Welcome to the first blogpost in FWS new series: the ships of the line
. In this continuing series of blogpost, FWS will be examining the different classes of spaceborne warships seen in common sci-fi along with comparing these fictional examples with the modern naval equivalent. Some of this information was covered in a previous blogpost about the equivalent between space combat ship class and their navy counterparts. For the first blogpost in the series, FWS will be discussing, in depth, the iconic Space Carrier.
The Modern Naval Aircraft Carriers
The Role of the Space Carrier
When there is a crisis in the world, one of the first questions that the U.S. President asks 'is there a carrier nearby?' This speaks to the role of the modern day carriers and the super-carriers, which have replaced the battlecruiser has the primary offensive tool of the navy. Modern aircraft carriers are designed to project air power around the global, by being an floating air base, extending the range of the aircraft. Not only do these massively expensive carriers launch various aircraft, but are also platforms for launching special operation missions, like the failed 1980 Iranian hostage rescue. These steel sea monsters are not just unitized for military roles, they are the modern. Given the cost of construction and operation, there are only 21 carriers in the world today, eleven are operated by the US Navy alone, and seven nations only possess one. British Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope explained the stature of the carriers this way: "to put it simply, countries that aspire to strategic international influence have aircraft carriers
Spaceborne carrier ships would be no different in their overall mission than their sea going counterparts. Space carriers just would project power of parsecs than square miles. These massively expensive giant spaceships would be the hub of launching some type of defensive/offensive smaller spacecraft, like automated drones or space lancers. As with the aircraft carrier, space carriers would be a range extender to these smaller craft, nearly like a mobile space station or the 'motherships' seen in science fiction and UFO circles.
This range extension comes into greater play when we consider FTL. It is likely that attack space fighters will not have FTL drive systems, (sorry, BSG
) and that only adds the importance of the space carrier. Space carriers could be closer to the concept seen with the Guild heighliner of the DUNE
universe. Instead of vessels like Galactica,
space fleets could construct movable space stations, similar to fleet battle-station Ticonderoga
in Starship Troopers.
The Size of Spaceborne Carriers
The US Navy 'super carrier', the Nimitz
class comes in at 332.8 meters (1,092 ft) long, weighting in at 106,300 tons, the beam is 76.8 meters (252 ft) with a ship's crew of 3,200 and 2,480 on the flight crewand costs about $4 billion to build. About 90 aircraft, fixed-wings and helicopters are carried on the Nimitz
class. While the best known space carriers, the Galactica
from the 2003 series comes in at 1,438 meters (4720 ft), beam is at 563 meters (1762 ft), and has a crew of around 5,000 with nearly 100 Viper
attack space fighters and an unknown number of Raptors
. A Nimitz
class is less than the size than one of the Galactica
's fligth pods.
class, which the Pegasus
was a member, is the most modern battlestar in the Colonial Fleet that operated with less crew (2500) due to automation, is fitted with an limited fighter production facility, and is even longer, at 5872 meters. So, what is the proper size for a space-going carrier? That depends on mission, your size of your space fighters, the power source, engines, and FTL systems. Much like other things, it is not length that is important, but height and the width. Too long, like the Executor
class Super Star-Destroyer, and your vessel has just that much more area to defend and power. For the most part, it is all about functionality, what best serves your fictional world.
Launch and Recovery
In the operation of a modern day aircraft carrier, landing and taking-off for the attack jet pilot is almost as risky as the actually combat. Fighters are deployed via a steam catapult and full-burn engines with blast-panels protecting the deck crew from being crispy critters. If the take is no successful, the cold sea awaits. Landing several million dollars worth of American hardware is done with skill on the effort of the pilot and the ship's air traffic controllers.
To prevent the fighter from running off of the 332 meter flight deck, a tail-hook that grabs the arresting cable, jerking the fighter to a stop.
Science fiction is mixed on how to launch their space attack jets. Some have the fighters use their thrusters to launch out of the bay, Babylon 5
and Battlestar Galactica
use some sort of catapult or electro-magnetic assisted launching system. This has several advantages: the carrier's launching system could allow for the fighter to be near combat speeds without using one drop of fuel, saving it for the trip home.
