Redresses of the Batris
by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider
The studio model of the Talarian ship Batris from TNG: "Heart of Glory" is one of the most frequently re-used miniatures in TNG, DS9 and Voyager. The Batris was modified several times, and its incarnations are consequently analyzed for the first time in the following article, with several surprising new findings. These are the appearances in chronological order:
1. Talarian freighter Batris (TNG: "Heart of Glory")
2. Ornaran freighter Sanction (TNG: "Symbiosis")
3. Okona's ship Erstwhile (TNG: "The Outrageous Okona")
4. Freighter Arcos (TNG: "Legacy")
5. Sublight freighter (TNG: "Final Mission")
6. Ship at Qualor II Surplus Depot (TNG: "Unification, Part 1")
7. Federation freighter Norkova (DS9: "The Passenger")
8. Skrreean vessel (DS9: "Sanctuary")
9. Petarian freighter Xhosa (DS9: "Way of the Warrior")
10. Xhosa-type ship (DS9: "The Visitor", "Sons of Mogh", "Profit and Lace")
11. Skrreean-type freighter (DS9: "Sons of Mogh")
12. Petarian freighter Xhosa, physical and CGI model (DS9: "For the Cause")
13. Akritirian freighter (VOY: "The Chute")
14. Telsian freighter (VOY: "Live Fast and Prosper")
15. Federation ore freighter (VOY: "Author, Author")
16. Moon freighter (ENT: "Demons")
Origin of the model
The Star Trek Encyclopedia II tells us that the Batris was originally seen as a Visitor shuttle in the series "V" of the 1980s. A quick comparison shows that three of the five freight containers were apparently taken over from the non-Trek vessel. For some time it seemed possible that the aft section (the blunt side) was retained too in order to form the new bow of the Batris. Many more details were affixed to the formerly smooth vessel, also to suggest a much larger size. The aft section of the Batris with the engines, on the other hand, is completely new.
The bow section of the later Batris model can be seen on a ship named Triton Corsair in the short-lived Disney series Earth Star Voyager from 1988. We are also positive that one of the tips of the "nacelles" of that ship (the other one got destroyed in the pilot episode), actually a miniaturized version of the bow section, was incorporated into the Batris model as the new lower portion of the bow, as we will explain further down.
Since the Batris first appeared in TNG: "Heart of Glory" in March 1988 and remained in Star Trek's inventory after that, it is obvious that the Triton Corsair was torn apart just after the end of the filming of Earth Star Voyager. The miniature was built by Bruce MacRae, who worked in Greg Jein's workshop where several models for TNG were made. So it is quite plausible how the model could find its way to Star Trek. Considering that the "V" shuttle contributes the cargo containers but has a different looking aft section, whereas the Earth Star Voyager model has the very same bow as the Batris but no apparent cargo containers, it is clear that two different models were assembled to what we know as the Batris, together with components that were custom-made or are of still unknown origin.
The original Batris, without all the later extensions, appeared in TNG: "Heart of Glory". The Batris was a Talarian freighter that had been taken over by Klingon renegades. The depiction of the vessel in the Star Trek Fact Files is largely correct except for the details of which several are made up. Another difference is that the model is really brown and not gray. The brown color establishes a nice design lineage with the Talarian observation craft and the Talarian warship that will appear in the later TNG episode "Suddenly Human".
Details of the Batris include two lighted rows of windows in the command section and many red lights scattered across the upper hull. The engine exhausts are conical and not cylindrical as in the Fact Files.
This Ornaran freighter appeared in TNG: "Symbiosis". It is easy to recognize that it is still the Batris miniature, only gray instead of brown and heavily modified with numerous hull extensions. These are reproduced with fair precision in the schematic of the ship in the Star Trek Fact Files, but some details are not quite correct.
In particular, we can see that two larger and two smaller tubes (Fact Files: only one pair) were attached to the aft end of the cargo containers, and another one to the very ventral side of the ship. The connection points of the tubes at the aft end of the cargo section match with what looks like doors on the Batris containers. The tubes may all be additional engines, but they are not lighted during the episode. Something like a dome was placed on top of the command section, and a tower-like structure was attached to the sloping part of the bow.
Okona's ship from TNG: "The Outrageous Okona" is identical to the Sanction. All takes of the Erstwhile are newly filmed though. Insignificant differences between the vessels can only be found just in the colors and in the lighting effects. The engine exhausts of the Erstwhile are lighted, as are the windows in the command section which were not recognizable on the Sanction. The Erstwhile may be slightly greenish.
A perhaps more noteworthy difference is that the Erstwhile, albeit still comparably large, is operated by just one person and has a small command room instead of a spacious bridge. The many hull extensions of the ship suggest just the contrary.
Just for the sake of completeness, the Erstwhile was also shown as a crude but overall correct wireframe computer graphic on an Enterprise-D computer display.
We can only see in the remastered version of the episode that the Arcos in TNG: "Legacy", which can be glimpsed on the viewscreen before it explodes, is represented by the Batris model. TNG-R: "Legacy" actually shows us a CG model of the ship, the one that was also used for one shot in TNG-R: "The Outrageous Okona". Considering that the Federation freighter is the same design as the two previous incarnations as alien freighters, the most likely explanation is that the Federation sold surplus ships to those civilizations. After all, the ship names "Erstwhile" and "Sanction" are still English.
