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The Skiff. What is it good for?


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I've just got myself the expansion and find that this has to be the most useless engine of all. It looks like the J-2, has 300kN and ISP goes 265-330. The latter suggests a use a sustainer or second-stage engine, but there's just no oomph to lift anything (seriously, 300kN on a 2.5m stack?). As a last stage or deep space engine, it looses out to the Poodle no matter what.

I posit that in any situation where one might even consider the Skiff, it will be strongly rivaled by the Poodle (and totally outclassed by the silly Wolfhound, of course, but that's no surprise).

Or... are there any hidden qualities I missed? Why and when would I ever want to use it?

Edited by Laie
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10 minutes ago, Laie said:

I've just got myself the expansion and find that this has to be the most useless engine of all. It looks like the J-2, has 300kN and ISP goes 265-330. The latter suggests a use a sustainer or second-stage engine, but there's just no oomph to lift anything (seriously, 300kN on a 2.5m stack?). As a last stage or deep space engine, it looses out to the Poodle no matter what.

I posit that in any situation where one might even consider the Skiff, it will be strongly rivaled by the Poodle (and totally outclassed by the silly Wolfhound, of course, but that's no surprise).

Or... are there any hidden qualities I missed? Why and when would I ever want to use it?

 Its meant to be clustered in 5 in the alternate version like the J-2 

3600778967_65682bc065_b.jpg

To give a bigger oomf to larger vacuum stages

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2 minutes ago, TheRedTom said:

 Its meant to be clustered in 5 in the alternate version like the J-2 

Whether I use a single engine or five, the relative tradeoffs remain the same. It only opens the door to comparisons with the Rhino. 

25 minutes ago, Espatie said:

the alternative model fits on a 1.875m stack.

Oh? Hmm. So it can act as sustainer on 1.8m stacks, or generally be clustered more densely... that is a point in it's favor. Didn't think of that.

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According to SQUAD, this is their thinking on the new Skiff:

 

Quote

Skiff: The Skiff's tuning is closer to ideal , but it turned out to be *too* good in too many categories categories - more efficient, better TWR, and lower cost/kN than other engines.  It occurs later in the tech tree, so we've chosen to keep its high efficiency at the cost TWR and cost. Now it’s a great sustainer-category engine - its ASL ISP and cost won't justify its use as a main engine anymore, but it’s fantastic as the center stage with some SRBs or Kodiak-powered boosters.

 

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Allow me to share this atrocity.

Skiff-vs-Wolfhound.jpgNot quite sure what it tells me, to be honest.

In case you don't get it at first glance: that's supposed to be the upper half of an Apollo stack. In the middle I've swapped engines against their supposed roles, on the right it's Poodles all the way down. Insofar as there is any point to that comparison, it's in the performance data. Which I think is mildly interesting.

Edited by Laie
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@Laie looks like Stages  3 and 4 with the Skiff efficiency under-performs both of the other options, but it's pretty good on TWR performance. The Wolfhound wins both efficiency and TWR but is later tech, so that's (arguably) justified. The Poodle is more efficient, but doesn't offer the same TWRs and might not even successfully fly. A .8 TWR for your sustainer stage is really low.

How would you re-spec the Skiff to make it more useful?

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My personal preference would be an ARM-class Skipper. Something along the lines of 600kN/340sec/3t. That would make the Skipper obsolete and encroach on the Poodle, but I'd be fine with both.

At least 50% of my reasoning is kind of OCD, a part that so obviously looks like the J-2 should also be useful in the same role, with enough power to push a stack rather than a stub, and do so efficiently (by the same token, it irks me that the SPS Wolfhound is so powerful and efficient. In the Squad universe, the two have essentially switched roles). The other is that I really think we could do with another powerful deep-space engine to go between the Poodle and the Rhino, and the Wolfhound as-is still isn't powerful enough.

