"All ships, breach the gates!"
-General Walter von Schenkopp
The Shiva-class heavy assault battleship was a class of capital ship in the service of the Free Planets Defense Force. The ships were originally designed for service in the Star Fleet of the old Free Planets Alliance as a heavy combat ship and was adapted for service in the New Free Planets Alliance Star Fleet in the same role. By design, although smaller than the main line Rio Grande-class, the Shiva-class incorprated heavy medium-range firepower and a large hangar capacity, making her an important contributor to firefights.
As a result of the age of the design, the Shiva-class has been through seven major generations of production. A rarity in the old Free Planets Alliance Star Fleet, the class was much more common in the New Free Planets Alliance Star Fleet due to a redesign to improve production efficiency. The class has served in every major conflict since the Great War, and was a common sight in the Star Fleet. In late 2011 CE, however, the class was slated for decommissioning, due to an increased emphasis on long-range engagements and a transfer of fighter-carrying duties to carriers.
The Shiva-class battleship was created by the old Free Planets Alliance in 780 UC as a test platform for the development of massed fighter tactics. An Ajax-class battleship hull was converted with the addition of fighter-handling cranes and other equipment to support a complement of 50 fighters. After more than a year of testing, results were good, and this encouraged the Alliance to develop larger battleship-sized carriers, including the Lazarus-class that later served during the war, with much greater capacities.
Shiva in the meantime was assigned as a training carrier to the Heinessen Technical School, being a one-off ship that would have less efficient on the frontlines than either a dedicated mass-production battleship or carrier. She served in this capacity for more than 15 years, until the disastrous Battle of Amlitzer forced the Alliance to call up all reserve and training warships for active service.
Shiva was then assigned to the Iserlohn Garrison Fleet, serving under Yang Wen-li through the Battle of Vermillion, following which she was declared lost on the official register but secretly dispatched under the command of Admiral Merkatz to lead a growing rebellion. She served as the flagship of the Merkatz Squadron until the rescue of Admiral Yang, whereupon she was assigned to the command of Admiral Fischer in the El-Facil Revolutionary Reserve Force.
Under this flag, she was sunk in the Battle of the Corridor on May 14, 800 UC, by Imperial Admiral Bittenfeld's Black Lancers. All hands, including Admiral Fischer, were lost, a devastating blow to the EFRRF. The design was not lost, and despite its hasty nature, was considered for reconstruction by the later New Free Planets Alliance Star Fleet.
Like all ships designed for service during the Great War for the Alliance Star Fleet, the Shiva-class was designed for efficiency above all. The design is highly compartmentalized, and divided into the standard three major sections. Relative to the older Rio Grande-class battleship, the Shiva-class incorporates some newer technology, but in the interests of time and resources, as many components as possible were kept standardized.
Design changes relative to previous classes include the signature square front covered in neutron cannon apertures, and the large number of fighter-recovery cranes dotting the side of the ship. Each was originally capable of carrying up to three fighters, for a maximum of 50. Later designs replaced these cranes with communications antennae, while fighter storage was moved to internal bays.
Undergoing several major redesigns, by the launch of the Flight VII model, only the broad design characteristics and spaceframe remain unchanged. Compared to the original design, the entire powerplant has been replaced, and crew quarters removed from the hull and placed in posited subspace. In this space, additional weapons were added, as well as the power systems to support them, and new secondary subsystems to maintain compatibility with other new-model ships. Compared with the Flight VI design, the most notable change in the Flight VII design is the introduction of the module slots along the outer hull, designed to improve firepower in normal conditions but also allow the equipment of dedicated scientific equipment if desired. Minor changes include a slightly redesigned power distribution system to improve efficiency, and the replacement of all computerized components with new models.
The design of the Shiva-class was arranged around its original complement of neutron cannons, an unusually heavy battery of 80 arrayed in four batteries forward. Notably, this battery was originally composed of cruiser-grade cannons, giving a powerful mid-range punch, designed to prevent warships from striking normally vulnerable carriers. With cannon standardization in the New Free Planets Alliance, these guns were later replaced with more powerful 30 cm versions, increasing range and firepower.
However, modifications over time have altered the basic armament. Initially, a hyper-impulse cannon was mounted along the ship's spine, replacing the four center heavy neutron cannons but improving firepower overall. This weapon proved inefficient relative to the hadron cannon tested in the Triglav-class, and as a result was discontinued after the Flight IV model and replaced with the hadron cannon. Flight V saw the addition of the Kusanagi laser system to provide complete heavy weapons coverage around the ship. Sixteen long-range railguns round out the primary battery.
Sledgehammer missiles and a new battery of more compact but shorter-ranged concussion missiles supplement the primary armament, firing from the port and starboard sides of the ship aft of the main battery. A number of ion cannons were added along the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the engineering section to provide flexible 'non-lethal' firepower against targets designated for capture rather than destruction. CIWS platforms and fighter defenses were also improved to give complete coverage around the ship.
The major addition in Flight VII to the armament is the creation of the module system, creating space for four large and six smaller modules along the outer hull of the ship. Although designed to accept modules for a variety of purposes and uses, the standard modules equipped during normal operations are designed to improve weapon diversity and make use of a number of unique weapons manufactured by Space Lord Industries .