Imperial Navy Light Cruiser
The Light Cruiser is a class of warship used by the Imperial Navy. Smaller than true Cruisers, they are nontheless much more heavily armed and armored than an Escort, with some classes having the speed to keep up with the latter. Compared to their bigger cousins, Light Cruisers are much easier to build and operate.
Light Cruisers serve as the flagships of Escort patrol squadrons, as they secure the space lanes of Imperial space against raiders. Likewise during times of war, Light Cruisers can also serve as raiders, striking quickly into enemy-held territory, then quickly getting out.
During fleet actions, they can also serve as heavy escorts to larger warships, where their greater firepower compared to Escorts can actually contribute to the battle outside of just torpedo boats or just being dedicated to destroying said torpedo boats.
Think of it this way: you know how sections of guns or lances on a Lunar-class cruiser get swapped out when it’s a different class? A light cruiser is basically one of those sections as its own ship. Which is as pretty darn useful as it sounds, but more fragile. Much like how two Lunars can rival the firepower of a battleship but not survive the fight without more support.
Light Cruiser Classes
Imperial scout cruisers have generally always had enough firepower to fight off a determined attack by escort-sized ships and can hold enough supplies to remain autonomous for months at a time, the Dauntless being no exception.
The fastest Light Cruiser class available, the Dauntless is also quite versatile thanks to its weapons load-out of weapons battery broadsides, prow-mounted Torpedo tubes, and front-facing Lance batteries. This combination of escort-like speed, and respectable armament and defense allows the Dauntless to be a significant thorn in the side of most opponents that it might face. Woe to the foolish skipper that underestimates a Dauntless due to its size, and few ever live to make that mistake twice. Compared to the Endeavour, it's faster and has the option for lances, making it effective at dealing with other light cruisers.
Some confusion exists over the exact shape of the Dauntless. In written descriptions, it's stated to lack the Imperial Navy's distinctive armoured prow - but the prow has been present on every official model and artwork. Adding to the confusion are its armour rules. On the tabletop, the Dauntless lacks the additional prow save bonus afforded to heavier Imperial vessels, suggesting that it's just down to the size of the vessel. However, in the BFGA video games, its prow armour is as strong as any other cruiser (and, hilariously, stronger than the Emperor-class), while in BFGA 2 it's the ONLY Light Cruiser hull to have a prow armour bonus, suggesting that it actually does benefit from an armoured prow. But then in the Fantasy Flight Rogue Trader RPG, while its prow armour is only marginally lower than a stock Lunar-class cruiser hull, the Armoured Prow is a specific upgrade for cruiser-tonnage vessels and not something innate.
This may just a modelling issue; other Imperial light cruisers have a 'boxier' style with a different prow (as seen further down on this page), and nobody got around to retconning the Dauntless' model once those were introduced. It's also possible that it's just because the ship is so much lighter than a true cruiser; the prow is armoured, but the difference on a ship of that size isn't enough to make a difference on the six-point tabletop scale (as with how Tacticus power armour is supposed to be better than Aquila power armour but they're both a 3+ save). Finally, it could be that the Dauntless is based on a Lunar-class blueprint which was scaled down linearly; so even though it shares a shape with other vessels, the armour is actually significantly thinner and so doesn't afford additional protection (though that would raise the issues of why the rest of the ship doesn't have weaker armour...)
Whatever the case, the Dauntless is still pretty well-armoured in every depiction. Just remember to double-check whether the prow is only there for show in your system.
The Battlefleet Gothic: Armada games give you two variants of the Dauntless. The Mark-I version comes with a lance, while the Mark-II version mounts torpedoes.
- Length: 4.5km
- Mass: 20 megatonnes approx
- Crew: 65,000 crew; approx
- Acceleration: 4.3 gravities max sustainable acceleration
More of an Escort ship than a true Cruiser.
The Defender-Class Escort Cruiser is a class of Light Cruiser used by the Imperial Navy. Popular as convoy flagships, these ships are ideal at fighting off pirate and Ork raiders attempting to capture Merchant Fleets.
The Defender is armed with a variety of weapons, including broadside weapons batteries, prow-mounted lance and three dorsal fleet defense turrets. Some Defenders are fitted with prow torpedoes instead of lances.
- Length: 4.5km
A carrier variant of the Endeavor, the Defiant-class replaces the Macro turrets with a pair of small Lance turrets and Launch Bays. As such it is the smallest ship capable of providing Fighter, Bomber, or Assault Craft support.
