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A battlecruiser or battle cruiser is a classification of heavy weight capital ship recognised by the United Nations Space Command, represented via the hull classification symbol of CB. Originally considered a subtype of the cruiser classification, the term is officially defined as any capital ship which is armed almost or as heavy as battleships, yet due to a number of reasons, cannot destroy them without support. Such vessels typically lie between cruisers and battleships in size and tonnage, although this is not a rule; cruisers with disproportionately-heavy weaponry can meet the criteria, and likewise unusually poorly-armed or lightly-protected battleships may be designated a battlecruiser.

Because of their size and capabilities, battlecruisers are the largest practical spatial combatant that can be deployed in a general-purpose role throughout a navy, as they have the speed required to keep up with formations of cruisers, carriers, and escorts. This leaves them open to be specialised towards unconventional roles. They are employed in offensive missions, such as intercepting squadrons of smaller ships, providing mobile fire support, and harassing hostile facilities if needed. This versatility, as well as general power, makes analogous Covenant warships some of the most numerous in their fleet.

Before the Human-Covenant War, battlecruisers were particularly rare in both the UNSC Navy and the Colonial Military Administration due to there being few roles for them to adopt. While their numbers slightly increased during the Insurrection, they only began to peak midway through the subsequent genocidal conflict, where a significant inadequacy of the UNSC's existing fleet prompted investigation into other forms of starships. Battlecruisers such as the Artemis-class were able to grow into effective vessels of a fleet, which in groups could even take down far larger CAS-class assault carriers. Their development continued into the Post-Covenant War period, and by 2558 there were some experimental battlecruisers whose shields were so powerful that they rivalled the armour on some older battleships.

Characteristics

Large cruisers

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The Valiant-class is the last line of large cruiser to be constructed.

Large cruisers, dubbed "super-heavy cruisers" by the press, was once the classification given to battlecruisers that are built to a particular design theory. Popularised during the Domus Diaspora, when the stigma against battlecruisers caused prominent civilians to criticise their construction, they are so-named because they are simply heavier versions of cruisers. They are intended to embark on the same missions as their smaller cousins, which often sees them conducting troop transportation, ship-to-ship combat, and carrier operations simultaneously. They are supposed to do this without any of the speed and logistical issues exhibited by battleships. Because they are not recognised by the UNSC as a separate, independent entity, the term has generally fallen into disuse as battlecruisers of all kinds became more accepted by the human population.

Large cruisers could best be described as an even more formidable heavy cruiser, scaled up to allow them to easily overcome any light capital ship at once. In spite of their size, bulk, and weight, all large cruisers had a high cruising velocity, with a substantial drive section that can easily keep up with battle groups of smaller craft. Tough plating ensures they are more resilient to enemy fire in combat, with some examples of the class featuring an armour thickness that is competitive with that on full-fledged battleships. In comparison to later battlecruisers, most large cruisers had a conservative armament - a necessary sacrifice in order to allow their allied vessels to replenish their ammunition in the field. Weapons are normally restricted to munitions currently used by cruisers, just in larger numbers. Proposals for the installation of large-calibre naval coilguns were historically rejected by the UNSC, with only heavy guided missiles being permitted in their place.

Although large cruisers themselves can be considered a synonym for battlecruisers, a subclassification, "large command cruiser," is recognised by the UNSC. Given the hull symbol of CBC, they are distinguished by a permanent flag deck which can allow admirals to coordinate the efforts of an entire battle group.

List of Known Battlecruiser Classes

United Nation Space Command

Covenant Navy

Independent Human Navies

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