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USAF Orion Battleship Interior Detail

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4,000 ton USAF Orion. Artwork by Scott Lowther, uploaded as part of my on-going set of features.

For more detail and a thoroughly comprehensive set of links on Project Orion see my journal entry Hard SF Feature 04: Scott Lowther. The journal also contains links to draft scenes from Scott Lowther's proposed novel “Pax Orionis: A History of the Third World War and Its Aftermath,” in PDF format, available free of charge.

In Aerospace Projects Review issue Volume 2, Number 2, available here, Scott offers a beautifully illustrated 56-page article on Project Orion. This is one of the most definitive articles on the subject, covering the large designs, 20 meters and diameter and larger. The 4,000 ton nuclear pulse propulsion orbital battleship design for the USAF is shown in never-before-published detail. Scott was able to interview one of the surviving members of the original General Atomics Orion team, this issue contains details unavailable elsewhere and is highly recommended.

Scott was kind enough to provide these illustrations for purposes of this feature, pick up  APR  issue Volume 2, Number 2 at the link above to view these (and many, many more) diagrams in glorious full hi-resolution detail.

Artwork used with the express permission of the artist, Scott Lowther,
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olsen1a's avatar

Well 4000 ton and 5" guns it make it an large destroyer or an small cruiser. Not an battleship was it was the 45K ton Iowa's and expected to go up to 60-70 KT for Montana.

So its not an battleship but something escorting battleships who is more than 10 times heavier.

Still I say we was lucky to not have fleet battles between orion powered ships.

Webbyfour32's avatar

Is the Orion Battleship capable of interplanetary travel?

captain1701D's avatar
lol9489's avatar

I wonder where the reactors and ammo are stored, along with the fact that the amount of pulse units seems small, cool design, but where does that all go?

BaronVonSteam's avatar
Damn, you have to wonder what this would be like to see in its full planned size. Thanks for posting this awesome stuff, as always!
Delta52775's avatar
Just think, had we actually built a non military version of Project Orion we could get from here to Saturn within a month and to Mars within less then that. 
William-Black's avatar
Well no, mission plans for the 10 and 20 meter NASA exploration Orion's called for 4 to 6 weeks for a Mars transit (and approximately the same for return to Earth). Jupiter and Saturn missions would be a 3 year round trip -- for either target -- roughly a year in transit each leg outbound and return, with approximately a year loiter time for exploration.  
BrutalityInc's avatar
MrRocketDad's avatar
Nuclear pulse, nuclear weapons, navy gun...don't know whether to laugh, cry, or widdle in my pants...
William-Black's avatar
Yeah, it has that effect, doesn't it.  President Kennedy apparently had just about the same reaction. They had a scale model, cutaway, about the size of a Chevy, in a secure location, which they took the president to view ... he was most alarmed. This spelled the beginning of the end for Orion.

I'm not making an argument for it, understand, but in the logic of the era the idea made a certain amount  of sense. An unassailable fleet of spacecraft, ostensibly a nuclear deterrent force,  that could loiter out at the Lagrange points, which could be recalled to rain down destruction from orbit.

From a Sci-Fi perspective there is an undeniable coolness factor to the concept.

As Winchell says

This thing rulz. Period.

It can stomp both the Michael and the Thuktun Fishithy into the dirt and still have enough firepower left over to blow the Soviet Union into the Stone Age.

In an essay here Nuking The Chelyabinsk Meteor Scott makes a good case for a fleet of nuclear pulse picket ships staged out at the Lagrange points for purpose of intercepting Earth-impactors. 

It's the Doomsday Orion that really sort of chills me to the bone.
Bajireyn's avatar
Looks fantastic.

One question, though, where would the proposed "casaba howitzers" have been fitted?
William-Black's avatar
The launchers are located in the same compartment as the MK 42 Naval Turret's, mounted before the lip of the hatch-opening. There are two launchers in each compartment. The detail is not visible in this diagram, however follow the link to my journal entry Hard SF Feature 04: Scott Lowther and scroll to the bottom, there you will find a set of links, among them is the link to Winchell Chung's Orion Battleship page. On that page is the model Scott Lowther designed for Fantastic Plastic, based on these diagrams, in the images of the model you can see the Casaba Howitzer launchers. Scott talks about this detail in APR V2N2 as well.
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