These are characterized by having a relatively short endurance; unlike a 'real' spaceship, small craft don't independently travel long distances or stay in space for weeks on end. Consequently, small craft are almost always attached to a base of some sort. Furthermore, most don't have FTL, whether because it would be too expensive, a trip would take too long, or the engine would just be too big. In some settings, these small craft have the ability to travel and fight within atmospheres whereas larger ships do not (and are restricted to orbit).
Not a craft in its own right, but a lifeboat IN SPACE. Despite the limited practicality these would have in reality (space is just too big and too empty), they're very common in science fiction works: when a larger ship is about to be destroyed, the crew will scramble for the escape pods, hoping to reach rescue or at least a Conveniently Close Planet. Generally these have only rudimentary engines and no weapons, but will carry some survival supplies. Can be used to create dramatic situations with stranded or adrift characters, or just to get civilians and redshirts out of the way so the main cast can save the day at the last possible moment.
Very small space craft used for building and maintenance. Often spherical, barely fitting one or two people, with very thin walls, manipulator arms, some thrusters, and little else. It may not even have a built-in life support system, nor can it operate in an atmosphere or heavy gravity. They can be used to build space stations and ships, are almost always found at construction yards, and one or two could be attached to a ship for extravehicular transport / minor repair work.
One common variant can transport personnel and small cargo from ship to ship. These lack any manipulators, and the most basic of these would just be a frame with thrusters.
Occasionally, Utility Pods can be armed and armored for space combat, sort of a Space Technical. Much like their ground counterparts however, these improvised Pods are ill suited against machines built for war.
Basically a jet fighter IN SPACE. Usually armed with a mix of a Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon (so they can get into an OldSchoolDogfight) and missiles. Space Fighters typically battle each other in space, but depending on the distribution of firepower in the universe, may be capable of damaging or even destroying capital ships. The most common type of small craft to (possibly) have an FTL drive. The best ones are designed to be used in an atmosphere as well.
Bomber Heavy fighter-sized craft, armed with big missiles (commonly called Torpedoes) to damage or destroy capital ships.
Interceptor Light, fast fighter whose primary purpose is to catch and destroy Bombers before they can strike the capital ships.
Many universes which feature these may use them instead of or in addition to conventional space fighters. Alternately, many have Transforming Mecha that change into Fighters for space combat. In even rarer cases they can transform into capital ships, early idea came from a fan letter to animage asking if the oddly shaped mother ship, Whitebase, in Gundam can transform into a humongous mecha, and Macross followed suit.
Commonly used to transfer personnel or material from one ship to another, or down to the surface of a planet. Usually lightly armed, although Combat/Assault shuttles that sacrifice their carrying capacity for guns are not unheard of. Civilians may own these for personal transport.
Drop Ship Specialized shuttle-like craft specifically made to carry troops from a ship to the surface, even into the middle of a battlefield or under fire. Always heavily armored, and usually armed to boot.
Drop Pod Instead of deploying infantry together in ships, transports will sometimes drop individual soldiers or Humongous Mecha in pods or very heavy armor.
Analogous to PT boats and gunboats, this craft are usually very small, fragile, and are used as police ships and/or for harassment. Not often a Hero's current ship, but often was his/her first command. Blurs the line between Bombers and Cutters - cheap enough to produce in numbers, and sometimes fast and agile enough to be be a threat.
Fast Attack Craft Variant of the Patrol Boat, FAC are heavily armed ships, often with anti-ship missiles or guns . They maintain the speed, agility, and low cost, but retains the fragility and lack of endurance. Because of their speed and weaponry, they can outmaneuver Capital Ships while posing a major threat. Then again, they're not likely to survive a direct hit from escort craft.
Various smaller warships, ranging from small assault boats slightly larger than a Bomber to massive ships nearly a mile in length. Which size class gets which name varies from universe to universe, but is usually in the size and name order given above. With the exception of those crewed by main characters, these are usually the equivalent to Red Shirts in the fleet when the shooting starts. Generally speaking, deployed in groups ("flotillas") or as escorts for larger ships. They're sometimes referred to (especially destroyers) as "Tin Cans" because of their thin hulls.
Cutters and Corvettes are small and cheap enough to be built by even the poorest of nations. Law enforcement, personnel transport, and guard duty was the Cutter's main role, since it didn't require a large crew to operate. However, small raids can be conducted with these ships. Corvettes are highly maneuverable but lightly protected, used mostly for protecting planets.
Destroyer originally came from "torpedo boat destroyer" and modern destroyers have evolved to take on anti-submarine, -missile and -aircraft duties; as such, authors who have Shown Their Work will portray destroyers as being point defense-heavy to defend capitals from small craft. However, less rigorous authors or franchises simply use it as a catchall for ships purpose built to eliminate other ships.
Frigates tend to the most heavily armed, and sometimes act independently for raiding, long-range patrol, bombardment, or scouting. Considering the size of some space empires, having a large number of these craft may be required to picket such vast distances.
Jack of All Stats of warships. Big enough to take care of themselves, fast enough to run from most anything that can squish it (which there are a lot, since a Cruiser often trades hull defense for firepower), and expendable enough that they don't require escorts. As such, they can operate independently from a fleet. Common variations include 'Heavy' and 'Light' Cruisers, where the Heavy is a bit larger, longer duration, and has slightly stronger firepower. The Light variant is less firepower and often smaller than standard, but useful in a scouting role.
The Assault Carrier is basically a smaller version of The Battlestar, only carrying a single squad or two of small craft. Many are capable of operating in the atmosphere, even (especially) if no other type of ship in the fleet can. These ships are usually considered their own autonomous units within the fleet, and commonly split off on separate missions (this makes them useful for the main cast of a series). The White Base of Mobile Suit Gundam is the Trope Maker here.
Escort/Light Carrier Typically around the same size as an assault carrier, but trades in most of the assault's guns for a larger fighter wing. An escort carrier rarely shows up on its own.
Space Freighter or Cargo Ship (No, not that, we mean it literally this time)
Ship whose purpose is to ferry goods from one planet to the next. Usually lightly armed, if at all. Mostly a background ship.
Repurposed Freighter Basically a weaponized transport, given enough guns and defenses to attack other ships. A favorite of pirates, rebels, and desperate governments, these quasi-warships are relatively cheap and fast to produce. As these ships were not originally built for combat, they're less durable or capable than a conventional warship.
In contrast to Q-ships, Repurposed craft do not hide the fact they are well armed. In fact, with the rapid modifications (added armor, engines, weapons, and sensors welded without regard to style) the refit may be very obvious. More so if in the hands or pirates / rebels, who love to decorate their craft.
Blockade Runner Smaller than most Cargo Ships, this is commonly used by smugglers and rebels, who soup up the engines and, if necessary, can give it extra guns and armor if it needs to fight. You're probably thinking of the Millennium Falcon (or the Serenity, or the Bebop) right now, and you'd be right on the money. This is the go-to ship class for the Space Western settings. May be piloted by a Space Trucker.
Q-ship Taking the idea of the Blockade Runner to an extreme, a Q-ship is a Cargo Ship that is retooled into a warship, but still retains the outward appearance of its original form, so the enemy doesn't realize that it's armed until it starts shooting them. These can be used to defend supply convoys alongside or in place of normal escorts, or to sneak a fighting unit past the eyes of the enemy until it's too late. Note that a Q-ship is now primarily a warship, not a cargo hauler, so a ship like the Millennium Falcon would not be an example, as it is a freighter, it just happens to be armed for bear. Basically, if it isn't designed to be mistaken for a normal cargo ship until the enemy is being blown to bits, it is not a Q-ship.
Tender Military use freighter that can be used to extend the range of a fleet by carrying extra supplies (ie, food, fuel, etc.) Obviously they won't always be seen, because a fleet will tend to try to operate within its normal range, but occasionally it may need to go beyond those limits, at which point a Tender becomes invaluable.
A specific cargo ship that carries large amounts of fuel and propellant. Unlike their wet-navy counterparts, space tankers carry fuel for fusion reactors and FTL drives, and have their own extraction and refining equipment. These ships are the life-blood of a Sci-Fi fleet, capable of keeping it running. And being so important, Tankers tend to be the first targeted for destruction. Being large, difficult to maneuver, and unarmed, they also make for easy targets.
These generally aren't very well armed, even if only because they tend to be outdated more often than not. They carry everything you need for a colony: Equipment, construction materials, animal and plant specimens, living environs, and lots of colonists. Sometimes designed to become raw materials for the colony, especially in the slower-than-light models. Comes in Generation Ship, Human Popsicle sleeper ship, Terraforming seeder ship, and vanilla FTL colony ship flavors.
Basically a mobile shipyard these carry large quantities of spare parts, raw materials to manufacture spare parts and trained personnel to handle the actual repairs. In some cases they may even be large enough to act as a dry dock for smaller space craft (Destroyer and Cruiser range). Similarly to the Tender the main purpose is to support a fleet away from its base by allowing for more intensive repairs to be done on the spot rather than requiring a ship to return to base and in extreme cases patching up a badly damaged ship enough for it to get back to base rather than having to be scuttled.
Not much more than a flying barracks, these will be seen in almost any invasion (unless the fleet uses Mashups instead). It will almost certainly carry shuttles, but it may additionally have the ability to actually land on a planet. In pressing times it may be forced to forgo the majority of its troops and be forced to operate as an impromptu Carrier. On occasions, technically a ship of one of the other classes fitted to accommodate a troop compartment. This is most likely the place you'll see a Space Marine steps out from.
An unarmed (usually), often spacious and pleasant civilian ship, designed to carry VIPs from A to B, in style and comfort. Usually these will have an escort.
