Where Scalemodels meet Gaming Computers

ISD KRAKEN - Leviathan Class Star Destroyer

General Ship Characteristics

Not to be confused with a ship from any other genre, the distinctive dagger shape of the hull marks her from the ISD line, though this is a custom craft.  Originally planned to be an ISD II model, we happened across the 4k model of Ansel Hsiao's (Fractalsponge*) Allegiance Class and realized we should adopt his superior superstructure lines. During a chance conversation about the opportunities presented by the build project, we came to the consensus that this was likely a once and a lifetime build.  The resulting design changes would stretch four years and yielded a monster of a design.  Thus, the Kraken was born.

From a lore stand point, she is meant to resemble the Kuat line of ISD's and you can see call backs to multiple Imperial ships.  From the front you can see how her superstructure shares the aggressive lean and lines from Ansel's Allegiance class.  Her side hangar collars are from the Venator class.  She has the top hull shape of the Super Star Destroyer class, and the armor plating found on most of the ISD lines.  Her tail end, however, is a mix of various sized ISD engines and Venator engines.  Isometric and side angle profile shots show how unique her hull profile is to all other ISD's while still maintaining the look and feel of the class.  Looking at this ship, you have no doubt what genre you are looking at, or to which class and faction she belongs.  At over 2.5 meters long (8'4") her size leaves lasting impressions.  For most computer casemods, you can just lean or reach around to observe all their details.  Not this behemoth.  You have to WALK around the Kraken, though admittedly, that was not initially the plan. The nuances of her engineering and the need to give the turret structures sufficiently mass to handle servos and laser lighting while staying authentic to their intended proportions. The result, a 1/1000 scale mammoth ISD that dominates the space she occupies.

*Check out Ansels sublime work here : http://fractalsponge.net/

Role Characteristics

Lore wise, the Leviathan class is intended for deep space superiority, reconnaissance, and control.  Equivalent to the concept of the fast pocket battleship or heavy battle cruiser, she's quite a bit smaller than the dreadnaught classes of ships, but also quite a bit larger than the ISD classes.  To fit this role, she needed to be fast (extra engines), easy to maintain (similar components from other existing ships), pack a punch (many, many guns), easy to supply (large external docking collars for large ships and a relocated bridge), and have a compliment of hyperspace capable fighters and support ships.

In her lore story, she's a bit of a Frankenstein product built to prowl the un mapped regions rim ward of the Star Wars galaxy - commissioned explicitly for this purpose and to guard against the 'unknown dangers' that are said to exist in this region.

Genesis

The Kraken originally started out as the ISD Chimera, as a nod to one of the greatest sci-fi characters ever, Grand Admiral Thrawn.  The more we planned and dug into graphic designs (and a few cool physical models), the more we found oddities and incongruities in the ISD design.  For starters, back when the ISD was first imagined by George Lucas, video graphic technology didn't exactly meet today's standards.  Having seen pictures of the set models - they are surprisingly blocky and bland without the visual effects.  This is when we discovered Ansel's Allegiance class and the clean looking, yet aggressive lines along his superstructure.  What followed was roughly two years of design work and countless hours of videocalls and chat sessions where we began to play with the shape of the hull itself while still aiming to keep the ISD look and feel - with hopefully a few less weak points and a passable lore story.

Ship Specifications

Structure

The frame of the ship was laid down in aircraft grade aluminum.  This was part due to the need for weight reduction, but also for the flexibility and heat tolerance required.  The super structure's framing is composed of aluminum and ABS printed structures. To allow for heat tolerande, the computer basin itself is made fully of aluminum.  Side paneling and greebles are 3D printed ABS and  drilled for lighting effects using 1mm fiber optic strands.  The large top hull plates and greeble effects are made of styrene sheets that can be swapped for different effects (like battle damage) as are the greebles on the superstructure.  The hood of the superstructure itself and the iconic T-shaped section is fully removable with quick disconnects for the lighting features.  This allows for easy access to the computer basin.