The next appearance of the former Batris miniature is as the huge sublight freighter of unknown origin in TNG: "Final Mission". At first glance it looks like all the modifications of the Sanction and Erstwhile were removed, returning the miniature to the Batris configuration. Even the color is the same brown as of the Batris again. Closer examination reveals that there are some dissimilarities to the Talarian ship though.
The most significant modification is that the pointed bow of the sublight freighter is covered with some sort of lattice. The reason for this may be to conceal the points where the Sanction/Erstwhile attachments were glued upon, and also to conceal the windows that could otherwise make the ship look smaller (the sublight freighter is intended to be a lot larger than any of the other Batris incarnations). The whole ship has no lights whatsoever. Some more changes lie in the details all over the hull. Most obviously a small hull extension, maybe a tiny bridge module, owing to the size of the ship, was added in front of what was likely the bridge deck of the Batris.
A computer animation of the sublight freighter and how engine units could be attached to it is running on an Enterprise-D computer screen; it reproduces the overall look of the vessel quite correctly.
Ship at Qualor II
In "Unification, Part 1" we can see the Batris model once more. Quite obviously it is the same version that had previously appeared as the sublight freighter. Especially the grid in front of the command section is clearly perceptible. The vessel is visible in more than one take, always upside down, and the color is subject to change slightly. But we believe that it's the very same vessel each time. It is only logical that once again the model is not lighted. We can only speculate if the ship at Qualor II is a captured Talarian vessel (there was something that looked like a Talarian warship too), a similar vessel or even another sublight freighter.
This is the last appearance of the former Batris before significant and lasting modifications were made to the miniature.
Curiously, the later modification of the Batris miniature shows up in "Unification" as well. We may speculate that the bow of the Batris was ripped off, and because it looked good it was decided to base a new ship model upon it to appear on DS9.
The Norkova appears in DS9: "The Passenger" and is apparently meant to be a Federation freighter. Our new screen caps of the episode reveal that, in contrast to the drawing in the Star Trek Fact Files, the true Norkova does not encompass any cargo containers of the original Batris (and hence nothing of the "V" shuttle)! Actually, the Norkova looks exactly the same as the Xhosa of Kasidy Yates that will show up later in the series, with a command section directly attached to the former engine section of the Batris. Only the color is different. The Fact Files deceived us with the depiction of a vessel whose structure with the old cargo containers and the new bridge is made up and which never appeared on screen like this.
The starting point for the following reconstruction of the *Norkova* has to be the Fact Files side view of the *Xhosa* which may be at least roughly correct for both vessels. We previously believed that the engine section of the Batris was flipped upside down (now at least partially forming a new cargo section), that no cargo containers were used from the Batris and that a new nose section was built from scratch for the Xhosa and therefore for the Norkova too. But the latter part is not correct. Looking attentively at the Norkova screen caps and those of former incarnations of the Batris, especially of the sublight freighter, we find something astounding: We can spot the complete nose section of the Norkova/Xhosa as the lower part of the command section on the sublight freighter! The shapes are an almost perfect match; some slight deviations can be found solely in the details, as new windows were likely added. The three-quarter view of the Batris suggests that this part was present already in the model's first appearance. And we are certain that this command section dates back as far as to the Triton Corsair from Earth Star Voyager, where it acted as some sort of engine nacelle, as already mentioned.
As we examine closer, we find that the Fact Files side view of the *Xhosa* reproduces the overall look of the *Norkova* almost correctly. Only the proportions of the command section (and therefore the former lower half of the Batris command section) are flawed. The nose is just too large relative to the rest of the ship. This may not become directly evident on the Norkova/Xhosa Fact Files side view. But when we tried to paste it into the Batris side view at the same scale (of the miniature, not the "real" vessel), it just didn't fit. With a scaled down part on both images, it works out nicely. We can see the different scales as soon as on the model of the Triton Corsair from Earth Star Voyager, where the "nacelle" front tip (the later lower bow section of the Batris) is a scaled down version of the very front tip of the ship (the later upper bow section of the Batris.
On a further note, it is interesting that the Norkova has a bridge interior similar to recent Federation vessels of the 24th century. This is more evidence that the Norkova was supposed to be a Federation ship, and it would not fit with the common idea that the ship could be related to the outdated vessels of the so-called "Antares class" that were previously represented by the Batris model. With the new findings about the ship's true appearance, it may be easier to accept that they have indeed nothing in common. Well, with the Arcos (Federation) looking much like Batris (Talarian), as it becomes clear only in TNG-R, the distinction between Federation and alien ships is blurred again.
The takes of one of the Skrreean refugee vessels in DS9: "Sanctuary" are stock footage of the Norkova in DS9: "The Passenger". The only difference is that they were inserted into the new scenes upside down, probably to make it harder to recognize the Norkova. The color of the Skrreean vessel is gray like the Norkova. There were probably several ships of this type created with copy&paste in the Skrreean fleet, along with other familiar vessels of the Alpha Quadrant in new roles of ships of the Gamma Quadrant.
