The Mars-class Battlecruiser is a powerful starship of the Imperial Navy and a very common and respected sight across Imperial space. It represents the apex of human engineering in space combat and it is a truly multi-role vessel capable of engaging and defeating a large variety of threats to Imperial dominance in the Milky Way Galaxy.
The Mars-class is a very common vessel in the Imperial Navy of the late 41st Millennium and hundreds of these starships can operate in just a handful of fleets in a single Segmentum. The Mars-class is regularly used as a flagship for small wings of starships on patrol or as the bulky lead vanguards of a full Imperial battlefleet. The Mars-class fulfills many tactical criteria for the Imperial Navy that is normally impossible for Imperial military starships that are rarely designed with the flexibility required to be considered multi-role spacecraft. The Mars-class excels at orbital bombardment, close ship-to-ship warfare, and Attack Craft carrier roles. Only the Dictator-class is as multi-role a starship since it can serve the carrier function but it lacks the ability to hit targets from a distance. The Mars-class is well armed and equipped for its multiple roles and it mounts a Nova Cannon, a lance battery, fighter/bomber launch bays and multiple other point defence weapons batteries.
The Mars-class' name is a hallowed one; a name that echoes the great Forge World of Mars because it was unique to the orbital shipyards of the Red Planet's Ring of Iron prior to the Gothic War. While many Imperial capitals reckon the class is undergunned for its size in comparison to a similar vessel, it is still sought after in many battlefleets and the vessel still comprises a major part of the Imperial Navy's order of battle.
The Mars-class was first built in the orbital shipyards known as the Ring of Iron above the massive construction facilities of Mars, and this class was also exclusive to the Martian shipyards. However due to the combined criticisms of many Imperial captains about how effective the Mars-class is in combat, eight centuries prior to the Gothic War, the production of the class was discontinued indefinitely until that conflict proved the class' enormous utility and it began to be mass-produced by Adeptus Mechanicus Forge World orbital shipyards across the Imperium of Man. The Mars-class was originally envisioned as an "all rounder" Battlecruiser, capable of dealing with virtually any combat scenario. Equipped with powerful weapons batteries, launch bays, dorsal Lances, and a Nova Cannon, the Mars had a diverse weapons load. However, it fell afoul of changing military philosophies within the Imperial Navy. The Martian shipyards discontinued production of the warships more than two millennia ago in the late 39th Millennium, and since then a few shipyards continue to build this Battlecruiser only in limited numbers.
However there are many aspects of the vessel that have to be admired. The Mars-class was designed to fill a gap in Mankind's lack of multi-role Cruisers. While adopting the traditional Imperial bulky hull with the adamantium armoured wedged shaped prow with the "wings" located at about three quarters of the way down the ship, the Mars-class is a starship that is very recognisable. Its key features include the distinctive Nova Cannon and a dorsal armament bristling with Lances, but more distinctive than that are the launch bays positioned half way down the ship- home to four squadrons of Fury fighters and/or Starhawk bombers depending on mission requirements.
However, the Mars remains popular amongst many in the Imperium, particularly in the Calixis Sector. The warship is an extremely versatile combatant, able to handle a wide variety of combat situations. In addition, many captains appreciate the combination of Nova Cannon and Attack Craft squadrons, as it allows them to pound their foes at range without closing within equal range of an opponent's guns. Several frontier battlefleets make extensive use of the Mars as a squadron command vessel. Despite their scarcity, these starships are in many ways the perfect Rogue Trader vessel, offering withering firepower and extensive launch bays for any operation. Their only drawback is that the design of the Mars precludes many refits, as the hanger bays and Nova Cannon mounts are almost impossible to remove without scrapping the entire vessel.
Notable Mars-class Battlecruisers
- Fist of Russ - Formerly known as the Resolute, this vessel was captured by Wolf Lord Berek Thunderfist's predecessor and brought into the service of the Space Wolves Chapter.
- Gryphon - The Gryphon is an ancient and redoubtable warship, said to be constructed in the Jovian shipyards more than five standard millennia ago. Like most Mars-class Battlecruisers, she is equipped as a fleet flagship and carrier vessel, preferring to remain out of range of her opponents so she can pummel them with Nova Cannon and long-range Lance fire, then smother them with waves of Attack Craft.
- Imperious - This notable vessel was commanded by Captain Compel Bast and was seen during the Gothic War. He had the Imperious retrofitted with an enhanced targeting array salvaged after the Orar Raid, giving its weapon batteries improved accuracy.
- Marquis Lex - A notable vessel that served under the command of Captain Luther Kent during the Gothic War. One of only two Mars-class Battlecruisers within the Imperial fleet at the time, its achievements tended to be overshadowed by the exploits of the Imperious, and its commander, Captain Compel Bast.
- Pax Imperium - This notable vessel served as the flagship of Lord Solar Macharius during the Macharian Crusade until it was heavily damaged during the Battle of Charaxdis.
- Unmerciful - Veteran of the Gothic War, where it fought at Port Maw, the Unmerciful was sent out to the Trail of Saint Evisser in protection of the capital world of Volcanis Ultor. Through deceit, the Unmerciful was manipulated into confronting the Grey Knights’ Strike Cruiser Rubicon which it severely damaged.
- Hull: Approximately 5.4 kilometres long, 0.85 kilometres abeam at fins.
- Class: Mars-class Battlecruiser.
- Crew: Approximately 107,000 crew.
- Acceleration: 2.3 gravities maximum sustainable acceleration.
- Battlefleet Gothic Rulebook - Ships of the Gothic Sector, pp. 94, 108
- Rogue Trader: Battlefleet Koronus (RPG), pp. 22, 63
- White Dwarf 232 (UK), "De'Aynes Fighting Ships of the Gothic Sector", pg. 15
- Grey Knights (Novel) by Ben Counter, in The Grey Knights Omnibus, pp.196-197, 207-215