The size and weight of all these components required a steel reinforcing plate running the length of the underside. This wound up being 3mm thick steel plating in order to handle the load requirements of the ship and to uniformly transfer all these forces to the stand without tipping the ship or damaging the frame.  The wedge shape of the hull helps organically transfer these forces to the stand.  For this reason, we settled on using one continuous piece of metal for this load bearing plate.  Both the hull and the pressure plate have drilled holes for the various components, vents, and widgets required to bring this case mod to life.  The mating point for the stand with the bottom of the ship is one of these drill holes.  The tube support and it's collar are both hollow to allow for the routing of cables. The collar rotates a full 360, because a) why not, and b) of course.  Also, the ship has the ability to tilt at a limited angle.  For safety reasons, there is a lock on this feature.  Wouldn't want her swinging around in circles on her own.

Fun fact, the original design called for her to be mounted on a swing arm that would be mounted on a vertical support column, allowing the ship to orbit around said column and change directions.  This was before she was 2 meters long, of course. 

Check out this section detailing out all of the crazy engineering and design work that went into this section of the ship.

Propulsion

Like all good engines, these ones are functional in that they direct the exhaust and heat of the ship in a useful direction (away). At the size of the ship, we knew we would position radiators for liquid cooling at the back of the ship to exhaust the heat and look cool doing it.  We also discovered the need to exhaust the PSU heat forward of the computer compartment.  This lead exhaust ports with booster fans in the ship hull forward of super structure area.  From a lore standpoint, these are effectively maneuvering thrusters which are not found on any other ISD design.  While the Star Wars universe requires a degree of suspension of belief in the laws of science, this modification just made too much sense to ignore considering it fit a design need.

The liquid cooling radiators for the computer cooling system are positioned just forward of the mesh plating that houses the mating collars for the engine nacelles.  This whole arraignment was redesigned about a billion times over the life of the project.  For lore reasons, the ship was designed to integrate the engine nacelles from the Venator class with the ISD design.  But truth be told, this was as much aesthetically driven as it was a nod to the Venator Yazi design.  What prompted these wandering eyes was the realization of how boring the standard ISD engines were in virtually every model and picture we could find.  Most digital pictures show the ship from flattering angles, which conveniently largely hides rear angle isometric shots that would show how awkwardly the standard ISD engines hang off the back of the hull.  With a physical model, you don't have this luxury.  

First, we tried staging the engines to mirror the reverse V shape of the hull so that the further outward the engine cowling was, the less it would extend past the back of the ship.  Then we filled the negative space around the cones with the nacelles from the Venator.  There were also about a billion versions and drafts of this, many of them terrible paper doodles that shall never see the light of day.  Most of these blocked too much airflow and would risk bottling up enough heat for the high end computer components to melt the 3D prints. A lot of investigation went in to finding the right 3dprintable materials with heat deformation characteristics to avoid any chance of this.

During a vacation, we stumbled across the idea of stretching the top hull similar to the profile offered by the Super Star Destroyer line.  This hull overhang required major rework to virtually everything else we'd done up to this point, but it inadvertently created better mounting points for an internal mounting structure.  Finally settling on a design that creates good negative pressure with some well positioned fans, the final design is both functional, lore appropriate, and aesthetically pleasing. 

Check out this section detailing out all of the crazy engineering and design work that went into this section of the ship.

Weapon Systems

Probably the earliest requirement for this build, aside from it being set in the Star Wars universe, was the need for functional turrets.  The plan was for these turrets to move on horizontal and vertical axis, be externally controlled by an app or arduino type controller, and shoot sweet hot laser beams.  That last part was problematic and is ultimately what drove the size increases in the ship.  Lasers small enough to fit in turrets sized for the ship do not have much in the way of thermal dissipating qualities if they are powerful enough to be visible. While we found some that were small enough, they were functionally little more than expensive LED's at that point.

After combing the market worldwide for over two years, we finally discovered a pair or lasers that would work and be visible ... if the turret was 300% larger than necessary.  We have the pictures and videos the prove how cool this looks, but as much as we enjoyed the design of a 2 and a half meter ship, a 5 meter one was out of the question. (Check back on this in a few years, this would make for an excellent car mod kit).  We also had to take into account some other fun facts.  Lasers bounce off reflective surfaces and can be all sorts of hazardous to your eyes if you aren't careful (we knew this thankfully).  It is also surprisingly hard to keep track of these reflections when there are 56 laser sources. So while we spent every bit of those two and half years trying to make this work - it just wasn't meant to be (for now!). 

