The Venator-class Star Destroyer, also known as the Venator-class Destroyer, Republic attack cruiser, and later Imperial attack cruiser, was one of the capital ships used extensively by the Galactic Republic during the later parts of the Clone Wars, as well as by the Galactic Empire. It was designed and constructed by Kuat Drive Yards and Allanteen Six shipyards.
While designed primarily for ship-to-ship combat, the Venator had secondary roles ranging from starfighter carrier, to military transport and battleship escort. The expanded carrier role made the Venator-class popular amongst Jedi starfighter aces.
As a popular multi-role warship of the Republic Navy, the Venator was considered heavily armed and armored enough to lead assaults on Rim worlds like Utapau as well as fast enough to chase down blockade runners. Due to being relatively less self-sufficient than other ships in the fleet, the Venator-class often relied upon supply lines to aid long-range campaigns.
These vessels also sported the red color of diplomatic immunity all Republic ships sported; by the beginning of the Galactic Empire, the hulls were deprived of this symbol of the Republic, giving them a dull Imperial-gray appearance.
Offensive and defensive systems
The armament of a single Venator-class Star Destroyer consisted of eight dual DBY-827 heavy turbolaser turrets, two medium dual turbolaser cannons, fifty-two point-defense dual laser cannons, and four heavy[source?] proton torpedo tubes.
The Venator-class's eight heavy dual turbolaser turrets were its main weapons and had two tracking modes. In its precise, long-range tracking mode, the DBY-827 could hit a target vessel at a range of ten light minutes. During close-range fights, the turrets could rotate in three seconds with their fast-tracking mode. In terms of firepower, these weapons rivaled the main battery on the later Imperial I-class Star Destroyers.
The DBY-827 had seven different power settings. This allowed the Venator's pilots and gunners to select a range of destruction, from a small strike to a vaporizing blow. As a true warship, the Venator-class Star Destroyer could divert almost all of its reactor output to its heavy turbolasers when needed. As a result of this, a flotilla of Venators could break through the shields of a Trade Federation battleship with ease.
At the suggestion of Anakin Skywalker, a heavy SPHA turbolaser cannon was installed within the ventral hangar bay of some Venator-class ships of the Open Circle Fleet. These weapons were meant to protect the Star Destroyers while they opened their long ventral doors to the army complement bays. They would be used to considerable effect during the Battle of Coruscant.
Venators were equipped with powerful engines, a Class 1 hyperdrive with an effective range of 60,000 light-years. Its main reactor could annihilate up to 40,000 tons of hypermatter fuel per second, producing at maximum 3.6 × 1024 watts of power. This power was routed to four primary thrusters, two secondary thrusters and four tertiary thrusters, with five on either side of the hyperdrive mounting.
The main engine room had several vertical power cylinders littering the room, with walkways on different levels providing access to onboard personnel.
Despite possessing powerful weaponry and being on par with the Victory-class, the Venator-class was designed with an additional starfighter carrier role in mind. Its hangars were far larger than those on other Star Destroyers like the Victory-class and later models like the Imperator/Imperial-class.
Prior to the formation of the Galactic Empire, a typical Republic Venator carried a complement of 420 fighters: 192 V-wing or V-19 Torrent starfighters, 192 Eta-2 Actis-class interceptors, and at least 36 ARC-170 starfighters. The ship also typically maintained a variety of shuttles in its hangars. Since it was capable of entering a planet's atmosphere and landing on its surface, the pre-Imperial Venator-class had a standard complement of 40 LAAT/i gunships and 24 military walkers for planetary operations. The cruiser was also capable of holding one prefabricated garrison base for long term battles on planets.
In addition to a standard ventral hangar bay, the bow of a Venator could open up to reveal a half kilometer long dorsal flight deck. This flight deck enabled the Venator-class to rapidly launch hundreds of fighters. However, the slow opening and closing of the armored bow doors could leave the ship extremely vulnerable.
Although strong shielding was used to compensate for this weakness, this design aspect would be entirely omitted from later Star Destroyer designs, such as the Imperator/Imperial-class. On ships in the Open Circle Fleet, a SPHA turbolaser cannon was positioned near the ventral hangar opening for the purpose of protecting the ship along the ventral arc. The Venator-class also had hangar-openings on its port and starboard side. These were used to dock with space stations, mooring towers, and larger starships, for the purpose of transferring troops and materials.
