The Gargoyle is a class of mid-range bomber used by the Gudersnipe Foundation. It was designed specifically for use against the Kamians, and remained in service after the end of the Kamian Succession Wars.
First concieved in the mid Fourth Age, the Gargoyle took nearly half a century to develop. With space travel and space combat being old-hat to the mighty Foundation, it was a small wonder that a project spent that long in development.
However, the Gargoyle fell into a special class, as nearly all of it's systems had to be invented and perfected before the bomber could work properly.
Completed in A.Y. 4478, the Gargoyle filled the roll of mid-range bomber so desperately needed. However, the disolusion of the Kamian Federation in A.Y. 4508 made the Gargoyle's cheif roll in the Foundation's strategic arsenal no longer neccessary, and the project was shelved before a single Gargoyle saw active duty. 50 years in development, 31 in service, and not deployed in a single engagment.
The remainng Gargoyls were scrapped, and all technical resources on the spacecraft carefully mothballed. Instead, the Zombie-class drone-carrier fulfilled the roll of a mid-range bomber, carrying a compliment of Hunter-Killer Drones. The Zombie was designed to deploy from the same size and shape of birth as the Gargoyle, allowing the Gargoyle carriers to remain in service.
For the next millenia and a half, while the Kamians slumbered in darkness, the Gargoyle plans and technical resources collected dust on a forgotten shelf.
In A.Y. 697, the Battle of Lerma erupted, and the Kamian Succession Wars began. Immediately, the Gargoyle plans were pulled from storage. Despite being over 1500 years old, many features of the ship were still advanced, owing to the wide array of technology that had been specifically invented for it. In the inervening years, numerous advancments had been made in other areas, but in the specific niche the Gargoyle filled, it still had many advantages.
Gargoyles sprange into production, with the first generation being built exactly off of the original blueprints. Later generations would add numerous advancements, but the story of the Gargoyle continued.
The Gargoyle design was, from the outset, different in every way from every other ship.
The Gargoyle was designed to operate within one of two stealth modes. The first is a "low observable" mode in which the spacecraft employs a variety of techniques to remain unoticed. The low observable mode is designed to penetrate defense screens.
Mode two is an active-jamming mode, in which the spacecraft employs a variety of technogies to disrupt enemy detection systems. Active-jamming mode is employed close to target range, and is usually only activated when the bomber begins it's attack run.
The Gargoyle's engine is a unique dual-mode design. In stealth-mode, the engine is an ion-particle drive. This form of propulsion, while power-intensive, produces very low observable heat or radiation, helping the spacecraft remain functionally invisible. This mode is typically used on approach to remain unoticed. The second mode functions like a normal Ion vacuum drive but with a plasma-injection system for quick bursts of speed. This is the mode used on attack runs and to make a quick escape.
The original generation included only the first mode for the engine, making an escape difficult after it's bombing attack and active-jamming systems had called attention to itself. Very few of these bombers were produced and most were recalled from service as soon as the second generation containing the dual-mode engine was completed.
The Gargoyle also has no FTL drive, a very major failing which would have placed severe limitations on it's deployment. Instead, the ship uses a Shoten Jump system for quick getaways.
The Gargoyle was designed to carry a large payload of N1.5 proximity-fuse magnetic mines. As size effects yield, the weapon's payload could be modified for a variety of configurations.
The Gargoyle is powered by a UZH Reactor hooked to a buffer for power. The reactor can pulse to over 100 times normal output, allowing the ship to make a Shoten Jump with the reactor powering the drive directly. Once the pulse peeks, however, the reactor shuts down completely, and requires several hours to restart.
In an attack run, the Gargoyle flies towards it's target at top speed(originally 40PSL, increased to 60 by the th generation), it then turns belly-towards the target and releases it's payload. If times correctly, the bombs will be carried on inertia towards the target. While pulling out of the attack run, the Gargoyle will usually activate it's Shoten system to effect an escape.
The combination of technologies makes the Gargoyle difficult to operate and limits its rol. Many of the manuvers it is designed for require very precise timing, making it more a specific-target weapon and less a utility fighter.
However, the Gargoyle does possess a high maximum speed and is considered fairly manuverable for a bomber(though lacks the incredible manuverability of the Harpy). Hence, it can be used for limited utility if it's stealthy functions are avoided. When operating beside fighter escorts in a conventional bomber roll, the Gargoyle is considered superior to it's short-range cousins, though still inferior to the Harpy in over-all utility.
Following the end of the Succession Wars, Gargoyle crews began to experiment heavily with the spacecraft, esting it's limits and combining it's features in new and interesting ways. One squadron even developed a technique of using the Shoten Jump for approach on the initial attack run, instead of escape afterwards. This required a harpy-inspired engine modification that allowed the Ion-vacuum drive to power the ship on it's escape course.
Though never as beloved as the Harpy, the Gargoyle saw high use both during and after the war, and won an enduring place in the Foundation's arsenal.