The tactical goal of a squadron is supported by formations.

Formations are represented using molecular geometry diagrams courtesy of http://molview.org/. Ships in formation are identified by green atoms, a target ship by larger red atoms and grey atoms provide points-of-reference to improve clarity. The images are not static. Scroll the mouse wheel to zoom and drag to rotate each image.


A pursuit formation with each pursuing vessel equidistant from the target. The target vessel cannot deviate from it's central median-transverse point without improving the tactical stance of the pursuing vessels.


The simplest formation with a target vessel followed by multiple tailing vessels in-line. Tactical options are very limited for tailing vessels.


An attack formation with a tailing vessel located optimally for a forward strike weapon. Outrigger vessels corral the target vessel to some degree without obscuring the tailing vessel's tactical position.

As a defensive formation, the trailing vessel is optimally protected from a beligerent vessel.

A variant of diamond formation is a three-vessel diamond with a lone, non-formation vessel to harass the target.


A defensive formation that provides optimal coverage by a four-vessel formation with each vessel facing distally from a central point.

A principal ship located in the centre of a carbon formation is provided comprehensive defensive coverage. Defensive capability may be lost in-transit depending on the tactical capabilities of escort vessels.

As an attack formation, a target vessel located in the centre of a carbon formation has no obvious optimal escape vector. An escape solution requires the analysis of the situation in-hand.


image courtesy of http://wiki.maquis.com/w/Navigation

Space, a seen from a fixed point such as a starship, is described in three axes: x, y, z.

Headings and Bearings

images courtesy of http://wiki.maquis.com/w/Navigation

Starships move in three-dimensional space by describing a heading or bearing in two planes: azimuth and pitch. Azimuth is rotational in the x-y plane. Pitch is lateral in the x-z plane.

A heading or bearing is described in the form azimuth, mark, pitch. Headings and bearings are given in degrees of arc; 360 degrees of arc in a complete circle. For example, bearing 30 mark 45 describes an object approaching slightly from starboard above the ship's dorsal plane.

Starships have six major cardinal directions: forward, aft, port (leftward), starboard (rightward), dorsal (upward), and, ventral (downward). Bearings can be grossly described using cardinal directions when a specific bearing is unnecessary. Each cardinal direction encompasses roughly a quarter-turn. For example, forward includes bearings directly forward but more generally a cone centered at bearing 0 mark 0. An object more-or-less halfway between forward and starboard would be located forward, quarter starboard.


The anatomy of a starship is based on animal models. For example, on a Federation starship, the saucer is a dorsal plane with the drive section in a caudal-ventral direction.

image courtesy of http://www.bio.miami.edu/dana/pix/animal_body_planes.png (local copy)