The U-24 (Codename ‘Chowder’) was a Strike Cruiser, for use as part of the defensive strategy. Compared to the U-22 Class the U-24 was a far lighter and more manoeuvrable design. This performance improved also included an increase in maximum speed to Warp 3.2.
The U-24 gradually replaced the U-22 in production as the Romulans shifted from offence to defence; operating close to bases meant that Cruisers no longer required the amount of fuel that the U-22 had carried to extend its reach.
In terms of armament, the U-24 did still pack an appreciable punch, again carrying star bomb anti ship missiles and defensive cluster missiles. The class also carried a nose mounted plasma cannon, although this was of lower power than that of the U-22. Frequently, U-24s were employed in an anti capital ship role, their speed and manoeuvrability giving an edge over the lumbering Earth Battle Cruisers and Carriers. They proved to be vulnerable themselves, as the lighter structure that gave the U-24s their speed made them vulnerable to attack from nimble Minotaur class fighters and Powhatan class Cruisers.
U-24s managed to destroy 5 Yorktown class carriers, and 19 other capital ships of various types, but that was at enormous cost, of the 112 U-24s deployed during the war, ships destroyed or listed as missing totalled 82.
Three distinct variants of the U-24 exist. The most common was the U-24A, which entered service in 2258. This mounted a mix of defensive and offensive missiles as well as the Plasma Cannon, 81 of the ships built during the war were of this type. Production continued post-war and a further 38 ships were built of this mark. The second variant (again in service from 2158) was the U-24B, which carried only star bomb anti ship missiles. The Star bomb variant carried by this mark was the lightest (and least powerful) produced by the Romulans, the RM-SB4. It could however carry ten of the weapons, and it retained its plasma cannon as a back up. Some 30 of the completed ships were of this model.
The U-24C, of which saw only a single prototype built, adopted an all or nothing approach. This variant dispensed with all weapons except for the star bombs. As a result, it could carry sixteen of the light RM-SB4s for use against high value targets. The variant was also fitted with a further star bomb in its nose, for use as a last resort weapon in ramming actions. Intended for use in the defence of Romulus, this variant began testing in mid 2159. Luckily, for both sides, the war ended before this model saw action. Testing indicated that the ship was woefully underpowered, and could only fire a useful salvo if not manoeuvring or not powering the already inadequate defensive screens, additionally it lost the manoeuvrability that made the U-24A so devastating.
The U-24 was a departure from the larger designs that preceded it. Many things including the changing nature of the conflict and the need for quick to produce ships caused this change. However, the striking power of the U-24 was almost equal to that of many earlier and far larger cruisers; both the Romulan and Federation fleets followed this trend post war, meaning the leviathans that saw action in the Romulan War soon faded into history
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