Also, any fighter engine system could be dangerous to the carrier, the plume of exhaust or charged particle (if are using ion drive), could wear down the hull integrity or impact critical systems. According to article I read on this subject, the worse design would be the deployment of TIE fighters from the belly-bay of the Imperial Star-Destroyer
. Another advantage of the Galactica
style launcher system is push the fighters out of the carrier's at a rapid pace, and getting them defensive fire screen faster to attack their target. The longer it takes to launch your fighters, the more risk you run of your enemy getting the upper hand tactically.
Let us say, that our intrepid space fighter jocks have launched their missiles and destroyed the Cylon Basestar, and are ordered to turn'em and burn'em for homebase. This process of landing the space attack fighters is the most dangerous and the complex for both pilot and carrier. If the space carrier launched eighty to one hundred fighters, that means that this space carrier has nearly one hundred incoming kinetic projectile screaming towards them in the form of their own fighters. If just one or two of these planes miss the landing bay or have a thruster failure, and crash into the carrier, that could be a world of hurt. Science fiction does a terrible job of showing fighter recovery, this even goes for BSG
who fail to devote the time and attention to scientifically accurate recovery of their Vipers
. In both versions BSG
, the Vipers
just seem to land like a conventional naval fighters on a seaborne carrier, or they carefully position themselves over an magnetic elevator platform in the null-gravity environment. During emergency landing, when the Galactica
needs to FTL jump out of the hot-zone, we see the fighters just pile up or float inside the cavernous hanger bays.
In reality landing the space fighter would be much more complex than launching it into space. The recovery landing bays would need to be positioned away from the thrust of the carrier's engines, or else the carrier's own engine could damage their own planes. This means that designs like the Galactica
are landing their planes in the wrong spot. If the landing bays are in the right place, how are these fighters could to stop themselves? Given Newton's 1st Law of motion, these space planes would have to generate a counter force to stop themselves, which eats up fuel, making fuel-less launching even more important.
Tail-hook recovery systems used on current seaborne carriers could be used, if slightly modified, and unlike here on Terra, they could be mounted on the 'floor', 'ceiling', and 'sides', sort of a M.C. Escher-styled landing bay. Fighters could stop short of the landing bays, and be 'reeled in' like a bass using a system similar to in-flight airborne refueling. These connection lines could hook into the plane and tractor them into the bay, being fully controlled, and less prone to planes transforming into kinetic projectiles! However, this would be a very slow process. This is one of the primary reasons AI controlled torpedoes would be better and faster in a hard-science space battle.
The 'Name Game' with Space Carriers
Several terms get thrown around when it comes to space carriers: battlestars, aerocraft carrier, assault carriers, through-deck carrier, commando carrier, battle carriers, star destroyers space platforms, and so on...so, what gives with the names? Mostly, it is due to sci-fi creators wanting to play up some aspect of their design and how it is different the standard aircraft carrier. Often if a carrier is outfitted with powerful cannons that normally would be mounted to an attack ship, the carrier gets the moniker of 'battle' or 'attack'. If the space carrier launches something different, they could be refereed to has 'commando' carriers, blurring the line between assault ship and carrier. Carriers are suppose to be mobile air bases, but if the space carrier is less mobile than it's fleet counterparts or lacking in FTL, it could be a 'space platform'. Space carriers can also be called 'aerocraft' carriers due to the transatomspheric nature of their space vehicles. In the end, the word carrier is enough to communicate what this spaceship does.
Could there be an Hard Science Space Carrier?
In the last episode of Firefly, 'objects in space'
bounty hunter Jubal Early summed up an issue with hard-science space carriers: "So is it still a room when it's empty? Does the room, the thing, have purpose?"
If space fighters will not exist in the future spacefaring real-world, than what purpose do space carriers serve if they have nothing to carry? Recently, FWS investigated the reality of hard-science space fighters, and came up with that they make little or no sense, and that our future in a militarized space will not
include spaceborne combat planes. Where does that leave us and our space carrier? There are a few options. One vessel that would be close to the space carrier is the assault ship that transports space marines, landing craft and the armored vehicles to the planetary battle-sites. These shuttle landing craft would be armed, trans-atmospheric, and the closest thing to the jump-ship/space fighter in the far future.
