Grand Narrative Technical Briefing: Starships
(Authors Note: These represent the physics applying to ships in my story world, not at all the real-world physics of which I have little understanding and often ignore entirely. I've been told numerous times that artificial gravity is essentially impossible and that shields are completely insane. I guess that's why it's called "fiction". )
Military starships from the Grand Narrative Universe fall into two major classes: Interstellar and Strike. The main difference between these two classes of craft is that the former has a hyperdrive while the latter does not. The second, and less distinct, difference is size. Interstellar craft are generally large (not less than 600 meters long) while Strike craft are generally small (almost never longer than 700 meters). The two classes exist because a hyperdrive is such a massive and power-hungry device that there are actually serious combat benefits to be had from not fitting one to a ship. The main one of these is acceleration and top speed, as any ship not fitting a hyperdrive can devote all the mass and energy it saves to having and running a larger and more powerful engine and a much more effective shield, as well as more weapons, though the lack of a hyperdrive has specific benefits to shields and engines. These benefits cannot be understood until the major functioning of a starship has been discussed and that must be done piece by piece.
Shape: Most starships are shaped like an oval with a crescent shaped bite out of the back end where the engines emerge and a large bulge above and below the area where the engines emerge from that contains the hyperdrive. Military vessels are more elongated and flattened, with an upper and lower shell of thick armor that leave only a narrow opening all the way around for weapons, sensors, and small-craft bays. Although aerodynamics have no place in space, the oval form works the best with the engine technology used, as well as with shielding technology and armor.
Size: Military vessels, as noted earlier, come in two varies: Strike Craft and Interstellar Craft. Specific sizes of vessels fall into specific classes. These size-classes are as follows (measurements in metric):
-Light Fighter (200m)
-Medium Fighter (250m)
-Heavy Fighter (300m)
-Frigate (Insystem 500m)
-Assault Frigate (700m)
-Frigate (Interstellar 600m)
-Assault Cruiser/Patrol Carrier (1.6-1.8km)
-Battlecruiser/Scout Carrier (circa 2km)
-Battleship/Carrier (circa 3km)
-Dreadnought/Supercarrier (circa 4km)
-Superdreadnought (circa 5km)
-Mobile Fleet Center (circa 7 km)
-Mobile Fortress (circa 9km)
Propulsion: The Grand Narrative universe has two modes of travel, those being sub-light and cheating (hyperspace). Sub-light speeds are generally kept below 0.4c (maximum of 0.6c for warships, 0.7c for strikecraft, 0.8c for very small courier ships), firstly because time-dilation is a nasty effect to mess around with in combat and secondly because the faster something is going the more energy it takes to speed it up more (or slow it down).