As we have already pointed out before, the Xhosa model is the same as the Norkova, only that the color was switched from gray to brown. For what it's worth, this was not correct in the Fact Files where the Xhosa used to be gray as well. The Xhosa appeared in more than one DS9 episode. We assume that it was the Norkova studio miniature at first, and that a transition from physical to CGI was made during the episode "For the Cause". Here the scenes of the ship inside the Badlands are most likely shot with a CGI model. There are several differences between the two versions of the very same ship (which we have to ignore, of course). Apparently the details on the CGI are not quite as rich. But there may be differing proportions as well. As shown for the Norkova, the command section of the ship miniature and therefore of the Xhosa too is actually smaller than the Fact Files suggest. On the CGI the command section is either scaled up a bit again, or more likely the fore and the aft part of this sections have changed their relative sizes. We can notice that the step between the two parts may not be as pronounced on the CGI than on the physical model. In other words, the tapered part may be larger relative to the rear half of the command section on the CGI model.
Something else to notice is that the Xhosa, unlike the Norkova, has old-style bridge consoles, much like in TOS. Considering that the ship is of Petarian registry, we could have expected an alien-looking bridge as well. But since Kasidy is human, she may just "sail" under an alien flag, and the Xhosa could well be a ship of the very same class as the Norkova, only not yet refitted. This wouldn't necessarily explain the different color of the ship, but if ships are painted these are subject to vary anyway.
Not necessarily the Xhosa herself, but at least the same version of the studio miniature can be seen in DS9: "The Visitor", in DS9: "Sons of Mogh" and once more in DS9: "Profit and Lace". In all three episodes the ship is brown just like the Xhosa. The second appearance is stock footage from the first one, as is the third. Considering that a freighter (Xhosa) of a Federation type (Norkova) is operating for an alien race (Petarians), the new ships could be owned by virtually anyone.
In addition to the takes from "The Visitor", "Sons of Mogh" uses stock footage of a Skrreean upside-down Norkova too. This is obviously not supposed to be a Skrreean vessel here. We can ignore the ship altogether or at least the fact that it's upside down. Alternatively it may just be a regular maneuver, considering that it doesn't play a role anyway how the ship is oriented in space, and special docking areas might gradually reverse gravity to accommodate ships that have to dock "upside down".
The whole appearance of the Akritirian freighter in VOY: "The Chute" is stock footage of the sublight freighter in TNG: "Final Mission". The Delta Quadrant ship is brown, and it has the typical grid on the bow just like the sublight freighter. Of course, these two ships are not supposed to be in any way related, especially as the sublight freighter may be a bit too large to be towed into Voyager's shuttlebay, while exactly that was considered for the Akritirian vessel.
This is the last appearance of the physical miniature, everything from now uses the CGI model.
The Telsian freighter that appeared in VOY: "Live Fast and Prosper" was most likely shot using the CGI model of the Xhosa/Norkova only, probably in gray, just like about every scene in space in the later seasons of Voyager. It was just a single take from a long distance, so we can easily ignore the similarity to the Alpha Quadrant vessels which would otherwise get us into trouble.
Ore freighter and moon freighter
At the end of VOY: "Author, Author" we see a freighter approach a Federation-operated asteroid mining field. This is the last appearance of a Batris-derived model, almost definitely using the CGI of the Xhosa/Norkova. The ship in "Author, Author" is gray, but its turquoise exhausts are different than on the previous Batris versions. This new color would perfectly suit a Federation ship though. The ships that appear in the background of ENT: "Demons" are most likely the same model, although not fitting for the time.
Here is a table with all versions of the miniature at a glance:
|Ship type||Episode||Color||Stock footage from||Configuration|
|TNG: "Heart of Glory"||Brown||-||Original look without later extensions|
|TNG: "Symbiosis"||Gray||-||Tubes on cargo containers, new bridge tower, detail changes|
|TNG: "The Outrageous Okona"||Gray||-||-|
|TNG: "Final Mission"||Brown||-||Hull extensions removed, front covered with lattice, detail changes|
Ship at Qualor II
|TNG: "Unification, Part I"||Brown||-||-|
|DS9: "The Passenger"||Gray||-||Engine section flipped upside down, lower half of bow as new command section|
|DS9: "Sanctuary"||Gray||DS9: "The Passenger"||-|
|DS9: "Way of
DS9: "For the Cause"
|Brown||-||Partially filmed with new, less detailed CGI version|
DS9: "Sons of Mogh"
DS9: "Profit and Lace"
|Brown||DS9: "The Visitor"||-|
|DS9: "Sons of Mogh"||Gray||DS9: "The Passenger"||-|
|VOY: "The Chute"||Brown||TNG: "Final Mission"||-|
|VOY: "Live Fast and Prosper"||Gray||-||-|
The Antares Class(es) - too many designs with the same name
Ancient or Mysterious Ships - whose owners don't show up
Earth Ship Classes - Pre-Federation (prior to 2161)