Another type of space carrier could be a much smaller vessel that carries AI controlled 'ship-killer' torpedoes that are much more complex and expensive than something akin to the modern naval missile guided cruiser. One design for the AI Guided torpedoes would be similar to the RDF Hermes
class A.R.M.D space platform from the first few episodes of ROBOTECH: Macross,
that deployed smaller missile bearing computer controlled craft, the RDF SF-3A Space Lancer
class space fighter/cannon. And another point...if there is to be a space carrier in our future, then the damn things WILL NOT have a take-off runaway! VTOL anyone?
Atomic Rockets re-posted an 1979 article written by David Ing called 'Vehicles for Future Wars
' about the subject of space carrier:
To begin with, the best shape for the battle craft might be an elongated torus; a tall, stretched-out doughnut. In the long hole down the middle we install a crew of two -- if that many -- weapons, communication gear, life support equipment, and all the other stuff that's most vulnerable to enemy weapons. This central cavity is then domed over at both ends, with airlocks at one end and weapon pods at the other. The crew stays in the very center where protection is maximized. The fuel pellets, comprising most of the craft's mass, occupy the main cavity of the torus, surrounding the vulnerable crew like so many tons of gravel. Why solid pellets? Because they'd be easier than fluids to recover in space after battle damage to the fuel tanks. The rocket engines are gimbaled on short arms around the waist of the torus, where they can impart spin, forward, or angular momentum, or thrust reversal. The whole craft would look like a squat cylinder twenty meters long by fifteen wide, with circular indentations at each end where the inner cavity closures meat the torus curvatures.
The battle craft doesn't seem very large but it could easily gross over 5,000 tons, fully fueled. If combat accelerations are to reach 5 g's with full tanks, the engines must produce far more thrust than anything available today. Do we go ahead and design engines producing 25,000 tons of thrust, or do we accept far less acceleration in hopes the enemy can't do any better? Or do we redesign the cylindrical crew section so that it can eject itself from the fuel torus for combat maneuvers? This trick -- separating the crew and weapons pod as a fighting unit while the fuel supply loiters off at a distance -- greatly improves the battle craft's performance. But it also mans the crew pod must link up again very soon with the torus to replenish its on-board fuel supply. And if the enemy zaps the fuel torus hard enough while the crew is absent, it may be a long trajectory home in cryogenic sleep.
Presuming that a fleet of the toroidal battle craft sets out on an interplanetary mission, the fleet might start out as a group of parasite ships attached to a mother ship. It's anybody's guess how the mother ship will be laid out, so let's make a guess for the critics to lambaste.
Our mother ship would be a pair of fat discs, each duplicating the other's repair functions in case one is damaged. The discs would be separated by three compression girders and kept in tension by a long central cable. To get a mental picture of the layout, take two biscuits and run a yard long thread through the center of each. Then make three columns from soda straws, each a yard long, and poke the straw ends into the biscuits near their edges. Now the biscuits are facing each other, a yard apart, pulled toward each other by the central thread and held apart by the straw columns. If you think of the biscuits as being a hundred meters in diameter with rocket engines poking away from the ends, you have a rough idea of the mother ship.
Clearly, the mother ship is two modules, upwards of a mile apart but linked by structural tension and compression members. The small battle craft might be attached to the compression girders for their long ride to battle, but if the mother ship must maneuver, their masses might pose unacceptable loads on the girders. Better by far if the parasites nestle in between the girders to grapple onto the tension cable. In this way, a fleet could embark from planetary orbit as a single system, separating into sortie elements near the end of the trip.
Since the total mass of all the battle craft is about equal to that of the unencumbered mother ship, the big ship can maneuver itself much more easily when the kids get off mama's back. The tactical advantages are that the system is redundant with fuel and repair elements; a nuke strike in space might destroy one end of the system without affecting the rest; and all elements become more flexible in their operational modes just when they need to be. Even if mother ships someday become as massive as moons, my guess is that they'll be made up of redundant elements and separated by lots of open space. Any hopelessly damaged elements can be discarded, or maybe kept and munched up for fuel mass.
Space Carriers and Science Fiction
As with most combat starships seen in science fiction works, their blue-water naval counterparts bleed into how these spaceborne vessel behave. Space Carriers are sometimes viewed has the supreme warship type in the fleet, which is true of the modern navy and the Battlestars
of the Coloniel Fleet are a good example. Then in other works, often in starship RPG combat games, the carrier is downgraded to an unsexy backplayers when compared to the heavy cruiser or even the battleship classes. One of the most common types of spacecraft that carry other smaller combat vessels into battle are not the Galactica
type and not patterned after real-world aircraft carriers, but more like a battleship of World War II.
