We get the idea throughout TOS that Enterprise (of series 17) is the top-of-the-line A-number-one type of vessel.
Agreed, but what exactly defines top-of-the-line? Armament or other qualities like versatility, improved sensor equipment, faster warp engines, third M/AM reactor, capability to perform independent long range missions ("5-year-mission") without fuel stops etc.?
There are several indications that the pre-TOS era saw its fill of armed conflict (e.g. Donatu V) and starships with better firepower might have been the preference of these days (i.e. 16th starship series).
At the beginning of TOS (starting with "The Cage") we see an era of relative peace, so the Enterprise
might have been designed at a period were superior firepower was a lesser concern and other capabilities mattered (before tensions with the Klingons and Romulans became a major issue, again).
And if the Enterprise
had been the strongest ship in Starfleet, why choose her for the M-5 test and send two "inferior" starships of the 16th design (Excalibur
) against her?
Since the other four starships were prepared only for a simulation, why didn't that smart M-5 computer take out the lead ship Lexington
(17th design) first and go after the other starships in the following confusion and chaos? To destroy the "inferior" starship first while you still got "bigger fish to fry" doesn't seem that smart, but if the if the M-5 considered the Excalibur
to be a bigger threat its actions would make more sense to me.