Thank you! And also thanks for compiling that list on a short notice.
I guess we have to wonder whether the hull lettering is really useful for spotting numbers from the distance as the similar kind of numbering on the starship status chart makes it rather difficult to tell "6" and "8" apart.
During Nelson's/Hornblower's era of the Royal Navy the sailing ships were mostly distinguished by the number of guns they carried. A "first-rate" like HMS Victory
or the fictional HMS Defiant
(wall painting in "In a Mirror, Darkly") would carry 104 guns, a second-rate 90-98 guns and a third-rate 64-80 guns.
All these ships had in common that they were "ships-of-the-line", i.e. they were considered powerful enough to engage the enemy fleet in the traditional parallel lining and broadside exchange (Nelson broke this rule and therefore won at Trafalgar in 1805)
@ Avro Arrow
Here is another reference to add to the list, i.e. "Starship
Archon" 100 years prior to TOS.
And Pike's injury occurred on a cadet vessel, "old J-class starship
I'm very confident that the Matt Jefferies explanation on this TOS pre-production sketch, i.e. Enterprise
belongs to the 17th Federation "cruiser" design series, reflects the original TOS pre-production intentions that had the Enterprise be a member of the "Cruiser Class" (The Making of Star Trek).
For the series they settled for "Starship Class" and this would make the Archon
a member of an older "starship" design series.
By 23rd Century standards - this was discussed in the Oberth Class-missing-link Tech thread - the Archon
would, of course, no longer qualify as a starship by contemporary standards ("old
If we want to apply the Hornblower analogy this makes perfect sense, because a ship of the Royal Navy that was considered a "first-rate" by 1600 had been downgraded to a "third-rate" by 1700.
I agree that "Starship Class" (or "Destroyer Class") tells us little.
Of course the first digits on the hull tell us more (e.g. 17th design) and then we had these alphabetic classifications like the aforementioned "J-class" which either is just a letter or a short form of "Jefferson Class" or something like that.
But again, according to "continuity guru" Bob Justman (in The Making of Star Trek)
they were talking about the 12 ships of the "Enterprise Starship Class".
And what does the bridge dedication plaque of 17-01 say? "U.S.S. Enterprise Starship Class"
I fail to understand why the class ship's dedication plaque has to read "U.S.S. Enterprise Enterprise Starship Class".