Science Fiction is full of these types, from the Yamato
, the Daedalus,
to the SDF-1
, and the most of every ship seen in Babylon 5.
These warships carry a complement of attack space fighters, like the EDF Omega
class destroyer from B5
carrying two full squadrons of Starfurys
, but in design, these types of combat spaceships are more like frontline warship rather than a carrier. Most of these have extensive interior fighter bays, not looming landing pods of most space-designed carriers. While this adds more combat depth in a tactical sense to every vessel, it also adds the need for more crew and space, devoted to the care of these space fighters, along with fuel, ammunition, and services for the pilots. All of this increases the cost of running your space battleship. Credits don't grow on trees you know!
It surprised me to learn that concept of an aircraft carrier in space is older than the late 1970's, I believe that Star Wars
and the 1978 BSG
were the first examples. However, sci-fi author John W. Campbell developed a carrier-type vehicle in his 1950's short story, the Black Star Passes.
It is likely that the concept of space carriers originated with the airship aircraft carriers...
The Battlestars from Battlestar Galactica
For most to the legions of science-fiction fans, if you mention the words 'space carrier' than the Battlestar
military spaceship from the 1978 and 2003 series pop into their minds. Iconic is the only word I can use, because it nearly single-handedly defined this type of space vehicle. When I was a kid, I asked my brother what a 'battlestar' was, he told me it was fusion of a battleship and a carrier, and that has stuck in my mind has the definition for a battlestar
class vessel. In the original series, only eight battlestars
(all using the same model) were seen. Fans of the original series have a myth, that RDM incorporated into his Cylon War, that each of the 12 Colonies constructed one battlestar
, leading to only 12 used during Cylon War. There were vast differences between the two different series, the 2003 BSG
was outfitted with KEW weapons, nukes, and ship-to-ship missiles, along with Vipers
The main duty of the battlestar
is to be the homebase of the air-wing, FTL transport, along with providing a flak-screen against incoming fighters and munitions. The 1978 Galatica
was outfitted with a number of automated defensive laser cannons, some sort of heavy-launch missiles if the shit-hit-the-fan, and Vipers.
Age was another factor separating the two series,
the 1978 Galactica
is over 500 years old, being deployed mid-way through the thousand year war with the Cylons, while the 2003 Galactica
was about forty and was among the original battlestars
constructed during the Cylon revolt. It is unknown if there were any battlestars
prior to the Cylon Revolt. And in the real-world, while the 2003 Galactica
was CGI, the 1978 model was constructed out of dozens of WWII naval model kits.
Hermes class A.R.M.D. RDF Space Platform from Robotech: Macross
For some reason, I've always been a huge fan of these oddly shaped Terran ships that were mostly destroyed when Breetai's recovery fleet arrived to take back the SDF-1. The Hermes
class armored reflex missile defender (ARMD) were one of the first RDF combat space craft, and developed prior mankind's first outer space battles. Due to their lack of Fold Drives, and low-tech Terran sublight engines, the ARDMs served has mobile weapons and aircraft platforms to backup to the SDF-1 with missiles, Particle cannons, and computer-controlled spacecraft.
From 2005-2010, a total of nine Hermes
class were completely constructed in space at the L5 drydock, despite the nine hulls being ready, RDF could only turn out four ARMDs in time to meet the initial recovery Zentraedi fleet. ARMD 01, 02, 03 and 10 were all destroyed in short order after the assault on Macross Island. One of the reasons for these vehicles being wiped out was even though their particle DEW cannons were salvaged from the SDF-1, the ARMDs' lack the power generate to match the fire rate of the Zenraedi cruisers.
Unique among this small Terran fleet was ARMD-10 that had been converted into an carrier-role space vehicle for Veritech
space fighters, instead of the SF-3A Lancers
. This mostly likely was a testbed for a larger conversion of the entire ARMD vehicles, but there was never a chance. By the time of the full alien fleet, the RDF had other ARMD vessels under construction at their L5 shipyards, but only four powerplants to finish them off. ARMD 05, 07, 08, 04 were sent to backup the SDF-1's ran at Doza's command ship. Only ARMD 04 and 06 survived the onslaught of the alien fleet, and became space stations until 2023. Two ARMD designed 'arms' were attached to the SDF-2, and these were seen in the Japanese The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Flashback 2012.
