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This article is about the battleship classification Star Dreadnought.
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The Eclipse-class Star Dreadnought gained notoriety for its superlaser.

Star Dreadnought, sometimes spelled Star Dreadnaught, was a formal designation for some of the largest and strongest battleships in the starfleets of regional[1] and galactic governments.[2][3] Under the Anaxes War College System, "Star Dreadnought" referred to any warship in excess of five kilometers in length.[4]

The term "Super Star Destroyer" was also applied colloquially (and sometimes derisively) to some of these ships by the Alliance to Restore the Republic and the Galactic Empire. In these cases, Star Dreadnoughts were noted as being the largest Super Star Destroyers.[3][5] In turn, the lower-case term star dreadnought could be used to describe Super Star Destroyers in general.[6]

Various classes of Star Dreadnoughts were known to have served in the Kuat Drive Yards defense fleets,[1][7] the Republic Navy,[8][2] the Imperial Navy,[3][5][7] the New Republic Defense Fleet[9] and the Galactic Alliance Defense Fleet.[10] Their sizes eclipsed most conventional warships, peaking with the Executor-class at 19 km in length,[3] and the Eclipse-class, with its unequaled mass and weaponry.[6]


Private service[]

During the centuries leading up to the Clone Wars, important and rich galactic sectors were protected by private self-defense forces.[1] The Kuat sector had among its arsenal the eight-kilometer Mandator-class Star Dreadnought, a class that entered service at some point prior to 39 BBY.[11] They were large battleships equipped with heavy firepower, but had a limited range on their hyperdrives. Mandators were primarily used to protect the valuable Kuat Drive Yards, as well as defend the general sector.[1]

Clone Wars era and beyond[]

By the start of the Clone Wars, seven of what KDY classified as Star Dreadnoughts were in service: three defended Kuat, while the Azure, Ixtlar, Alsaka and Humbarine sectors had one each.[4]

As the Clone Wars raged, heavier warships as well as increased loyalty were demanded, and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine pushed through legislation that made all home fleets fall under the centralized command of the restored Republic Navy.[12] The Kuat Drive Yards produced the faster, more heavily-armed and -armored Mandator II during this period.[2][13] Three new Mandator IIs were built, while three earlier Mandators were uparmored and refitted. All of them saw use in defending the Core Worlds against Separatist incursions.[4]

Following the war's end, the new Imperial Navy began the Sarlacc Project, to build a new huge warship design to serve as a flagship for the entire Navy. This Super Star Destroyer prototype, twelve kilometers in length, was destroyed by early Rebel elements over Byss before its completion. Despite its destruction, it managed to inspire future Star Dreadnaught designs,[14] and the Empire ordered the construction of four new dreadnoughts, each nineteen kilometers in length.[4]

Galactic Civil War era[]

An Assertor-class Star Dreadnought leading a Base Delta Zero operation

The Star Dreadnought concept was not without opposition in the Imperial Navy. Many traditionalists saw the enormous ships as far too expensive and inefficient in comparison to patrol boats, frigates and cruisers for policing space. Likewise, the Navy's growing number of Star Destroyers carried unmatched firepower should the Imperial Navy fight a fleet battle. To traditionalists, battlecruisers and dreadnoughts, lumped together under the derisive tag "Super Star Destroyers" (which later spread to the Rebellion through Imperial defectors), seemed to be egotistical constructions rather than pieces of a coherent military strategy.[4]

As the Galactic Civil War heated up, various new Star Dreadnought designs were shelved mid-production due to countless credits and talented engineers being diverted to the creation of the Death Star, with its destruction being the only reason they were able to continue.[4] Skeptical of superweapons like the Death Star, the Imperial Navy worked hard to come up with reasonable alternatives that could hold their own in the face of massive centralization of power, and reluctantly embraced the Star Dreadnought.[15][3] With the Death Star's destruction, they became the Empire's mightiest weapons, designed to be so powerful that the mere threat of their deployment would pacify multiple sectors.[4]

Among the achievements of this era was the Executor-class design. By this point, the Star Dreadnought designation was known to Imperial oversight committees as representing extraordinarily large and heavily armed warships. In order to avoid controversy in the Imperial Senate, naval documents simply classified the new Star Dreadnought as a new class of Star Destroyer, understating its size, role and armament.[5] The Star Dreadnoughts were also viewed by the Galactic Empire as useful for psychological warfare purposes, to cow various systems. This made the ships' development worth the expenses.

