What is an "Gunboat"?
What is an "Marauder"?
The Real-World Naval Marauders, Raiders, and Gunboats
Sci-Fi and the Raider, Gunboat, and Marauders Starships
The Ferengi D'Kora class Marauder from the Star Trek Universe
In the early days of TNG, the Ferengi were being installed as the big bad enemy of the 24th century due to the Klingons being in an alliance with the Federation and the race was developed by Roddenberry and Herbert J. Wright. Wright took inspiration from then current 1980's in American society where greedy, money-making, and material possession were the national obsession. This was directly opposite to the Federation, where money and the massing of material wealth does not exist. During those early days of the Ferengi being the new enemy to the Federation, the only canon Ferengi warship was developed, the D'Kora and it was listed as a "marauder" in the noncanonized 1988 FASA ST:TNG Officer's Manual, but also in canon material as well later on. Some of the design by Andrew Probert of the class was based on a horseshoe crab.
The Corellian DP20Gunboat from The Star Wars RPG by West End Games
The Legion Zephyr Gunboat from "On the Edge Vol. 2 & 3" from the Alien Legion Universe
The Kazon "Raider" Starship from ST: Voyager
The Kazon race was used by the technologically superior Trabe race as slaves and their masters prompted the Kazon to fight among themselves to prevent them from uniting and overthrown the Trabe. About thirty years before the Federation achieved contact with the Kazon factions, that slave revolt happened and the Kazon split into groups and continued to fight among themselves with the newly acquired Trabe technological. One of the acquired Trabe combat ship classes was the "raider". This small warship was used to mount raids and patrol their space and often operated in groups to take down larger targets, like attacking the superior USS Voyager.
The Arcadia Marauder from the Captain Harlock Universe
The Rebel Alliance A/SF-01 "B-Wing" class Gunboat from the Star Wars Universe
Despite its fangs and ability to take ships vastly larger than itself, the B-Wing was expensive to product, easily outmatched in a dogfight, required expert pilots, and was more limited in tactical application. The original design by the Rebel Alliance was to feature two, with another gunner. The B-Wing was one of my favorite Star Wars fighters, next the A-Wing and even had the Kenner 1984/1985 B-Wing toy with the pilot. It was a massive fighter that was hard to play with, but made a hell of a display piece. The gunboat was developed and designed by Joe Johnson and Bill George. As the story goes, Bill George developed so much of the B-Wing himself that it was nicknamed "The Bill-Wing Fighter". Due to the design of the fighter, a number of the scenes featuring the B-Wings were cut, but fans love the fighter and it has appeared in Star Wars Rebels and in short-stories with the "Blade Squad" of the Rebel Alliance.
The Maquis Raider from Star Trek: DS9 and Voyager
When the Federation sold out some border colonies to the Cardassian Union for peace, the settlers that would not settle someplace else formed an resistance movement called “the Maquis” and fought the Cardassians and sometimes the Federation. This became a home to Bajoran rebels that would not join the new provisional government or just liked a fight. Borrowing and stealing from were ever, the ships of the Maquis were older and more akin to shuttlecraft. The key vessel of the Maquis was their “Raider” that is listed as raider and seen being used as such. There was a small version that was referred to as a “fighter”. This tough little vessel was seen in the service with the Maquis in the excellent TNG episode of “Preemptive Strike”, the “Maquis” two part for DS9 the pilot to Voyager.
The Draconian Imperial class Frontier Defense Cruiser from Dr. Who "Star Tigers" Comics
The Prince himself identifies the vessel has a “gunship”. According to the 1980 comic text, the Imperial was designed for deep space combat, in-atmosphere planetary ground attack and was armed to the teeth with laser cannons, missiles, and nukes. In the comic, the Kill-Wagon, as it was named by Daak, was a powerful little ship that took the fight to the murderous pepper pots. This is a great example of a sci-fi gunboat (gunships, to me, are more like attack helicopters) due to the small scale, crew, but punching way beyond its weight class.
Bajoran Assault Raider Starship from ST: DS9
The Imperial "Star Wing" Assault Gunboat from the Star Wars Universe
When it comes to the iconic starfighters of the Galactic Imperial military, the TIE fighters are the icon and the symbol. These bow-tie shaped craft are very different than the starfigther philosophy of the Rebel Alliance, but there is a point where those two different POVs on the starfigthers of Galactic Civil War meet...and that is with the Imperial Assault Gunboat. This was first scene in the excellent LucasArts 1993 fight-sim X-Wing. The player goes head-to-head with the gunboat in the original game and then gets a opportunity to pilot the gunboat in the sequel to X-Wing, Star Wars: TIE Fighter. While deadly in the game, the in-universe discussion is that the Star-Wing was not successful was replaced by newly heavier TIE "Defender" fighter class.
The Black Marauder from "Unification Pt. I" from ST:TNG
The Guardian Jumpship Raiders from the Destiny Universe
The B'rel Class Bird-of-Prey Raider from Star Trek
Then things got complicated…Due to the popularity of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey and the limited SFX budget of the TNG TV show, the model for the BoP was heavily used and to attempt to solve the issue when the BoP, which is listed as a “scout/raider” of only 110 meters, was seen out of scale; the writers of TNG made a new supersized BoP design: the K’Vort class heavy cruiser that was first mentioned by name in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and mostly used after for the bulk of the BoP class seen on-screen. However, the scale of the BoP is completely out of whack and there is an entire article about it on Ex Astra Scientia. For the smaller, B’rel scout/raider, the vessel has been used to wage rapid offensive actions as seen in ST III: TSFS, and even seen in wolf packs to take down larger prey. During the Klingon/Cardassian War, Dukat acquired an BoP of his own and used to conduct independent raids on Klingon targets around 2372. There is some evidence that the Dukat BoP was an B’rel.
Orion Interceptor Class Raider from ST: Enterprise
The Orions have always a mysterious race in Trek and never seemed to get their due until Enterprise when the Orions were featured more extensively during the excellent Augment storyline. Given their role as slavers, traders, and pirates, the Orions used fast moving, heavily armed raider spacecraft to take what could make a profit and what could be teleported away. While these raiders were very different than the FASA Orion ships, I am a big fan of the hawk-like design of the Orion intercpetor class.
The “M Ship” Raider from the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The "Gunship" of the Galactic Empire from Legends of Galactic Heroes Universe
One of the best and most involved/developed military science fiction animes is the expansive Legends of Galactic Heroes. Dozens of spaceborne warships are seen in this fictional universe and they do have a gunboat type. The little cubed Imperial craft is designed to delivery deadly force onto enemy targets via anti-ship missiles and KE railguns or even DE cannons. This is transported to the battlefield via a carrier vessel due to their lack of FTL drive and only has a crew of one. While fitted with engines and heavy armament, these were a risky vessel to be assigned due to their lack of shielding and this may have been a suicide mission. Several of these gunships could punch a hole into enemy lines or create holes in battlelines to allow for opportunity to break the enemy's lines. Like most sci-fi gunboats, these are centered around their armament and its ability to take on larger targets.
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