These space carrier vehicles would have made an appearance in the cancelled N64 ROBOTECH
Here is a link: http://ptn.home.xs4all.nl/Naval/ARMD.html
The Coronado class Through-Deck Shuttlecraft Carrier from Star Trek
During the time period of the TOS, the Federation used the successful Constitution
class hull design to construct a through-deck-shuttlecraft carrier. The secondary hull was nearly completely devoted to the launch, care, and recovery of Federation shuttlecraft, all 42 of them. This unique class of Federation starship was designed for planetary combat operations or colonial rescue operations, and given this lack of flexibility, something not normally associated with Federation starships, only a few Coronado
class were built. If you've never heard of the Coronado
class than you are alone. This ship was only seen in the pages of 1991 Ships of the Star Fleet: Volume One 2290-91
book published by Mastercom Data Center and written by Todd Guenther. This was actually one of the best done fan-book ever done, and only sold at cons and various independent comic book stores (like Starbase 21 in Tulsa, where I bought my copy). Worth checking out if your a big fan of technical manuals or Starfleet ships.
The Mon Calamari MC80 class Star Cruiser from Star Wars
Much like the Imperial Star-Destroyers
and other capital ships of the Star Wars
universe, every main combat vessel is outfitted with an air-wing to to give these warships added tactical flexibility. The Mon Calamari are a race of aquatic alien who were members of the Rebel Alliance, and the primary source of the Rebel Fleet warships. The primary warship was the MC80 Liberty
class Star-Cruiser that came in at 1200 meters, and carried 36 fighters into battle. For those of us that played X-Wing
in the 1990's, the MC80 Star Cruiser
was your home-base, and kinda looked like a space pickle. Yep, that is the first time that I've said space pickle on FWS.
The Poseidon class Super-Carrier from the Babylon 5 Wars RPG
When something works, you go with it, and that is very true of the Earth Alliance's fleet. Most of their fleet is composed of warship based off the Omega
class destroyer. From the miniature and imagines from internet artists, the Poseidon
class super-carrier has it's four (instead of two)gravity-generating spinning sections near the engine bay, where the bulk of the ship's operation are conducted and the crew are housed. The Omega
class 'neck' has been expanded to house 96 fighters, most being the Starfury
type, according to the Earth Alliance RPG source book. From the design, it seems the fighters exit via two stacked launch 'mouth' bays, and are retrieved from eight doors on the sides of the fighter bay.
It is also possible that there are launch doors on the 'top' and 'bottom' of the fighter bay, similar to the launch doors on the B5 station. Oddly, this massive 2,000 meter long carrier is poorly armed, save for it's fighters, there is a lack of AAA batteries that could establish a cover-fire zone to allow safe launch of the planes, similar to what the BSG-75 Galactica
does. If the fighters are destroyed, than the once choice is for this giant to run. Not a great design over all.
The Clyon Basestar from Battlestar Galactica
As with the Battlestars,
I will comparing the 2003 and 1978 versions. One of the most impressive differences with the 2003 Basestars
is the use of organic technology, from the hybrid pilot-operator of the basestar
to the Raider
class fighters, these vessels appear to me more alive than the 1978 variants. Both share a common design, however the 2003 basestar
was more deadly and sharp looking, that used ship-to-ship missiles, instead of massive laser DEW bolts, like in the 1978 series.
Interestingly, both series show a basestar
's main offensive armament is swarms of raiders
, and mostly, basestars
are offensive, while the battlestar
is defensive. These swarms of robotic planes are deployed from holding banks on the outside of the hull, while the 1978 basestar
are like the battlestar,
holding the raiders
in massive twin fighter bays. For the most part, the 1978 basestars are crap, poorly designed, slow, lacking in any personality or lethality. In the 2003 new series, the basestar
is a lethal organic hunter, like a shark, that prowls for fresh meat, and moves with grace in the seas of space.
