Combat landing

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Vipers during the chaotic combat landing in the Battle of Ragnar Anchorage. (Credit: Sci-Fi Channel)

A combat landing is performed in the most dire of combat situations where retreat is necessary and a battlestar must leave a combat zone immediately. A combat landing is a drastic form of a non-combat hands-on approach.

Combat landings are usually performed for speed with less emphasis on safety. In a combat landing, fighters do not care about where they land on the landing bay, as long as they can set down on it. The pilots will activate their magnetic clamps and try to skid along the landing bay until the clamps catch and halt the ship. Divets are formed by the skidding undercarriage in combat landings and need to be pounded out.

Combat landings can be very risky for Galactica pilots since only her port landing bay is available; the starboard pod was being converted into a pressurized museum at the time of the Cylon Attack. Combat landings by a full squadron may make it very cramped for parking within the pod and increase the likelihood of collisions. Further, Galactica may begin retracting her flight pods early, requiring a pilot to fly as accurately as they can to enter the landing pod without colliding against the ship.

On the other end of the spectrum, combat landing onboard a Mercury-Class battlestar is a much more orderly affair, thanks to having twice the landing space of the Galactica as well as computer-assisted landing system for the Viper Mk VII and static flight pods ("The Captain's Hand").

For 239 of the 240 jumps that battlestar Galactica and the fleet had to make to escape the Cylons after the initial Battle of Ragnar Anchorage, combat landings were used to the point that the pilots had to check their undercarriages before each launch to check for structural problems because of the stress placed on the fighters (33).