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The Despoiler-class Battleship is a formidable Battleship design originally developed by the shipbuilders of the Battlefleet Tempestus in the mid-36th Millennium. There were initially plans to construct fifteen of these Battleships, but only three were completed at the time. Over the centuries, these first three Despoilers went missing and later reappeared in the Chaos Fleets of Abaddon the Despoiler.
The Despoiler-class Battleship was originally developed during mid-36th Millennium during a time when Battlefleet Tempestus was pervaded by the belief that Attack Craft were the ultimate naval weapon. As such, the Despoiler-class is primarily an Attack Carrier based around a very large number of launch bays, which are supported in their mission by an array of long-range Lances and even longer-ranged weapons batteries. However, the program ended after the construction of just three Despoiler-class vessels when it was decisively shown that Attack Craft did not render the "traditional" Battleship obsolete. Ultimately, the three Despoilers originally saw little combat as they were used for long-range patrols in mostly unthreatened star systems. Roughly two and a half centuries after being built, the Despoiler-class Battleship Merciless Death went missing from the Amerikon Sector, reappearing thirty standard years later during the Banardi Conflict when it attacked sixteen Imperial transports en route to Banardi Prime. The Merciless Death would continue to harass Imperial shipping until the early 39th Millennium, when it disappeared again, followed this time by the other two Despoilers. All three would reappear again during the Gothic War in the early 41st Millennium.
Notable Despoiler-class Battleships
- Merciless Death - The first Despoiler-class Battleship to defect to Chaos, the Merciless Death built an infamous reputation as a menace to the Imperium over several millennia. It was destroyed during the Pandorax Campaign during the Fourth Battle of the Sunward Gap in 959.M41 by a combined task force of the Dark Angels, Grey Knights and the Imperial Navy.
- Anarchy's Heart - The Anarchy's Heart was the personal Battleship of the Chaos Lord Arkos the Faithless and his renegade Chaos Space Marine warband, The Faithless. Arkos utilised the Anarchy's Heart to launch raids from the Eye of Terror in the millennia following the end of the Horus Heresy. This vessel was destroyed near the conclusion of the infamous Siege of Vraks by the Angels of Absolution Chapter's Battle Barge Liberatorii Delictum and the Strike Cruiser Repentant.
- Damnation's Fury - The Damnation's Fury Turned Traitor in the 39th Millennium shortly after the second disappearance of the Merciless Death, firing on a convoy it was supposed to be protecting. It is notable for its large prow Lance batteries having been replaced by a large array of torpedo tubes.
- Fortress of Agony - Defected to Chaos under similar circumstances as the turning of the Damnation's Fury, ultimately meaning that all three of the Despoiler-class Battleships had fallen to the corruption of Chaos, leading the Imperial Navy to believe that those Battleships had been cursed from the moment of their construction.
- Sword of Sacrilege - During the First Black Crusade a massive Chaos Fleet emerged from the Eye of Terror under the command of Abaddon the Despoiler, which vastly outnumbered the local Imperial forces. Seeing the importance of attacking the enemy fleet while they were still preparing to invade Imperial space, the Imperial Fists' Primarch Rogal Dorn relied on hit-and-run attacks until his reinforcements could arrive. Dorn "died" aboard the Despoiler-class Battleship Sword of Sacrilege after leading a desperate attack on its bridge.
The Battlefleet Gothic Rulebook states that the Despoiler-class was not developed until the mid-36th Millennium, however, there are other official sources that state the Despoiler-class may be a far older design than originally portrayed. The Index Astartes II article on the Imperial Fists Space Marine Chapter states that their Primarch Rogal Dorn was killed aboard the Sword of Sacrilege, a Despoiler-class Battleship. The Chaos Lord Arkos the Faithless is also said to possess a Despoiler Battleship, the Anarchy's Heart, as described in Imperial Armour Volumes Six and Seven. It is possible that this oversight can be explained that when the Despoiler-class was being developed in the mid-36th Millennium, its template might have been taken from an older design utilising STC plans.
- Battlefleet Gothic Rulebook (Blue Book), pg. 117
- Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks, Part Two, pg. 178
- Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three, pg. 84
- Index Astartes II, "Emperor's Fist - The Imperial Fists Space Marine Chapter", pp. 15-16
- Pandorax (Novel) by C. Z. Dunn