The DS9TM Kitbashes
(USS Elkins) - Excelsior Variant (USS
Centaur) - Excelsior-Constitution Variant
Excelsior-Constitution Variant (USS Curry) - 3-Nacelled Excelsior Variant - Constitution Variant - Intrepid Variant (USS Yeager)
Among several well-known starships the DS9 Technical Manual depicts six side views of nameless ship types with their basic specs. These ships supposedly appeared in the sixth season of DS9, although only three or four of them (plus one which is not depicted in the book) can be identified on screen. Authentic photos of the studio models proved very useful for further analysis and reconstruction of the so-called "Frankenstein Fleet".
The DS9TM states about the six ships:
"The following spacecrafts were constructed from salvaged components, components in work, and custom assemblies fabricated by the individual fleet yards. Those vessels not destroyed or damaged beyond salvageability were returned to Starfleet bases and yards for rework back to their respective major classes or repaired and returned to service."
This statement, together with the fact that some of the ships combine components from considerably different vessels, suggests that Starfleet does "kitbashing" just like a modeler who puts together parts of different kits. It should be obvious that real starship components are not designed to be cut off somewhere and welded together in a new configuration. Much less would we expect that for vessels whose designs are a century apart. To make things worse, some of the components are not in scale with each other for the simple reason that the AMT or Monogram model kits come in different scales. Both problems together may require us to deny the exact appearance of the models. Considering that they were obviously cemented together and painted very quickly, the lack of essential details may allow us to re-interpret their structures.
Intrepid-Constitution Variant (USS Elkins)
The model is composed of a saucer hull from the Monogram Voyager kit, two pylons of an AMT runabout model, warp nacelles from the AMT Enterprise (-A) and, as weird as it may seem, an almost complete hull of a 1/32 scale Monogram F-14 Tomcat model with its twin exhaust. The F-14 hulls is mounted backward, so the exhausts are facing forward, acting as the ship's deflectors. Since the cockpit is a separate part in the Monogram model kit anyway, it was not necessary to cut through the hull, and so there is no hole in the starship's stern.
The model is labeled "USS Elkins NCC-74121". The name Elkins comes from Judy Elkins, VFX coordinator on DS9 and animator for "Star Trek II".
Until we received the model pictures, it seemed very likely that the image in the DS9TM was just inaccurate and was actually supposed to depict the Voyager study model built by Rick Sternbach, which has the same overall structure with a pointed saucer, Danube-class nacelle struts and angular nacelles. It is possible that the actual model was inspired from it. Anyway, the DS9TM image correctly reproduces the ship's overall look. It only bears some slight inaccuracies which we have corrected. Most obviously the two F-14 engines were not long enough, and the nacelles from the Enterprise (-A) kit were too large relative to the Voyager kit parts in the DS9TM illustration.
It is not certain, but the Elkins may be visible in the opening scene of DS9: "A Time to Stand" as a background ship on the top left edge of the screen.
Not only does the ship look awful, its structure is also hard to explain. The saucer being the most obvious component, I call this ship just "Intrepid variant" in my ship list. First of all, we have to deny the similarity to the F-14 fighter, and I suggest the same for the Danube pylons. Since the pylons are a quite simple shape, they may look similar at a larger size, but they are certainly not derived from the ones on the tiny Danube class. The Constitution nacelles are a problem because they simply don't fit on a ship with an Intrepid saucer. If anything, we would expect components of ships of the same era to work well together, but the technologies of the two classes are more than 100 years apart. Moreover, the nacelles would be too large, as the AMT Enterprise (-A) kit comes at a larger scale than the Monogram Voyager. If we don't examine the model too closely, we could postulate that the scale is correct, though. Nevertheless, considering that the finish of the model is anything but convincing and that we have not even identified it on screen, we may disregard the exact look of the nacelles and assume that they are not taken from a Constitution (or Miranda). This would also save us the unpleasant scaling issue, as the yet unknown nacelles could be exactly as large as they appear.
Since the saucer is quite obviously the same as on the Intrepid class and the rest of the components are indefinite, the Elkins must be 360m long. There is not the slightest reason why 444.39m as stated in the DS9TM should be correct.
Excelsior Variant (USS Centaur)
The Centaur is composed of a modified Excelsior saucer, a complete Miranda photon torpedo launcher assembly, whose "wings" serve as the nacelle pylons, and of four bottom halves of Excelsior nacelles glued together to two new nacelles. The supports where the pylons meet the nacelles on the Excelsior are now facing outward and are painted to serve as the warp field grille. An Excelsior aft shuttlebay is placed in front of the bridge, facing forward. The bridge is taken from an Enterprise-A or Reliant model. Little bits are placed all over the model and painted in copper. The four tubes on the impulse engines are actually the pulse phaser tips of the Miranda that are missing on the launcher assembly. There are many windows in bright green on the saucer top. Like the warp field grille too, they are fluorescent under UV light, which allows to create the impression that they are illuminated from inside. For this purpose the visible light composite (one pass for the foreground, one pass for the background) is combined with a third pass under UV illumination. The fluorescence may be digitally colored white (for the windows) and blue (for the warp field grille).
