Variations of the Type-15 Shuttle
by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider
The Type-15 shuttlepod, like many other vessels, was subject to a number of modifications during its lifetime, in order to fulfill the requirements of specific episodes. The shuttle exists in the form of a small miniature, which was used to film the shuttle in space, and as a complete full-scale exterior and interior set.
During the seven years of TNG the shuttle's outer appearance was modified just once. In addition, at one time the basic lettering scheme was amended beyond the customary change of the shuttle's name and/or number. The interior, on the other hand, was redressed a couple of times, depending on whether the shuttle was supposed to carry additional cargo or additional crew members.
The Type-15 shuttle appeared in the following TNG episodes:
1. TNG: "Time Squared"
2. TNG: "The Ensigns of Command"
3. TNG: "The Price"
4. TNG: "The Most Toys"
5. TNG: "Transfigurations"
6. TNG: "Devil's Due"
7. TNG: "Identity Crisis"
8. TNG: "The Mind's Eye"
9. TNG: "In Theory"
10. TNG: "Power Play"
11. TNG: "The Outcast"
12. TNG: "True Q"
13. TNG: "Descent, Parts I and II"
The concept drawings by Rick Sternbach facilitate the identification of some of the shuttle's features, and especially of the internal arrangement. We can see that there is a slanting wall about 1m behind the two chairs and 50 cm behind the trailing edges of the doors. The impulse engine is located in the aft wall, leaving no room behind the aft wall and the slanting wall inside the shuttle for a possible cargo storage. The impulse engine, however, is not recognizable as such on the full-scale mock-up of the shuttle but was only added in the form of visual effects to the shots of the miniature.
TNG: Time Squared
The shuttlepod showed up for the very first time as a miniature. We can see that it is the El-Baz (underneath the windshield and on both sides near the forward end) with the registry "05" (printed in very large font sizes on the roof, underneath the windshield and on both sides behind the doors). We can read "USS Enterprise" on the doors between the red stripes and "NCC-1701-D" towards the aft end. "NCC-1701-D" is also printed underneath the windshield above the big "05".
The miniature can be seen in the episode up to the point when the shuttle has been tractored in and the shuttlebay door has been closed. After a cut, the full-scale mock-up is shown in the same position and from the same angle.
Inside the cockpit there are two black leather chairs which can be folded down just like the seats in a car. A slightly sloped wall is located just behind these two seats. It consists of an LCARS screen on the top and three smaller displays with greenish illumination.
The Type-15 mock-up was composed of separate portions that were just laid out next to each other and not solidly joined: the fuselage, the nacelles and a wedge under the shuttle's nose. The latter, which cannot be found in the original design sketch, may have been added to conceal the casters on which the fuselage was mounted. Anyway, when the mock-up was repeatedly assembled and disassembled in "Time Squared", two errors occurred. The wedge was turned upside down from one shot to another and remained in this wrong orientation for the rest of the episode. Also, the left and the right nacelle were switched at one time.
TNG: The Ensigns of Command
Nothing was changed for this episode except for the shuttle's name. Although the big number "05" indicates that it should be still the El-Baz, the name is now Onizuka. It must be noted that the "original" El-Baz survived the events of "Time Squared" and only the duplicate from the future vanished, and that the El-Baz, still or again with the number "05" will show up in later episodes. This error will be corrected later. When the Onizuka reappears, it will be with the registry "07".
TNG: The Price
Some time prior to this episode it was decided to modify the basic lettering of the full-scale model and the miniature, which is now named Ley, Shuttlepod 09. Most noticeably the big registry "05" was removed. In fact, no other number like this was ever visible on a Type-15 shuttle. The obvious reason for this modification: It would have been quite an effort to repaint the big number for each episode in which (for the sake of variety) a different shuttlepod was going to be launched. The outlines of such big repainted labels may still have been visible. Moreover, with the big labels it was almost impossible to use stock footage without everyone noticing it. On the port and starboard sides the "05" was replaced with the label "1701-D". Vise versa, the former "NCC-1701-D" on the side walls was removed in favor of a label "Shuttlepod ##" in a very narrow font.
Inside the shuttle set, we can still make out the large LCARS display with the three smaller panels.
There is also a non-illuminated LCARS panel attached to the inside of the fuselage. This panel does not appear in any other views of this area in other episodes. Since the Shuttlepod Ley is not used in any other episode, that makes it unique to the Ley.
