Does anyone have any opinions on the Damn Secondary Hull Chasm?
I'd just like to point out that we don't exactly know whether it was there during the transwarp experiments yet. Since there are no stern views showing the hollow until ST6:TUC, we might speculate that the secondary hull was built "larger than it really need be" in order to accommodate machinery that was removed after the first few movies - either simply because the testing phase was over, or because the machinery had been revealed a failure.
Series production of ships with this now-useless cavity might still commence; plenty of real-world examples of such exist, such as armored vehicles designed
to take useless and indeed highly detrimental lead ballast merely because an early model was supposed to accommodate a wireless or an autoloader in the space!
The photographic model features an interesting greeblie in there, but this is virtually never seen. NCC-2000 features a blue "forcefield" glow, but this is unique to that individual vessel. And then there are the differences introduced in the "Flashback" model and the CGI models. Plenty enough excuse to think that the class was constantly being tinkered with, and that engineers well saw the utility of a "useless" expansion space.
Well, I am trying to keep an open mind about it all - and I have to say it makes more sense as an unused space than a shuttlebay at closer reexamination. And it is indeed rather convenient that we don't see it in TSFS - perhaps it was open but filled with some mystical transwarp tech?
I had previously rationalized that, as a shuttlebay, the reason the bay itself was suspended was two fold. Primarily, the ship's mass was on the verge of being too high, but warp geometry pushed for a curved lower hull - ergo it was left empty. This had the side benefit of enabling a staging area to be used within the ship but outside the bay for departing or arriving ships.
However, closer re-examination of the pod within might suggest that it's not substantial enough to be a shuttlebay "gondola" - at best it's some kind of shuttlebay control room, and in that instance, there's no landing floor, just curved structure.
I'm afraid it's going to not end up being a shuttlebay.
Later tonight, I need to do some maths on the Excelsior
to try to figure out what size she might be with my deck arrangement. I think 3.75 meters is fairly standard, ya? Sad thing is, I knew this shit once.