Originally posted by Gatac
Chapter 8 is done and will be posted later today. Mucho boom and gunfire in there. But first, a little insight into the production process.
When I say I worry about realism, this does not mean that I have a team of military advisors on board sharing every little detail with me. Most of the time, I go by what info I can find quickly, by what I know. The rest I extrapolate or guess. I usually err on the side of competence more than technical capability - i.e. I have less of a problem letting people fire two handguns at once than with doing the Hollywood routine of blowing people across the room with a shotgun. I know both are unrealistic, the latter just bothers me more because it violates the laws of physics - I have less of a problem saying that a character is just that good.
That said, sometimes I dig myself into a hole when I write too quickly.
For example, the auction is for four R-39 SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles). The aircraft used to airlift them to the buyer's choice of location is an Antonov 124-300, a new strategic airlifter. (I haven't named it yet - this was a good bit of foresight as it left me wiggle room, the reason for which you'll see in a minute.) This is a near-future aircraft, proposed but not built yet, so I used one and used it like it was newly built to Dr. Krueger's specs - you'll see some of its features later in the story. Anyway, one R-39 missile has a launch weight of 90 tons.
No aircraft that exists today could carry four of them in that configuration.
So I began to look for things to shave off. First, the auction was explicitly not for the warheads - taking the payload section off reduces the missile length by about *half*, but does not seem to reduce weight enough. (No exact figures were available, but payload was listed as 2.5 tons. I assume it's a bit more if you take off the whole front section.) Dimensions were not the problem - the Antonov's fuselage is easily big enough to take on the missiles lying flat in two pairs with room to spare. Weight, however, still concerned me - again, no exact figures for the aircraft's max capacity, but extrapolating from the An-124 and the heavier An-225 (The -300 is a hybrid of both), I estimated about 300 tons of difference between a dry aircraft and max takeoff weight. Obviously, some of that weight would also be fuel, so I thought that you could probably make it take off with about 200 tons of cargo.
Four missiles were still too much.
But wait! I forgot that a significant part of ICBM launch weight is the fuel. The question was just, how much? Cue two hours of frantic Googling and book research, since nobody seemed to have any data on the fuel weights for ICBMs. Finally, in a Powerpoint presentation on future missile tech, I found some useful references, and using them, estimated that about 40 tons of the R-39s launch weight could be assumed to be fuel.
That way, I could *just about* justify having four dry missiles in the Antonov's cargo hold. For added safety margin, I'm having the Antonov start with a minimal fuel load and refueling in air - this is a system that would make sense for Krueger to have on his cargo aircraft that is regularly asked to make long flights.
Throughout all of this, I had little if any solid data to go on. But I'm satisfied that it's at least somewhat plausible.
Back to your regularly scheduled program...