I gave it another shot, had the installation files still around.
This time I managed to get close enough to one skipper to actually see it (destroying, not a chance).
But the weirdest thing happened: It hit the Battleaxe and bounced off harmlessly.
So did the second one. And the third!
Yes. Looks like the Kilrathi have a little dud-torpedo hardware issue on their hands.
Sheesh, I start to feel sorry for them cats. It's almost.... yes. That's the word: Unfair.
The relevant line in hermes_42181_1_1_patch.vp should look like this (three skippers, edit three times, use hex editor, i.e. emacs in hexl-mode): ( sabotage-subsystem
001 without patch, it's in hermes_core.vp. Overwrite "101" with "001" and the Battleaxe will end up with 92 hull (95-3). Good as new.
So glad I found this... the voice acting alone is worth it. Reminds me of days gone by when men were still real men and the spoken dialogue for Strike Commander was sold separately on a pile of floppy disks.
I would recommend extracting the relevent file out of the vp before editing it, then put it in <WCS>/data/missions.
It's good FSO modding practice never to modify a .vp file, unless you are packing your own mod for release, for various reasons (checking for file corruption and having something you can fall back to if you break something being the most obvious reasons I can think of right now).