The Imperial class Star Destroyer from Star Wars
The name of the game with the Galactic Empire is power projection across that galaxy far, far, away, and one of the primary tools of the trade is the Imperial
class Star Destroyer. Contrary to the image projected in the Star Wars
films, the Imperial
class was rare, and mostly deployed in showing-the-flag operations, larger engagements, and planetary suppression. Much like real-world aircraft carriers, the Imperial
cost a massive sum of credits, to the tune of several star systems complete GDP. Some 37,000 souls occupy the Imperial
class from TIE fighter pilots, Stormtroopers, officers, and crew. It is the six squadrons of TIE fighters number 72 in total for the air-wing, that give the Imperial
class it's abilities in the role of space carrier. These TIE fighters are recovery via tractor beam, and stored in a rack-like launching system.
The Tiger's Claw from the Wing Commander Game
In the original Wing Commander
computer game, the TCS-Tiger's Claw
(CV-07) was a member of the Bengal
class strike-carrier that held 104 space fighters and came in at around 700 meters long and 80,000 tons in mass. The Tiger's Claw
was Commissioned in 2644, rose to fame 2654 during the bloody contest over the Vega sector, but destroyed in 2656 by a prototype alien sheath fighter. With the fighters, along with being heavily armed, the Bengal
class were designed to operate nearly on their own, striking the enemy were needed. Helping this was the ability for the Bengal
class to deploy all of it's 104 fighters in 12 minutes. Launching was done via an extensive landing runaway in the forward section of the carrier, with the hanger bay directly behind it.Within the open cut-scene of Wing Commander: II
, the Tiger's Claw
is destroy via a sneak attack by several Kilrathi sheath fighters, l
The Concordia from Wing Commander video games
This was the largest Terran Confederation vessel deployed during the war, the Confederation
class carrier/dreadnought was constructed around the reverse-engineered Kilrathi mass accelerator cannon, created a vessel nearly one kilometer in length that could carry 120 fighters into battle. This class, specifically the Concordia
became famous for the Enigma Sector campaign that destroyed the Imperial Kilrathi military sector HQ.Fighers were launched via twin runaways, while being protected by flank cannons. The Concordia
was destroyed by the time of the third game.
The SCVN-2812 Saratoga from Space: Above and Beyond
Designed with an eye more towards modern day naval carriers, the JFK
class United State Navy Saratoga
space carrier, seemed more realistic and more akin to seagoing carriers than the slick futuristic look of the Galactica
or a Star-Destroyer.
Constructed by Aero-Tech in pieces on Terran than shipped up to an orbital drydock, 12 of these carriers were in service prior to the Ching War of 2063-2064, and could hold up to 192 SR-43 Hammerhead
fighters along with other space vehicles, like the ISSCV.
This 525 meters long vessel was home to nearly 7,000 crew, officers, marines, and pilots. Vehicles like the Saratoga
, were the primary offensive arm of the United Earth armed response to the Chigs. Servicing has both a platform of deploying space attack jets and ground troops for planetary operations, with some shipboard orbital artillery to soften up the ground for landing operations. This made these Terran carriers a juicy target. To counter the Chig bombers and fighters, the toga
was armed with air-to-air missiles, laser cannons, and torpedoes. One of the unique feathers of the Saratoga
was the way it launched it's air-wing of SA-43s. The cockpit module is only mated with the He3 rocket body during launch, via the fighter's own rocket motors. Recovery is done via the same launching tubes, when the two pieces of the Hammerhead
jets are separated ISSCVs land and launch via VTOL He3 thrusters on landing pad-elevators.
The Chig Carrier from Space: Above and Beyond
There is little information on the massive flying alien wedge designed capital ship that was seen in only three episodes of S:AAB
. Like most Chig combat space vehicles, these carriers operate in teams of three, and fire meter-sized DEW balls that can destroy an SA-43 fighter in one shot, and damage the armor of a JFK
-class carrier. Swarms of standard Chig attack jets our of the middle section of the wedges. There is little in the way of information on these craft, but they are the most 'alien' design of carrier, I think, in Sci-Fi.
