The Dominion Battleship first appeared in DS9's "Valiant". The ship was described as being "twice the length of a Galaxy class", and the visual effects of the episode seem to fit that description. The ship was damaged in a battle with the Defiant class USS Valiant, but was able to destroy the Valiant itself in return. The battleship was not seen again until "What You Leave Behind", the DS9 finale, when several were seen in orbit of Cardassia.
However, this scene caused all the problems. The battleships seen in "What You Leave Behind" were seen in the midst of a whole cloud of other Dominion ships, and the effects show them several times larger than the original battleship seen in "Valiant". It's hard to judge very accurately, but by comparison of the length of a battlecruiser to the fin structure on the dorsal aft surface of the big ship, I get a length of around 4,500 - 5,000 metres.
This leaves us with three basic possibilities :
1) There is only one battleship, and it is about 5 km long. In this case, the Valiant special effects and dialogue are wrong. The former is easy enough to believe - the Defiant is notoriously elastic in its size so comparisons are dangerous. The latter is more problematic. The twice as large statement is made before they actually sight the ship, and we can assume that the cadets were simply wrong about the ship. But if so, you would expect them to have said something when they finally did get to see it and find that it's several times larger than they had expected. Because of this, I tend to discount this option.
2) There is only one battleship, and it is about twice the size of a Galaxy class. This would make the visual effects in "What You Leave Behind" wrong. Those shots don't involve comparisons with the Defiant, so we have no particular reason to doubt them on that score. But effects shots aren't a hundred percent reliable even if they don't involve the Defiant, so this is certainly a strong possibility.
3) There are in fact two distinct types of ship here. One is twice the size of a Galaxy, while the other externally identical but several times the dimensions.
For many months I've argued with myself and co-creator Ian as to which option was the correct one. We both favoured option 3, but disagreed as to the numbers of the smaller battleship - Ian wanted to have it as a one of a kind prototype for the larger ship, a kind of scale model. This would explain why we have never seen any of the smaller battleships since "Valiant", but the idea didn't make much sense to me - I wanted to have two distinct classes, related in much the way that the Klingon B'Rel and K'Vort are. The argument ended up stalemated, which was a de facto choice of option 2 - both of us got what neither of us wanted!
We've finally reached a compromise, and this is what is reflected on the specs page. The compromise is this - ys, there are indeed two distinct classes of battleship. However, the smaller one wasn't very successful. After all, the Valiant did uncover a significant weakness, even if it wasn't a terminal one. So the Dominion went back to the drawing board to repair that weak spot, found it harder going than they expected, and eventually either abandoned the project or ran out of time as the war drew to a close. Either way, there was never any production of the smaller Battleship design.
Simultaneously they were developing the much larger Battleship and at least a handful of these were in service by the end of the war, as seen in "What You Leave Behind".
We puzzled for some time over what to call the larger ship. "Super Battleship" was the favourite, but unfortunately it wouldn't fit the button. Dreadnought has been used for another ship in the Voyager episode of the same name but that ship - an automatic drone weapon - doesn't really fit the dictionary definition of a Dreadnought, which is "a type of battleship greatly superior in armament to all its predecessors" according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary. This seems to fit the super battleship - and the button! - perfectly, so I've used it here.
The idea of ship designs being directly scaled up without modification is one which has cropped up a couple of times in Trek, most notably with the Klingon B'Rel and K'Vort classes. I'm of the opinion that it's fairly acceptable to scale up in this way by just, say, doubling the size and substitution two decks on the larger model for every one on the smaller. The biggest problem with this comes with external windows - if you increase the size you claim for a model you increase the window size. This is just about acceptable for a 3x model if you assume floor to ceiling windows on every third deck, but becomes problematic after that. Fortunately, Dominion ships don't have external windows and so this problem is largely removed.
As usual with non-Starfleet ships, I've felt much more at liberty to pepper the specs with "Unknowns" since the real Daystrom Institute wouldn't be expected to have detailed information on these ships. But I have put a few "Starfleet" speculations in because I wanted to generate some strength numbers for the ship to get a clearer image in my mind of how powerful they would end up as.
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