This is for those VIPs who prefer speed to comfort and want to get from A to B pronto, hell or high water. It's more cramped and less pleasant, but much faster, usually the fastest type of ship available. It is probably also used by government/corporate/space knight/whatever troubleshooters on missions. For universes without FTL communications, Couriers are the fastest way to communicate between the stars.
The most powerful warships in a fleet; when people talk about fleet strength, counting capships is the quick and dirty way to do it. The presence of just one of these in an area can influence strategic calculations. These ships tend to be expensive to build. So expensive, in fact, that in "realistic" settings (well, the ones where space fleets function like WWII surface naval fleets anyway, which isn't actually realistic) they are almost never deployed without escorts and the captain will usually have an admiral on the scene to answer to in the squadron/task force/fleet. In other settings, these get treated as extra-big cruisers. Either way, unless you're in a huge fleet battle, losing one of these is a big deal. A uniquely big one may be The Mothership, a Mile-Long Ship, or even a Planet Spaceship.
In real life, this was a ship as fast as a cruiser but with the firepower of a battleship, meant to combat enemy cruisers where a battleship couldn't be spared. In practice, battlecruisers ended up serving with the main battle fleet be cause their firepower was too valuable to pass up, but where their lack of armor became a liability. In science fiction, usage of "battlecruiser" may vary. A lot of the time science fiction works just ditch the "battleship" name and instead call their biggest, most powerful ships "battlecruisers", probably because "battleship" sounds archaic (and battlecruiser does sound cooler). If the fictional work has both battleships and battlecruisers, then expect the latter to be slightly smaller versions of the former, as it often did happen in Real Life too.
An Airborne Aircraft Carrier several thousand feet (plus!) higher. Lightly armed, but carries Space Fighters of all kinds, and is usually escorted by other Capital Ships. Somewhat like Squishy Wizard of Capital Ships, especially when no Science Vessel is at hand. Sometimes has a built in factory.
Wields both guns and fighters, and is more often than not the Flagship of the fleet (unless a Dreadnought is on the scene). If the series only has one type of ship, it's usually this. See the trope for details.
Ship of the Line/Battleship/Dreadnought
A massive ship, usually the largest ship in the fleet, bristling with big guns. The navy's Mighty Glacier.
Note that the term "fast battleship" exists, because some of them, like the Iowa, were really fast in addition to having shitloads of guns and armor. In the real world, being huge meant that they had more room for sailes/engines/reactors, meaning that Bigger Is Better in almost every respect.
However in sci-fi, they practically always move at a snail's pace because really heavily armed and armored AND really fast ships would leave those taking Artistic License with Economics the question 'Why do we make anything else ?' For the rest of us, the answer is logistics and economics. Even strategy games, which often abstract or handwave away advanced economic concerns, recognize that bigger ships take more resource and time to build. Even a modern industrial powerhouse like the USA can only operate 11 supercarriers and their Carrier Strike Groups at once, and costs would only go up for spaceships. Few are the factions with the economic capabilities to build only capitals.
Besides, although you can use a sledgehammer to swat flies, it is neither the fastest nor most efficient tool for the job.
That's No Moon, that's a space station! These are basically mobile Space Stations, which may be used as homes by nomadic civilizations (especially a Horde of Alien Locusts), or as crowning achievements in engineering by a large spacefaring society. See also Big Dumb Object.
Not necessary a true warship, but essentially carrying either the command party and a variety of tools to coordinate and command allied ships. Its sight in the battlefield brings despair to the foes and hope to the allies. May be either unarmed so it can be an iron fortress for the fighters or armed sufficiently to protect itself. Think of them as the space variant of an AWACS or a command and control ship.
Some ships stand out due to various unique constructions or abilities, and are less noted for specific size or roles. These aren't found in every series, but appear often and are notable enough to warrant special mention:
An uncommon class of ship or Small Craft that basically serves as a flight system to allow a ship type of similar or smaller size to move further than it is normally designed to (Faster Than Light travel for an extreme example). These are often little more than a drive system, fuel, and an external docking mechanism for the craft to attach to (see also Mecha Expansion Pack). Commonly used by Space Fighters or Humongous Mecha, although versions for larger ships are also seen from time to time. They're always way cooler than mere Space Tugboats.
A ship whose main armament consists almost entirely of missiles and/or torpedoes. A few universes, due to their technological development, may have their entire fleets be basically this. There is such a wet navy concept called the arsenal ship, although it has not actually made it off the drawing board.
Historically, Torpedo Boats played the role of a Fast Attack Craft (see above) - a small, lighter craft capable of destroying slower Battleships. However, for the Standard Sci-fi fleet any size of ship will do for a Torpedo Boat.
Normally unarmed encase of prison revolts but normally escorted to prevent break-outs from outside forces. Prison ships are rare in military settings but will normally occur in settings with Casual Interstellar Travel.
Another rarely seen type, these ships provide medical treatment. They tend to help in evacuation, heal wounded ground pounders, or even act as full blown hospitals. Like their wet navy counterparts, these ships could be well marked to easily identify it, and tend to be unarmed.
The Spaceborne equivalent to the BFG, the Space Gun is a ship (usually of the smaller classes, but some can be the size of a Battleship, Dreadnought, or even Space Station) that consists of a command bridge, the biggest weapon they could find (up to, but not always, a Wave Motion Gun), the engines to move it around, and little else. Space Guns are usually Glass Cannons that add to the overall firepower of a fleet due to their ability to punch well above their weight, but are otherwise vulnerable and have to be screened by fighters and other ships.
Space Station/Star Base
Usually rivaled in size only by the Battleship and Dreadnought (or in more extreme universes, Worldship) classes, these are (relatively) immobile structures used for all kinds of duties, from habitats, to fortresses, space ports, factories, and the like. Colony Drops are always a danger when these things get knocked out of orbit. If the space station is even bigger than a World Ship, it might be a Dyson Sphere.
As noted in the Army trope, the variety of these ships often varies by medium. As even with animation (traditional or CGI), making and showing a lot of stuff can be time-consuming or expensive. Therefore, many television series' or movies stick with Battlestar or Cruiser-class vessels only, while games often expand further than that.
Anime and Manga
Gundam is the (sub-) Trope Namer for the Assault Carrier, which often serves as the Cool Ship for the main cast, and otherwise features primarily Cruisers and Battleships with Mobile Suits as their primary space fighter. As well as, naturally, Space Colonies and other stations. It should be noted that after the One Year War, nearly all ships in the Universal Century (and in most of the Alternate Universes for that matter) carried Mobile Suits, so the Battlestar and Carrier classifications were pretty redundant.
The RX-78 GP03 Gundam Dendrobium from Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory is an example of a Humongous Mecha (the Stamen) with a Detatchable Drive (the Orchis). This also applies to the METEOR units for both the Freedom and Justice Gundams in Gundam SEED
MS IGLOO takes a look at a few prototype weapons, two of them are a missile ship and a space gun.
Many vehicles served double duty in the Ground forces as well, and vice versa. Detachable Drives were often used to deploy and transport Mobile Suits through the air in planetside battles, while Mobile Armors operated in space as much as they did on the ground, often in the place of Space Fighters as in SEED.
Martian Successor Nadesico has the title ship as an Assault Carrier, with a number of cruisers on both sides, and a Jovian Worldship.
However, it's referred to in show (and in the original title) as a "High-mobile Battleship", making it a fast-battleship or battlecruiser.
Played with in the Crest of the Stars. There are several superficially recognizable ship classes, all with the familiar names... But then you suddenly understand that these names are translations from the local Con Lang and all these classes reflect completely different fleet organization and tactics. What about their battleships being completely Point Defenselessmissile platforms and shifting all point defence onto special ship class, and so on...
It's really not that different, honestly the Battleship thing is the only real oddity, but even that's not that odd. Indeed, real world adaptions of the "Arsenal ship" concept, which was basically just a barge with a tiny crew and like 500 missile tubes might have used the BB or battleship hull numbers to reflect their role as heavy offensive warships. Further all point defense is not shifted onto a single ship class. More or less all the ships have some, often quite a bit, of point defense, but the dedicated vessels have even more, but then AA ships exist in the real world as well. They're not used that much differently either, really, the Battleships bombard at range, the cruisers are the main force that mixes it up closer, the AA ships protect from missiles, and the little frigates scurry around out in front being blown up in droves as cannon fodder.
The main fleet mainly consists of destroyers, cruisers, corvettes and carriers. Destroyer as Fragile Speedster, Cruiser as Mighty Glacier, Corvettes are purely point-defense against missiles and are defenseless against any destroyer or cruiser. Carriers have no fighters nor guns, but instead launch crazy amount of AI controlled suicide bombers. Each of them have their own weaknesses, even the mighty cruiser can be blown up in one hit by a destroyer if its shields are down. Although a cruiser's main gun can blow up a destroyer in one hit, because lighter ships travel faster in hyperspace in the series, it makes sense for a team of destroyers Zerg Rush on the much slower cruisers, hoping with More Dakka a lucky shot could send its shield out of commission long enough for other destroyers to deliver the fatal blow.
Macross uses all of these for its colonization fleets, with the Macross-class ships typically being Dreadnought sized Carriers with a Gun Platform built in, whole squadrons of Assault Carriers, colonization ships in the form of gigantic domed cities, fighters, bombers, destroyers, cruisers, Humongous Mecha, and throwing in specialized ships such as factories, entertainment, science/research, farms, and so forth. The only one they don't have yet (though the Zentraedi probably do) are Worldships.
In Legend of the Galactic Heroes navies are built up of small one-man space fighters, carriers of said fighters, and normal cruisers that are mostly of the space gun type (with the ratio of carriers to cruisers being approximately 1:50 in most navies). The Empire has one model of each and The Federation has one model of each. Admirals of the fleets have flagships that are usually little more than Ace Customs of the normal cruisers, though some flagships are big enough to serve as ships of the line. In addition The Empire is also shown using Destroyers and Gunships (really small Cutter/Corvette type ships) and also built two World Ships, but the latter are static defenses that are immobile until they attached huge engines to one and sent it against the other in an attempt to recapture it.
