We pit two titanic icons of science fiction against each other in a battle to the death star.
It's a quiet day in Federation space. Whatever the Romulans, Klingons, or Pakled are up to, they're doing it quietly and far away from any place we need to worry about. But wait! Starbase 46 just picked up a large, triangular object emerging from warp. It's a ship, but they are unable to identify it. SB46 opened a channel and they're sending intergalactic friendship codes, but there appears to be a number of smaller craft launching from the belly of the ship. They are opening fire! Repeat, Starbase 46 is under attack!
A long-held dream amongst starship enthusiasts is the concept of a fabled battle between famous spacecraft, and at the very top of the list is the idea of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek versus the Imperial Star Destroyer from the Star Wars franchise. It's a mouth-watering prospect that would surely be the biggest selling pay-per-view event ever broadcast… the pride of Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets against the workhorse of the Imperial Navy. The only questions would be how long would the battle last, and who would come out on top? Well, let’s see what might happen if the Starship Enterprise battled a Star Destroyer!
The Ultimate Showdown
The first thing to do is ensure that the contest is at least somewhat fairly matched. There have been more than seven starships named Enterprise serving the Federation fleet throughout recent shows and movies. On the same wavelength, there have been several major classes of Star Destroyer employed by the Empire. Amongst the ships named Enterprise, there have been two Constitution-class vessels (standard and refit) commanded by the legendary Captain and later Admiral James T. Kirk, and then the Excelsior-class 1701-B, the Ambassador-class 1701-C, and the huge Galaxy-class 1701-D and Sovereign-class 1701-E, the latter pair both commanded by the celebrated Capt. Jean-Luc Picard. Given the crew onboard and the design of the ship as an actual warship, the best chance the Federation has would almost certainly lie with the Enterprise-E, a strikingly swift and powerful ship that was previously involved in destroying a Borg cube in Star Trek: First Contact.
From that particular point of view, you might think it would be a bit unfair to pit even the most heavily-armed Enterprise against Supreme Leader Snoke's Mega-class Star Destroyer Supremacy (at 60km wide) from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, or the Super-class Executor (19,000m long) as introduced in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The most suitable ship to oppose the Enterprise would likely be the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer, somewhat of a relic compared to the new Resurgent-class First Order vessels from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but still a powerful and capable ship. The Star Destroyer would also dwarf the Sovereign-class at 1600m long, more than twice that of the Enterprise's 685m length, and you would imagine would still outclass it.
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The final outcome might come down to shields and whether or not the Enterprise can penetrate the shielding and armor of an Imperial ship or vice versa. Phasers and turbolasers, of which both the Enterprise and Star Destroyer are respectively armed with, can be seen as somewhat the same, but the targeting systems are where things get complicated. Because so much in a galaxy far, far away is predicated on dogfighting, the human ability is dominant when it comes to shooting at things, while Federation ships have AI-assisted targeting, which means they may be exceptionally handy at defending against a squadron of TIE fighters.
The Enterprise Battles a Star Destroyer
Shields are a constant flux, based at least on what has been shown rather than what has been said. We've seen Federation vessels with maximum shields take major damage from a torpedo, while a Super-class ship was disabled by an A-Wing smashing into its bridge; the apparent defense against it being to focus the forward turbolasers on the starfighter. But it's difficult to judge exactly what a physical object like a Federation photon torpedo could do to their shields and armor, especially with a variable yield. This could be the way to taking down the massive capital ship, especially if they found a vulnerable port like the garbage chute at the rear.
The thing about Star Destroyers is that they are not particularly maneuverable, while a Sovereign-class starship should literally be able to fly rings around it, which could easily put it in line with vulnerable spots as previously mentioned. The range of Imperial weapons as displayed also seems remarkably poor, as are most weapons manufactured in their galaxy. There is also a question of whether Imperial deflector shields could prevent a transporter beam from passing through. It may not be so honorable to transport an explosive into another ship's hull, but when it's between you and certain death, ethics and morals become a bit more flexible.
Possibly the biggest advantage a Star Destroyer would have over the Enterprise is the 62 ion cannons onboard. For all the technology on a Sovereign-class, a blast from the ion cannons would see it disabled, with the ionized particles affecting the ship's power. This would likely disable the entire vessel, leaving it a sitting duck for either the Star Destroyer's weapons, fighters, or a boarding party.
As you can see, despite the obvious size difference between ships, the outcome is not clear by a long shot. The next phase of research into a more likely outcome would require engineering and technology info, but both factions would be unwilling to give this up, lest they find their way into articles such as these. And the last thing you’d want is to explain to Lord Vader why the inner workings of the Imperial war machine ended up on the galactic Internet.
But if there has to be a winner, I’d put my money on the Enterprise-E, not necessarily because of its power but because of its commanding officer. Captain Picard versus Darth Vader? That’s a battle that’d be worth its weight in gold pressed latinum.