Trade Federation cruiser 贸易联盟巡洋舰
1,088 meters long
14 quad turbolaser turrets; 34 dual laser cannons; 2 ion cannons; 12 point-defense ion cannons; 102 proton torpedo tubes
Trade Federation; Confederacy of Independent Systems
Free Dac Volunteers, Pammant Docks
Spearheading the lightning strike against Coruscant that resulted in the capture of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine was the distinctive capital warship employed by General Grievous. With accommodations for the upper strata of Confederacy leadership -- namely Grievous and Count Dooku -- the cruiser was nothing short of a flagship for the Separatist fleet.
A roughly cylindrical warship, the cruiser's surface was dotted with heavy weapons emplacements capable of piercing through the shields and hulls of enemy vessels. The ponderous cannons, though, were too slow to target the tiny Jedi starfighters that darted past the cruiser's defenses and infiltrated the ship's spacious hangar bay.
The bridge of the cruiser was located on a platform resting atop the bow of the vessel, before the bow began to taper to its pointed nose. The bridge featured huge panoramic windows surrounding the bulked out command chair occupied by a Neimoidian captain. As a Trade Federation vessel, its piloting crew was predominantly Neimoidian, supplemented by battle droids. General Grievous typically maintained command from the bridge.
Towards the aft end of the craft was a towering fin-like spire that rose from the rest of the hull. Within this spire were the General's Quarters, a military command center with tactical displays, briefing table, and an enormous observation deck with a wide view of surrounding space. It was here that Dooku and Grievous held the captive Palpatine, as a lure to the Jedi heroes who would undoubtedly dare to enter the ship and stage a rescue.
It was Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker who answered the call to retrieve the Chancellor. In his starfighter, Anakin blasted the containment shield protecting the hangar bay, exposing the docking facilities to hard vacuum. Before emergency blast shields could seal off the bay, Skywalker and Kenobi landed their fighters inside. Once within, the astromech droid R2-D2 plugged into the cruiser's computer network and mapped out a route to the captive Chancellor.
Waylaid by Republic capital ships, the Trade Federation cruiser was unable to escape Coruscant. Powerful broadsides from Republic attack ships crippled the vessel, making the Jedi rescue mission all the more difficult. Obi-Wan and Anakin had to contend with battle droids and droidekas, as well as the failing ship systems as they liberated the Chancellor.
It was when the Jedi were rounded up and taken before General Grievous on the bridge that the worst of the damage was taken by the cruiser. Losing momentum, the ship began to succumb to Coruscant's gravity well. Though Grievous fled on one of the ship's numerous escape pods, the Jedi were left to level the cruiser's descent. Kenobi and Skywalker opened the ship's hatches, flaps and drag fins to slow the cruiser's drop, but gravitic stresses tore the ship in two.
It is testament to Anakin Skywalker's piloting ability that he was able to land so fragmented a craft. Coruscant emergency services escorted the ship through the atmosphere, dousing what surface flames they could through the use of their firespeeders. Anakin brought the vessel to a screeching halt on a barren landing strip in Coruscant's industrial districts. Though Skywalker, Kenobi and Palpatine survived the landing, the cruiser was utterly ruined.
Grievous' flagship, the Invisible Hand, was originally commissioned to serve Nute Gunray and his advisors. When Darth Sidious placed Grievous in control of all Separatist military operations, Gunray sheepishly had to surrender to Grievous the vaunted warship and its crew of Neimoidian navigators and gunnery officers. The esteemed captain, Lushros Dofine, came from one of the most influential and wealthiest Neimoidian families.
The Invisible Hand started its operational life as a Providence-class carrier/destroyer that underwent some major modifications to serve as Grievous' flagship. To better function as a starfighter carrier and invasion craft, the ship had much its aft reactor bay assembly rearranged to accommodate a spacious hangar bay. In its final configuration, the Invisible Hand reflected Grievous' vanity. He had its spire-mounted communication and sensor pod refitted into a spacious set of quarters, which were eventually taken over by Count Dooku as his sanctum and transmission base for when the Separatists were constantly on the move.
Early in the Clone Wars, General Grievous was the most responsible for the spreading of Separatist territory through unallied sectors. Before the war, Count Dooku had relied on charisma and diplomacy to lure worlds into separatism. Once the war erupted, such subtlety was lost and Grievous was tasked to take worlds by force. The Invisible Hand, leading the charge of a Separatist flotilla, grew to be feared in the distant Outer Rim and other unprotected regions of space. It was the Invisible Hand that released the deadly Loedorvian Brain Plague in the Weemell Sector, that coordinated the withering bombardment of the planet Humbarine, and that led the attack that conquered Duro for the Confederacy.
So well known was the Invisible Hand that the Separatists exploited its reputation by using decoy ships, such as the Lucid Voice and the Colicoid Swarm to confound and terrorize Republic worlds.
With the fall of Duro, the Confederacy had its fleet and forces perched on Corellia's doorstep, the next logical link in a chain that would take Grievous to the Core. The Republic reinforced that corridor, but it was all a feint. Darth Sidious was somehow able to procure top secret Republic and Jedi travel routes that wove through the galaxy's volatile Deep Core. Using this unlikely approach, the ships of the Separatist fleets carefully made their way through the star-crowded interior of the galaxy, to emerge in a surprise attack on a relatively unprotected flank of Coruscant's defenses.
In the chaos and confusion of the Battle of Coruscant, rampant signal jamming led to crossed-orders among the Republic ranks. Had they known the flagship contained the Chancellor and their Jedi heroes, it may not have taken the brunt of so many brutal broadsides. A final cannonade from the Republic Star Destroyer Guarlara mortally wounded the Invisible Hand, causing it to succumb to Coruscant's gravitic stresses.
Known simply as the "Trade Federation cruiser" or "command ship," the design of Grievous' flagship was meant to make it stand out from a sea of swarming capital vessels. To clearly illustrate the objective of the Jedi, Palpatine's holding area -- the General's Quarters -- was raised above the body of the ship atop a prominent spire. This helped to map out the locations of the main areas of the ship -- the bridge, the General's Quarters, and the central hangar.
Early concept sketches described the cruiser as being from the Banking Clan world of Mygeeto, thus producing a number of art pieces with prominent crystalline structures.
Several full sized sets were constructed at Fox Studios in Sydney Australia to represent environments within the ship -- more than were actually seen in the finished film. Director/Writer George Lucas planned more serial-type escapades aboard the cruiser than he intended to keep in the final edit, to allow him to choose which events worked best on film. Among the sequences cut from the movie was an early encounter between the Jedi and General Grievous, which led to the Jedi cutting through the floor to land in a generator room filled with starship fuel. Though the sequence was shot in a water tank (with water doubling as fuel), it was never completed and never made the final edit.
For the dramatic collapse of the vessel as it began to roll out of control, several partial sets were built within a "revolve," an immense spinning drum that can house a set, constantly reorienting "down" as it spins. Mounting a camera within a revolving set is how old practical effects gags such as characters running on a ceiling was achieved. While several such gags were shot, only a few were kept in the film.