The Iron Tribe (Humans) and most other tribes in Heroic Age used mostly Fighters, Cruisers and the occasional Battleship, but many tribes also had one or two Space Station-sized Space Guns (like the Iron Tribe's Ruby and Topaz Cores). The Iron Tribe also had two similarly-scaled Science Vessels, the Pearl Core which used force fields and gravity manipulation, and the Blue Core which disgorged hundreds of Attack Drones. The Argonaut, on the other hand, was a Battestar that carried Humongous Mecha and small satellite-like drones instead of Fighters.
Not surprisingly Space Battleship Yamato has this in spades. Both sides operate frigates, destroyers, cruisers, battleships, carriers and battlestars.
Specifically, the Star Wars Expanded Universe gave us the Interdictor, which is used to pull other ships out of hyperspace or prevent them from making the jump to hyperspace in the first place, and the Golan Space Defense Platform which is essentially a ridiculous amount of guns and armor on a space station.
Fighters/Bombers/Interceptors: X-Wings/Y-Wings/A-Wings for the Alliance; the Empire, being less creative, simply calls them TIE Fighters/Bombers/Interceptors (although Interceptors are strictly superior to Fighters except in cost). The Yuuzhan Vong coralskippers also fill this function. B-wings are sort of half-way between X-wings and Y-wings, and later replace the Y-wings completely in the bomber role.
No Humongous Mecha In Space, Though the Imperials always use them on the ground (AT-AT, AT-TE, AT-ST, AT-PT, AT-RT, UT-AT, SPMA/T AT-XT etc)
Shuttles: All over the place, including the classic Lambda (i.e. Vader's shuttle); Drop Ships include the clone Gunships and Imperial Sentinel landing craft (basically a Lambda with guns and armor), The Acclamator cruiser, which is over 740 meters long, also serves as a humongous Dropship. Wraith Squadron actually used Drop Pods on one insertion, though they're a work in progress.
Corvettes, Frigates, Destroyers: Namechecked by the Corellian Corvette (Tantive IV, Leia's ship from A New Hope, was one of these), Lancer anti-fighter frigates, and Marauder destroyers; more generally, any self-respecting work in Star Wars has at least one of these.
Assault/Escort carriers: Many classes of smaller Yuuzhan Vong ship, plus there's an actual Imperial ship called an "escort carrier" that does nothing except haul around a couple squadrons of fighters.
Cruiser: The smaller (Victory-class) Star Destroyers; Katana-fleet Dreadnoughts; some of the corvette-class ships edge into this.
Space Gun: The Eclipse-class Star Destroyer, roughly the size of the Executor but armed with a scaled-down superlaser. The superlaser can crack the crust of a planet or instantly disintegrate a starship; given how useful the latter would be in a space battle, you have to wonder why more of these weren't built.
Missile Boat: By name. Another case of Imperial Naming at its finest, Also the (Victory I-class) Star Destroyer (80 missile tubes for MultiTeratonMacross Missile Massacre Goodness).
Freighters: All over the place, with a disproportionately high number of:
Blockade Runners: Practically the Trope Maker, and certainly a perennial favorite. Some of them are armed enough to consider (and be used as) Q-ships.
Repurposed Freighter: Much of the Trade Federation and later the Separatist fleet came from putting turbolasers on their freighters.
Detachable Drive: A number of Republic starfighters use detachable hyperspace boosters to travel at lightspeed. Also, a number of cargo transports in Tie Fighter and X-Wing Alliance are essentially large detachable drives that strap several cargo containers onto their exteriors and push them through space.
Colony Ship: The Vong has several, mostly of the nastier sort of Terraformer.
Science Vessel: Rare, though it's mentioned as one of the many, many uses of Corellian Corvettes.
Battlecruiser: Older-generation warships, like the Kaloth-class, tend to come off this way.
Battleship/Ship of the Line: Rare, compared with the below options. Some older ships, such as the Kaloth or Katana, were probably this in their heyday. The Neimodian Trade Federation Lucrehulks (those donut-shaped ships with the sphere in the center, like the one little Anie blew up) were freight liners repurposed as battleships.
Carrier: Also comparatively rare, but the aforemented Lucrehulks fit this bill, too.
Battlestar: Any capital ship worth its salt carries fighters, but the Imperial Star Destroyer and Mon Calamari Star Cruisers make big business out of it. Yuuzhan Vong Grand Cruisers (notably Shedao Shai's Legacy of Torment) also fall here.
Worldships: The Yuuzhan Vong worldships are these massive colony vessels they used to traverse the intergalactic void. Many of the were dying of old age due to the length of the journey. The remainder were used as mobile bases during the Yuuzhan Vong War.
Banner Ships: The entire, sole point of operating a ship the size of Executor. It works.
Space Station: The Golans, among others. And, yes, they get Colony Dropped when the Vong take Coruscant.
Hospital Ship: The Rebel Fleet had at least one during the Battle of Endor ("They're heading for the Medical Frigate").
Star Wars even classifies its unarmed and civilian ships, including 'pleasure boats' and 'yachts'. The various Naboo royal ships are generally the latter.
Due to its being Screwed by the Network, Firefly didn't get to show anything other than Alliance gunships (read: fighters) and cruisers, and a few models of civilian freighters. Serenity, on the other hand... Take a look at the Alliance fleet during the battle over Mr. Universe's planet. The Serenity RPG lists several more.
The Honor Harrington series uses all of the above and adds a few more, namely the Dreadnought as the second largest ships in most fleets, and the stupendous Super Dreadnoughts, which carry enough firepower to depopulate a planet, and are at one point described as having enough energy weapons to shatter a small moon, though that may have been hyperbole.
Except fighters. They are explicitly mentioned as completely unfeasible in their situation. There are some smaller ships taking their tactical niche, mostly missile defence and tying the lighter fleet units, but these aren't tiny single-seat tin cans, but warships in their own right, almost the size of a pre-war destroyer (incidentally, called "tin-cans" in-universe) without the hyperdrive and crew count is closer to that of a WWII-era bomber than a traditional starfighter. Initially, they started out as some sort of gunboat/torpedo boat analogue: Too small to be used for anything other than patrol duties except in some very specific and unlikely circumstances. The one time they prove to be a serious threat (if not an effective one) to a modern warship, it is because they were some place they weren't expected to be, mistaken for a group of friendly patrol ships, and the warship in question nearly stumbled blithely right into their gunsights. Once propulsion and powerplant technology catches up a bit, and strategists allow for some changes in space combat doctrine for these small ships note mainly, bow "walls" allow them to be shielded while attacking nose-on to the enemy with a capital-grade Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon, rather than presenting them a broadside, they mature into the Goddamn Bats that we know and love from the later books.
The author has also gone toa lot of trouble to explain why frigates, by the notion of a class between the Light Attack Craft and the destroyer, don't make much economic sense. To cut the long story short, an Honorverse "frigate" would basically be a LAC with hyperdrive and the mass penalties involved; ton-for-ton a LAC would be more efficient for intrasystem duties. Frigates would be an bare minimum, fit only for fledgling interstellar powers rather than full-fledged forces.
Another, stand alone book by David Weber, The Apocalypse Troll, begins with two full Standard Sci-Fi Fleet battle groups. All of the cruisers and destroyers on both sides are either destroyed or go incoherent before the big ships make the Takashita Translation but after that there is still the Defender (a Battlestar) and an enemy dreadnought and a carrier surviving. They proceed to blast the crap out of each other across time and space until only the fighter wing commanders from both sides become the Sole Survivors and a Terminator Twosome since they find themselves a handful of centuries in (their) past.
The Lost Fleet is a fully formed armada based on real-life navies. The core fleet elements are battlecruisers, battleships, and heavy cruisers screened by light cruisers and destroyers. There are no dedicated carriers, and their Fast Attack Craft are rarely used and would be considered corvettes rather than fighters. Either way, they are woefully short-ranged, weak and easily destroyed; in practice, the smallest relevant ship class is the destroyer. The Syndicate Worlds "Hunter-Killer" ships straddle the line between heavy fighters and light corvettes. Also of note are the "fast fleet auxiliary" ships, which are basically mobile factories and repair shops. The only thing "fast" about them is their capacity to get in trouble.
There is a twist, though. While most would assume that battleships would be the postings of choice for any perspective commander, this has changed with the Forever War between The Alliance and the Syndicate Worlds. With complex tactics being a lost art, ships now individually charge into battle guns blazing, further increasing the horrible losses on both sides. This new Honor Before Reason mentality also means that battleships are now seen as postings for cowards or incompetent commanders, as a true warrior doesn't hide behind thick armor and strong shields. Battlecruisers are now crewed by the most capable officers, who literally lead their fleets into battle, and have a ridiculously high attrition rate.
Many low-priority Syndic systems are only protected by "Nickel" corvettes. When Geary first sees them in the novels, he is astonished that they are still used, as they were considered obsolete even in his time 100 years ago.
Averted in the prototypical Space Opera. In the Lensman Series virtually every warship mentioned is called a battleship as anything less has little or no chance of survival, though at one point the Galactic Patrol did introduce special ships and tactics to overcome a temporary technological deficit.
Actually the Lensman Series does have a variety of spaceships. The fleet invading the Second Galaxy, for example, is described as having scout cruisers, light cruisers, cruising bombers, heavy defensive cruisers, maulers, battleships, super-dreadnoughts, and what may be the ur-example of the banner ship: "Technically the Z9M9Z, socially the Directrix and ordinarily GFHQ." In addition there are one- and two-man speedsters, space tugs, space freighters, space liners, and science ships, among other things. What's lacking are the short-ranged small craft - shuttles, fighters, drop pods etc.
