My buddy Tom (Drell-7) is always good for firing up my inner Trek geek. Recently he got to reexamine the Klingon "Bird of Prey" that debuted in the third Star Trek movie. I always liked the appearance of the design, but the further we got from STIII, the less sense it made. By the time we got to TNG, the exact same ship came in various sizes – perfectly scaled. Sure, it's obvious it was done to reuse the model and add ship variety on a budget, but it just added to the ship's woes and carried it further afield from plausibility in context of Trek's engineering rationale and real-world science.
Of course even its debut wasn't without hitches. Naming this a "Bird of Prey" (previously in Trek referring only to a specific Romulan ship or hull décor) confused things and made it appear that the show's producers didn't know or care about the integrity of Trek lore. Then, to add insult to injury, they painted red wings on the ventral surface, again evoking Romulans, not Klingons. Wassup wid dat?!??!
Anyway, after listening to Tom wax dissingly about the ship in a recent discussion, I decided to rethink the design and try to lend it a plausible rationale in the TOS era. So here's my thoughts (fellow geeks, sharpen your sabers and spin up your prop beanies!):
SIZE: There's only one size to the ship – the size we saw landed on Vulcan at the start of STIV [link]
. That's about 55m, stem to stern. It's not inflatable, allowing you to blow more air in to make a bigger ship. You can NOT fit a pair of whales in here.
ENGINEERING: As we can see the ship does not feature any bussard collectors or intakes, but this does not preclude it from having warp capability. It just limits the range as it can not refuel from the interstellar medium, pointing to a mission which is dramatically different from most "starships". Thus it fits better as a "warp-capable system defense craft". It has limited warp capability - not enough for sustained travel - but enough to engage a warp driven opponent in a localized combat. It can do up to warp 4, though only for limited periods. The plus size is that it can accelerate to speed faster than nearly any other vessel in the Federation fleet.
The shields on the ship are limited and mostly just cover the forward and lower surfaces. This provides protection during attacks (retreat? what's a retreat? we don't need no steekin' aft shields!) as well as a projected aeroshell during operations within an atmosphere.
The habitable space on this ship is VERY limited, but given the scope of its duties (in-system defense), that's not a real problem. There is cramped bunk space, a small mess, head, torp room, bridge, and transporters. But the rest of the ship is mostly engineering as it needs to contain a lot in a small hull size. I figure a crew of eight.
The ship has powerful weapons for such a small craft, but then that's its function: to get into faction fast and give a bloody nose. If the ship needs to travel between star systems, it must do so in the presence of a tanker for refueling. I picture tankers designed to supply 4-6 of these at a time, so in that sense the ship can almost be thought of as a Klingon fighter.
COLOR: OK, just paint over that red underwing design. The panels themselves are Klingon looking enough… and this erases and visual erroneous connection between this ship and a Romulan design.
So that's my take on the (ship formerly known as) the BoP: clipped wings, but sharp beak. OK… call me a Trek revisionist if you must, but the Trek canon after TMP just got increasingly hard to swallow (read: compromised by too many cooks and production necessities) for my tastes. But with such nice looking raw materials, it'd be a shame to just throw the baby out with the bath water. Better to dump the water and start fresh
OK, with that geekgasm done, let's look at pretty pictures from other talented DA "art forces". Click the thumbnails to be taken to a magical place...