The ship is labeled "USS Buckner NCC-42043", after Adam Buckner who built this model. But the name is never remotely readable on screen, and would be overruled by the explicitly mentioned name "Centaur" (at least regarding the appearance in "A Time to Stand").
The image in the DS9TM is very inaccurate, as the depicted nacelles are simply complete Excelsior nacelles turned by 90 degrees, with the top facing outside. Neither the Miranda weapons pod nor the large bridge and shuttlebay nor any of the countless bits affixed to the hull were taken into account.
The Centaur was prominently shown as the ship that faced Sisko's stolen Jem'Hadar fighter on its undercover mission in DS9: "A Time to Stand". It later appeared in DS9: "Behind the Lines" at the starbase.
We may postulate that, if anything, the saucer may be taken from the Excelsior. In this case, however, we would have trouble to explain why the bridge is so large (as it is actually taken from a model kit of a much larger scale). If the saucer were the same size as that of the Excelsior, this would give us a length of about 380m. Whoever conceived the specs for the DS9TM had the same idea, as the ship is listed as being 381.87m long there. The Excelsior is erroneously scaled up elsewhere in the book, but maybe the length of the Centaur was provided by someone who used the correct length of 467m for the Excelsior. The CGI model reconstructed for Star Trek: The Magazine is not really authentic, but confirms the idea of an Excelsior-sized Centaur.
More recent evidence, however, supports a much smaller size of the real Centaur as the intended design size:
Adam Buckner: "I built it for the beginning of Season 6 on DS9 as a BG ship for my episodes around the space station where the detailing and scaling would be less noticeable as being completely mixed, but when Gary Hutzel saw it, he wanted it for his Episode with the JH Bug. I added more detail at this point to make sure the scale looked like a smaller ship even tho' it was an Excelsior dish."
It is true that, with all its modifications, the saucer is indeed hardly recognizable as one of the Excelsior. Considering that there is a Miranda bridge and a complete Miranda rollbar, even with the phaser cannons, these components may have actually been taken from this class. The nacelles (of the real, 1/1 scale ship) may not be the same as on the Excelsior anyway, although they have similar overall proportions. I wouldn't expect that Starfleet turned Excelsior nacelles by 90 degrees such that the reinforcement on the bottom accidentally becomes the warp field grille. The only things that don't quite fit into this image are the many (bright green) windows on the saucer that are spread throughout the whole surface and which wouldn't make much sense if they appeared in the ceiling over quarters and corridors at random. On the other hand, the windows would not correspond to a possible deck layout on a larger Excelsior saucer either.
Adam Buckner agrees with scaling the ship to the Miranda components, and we obtain a length of only 210m - considerably smaller than a Miranda.
Centaur type model built by Stephen L.
Excelsior-Constitution Variant (Raging Queen)
The Raging Queen consists of an AMT Excelsior saucer, which is mounted in a recessed position onto an Excelsior engineering hull. The two seem to be connected only by some sort of inverted ramp in the rear half of the saucer. The shuttlebay has been moved from the stern to the bow. The nacelles are taken from an AMT Constitution or Miranda (more likely from the Miranda) and are much too large owing to that model's larger scale. They are turned by 90 degrees, with the bottom now facing outside. The nacelles are connected to the saucer center with one pair of pylons affixed to the saucer bottom and one ribbed pair of "auxiliary pylons".
The Raging Queen looks similar as the USS Curry discussed below. Still, it has to be a different model. The damage pattern on the Raging Queen's saucer is about the same as on the Curry, but the latter seems to have a still complete impulse engine when it appears in DS9: "A Time to Stand".
The ship is labeled "Raging Queen NCC-42284", supposedly from a Saturday Night Live skit where "Raging Queen" was the name of a pirate vessel (transcript here). It is odd that the prefix "USS" is missing. On the other hand, it should be obvious that a ship with an NCC registry should be of Starfleet.
We previously only knew about the supposed USS Curry and thought that the depiction in the DS9TM was woefully inaccurate. Now, with the knowledge of the studio model photos of the Raging Queen, it is largely correct. The bow shuttlebay and the corrugated pylons are missing though, and it gives the impression that the saucer is not connected to the engineering hull at all. Also, the bottom of the Constitution-type nacelles, not the top, should face outside.
