{…from time to time I step outside of the standard blog and into one of my franchise worlds. I bring you an excerpt from The Commonwealth Encyclopedia, the definitive guide to the history and the 57th century… artwork credit Lucas Green @lucas.art.green}

Lucas Green – featured Artist

HOWITZER II class battlecruiser

Service: Commonwealth Navy [923 – 1065cc]

Dimensions: Length – 4217m Crew – 3700 (+5000 Infantry)

Details: Ranged battlecruiser; 5 mixed figherwings, 2 auxillary detachment, 1 Terra Firma Deploy. Chevron prism configuration. Equipped with L Series Trebuchet/mk7

The ‘HOWITZER II’ (typically just ‘Howitzer’) class was the final battleship type vessel constructed at the Peregrine shipyards in orbit of Persia Canopus Gold prior to the facilities destruction in 1071cc. The Howitzer II class was retired from service in 1065cc, to be replaced by the Cossack class battlecruiser, first launched in 1062cc.

There is a growing agreement among historians that the Howitzer II class battleship may be attributed with ultimately winning the Last Colonial War for The Commonwealth. This may seem unusual, as none of the famed ‘Hero Commanders’ of the Commonwealth Navy stood on the decks of a Howitzer II, nor were any instrumental in the ‘Thornley Campaigns’ or in featured engagements of the final Great Push. However, Howitzer’s made up more than 45% of all Commonwealth Naval fleet strength across 9/10ths of engagements. To call them the Navy’s workhorse is an understatement.

Constructed along a standard ‘drive-in-line’ spine with a radically simple 135* static G-keel, the Howitzer’s were easy to manufacture, as most the rest of the spaceframe could be fabricated modularly and installed along the minimal spaceframe. This modularity allowed the Howitzer’s to be outfitted with the most current weapon placements easily, as well as it facilitated efficient repair and update. The ‘drive-in-line’ spine also left room in the spaceframe for a fully functional L series Trebuchet, a quantum scission weapon not normally mounted on a standard battlecruiser frame. This gave the Howitzer’s an extreme punch at close range, and coupled with their fighter compliment for safety at distance, full missle load, dozen torpedo tubes, and numerous ARC gun placements, made them an affordably formidable weapon. Their RFlect was their only weakness, in that it requied many coils to cover the long, thin, profile of the vessel, coils that easily targeted by enemy forces. Maintaining a standard RFlect barrier was the only costly part of the vessels maintenance. Due to the nature of its design, Concussion Deflectors were not practical to this class of ship.

Possessing a top of the line Chevron-configuration Nul-Drive, Howitzer’s were on the front lines of most Naval offences against Market Mercenary deployments. They were able to put heavy fire on target quickly while maintaining pickets lines with their fighter squadrons. In the later decades of their service, their ability to deploy up to a full battalion of Naval Infantry each became more and more significant, and they served as the primary troops transports during Great Push. Being numerous as they were, Howitzer II’s suffered great losses all throughout the war. It was discovered that a group of Howitzer’s without any other vessel support could often be ambushed by smaller ships who could exploit the RFlect weakness before the Howitzer’s could maneuver to engage. Many convoys were lost or severley damaged before the mixed escort method was re-adopted for combat formations.

The most famous Howitzer II is arguably the SSCN LIVINGSTON APR-452 [945-997cc] lost under the command of Captain Stephanie Rampino at the Battle of Chiron Eddy. Rampino ordered the Livingston to protect a detachment of Bolo’s and the evacuation craft they were assigned to. Livingston showed its broadside to the Market forces at Gul-Dartelle, meaning it could not bring it’s Trebuchet to bear, but putting it between the evacuation Bolo’s and the approaching Market warships. Livingston was sunk with all hands assisting in the escape of more than 100 Commonwealth allied ships carrying evacuees from Umatilla Tango.

The design is attributed to Ashif Zentarium of Persia Canopus Copper, a rookie partner at Sholobah Manufacturing at the time. Sholobah’s bid on the construction contract was chosen based on the ease and cost of construction. At the time Persia Canopus, Theta Oocrane and Arkadak Tunxi were looking for a cost effective ship to take the lead role as primary warship on their borders. Though the Last Colonial War hadn’t yet started, the nationalist and market-force rumblings were still heard clearly through inhabited space. The sheer number of Howitzer’s in the naval forces of those systems is thought to have kept them safe from Market Mercenary aggression until the very end of the war.