Because of its carrier role, the Venator-class featured a novel dual bridge tower design. The port tower was the starfighter command bridge, while the starboard tower served as a standard helm and command bridge. On future designs, this dual bridge design was also employed. A similar dual-tower design was also seen on the Secutor-class Star Destroyer, and the Maelstrom-class battlecruiser.
The command bridge was designed with dual crew pits where operators would be stationed to control the ship's various functions. Officers would patrol walkways above and have a panoramic view to the outside. This bridge design would become a standard feature on most Imperial warships.
On top of each tower was a hyperwave communications and scanner module. Its function was similar to the scanner globes on the Imperial-class and other KDY vessels, but it had a flat shape. Flagships in Venator flotillas had red-painted conning towers to separate them from others.
- "That's a Star Destroyer. Venator-class."
- ―Barriss Offee
Venator-class Star Destroyers were deployed in many battles during the Clone Wars, most notably during the Battle of Coruscant when upwards of a thousand such ships helped protect the capital, and played pivotal roles in the repulsion of the CIS forces and the rescue of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Separatist forces categorized this kind of vessel as Cruiser-class, to contrast the Escort-class designation for smaller vessels, like the Arquitens-class and Consular-class.
These warships were fast enough to pursue blockade runners, while also being large enough to lead independent operations, such as the Battle of Cato Neimoidia, Battle of Kashyyyk, and the Battle of Utapau. They could be used to land troops on planetary surfaces, and serve as escorts for larger battleships, but their primary role was as mainline cruisers and starfighter carriers. As ships of the line, they were often grouped in lines of three to four ships.
Imperial period and beyond
By the end of the Clone Wars, it had become the most popular capital ship of the Republic, although shortly after the formation of the New Order, it was eclipsed by designs inspired by the Victory-class. Despite this, Venators were used to great effect in the early years of the Empire. In the Empire, these ships were stripped of the colorful markings of the Republic models. At least two Venators were involved in pursuing the L-4000 smuggler ship Uhumele alongside a contingent of fighter squadrons.
Eventually, more robust vessels such as the Imperator- and Tector-class became favored, and the Venator and its variants were phased out. This was partially due to its over-reliance on starfighters, as it went against the prevailing Tarkin Doctrine and due to its prominent position in the Republic Navy, which the Empire attempted to distance itself from.
This led to even more fringe groups obtaining Venators, as well as several Imperial Moffs, who used them in their private defense fleets, and for their various militias. The Mandalorian Supreme Strategist commanded a Venator Star Destroyer during the early years of the Galactic Civil War. It was destroyed during an engagement above Mandalore with a Zann Consortium fleet.
The Imperial Navy used several Venators as flight schools for military pilots, alongside several Imperial-class Star Destroyers and captured Lucrehulk-class battleships. The Vensenor was a notable vessel that served in this role. Imperial Venators were also used as part of the security cordon for the Sanctuary Pipeline to the Endor system during the construction of the Death Star II.
At least one Venator served in Admiral Daala's Maw Irregular Fleet in 40 ABY to 44 ABY. At least two were used in the Evacuation of Dac in 137 ABY, with one transformed into a drone ship and fitted with an ion pulse to distract the Sith-Imperial fleet.
Behind the scenes
In Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Incredible Cross-Sections, the Venator-class is described both as serving the part of a destroyer escorting larger Republic battleships, and described as a battleship itself (the latter in the section on the Invisible Hand). This is most likely a reference to different classification systems being in use, one of which labels Star Destroyers like the Victory- and Venator-classes being medium-sized destroyers, while another labels them as battleships.
In the same book, the Utapauns are said to use "downscaled" warships, such as the Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser. This explains why the Dreadnaught-class is often referenced as a cruiser rather than a frigate (even when many were rebuilt into assault frigates), despite being smaller than both the Empire's Star Destroyers and their Star Cruisers. A similar system would be described by New Republic scholars as the Imperial Classification System in many of the West End Games sourcebooks.
In the early development of Star Wars: Empire at War, the Venator-class was seen in at least one or two promotional screenshots. It was then featured in the demo but was cut from the final game, though it can be modded back into the game completely. The unit was eventually included in Empire at War's expansion pack Forces of Corruption and can be purchased in the game's Skirmish free-play mode; it is not available, however, in story-related scenarios.
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