When fielded, these ships gained notoriety as command ships for large-scale forces as well as being heavy weapons platforms, with the lead vessel serving as Darth Vader's personal flagship.[3] These ships were some of the largest in the galaxy, second only to battlestations like the Death Star. Though their sluggish speed, massive size, and poor maneuverability proved to be severe weaknesses, they were unmatched in firepower by any other frontline ship and incredibly resilient to direct assaults. Another design, the Eclipse-class, which began construction around the time of the Executor's early deployment, became dreadful weapons of terror, as each ship was equipped with a superlaser for penetrating planetary shields and pulverizing enemy ships.[16][17][18]

As the Empire split into warring factions following the Emperor's death, its formidable fleet of Dreadnoughts was divided up between various Warlords. Despite the imposing threat of these classes, most were either destroyed by sabotage or in battle, or captured by the New Republic, leaving few rogue Star Dreadnoughts still active at the end of the Civil War.[6]

New Republic counterparts[]

The Viscount-class Star Defender was conceived to challenge Imperial Star Dreadnoughts and other heavy warships.

The New Republic initially regarded Star Dreadnoughts as inflexible and inefficient, preferring a combination of smaller-platform capital ships and starfighters for its fleets. Consequently, the New Class Modernization Program did not include new battlecruiser or dreadnought designs. However, the experience of Operation Shadow Hand, where some twelve Star Dreadnoughts led a renewed Imperial assault out of the Deep Core, the Orinda campaign, where they proved to have no counter against the Imperial Remnant's Reaper, Megador and Dominion dreadnoughts, and finally the Black Fleet Crisis, the New Republic realized the need for bigger and stronger capital ships to deter would-be attackers. Running low on captured vessels of this size, new dreadnought classes were designed that were meant to be Republic counterparts to the Star Dreadnoughts.[5][4]

The Mon Calamari Viscount-class Star Defenders were new directions for Republic ship-building, away from the compact designs of the New Class program.[19] They were among the largest classes produced by the New Republic and saw heavy duty in the Yuuzhan Vong War, becoming part of the Galactic Alliance Defense Fleet, when the New Republic was reorganized into the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances.[20]

At some point following the Second Galactic Civil War, heavy warships like the Star Defenders and Star Dreadnoughts were phased out of service, citing the expenses in operating the various designs.[21] By 130 ABY, neither the re-emergent Galactic Empire nor the remainder of the Galactic Alliance used the term for their present ships,[22] though the Pellaeon-class Star Destroyer was known to have combined some aspects of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer and the Executor-class Star Dreadnought.[6]

Known Star Dreadnought designs[]

Assertor-class Star Dreadnought[]

The Assertor-class was a Star Dreadnought used by the Imperial Navy. A known example of this class was the Wrath, which participated in a Base Delta Zero operation.[4] It's primary role was acting as a sector command and control ship.[23]

Bellator-class dreadnought[]

The Bellator-class dreadnought was a successor design to the Mandator-class and Mandator II-class Star Dreadnoughts, being built primarily with speed in mind in contrast with its "cousin," the Mandator III-class dreadnought. Several ships of this class were seen at Naval Station Validusia, a fleet gathering between Ozzel's promotion and the Battle of Hoth, and in the forces of the resurrected Emperor Palpatine in 10 ABY. A Bellator-class was escorted by a Procursator-class Star Destroyer in orbit of Byss.[24]

Eclipse-class dreadnought[]

The 17.5km Eclipse-class was fitted with a superlaser as its primary armament and its reactor took up much of the interior space.[16] Two vessels were constructed in secret over a ten year period, and fielded during Operation Shadow Hand. Both were destroyed.[6] According to the Imperial Handbook, the official field manual for the Imperial Military, the Eclipse-class as well as its sister design the Sovereign-class were intended to revolutionize naval combat and ensure Imperial dominance through the next century.[25]

Executor-class Star Dreadnought[]

An Executor-class Star Dreadnought dwarfs surrounding Imperial-class Star Destroyers.

The Executor-class was a successful line of Star Dreadnoughts that came in several variants, and was believed to be the "ultimate" in Star Dreadnought design in its time.[3] The 19km battleship model was considered a valuable prize to many commanders, and receiving command of a ship was a high honor, sometimes bestowed upon an officer as a gift by Emperor Palpatine himself.[26] Over a dozen ships were built and fielded.

Mandator-class Star Dreadnaught[]

The Mandator-class served in the private sector fleets of the Kuat sector, being designed and fielded in the final decades of the Galactic Republic.[1]

Mandator II-class Star Dreadnaught[]

The Mandator II-class was a new model of the Mandator design and served as part of the Republic Navy during the Clone Wars. Its power-generation facilities matched that of almost 1,000 light Separatist destroyers.[2]

Mandator III-class dreadnought[]

The Mandator III-class was a newer model of the Mandator design and served in the Galactic Empire. Unlike the previous Mandator's or its "cousin," the Bellator-class dreadnought, the Mandator III-class was specifically designed to act as a heavy weapons platform, and had a length of 12,000 meters.

