Their size varies between 400 and 600 meters and they are the biggest ships to date in Gemini. The dreadnought class is the predominant type of battleship in our time. The class has been named after the EE Dreadnought (EE stands for Earth Empire), the first battleship of the kind. It was launched just three years after the foundation of the Earth Empire in 2185 and similar battleships built subsequently were referred to as “dreadnoughts” or “biggies”. Earlier battleships became to known as “pre-dreadnoughts “ or “kittens” as the marines (and often officers on dreadnoughts) call them. Successive designs increased rapidly in armour and armament, size and propulsion and within just ten years the new dreadnoughts far outclassed the original EE Dreadnought herself and were/are referred to as super-dreadnoughts. These days governments and major houses all have their own unique designs thanks to mainly to the Croatian Four (see later).
Dreadnoughts revolutionized battleship building with the application of three major points:
1. All-big-gun design
2. New tau power core and propulsion
3. Size and logistic changes
The all-big-gun idea differs from the usual doctrine in that the new battleship design is built around supporting unified, same calibre and same effective firing range turrets instead of the erratic “build what you like and equip what you find” military practice to date. Equipping same calibre turrets make targeting predictions easier and with the applications of better logistic and materials, the new dreadnought design could become bigger, stronger and required less crew compliment.
While the pre-dreadnought battleships were between 280-400 meters in length, the dreadnoughts varied between 400 and 600 meters. The new tau particle power plants and the relating propulsion system gave the new frame hitherto unseen agility: the dreadnoughts – while having a mass and length 2/3 more of a usual battleship – were performing just as same as previous battleships.
Changes in logistics were mainly possible to a revolutionary new approach devised first by Sir M. A. Valdyr called Avatar Harvesting. This mainly meant using the implant technique (designed by Sir M. A. Valdyr) on every member of a warship’s crew for years it was possible to record every stage of every maintenance work required during the run of a mission and an effective database and workflow process could be created. Analyzing and then implementing the various work processes, finding the crucial points and applying automatic mechanisms more effectively were possible therefore; meaning the crew compliment could have been halved and still keeping an effective function during missions.
The all-big-gun design was not a new conception to the Empire: the brilliant Mihokovic scientist brothers and Sir O. Tomić - commonly referred to as the “Croatian Four ” – have submitted a paper study to the Earth Alliance (before the foundation of Earth Empire) called Historic Warship Building and Relations to Our Time five years prior the ensuing battleship building race. Their proposal was to revise the historical, well-tried-out doctrines of using same size turrets on superstructure built specifically to support them. They speculated on the stages of warship design and building, and found that an arms race was imminent. They have advised the strategic command of Earth Alliance to skip planning and building battleships and go immediately for the all-big-gun dreadnought design, also proposed a new concept called Titan-class. The Strategum have not listened – mainly because of commercial ties to main government related ship building companies – and went on to keep building battleships of various sizes and designs.
The Croatian Four decided to develop the plans of the dreadnought and titan classes themselves and after five years of hard work they presented a complete set of blueprint and feasibility case study for the two classes to the newly formed Earth Empire. Still young and chaotic, the Earth Empire refused the plans, after which the Croatian Four decided to share their work with the public, making their plans available to everyone. This step triggered a new wave of arms race: suddenly the Colonies became aware how far they were outclassed by the new battleship designs (even if they were rejected by the Empire, the Colonies still assumed they will be acted upon) so they started to design and build their own dreadnoughts. This in turn forced the Earth Empire to start building the class as well, and the Emperor declared the Croatian Four traitors and sentenced them for life aboard the infamous prison cruiser Dark Matter (please follow the page Croatian Four for more detail).
The designers of dreadnoughts sought to provide more armour, armaments, power, speed and manoeuvrability than their peers and as much as possible of a realistic size and cost. Besides the “all-big-gun” armament hallmark of the dreadnoughts they also had very thick armour throughout the hull and all decks were sacrificed to provide a military edge and were crammed with as much support machinery as possible. This tended to increase building and maintenance costs exponentially while size only doubled so there were attempts to control size in a treaty proposed by the Empire. The Colonies thought the Empire cannot keep up with the race so they kept building dreadnoughts and increasing their size, making the Empire’s attempt to control the war irrelevant.
The first dreadnoughts mounted a uniform main battery of turrets in heavy calibers, usually a typical number of 14-16 plasma guns, but their number varied between designs. EE Dreadnought herself mounted 20 of the first generation plasma guns that later became to be known as the “Isis”. The high number of plasma guns soon turned out to be a design flaw, as it put too much strain on the superstructure, so later dreadnoughts tended to mount about 60% of the original amount.
Dreadnoughts also carry heavy weapons like missiles and shockwave projectors. In theory fleets of dreadnoughts equipped with such weapons could release a devastating volley of projectiles, but in practice this tactic rarely can be seen because of the high chance friendly fire.
Position of main armamentEdit
The effectiveness of the guns on any space faring war vessel depends greatly on the layout of the turrets – A.K.A. firing arcs. EE Dreadnought carried her 20 guns in ten twin-barrel turrets: three forward, three aft (one of which was located near amidships on the centreline both front and aft, forming a triangle) and two on both sides next to the superstructure. This meant that the ship could fire 14 guns forward, 14 guns backward and 16 broadside. The early Isis prototype required enormous amount of energy to fire and the experimental design, with its high projectile recoil put great stress on the ship’s frame and eventually was not considered as a success.
Later dreadnoughts – while lowering the number of turrets, improved on the strength of the frame and changed the position of the turrets, creating a well balanced ship that mounted 14-16 guns in a maximum number of four positions: one forward, one aft and one on both sides.
There is an increasing demand within some factions to radically redesign the current turret layout: evaluation of combat performance shows that in many situations a dreadnought could benefit more from having 8-10 turret position mounts on the expense of loosing entirely its heavy weapon mounts. Latest developments in ship building technique, materials and especially in power generation/feed could lead to the possibility of seeing dreadnoughts equipped with high number of secondary turrets and no missiles in the near future.
Dreadnought building by factionsEdit
The six different types of dreadnoughts currently encountered in Gemini space can be considered as super-dreadnoughts. They far outclass the original EE Dreadnought both in terms of firepower and armour, speed, size and manoeuvrability. There are however several ongoing projects that attempt to increase even more on size, offensive and defensive capabilities. Intelligence reports made it clear lately, that smaller factions are working on to radically redesign their warships – improving on mainly turret layout and firing arcs, which could trigger a next wave of arms race in the coming months.
At the moment information about titans is highly classified and not accessible to the general public. Several unreliable sources suggest however, that all the major factions are working on their own design, for the fear of the Empire's own Leviathan class titans, but information on these rumors cannot be verified.
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