Types of Military Spacecraft

From Acw


Fighting ships

There are many different designations of combat-ready spacecraft, but across all navies they roughly fall into the following categories, based on battle role, hull size, armament type and armour.


This category refers to all single-seat fleetships, regardless of their size. These operate in a number of distinct but complementary roles. The name of this class comes from the fact that these small scpae-fighters usually operate at the extreme edges of the fleet deployment, in a formation designed to maximise the use of Electronic Counter-Measures, break up the silhouettes of ships closer to the core of the formation, and provide a 'killing ground' within the formation for larger ships that punch through the screen.

Heavier screenships usually inhabit the inner edge of the screen, while the smallest and most nimble (but also least well-armed), which are usually called 'outriders', range as far out as twenty kilometers from the main fleet, as scouts. Outriders are usually equipped with long-range sensors, and occasionally carry a second crewman to operate them.

Screenship size: Screenships are typically no larger than 30 meters from nose to tail, and some are as small as 12m long. They are givena long, thin shape mainly because they are no more than a cockpit strapped to a group of engines. Their directional stays are short, mainly to lower their target signiature. The detriment to performance of this design is cancelled out by increasing the force of directional thrust. Most of the smallest craft are designed for atmospheric operations, with retractable stays and control surfaces.

Screenship Armament: usually comprised of rapid-firing kinetic projectile weapons for close-range strafing. The thin armour of all but the largest Battlecruisers means that these weapons have a high chance to penetrate, though a low chance of damaging essential systems. Larger screenships are equipped with heavier weapons to cause more critical system damage, usually guided missiles.

Screenship Armour: low to non-existant. Screenships rely on their speed to evade heavier ships' fire, and keeping their distance to evade the relatively short-range weapons of other screenships.

Screenship Crew: one pilot, and in some outriders, a sensor operator.


Destroyers are larger ships that sport a variety of weapons chosen from amongst the most destructive available to ship designers. They are designed to be extremely fast, and operate as the fleet's mobile firepower reserve. Their main defensive combat role is to tip the balance of local forces. On offense, they are used as the main strike force, punching through the Screen with ease and taking out the most dangerous enemy craft before the capital ships lumber into range. They are usually directed en masse at enemy capital ships, as they have a very high likelihood of causing critical damage. They are the aptly-named kings of modern space combat.

Destroyer size: Destroyers are between 60m and 150m long, and of particularly chunky construction. They are built up arond vey large engines, and most use the engine armour as a structural support. They are designed specifically for space combat, and usually have weapons systems on every plane, and as many as possible are turreted. They have long directional stays to provide maximum manueverability.

Destroyer Armament: Destroyers typically carry turreted, automaticaly-guided, rapid-fire, kinetic penetrators to be employed as both Anti-Screenship and limited offensive firepower. Most destroyers also then pack a variety of colorful and deadly weapon types, from heavy rapid-fire kinetic weapons firing explosive shells, to large-calibre cannon, to guided missile silos.

Destroyer Armour: Minimal anti-light-kinetic armour. The largest American destroyers are equipped with spaced armour, but the complexity makes this system uneconomical for such small ships. The vast majority of Destroyers employ a de-pressurised combat state instead of armour, to maximise deployment speed.

Destroyer Crew: Destroyers typicaly have two pilots, a navigator and a sensor operator (often combined into the one role), and at least two (but up to six) gunners. The largest destroyers have a captain who directs combat operations.


Gunships are like Destroyers writ large. The main difference is that they sacrifice speed and agility for armour protection. They are designed to support and defend the larger ships, and most carry extremely long-range primary weapons for offensive operations as well. In combat they operate strewn throughout the capital line.

Gunship size: Gunships are between 300m and 1600m long. They are usually built on a wide, squat chassis, though some (especially British gunships) maintain an almost naval layout. Their slow speed means that directional stays would prove too tempting targets for screenship pilots, so they are built as wide as possible to make their directional jets as useful as possible. Their weapons systems are typically turreted due to their slow turning rates, and usually occupy more than one plane of the ship. American gunships are larger than other nations, because the Americans shun the use of capital ships in the main, while German gunships are smaller and carry less weapons systems.

