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The Apocalypse-class Battleship is a rare but extremely powerful Battleship currently in service to the Imperial Navy. The Apocalypse-class is no longer produced at Adeptus Mechanicus Forge World shipyards due to the aging design and lost technical specifications over the millennia. The vessels now in service with the Imperial Navy have either been in service since they were built or were recovered as Space Hulks and retrofitted back into working order so as to continue the fight for the Imperium.
Queen of the Void
The Apocalypse-class is a vessel worthy of such a title. Carrying enough firepower to rival that of a Retribution-class Battleship, it is a vessel much sought after throughout all of the Segmentum battlefleets, particulary those that face the fiercest of space combat, and is also much feared by the Imperium's enemies. The firepower it brings to battle is one for any Fleet Admiral to relish, but the technology is so ancient that few can operate it and fewer still can maintain it. These shortcomings mean that because of the lack of knowledge and technology to replicate these warships, the Apocaplyse-class is a precious gem of the Imperial Navy and the loss of any one of them is keenly felt throughout the Navy and also by the Adeptus Mechanicus -- who revere the Battleship's ancient technology as especially sacred.
However, the sacrifice of these vessels is rare and so the battle records of the Apocalypse become legendary with vessels like His Will and Triumph carving out impressive war records that are remembered and spoken about across the Imperium of Man in countless campaigns from one end of the galaxy to the other. However, despite Imperial admirals and captains alike treasuring these relics and keeping them in fighting condition, their numbers continue to dwindle. Though most Segmentum battlefleets have several examples of the Apocalypse-class worthy of combat, they cannot be replaced.
The Apocalypse-class is a truly ancient class of human spacefaring vessel which predates the more common Retribution-class Battleship by a millennia. This dates the design to around the 30th Millennium, most likely during the early days of the Emperor's Great Crusade. The arcane technologies used in its construction have been all but lost in the millennia since they were first introduced. Nevertheless, the technology remains as does the ship class itself, but the Apocalypse-class is far too valuable and too complex to simply reverse-engineer into a new vessel. Of the little knowledge concerning the vessel that has been gained by the Tech-priests, the ability to operate it efficiently is the most important and thus it is able to still participate in the defence of Mankind. But the exact details of its construction are still unknown. Apart from the bare basics or the obvious, the Apocalypse-class is still a mystery to the Imperial Navy and the Adeptus Mechanicus. At just under 4 kilometers in length and just under 2 kilometers in breadth at its widest point, the Apocalypse is a colossal starship with only Emperor and Retribution-class Battleships besting it in size. It is also shorter in height than its fellow Battleship classes. The prowess of this vessel visibly emulates but a fraction of the power of the Emperor-class. Its looks and overall design do much to show enemy shipping just what Imperial firepower means.
The most notable part of the Apocalypse-class is the prow. Its distinctive armoured "Aquila" prow gleams white with adamantium armour designed to protect the ship when ramming. However, it also houses and protects the delicate and formidable Nova Cannon bombardment weapon. Unlike the Emperor and Retribution-class Battleships, the Apocalypse-class does not have a huge golden monument relating to the Imperium atop its bridge (the Emperor-class has a cloaked angel with a sword and shield and the Retribution-class has an Imperial Aquila). It, and along with its sister class the Oberon, do not have this unique feature. It is not known why Apocalypse or Oberon-class Battleships are built without such ornaments but in keeping with tradition they continue to operate without them unless used as a way of decorating the vessel. Finally, the Emperor and Retribution-classes both have long fins to the port and starboard sides of the main engines sitting vertically with some additional thrusters built into them with a third vertical fin sitting in the middle between the engines. However this is not the case with the Apocalypse-class. It does have the central vertical fin between the engines but the side tail fins are horizontal instead of vertical with no built-in thrusters. Why this is the case is not known, but the ship is still as sluggish as its fellow Battleships so the fins play no role in enhancing maneuverability. It may have to do with the vessel's use as a Lance firing platform and thus improved stability while moving and turning. However no one can be sure and there is no detailed record of the Apocalypse-class Battleship's construction or design to cross reference all the theories.
The armament is the most impressive aspect of this class of Battleship. Banks upon banks of Lance batteries provide the Battleship, and the Imperial fleet with which it is present, a stable, accurate and monumentally lethal firing platform that can accuratley ‘snipe’ enemy vessels from a distance. The lance batteries are all mounted along the broadsides of the Apocalypse and have an impressive range. They can bring huge amounts of phased energy to bear on enemy targets. Such weapons effortlessly cleave apart enemy escort vessels and can cripple or destroy enemy capital ships with just a single broadside. But what makes these weapons even more dangerous is the Apocalypse-class’ advanced tracking and firing sensors and the ability to engineer the power relays inside the ship to funnel more energy to the Lances. This vastly increases the Lances' range, so much so that the process effectively doubles the range of the Lance batteries. However the ship and its internal workings are very delicate and when the array conduits of the Lances are reengineered in this way, it places unimaginable stress on the load-bearing capabilities of these relays.
