C.E. Evans wrote:
It's always been a collaborative and steadily unfolding effort, with sometimes later material supplanting earlier material (at times, by the same creators).
Except that the creator
of the Enterprise
, Walter Matt Jefferies, stated in the early 2000's in books and interviews (BBC-online) the same as in his original pre-production sketch with the text annotations: That the TOS Enterprise was "the first bird" and the "first in the [17th] series".
As the courteous gentleman he was, I'm confident he didn't want to offend anyone believing in "Constitution Class". Therefore he just stated as it was, leaving it to us to draw the proper conclusions from it - or not.
The Making of Star Trek
C.E. Evans wrote:
It's been officially established that the original Enterprise, NCC-1701, was a Constitution-class starship. She may not have been referred to as such in actual dialogue in TOS, but even as far back as 1966's "Space Seed," that was the name that was ultimately given for her design and it was finally confirmed in dialogue a couple of decades later in both TNG and DS9.
established the original NCC-1701 to be an "Enterprise-class starship". Since this is the account of Bob Justman and Gene Roddenberry/Stephen Whitfield, the TOS producers and creators, it can't get any more "official" than that, IMO.
And, again, Khan is referring to multiple starship designs and Constiution Class is just one of these
Bottom line: My ongoing problem with retroactive continuity is that it doesn't mind "putting words into people's mouths" which these individuals never said or intended (e.g. Matt Jefferies).
I think it's fair to assume that nobody reading this would like to have something like that happening to him and her, but when that happens to others it's okay because its an acceptable sacrifice for the Holy Cow G.U.T.?
If something needs to be rationalized it's the flaws of retroactive continuity that contradict earlier canon whereever this is possible, which in this case I think it is:
Starships like the Enterprise
beginning with a "16" belong to the Constitution Starship Class, those beginning with a "17" to the Enterprise Starship Class. The refit NCC-1701 is ESC, NCC-1701-A is CSC.
Simple, elegant and easy to understand because it answers most of the questions, IMO.