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2 hours ago, Laie said:

At least 50% of my reasoning is kind of OCD, a part that so obviously looks like the J-2 should also be useful in the same role,

This was my same standard too. I built a full Apollo / Saturn V stack able to fly the entire Apollo mission in a 3.2x scale system (about 5400m/s to orbit) with Skiffs powering 2nd and 3rd stages. it took a lot of work and hard decisions (just like the IRL missions), but it DID work  :) 

Once I'd figured that out I had to rethink my opinion that Skiff wasn't workable and was unbalanced.  If I had my way I'd rebalance them again, but I don't think they're as entirely broken as I used to think

Edited by Tyko
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19 hours ago, Tyko said:

Once I'd figured that out I had to rethink my opinion that Skiff wasn't workable and was unbalanced.  If I had my way I'd rebalance them again, but I don't think they're as entirely broken as I used to think

Oh, it certainly has it's uses, I won't deny that. It's 48-7s vs. LV-909 all over again: what the one gains in ISP, it often loses in sheer mass; so the other can sometimes outperform it by virtue of being lightweight.

19 hours ago, Starhawk said:

It's almost as if the Wolfhound and the Skiff had their stats switched.

I just noticed that even the part descriptions reflect this.

47 minutes ago, Bill Phil said:

Well the old J-2 actually does fair poorly against modern hydrolox engines.
That said, more thrust would certainly be welcome. 

...but it was still very much in the hydrolox league.

As for thrust, the Skiff isn't half bad if you think of it as a 1.8m engine. I'd still prefer more, though: now we have a host of engines in the 250-400kN league, treading on each other's toes, and then not much until well over 1000kN.

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Squad missed an opportunity on the Poodle redesign by not have a compact variant, so any place I want a high thrust vacuum engine on a smaller that 2.5m stack the Skiff is an option. I still consider the Poodle redesign one of the weaker revamps so it's never my first choice for anything. In Career the Skiff is available before the Wolfhoud (at least it was in my current game with PBC) so it has been my go to engine for anything that needed highish vacuum thrust.

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On a 1.875m stack the skiff has the most thrust to cross section while only weighing 1.5 Tons. It's just that most people don't use 1.875m but 2.5m in which case it's the poodle or skipper all the way (depending on whether it's a high atmospheric or vaccuum stage when choosing either of both engines)
If your building 2.5m the Skiff rarely is ever a option. You can cone a 2.5m stack down to 1.875m with the fuel adapters to attach a skiff underneath but only on a upper high atmospheric stage where thrust isn't a issue.

I used a Eve upper stage using 3x2 way 1.875m asparagus stages with Skiffs underneath.
They have incredible thrust for upper stages while having a very decent ISP of 330.

Poodles and Cheetah's are better ISP wise but only in pure vacuum because you need relatively short burn times for a eve upper stage where thrust needs to be decent and on my designs the burn times are to short for the added weight of a cheetah or poodle to effectively make up for the higher ISP ranges. Often a high performance med/high isp upper stage engine like the Skiff does better as it suffers less gravity losses and thus requires shorter burn times.


 

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2 hours ago, Aeroboi said:

On a 1.875m stack the skiff has the most thrust to cross section while only weighing 1.5 Tons

I believe the Bobcat beats in it terms of pure thrust.  

My take is that prior to the 1.6 rebalance, the Skiff was a bit of an awkward tweener engine (not optimized for sea-level or vacuum) that was redeemed mostly by its ridiculous TWR.  After the rebalance, it's lost that advantage, and is not really spectacular at anything -- it's a jack of all trades, master of none.  It's kinda decent as a core stage when combined with higher-thrust radial boosters, since it has serviceable sea-level ISP and pretty good vacuum ISP.  I've also had some luck surrounding it with a ring of Reliants or Kodiaks, which can be turned off or staged off, Atlas style, when no longer needed.  I tend to think of it as a slightly bigger and better Swivel.

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The default missions that come with Making History, Mid-science lifting, and Saturn V replicas. Not to be rude, but the skiff’s uses are so little that I can count them on one of my hands.(If you could count my spindly robotic appendages as hands!)

Edited by Fraston
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