The Raging Queen appears in the opening scene of DS9: "A Time to Stand", albeit not as prominently as the Curry.
The Raging Queen uses many clearly recognizable Excelsior parts, so it seems as if a ship of this class had been ripped apart and put together in a different fashion. To make things worse, the nacelles are much too large. It would be just to silly to claim that fleet yard engineers took the general plans of the 100-year-old Constitution/Miranda nacelles and inflated them. Even if we imagined that the nacelles wouldn't look like they were taken from the Constitution, they would still be considerably oversized relative to the rest of the ship. The flimsy nacelle pylons and the thin connection between saucer and engineering hull add to the unrealistic appearance of the ship. If we disregard the familiar Excelsior components, we may postulate that the nacelles are actually of the Constitution type. This would render the rest of the ship smaller and maybe a bit more credible.
Considering the thin connection between saucer and engineering hull, it is possible that the saucer and warp nacelles form a fully operational starship, whereas the bottom hull possibly serves as a large cargo- or shuttlebay and is supposed to be abandoned in emergency situations. On the other hand, the huge nacelles would be even more oversized relative to just the saucer.
If the saucer and engineering hull are the same size as on the Excelsior, we get a length of 354m. The DS9TM lists 383.41 for this ship, which is obviously because in the same book the Excelsior refit is scaled up to 511m. Since the Excelsior without the tail fin would be about 509 m instead of 467m in this case, this gives us 354m*509m/467m = 385m, exactly the size as in the DS9TM, considering my limited measuring accuracy. If we scale the ship to the Constitution/Miranda nacelle, we obtain a length of only 174m.
Excelsior-Constitution Variant (USS Curry)
The Curry has a similar overall structure as the Raging Queen. The most significant difference is that the Curry's nacelles have the same orientation as on the Constitution and Miranda. They seem to be affixed to the saucer with standard Miranda pylons. The second pair of pylons is missing. As discussed above, the Curry is probably a distinct miniature. We have no photos of it. Alternatively, the Curry may have been modified after the shooting (considering that it has less damage) to serve as the Raging Queen. Since the latter ship is still uglier and was not supposed to be seen close up anyway, this idea doesn't sound very likely. Moreover, the two appear in the same scene and it would have delayed the production if one model had been modified between two takes.
The name acknowledges Dan Curry, visual effects supervisor. He built the model.
Only the Raging Queen (albeit without the name) is depicted in the DS9TM. There is no image of the Curry. Whoever made this section of the book may have thought they are the same ship class, or just didn't have a photo of it. The Curry is missing likewise in the set of photos we have been provided.
The Curry can be clearly identified in the opening sequence of DS9: "A Time to Stand", although the name is not readable. The registry is not decipherable either but was reported to be NCC-42254 by Dan Curry.
Everything said about the Raging Queen applies to the Curry likewise. In my ship list, I suggest that the nacelles are actually those of the Constitution or Miranda, which would make the ship look half-way reasonable.
If the saucer and engineering hull are the same size as on the Excelsior and the nacelles are oversized, it is 354m long; if we scale the ship to the nacelle, we obtain a length of only 174m.
Curry type model built by Stephen L.
3-Nacelled Excelsior Variant
The three-nacelled Excelsior variant is composed of an AMT Enterprise-B saucer top and an Excelsior saucer top, both with their rims, which are glued against each other to one saucer. There are three nacelles, of which two are affixed to a usual Excelsior pylon assembly, while the single nacelle is mounted to a double pylon taken from an AMT Enterprise (-A) kit. This pylon is split into its two halves, which are fixed on either side of the saucer center. It seems that the double nacelles are on the top, although, owing to the symmetry of the saucer, the correct orientation may be upside down as well (the hole in the assumed saucer top may serve to hold the ship during the filming).
The model bears no visible name or registry. Doug Drexler says the ship was informally named "USS Hutzel", for Gary Hutzel, visual effects supervisor.
The DS9TM image may be upside down, although the orientation is not entirely certain. In any case, the image in inaccurate in that it doesn't show that the two saucers have both retained their rims (of which one is painted in copper) and that a "bump", just like on the normal Excelsior too, holds the double nacelle pylon. Also, the relative scaling of the nacelles and saucer had to be corrected.
There is (fortunately!) no screen evidence of this ship.
If the three-nacelled ship really exists, it has to be an Excelsior variant, as little sense this would make. The nacelles and the two saucer halves are just too obvious. It is also clear that the pylon for the single nacelle may not stem from the Constitution. Not only would it be incompatible and scaled up considerably, it would be even stranger if it existed in a forked variant. Therefore the similarity must be a coincidence.
