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 Apocalypse-class is an ancient design that is generally believed to have been the precursor of the Retribution-class Battleship millennia ago. The superior technologies used to construct the multiple Lance turrets on the Apocalypse have now all but been forgotten and so the small number of examples of this ship can never be replaced. The loss of even one will always be keenly felt.
It has been theorised by naval strategists that the vessel was specifically created to counter the ever-growing numbers of Battleships and Grand Cruisers that attempted to lead Chaos raiding fleets from within the Eye of Terror. In this duty, the Apocalypse has proved itself to be everything the Imperial Navy could have wished for.
The rows of fearsome Lance armament along the broadsides of the Apocalypse are its most distinctive feature. It has been noted that these Lance arrays are fully capable of operating at much greater ranges by an engineering process that greatly increases the load-bearing capabilities of their main power relays. However, the array conduits themselves become notoriously unreliable when stressed this far and runaway power drains can easily start to sap energy from the ship's main drives, making the Apocalypse sluggish in the midst of battle.
Thus, almost all existing Apocalypse-class Battleships keep their Lance armament limited to medium ranges unless under duress. Most Segmentum fleets have at least a few examples of the Apocalypse still in battleworthy condition, though their numbers are gradually dwindling. 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.
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 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 millennium. 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 of the present, the ability to operate it efficiently is the most important and thus it is still able to 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. The Apocalypse is modestly-sized for a Battleship, as the Emperor and Retribution-class Battleships are larger 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.
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, Imperial golden monument atop its bridge (the Emperor-class has a cloaked angel with a sword and shield and the Retribution-class has an Imperial Aquila).
The Apocalypse-class and its sister class, the Oberon-class Battleship, do not possess this ornamental 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 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 wirhin which it is present, a stable, accurate and lethal firing platform that can accurately "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 laser 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 within the ship to funnel more energy to the Lances.
This ability 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 Plasma 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.
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 with the Apocalypse’s role as a bombardment Battleship. The cannon is massive and mounted on the prow of the vessel so that the Battleship's drives can better brace the ship against the recoil when it fires.
When fired, a huge ballistic 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. The impact of a Nova Cannon shell is capable of destroying almost all Escorts in a given area of space 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 are larger and more powerful versions than those found on Titans and other ground-based Imperial war machines. A Void Shield is created by a single generator that creates a sphere of 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.
Heavy and concentrated fire from directed energy weapons can overload the Void Shield generators, so once enough fire has been absorbed, the Void Shield will collapse. The shield regenerates several solar 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 Void Shields and can do direct damage to the ship unless engaged by its turrets. The Apocalypse-class has four Void Shield generators.
The Apocalypse-class Battleship has sub-light Plasma Drive 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.
A Gellar Field protects the starship from attacks by creatures in the Immaterium. The Warp-Drive is surrounded by physical shielding and religious runes of protection, but in the unlikely event that the drive 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.
Application in the Imperial Fleet
The Apocalypse-class Battleship has been best employed in the Imperial Navy when fighting from afar. 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 as explained above but it does make it possible for the vessel to "snipe" at long-ranged targets when locked on. However if and when the situation arises, it is then prudent for the Apocalypse to close the distance to the target to use its Lance batteries at a closer and more deadly range to prevent the energy of the Lance shot from dissipating.
Closing on the enemy, however, is not without risk as this particular Battleship is not unlike the Emperor-class which relies heavily on Escorts and 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 a screen of 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 provide enough 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 was the scene 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 led 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 main conflict when Ghazghkull fled the planet, 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.
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 the 36th Millennium that would eventually give birth to the Orpheus Sector. Following its formal ratification by the authorities of Terra, the Arica Dominus would become the flagship of Battlefleet Orpheus, a position it would hold until 0266.999.M41 and the dissolution of Battlefleet Orpheus and the Orpheus Sector itself 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 abandoned.
- 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 void 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 Honsou'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 Greenskin reinforcements to the surface of the Hive World Armageddon.
- Triumph- The Triumph was an Apocalypse-class Battleship that fought in the Third War for Armageddon. Originally assigned to Battlefleet Armageddon in 951.M41, the Triumph served as the flagship of the Imperial defence 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.
- Battlefleet Gothic Magazine 14, "Apocalypse-class Battleship," pg. 13
- Battlefleet Gothic - To Cleanse the Stars: Vessels of the Imperium, pg. 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, pp. 18, 19, 51, 56
- Battlefleet Gothic Resources: Armada Appendices (Defunct Link)
- Battlefleet Gothic Resources: Ships of the Gothic Sector (Defunct Link)