- Right Engine Rating (14,000)
- Center Engine Rating (14,000)
- Left Engine Rating (14,000)
- Type (Location)
- 50 15/10 (F)
- 50 15/10 (R)
- 50 15/10 (L)
- 50 15/10 (R)
- 50 15/10 (L)
- 50 15/10 (A)
- Type B Missile System (1 Shot at 50 Points)
- 50 15/10 (F)
Fighters: 144 at 300 tons
Small Craft: 4 at 1,000 tons
Cargo: 5,000 tons
Extras: Thrust Option
The Illustrious Class is the smallest class of carriers in the Commonwealth Navy. First constructed in 6803, the Illustrious was designed by The Silver Bullets, an independent firm, and built by Pagham Ltd. The class was designed to be the smallest viable carrier that could be produced. With a thrust that few other ships can match and the ability to deliver 24 squadrons into battle, the Illustrious Class seemed successful as a design for combat. Its construction and maintenance costs also endeared it to the government officials who controlled military funding.
When the ship was first commissioned, some Commonwealth Royal Navy commanders expressed strong objections to the small vessel. They argued that the Navy could purchase one larger County Class carrier, able to carry more fighters than two Illustrious vessels, for the same total cost. They also complained that the Illustrious was poorly armed. The laser bays were not well-suited for attacks on enemy craft, nor were the anti-fighter/ anti-missile systems much better at engaging their targets. The missile armament, capable of only one salvo, was barely worth the cost to keep the weapons operational. A single salvo might vaguely annoy a destroyer-sized target, but was little use against anything larger. The armor and shielding are also weak for a ship of its size, providing little or no protection. Even the speed, the class's strong point, came under fire. What good was it to arrive speedily at the battle scene if the ship could barely put up a fight once it got there? The Illustrious carries the 144 fighters standard for most battleships. Even most destroyer task forces carry as many fighters as does the Illustrious.
The Illustrious seems to push the limits of a warship, but appearances are deceiving. An external view shows no fewer than six major gun bays, an extensive missile system, and vast anti-fighter/anti-missile defenses. In reality, those six "major" gun bays consist of nothing more than 50-gun 15/10 lasers, two to each side, and one front and aft. Their range is only 450 kilometers, and they can inflict only minute amounts of damage. The missile system is capable of only one salvo. The "vast" anti-fighter/anti-missile systems are nearly useless, as the main fire control computers cannot track enough targets to be worthwhile. The fighter complement of this carrier can hardly make up for all of its shortcomings.
In 6808, the Commonwealth Royal Navy received its first major shipment of Illustrious Class carriers. At first, most of these "baby" carriers were assigned to patrol rear areas or to shuttle fighters to planetary garrisons. Illustrious crews began to despise the class. In order to pack all the needed equipment into such a small hull, the designers reduced the crew quarters and recreation areas to even less than a bare minimum. Depending on how much extra materiel and provisions were on board, some crewmembers had to go without bunks. Further, the mess facilities could seat only about a fifth of the crew at one time. Instead of the usual nine-meal rotation (three each of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or one for each of the three watches), there was a 15-meal rotation (three meals times five sittings). If that were not enough, many of the ships had problems with leaky plumbing, creating treacherous areas.
For three years, Illustrious crews put up with this misery. In 6811, Grand Marshal Anton Valkar, a member of the Commonwealth High Command, had just received another shipment of the "useless" Illustrious class, and was mulling over where to assign them. Reflecting on the design's inappropriateness for fleet actions, he realized that with its high acceleration, the Illustrious might be ideal for hit-and-run raids against lightly defended targets. After considering this suggestion, the senior High Command officers ordered several trial strikes to determine the plan's feasibility. The strikes were a great success, with the Illustrious able to destroy multiple TOG targets while losing very few Commonwealth fighters. In further strike actions, the Illustrious continued to perform with equal success. Crews of the class now began to be more good-natured about the class's overcrowded conditions and leaky plumbing because they could respect the Illustrious's ability to strike back at the tyranny of the Terran Overlord Government.
Illustrious Class carriers are produced in large numbers, as they show up in almost every embattled region of the Commonwealth. Many are deployed along the TOG-Commonwealth border, ferrying fighters to and from planets or bases. Even more are assigned to conduct deep-penetration raids into the heart of TOG.