TNG: The Most Toys
We can see in TNG: "The Most Toys" that the Pike, Shuttlepod 12, is equipped with a "trunk", which serves to carry containers with highly volatile hytritium here. It should be noted that the whole rear wall of the shuttle can be opened like a "trunk lid", and that there is not the slightest sign of a propulsion system in that part of the shuttle (which would be an outrageously bad idea in consideration of the hytritium). The containers are a bit more than 50cm long and are stored in a horizontal orientation in the aft compartment. In order to allow for this additional cargo without compromising the consistency of the design, the cockpit was accordingly shortened. We can see that the former console at the rear end is gone, and that a blue carpeted(!) wall cuts off the cockpit directly behind the seats and the side door.
We can see the El-Baz, Shuttlepod 05, in the shuttlebay. We are only shown the very front tip of the full-scale model on which the label "El-Baz" was accordingly restored. All shots showing the entire shuttle, on the other hand, are evidently stock footage from "Time Squared" - the miniature as well as the full-scale model has been completely relabeled in the meantime. The only change in "Transfigurations" is that a new shuttlebay background was inserted in post-production behind the small model.
TNG: Devil's Due
When the miniature passes by the camera (a shot which will be shown again in "The Mind's Eye"), we can see that the big number "05" was removed from the roof as well, and consequently replaced with "1701-D". The shuttle's name is not readable here. Note that the shuttle's impulse drive is evidently supposed to be located in the aft wall, although there would be absolutely no room for it if the design is the same as in "The Most Toys".
Looking into the cockpit, the carpeted wall is still there. In addition, a jut close to the ceiling is now covered with carpet too, which was not yet the case in "The Most Toys".
TNG: Identity Crisis
The life-size model was relabeled a bit more extensively for this episode to act as the shuttlepod Cousteau of the USS Aries NCC-45167. The carpet wall inside the shuttle was completely removed. Hence the cockpit is larger again, and we can see the sloped wall with the LCARS screen as it used to be until "The Price".
One more interesting modification is that a boxy structure was attached to the roof of the shuttle, but only on the big model, not on the miniature. While we do not see the miniature in this episode, it will still be unchanged on all later occasions.
TNG: The Mind's Eye
The shuttle is the Onizuka, now with the overall new lettering style and the corrected number 07. The scene in space at the beginning of the episode is the aforementioned stock footage from "Devil's Due". In order to make the cockpit more comfortable for Geordi, one seat was removed and the remaining one shifted into the middle. Curiously, briefly after the shuttle has landed, the missing second seat is in place again!
Behind the seat(s) we can still see the familiar sloped wall with the screen. Furthermore someone accesses the trunk in this episode. After opening the hatch we can just see a sloped and ribbed wall close to the hatch, with a small console at its bottom. There is probably nothing like a cargo hold behind this wall, unlike it was in "The Most Toys". In this light it was not necessary to resort to the carpet wall again.
On top of the shuttle the new superstructure that was present already in "Identity Crisis" is clearly visible now. It is unclear what could be the purpose of the small box, as nothing related to additional equipment happened in the episode. Anyway, the small miniature was not accordingly modified.
TNG: In Theory
The shuttle in this episode, the Voltaire, Shuttlepod 03, has a normal cockpit aft wall with the screen. But something was changed about the consoles in front of the pilot. They used to be entirely flat so far, with one touch display for the pilot and one for the co-pilot. Now there is an additional monitor in the middle between these two consoles. This was deemed necessary to better demonstrate how Picard skillfully circumnavigates the dark matter clusters in this particular episode. The new center display can be seen in a couple of close shots. Otherwise the shuttle is unchanged.
We can also see the impulse drive in the aft wall in this episode, like already in "Devil's Due".
TNG: Power Play
The Type-15 shuttlepod in this episode is apparently more spacious than anywhere else, and it has three seats instead of two. The additional seat for Counselor Troi is located in the center aft end of the cockpit, although we know that there used to be just some 50cm clear space between the forward seats and the aft wall. Comparing the new interior view of the "Power Play" cockpit with one from "The Price", we also find that Data and Riker are now farther apart than Data and Geordi were in the latter episode (scaled to Data's body). The distance between the windows is greater as well. The camera distance and the perspective may not be exactly the same, but it looks like the cockpit has been overall enlarged in two dimensions. Also note that in "Power Play" no windshield frame is visible, obviously because the new enlarged interior was built without a front wall.
