Work continues apace on the starship Constellation.
The Connie has haunted my dreams ever since I was a seven-year-old boy staring transfixed at the Trinitron whenever the local TV station reran “The Doomsday Machine”. How could a giant starship be wrecked like that?! Impossible! But as I got older, I started noticing how, er, undetailed the model used in the episode was, especially when compared to the majestic Enterprise. So, before the Constellation meets her doom(sday machine), I aim to correct that 52-year oversight.
My vision for the Connie is that she’s an older ship than the Enterprise (my in-head retcon for the NCC-1017 registry compared to the Big E’s -1701), so she sports several of the external features seen on the Enterprise in “The Cage” (the first pilot episode shot at the end of 1964) and “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (the second pilot shot in 1965). The changes from the Enterprise include (but are not limited to):
- A bluer paint scheme. When the 11′ Enterprise studio miniature rolled out of Richard Datin’s paint shop 55 years ago next month, the model sported a much whiter and bluer paint scheme than the green-gray scheme applied prior to the start of VFX work for “The Corbomite Maneuver” in 1966. My Constellation restores that older, cooler palette. The moody lighting I used in these test shots accentuates the color scheme even further.
- A taller bridge dome. Frankly, I always thought the bulbous dome used in the first two pilots looked a bit odd, so my dome isn’t quite as tall and (I hope) looks a bit less misshapen. (Besides, when I apply the antiproton beam makeup to the Constellation, that bridge dome will be mostly wrecked anyway!)
- A large, lighted rectangular portal (?) on the front of the bridge dome. I don’t know what this was and have no evidence for this supposition, but I’m willing to bet that this was the bridge viewscreen as seen from the outside. Whatever it was, it was distinctive! (Another feature that will probably be obscured from the damage that will be applied to the model.)
- Vents (?) on the upper port and starboard saucer. Again, not really sure what this feature was supposed to be, so I’m calling them vents in my model materials hierarchy, and I’ve modeled them as a grille-like feature. This is a surface detail that I wish they’d kept when the 11′ studio miniature was refit for production use… it really gives the otherwise mostly-featureless saucer some visual interest.
- Dark gray, red, and yellow “technical markings” on the upper saucer bow. Another interesting visual feature that was unfortunately dropped when the Enterprise miniature was repainted for production.
- A larger and redder deflector dish. This, on the other hand, is a feature I’m glad the producers revised for the series. The proud coppery-gold dish of the production Enterprise nicely matches the diameter of the secondary hull where it’s mounted and (to my eye) is the perfect color. The gigantic red dinner plate of the first and second pilots looks like the Yule platter Granny pulled out every Christmas.
- Spikes on the warp nacelle domes. I’m agnostic about this one. I think they look a bit goofy, but they definitely add some visual detail to the model, so they’re in.
- No grilles on the warp nacelle intercoolers. The four “intercoolers” (the pipe-like structures at the aft end of each warp nacelle) didn’t get their diamond-patterned inset grilles until after WNMHGB was filmed, so my Constellation doesn’t have them either.
- Vents on the ends of the warp nacelles. Yet another interesting feature that I think they producers should have left intact, especially considering the boring, featureless white spheres that replaced them. The artists at CBS All Access must have agreed; their Enterprise model for Star Trek Discovery also has these vents (although theirs are lit).
There are also some first/second pilot Enterprise features that I am not replicating on my Constellation:
- The holes in the impulse engines. Instead of the pair of large rectangular vents/grilles on the impulse engines of the production Enterprise, during the second pilot the miniature sported an awkward array of holes and the rectangular vents. It looked ridiculous. But then again, back in 1967 the VFX team used an AMT plastic model of the Enterprise that was blowtorched and decal-ed as the Constellation, and that model was completely featureless where the impulse engine was located. So, I feel justified in choosing to retain the impulse engines used on my Enterprise model (though I may change the glowing-orange color scheme a bit).
- The blue interconnecting dorsal. If you look closely at that image of the 11′ miniature from 1964, you may notice that the neck connecting the saucer section to the cylindrical secondary hull is decidedly darker than the rest of the ship. That… just doesn’t look right. My Constellation has the same paint scheme on the neck as elsewhere.
- The (mostly) featureless warp nacelles. The Enterprise got an upgrade before 1966 with a lot more grillework detail added on the inboard side of the warp nacelles and the distinctive colored lights in the nacelle domes (the domes used to be painted red balls). I’ve retained the inboard detailing for the Constellation. but I’ve compromised on the domes–the light scheme is all-red. (Besides, those warp nacelles were absolutely pummeled in “The Doomsday Machine”… who’s to say that they didn’t look like this originally?)
- The featureless hangar deck doors. Prior to “The Corbomite Maneuver”, the clamshell doors for the hangar deck on the aft end of the secondary hull weren’t there at all; it was just a smooth, featureless quarter-sphere. That doesn’t really make sense from a “real-world” perspective (how would such a structure open and close?!), so the undamaged Constellation retains the clamshell doors. The damaged Constellation, on the other hand, will be suitably wrecked back there–my answer to the 50+ years of fans questioning why Matt Decker didn’t evacuate his dead starship via shuttlecraft.
And finally, since she’s an older vessel, the Constellation will be more heavily weathered than what you see here in these test images.But for now, I just thought it would be nice to see this heroic lady in her factory-fresh, undamaged glory, before she sails towards her final fate.