The Viper Mark I entered Colonial service shortly before the outbreak of the first Cylon War. However, it was succeeded by the more favored and technological advanced Mark II variant, specifically designed for use with the Colonial battlestars while the Mark I did not for several years. Although "obsolete" to the eyes of Mark II pilots, the Colonial Viper still remained the primary space superiority fighter and attack craft deployed by the Colonial military from atmospheric bases and later Battlestars. A few years into the first Cylon War, the Mark I was upgraded to the "A" Variant with a flight computer able to land the Viper accordingly without the need for manual procedures. Capable of both atmospheric and long-range spacial flight, both Viper models is a single-pilot craft with two-forward mounted "Max" (now replaced by the "Thraxon" guns in newer models) 30mm guns as standard weapons.
The Viper Mark I "A" is the first of its spacecraft that is capable of rapid acceleration in the form of a "turbo boost" feature, which results in greater fuel usage. They are also able to abruptly stop forward acceleration by using their braking flaps with use of their Voram turbo-thrust engine, thus allowing to drift and shoot at the same time in vacuum flight. A technique most commonly known now as the "Defensive Position".
After the first Cylon War, the Viper Mark I and "A" variant remained in service for many years until thrusted into a Colonial Reserve force. At this point, only a few hundred were left.
Note: Much of the technological equipment and weaponry used in the Mark I has since been outdated
The Viper Mark I's are equipped with an onboard computer which contains an SSRG (Ship to Ship Reference Guide), an electronic reference of ships which, in conjunction with their scanners, can give the pilot information on a ships (ranging from warships to small fighters) identity/affiliation of the said ship. Years before the 12 Colonies were attacked, The Mark I was not issued the new DRADIS console (unlike the Mark II-IV), and in conjunction, had its SSRG upgraded with its scanner to maximize room for the cockpit.
The Mark I's main weapon are 2 x MEC-A3 30mm "Max" Kinetic Energy Weapons (KEWs) mounted in the port and starboard wing roots with 500 round magazine, this was succeeded by the 2 x MEC-A6 30mm "Thraxon" forward-firing kinetic energy weapons with 800 round magazine in the later Viper models. The mid-nose fuselage also had no storage bay to house any Javelin, torpedoes, or missiles for combat usage, a major disadvantage many pilots disliked. In addition though, weapon hardpoints made it possible for mounting missiles/munitions pods, etc. under the wings and forward fuselage.
Both Mark I spacecrafts laid a foundation for later Viper models for its popular long, sleek design with specialized features for space attacks, reconnaissance and atmospheric flight.
The front section comprises the nose back to the cockpit. Located there are the forward RCS systems for maneuvering the craft; the forward landing gear; the main avionics, sensor computer, SSRG scan and the single-seat cramped cockpit.
The stern comprises the main engines, numerous RCS maneuvering jets, fuel tanks, wings and vertical stabilizer. The port and starboard wings themselves contain the kinetic energy weapons, their magazine belts and feeds. Hardpoints beneath the wings allow missiles (limited), munitions pods and other items to be rack-mounted.
Viper Mark I "A" VariantEdit
They were two variants to the Viper Mark I. The first Mark I was the substantial and most well known model variant that was used in atmospheric bases on colonies. About a quarter into the war, the "A" variant was introduced to accommodate easier landing into the then new battlestars at the time. This variant had a larger Voram VM2-D10 upper engine installed for easier thrust capability in vacuum flight.
The Mark I couldn't rotate 180 degrees vertically and 360 degrees completely (unlike later models), but can only go into a "Defensive Position" where the forward acceleration is halted and the RCS points can quickly spin the craft slowly around while drifting and shooting. It accelerates at five to seven G's, or 50 to 70 m/s².