Often described as "the answer to a question nobody asked" the Star Hammer was obviously built to set the normal-space sub-lightspeed record, which before Star Hammer's construction in A.Y. 6900 was 86.9742 P.S.L. with gravitational boosting.
The Series I was a pre-functional prototype. The hull was constructed in the fabirication facilities at Utopia Gregaria, using techniques normally reserved for capitol warships. The hull was then taken to one of Gudersnipe's top-secret research outposts for completion and testing.
Though intended only for ground-based testing and evaluation of the design, the Series I was used to deflect an asteroid threatening the planet, and damaged beyond repair.
Only one Series I prototype was built.
More accurately described as the Series 1.5, the Series II was built completely at Utopia Gregaria and used initially to complete the testing scheduled for the Series I.
Following the completion of tests, unmanned space trials of the Series II began, culumnating in a 70% power-up of the engines.
The only Series II prototype was lost during space trials when the remote pilots failed to account for gravitational differences caused by the extreme mass of the prototype and it strayed too close to a gas giant. The prototype is believed to still be intact and close to the gas giant's core, too deep to be retrieved.
Only one Series II prototype was built.
The Series III was the final design and testing stage of the Star Hammer-class Blockade Runner and long-range reconnaissance ship. This was also the stage at which it recieved its official classification and comission.
Under regulation, the Star Hammer was officially classified as a corvette, though its lack of crew accomodations and armament made it unlikely to serve in this capacity. Hence, the designation of "blockade runner" was given to describe its only obvious function. Long range recon was not a possible application as the ship lacked crew quarters and accomodations for occupation.
The Series III was also completed at Utopia Gregaria and manned space trials began. Following the certification of the ship and classification (at which it became an official Gudersnipe School Ship, and thus eligable for setting records) the Star Hammer Team began its first attempts at breaking the N-space speed record.
The ship selected for the run was G.S.S. Star Hammer D, second prototype of the Series III and fourth prototype built. Pilot Hunter Jusenkyou and copilot Jason Bur'I made their flight in the Utopia System, launching from Utopia Gregaria shipyard.
G.S.S. Star Hammer D accelerated to the top speed of her engines before making eight complete revolutions of the star to obtain graviational boosts. The final boost was delivered by Utopia Auroria, the fifth planet in the Utopia System.
The Star Hammer's final speed, and the offical record speed for sub-light engines travelling in normal space, was 98.1245 PSL.
Five prototypes were built, of which two were destroyed by the rigorous space trials. The prototype designated D3B, used to set the speed record, was placed in the starship museum at Utopia Gregaria. The other two prototypes were taken to Gudersnipe School for study.
Series IV was the production model, the final build of the Star Hammer line. It was at this point that the basic flaw in the Star Hammer design finally ended the program.
About 12 Series IVs were built, of which at least 4 were taken into custody by Jason Bur'I and removed from the registry. Six were completed and taken to Colony Lun for long-term storage. Only two units were ever placed into active service, and remained until being officially decomissioned sometime during the Age of the Dragon.
The Series IV set the Production Sublight Speed Record.
Criticisms and Flaws
Despite rumor of serious design flaws, there was nothing wrong with the Star Hammer from a technological standpoint. It worked as it was designed, and everything invented for it operated successfully.
The basic flaw in the design was the "question nobody asked", namely: what was the ship supposed to be used for?
It had quite remarkable capabilities at running blockades, and the ability to easily reach speeds of 95 PSL on the straight away made it nearly invincible. The incredibly dense hull armor even made it technically invincible, but the question still remained: what was any of it good for?
Aside from a few high-profile rescues, the Star Hammer saw little active duty. It was a technological marvel that really had no practical application.
Though the Eighth Power is credited with producing the Star Hammer, they were not the true inventors.