The Terran BC-304 class Deep-Space Carrier from Stargate universe
The secert military government space program fielded two warships, the ugly Promethus
that carried a few F-302 fighters, then the much improved, and larger Daedalus
class deep-space carrier, or also called a 'battlecrusier' on the TV show. The Daedalus
class was made up of the five other ships that all had a similar mission: defense of Terra and her off-world installions. Adding to this mission of projecting power in space were two fighter hanger bays that allowed the Daedalus
class to carry 16 F-302 fighters. In the notes of the series on why the BC-304 class was a hybrid of a carrier and warship spoke to the how limited the US Air Force and SG command were on money to construct these monsters. If the USAF could depoly only one warship class, it would have to be both warship and aerocraft carrier.
The Garfish class Cruiser/Fold-Capable Transport from Robotech: The New Generation
The Robotech Expeditionary Force (REF) originally started off with one massive vessel, the SDF-3 Pioneer
that had seas of fighters mecha, and some smaller gunboats. That soon changed with the meeting of the Sentient Alliance, and the war against the Invid and rouge members of the REF. By the time of the massive operation to reclaim Terra from the Invid, the REF fleet had grown to hundreds of warships, one design that proved popular is the Garfish.
Serving has a transport/carrier/scout and armed with a rather powerful particle cannon. When a Garfish
vessel was serving has a carrier for Alpha/Beta
fighters, the dorsal cargo-pods were converted into a hanger bays that could store and serve fifteen fighters. Nearly every REF combat vessels, like most all in the ROBOTECH
universe, carried fighters into battle. I believe, that the vessel that Lt. Scott Bernard and Marlene Rush served on was a Garfish
class...but my ROBOTECH DVDs are on loan to a friend at the moment, so, I cannot check.
The EDF Lexington class Battle-Carrier from Space Cruiser Yamato/Starblazers
After the defeat of the Gamilon Empire by the
Starforce and the Yamato
, the Earth Defense Force committed themselves to massive rearming project with using the Yamato
has a template. In order to expedite the construction of the EDF navy, a base hull design for most of the combat vessels was used. The battleship Borodino
class was transformed in to the Lexington
class battle carrier class and had some carry-over design elements from its battleship roots, namely the armament of a type-15 Wave Motion Cannon and the shock cannons. Much like the Galactica
, the Lexington
class could engage in ship-to-ship combat, and launch cosmo-tigers
, but it did not either role well. This was an odd little vessel that was a stop-gap until the EDF could have fielded an full on proper space carrier. The Lexington
class carried limited fighters, a few dozen, and had a limited recovery
space being only 240+ meters in length. These carriers were at the battle of Saturn during the White Comet Invasion of 2201. This limited carrier class was replaced by the Shinano
attack carrier class.
The Super Dimensional Fortress Space Superior/Assault Carrier class warship from ROBOTECH
In the realm of soft science fiction, has with the Galactica
, the massive SDF series of warships from the ROBOTECH/Macross
universe are some of the most impressive and iconic space carriers. The original Tirolian design was to have a deep space war ship that could wage war against an enemy force lightyears from Tirol. This became the prefect long-range, low-profile ship fro Zor's mission. To be more tactically flexible, there were modular sections, that later helped the Terran refit SDF-1 transform. In the hands of the RDF, the SDF-1 became a massive mobile heavily transport vehicle, that carried all manner of Veritechs, mechs, pilots, soldiers, singers, and an entire city in its belly. Much like the concept of the battlestar,
the SDF-1 was a capital ship that could dole out the pain on all manner of tactical situations, from space to ground.
When the Pioneer mission was developed for peaceful contact between Terra and Tirol, the SDF-3, assembled at the orbital Robotech Factory, was skinned to appear like a Tirolian vessel. Despite the peace envoy mission, the REF flagship was heavily armed with all manner of ground and aero mecha, along with enough stores to last five years and ammunition for forty days of combat. With the SDF-3's role has a carrier, 1330 fighers/bombers/shuttles/tactical transports were stowed aboard with a similar number of pilots. For the recovery Terran society, the REF mission represented a massive commitment in lives, treasure, and arms. During the mission by the REF and Sentients Alliance to reclaim Terra from the Invid, several fleet command SDF were constructed, like the Liberator
The Peacekeeper Command Carrier class from Farscape
Some 50,000 occupied the Command Carriers
of the Peacekeepers in the Farscape
universe, and for most, it was their home from birth to death. Like any good space carrier, these vessels cast power of a region of space with their Marauder
class space fighters. While not equipped with an FTL drive, the Command Carriers
could accelerate to faster-than-light speeds. In the realm of the Farscape
unvierse, these were the most powerful warship and were seen through the run of the series.