Some other changes corroborate that we are looking at a new or significantly redressed cockpit set. The ceiling now consists of two illuminated fields where there was previously just one. Furthermore the aft wall is almost completely even, without any displays or consoles. The seats are gray instead of black and are equipped with seatbelts!
It becomes apparent in the episode that the shaking of the cockpit was accomplished by means of hydraulics. Most likely the mock-up would not have survived the procedure, and while the Art Department was building a new interior set anyway (without the need to care about how it looked from the outside), they may have enlarged it so as to accommodate Counselor Troi.
When the shuttle crash lands, one nacelle is separated from the hull. In order to escape from the shuttle, the crew blow off a round hatch from the aft end. It is possible that for the damaged shuttle a new full-scale exterior model was built (which is not in scale with its very own interior though). Anyway, the round hatch is quite unlike the big lid from "The Price" and "The Mind's Eye", in which there is definitely no such hatch. Also, it is inconsistent with the impulse drive in "Devil's Due" and "In Theory" (and actually with all space scenes that we have seen) because it would be incredibly dull to place the drive into the escape hatch.
Finally, we can make out the new superstructure on the roof of the full-scale version in "Power Play", this time partially molten. Once again, this very structure is not visible on the miniature.
TNG: The Outcast
There is nothing notable about the shuttlepod in this episode. Just one corner of it is visible.
TNG: True Q
We can see a nameless shuttle mock-up in this episode. The interesting thing is that this is the only appearance in which the wall between the cockpit and the aft portion is missing. We can see the cockpit through the opened aft hatch.
TNG: Descent I & II
In this double feature the miniature can be seen in space, as usual, while the intact full-scale model appears on the planet surface. There are no visible modifications to any of these two incarnations.
Aside from the name labels, which were frequently modified on the life-size model as well as on the miniature, the only changes to the exterior are the revision of the labeling prior to TNG: "The Price" and the addition of the pod prior to TNG: "Identity Crisis". Here is a comprehensive list of all modifications to the Type-15 shuttlepod:
|Shuttle variant||Name||Number||Episode||Version visible||Cockpit variant|
|El-Baz||05||TNG: "Time Squared"||Yes||Yes||Yes||Console wall|
|Onizuka||05||TNG: "The Ensigns of Command"||No||Yes||Yes||Console wall|
|Ley||09||TNG: "The Price"||Yes||Yes||No||Console wall|
|Pike||12||TNG: "The Most Toys"||Yes||Yes||Yes||Carpet wall|
|Stock footage from "Time Squared"|
|?||01||TNG: "Devil's Due"||Yes||Yes||No||Carpet wall|
|?||TNG: "Identity Crisis"||Nein||Yes||Yes||Console wall|
|Onizuka||07||TNG: "The Mind's Eye"||Yes||Yes||Yes||Console wall|
|Partially stock footage from "Devil's Due"|
|Voltaire||03||TNG: "In Theory"||Yes||Yes||No||Console wall|
|Campbell||?||TNG: "Power Play"||Yes||Yes||Yes||Enlarged|
|Onizuka||07||TNG: "The Outcast"||No||No||Yes||-|
|?||?||TNG: "True Q"||No||Yes||Yes||No wall inside|
|El-Baz||05||TNG: "Descent, Parts I and II"||Yes||Not really||Yes||-|
The interior was overall modified more extensively, and this causes some inconsistencies. Most noticeably there is the problem with the impulse drive which is in the center of the aft wall according to all shots of the miniature, whereas the "trunk" of the life-size model shown in two episodes definitely wouldn't allow an impulse exhaust to be located there, much less would the hatch as seen in "Power Play".
A display in the Enterprise-D shuttlebay lists the available shuttlepods, most likely all of Type 15. It was never readable but is serious enough to qualify as close to canon. Some names and numbers on the list are of Type-15 shuttles that we actually saw on the show, some are new. The names on the list are:
- Pod 02 - Chris Pike
- Pod 05 - El Baz
- Pod 07 - Onizuka
- Pod 08 - Heinlein
- Pod 09 - Lindbergh (misspelled as "Lindberg")
- Pod 10 - PT Farnsworth
- Pod 12 - Sam Freedle
- Pod 14 - Cochrane
- Pod 15 - Armstrong
- Pod 16 - Curie
- Pod 18 - Feynman
It is possible that the shuttle Pike (No. 12?) we saw was really the one listed as "Chris Pike" (No. 02).
Special thanks to Fred Lauzus, who pointed us to the inverted wedge in "Time Squared" and to the additional appearance in "True Q" and who provided the concept drawings and additional photos.