Peter F. Hamilton's The Night's Dawn Trilogy features most of the ship classes from the standard fleet. However, due to the demands of FTL travel in this setting, all Adamist (mechanical) interstellar vessels need to be spherical, meaning the ships in the fleet differ only by size, whilst retaining a similar look. Nevertheless, they are divided into frigates, destroyers and battlecruisers. The Voidhawks (biteksentient warships) also serve as interceptors and scouts thanks to their superior FTL and maneuverability. The big difference to the standard fleet is the lack of fighters, for the reasons of practicality. Instead, high-speed, high-G drones called 'combat wasps' actually do the fighting thousands of kilometres from their motherships.
The CoDominium: Standard space navies tend to have capital ships and small auxiliaries. Pournelle was aware of the various roles different ship types played. In fact, he choose the type of the INSS MacArthur based on its capabilities.
Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series has several human powers fielding Standard Sci Fi Fleets, most notably the Earth Alliance and the Confederacy of Suns (also its forerunner the Free Colonies). These include escape pods, a great number of Space Fighters (some capable of FTL travel), assault shuttles (each has enough firepower to take out an average military base), corvettes, missile boats, gigantic repair stations, technical tugs, frigates, cruisers, and flagship cruisers (a Battlestar). All ships (including fighters) are ridiculously oversized, with 500-meter corvettes and 7-kilometer flagship cruisers. Crew requirements are listed as much smaller than one would expect. Standard flagship cruiser crew complement is 150, although it can be crewed by up to 2000. This is due to the ubiquitous use of AI modules to run most systems.
It should be noted that in one of the later novels, the powers-that-be have determined that a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet is incapable of dealing with the threats to the far-reaching Confederacy and has been relegated to protecting the core worlds. A new doctrine was developed for protecting the outlying colonies using patrolling carriers and a newly-developed type of modular Space Fighter, which can be refitted to a completely different role (fighter, bomber, anti-capital ship) within an hour.
The smallest matrix capable ship of the Republic of Cinnabar Navy in the RCN series is the Cutter, six of which are docked to a anti-pirate Tender. Cutters carry a cluster of twelve chemically-fueled rockets with explosive warheads.
Iain M. Banks has written about a variety of spacefaring militaries in his scifi novels.
The Culture fields many types of ship, most of which are pretty big and bad even if they're not actually warships. The General Systems Vessels are effectively Worldships, capable of housing hundreds of millions of people and building entire fleets. Medium and Limited Systems Vessels are older, smaller versions of such being merely 5 or 10km long compared to the 80km+ length of the larger examples. General Contact Units are more versatile and significantly smaller vessels, usually carrying as many as hundreds of people in comfort but fulfilling Cruiser or Destroyer roles when required. Very Fast Pickets are demilitarised true warships, smaller and faster than GCUs and still capable of packing a nasty punch. They often carry around smaller groups, maybe dozens of people or fewer. Rapid Offensive Units and Offensive Units fill the Cruiser and Battleship roles. They're ranked as some of the most dangerous bits of military technology in the Galaxy. Notably, Culture vessels can effectively turn themselves into warships by fabricating weaponry, but the VFP, ROU and OU Minds are built solely for the purpose and are exceedingly skilled combatants, strategists and tacticians.
Other races shown tend to name their warships more warship-like names. The Culture tends to feel a little embarrassed about its military side, other races such as the Homomda are rather more pragmatic and some such as the Affront positively glory in it with ships designed to look Bad Ass first and foremost.
It's worth noting that no-one fields Space Fighters. Anything smaller than an ROU offers about as much threat as a rowboat against the Yamato at full battlestations in open sea. It can't fit big enough engines, sensors, weapons or stealth equipment to be of any worth.
There are no Missile Boats or the like either... any weapon that can't travel at lightspeed (at the very minimum) is just too slow and too easily despatched to be hazardous. Warheads are generally just displaced into their target for maximum effectiveness.
The many, many fleets of the Omnocracy in The Algebraist take conventional naval warship classes; Destroyer and Battleship and so on. There are no Carrier type vessels here, either, though they do make hefty use of long range projectiles. This is at least in part due to the fact that there is no Faster-Than-Light Travel outside of the Portal Network... if the portal is down, coming in the long slow way means you get to fling relativistic warheads at the target system whilst you decelerate.
Fighters are football sized craft that are piloted by telepathic cats. They are armed with thimble-sized photonuclear bombs to fight Eldritch Abominations whose only weakness is intense light. Cats are the only beings fast enough to intercept the Rats, who can move extremely fast.
The Golden Ships are an example of a Super World Ship, a sphere 90 Million miles in length (short of an AU by 2 million miles). Extremely fast, it could move in seconds. However, the Golden Ship is really a decoy, being mostly hollow and consisting of foam and wires. It has no weapons of its own, and must rely on its speed to survive.
Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series borrows heavily from the standard sci-fi fleet, although due to the nature of the setting's FTL Travel physics, the larger a ship is, the faster it typically moves; the main reason that every military vessel is not a dreadnought is the expense. Space Fighters do exist; they use the same drive systems but their role is more akin to a missile boat: their job is to get close enough to the target to accurately launch a single fire-and-forget missile that can kill just about any ship of any size. Most non-military interstellar trade and travel is conducted by Space Freighter-class ships.
Animorphs has pretty much the whole gambit. The small craft are the Bug Fighters, and the Andalite craft they were stolen from, differentiated by the placement of the 'tail' that holds the Dracon cannon. Bigger is Visser Three's Blade Ship, and the biggest are the Yeerks' Pool Ships and the Andalite Dome Ships, whose front halves seperate to double as medium-sized fighters. Possibly a Detachable Drive kind of thing.
Notably, neither the Bug Fighter nor the Andalite fighters are of the "single-seat cockpit" type more commonly seen in fiction - there's enough room inside for several people to go around, have their own FTL drives, can function in a wide variety of environments, carry a lot of weapons (the Andalite fighter has a main guns, several secondary weapons, and a complement of missiles) and can function in very long term missions by themselves. They're more like little starships (smaller than the capital ones, that is) than "fighters", in this sense.
Averted in Philip K. Dick's short story Tony and the Beetles, where the whole enemy fleet is said to consist of armed freighters only.
Played straight for humans and the Turusch in Ian Douglas's Star Carrier series. Not so much for other races, who are only shown using one or two types of ships. Humans base their tactics on carrier battlegroups launching Space Fighters in advance of the group in order to perform a high-c (relativistic) strike at the enemy and tie up the enemy fleet while the battlegroup arrives to bring the heavy guns. In point of fact, carriers are also armed fairly well (using fighter launch tubes as Magnetic Weapons when not launching fighters). The Turusch have many different classes, but their massive command-and-control ships are, actually, hollowed-out planetoids.
The major powers operate just about the whole list except for Humongous Mecha. Battlestars are exceedingly popular.
Notably, the terminology on B5 varies wildly from one race to another. While most races use "Cruiser" or some variation ("Star Cruiser", "War Cruiser", etc.) for their largest warships, the humans prefer the term "Destroyer" for their Battle Star type ships, and use "Heavy Cruiser" to describe their smallest class of warship, with "Dreadnought" as the second-smallest seen. Presumably a case of advancing technology and ship sizes causing their old class designations to become obsolete, as the Omega and Warlock class Destroyers are massive.
The Vorlons and the Shadows also implement Planetkillers which are escorted by the various ship classes they have.
Fighters and mid-sized ships such as the Drazi Sunhawk are used to harass larger capital ships, while the larger capital ships serve as both battleship and fighter carrier roles. Gunships like the Whitestar are essentially flying cavalry ships built to match (or outgun) traditional (and larger) battleships as well as being nimble enough to outmaneuver even fighters.
Largely averted by Star Trek, though there have been Expanded UniverseFan Wank attempts to make the ships fit into a standard sci-fi fleet. Notably, because Starfleet's mission is basically peaceful, the largest classes of ships (such as the Enterprise-D) are designated Explorer rather than Battleship, though they also fulfill that role in wartime (In other words, they're Science Vessels you might wanna think twice about messing with). However, in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, a Klingon captain referred to the Enterprise as a 'heavy battlecruiser'—but considering he was a Proud Warrior Race Guy it kind of makes sense that he would. Also, due to the almost complete lack of fighters, there are no spaceborne aircraft carriers.
In TNG's alternate time line episode "Yesterday's Enterprise", the Enterprise-D is referred to as a Battleship.
Most of the rare fighters that crop up in Trek also have FTL ability, which is another strike against the norm.
The Defiant from Deep Space Nine was the first Federation ship designed to be exclusively a warship, it's one of the smallest ships in the fleet but with the armaments and Deflector Shields to rival the largest. Notably, the Defiant was brought in because the "Runabouts" the station was issued were little more than enlarged shuttles with a couple phasers put in for self defense. But that said, Deep Space Nine's Runabouts were head and shoulders above a The Next Generation shuttle, and were frequently used as standard ships.
One episode of Deep Space Nine has Kira and Dukat turning their freighter into a Q-ship, in an attempt to ambush a Klingon Bird-of-Prey that had been raiding Cardassian outposts.
The Maquis turned some small "courier vessels" into fighters by fitting aftermarket weapons, but being as they were more or less a variant on La Résistance, it was likely all they could afford anyway. The Federation uses their own variant of them in the subsequent Dominion War because the main Dominion warships are too powerful for the runabouts to fight, too numerous and dangerous to fight with their regular ships, and there's only the prototype Defiant at first.
It should also be noted that these were quite a bit larger than typical space fighters in other settings. More like combat shuttles.