The conduits powering the Lances and other sectors of the ship have become extremely unreliable over the millennia and in order to prevent a complete loss of power to the weapons, the power relays start to drain the ship of power and have to tap into the vessel's main reactors to keep everything operating. This makes an already sluggish Battleship more ponderous, giving it even less chance of changing course -- which is dangerous when in battle. The thrusters become critically damaged and have to be repaired. Thus, the Apocalypse-class Battleships usually keep their Lance batteries firing at a range that does not damage the ship or its fighting ability. The Apocalypse-class also has a very long range and quite formidable weapons battery running along the dorsal "spine" of the ship. This is a common sight on many Imperial capital ships but makes this class much more flexible with multiple firing arcs, increased weapons range and the ability to engage smaller and weaker targets with ordinary weaponry without wasting powerful Lance blasts better suited for heavier targets.
The Battleship is also home to a Nova Cannon. More commonly found on Mars-class Battlecruisers, the Nova Cannon fits perfectly in with the Apocalypse’s role as a bombardment Battleship. The cannon is huge and mounted on the prow of the vessel so that the engine can better brace the ship against the recoil when it fires. When fired, a projectile is flung by a potent mass accelerator towards the target at nearly the speed of light and explodes at a distance set by the tactical officer on board the battleship before it was fired, causing destruction in the surrounding area of space capable of destroying almost all escorts and crippling enemy Cruisers and Battleships alike. Turrets are the final weapon mounted on the Apocalypse-class worthy of mention. They are used as a final defence against enemy fighters and torpedoes and the starship houses four turrets that are mounted on the "wings" of the Battleship.
Void Shields on Imperial vessels (and enemy vessels for that matter), are larger and more powerful versions than those found on Titans and other war machines. A Void Shield is created by a single generator that creates a sphere of gravitic energy around the starship that protects it from direct and indirect enemy fire. It prevents damage from energy weapons and prevents actual critical structural damage occurring to the ship. Any vessel large enough to be built with a shield generator thus can emit Void Shields. But energy weapons overload the generators, so once fire has been absorbed, the void shield collapses. The shield regenerates several minutes later, assuming the ship is not attacked again and that subsequent attacks do not damage the shield generator. Ordnance like torpedoes and the missiles carried by fighters/bombers are not affected by the effects of shields and can do direct damage to the ship unless engaged by its turrets. The Apocalypse-class has four shield generators and thus has four Void Shields.
The Apocalypse-class Battleship has sub-light engines for space travel and Warp-Drive engines for entering the Immaterium for faster than light travel. The ship also has a handful of trained psychic Navigators to guide the ship through both the material realm and in the hazardous alternate dimension of the Warp using the blinding psychic light of the Astronomican on Terra as a reference point to travel vast distances across space. All Imperial vessels capable of space travel are equipped with plasma drives. The engine rooms of Imperial vessels are filled with huge and very delicate plasma coils which convert energy and fuel into plasma which is then funnelled through the engine drives and out of the back of the warship to propel it forward. However, the plasma coils are very susceptible to damage and if a ship is damaged enough for weapons fire to breach the coils, they overload and blazing white plasma envelopes the vessel before it explodes. The Apocalypse-class also has a complex and incredibly dangerous Warp drive that allows the vessel to open a portal into the Warp and enter it to travel unimaginable distances. This is not without risk, because entering the Warp leaves the crew at the mercy of the Navigator to guide them to safety through the perils of the Warp. Warp shields protect the starship from attacks by creatures in the Immaterium. The engine is surrounded by physical shielding and religious runes of protection, but in the unlikely event that the engine is hit by weapons fire while in operation it implodes in a colossal fireball even as a new Warp Storm is born that sucks all of the surrounding shipping within a certain range into the Immaterium.
Notable Apocalypse-class Battleships
- Arica Dominus - The Arica Dominus was, and perhaps still is, a relic ship of the Imperial Navy with strong ties to the former Orpheus Sector. The flagship of Lord Tempestus Hal Orpheus - direct descendant of the famed Rogue Trader Lady Arica Orpheus -- this venerable Apocalypse-class Battleship was at the forefront of the Dark Marches Crusade of M36 that would eventually give birth to the Orpheus Sector. Following its formal ratifications by the authorities of Terra, the Arica Dominus would become the flagship of Battlefleet Orpheus, a position it would hold until 0266999.M41 and the dissolution of Battlefleet Orpheus and Orpheus Sector in the wake of the Orphean War. Heavily damaged by Necron Dirge-class Raiders, it is unclear if the Arica Dominus was salvaged after the hard-fought Battle of Amarah Prime or was abandonned.