Sovereign-class Super Star Destroyer[]

The Sovereign-class was based on the Eclipse-class and meant to be a smaller, cheaper design for mass-production.[16] Construction on the first four ships began around 0 ABY, but they were all ultimately destroyed around the time of Palpatine's final death and the Destruction of Byss.[27] According to the Imperial Handbook, the official field manual for the Imperial Military, the Sovereign-class as well as its sister design the Eclipse-class were intended to revolutionize naval combat and ensure Imperial dominance through the next century.[25]

Sarlacc Project[]

The Sarlacc Project was aimed at developing a flagship for the then-newly created Imperial Navy in 19 BBY. The end result was a warship 12km long, covered in various armaments. The vessel was destroyed in a partially-completed state, a few years after its construction began. Despite the loss, it was used as inspiration for the later Executor-class.[14]

Vengeance-class Star Dreadnought[]

The Vengeance-class was a 19km long Star Dreadnought line with at least three vessels produced. They had a sleeker design than the Executor class Dreadnought. The Vengeance was the flagship of Dark Jedi and Imperial Inquisitor Jerec from before the Battle of Endor to his death in 5 ABY. The Javelin anchored one of the fleets to reconquer the Core Worlds during 10 ABY, but was destroyed during the Imperial Civil War when it rammed a Torpedo Sphere that guarded the planet Chasin.[4]

Star Dreadnought analogs[]

Death Star II[]

Although not a dreadnaught in the general sense, the Death Star II, due to its heavy firepower and powerful role, was frequently referred to by both Rebels and Imperials as being comparable to such during the Battle of Endor.[28]

Eye of Palpatine[]

The Eye of Palpatine was a dreadnaught larger in overall size than the largest Super Star Destroyers, fielded in 18 BBY,[29] although in terms of length was comparable in size to the Executor-class Star Dreadnought and Vengeance-class dreadnought at 19 kilometers.[30] It was meant to pick up Imperial forces along a secret route that lead to a planet where Jedi were in hiding, but malfunctioned due to Jedi sabotage and disappeared. Decades later, the ship was reactivated in a ploy to get more power for the Imperial Remnant, but was ultimately destroyed by the New Republic.[29]


The Tarkin superweapon was developed as a superlaser bed, a intermediary between the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station and the Death Star II. It was created from the hull design of an Eclipse-class dreadnought prototype.

Viscount-class Star Defender[]

One of several Star Defender classes, the Viscount-class was built by Mon Calamari and fielded by the New Republic and Galactic Alliance.[5]

Yuuzhan Vong Kor Chokk grand cruiser[]

The Grand Cruiser was a Yuuzhan Vong analog of heavy Super Star Destroyers and used in fleet battles during the Yuuzhan Vong War.[31]

Behind the scenes[]

In Naval terminology, dreadnought is generally synonymous with battleships constructed after and influenced by HMS Dreadnought. This term was sometimes used for great ships in Star Wars, like the Executor,[32] the Eye of Palpatine[29] and the Death Star II.[28]

The designation "Star Dreadnought" was first explicitly used in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Incredible Cross-Sections for the Mandator-class, and the Executor-class was given the designation in Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy. Inside the Worlds also stated that "Super Star Destroyer" was used in "Rebel slang", while Starship Battles Preview 1 explained that the term was invented and popularized by Imperial personnel.

The term "Star Dreadnought" (or "Star Dreadnaught") is disliked by some fans who prefer the term "Super Star Destroyer", which already referred to many different ships. Since the Expanded Universe renaissance introduced by West End Games had sources specifically divide warships into different types depending on their size and power, some fans welcomed what they saw as a necessary additions to explain all the differently sized Super Star Destroyers seen throughout decades of publishing. Others considered the various redesignations and redefinitions contradictory and unnecessary, accepting the use of Super Star Destroyer as a general category. Despite different naval nomenclature being used by various authors, Curtis Saxton was widely seen as responsible for the change in designations.

Much of the criticism towards the term "Star Dreadnought" stem from the belief that it's applying terminology to ship names that were not originally created to fit with the English naval hierarchy and that only recent authors like Saxton have used it in such a fashion. I.e. a Star Destroyer and a Star Cruiser are not analogous to a naval Destroyer and a naval Cruiser and are equivalent in size and role, ships of size comparable to Star Dreadnoughts like the Subjugator-class heavy cruiser lack the description, and the existing Dreadnaught-class ship is smaller than all three. As well, the term Star Dreadnought was initially seen as largely redundant with the pre-existing term Super Star Destroyer, as at the time the term Star Dreadnought was first used, Super Star Destroyers categorized as Star Cruisers and Star Battlecruisers have neither been introduced nor were they specifically identified, leaving Star Dreadnoughts the only category within Super Star Destroyer with any ships in it.


Notes and references[]