The Towhee class is one of those radical designs that seems to have had one foot firmly placed in the concepts of a past era and another in the current era. When the design as originally proposed it was almost too strange to be considered for construction given the angular nature of the craft and it’s especially unusual placement of engine systems and primary armament. The certainly would have been shelved as an engineering odd ball for all eternity had the Hulegu not begun a sudden series of raids for resources against the mining ships of the Commonwealth fleet. At the time of the attacks the Commonwealth fleet was able to ward off the Hulegu, but due to the enemy possessing faster vessels the commonwealth fleet was rarely able to inflict lasting damage. The inequity changed when a Half-scale functional mockup of the Towhee class happened to be on maneuvers with a skeleton crew just to test the space worthiness of the design.
The mockup design weighted half of the actual design’s intended displacement of 15,000 tons and bore a primary weapon recovered and altered from large stocks of existing 3-AE DRAIL type cannons removed from CT-9 carriers. When the Hulegu began attempting to raid Mining stations within the Galatia solar system the half size mockup was one of the first vessels to respond having been swept up in the chaos of the raid. Surprisingly for a test vehicle the Mockup acquitted itself well it’s modified main gun inflicting respectable damage in the affair until the vessel ran out of munitions for its main gun. Once the gun was silenced the Hulegu pounced on the craft and it was destroyed in a matter of minutes taking all hands with it. However the loss of the test craft bought critical time for the navy to arrive in force and then with the Hulegu finally overextended, for the first time their craft were unable to flee or fight at range the Commonwealth navy’s taskforce under the Command of Captain Nathaniel Sharp left the Hulegu raiding force in ruins with just three Hulegu vessels managing to escape. In the days after the battle at Galatia the information from the incident was reviewed several times over by civil authorities as well as the military the conclusion drawn was that the test vessel had delayed the Hulegu long enough to alter the battle. Had it not been for the vessel’s commander James K. Towhee deciding to take up position in the center of the thin defensive line there was no doubt many more lives would have been lost. In honor of the commanding officer of the test vessel the class was named in his honor. Likewise the first vessels of the clas were named after the members of his skeleton crew.
The actual Towhee is a vessel that defies classification, as it bears a weapon that belongs on a cruiser. The primary armament of the class is a single 6-AE DRAIL cannon supported by five times more munitions then were present on the test vessel with weapons scale considered. The primary weapon is mounted in a large crew operated remote sponson turret mounted on the portside of the craft. This mounting is angularly offset to the rear of the craft giving an total horizontal firing arc of 245 degrees. Elevation and depression of the main gun is said to be -/+ 20 degrees. To counter the limitations of the main guns arc the ships of this class are fitted with thrust vectoring system to allow the ship to rotate on axis to turn the entire craft to bring and enemy into the guns available firing arcs. Because of this system some have compared the Towhee to a tank destroyer and indeed its main role is to put a number of holes in a given target. Supporting the main armament are eight turrets equipped with quad 0.2-AE DRAIL mounts for anti-fighter, missile, torpedo and boarding shuttle use. Backing up the DRAIL turrets are another eight turrets equipped with five two-tube missile launcher systems a piece. The missile equipped turrets have the same uses as the DRAIL turrets but also are effective against dropships and small capitol ships. It should be noted that the Towhee class can carry three fighter squadrons, typically these fighters are only present for long voyages. The hull is composed of belted layers of armor supported by the craft’s natural angles and a reinforced internal framework. While the vessels standard compliment is 161 crew it can be operated by as few as thirty, and carries supplies to support the full crew for up to four years. As a final note, the Towhee is actually slower than the CT-9 carrier, and yet it’s greater attack range and ability to turn rapidly seems to compensate for the difference.
Deployment (as of 2052)
The Towhee class has found assignments to primary naval forces across the commonwealth territories. Typically vessels of this class are attached to starbases or critical ports as an interceptor