Tautog here. I figure you’d probably want to see bikini-clad shipgirls before reading the lore so there. Have one of Hata.
Okay, so, this is a question that’s asked a lot on the various shipgirl related communities. Just how does subgirl equipment work, exactly?
The answer I think lies first in the source inspiration of it all, which is KanColle. Now, if you look a bit, KanColle’s earlier subgirl art looks quite different than their “modern” art involving Nemu or Luigi. In some cases, it seems like the lore isn’t consistent at all. I-8 has a torpedo emerging from one of her books. I-19 is riding on a torpedo without any launch mechanism. I-58 is literally carrying her torpedoes.
Compare this to say, the much more elaborate art we see with say, I-400 Kai or I-26 where you can see detailed launch mechanisms, torpedo tubes, aircraft railings, and I think it’s a bit hard for fans to figure out the mechanics underneath the world. In fact, it took them years to address it in the popular 4koma series.
Here’s how subgirl equipment works in Pacific’s world. Due to miniaturization technology (the same mechanism that allows Pacific’s fairy pilots to reach full size with their planes upon launch, for instance), subgirls can sortie with multiple sorts of equipment.
At the barest minimum, at the lightest combat load, a subgirl can simply swim out into the field of battle. You see this as an example in Batfish’s art or even in the November illustrations for our vol. 1 girls.
In this case, the “aiming” of torpedoes is entirely out of manual skill. A subgirl may have access to additional equipment (that fancy headphone is a lot more than just a reference to sonarmen you know) that assist in their targeting calculations, but ultimately, to “launch” the torpedo is a personal affair. In Batfish’s own terms?
It’s like a high stakes game of darts.
Now, for slightly more specialized operations, some subgirls will choose to take additional equipment. The example you see up there with Hata is a good example. The one we showed with Dracha is another.
Each country’s subgirl will differ somewhat, but in general, you’ll see additional, more specialized targeting equipment (some may have extra torpedoes in side with different warheads or different purposes), torpedo tubes or launch rails, and so on. Some subgirls have a low-powered version of this where it can provide them with additional locomotion and agility, but in general, you’re trading speed and weight for better long-range targeting, shielding, and accuracy.
However, subgirls are not only geared for underwater combat. You can see here two examples. Argo and Katya.
Argo’s loadout in this picture is clearly geared for surface combat (ignore the underwater background – it’s PSYWAR’s idea not mine!) since in addition to the launch rails you can see deck guns and locomotion units. With the heavier gear it comes with it a heavier layer of defensive shielding. I still wouldn’t go up in a straight shoot-out with the bigger Abyssals, but the small fries really shouldn’t be a problem.
Remember as I’ve said above, there’s a significant degree of miniaturization technology within shipgirl tech. In the same way as the CV girls can “fold” their anti-aircraft and close-quarters defensive armaments or the torpedo example above, a subgirl has a flexible range of weaponry at her disposal. If Katya is going to go engage surface targets exclusively, she’d activate her guns (seen on the right) so it looks like what Argo has up there, more or less.
However, considering that most subgirls prefer to carry a personal weapon into battle, too, you can see why some girls on some missions would choose to forgo the full extent of their equipment. Agility is already hampered significantly underwater due to the sheer nature of the medium. Carrying equipment will slow even a subgirl down.
Naturally, it takes a lot of training to know when to use what. Not to mention, certain things are more effective against certain Abyssal types. I should know.