The battle in Deep Space Nine's "Sacrifice of Angels" shows an entire Federation battle fleet (of 600 ships) in action, with the Galaxy-class vessels used as heavy battlecruisers, the Miranda-class vessels as frigates and escorts, the fighters as skirmishers and the Defiant as a sort of flying cavalry unit that can smash through holes in the enemy lines.
The Delta Flyer is a shuttlecraft size ship with enough weaponry (Borg inspired) to reasonably assist Voyager in a fight.
The Prometheus is designed specifically for warfare, as its Multi-vector assault mode demonstrates. It splits into 3 armed and warp-capable sections that can quickly overwhelm the shields on a Nebula-class ship and a Romulan D'deridex-class warbird. The same episode also shows multiple Defiant-class ships engaging Romulan warbirds and holding their own.
Vessels of the ''Sovereign''-class are often referred to as being "Heavy Explorers"; capable of undertaking long-range exploration, scientific, humanitarian, diplomatic and tactical mission profiles. Basically, she's a return to the "one-ship taskforce" model of 23rd Century ships such as the original Starship Enterprise; an exploration vessel with sharp teeth. The other great powers of the region probably find an exploration vessel capable of out-slugging their own top-of-the-line ships as something of an insult. Not counting the Scimitar, which was built by slave miners in secret, was massive compared to any other vessel short of Borg Cubes, had regenerative shields before they were a thing, a cloaking device that broke all the established rules of cloaking and is definitely not a thing that ever existed.
The technical manuals for the more militaristic TOS-era Federation list ships from the Hermes-class scoutship on up to the Federation-class dreadnought. The Constitution-class is described as a heavy cruiser.
Other than the absence of fighters and carriers, the more militarist factions fit this trope pretty well. For instance the Klingon Bird-of-Prey is a frigate/destroyer weight warship; Vor'cha, K't'inga, and D7 classes are battlecruisers; and the Negh'Var class fills the role of dreadnought.
Escape and Utility Pods have been seen in the background, but otherwise don't play a vital role in the franchise.
The Peacekeepers of Farscape have several classes of ships from fighters to capital ships of various types. Assorted other ships show up over the course of the series.
The major Empires seem to have one giant battlecarrier (command carriers, dreadnoughts), a fighter-type ship like a prowler or the Scarran equivalent, and a Marauder/Stryker-type, which is like a Heavy Fighter or Gunboat combined with a Dropship. In the Scarrans' case, theirs is also a Lightning Bruiser. The PKs also have a smaller capitol type ship, the Pantak-Class Vigilante, which looks to function like a frigate in fleet formations or like a light cruiser on its own.
The Peacekeeper Wars shows two full battlefleets going at it: Peacekeepers and Scarrans.
That series introduces the Scarran Emperor's command ship, a smaller warship than a dreadnought but one that is heavily armed, and faster even than a Stryker. It also introduces a different variant on the Command Carrier, a Flagship variant with what looked like extra armor, and which lacked the smaller ring-like structures on the standard version.
Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined)'s Cylons avert the trope, because their fleets mainly consist of just basestars and their Raider complements, along with perhaps a Resurrection Ship. The Colonials, on the other hand, don't - before the nuclear holocaust, it appears that the Colonial Fleet was divided into battlestar groups - BSGs - consisting of battlestars and (presumably) support vessels. This doesn't really affect the show, because the only two military vessels to survive are the battlestars Galactica and Pegasus.
Raiders are unmanned, and have a pack animal intelligence; though they are technically Living Ships, they fulfill the role of drone fighter that rarely makes it into sci-fi. The Heavy Raider fills the Heavy Fighter/Dropship role (like the Colonial Raptor).
On the civilian side you've got some highly specialized ships like a sewerage treatment ship that was deemed expendable enough to be sent off on what was potentially a wild-goose-chase for a couple of months. They also built their universe's first stealth-fighter as a pet project.
The ships of Stargate SG-1 can be partially classed into a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet, although most space-faring civilizations seem to use only a very few ship classes (and of course the titular Stargates make the use of ships optional altogether in some situations). The Goa'uld have the largest variety, with the fighter-like Death Gliders, small cargo ships that are essentially shuttles, medium-sized bombers, dedicated troop transports, and Ha'tak mother ships, which are basically Assault Carriers, carrying both lots of cannons and lots of Death Gliders. Some powerful Goa'uld also developed larger Capital Ship classes. The Asgard mainly use various types of battleship, the Replicator Cruisers serve more as transports than anything, the Lucian Alliance mainly use converted freighters, and the Ori have their massive Motherships.Most large ships in the 'verse seem to be Battlestars, including all large Earth vessels, though a few alien races do provide exceptions.
The Wraith, of all races, approach this trope the most, having Dart fighters, slightly-larger scout ships (only one is ever shown, though), supply ships (carrying people for food), cruisers, and massive Hive ships. Both of the latter are battlestars, carrying large numbers of Darts as well as armed with powerful energy cannons. There was also the one-off Super-Hive, which got big as a result of a powerful energy source. It could probably take on an Ori mothership and win.
The humans seem to focus mainly on Space Fighters (which makes sense, given that their ships were first developed by the Air Force). Types appearing in the series include the X-301 Interceptor, the X-302 Hyperspace Fighter, and the F-302 Fighter-Interceptor. The only capital ships to appear are the BC-303 and its successor, the 304.
This ties in to how the ships are designated as well: "X" seems to stand for "Experimental" and "F" for "Fighter", and presumably "BC" stands for "Battlecruiser".
There was only one BC-303 ever made, the Prometheus. When first introduced, the Daedalus was claimed to be the sister ship of the Prometheus, even though it was much larger and featured a substantially different design. Later, they just call all subsequent ships Daedalus-class. It's also unclear if the Prometheus was ever redesignated as BC-303, as it was originally introduced as X-303.
Firefly features a classic Blockade Runner which can be considered a co-Trope Codifier. It also carries two shuttles. The Alliance ships include a Carrier or possibly a Battlestar (the Tohoku-class cruiser, a.k.a. the Flying City Block) and a small Cutter/Corvette (the ASREV Gunship, the four-man space police car the size of a modern jet plane). Reavers use almost exclusively re-purposed civilian craft. One small colony ship (the homesteader) also makes an appearance.
The Andromeda Ascendant can be best described as a Battlestar, having several fighters, drones, and drop pods along with enough firepower to depopulate a planet in eight minutes. The Eureka Maru is a blockade runner. The Commonwealth Argosy also had a number of other ships classes such as battleships and troop carriers, which occasionally make appearances 300 years after the fall. The Magog have a worldship that is more accurately a mobile artificial star system.
Of note is the Siege Perilous-class Deep Stand-off Attack Ship II, which is a cross between a dreadnought and a space gun, as its primary role is to enter the battle from far away, unleash hundreds of ship-killer missiles at the enemy, and enter slipstream before the enemy got close enough to shoot back, as the ships of this class are Point Defenseless. Only 4 were built prior to the Nietzschean Revolt with one of them destroyed in port. One (Wrath of Achilles) was captured, and one (Balance of Judgment) managed to escape and survived the Fall. The Resolution of Hector is the first ship of this class to be built by the New Commonwealth. The Wrath of Achilles was recovered and added to the New Commonwealth fleet only to be destroyed with the majority of the fleet due to Collector treachery.
Battlefleet Gothic gives most fleets a mix of Frigates, Cruisers, Assault Carriers, Battleships, and Battlestars supported by fighters, bombers, and drop pods. Most factions also have a Missile Boat frigate class, some have Space Guns, and Chaos and the Imperium also get Worldships in the form of the Blackstone Fortresses.
Ships of the Imperial Navy are generally grouped thus (from smallest to largest): escort ships: destroyers, frigates, light cruisers. Capital ships: cruisers, grand cruisers/battlecruisers (roughly the same size; battlecruisers are upgunned and -armoured cruisers built to replace the grand cruiser class after some of the technology needed to built them was lost and the existing ships were found to have a disturbing tendency to disappear into the Warp, only to return centuries later crewed by the servans of Chaos or worse), battleships. Most ships are armed with a mix of lances (high-power lasers) and macrobatteries (which depending on the ship can be anything from enormous cannons firing shells the size of buildings to plasma- or laser batteries), with capital ships also usually carrying torpedoes. The Imperium doesn't really use pure carries, but Battlestar-type ships that combine launch bays with turrets do exist (and are infact quite effective, but tend to be looked down on by the Navy foe not matching their idea of a "proper" warship, ie. one that blows up the enemy with broadsides from its many, many guns).
In the BattleTech universe the only ships capable of interstellar travel are fragile JumpShips (basically detachable drives that ferry smaller ships and cargo pods) and heavily armored WarShips, which are divided into cruisers, battleships, and battlestars. The Succession Wars destroyed all known WarShips in the Inner Sphere, leaving JumpShips as the only means of interstellar travel. This forced Dropships filled with Humongous Mecha into heavy use and limited space combat to fighters trying to kill said dropships before they reached a planetary surface. The return of the Clan forces and their full armada of warships changed the equation a bit.
Special mention must be given to their dropships - as you might expect, a ship intended to ferry groups of 100-ton mechs from ground to orbit and back are huge, and impressively well-defended. Even a "standard" Hrothgar-pattern dropship carries as much firepower as an average lance of Assault Mechs, and even more powerful versions exist. Occasionally, they are even intentionally placed in combat as a sort of very large turret or fortress. Later some of them are designed as or upgraded to "Pocket Warships", armed with Warship-class missiles (and later Sub-Capital weapons) and capable of damaging or even destroying the big ships in surprisingly-small squadrons.
Perhaps as a consequence of such formidable Dropships, Aerospace Fighters in Battletech are no joke themselves. Most of them being every bit as armed and heavily-armored as a Tank or the series' signature Battlemechs.
