The Luna class cruisers a class of six ships designed as dedicated escort/area defence vessels in response to Aellr missile and fighter developments in the 2050s.
Since the end of the Contact War there has been an ongoing debate regarding the role and usefulness of fighters in deep space operations. While there are those who have stated publicly that fighters are only good for fighting other fighters, Battle Fleet’s position has been existence of Aellr carriers and fighters is enough reason for them to be retained as a deep space component of the fleet.
While the development of fighter jump drives allowed carriers to launch from stand off range the Fleet wargames of 2052 indicated that while destroyers and gun cruisers were capable of defending against enemy starships, they proved less capable against enemy fighters. Only point defence guns were effective against such small targets and these weapon lacked sufficient in range for one starship to cover another. It was clear that a weapon system was needed that could effectively engage small targets at stand off range.
While Battle Fleet has generally favored multi-role warships it quickly became clear that a specialist design was required. To lay down the necessary level of fire, a significant number of the newly developed firing flakguns would have to be mounted. If the vessel size was to be kept with reason, this meant the class would need to be be dedicated escort ships. Since it was decided that two would be required for each of fleet’s carriers is was clear the vessel need to be of modest dimensions if eight (dropped to six with the cancellation of the third Yorktown class carrier) were to be afforded.
The biggest design challenge of of the Luna Class was to take the form of magazine space. Early in the project it had been decided that weight of fire would be more important than ammunition duration. With a total of sixteen quad flak gun mounts planned it was clear than in an extended encounter, ammunition would quickly become an issue. The only solution to this would be to either enlarge the hull or remove other systems. It was suggested that no plasma should be mounted, making the class pure flak ships. This was seen as a step too far – to produce a cruiser incapable of engaging other starships and four medium plasma cannons were seen sufficient to stand off enemy destroyers.
At the same time the designers were keen to try out a number of new ideas. The last of the Myth Class Cruisers were being completed and the Statesman Class were in the preliminary design stages, so the Fleet looked upon the smaller Luna’s as an opportunity to test these. The stepped hull, angled broadside passive arrays and radiator paneled embedded in the wings were all trialled, with mixed levels of success. The effects of this experience can be seen the Statesman Class Heavy Cruisers.
The level of protection is relatively limited, with armour thicknesses and coverage inferior to even that of the River Class. Given that their intended role does not include battle line duties this was seen as acceptable. With lighter armour a lighter structure could be used and engines better suited to extended use over high end output still used and allowed for performance that match any human cruiser.
The Luna Class entered service in 2059 and have seen service principally in the Second and Third Fleets, as well as escort missions to and from the colonies. While the class is expected to have a thirty year lifespan, a number of problems have emerged. The lightweight structure has experienced cracking and routine maintenance cycle have included reinforcement.
Readers might have guessed that in form and concept the Luna Class were heavily inspired by the Dido and Atlanta Class AA cruisers of World War Two . With multiple gun batteries the trick with this one was making sure turrets didn’t get in each others way.
Additional: I re-edited the images in December, I was never really happy with the wings so I decided to have another go.
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