Gunship Armament: Gunships typically carry a primary armament of either VERY heavy guided missiles, a fixed-forward mass driver, or an array of very heavy (300-600mm) guns in turrets. Their secondary armament is some slightly smalle missiles or 150-300mm turreted guns. They usually carry active defence turrets as well.

Gunship Armour: Gunships are incredibly heavily armoured, with conventional armour plate sufficient to stop most low-calibre kinetic penetrators. All but the oldest Gunships are equipped with traditional spaced armour, and most American gunships have pressurised spaced armour too. Gunships fight pressurised, as the crew compartments are a much smaller percentage of the ship's mass than critical systems, so there are few benefits to fighting depressurised when almost the whole ship must be armoured anyway. Due to the high ditances gunships maintain from other friendly craft while in battle, the largest carry reactive armour as well. This is often an added defence against screencraft, as to get close enough to strafe the very well-armoured systems on a gunship is to risk beign caught in the shrapnel from other hits.

Gunship Crew: Gunship crew number from 60 to three hundred, and are split into bridge crew (pilots, navigators, communications, sensors and captain), engineering crew (who work in the reactors and maintain the ship in flight), weapons (a different crew for each system) and support (a small crew including doctors, paramedics, chaplains and cooks).

Capital Ships

Undoubtedly the most formidable ships in existence, less because of their offensive capability as it is due to their incredible area denial. They mount the longest-ranged, most high-energy and deadliest weapons and are the most difficult to destroy. The largest of them operate as small-capacity support vessels, have a fleet of screencraft and destroyers in their docking bays and usually some gunship daughter ships, and are entirely self-sufficient for long periods of time. Once in-system they and their attendant ships (collectively caled a 'task force') can operate independant of the coreship. They come in a range of sizes, from Light Cruisers, which operate in squadrons, to Battlecruisers, which operate on their own and can blockade entire planets.

Caopital Ship Size: Capital ships are between 4500m and 26000m long. They are built as a collection of modules, and then assembled along a frame. Typically they are thus far too large for conventional directional thrusters, and use auxiliary engines mounted perpendicularly to the main engines to turn. This makes them incredibly slow to turn, though they are capable of surprising forward velocity when given time to run up to full speed.

Capital Ship Armament: Capital Ships mount comparatively few weapons for their size, but the ones they do mount are powerful to a terrifying degree. Most Battlecruisers carry at least one energy weapon (in direct violation of the Treaty of Io), a number of missile silos, multiple turreted mass drivers, and multiple calibres (300-1200mm) of turreted heavy gun. Wjhile Cruisers do, Battlecruisers do not usually have many point defence weapons, relying on their screenships, destroyers and gunships to put out enough fire. They do however have the heaviest active anti-missile defences of all ship classes.

Capital Ship Armour: Capital Ship armour is thick, all-encompassing and multi-layered. Each component gets its own armour, and the entire ship skin is usually covered in both inert, reactive AND fully pressurised spaced armour. The crew compartments are always pressurised, and a network of secondary armour skins riddle all ship components, with bulkheads designed to seal the ship against decompression.

Capital Ship Crew: Battlecruiser crews are massive, like the ships themselves, in some cases as large as 12000 men. Even the smallest and most heavily automated cruisers still have 3000-man crews.

Daughter/Son Ships: The largest Battlecruisers usually have mounting points to which gunships attach while in transit through a Krasnikov Tunnel, or at cruising speed. Since Battlecruisers can operate without refueling for extended periods, it makes more sens to save the smaller ships' fuel reserves for battle. They also have docking and transport bays in which are housed their Screenship and Gunship squadrons.


Combat Troop Insertion Ships ('CTIS' or 'Dropships')

Dropship size: Dropship Armament: Dropship Armour: Dropship Crew:

Support ships

Military Coreships

Support Cruisers


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