Wolf 359 - Other Ships

The most notable ships of Wolf 359 or just the ships we could gather most information about are featured on separate pages. Much of the rest may remain a mystery. Notwithstanding the limited resolution of the screen caps, a few of the other ships have been identified though. This page has information on the "Planet of the Titans" prototypes (formerly attributed to Star Trek Phase II), the Excelsior study models and the Constitution.

The Wolf 359 Research Project was initiated and is maintained by Mark Delgado, Balapoel, Bernd Schneider, Chris Spinnler, Timo Saloniemi, Masaki Taniko, The Red Admiral and Nick Angeloni.


Planet of the Titans Prototypes

The Art of Star Trek has photos of two wedge-shaped prototypes purportedly built by Ralph McQuarrie for Star Trek Phase II back in 1977. More precisely, however, McQuarrie already designed these two vessels for a scrapped Trek movie called "Planet of the Titans" to be shot in England. When the production of Phase II was launched under Roddenberry's auspices some time later, he (fortunately!) hired Matt Jefferies and later Andrew Probert to further develop Jefferies's original design of the Enterprise. The McQuarrie designs may have never been seriously considered. The book states that the two McQuarrie models were among the ship wrecks at Wolf 359 though.

Study model I

At least one of the two models (variant I) can be identified. It is one of a few additional ships, besides an additional planet, in a modified scene in TNG: "Unification I", based on stock footage from TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds II" (BoBW). Study model I can be clearly seen at the center bottom. We believe that the very same take of this model was originally made for BoBW and then inserted into the foreground of "Unification I".

Study model II

Variant II of the McQuarrie Enterprise could not be identified in "The Best of Both Worlds II" or "Unification I" so far, but was spotted in the Spacedock scene in "Star Trek III".


Excelsior Study Models

The ILM study models of what should become the Excelsior (two of which are depicted in The Art of Star Trek) were used for TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds II" too, although not explicitly stated in the book. This has been confirmed by Mike Okuda. He didn't give any of these ships a name or a number. One of the models came from ILM with the name "USS Alka-selsior", but we wouldn't honestly consider this to be the ship's true name, would we? Given Okuda's comments about ships custom-built to be displayed as heavily damaged, the intact ship models were probably not altered at all and only shown in the background, so the Excelsior study models merely served as a "generic starships".

Study model I

The first prototype is a very characteristic flat design with a wide nacelle distance. This is the one that came labeled as "USS Alka-selsior NCC-1404". It seemed possible that this ship could be seen in the upper half of the scene when the Enterprise flies through the debris field, but we now believe that the latter is actually the Chekov. It is almost certain, however, that the flat Excelsior appears in "Unification I" and, even better recognizable in a different shot, in "Unification II" as #13.

Study model II

The second study model from The Art of Star Trek already resembles the final Excelsior. One characteristic difference is that the saucer underside is curved. We first presumed that the ship we now classify as Challenger could be the study model II, but its details all match better with the Challenger. It is questionable whether we will still be able to spot this ship on screen.

Study model III

This third of the two-nacelled Excelsior study models is so close to the final Excelsior that the in-universe ship has to be a slight variant of the class if not the very same ship class. Only some details like the bridge and the aft shuttlebay are visibly different. The remaining differences must be attributed to the rather coarse finish of the study model, like the primitive looking deflector dish (essentially only a hole with putty in it) and the hand-drawn markings. This study model has not been spotted yet. It is absolutely possible that it has been mistaken for a standard Excelsior if it was on screen.

Side note Star Trek: The Magazine calls the Excelsior study model III the "final study model" that was chosen by Leonard Nimoy. But the above image with the dorsal, fore and aft views of model III is depicted along with the side view (this image) of the study model II. These two miniatures are unquestionably different, as the nacelles and the shape of the saucer don't match at all. Maybe the study model III retained the engineering hull from version II though.

Four-nacelled study model I

There are four-nacelled ships in TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds II" as well as TNG: "Unification I". The one in BoBW is evidently the Cheyenne. In "Unification I", the first four-nacelled ship appears as #3 just at the beginning of the junkyard scene, inserted into the graveyard scene from BoBW. It is not sure but absolutely possible that the shot of the ship was already made for the latter episode.

Note that the "dual-bridge" structure on the model photo and the long flat dorsal almost perfectly match the #3 on the first screen cap. The raised structure on the saucer rear end might be a shuttlebay, while the actual bridge is in the center of the saucer. It is interesting that the ship apparently uses a saucer from AMT's Enterprise-refit kit and yet another variant of the Oberth-like nacelles built around something like pencils. The ship #10 in the second screen cap does seem to have such nacelles. Actually, the pencil-like shapes seem to be four 1/48 scale AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air missiles (with the fins cut off) taken from a Revell F-14 model kit. According to Michael Okuda, this ship was hanging from the ceiling in the DS9 Art Department. Note the thread running across the saucer.

Four-nacelled study model II

The existence of this fifth study model was revealed in Star Trek: The Magazine. The magazine article implies that this one could be the earliest version, as it closely resembles the sketches that called for a four-nacelled ship (that looks like it has more power than the Enterprise). It is very likely that the miniature was used in TNG: "Unification I" when the Enterprise assumed her parking position. A possible previous appearance in "The Best of Both Worlds II" cannot be confirmed.



Surprisingly, a very detailed Constitution engineering hull appears just before the commercial break in TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds II", only to vanish just after the break. This scene was not in all versions of the episode. We are definitely not looking at a plastic model kit, but a large-scale studio miniature with very detailed transparent arboretum windows. It is most likely the damaged studio model of the refitted original Enterprise. The question arises if Constitution-class ships are still in service as of 2366.

Heavily damaged ship parts can be seen on the left edge of the viewscreen. The damage is detailed, but the ship could not be recognized so far. The floating nacelle seems to be Galaxy style, and it could have been ripped off another ship. Michael Okuda is pretty sure that the saucer is the Enterprise saucer that was blown up for "Star Trek III".



When the Wolf 359 battle scene was produced for DS9: "Emissary", the visual effects crew took the more detailed Excelsior model instead of the Nebula study model for close shots, but they gave it the very same name and registry "USS Melbourne NCC-62043". Read about the naming conflict.


Addendum: Rigel

According to Mike Okuda's statement, the Rigel-class Tolstoy was probably not on screen at all in BoBW. Surprisingly, the now invalidated slide-show description of the Rigel would match another ship, namely the Niagara, which has been identified beyond doubt. This means that whoever gave the first description of the Rigel obviously mistook the Niagara for the Rigel. Case closed.



We still need to spot some of the ships in the wreckage of Wolf 359 in TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds II", most notably the "Planet of the Titans" and Excelsior prototypes. Since we know how they all look and that they don't represent any individual ships and specific class, this is where our research ends and speculation may start. The Constitution class, on the other hand, is clearly identified. It is still another question what could have been the business of the old Connie at Wolf 359.



We would like to express our gratitude to Mike Okuda for providing the image of the four-nacelled study model. Thanks also to Frank Gerratana, Kris Olinger, djdood, Jonah Rapp and Ambassador/Ensign_Q for more information or pics.


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