The Baltic-Class Battleship is the ultimate expression of the fleet anti-gunboat defense system. Earlier battles using a war-emergency class (the FlaK-Class Light Cruiser) had demonstrated the concept during the 2nd battle of Dave’s World, but had also shown weaknesses in the design. The FlaK was smaller than other light cruisers, more lightly armed, and simply not capable of surviving in the heart of battle. In addition, it took three of them working in concert to blunt a single incoming gunboat squadron.
The solution was the Baltic-Class. Built out of a modified Landser-Class Battleship hull, the Baltic strips out all the plasma tubes and instead replaces them with ranks of rapid-fire heavy point defense units. 50% larger than the normal point defense systems, they rely on shoals of modified plasma rockets instead of rapid fire lasers. Modified from ground-attack munitions, the rockets traded laser-homing sensors for drive-field detectors which made them effective against small craft. While they weren’t capable of knocking out small craft individually, a single heavy point defense unit ripple-fired tens at single time.
First deployed during 2nd Elysium, the lead Baltic-Class demonstrated its prowess by single handedly crippling a gunboat squadron. Later operations in Elysium demonstrated the substantial point defense was even capable of blunting (if not negating) the long range firepower of an entire planet. Unfortunately however, 2nd Elysium also demonstrated the primary weakness of the design: it was not invulnerable, and could not win the battle on its own unsupported.
The Baltic-Class is a natural outgrowth of the deWulf anti-small craft doctrine early in the war: warships with point defense take up a screen forward of the main battle line to deal with incoming gunboats, driving off the squadrons by causing too much damage or crippling their ability to deal offensive damage. The actual inspiration comes from Starfire 3rdR and the Theban Navy. Their China Sea-Class was designed primarily as a minesweeper, but its extensive point defence armament made it a nightmare for fighters to attack. Happily, this design dynamic remains in Solar as well, and while it’s not a perfectly effective counter (they’re more expensive AND longer to build compared to equivalent fighter squadrons) they’re a solution that can be built without heavy research into small craft. Another bonus is that they can be slotted into battle line squadrons to provide a terrifying amount of point defense, something that helped more than a few Landser-Class Battleships get into the fight.
Appearance-wise, this is one of the first design concepts for a deWulf battleship, and the necking down was originally meant to provide better firing arcs for the multiple point defense batteries. It retains the same bridge and engine module design concepts seen on smaller ships though enlarged due to the larger scale.