I'm trying to identify an SF novel that features a giant Terran warship that gets tricked into a space storm and when stressed to a danger point, breaks up into smaller individual self powered ships. I believe the story involves a battle against a rebellious colony.
This happens in the van Vogt story "The Storm".
And still everything was according to the original purpose of the superb engineering firm that had built her. The limit of unit strain reached, she dissolved into her nine thousand separate sections. Streamlined needles of metal were those sections, four hundred feet long, forty feet wide; sliverlike shapes that sinuated cunningly through the gases, letting the pressure of them slide off their smooth hides.
It's not a novel though, but it may have been incorporated into one.
It's online here: https://archive.org/details/Astounding_v32n02_1943-10_cape1736/page/n7
Note: the original link I posted misled me as to the name of the short story. The fix-up novel "The Mixed Men" is the same.
Thanks to the commenters for helping me to "fix-up" this answer.