Even before we settled on how we were going to light the turrets, design work was ongoing in parallel to map out the placement and movement of all of the turrets.  Knowing early on that we might not find affordable laser technology, we also made the conscience design choices that would allow the turrets to be replaced at a later date  (with lasers, ofc).

Lore wise, ISD ships have always had blind spots in their firing arcs and were most vulnerable to the rear and below the hull.  Disney appears to have made some nods to addressing this in their latest designs for the sequel trilogy.  We took this further and a fair bit overboard.  There are thirteen emplacements on the top hull, eleven on the bottom hull, and two in each trench.  Also, due to said laser issue, they are quite large.  Large enough that we adopted the larger armored reactor dome from the Allegiance design, and added a second dome further forward where the standard hangar bay would be on an ISD.

Check out this section detailing out all of the crazy engineering and design work that went into this section of the ship.

Systems and Electronics

The ship's computer is housed inside the superstructure and main body of the shipf.  Accessing the compartment requires the removal of the T-shaped structure.  We designed the computer basin for a extremely high end gaming rig that’s fully liquid cooled. 2 Highend Graphics cards, top of the line processor, copious amounts of ram and storage. As we enter a phase of renewed architectures and products at the end of 2020, we can confirm the exact component details when we are further along the build process. As for the radiator setup that extends into the engine parts of the ship we can confirm it will be a single 180mm, 2 x 240mm, 2 x 120mm and 2 x 92mm radiators. The liquid cooling reservoir has a drain plug that extends out of the bottom of the hull for ease of access as will it have a fill port on top of the ship.

Check out this section detailing the design time that went into accounting for the required functionality of the various aspects of the computer.

Lore and other Novella snippets

While this project is not sponsored by Disney, it represents the fan fiction of two long time sci-fi and star wars fans.  Naturally, it resulted a fair bit of its own lore.

The Leviathan class Star Destroyer was a battle cruiser class warship in the Imperial Navy.  Like other vessels in the Imperial Navy, the line carried the distinctive wedge shaped hull of the ISD line.  Designed primarily for long range force reconnaissance and space superiority, the ship was designed around multi-role functionality in fringe space where speed, maneuverability, and flexibility were prioritized.  Officially in the battle cruiser class, the Leviathan class carries formidable anti ship weaponry. The first ship in her class was manufactured from the stripped hulks of multiple retired warships, giving her an added flexibility when it came to sourcing replacement parts.  Her hull was lengthened to make room for aft-facing hangar decks, instead of the ventral hangar present on most ISD designs.  A secondary armored reactor dome was installed in the place of the ventral hangar due to the increased power draw of the ships systems.  The lack of purpose built reactor plant sized to the ship meant that she reused the reactor from other ISD designs which are insufficient for powering all ship systems continuously under battle conditions.   To counter this, large power storage arrays were installed for the purpose of front loading power requirements in combat settings to enable the ship to bring full power to engine and shields while maintaining alpha strike capability from the ships main weaponry.  Due to the undersized reactors at ships launch, recharging these batteries in combat requires shunting power between ship systems.  This leads to primary hit and run type tactics using the ships superior speed and maneuvering while her weapon systems recharge.  In a pinch, these same power reserves can be routed to other systems or fed from other systems.  Thus the ship can move and be shielded, fire and be shielded, or fire and move. 

In support of her long range mission requirements, provisions were made to increase her service time from the normal 5 year tour of an ISD to indefinite with the addition of large docking collars for fleet replenishment actions.  This necessitated the repositioning of her bridge to the forward superstructure just above the main hull. 

In part due to her intended role of prowling the unknown regions, and in part keeping to the traditions of Imperial ship naming regime, the Leviathan class of ships are all planned using mythical beast names.  Also in part due to their specialized role, each ship planned had slight variations.  Largely driven by the requirements to fungibly build the ships, and largely due to the requirements of their planned command crew.  Due to the ships enhanced tour requirement, the ship compliments were selected, assembled, and leveraged for ship building activates.  The first of the line produced was the ISD Kraken and she was produced from the hulks of several retired Venator Star Crusiers and decommissioned Star Destroyers.

Hop over to this section if you want to follow along with (and sometimes contribute to) the lore for the ship.

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