The Elysian Hydra-Class Carrier was the first major surprise that the deWulf met in combat with the Elysians, and they provided that surprise by destroying an entire Zitadelle-Class defensive station in the opening strike of the war. While combat small craft were technically in service, the combat dropships of the deWulf Army were at best capable of securing air superiority; they were never a threat to combat warships. The Hydra-Class was.
While limited command and control links slowed recovery, the overall operational plan was to loiter at the very edge of the battlefield and use its high-speed tactical engines to stay out of the line of fire while its onboard gunboats delivered repeated blows. Surprisingly, the idea of using them as long range strike elements (with the carriers far away from the battlespace) didn’t immediately occur to them, and it wasn’t until the 2nd battle of Dave’s World (where Sintillan carriers, with their own gunboat squadrons) demonstrated the validity of the tactic. In the course of the war, the deWulf captured only one Hydra, when it attempted a counterstrike to retake Dave’s World, in concert with several sister ships and an unidentified variant (presumed to be a command carrier variant). The carrier Guiding Pinion surrendered when her sister ships were destroyed and she found herself under the guns of no less than three fully-operational Zitadelle Mk2 defense stations. She was shipped to the research complex at Y-12 for evaluation, and is presumed to have been broken up for study.
Again, no bonus points guessing where this idea came from. This is exactly an Imperial carrier from Legend of Galactic Heroes. I didn’t even file off the serial numbers on this one. Like the earlier Hades-Class, I still intend to keep the overall smooth lines that are hallmarks of the Imperial ships. One thing I also would like to keep is the small cubicles that each individual craft docks into. You might be thinking “but that’s just something from Honor Harrington!” but amusingly enough, from what I can tell the animated version of Legend of Galactic Heroes predates the Minotaur-class CLACs by several years, if not a decade or more. So I figure at least I can claim that I’m following an older pedigree!
The first sketch was the literal first “iteration” but I did do some more experimentation with it than other classes, for one trying out a dual “catamaran” style similar to Sintillan warships, and adding a more classic flight-deck launch style compared to the individual cubicles. The above sketch shows part of this idea, and instead of having the large “boxes” atop the hull like the Hades-Class, it merged them together into the main hull linking the catamaran components. As a design path, it’s a dead end, but it’s one that was worth exploring, since it at least gives me a few ideas on which way NOT to go. And often enough that can be just as valuable.