SKYLARK 600 TRANSPORT
Craft: Skylark Model 600 Series Transport
Type: Light freighter
Skill: Space transports: Skylark 600
-Emergency Evac: 40/3 days
Crew Skill: Astrogation 3D+1, Sensors 2D, Space transports 3D
Passengers: 10 (semi-luxury)
Cargo Capacity: 600 metric tons
Consumables: 1 month
Cost: 265,000 (new), 115,000 (used)
Hyperspace Jump Engine: No
Nav Computer: Yes
AUXILIARY CRAFT: N/A
-ROTATING SECTIONS: If the rotating sections take damage, roll 1D. On 1 they stop rotating, the ship loses gravity, and the crew have to operate in zero-g with all the penalties that apply. Damage to rotating sections may also cause the crew to be thrown about (roll 1D, 1-2 causes this). If so, the crew must roll Dex against Difficult Difficulty. Failure incurs 4D damage. Ships built with rotating sections in Earth Alliance/Earthforce ships have less speed (between -1 and -2) and maneuverability (between -1 and -1D) to than if they were built without them (with their crews operating in zero-g).
-GRAVITY: This class of ship has no artificial gravity, but uses rotating sections for gravity simulation. Parts of the ship operate in zero-g. The crew may operate in zero-g. If they use the available straps, belts, handholds and other appartus to stay seated or positioned correctly, they can operate with no penalties. Otherwise, they incur all the penalties for operating in zero-g.
With the success of the previous models of Skylark transport spacecraft, the designers wanted to make a new model that improved upon one of the Skylark's two best features: its speed. The Model 500 improved upon the craft's maneuverability, but left little room for increased sped within its budget or the Skylark's basic design. When the time came around to produce a different model not long after, the same designers wanted speed this time. If successful, the Model 600 would be an instant win to commercial transportation businesses, as this ship would provide the fastest transportation throughout human space, and even many alien sectors.
Where the Model 500 made use of the current modular design philosophy, the 600 would simply remove the maneuvering thruster wings and replace them with better engines. These engines, being rather big, woult take over the Skylark's main propulsion, which still maintained a good degree of maneuverability with these engines being spread away from the center of the craft. The previous space used for the lighter engines could then be emptied out and used for alternative cargo space to make up what was lost in the wings (much of that room was needed to redirect control and fuel systems as well as fuel storage). The result is a ship that loses little cargo space but gains a strong speed increase.
The Skylark Model 600 put Skylark Design Corp on the starmap for many decades. Like other Skylark models, this craft has stayed in use for a lengthy amount of time. Being implemented just before the Human-Minbari War in 2245 (the design was released in late 2244), this ship served humanity well during the war (being faster than most ships, it was also the least likely to be destroyed as the conflict lasted three years). The design has existed through at least three great wars involving humanity and has been around through nearly half of humanity's collective time among the stars.
The Skylark series was a common type of commercial transport craft seen used by Earth Alliance and commercial space transportation businesses. Compared to most other human made space transports, each kind of craft had traits that set them apart from the rest: Asimov liners had rotational gravity and relative luxury quarters for their passengers; TA series had a good mix of cargo and passenger space in different sizes, but no gravity; Achilles series were good at moving large amounts of bulk freight, but were slower than the rest and had no passenger space; Skylarks, while smaller than most and having less passenger and cargo space, were the fastest human made space transports around!
While other types of trasports and freighters had a basic design that had not changed much in the hundred years that humanity had been in space, the Skylark was made with ingenuity and innovation in mind. Many Skylark models are made along specific design parameters, yet most maintain a degree of modular compartment adaptability. In truth, many models of Skylark are simply the same basic design with different module types added onto the hull to make a ship that fills a different purpose or role in the spacecraft market. This also makes the Skylark popular among civilians who enjoy owning their own ships and tinkering to make them more unique. The skylark would even make a popular ship to be used by raiders, an alternative besides the common use of "Raider" fighters and their battlewagon base ships, if they ever get their hands on one.
Most space transports are often the victim of raider attacks, being heavily damaged or destroyed after raiders take their cargos. However, victims of raider attacks are usually other ship types (Asimov, TA, Achilles, etc). Skylarks are often just fast and maneuverable enough, if not more so, to outrun a raider attack. This is another trait that makes the Skylark very popular with among all kinds of passengers.
Many officials in distant parts of human controlled space often make requistions of some kind that require something or someone to be transported to a distant part of space. These requests are often fullfilled by a Skylark transport of some kind (i.e. Babylon 5 The Lost Tales). For this reasons, Skylarks are often called courier ships, as well as being called trasports or light freighters.
For all the civilian spacecraft seen in babylon 5, this one is arguably my favorite. Also, more than any of the other spaceship types, this was the only one I remember seeing several variants of through the series and the other expansions to the B5 franchise. After a while, as I thought about writing up B5 ships, this ship stuck in my mind as the Babylon 5 equivelant to the Star Wars YT series or other such Corellian designs, as the YTs always tend to come to mind when one thinks of a Star Wars "light freighter".
I also liked the idea of making the verious types of civilian ships in B5 stand out for some kind of easily noticeable trait, as mentioned above. If GMs/players play in a Babylon 5 setting and decide to get their own ship, they'd have many options to choose from depending on what their purposes are. In that regard, Skylarks would be at the top of the list for me, next to getting some kind of long range capital ship.