Rifts used shuttles of various types for the Mutants In OrbitSourcebook, and also used Powered Armor and Humongous Mecha in space, just like on the ground. The Phase World/Three Galaxies setting had all that, and also ships of every kind mentioned above.
Traveller Classic had all of these ship types except for the Bomber, Humongous Mecha and Worldship. The smallest warships with spinal mounts could count as Space Gunships.
Actually Traveller does have bombers. Or rather can. Mention is made of craft optimized for close orbital/atmospheric work, and some would of course drop gravity bombs.
Big ships are the deciding factor in any given Traveller battle however no fleet can do without small ships as they can help dominate space or prevent domination and are thus an important strategic asset. In the Intersteller Wars, a vast Vilani armada could be paralysed because Terran raiders had done so much damage to the space lanes.
There are also "Fleet Tenders", little more than big jump drives that can carry a bunch of smaller (up to battleship size) ships that don't waste space on Jump Drives and instead have a ton of weapons and reaction drives. Such battleriders can usually take out jumpships of equivalent tonnage but they don't have the option of jumping away if faced with a superior force, so the Imperial Navy tends to relegate them to defense.
Starfire has all of these classes except humongous mecha, surpassing the battleship in size with the Super Dreadnought and the even-larger Monitor. Not surprising, since David Weber (of Honor Harrington fame) was a major contributor to this game's development.
GURPS: Spaceships has given stats for everything but a worldship (though it does get a name check).
Almost everything is possible in Star Ruler. The game's default designs include Fighters, Bombers, Destroyers, Assault Carriers, Freighters, Star Bases, Space Stations, and Colony Ships. Using the ship designer allows you to stick with this or build them any old how in defiance of convention.
EVE Online has Frigates, Destroyers, Cruisers, Battlecruisers, Battleships, Carriers, Dreadnoughts, Motherships (bigger carriers) Supercarriers and Titans (ginormous capital ships). There's also fighters, which are NPC controlled and launched from Carriers and Supercarriers, as well as various non-combat ships and specialist ship types (such as interceptor or electronic warfare).
Almost all Eve Online ships carry drones which are unmanned Fighters. Some very tiny ships qualify for Battlestar status if drones and guns satisfies the Fighters and guns requirement. The definition of a Fighter blurs even further because Frigates handle exactly like you would expect a Fighter to, and are the only ship like that a player can pilot. It gets even weirder with the Taranis class Interceptor (Frigate) which is a small highly mobile ship with almost no armor that can launch several drones.
Carriers, Dreadnoughts, Supercarriers and Titans have piddly slow speeds compared to the subcapital ships. There are actually no engines designed to fit on them, leaving them to rely on manoeuvring thrusters once on a battlefield. The only real way to position them is managing the FTL systems used to deliver them to the battlefield, warp drives and jump drives, so that they land where you want them. This leaves them feeling pretty stationary once they get into combat. To go even further, Carriers and Dreadnoughts can enter triage and siege mode respectively which leaves them immobile but much more effective at their roles. Also all but the dreadnought fill support roles. The Carriers and Supercarriers do healing and transport including taking backup ships into combat for players who got blown up. Titans have clonebays aboard so players can spawn there if they die, and can open jump bridges which allow entire subcapital fleets to move long distances rapidly. Hence they fill the World Ship role to some degree.
The recently added Tier 3 Battlecruiser are a rare example of Battlecruisers in the original sense. These ships have the special ability to fit weapons normally seen on Battleships, but have the speed and agility of a Cruiser, while having Cruiser amounts of armor and shields.
The FPS tie-in DUST 514 will of necessity be adding troop ships and drop ships, it remains unclear whether EVE players will ever be able to pilot either.
FreeSpace had Cruisers as the smallest captial ship, with Destroyers actually being the "Battleship" class. In the second game, the "Corvette" class was added as an intermediate size between Cruiser and Destroyer.
The Blue Planet mod adds the United Earth Federation's "frigates", which are a classic example of a Gundam-style Assault Carrier.
The Wings of Dawn mod runs straight with it, though Destroyer class ships are nowhere to be seen as of the first installment. The unique ship Guardian Angel technically is an assault carrier, much smaller than Freespace's Orion and houses only a squadron of strike crafts instead of a whole fleet of them.
The Halo series is chock-full of these. The human and Covenant navies conform to the standard frigate/cruiser/etc. hierarchy, and all soldiers bear naval ranks (even the Master Chief is named after a real-life navy rank: Master Chief Petty Officer). Both sides make heavy uses of dropships, and there is an actual ship called the Dreadnought. Also includes examples of World Ships (High Charity) and Space Guns (the orbital "Super MAC" platforms). Though it bears mentioning that the UNSC ships called Carriers and the Covenant ships called Assault Carriers, while having their eponymous function, also have the heavy muscle in ship-to-ship engagements to double as Battlestars. The Supercarriers for both sides take this Up to Eleven. To give you a good estimate of how big Covie Supercarriers are, they are roughly 5 times the size of the Assault Carrier◊ (shown on bottom left corner). Halo Wikia puts them at 27 km, bigger than even Star Wars 's Banner Ship example. There are giant repair and refit stations, too, on the human side: essentially giant squares of titanium a kilometer on a side. They were able to repair and refit six destroyers at a time, and even saw combat used as giant sacrificial shields large enough to protect an entire human fleet. Even larger than those, the Hopeful was built by welding two of those together, sandwiching a couple fusion power cores, jump engines, and basic defenses... and also building a gigantic state-of-the-art-hospital the size of a small city inside. What happens when you build a Tender ship the size of a Battlestar? This.
Homeworld, being a Real Time Strategy game IN SPACE!, is built around this, including pretty much every ship type above, using most of them verbatim: Fighter (including Bombers and Interceptors), Corvette, Frigate, Carrier, Cruiser, Destroyers, Dreadnoughts. The Mothership is a Battlestar and a Colony Ship, and there are examples of most other ship types.
The Mothership isn't really a Battlestar as its weaponry is insignificant against anything except Small Craft, it does tick the Colony Ship and Aircraft Carrier boxes though. Its also worth noting that there are major differences between Corvettes, Frigates and Destroyers. The frigate is pretty much exactly as described at the top of the page, while the Destroyer is large and powerful enough to qualify as a Capital Ship in the classifications used here. The Corvette falls under the Small Craft category, a well armed Shuttle is probably the closest match. Thus we're talking ships that can cut a swathe of destruction against most fighters and also, in reasonable numbers at least, threaten larger vessels. Unless said vessels have weapons that can track and hit Small craft, in which case the Corvette force is going to have casualties, possibly lots.
According to the game's own classification system, Frigates include all of the smaller Capital Ships and include everything from smallish conventional warships to ion-cannon-based Space Guns to pocket carriers. The Destroyer/Missile Destroyer is the next step up, the first of the Super-Capital vessels (which include the Carrier and Heavy Cruiser). Meanwhile, Corvettes include anything that falls below the Strike Craft/Capital Ships line, but is bigger than a fighter. (It's actually quite simple, provided you don't try to map any semblance of real-world classes onto it.)
The Mothership in Homeworld: Cataclysm definitely does fit into this mould, however, being gradually upgraded throughout the game so that by the final missions it is a very respectable warship in its own right, and is armed with a heavy cannon capable of destroying most enemy vessels with a single hit. The Mothership in Homeworld 2 is also considerably more capable than the original Mothership, but not as good as the one in Cataclysm.
In Homeworld 2, the Heavy Cruiser was replaced by the Battlecruiser which has built-in bays for servicing damaged fighter craft. Plus the main goal of the game turns out to be aquiring a Battlestar with a Wave Motion Gun and brutal point defenses.
Homeworld 2 has the Progenitor Movers which at first glance appear to be freakishly powerful combat drones. A few missions later though, it's shown that they're merely detachable drives used by the Precursors and it's only due to their hyper-advanced technology that these ships first seemed so formidable.
Homeworld has a number of space guns of varying sizes. The standard Ion Cannon Frigate is a small-scale space gun, while the Vaygr battlecruiser and Progenitor Dreadnought are much more massive and are far more deadly. Highlighting its status as a space gun, the Vaygr battlecruiser has a weakness in that fighters can shoot out its engines, preventing it from aiming its main weapon. Lastly there's Sajuuk, a monster of a ship which can pick off enemy vessels at extreme range with its humongous beam cannon. Good thing it's on your side.
Mass Effect uses fighters, frigates, cruisers, dreadnoughts and carriers.
The Normandy, for those interested, is a frigate, designed with advanced stealth capabilities to allow for recon and covert insertions deep into enemy territory.
The Normandy SR2 blurs the line between frigate and cruiser in terms of firepower due to its upgrades, which leave it armed, shielded and armoured enough to take down a cruiser. In terms of size, however, it appears the first Normandy is small for a frigate, likely passing for a corvette in other sci-fi universes, while the second ship is a more front-line size.
The dreadnoughts in the ME universe overlap significantly with Space Gun; their defining feature among all races is that they have main weapons that are between 0.8 and 1 km in length. They're still well-armed outside of their main gun, however. The in-universe fluff implies that they typically stay close to home to act as a strategic deterrent against attacks on their homeworlds.
It's also mentioned that dreadnoughts are at their best as long-range artillery pieces. Which is why the best tactic against them is to close in to "knife range", thus avoiding their main gun. This requires the use of smaller ships to protect the dreadnoughts. This is why the Destiny Ascension is threatened in the first game. The geth ships appear way to close for it to use its main gun effectively.
In Mass Effect 3, the massive quarian liveships, giant hydroponics bays which also contain much of the quarian population, are upgraded with the Thanix magnetic-hydronamic cannons, reverse-engineered from Reaper tech. This, effectively, turns them into dreadnoughts in terms of firepower, although definitely not in terms of endurance. The quarians insist that they're technically not dreadnoughts, as this would violate the Treaty of Farixen, which they're not signatories to anyways. Joker points out the problem of equipping them as Glass Cannon warships, and considers it unforgivably irresponsible, considering that these ships house their civilian population and that the guns make them high priority targets in a fight.