The UNSC Infinity Explorer/Carrier Ship from HALO: 4
3.5 miles in length, 883 meters in width, home to 17,000 UNSC personnel along with the entire SPARTAN-IV program. Originally, the Infinity
was designed to be a mobile home for some of humanity if and when Terra fell to the Covenant. After the war was over, the UNSC used the Infinity
has an explorer ship that was on the forefront of the new post-war galaxy, and outfitted with Forerunner technology and weaponry. What makes this Leviathan a carrier? While it work on one level has a assault ship, transporting all manner of armored vehicles and tactical transport vehicles, it has a number of F-41 Broadsword
fighters...along with ten Charon
class light frigates as escorts! This is the only ship I've seen that can compare to the SDF-3 Pioneer
from ROBOTECH: The Sentients.
The Halcyon class Light Cruiser from the HALO Universe
Light...that is what the massive Halcyon
class 1,170 meter long cruiser is in the world of the UNSC Navy, light. This, like most of the UNSC combat naval vessels work a flexible tactical position. An Halcyon
class light cruiser is outfitted with a 'ship-killer' MAC cannon, making it a warship, marines and vehicles for a ground campaign, making it similar to an assault ship, and then a limited number of Longsword
class interceptors. This ability to carry fighters into combat makes it an aercraft carrier, all be it a small capability one, and is similar to nearly every one of the human and alien warships seen in the HALO
The Tohoku class Alliance Cruiser from Firefly
One of the interesting designs for a spaceborne vessel is the Alliance Cruiser from Firefly
TV series, that more resembles a floating cityscape than a power-projecting warship. The Tohoku
class cruiser is one of the largest military ships in the Alliance fleet, and is named for a region of Japan. It is presumed that this class of ship was developed has a response to the civil war with the Brown-Coats, to be a mobile space platform for projecting Alliance authority via smaller patrol ships in the backwater areas of the 'verse. Given the lack of FTL, and the long mission durations, some or all Alliance personal could bring their families along. This is the only larger Alliance spaceship seen in the Firefly
series, and it is not in the Serenity
The CAS class Assault Carrier and the COS class Super Carrier from the HALO Universe
One of the largest vessels in the Covenant Empire, coming in at 5,346 meters with a massive hanger bay. During the Elite/Terran alliance in HALO 3
, several UNSC frigates were transported inside in the belly of the beast to the Installation 00. The CAS
class is also known for being able to scar a world with it's twin energy projectors, and having the capability to blanket a human colonial world with smaller alien craft. During the open climactics of HALO: 4
, a CAS
assault carrier is seen hanging over a human metropolis, unleashing swarms of fighters and tranpsorts.
According to a few HALO
sites, the Covenant does have a larger vessel, the COS
class super-carrier that was seen in HALO: REACH
, when SPARTAN NOBLE Team members Jorge-052 and B-312 used a rigged-up Slipstream drive core and an alien warship in a Trojan Horse strategy to destroy this massive alien base-of-operations that was plaguing the planet Reach. Given the size of the CSO
super-carrier, it is believed that one ship's destruction cost the Covenant hundreds of thousands of lives.
The Assault Transporter/Carrier UCF-Roger Young from Starship Troopers Films
In the 1997 film, the primary warship of the United Citizens Federation is the 550 meter long FTL Corvette/Transport warship and this serves as the base platform for the bulk of the UCF fleet combat ship designs.
Due to the bugs' lack of combat ships, it seems that most of the Fleet is made up of transport/support ships to delivery and support Mobile Infantry planetary operations. Besides the hordes of MI troopers, the Corvette/Transports are also home to the Viking
drop-ship, and the F-76 Thunderbolt
TAC fighters starfighter/bomber, used in a CAS role for the MI. Most of the F-76 starfighters are carried open to space on the dorsal section of the Corvette, and uilitzy some sort of VTOL. This makes the Corvette ships in the 1997 SST
film all manner of ship classes in one packed package: aerocraft carrier, assault ship, transport vessel, resupply cargo vessel, and general warship.
Here is the Space Carrier article from the Quatum Rocketry Blog