- "This is my personal battle cruiser…and I did not name it the Executor for nothing!"
- ―Darth Vader, referring to his Super Star Destroyer
Battlecruiser, or battle cruiser, was a formal designation for the class of massive ships that fell between Star Destroyers and Star Dreadnoughts in size. In informal use, it was used for the largest and strongest warships in a fleet that were not battleships, as well as more generally for various types of warships, along with "cruiser".
Informally, the term "battlecruiser" had been used for centuries to refer to any massive, heavily armored battleship designed for the single purpose of destroying other capital ships. Due to different naming customs and design-capabilities, some vessels bore the designation of "battlecruiser" while serving as frigate-analogs on a galactic scale, like the Kaloth-style battlecruiser and the Hapes-built Nova-class battle cruiser. Others were comparable in role to the Star Destroyers of the Galactic Republic and the Galactic Empire, like the Centurion-class and the Scythe-class main battle cruiser employed by the Galactic Alliance Core Fleet. Some military historians were prepared to argue that a few legendary ships of the ancient galaxy, such as Xim the Despot's Eibon Scimitar and the Bloodshield of Alsakan, should qualify as battlecruisers.
Under the Clone Wars-era Anaxes War College System, however, the term "battlecruiser" was reserved for capital ships measuring between two thousand and five thousand meters in length and designed for long-range, independent operations. Most battlecruisers were large and powerful ships that were among the most powerful in their fleets. A prime example was the Tagge battlecruisers used by the Galactic Empire, as well as the Mediator-class battle cruiser first deployed by the New Republic Most accepted that the first warship that could be formally recognised as a battlecruiser was Kuat Drive Yards' 2.5-kilometer Procurator-class battlecruiser, launched some two hundred years before the end of the Galactic Republic. The heavily-armed design impressed many wealthy Core Worlds planets and sectors and mercantile fleets, and by the time of the Clone Wars, dozens of battlecruisers had been built and filled the Planetary Security Forces of Core and Colonies sectors.
The Procurator-class design was refined several times before being supplanted by the four-thousand-meter Praetor-class, though the warship limitations of the Ruusan Reformations limited both classes' hyperdrives to local charts. When the Republic Navy was restored during the Clone Wars, however, the majority of battlecruisers found their way into Republic service. Most defended the Core Worlds against the possibility of the Bulwark Fleet breaking out from Foerost, or the massive battleships Malevolence and Devastation breaking into the Core, but some were uparmored, fitted with powerful new hyperdrives, and became the spearheads of task forces sent against key Separatist worlds, such as the Quaestor at Pammant.
After the Declaration of a New Order, the Imperial Navy would commission relatively few battlecruisers. Strategists saw them as less versatile and more expensive than Star Destroyers while not instilling the same terror as Star Dreadnoughts. The Empire operated a handful of smaller battlecruisers known as Star Cruisers, but few recognised this as a formal capital ship class. The Empire primarily used battlecruisers to defend key areas in the Core Worlds, though some acted as the flagships of task forces undertaking dangerous missions on the fringes of Imperial space, such as Admiral Mils Giel's Helmsman.
Known battlecruiser designs
Often nicknamed a "Heavy Star Destroyer," it was a 2,200m vessel that saw service throughout the Empire, and was also utilized within the reborn Emperor's empire. It also acted as a good example of the cruiser subclass of battlecruiser.
Bulwark-class battle cruiser
The Bulwark-class was used for a series of battlecruiser designs from TransGalMeg Industries. The 1 kilometer long Bulwark Mark I served the Confederacy of Independent Systems, while a later, larger model was used by the Rebel Alliance as a command ship.
The 1,200 meter long Centurion-class served as command ships in the Republic Navy and Sith Empire of Darth Revan, taking the role earlier filled by the larger Inexpugnable-class tactical command ships.
The 307 meter Kaloth-class was a small warship built by the Kaloth. It was only used by pirates and slavers a few decades after its introduction.
The Praetor-class was a heavy Imperial warship with reactor equipment that eclipsed that on contemporary Star Destroyer designs.
The Praetor Mark II-class was an Imperial battlecruiser designed and unveiled during the early stages of the Galactic Empire's formation. Few were made largely due to the costs, lack of versatility, and lack of a terror-inducing shape of the Star Destroyers and the Star Dreadnoughts, respectively.
The Scythe-class was a heavily armed and armored battlecruiser design, serving in the Galactic Alliance Defense Fleet during the Sith–Imperial War. It was well-armored enough to withstand barrages of turbolaser fire from multiple Star Destroyers and Ardent-class fast frigates.
This line of battlecruisers, which possessed a similar design to the Star Destroyer-class, belonged to the House of Tagge and was pledged to aid the Imperial warships blockading the Gordian Reach after the Battle of Yavin in 0 ABY. The presence of the Tagge warships and their commander, General Ulric Tagge, allowed family patriarch Orman Tagge to conduct private operations under the Empire's radar.
Behind the scenes
In Naval terms, battlecruisers are a type of naval warship that acted as an intermediary between battleships and cruisers. Namely, possessing a battleship's armament but with lighter armor while retaining most of a cruiser's speed and maneuverability. They were prevalent during the first half of the 20th century, although by the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, they fell into disuse.
According to Jason Fry's Endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare, the battlecruisers were "neither fish nor fowl", although he had fun going back to Giel's previously unnamed flagship, the Helmsman.
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