The Reapers' fleets consist of a mixture. The big, Sovereign-sized ships are simply referred to as "capital ships" while much smaller Reaper warships are referred to as "destroyers." They also include troop transports and "processor" ships which turn organics into husks or raw material to be used to assemble more Reapers.
Humans where also the only species to come up with carriers. They were built to get around the restriction of dreadnoughts imposed on Citadel races however we don't ever get to see them in the series. According the to codex they where extremely vulnerable as the hangers of fighters effectively created routes into the soft interior of the ship, so they would hang back in fights and where always escorted.
Master of Orion had ships classed as follows: Frigate, Destroyer, Cruiser, Battleship, Titan, Doom Star. Fighters, bombers and heavy fighters were mountable as weapons on any craft or launched from ground bases. Troopships could also be brought along to invade particularly desirable colonies.
Master of Orion III had even more classes, such as Battle Cruisers, Dreadnoughts, and Superdreadnoughts.
The iOS port Starbase Orion has all the original classes, except the Doomstars are called Mammoths, most of which look like large ships instead of mobile planetoids. Only the Cyban Mammoths still look like space stations (then again, many of their larger ships have the rounded look, and the developers admit their Borg and Cylon inspirations).
Galactic Civilizations has tiny (fighter), small (bomber), medium (corvette), large (cruiser) and massive (battleship) chassis for ships, and space stations. Depending on what you stick on the chassis, they may fill several of the above-mentioned roles — you can, for instance, make a massive-sized colony ship by sticking several colony modules on a massive chassis.
With a high Logistics rating, you can even create actual standard sci-fi fleets by mixing together everything from battlecruisers to heavy fighters. Or you could just go with There Is No Kill Like Overkill, build nothing but the biggest hammers you have available, and begin blasting.
However Galactic Civilisation fighters lack what is often their primary asset in fiction, a greater chance of dodging shots fired at them. Instead the advantages of building warships with smaller hulls are lower technology requirements, ships that are usually cheap enough to be built quickly (even by your less industrialised worlds) and fielded in larger numbers (thanks to lower upkeep costs), the fact these small vessels can be combined into larger squadrons/fleets than their bulkier counterparts, and the related effect that this allows them to take apart larger ships because the bigger vessels can only kill one at a time.
Sword of the Stars has ships divided into cruiser, destroyer and dreadnought sizes, with each size having different choices for chassis and weapons loadout that can serve several of the above roles (the freighter and colony ships are destroyer-size though later techs allow for cruiser versions, a torpedo ship can be made by giving a cruiser the torpedo section and filling all its medium/large turrets with missiles, the Siege Driver tech lets you build a dreadnought-size space gun, etcetera). In lieu of space fighters are AI-controlled drones and assault shuttles (anti-planetary bombers carried individually by destroyers or later in groups by cruisers).
The sequel ups the ante by introducing the new leviathan-class ships, super-sized dreadnoughts. The destroyer meanwhile has been relegated to the role of escort ships without FTL drives and are deployed from larger-sized vessels when they arrive at battlefields.
The developers have stated why they have drones and destroyer-sized gunboats/corvettes instead of fighters: they'd just get swatted by point defense (and drones often are).
The humans also have the Node Missiles, destroyer- (cruiser- in the sequel) sized weapons equipped with FTL drives. They are faster and tougher than any other missile, and several of these can destroy most ships. Unfortunately, they have since been Nerfed (damage significantly decreased, cost significantly increased) to the point where they're not worth even researching.
Several races also have specialized ships related to their form of Faster-Than-Light Travel. The Zuul have giant space drills that punch temporary holes in space-time. The Hivers have gateships, which deploy to form their Portal Network. The Morrigi have gravboats, which speed up the fleet during FTL and slow down enemies in battle. Other ships added in the expansions include freighters, q-ships, patrol craft, starbase constructors, and propaganda ships.
Also of note is that there are no troopships on account of there being no ground combat whatsoever. Rather planets that refuse to surrender are bombarded from orbit. If you don't want to wreck the environment too badly you use assault shuttles or biowar missiles.
Starcraft has a little of this in the aircraft combat aspect. Each race has their own variation of the Fighter, Bomber, Interceptor and Drop Ship, and the Terrans have a literal Science Vessel (the Zerg and Protoss have rough equivalents). The Terrans also get a Battlecruiser, which is essentially a well-armoured Space Gun, and the Protoss have a self-explanatory Carrier.
Aside from the Fighter, Drop Ship, and Science Vessel, the similarities blur some. The Protoss Corsair is a plain Interceptor (cheaper than their Fighter, faster, with only an anti-air weapon), but the Valkyrie (Missile Boat) and Devourer are bigger, tougher, and more expensive than the Fighters. The Zerg get a standard Bomber for their Guardian, and a cheap flying bomb unit; the Terrans have no Bomber but do have a smallish Battlecruiser, Wave Motion Gun optional; the Protoss have their Carrier and a cloaked recon vessel.
In Starcraft II the Protoss get the Void Ray, a Space Gun, which is pretty much engines and a cockpit floating around a laser crystal. They also get a Mothership that's basically a floating city with which can cloak allies and generate temporary wormholes.
The Terrans also get a bomber unit, the Banshee, and the new fighter unit is a Transforming Mecha.
The cruisers have firepower distributed fairly equally around the ship, but turn slowest; the escorts are designed for frontal attacks, and have the fastest turn rates; the science vessels have fewer weapons than cruisers but are more maneuverable. There are some weapons that can only be mounted one one class or another, but the major diffences are the number of consoles each can equip (cruisers get engineering, escorts get tactical and science gets...umm...science) and the number of bridge officers that can be assigned to engineering, tactical or science stations, thus how many different "powers" can be used by each ship. Cruisers, being engineering heavy, have strong defense and power transfer capability. Escorts have more tactical flexibility in terms of weapon power and special movement and attacks. Science vessels are buff/debuff specialists.
While not generally including a fleshed-out fleet, the Star Fox series has a number of ships that fit into the classes: the player-controlled Arwings are typical space fighters, the Great Fox is an Assault Carrier being used as a mobile base, and the enemies and bosses have included Humongous Mecha, Battlecruisers, repurposed Science Vessels and weirder things, including three ships that combine into one ship and later a robot.
The two main sides (Galactic Spanning Corporation and Bora colonists) in Tachyon: The Fringe are shown to have Standard Sci-Fi Fleets, with GalSpan having the white-and-blue sleek-looking ships, and Bora using mining and cargo ships hastily refitted for combat. The ship list included with the game shows that both sides have a full complement of warships, including frigates, destroyers, cruisers, and carriers, not to mention 5 types of fighter craft for each. Based on the game and the ship list, it doesn't look like anyone else has anything coming close to a full-complement fleet. Star Patrol, yet another strong power, only has hyper-advanced Enforcer-class fighters and cruisers which seem to combine the best of each capital ship class (i.e. speed/maneuverability of a frigate, firepower of a cruiser, and fighter-carrying capability of a carrier), making them Battlestars.
The Celareons also qualify, except they don't have fighters and carriers, while the majority of the Mantis fleet is made up of carriers.
The Terrans also have a space gun, capable of shooting halfway across a star system and can One-Hit Kill almost any ship.
Interestingly, Terrans don't have any fighters or carriers until the technology is provided by the Mantis. Yes, humans have forgotten how to build carriers and can't build small ships. During the first part of the campaign, their typical role as disposable grunts for Terrans is performed by the Corvettes, which are actually the only Terran ships that automatically destroy enemy fighters.
The X-Universe has M0 (Planet killers or battleships), M1 (Carriers), M2 (Destroyers), M3 (Heavy Fighters), M3+ (Enhanced Heavy Fighters), M4 (Interceptors), M4+ (heavy interceptors), M5 (Recon craft), M6 (Corvettes), M7 (Frigates), M7M (Missile Frigates), M8 (Bomber), and DO (Drone) ship classes. It also has GO, a special class of what amounts to unarmed cargo shuttles, used exclusively by the pacifist Goners.
It also has four different freighter classes. TS Transports (Space Truckers), TP Personnel Transports (luxury passenger ships), TM Military Transports (TS with much of the cargo bay converted to fighter docking), and TL Station Transports (capital ship-sized freighter for carrying space stations from shipyard to job site).
X3: Albion Prelude adds a small number of M2+ super-destroyers (the ATF Valhalla, Terran Kyoto, Boron Megalodon, and Xenon I) that are bigger, tougher, and slower than M2's and usually include an extra gimmick such as being able to dock M6's or having missile turrets. They were pioneered in the Xtended Terran ConflictGame Mod for the previous game and made Ascended Fanon.
Naturally, as a space sim, Wing Commander has most of the standard fleet loadout. The Frigate and Destroyer are reversed in size compared to their Real Life counterparts, though, if not in firepower. Carriers get broken down into several sub-categories, influenced by the series original focus of the Pacific campaign of World War 2IN SPACE, including the original escort carriers being first built off of modified transport hulls. Battleships, however, are relegated to being mostly target practice, only seen in the novel Action Stations, set at the start of the Kilrathi war.
While not the main focus of the Metroid games, in Metroid Prime 3 Samus gets a closer look at the various ship types the Federation and the Space Pirates use. While both have the standard fighters, cruisers and carriers, the Space Pirates have boarding vessels that smash straight into enemy ships to deploy troops, while the Federation has recently introduced a new class of capital ship equipped with a organic supercomputer (and yes, it is suspiciously similiar to Mother Brain) that replaces most of the usual crew requirements. They use the extra room for more weapon systems.