The Defiant is used as an escort for larger ships, and/or as a convoy strike craft carrier. Despite being a versatile class, its usefulness is hampered by its lack of defensive firepower. This relegates it to a support role in fleet actions, usually accompanied by other Light Cruisers to defend it.
Also, the Defiant is somewhat common. Perhaps the sizes of space battlefields means that having more numerous, smaller carriers ranging around to extend the reach of attack craft is more important than wet navies’ preference for fleet carriers. It does make sense.
This class is an escort carrier. In space.
- Length: 3.8km
- Mass: 22 megatonnes approx
- Crew: 61,500 crew, 6,100 pilots and support staff, approx
- Acceleration: 3.8 gravities max sustainable acceleration
Essentially a police ship.
A mix Carrier-Cruiser akin to the Emperor-Class Battleship. The Enforcer-Class System Control Cruiser was designed under the Gareox Prerogative, these Light Cruisers are intended to maintain the control of Imperial space at the System level.
The Enforcer uses its combination of Attack Craft squadrons and Lance weaponry to intimidate planetary populations and Governors into remaining in-line with the Imperium. The ships are effective against pirates and rebellious fleets but is less successful in large-scale ship-to-ship engagements. A shame no one had the brains to put them to use in helping the Imperial Guard.
- Length: 3.8-4km
Less common than the other Endeavor variants, the Endurance-class retains the light Macro turrets and Torpedo launchers of its parent class, but exchanges the Macro batteries with a Lance deck and two torpedo tubes. All these systems are short-ranged, making the ship vulnerable to a larger, longer-ranged ship, with weapons that can outrange it as the larger ship can attempt to stay out of range, whilst plastering the hapless Endurance with fire from a standoff range
Less effective on its own, it's normally paired up with an Endeavor to bring the effective firepower of a true Cruiser to bear.
However, far more Endeavor class ships are produced, so in practice, often three or four Endeavours are grouped with a single Endurance, providing a fearsome pocket of resistance for any enemy Admiral. The Endurance is often seen operating with the Defiant Class Light Cruiser as well as the Endeavour class.
- Length: 3.8km
Coming with Macro turrets and batteries, plus Torpedo launchers as standard, the Endeavor-class is much more heavily-armed and armored compared to the Dauntless. The large weapons batteries of the Endeavour class mean it can hold its own in a fleet engagement, usually equaling the fire-power of a full-size cruiser. These batteries have only a short-range, equaling that of the shortest cruiser battery ranges, this is sufficient however for the Endeavour's role as a heavy escort. Its small torpedo compliment serves merely as a distraction, rather than a serious threat to a capital ship; escorts, however, would do well to avoid them.
On the flip side, it's also much slower, which makes it less capable in the anti-piracy role compared to its contemporary. This means that outside of fleet engagements (where they take the role as heavy escorts) Endeavors are normally found as the flagships of convoys instead.
Both the Endurance-class and Defiant-class are built off the same hull as the Endeavor.
- Length: 3.8km
- Mass: 22 megatonnes approx
- Crew: 67,500 crew; approx
- Acceleration: 3.9 gravities max sustainable acceleration
A very old and rare class of cruiser and a fuck ugly one at that.
The Siluria-Class Light Cruiser is an ancient design much older than the Dauntless Class Light Cruiser, numerous refits to surviving ships have kept them in service. These ships sports rows of Weapons Batteries over Lance armaments and are best suited to supporting fleets rather than undertaking independent missions.
However, a full broadside from one of these ships is still capable of causing significant damage. They are commonly well-screened during battle until the moment arrives for them to unleash its arsenal of weaponry.
It also does not showcase the armored hull of most Imperial Navy ships, so it won't do hot in close combat, despite having weapons meant for close combat.
- Length: 3.8-4km
In Battlefleet Gothic
Cheaper than a regular Cruiser, Light Cruisers are used to bulk up ship numbers without sacrificing firepower by bringing Escorts. One can bring two Light Cruisers for the points of a single Battlecruiser.
Just a fair warning though: the weapon ranges of the Light Cruisers are fairly short especially compared to regular Cruisers, so plan accordingly.
In Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 1 & 2
Just like on the Tabletop, the Light Cruisers in the video games are an economical way of filling out one's fleet, gaining a fast-moving unit without losing out on formidable firepower.
As far as actual in-game utility goes however, the Dauntless variants see much more use, due to their faster speeds.