- Duke Helbrecht - The Duke Helbrecht is an Apocalypse-class Battleship that was the first Imperial warship to respond when the Carnage-class Cruiser Anarchic Vendetta turned to Chaos and broke from its dock, then attacked Station 26/A following a mutiny. The Duke Helbrecht drove off the smaller vessel, but not before the station had suffered heavy damage.
- Farsider - The Farsider was an Apocalypse-class Battleship which found its way into the service of the infamous Chaos Lord Huron Blackheart, the Tyrant of Badab. Blackheart gifted the vessel to Warsmith Honsou of the Iron Warriors, following his victory as the Champion of the annual Skull Harvest, and just before Honsour's Invasion of Ultramar in 854.999.M41.
- Godefroy Magnificat - Godefroy Magnificat was an Apocalypse-class Battleship that served during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. It was destroyed in 760.M41.
- His Will - His Will was an Apocalypse-class Battleship that served as Admiral Parol's flagship during the Third War for Armageddon. As a flagship, it was at the forefront of most of the fleet actions fought throughout the Armageddon System. It was ultimately lost with all hands when it was dragged into the Warp shortly after desperately ramming and boarding an Ork Space Hulk that had been teleporting reinforcements to the surface of the Hive World Armageddon.
- Triumph- The Triumph was an Apocalypse-class Battleship that fought in the Third Armageddon War. Originally assigned to Battlefleet Armageddon in 951.M41, the Triumph served as the flagship of the Imperial defense fleet under the command of Captain Honyaeger. It would amass an impressive record against the pirates and raiders that plagued the Armageddon Sector during that time.
Application in the Imperial Fleet
The Apocalypse-class Battleship has been best employed in the Imperial Navy when fighting from afar - a tactic also used in the tabletop game. The Battleship’s Lance batteries can make short work of most vessels known to the Imperium, especially Escorts, Light Cruisers and some types of Cruiser. If no other real threat presents itself to the Apocalypse-class, then it is best used for directly engaging enemy capital ships like battleships, battlecruisers or high concentrations of cruisers at varying ranges. The lances can be configured to fire at long ranges but this damages the ship’s engines but it does allow the vessel to ‘snipe’ at targets when locked on. However if and when the situation arises, it is then prudent for the Apocalypse to close the distance to target considerably to use the lance batteries at a closer and more deadly range to prevent the energy of the lance shot dissipating. Closing to close however is not without risk as this particular battleship is not too unlike the Emperor-class which relies heavily on escorts/fighter-bombers to provide protection, while the Retribution-class Battleship can hold its own against most threats with sustained firepower from its weapons batteries. The Apocalypse-class requires escorts to make sure the vessel is not out-flanked and out manoeuvred by smaller enemy ships that can expose the vulnerable rear of the battleship and exploit the fact that its weapons, while plentiful, do not number enough in firepower to sufficiently combat all threats at close range.
The Third War for Armageddon
The second Ork invasion of the Hive World of Armageddon and the surrounding star systems in the Segmentum Solar in 998.M41 that unleashed the Third War for Armageddon were the scenes of many titanic space battles between the forces of the Imperium and the Ork WAAAGH! of Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka. The initial assault on Armageddon was made by a small vanguard of Ork Kroozers, Escorts and a handful of the very rare Ork Battleships. Battlefleet Armageddon responded in force with the Apocalypse-class Battleships His Will and Triumph acting as the Imperial fleet's flagships. These vessels lead an ultimately successful defence against the crude Ork vessels. Orbital weapons platforms and ground-based defence installations aided the effort. By the end of the conflict, the Imperium had destroyed fourteen Ork starships, a further eight probables with only moderate losses to Battlefleet Armageddon. Eventually the Imperial fleet was battered back on several occasions throughout the system by the sheer number of Greenskin ships, but both His Will and Triumph ultimately survived the conflict.
- Battlefleet Gothic Magazine 14, "Apocalypse-class Battleship," pg. 13
- Battlefleet Gothic - To Cleanse the Stars: Vessels of the Imperium, p. 12
- The Sabbat Worlds Crusade (Background Book)
- Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Chapter's Due (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus, pg. 18, 19, 51, 56
- Battlefleet Gothic Resources: Armada Appendices
- Battlefleet Gothic Resources: Ships of the Gothic Sector