Gratuitous Space Battles was explicitly designed to provide a pure fix of this trope. The player designs a fleet of fighters, frigates and gargantuan battleships then pits them against another fleet in a firestorm of technicolour glory.
Multiplayer strategy space sim Allegiance has a wide variety of ships that a team can develop for its players, the better to crush the other team. Because the emphasis is on small ships, most of the classes would fit under "Space Fighter" in the standard sci-fi fleet. All factions start with Scouts, which are very light fighters with good sensors. Most also get either Fighters, which are Jack of All Stats of combat ships, or Interceptors, which are tougher and less flexible, designed for short-range combat. A team must protect its miners to get the resources to develop more ship types, and better versions of the ones it has. There are also Stealth Fighters, designed to take down the enemy's Mining Ships. And there are Bombers, Stealth Bombers, and Troop Transports, which are used to capture enemy bases. Mining Ships and Constructors are basically specialized Cargo Ships. And rich teams can also get capital ships, which is risky, but can turn the game into a Curb-Stomp Battle if successful. The largest are the Battleships, which can win a game single-handedly with a bit of luck, but are very expensive to get. There are also Assault Carriers, which are a toned-down The Battlestar, with weak cannons, but the ability to teleport in smaller fighters and repair them. Lighter capital ship classes are also present.
Because each faction is different, some have specialized ships that others don't have access to: One faction also has a sort of Heavy Fighter, light Torpedo Bombers, and, essentially, Space Guns.
Infinite Space has most of the listed types, with standard destroyers, cruisers, and battleships making up the bulk of most fleets and dedicated carriers being rather less common. In addition, a few nations have more exotic ships, like giant flying guns or dedicated sensor and communications vessals.
The browser game Ogame has light fighters, heavy fighters, cruisers (only effective against fighters, otherwise useless), battleships, battlecruisers (more oriented towards defense than battleships), bombers (capital ships in this case), destroyers (dreadnoughts), and Death Stars. Also small and large cargoes, colony ships, recyclers, and espionage probes.
Sins of a Solar Empire has three general ship types: frigates, cruisers and capital ships. Frigates and cruisers are split into various combat and support types including: flak frigates, missile frigates, bombardment frigates, light carriers, heavy cruisers and so forth. Capital ships consist of carriers, battleships, colony ships, science vessels, and planet bombers. There's also fighters, bombers, orbital constructors, trade freighters, star bases, and superweapons.
Rebellion adds corvettes (smaller than frigates) and titans (larger than normal capital ships).
Haegemonia: Legions of Iron has these for all three races. You start with just fighters, then can build corvettes, followed by cruisers and, finally, battleships. There are also unarmed support ships, which repair damaged warships in flight, although these are the last to be researched. There are freighters, colony ships, and spy ships. Space stations (asteroid mining stations and military starbases) can move before deploying (they can be undeployed in the expansion). Orbital guns can be built on colonized worlds to defend against attackers. The expansion adds troop transports and several other ship types armed with Solon weaponry.
In Nova, the Federation and Auroran Empire each have an interceptor, a fighter-bomber, a gunship, a light cruiser, and a carrier. The Federation adds a scoutship, while the Aurorans later develop a fast battleship designed for close-range brawling. The Polaris use living ships equivalent to fighters, gunships, frigates, destroyers, and two types of battleship/carrier hybrids. Meanwhile the Rebels have an interceptor, fighter-bomber, three different gunships, and two different cruisers. While most pirate ships are fighters, Blockade Runners and Q-ships, they also have a carrier and a capital ship that can take different roles.
In Classic, the Confederation and the Rebels each have a fighter, gunship, destroyer, and a cruiser (effectively a battlestar, although due to how the outfitting system works all larger classes have a tendency to end up as battlestar-esque in all the games).
In Override, the UE starts with a fighter, a destroyer and a carrier, and later adds a cruiser. The Voinians have a supply ship (the UE uses civilian contractors/ships), a 'heavy fighter' (more-or-less analogous to a fighter-bomber), an interceptor, a frigate, a cruiser and builds a dreadnought in the course of the story (which is promptly destroyed before it is even properly deployed).
Battlestar Galactica Online has three main classes - Strikes, which are Space Fighters, Escorts and Lines. Each class is also subdivided into four different types - Interceptors, Assaults, Command and Multiroles. While the Basestar and Pegasus can be used, this is only through renting for up to an hour using the most valuable currency and they act as pure combatants without the option to launch fighters. There are Carriers that can carry player Strikes, but no true Battlestars as they can't really contribute to a direct fight. NPC-only classes include drones ranging from human-sized to Strike-sized, automated asteroid weapons platforms and Freighters.
Astro Empires mostly follows this trope to a T, the only real exceptions being the non-combat ships: Scout Ships are barely armed but extremely fast, being used for exactly what they sound like, Recyclers can convert Debris into Credits, Outpost Ships can establish new bases. The combat ships are straight examples: Fighters are affectionately referred to as "Meat Shields" and "Cannon Fodder", Bombers are bomber/gunship hybrid Glass Cannons with lots of weapons, Heavy Bombers are bigger and tougher Bombers, Ion Bombers have more advanced weapons and Shields, Corvettes are small and weak but fast and stealthy and only really good against small ships, Destroyers are fast but can pack a serious punch against larger ships, Frigates are a Jack of All Stats, Ion Frigates have more advanced weapons and shields, Cruisers are effectively bigger Frigates while Heavy Cruisers are bigger versions of them, Carriers can transport Fighters and Bombers but are nearly defenseless by themselves, Fleet Carriers are the same but bigger, Battleships are just what you'd expect: Big and strong.
Then come the Capital Ships, which require Orbital Shipyards to build: Dreadnoughts are basically bigger Battleships with massive defence, Titans are even bigger and have nearly impenetrable shields, Leviathans give power bonuses to the entire Fleet and can bulldoze everything short of a Planetary Ring, DeathStars can sterilize an entire planet and are nearly indestructible, but are painfully slow, and so big they can't fit through Jump Gates.
Notably, all ships bigger than a Frigate are The Battlestar, since they all have (very limited) Hangar Space, but Carriers are required to transport large amounts of Fighters and Bombers. Except Capital Ships all have more space than even Fleet Carriers, because everything about them is oversized.
In Vanquish, the ship that Sam uses to infiltrate the World Ship Providence looks very similar to a Star Wars Blockade Runner.
The R-Type series has the player's R9 spacefighter, Bydo fighters, carriers, Humongous Mecha, a modular cruiser, and a recurring mega-battleship boss that occupies an entire level in each game it appears in. Some levels take place inside worldships or supercarriers.
Mostly averted by Star Control II. Although some ships use normal designations (Skiff, Cruiser, Dreadnought), most aren't classified. While they could be shoehorned into the the standard ship types, each ship is defined more by a unique set of abilities than any kind of class.
If you can imagine it, you can build it in StarMade. Although you can build theoretically anything, ships inevitably tend to drift towards a few types that prove the most practical, while most generated NPC ships are already fairly standard. You can even reconstruct the Enterprise (or any ship from any sci-fi story ever, but usually it's the Enterprise).
Schlock Mercenary uses most of the types on this page, from troop transports up through frigates and cruisers all the way to massive Battle Fortresses. There are no fighters, with automated cruise missiles being used instead. The comic also adds its own class- Battleplates, colossal armoured ships designed to take asteroid impacts the hard way. They are designed to carry enough hypernet-linked drones to create a wide enough perimeter around a planet, to have enough time to react to a relativistic asteroid aimed at the planet, and also carry enough weaponry to destroy said relativistic asteroid with extreme speed. This also makes them very good at destroying everything else. They are unusual in that the bulk of their armament usesgravy, rather than the usual railguns, lasers and particle beams. Only humans build these, and they are among the most feared individual vessels in space.
At one point the characters consider adding another category to this list when they get their hands on a particularly large Fabber, basically a Mobile Factory, and consider adding engines, a helm and crew quarters so they can christen it Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance. Mainly to make fun of the Ob'enn.
Petey adds another variation called Penetrators, which are basically (sometimes) recoverable missiles which also contain a drop-pod. Flung up to near-c by a launcher, a single one can capture an Ob'enn Thunderhead by simultaneously scramming the main annie plant (and do so safely most of the time, which in itself is very impressive), and implant an agent to subvert the AI.
Crimson Dark has most of the above. Both sides have fighters, bombers, frigates, destroyers, and carriers. The Republic calls their big warships Battleships, while the Alliance equivalent are called Heavy Cruisers. Their are also a variety of civilian freighters seen in the comic.
Orion's Arm uses pretty much the whole variety. There are small ships like Landers, Singleships, Gravity Tugs, and Miners, transports like the Grapeships, a variety of Explorers, Cargo Ships, Colony Ships, Seedships, and Generation Ships, giant habitats like Cyclers, and Worldships, and detachable drives like Boostbeams and Solar Moths. Then there are oddities like Museum Ships, Civilization Ships, Arkships, Linelayers, and others. As far as warships are concerned, Corvettes, Cruisers, Carriers, Dreadnoughts, and massive Leviathans have all been used in the past, with the largest ever being the Juggernaut Class. Capital ships are also accompanied by self-replicating robotic escorts called Autowars.
Then there are some truly bizarre ships, like the Zoeific Bioships, the Muuh Iceships, and the Voidships.
During the Kennedy administration, the United States air force created a "realistic" design for a space battleship. It would be propelled by an "Orion drive" (i.e. driven by the force of nuclear explosions), and would be equipped (alongside a full nuclear arsenal) with naval-style battleship turrets. In practice, the very design of the ship terrified Kennedy to such an extent that he cancelled the entire program — but in theory, the battleship could have been built, and presumably could have paved the way for an entire fleet of other military space-craft. Plans for small single-person combat craft also existed, and are discussed on the Space Fighter page.