Craft: The "Laura"
Type: Prototype stealth infiltrator fighter
Skill: Starfighter piloting: Laura prototype
Crew Skill: Varies by pilot
Cargo Capacity: 5 kilograms
FTL Capable: Yes (x3)
Nav Computer: Yes
-Stealth: -3D (see below)
Location: Mounted in the lower hull
Fire Arc: Front
Crew: 1 (pilot)
Skill: Starship gunnery
Fire Control: 3D
Space Range: 1/3/7
Atmosphere Range: 50-100/300/700m
Rate of Fire: 1
The Blackbird is a short-lived, prototype Colonial stealth fighter designed by Galen Tyrol and built by many deckhands and officers on Galactica.
STEALTH: The Laura was built with stealth in mind. It's hull is composed of carbon composites that make it difficult to detect by DRADIS (Sensors). All sensors systems trying to detect the Laura Blackbird are at -3D to do so, as most enemies would not detect it until it were very close (possibly in Focus Sensor ranges). Also, if the Blackbird is trying to hide itself or appear nondescript in enemy view, the enemy must roll one Difficulty Level higher than normal to detect it.
WEAPONS: The Laura Blackbird was not originally equipped with weapons, but was later fitted with a missile launcher to disable the Cylon Resurrection Ship's FTL system so that the Galactica and Pegasus could engage and destroy it. The Blackbird could be modified to use weapons with the appropriate Repair rolls starting at Difficult on the Difficulty chart. Weapons used would be similar to those standard for Vipers, though it may only be able to carry one at a time (which is why missiles would be used).
SPECIAL RULES: If the Blackbird is using missiles or other weapons such as those from Vipers, they may use special rules introduced in the D6 MISSILES and/or D6 FIREARMS articles in the Supplements section on the site. The missiles presented above are meant to use the Range/Speed rules from D6 MISSILES; after reaching their long range, they continue on their own using this range as its Speed per round with the attack roll originally made by the pilot. Unless these are some kind of homing missile, they will make one attack at a target (if they get that close), then veer off in a different direction.
Frustrated at the dwindling number of available Vipers due to loss and wear-and-tear, Galen Tyrol begins to build a new fighter from scratch. The fighter design evolves due to supply shortages as well as improvisation and the imagination of participating crew members. The new fighter becomes more a reconnaissance vehicle than an actual fighter craft.
The Blackbird is designed to use the Viper launch tubes, and therefore shares the same general shape. Unlike the Viper, it is built more for speed than for maneuverability and is not equipped with guns but is later fitted with a missile launcher in "Resurredction Ship, Part II". Upon the suggestion of Karl Agathon, the Blackbird uses black-colored carbon composite materials that make it largely undetectable by DRADIS and unaided visual viewing. This was a practical consideration in light of all metal being reserved for Viper repairs.
Along with the usual RCS mechanisms for directional control, the Blackbird is powered by four obsolete DDG-62 engines that came from the flight deck of the Baah Pakal. Further, unlike other ships of its size, the Blackbird is FTL-capable.
LAURA AND HER FLIGHT HISTORY
The first prototype is dubbed "Laura" in honor of President Laura Roslin. Kara Thrace pilots the maiden test flight, where, after some initial difficulties with handling the ungainly craft, she handily eludes her escort, Lee Adama.
The following individuals aid Galen Tyrol in Laura's construction:
-Karl Agathon suggests the use of carbon composite materials for the Blackbird's skin.
-Brendan "Hot Dog" Costanza.
-Anastasia Dualla improves communication systems.
-James "Jammer" Lyman.
-Saul Tigh offers the DDG-62 engines.
-Kara Thrace aids in a few design principles and tests the craft.
Colonel Tigh originally denounces the project as frivolous, but later provides assistance in procuring the DDG-62 engines. Others among Tyrol's own deck crew also at first consider the project a waste of time, as noted through their initial reactions to Tyrol's proposal. However, Commander Adama believes that the endeavor offers hope and purpose, and therefore permits it to continue despite the crisis with the Cylon logic bomb that has infected Galactica's systems (Flight of the Phoenix).
When commissioning a reconnaissance on the Cylon fleet (containing a mysterious ship) Pegasus's CAG Cole Taylor, although knowing of the Blackbird, chooses to use Raptors for his mission, despite Thrace's protests. Before his plan can be put into action Thrace, with assistance from Lee Adama, absconds with the Blackbird, claiming she is running a test flight for Admiral Cain. In reality, she undertakes the mission single-handedly without being detected, taking several close-range pictures.
The sudden, unexpected return of this Colonial craft causes it to be mistaken for a Cylon craft, bringing an end to the standoff between Galactica and Pegasus. Thrace transmits the images, and appeals over the comm that she is not a Cylon vessel. From discussing these photos with Gina Inviere, Gaius Baltar eventually details the name and purpose of the Resurrection Ship (Resurrection Ship, Part I).
Laura is later piloted by then-Lieutenant Lee Adama in the battle to disable the Resurrection Ship's FTL drive, preventing her escape so that Vipers can destroy it. While Adama is successful, a collision with a disabled Raptor destroys the Blackbird and Adama is forced to eject (Resurrection Ship, Part II).
-Since the Blackbird was designed for speed over maneuverability and possessed stealth characteristics, it is logical that an FTL drive was added for reconnaissance capability. An FTL drive might have been salvaged from a scrapped Raptor, such as Raptor 305.
-The Blackbird's ungainly handling characteristics are quite evident during Thrace's first test flight, as she spends the first several seconds out of the launch tube attempting to gain control over the craft (Flight of the Phoenix).
-Instability actually adds to a vehicle's maneuverability in an atmosphere; an extremely stable aircraft resists any maneuvering. Modern real-world fighters are deliberately designed to be unstable with the flight surfaces constantly adjusted by the flight control system. The Blackbird's controls might have been initially uncalibrated for the plane's configuration (e.g. center of mass), and spent more fuel maintaining a desired attitude.
-Carbon composites are a family of materials used in lightweight or high-temperature-resistant construction, of which a type is used in the nose and leading edges of the wings of NASA's Space Shuttle Orbiter. Carbon composites are somewhat fragile, so impacts (even one from a champagne bottle, which Laura Roslin jokingly attempts to do as she christens the ship) may cause the material to splinter or break. It was damage to this material that caused the destruction of Space Shuttle Columbia on STS-107.
-Executive Producer David Eick stated in his video blog that the Blackbird is "not a Viper", so it is not classed as a modified Viper model ("Viper Mark VIII", etc), but is an entirely distinct craft.
-The fighter's nickname creates a curious comparison with Laura Roslin, the person for whom it was named. The ailing but influential President Roslin and her rapid, secretive actions in her quest for Earth's location (including diverting Lt. Thrace from her original mission to destroy the Kobol basestar) as well as her savvy political work in "Colonial Day", are humorously similar in perspective to the abilities of "Laura", a structurally weak, but highly agile and initially underestimated stealth fighter.
-From a behind-the-scenes perspective, the Blackbird is most likely named after the SR-71 Blackbird, an actual high-speed reconnaissance aircraft. The SR-71 not only shares the principle but also many design features. These include the engines pointing forward from the wings and also the swept long nose smoothing out on the sides.