the only reason they weren't all dead with the shields offline was that the Genesis Chapter cruiser won't fire on the Premonition while it has friendlies engaged in boarding actions. In short; I think I underestimated the resiliency of the ships, possibly because even with powerful lance weapons you've still got to hit a ship the size of a 40k ship in a lot of places to do reasonable damage to it (if you go by the assumption that a broadside kills five hundred crewmen, you'd need to broadside a ship fifty times to kill all the crewmen - obviously, you're not going to kill all of them and the ship will come apart before that happens, but as a very general indicator it's not the worst yardstick), but I'm not convinced that they're the nigh-impenetrable bulwarks you make them out to be either.

The Blessed Lady doesn't count, I think; it, the Trisagion and the Furious Abyss are all so colossally vast that you could gouge out huge segments of hull and kill thousands of crewmen and make no noticeable impact on its' performance.

There's also a major problem in that the books are very, very inconsistent, and don't work off of real science anyway.
 
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