Taking into account the Excelsior components, we obtain a length of 380m. It is a mystery where the 288.33m in the DS9TM may come from. As the given width of the ship seems to be correct at 173.98m, maybe the first digit of the length figure is just a typo.
3-nacelled Excelsior model built by Stephen L.
The Constitution variant consists of parts taken from an AMT Enterprise (-A) kit. The saucer and neck are unchanged, and the nacelles are attached to the lower end of the neck on two short pylons.
The model has no registry but was named "USS Jupp" according to Doug Drexler.
The DS9TM image correctly reproduces the model's look.
There is no screen evidence of this ship.
The overall structure of the Constitution variant is more consistent than of the other kitbash ships. The only problem is why, decades after the Constitution has seemingly been decommissioned, there is still an obscure variant in service. On the other hand, Starfleet still has countless Miranda-class vessels with a very similar structure, so maybe there is also room for this rather "exotic" variant. The DS9TM wants to make us believe that the ship has been constructed from salvaged Constitution parts, but if anything, it is not a 1/1 scale "kitbash", but a class of its own.
Taking into account the used Constitution components, we obtain a length of 235m. The 364.84m figure in the DS9TM is much too long, even if we take into account the Excelsior scaling error.
Intrepid Variant (USS Yeager)
The model of the USS Yeager combines an Intrepid saucer hull from the Monogram Voyager with an almost complete Monogram model of Chakotay's Maquis raider. The nacelles are taken from the Voyager model and simply affixed to the wings of the Maquis raider.
The model is named "USS Yeager NCC-65674". Unluckily, at the about the same time, a ship of the Saber class was named after Chuck Yeager too.
The DS9TM image overall correctly reproduces the model's look with some smaller inaccuracies. Most notably the nacelles should not be straight but tilted.
The Yeager appears in stock footage in which the ship can be seen as part of the Ninth Fleet behind the station. The same shot is reused in as many as eighteen DS9 episodes of the sixth and seventh seasons.
The Yeager is the most blatant attempt ever to combine scaled parts in a ship design. Since the Intrepid saucer is the more prominent component, we have to ignore the Maquis raider hull. The excuse that fleet yard engineers may have taken a Maquis raider hull and simply inflated its dimensions is stupid, and it is laughable that they should have constructed this hull for a salvaged Intrepid saucer. The engineering must be some custom-made hull, maybe for a testbed for variable warp field geometry or for a limited number of ships of a yet unknown class. The use of an Intrepid saucer, which looks like anything else but a modular component, still aggravates the problem.
Taking into account the used Intrepid components, we obtain a length of 346m. The figure of 402.11m, as in the DS9TM, is definitely too long.
Yeager model built by Stephen L.
Adam Buckner built more kitbashes for DS9. Among them is a model labeled as "USS Antares NCC-9844". It is a modification of the Miranda class and appears on screen in DS9: "Favor the Bold". The model was built to be filmed from below, hence the hole in the bridge for the rod that would hold the ship during the filming.
While it complicates the issue of way too many ships named "Antares (class)", this could be easily the class ship of Starfleet's 24th century Antares class.
Four ships of this type showed up at Starbase 375 in DS9: "Favor the Bold".
Also among Buckner's designs is a ship called USS Bradford. It consists of a Miranda saucer, with two Intrepid pylons and two nacelles on top and two Saturn V rockets as cargo pods. The model is not labeled. According to Adam Buckner, the Bradford was sitting on producer Peter Lauritson's desk and neither made it to the screen nor into the DS9TM.
Adam Buckner: "As you can see, it's a cargo variant for carrying substantial loads. I always Imagined the rest of the main hull being converted to traditional cargo bays as well. Large doors and transporter arrays for loading cargo. Not much on the personnel side."
We have analyzed the photos of the DS9TM ships and have made the necessary adjustments to the diagrams. Of the seven ships discussed above the following may be identified on screen:
- Elkins (possibly)
- Raging Queen
Maybe we don't even want to see crazy constructions like the three-nacelled Excelsior variant on screen. By any means, the kitbash models are of such a poor quality that we may have to supplement missing details in mind, and which may allow us to see different, more reasonable designs in them.
Starship Kitbashing - about the feasibility of combining components of different ship types
Book Reviews - including the DS9TM
I am grateful to Mark Delgado who managed to dig up the photos and some additional information. Thanks a lot to the unknown contributor who made the photos! Special thanks to Doug Drexler and Adam Buckner. Thanks also to Alexander Hartmann, AndrewR, Captain Mike, Chris Spinnler, Dax, Dukhat, E.Jakobsson, Greg Tyler, J.L.Garner, Jeffrey Griffin, Jörg Hillebrand, Kris Olinger, Masaki Taniko, NeghVar, Peregrinus, Timo, The_Tom and many more people at Flare where the photos have been discussed.