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The Galactica in Battlestar Galactica is fired upon multiple times on many occasions by Cylon Basestars. It has also flown through very harsh conditions such as the atmospheric jump into New Caprica and also traveling through a highly radioactive star cluster.

How does it manage to stay intact and functional throughout without ever having the chance to dock for repairs? Is it made of some special material or is it constructed in layers such that damage to the outer layers doesn't disable the ship?

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  • 11
    Plot Armor: protects fools, little children, and ships named Galactica.
    – Xantec
    Jun 3, 2014 at 17:37
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    No backup, so I'll only comment; but I would presume as far as hull plating, they have the ability to manufacture what they need from resources found on planets and asteroids. But even so, by the end of four years, we do see that Galactica's superstructure is basically crumbling and beyond repair from all the abuse she has taken.
    – eidylon
    Jun 3, 2014 at 17:42
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    There was a pretty big hull breach in the second episode Water. I would hope they didn't use scotch tape.
    – calccrypto
    Jun 3, 2014 at 19:32
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    There was a one-year layover at New Caprica. I imagine they did a lot of repairs then. In-universe the whole series takes place over about two years altogether. Also, the Bucket herself was only directly in 4 or 5 battles IIRC.
    – Joe L.
    Jun 3, 2014 at 20:06
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    Galactica may have been "an old bucket", but it was designed to take direct nuclear warhead hits and still continue functioning. This comes from online sources, but there's also... "Base ships launching missiles. Forty… Correction… Fifty plus. Inbound. Half targeted on us… Half on the fleet." -Felix Gaeta Adama's response is to target the ones going after the fleet, citing "we can take the hits. They can't"
    – ackmondual
    Oct 17, 2017 at 17:47

2 Answers 2

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It doesn't, really.

Seriously, watch it carefully over the course of the entire four seasons. You can watch it deteriorating episode by episode -- sometimes more, sometimes less -- until, near the end, the fact that it's starting to seriously fall apart is a major part of the plot.

That said, she clearly was designed to be durable, to take a lot of pounding and to have armour that could presumably be replaced. Otherwise, she wouldn't have survived as long as she has!

Whether Galactica has the necessary facilities to smelt and make the armour plates is left open, but perhaps one of the other ships in the fleet did have such capabilities. Otherwise, it would have been hard to actually fix the breach caused in "Water" (mentioned in the comments above, as well). Also, we do know that Pegasus had factory capabilities, so some materials to keep Galactica going could have been fabricated during the time _Pegasus was part of the fleet.

At any rate, it's only when Galactica starts to take serious structural damage, such as that caused by Boomer's in-ship hyperspace jump, that things become a real problem.

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    After Exodus, the ship is literally held together by duct tape and glue. PS: Galactica does have manafacturing capabilities. I vaguely remember a mention how they need to collect resources to build more Vipers
    – Petersaber
    Jun 29, 2015 at 6:22
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    There was also the Cylon goop that was used to shore up the cracks in the superstructure. Dec 26, 2019 at 15:37
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To draw on historical analogy, 19th century frigates and ships of the line were state-of-the-art floating cities carrying huge stocks of spare parts. They had the tools and expertise to make all sorts of repairs, smelt and shape metal, and even fashion new masts if the material is available, and large crews for the labor. Their spares and crew could be supplemented by capturing enemy vessels ("prizes") or sending shore parties to fetch lumber. In extreme cases, naval vessels would make unplanned circumnavigation of the world in pursuit of prizes or to avoid capture.

Moving forward, the Galactica is more like a WWII aircraft carrier or battleship. They are also floating cities with large, skilled crews and well-stocked repair bays. Major damage such as knocked out boilers and holed decks could be repaired at sea. Their aircraft could be serviced, repaired and stripped of spare parts. They also had a fleet of attendant supply and repair ships, much like the Colonial Fleet. Even the idea of building a new aircraft is not entirely far-fetched.

As an example of the sort of pounding a WWII aircraft carrier could absorb and repair, the USS Yorktown was hit by two torpedoes and four bombs at Coral Sea causing fires and flooding with an estimated weeks of repair. After just two days repair she put out to sea to fight the Battle Of Midway. Hit by three more bombs, she was dead in the water. An hour later, she could make 20 knots and was ready for flight operations. She took two more torpedoes in another attack and lost power but still didn't sink. While repairs were underway, two more torpedoes from a submarine finally broke her back. It still took her until the next morning to sink.

About the only thing which cannot be repaired is damage to the keel and other major structural damage. Once a ship's back was broke, only dry-dock could allow weight to be taken off the keel for repair. Galactica, being a space ship, does not have this problem.

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    Perhaps not the weight problem, but after the final jump, you can actually see the spine buckle. There's a comment to the effect that she's done for.
    – T.J.L.
    Feb 16, 2016 at 14:38
  • @T.J.L.The "broken back" issue was more a problem with her jumping again than anything else. She was still able to do inter-system flights, orbit Earth 2.0, and fly into the sun without issue. Dec 26, 2019 at 15:36
  • Worth noting that a commercial ship the same size as an 18th century frigate would have a crew of a dozen, perhaps fewer -- vs the crew of a hundred or more on the warship. Yet even those ships could do major repairs, given time.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Oct 1, 2021 at 16:43
  • @ZeissIkon Yes. A commercial vessel just needs enough people to sail and maintain the ship, and only just enough; extra crew eats into profit. A military vessel needs that and far more people to work all the weapons and extra equipment in battle, plus specialists for high performance versions of regular equipment. Those people make up the bulk of a military crew. When out of battle rather than sit idle they become extra hands to do more tasks.
    – Schwern
    Oct 1, 2021 at 17:22

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