The term "cruiser" has been around since the 17th century, and became a key ship class in the war at sea during the Second World War. In the realm of science fiction, the heavy cruiser is one of the most popular classification of warships. This includes the most iconic and recognized fictional spaceships of all time, the NCC-1701 USS Enterprise. However, contrary to the vision presented in science fiction, the naval heavy cruiser had a brief operational life around the time of World War II, and ended shortly after. FWS will once again be exploring the fictional and real world heavy cruiser in nauseating detail. Also, be warned...FWS will be covering cruisers for the next several Ships of the Line blogposts. From light/medium Cruisers to the Missile Cruisers.
What is an Heavy Cruiser?
The Combat Role of the Naval Heavy Cruiser
The History of the Heavy Cruiser
Why are Heavy Cruisers Obsolete?
The Heavy Cruiser and Science Fiction
The Combat Role of the Sci-Fi Heavy Cruiser
Could There be an Hard Science Heavy Cruiser?
The Sad Story of Two Ambassador class starships, the Enterprise-C and FASA...
The Narn Regime G'Quan class Heavy Cruiser from Babylon 5
Given that this Narn warship is named for their main religious figure tells you something about the importance of this warship to the Narn Regime. The bulk of the Narn fleet is composed (or what was seen on the show) of this single type of warship, much like the Omega class destroyer or the Sharlin class warship, and the Centauri Primus class warship of the other major races. From 2109 to 2210, the Narn were subjugated by the Centauri Republic, and upon liberation, the Narn reverse-engineered Centrauri technology. The G'Quan was one of the results of this project, and ranks close in technology to Earth-Force warships and both painfully behind the older races.
The Federation Nebula class Heavy Cruiser
To most fans, official Federation starships come at a painfully pace. Despite all of the video games, TV series, and movies, there are only a dozen or so canon classes of starships. During the fourth season of ST:TNG, we finally got a look at what Starfleet was building in the 24th century. For much of that series, TNG recycled older 23rd century movies Federation ships, like the Excelsior class and Grissom class. It wasn't until the 86th episode of that series, aired in 1991, that we finally got a semi-new Federation starship in "The Wounded". That ship was the USS Phoenix of the Nebula class. There had been a kitbashed Nebula class seen in the Wolf 359 Graveyard during "The Best of Both Worlds Part II" aired in 1990, but the model was improved for "The Wounded". The Nebula class was designed by Michael Okuda and Rick Sternbach, with the model was built by Greg Jein, and heavily borrowed from Andy Probert's design for the Enterprise-D.
The Earth Force Hyperion class Heavy Cruiser from Babylon 5
While these ships served with honor throughout the Earth-Minbari War, one of her own was responbile for the intital attack that lead to humanity's costly war. The EAS Prometheus was the taskforce led vessel sent to make contact with the Minbari Federation, with Captain Michael Jankowski in charge. He misinterpreted the approaching Minbari warship for hostile attend, and opened fire, destroying the vessel, and dooming both societies to a long war.
After the Eath-Minbari War, the Omega class would become the main warship for the fleet, however, the Hyperion class would be upgraded to serve until the liberation of Earth, when it was replaced by the newer generation of Earth-Force warships that benefited from new technologies.
The Federation Constitution class Heavy Cruiser
The Federation Belknap class Heavy Cruiser from Star Trek
The Star League Aegis Heavy Cruiser from Battletech
In 1986, FASA took the world of mech combat into the stars, with AeroTech, and was expanded in 1993 with BattleSpace. However, our glimpse of the ships that populated the Battletech universe came with 1989's Technical Readout 2750. On page 132, we get the lowdown on the Aegis class heavy cruiser. According to the text, the Aegis class was fielded into service twice, 2372 and then again in 2582. While the original Aegis served the Terran Hegemony, the refitted Aegis of 2582 served the Star League during the Reunification War, when the need for ships outweigh their age. The power of the Aegis class was the 18 naval autocannons and anti-ship missiles, making this vessel a ship-killer. These vessels were equipped with lithium-fusion batteries and a solar sail to collect energy.
When General Aleksandr Kerensky left the Inner Space with the majority resources, most the Aegis cruisers left with him. These vessels are presently in serve with the Clans, specifically Jade Falcon. In the 31st century, the Aegis serves more in an escort and transport duties. In 1994, FASA gave the spacecraft of the Battletech their own Technical Readout with 3057, and on page 145, we see Aegis, and my...how it has changed, like most of the familiar warships from 2750. The Aegis class looks much different, but the information was carried forward along the armament. The original Aegis heavy cruiser was designed by Dana Knutson, Tom Miller, Michael Weaver, while the 1994 version was designed by Duane Loose.
The Klingon D-7 Heavy Cruiser from Star Trek
|Look into my Eye!|
The Cardassian Galor class Heavy Cruiser from Star Trek
Before the advent of CGI SFX, TV shows and movies were forced to make models of their futuristic spaceships. Star Trek and Star Wars prided themselves on the quality of their models, but they took time and money. This explains the limited number of ships seen in these works. In the 4th season episode of ST:TNG, "The Wounded", we got two new starships and a new alien race! Along with the Nebula class heavy cruiser, we got the Galor class heavy cruiser, the main warship in the service of the Cardassian Union. Most of the mustard-colored Cardassian warships are based around a similar style, like the Federation, but it is difficult for most to see different between the Galor and Keldon class warships.
Besides the interesting look, the Galor class had their "nacelles" in the shape of blades or wings on the forward section of the ship. When it comes weapons, the Galor class is also interesting. Most ships seen in Trek use a DEW system, like phasers, and a missile system, like photon torpedoes, but not the Cardassians. At the front of the secondary hull, there is massive DEW emitter that is believed to be some sort of disruptor array. On other various hard points on the Galor class are phaser emitters...but no missile system. In terms of the 24th century tactical realities, the Galor class lags behind the Galaxy class and the Klingon Vor'cha class. This causes the Cardassian Union fleet to use packs of Galor class heavy cruisers to overwhelm their targets.
The Tyranid Devourer Heavy Cruiser from WH40K
Here is an weird cruiser for the examples list, a bioship cruiser! According to the Gothic game, the Tyranid used their cruisers to protect the hive ships and secure vessel for culling. Unlike most cruiser mentioned here, these bioships were reliant on their mother ships to provide shelter and food. They attack using projected acid batteries and physical melee attacks with claws. Nasty. This is one of the most interesting cruiser of sci-fi....
The Eldar Eclipse class Attack Cruiser from WH40K
The Intrepid class Heavy Cruiser from Star Trek: Voyager
If you want to know more about the fictional history of the Intrepid class: