This started out as a top ten starships list, but before long I couldn't split the top 13 I had apart, hence here we have a warships Top Ten, with a non-military list to follow later. The definition used to select these contenders is that they should be medium-to-large sized vessels (no fighters) that, even if not designed specifically as battleships, are still military in focus or designed to put up a fight.
Space Cruiser Yamato
This is a solid holdover from childhood for me. I remember renting a VHS chronicling the adventures of this refitted spacegoing warship. There's something about the simple elegance of taking a good, old-fashioned battleship, screwing in high-tech weapons and a star-drive and launching it into space. Sure, we're dropping points for practicality all over the place here, but compensating heavily in the style department.
Liberator (Blake's 7)
Whilst I always got the impression as a child that this ship seemed constantly to be stuck in reverse, this is an interestingly designed ship that had some serious muscle, from its "herculanium" hull to its assortment of deadly weaponry. Sure, the corridors were a bit wobbly and one of the passengers was a fish-tank full of fairy lights, but so what?
X-Bomber (Star Fleet)
This is a solid contender for the smallest vessel on this list, but boy does it punch above its weight. Commanded by Doctor Benn and an alarmingly small crew, the X-Bomber time and time again saved the Earth from the machinations of Makara's forces. Weapons ranged from small anti-starfighter cannons right up to the deadly "X-Impulse" energy blast. Apart from this, not only did the ship carry the three component parts of the Dai-X battle system, but it was a remarkably tough old bird and was capable of soaking up huge amounts of damage.
Rounding out the Japanese influence at the foot of this list is the awesome SDF-1. A reconditioned vessel based on a wreck of alien design, even is crew never seemed fully aware of its capabilities. The SDF- 1's (Super Dimensional Fortress) most impressive trick, despite packing a huge arsenal of weapons, is its ability to transform into a huge robot with aircraft carriers for arms. And you thought Optimus Prime wuld be a bit useful at arm wrestling.
Romulan "D'deridex" class Warbird (Star Trek)
It only needed one short appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation for the Warbird to establish itself as a serious threat, and it never even had to fire a shot to do so. Generally considered to be more powerful than either Klingon or Federation ships of the same scale, the Warbird just looks mean, the downward sweep of the wings, the hook of the nose, the play of light over its hull... oh yes, this thing is trouble.
Now we're talking, more than most Sci-Fi warships of its time, this thing just looks like a solid bruiser. No sleek lines, no clever moving parts, no shiny, glowy bits, just dull metal, pointy bits and bits that look like they would really hurt if they shot at you. This is a ship we never see in a fight, granted, but you just know that it's open for business.
U.S.S. Enterprise (Star Trek)
And yes, I've opted for the "E" incarnation. Why? Because despite their reputation for getting into and winning fights, the previous enterprises were always more exploration vehicles. This, most modern Enterprise looked and moved every inch the warship. None of the clean fragility of the original or the sleek, family-friendly spaces of the D. This ship was designed for a period when the Federation was in trouble and fits the needs of the time perfectly. And finally, "Manual control" - Yes!
White Star (Babylon 5)
The second tiny terror on our list, the white star was a fusion of Minbari and Vorlon technology that ran rings around the larger ships that opposed it but still packed quite a wallop. Despite sadly looking like a quick cut-and-paste job when presented as a fleet for the first time, these are gloriously sleek and organic looking ships that made a crucial difference in the Shadow War. Ahell!
Super Star Destroyer (Star Wars)
And why not? It's massive, it has more guns than the average navy and could take n most fleets all on its lonesome. It doesn't make the head of the list purely because its arrow-like shape makes it the perfect configuration to cause the maximum amount of damage possible to your other super-weapon.
Galactica (Battlestar Galactica(new))
This is another vessel where everything about it screams out that it is a solid, practical warship. Why does it make the list? Well, it's a carrier that is clearly designed for the task, not just a big ship that carries other ships. It seems to be all armour, except for the parts where you have engines and guns. And, dear grief, there is that "fire solution" which puts all the other anti-fighter defences of ships on this list to shame. Sure, it isn't the biggest, the fastest or the most powerful, but it's tougher than tough old boots originally worn by tough old men and made from the toughest leather from cows that used to start fights down the meadow on a Saturday night.
As always, feel free to argue and maybe, just maybe, you'll persuade me if I ever come back to this list. in the meantime, here's a quick list of a few of the other contenders that missed out on the top ten.
Honourable mentions: Klingon Bird of Prey, Minbari Cruiser, Drazi Sunhawk, USS Defiant, Corellian Corvette