Thank you! Only took me three decades, inspiration from various BBS discussions and TWOK in HD resolution (to spot Docking Port "2") to get it done.
a) Enterprise at this point is a training ship. It would make sense to have a space where the cadets could learn how to prep and launch torpedoes, sensor probes, etc. This theory has been posted widely before.
To me this somehow doesn't sound right. The Enterprise underwent a major refit with considerable state-of-the-art upgrades one decade earlier and by the time of TWOK she qualifies no longer as a starship of the line but has been downgraded to a cadet vessel?
Considering that where I live they use sailing ships as cadet vessels, I would have rather expected an old J-Class starship to still serve as a cadet vessel (with secured baffle plates, hopefully
To me it rather seemed than even the ships of the line have periods of cadet training, i.e. a temporary but not permanent crew of cadets.
Also, I think the Enterprise couldn't afford the luxury of manual torpedo loading or a drill. The ship was in a bad condition and was about to go into actual battle. Have some nervous cadet screw up and the launchers jammed probably wasn't a risk Admiral Kirk would have taken.
b) By this point in the film, the ship had taken significant damage. The scene where Kirk and Spock evaluate the damage on the bridge ("They knew exactly where to hit us...") suggest that some of that damage was in the area of the torpedo launchers; thus as part of their hasty repair job they defaulted back to manual loading and arming of torpedoes through the big room.
That's a possible alternate explanation. But to have an automated torpedo launcher and
a loading arm for manual operation looks a little like "better too
safe, than sorry" (and we'd still have to explain how Enterprise
knew exactly at which moment to pop up behind Reliant),
c) They only started lifting the grilles off the track right before entering the nebula, after deciding to head there. Perhaps they needed to modify the torpedoes for use in that soup, and what better place to modify them but that compartment?
That's a good one. But in the red lit scene we see no preparation in the staging area, it looks like the black thing goes straight into the launcher.
After both torpedo guidance controllers in the forward Section 2 had been taken out, Chekov activates the manual override joystick on the Bridge. It's somewhat inconclusive whether the torpedo he fired had guidance control or whether Chekov just scored a lucky shot.
In the red lit Section 4 there's the "Docking Port 2" sign over the round airlock door (it's "Docking Port 4" in the Forward Section 2). Therefore it apparently leads straight to the starboard docking port of the torpedo bay which is why we are looking at an aft launcher in
the torpedo bay.
Although the TNG Enterprise's aft launcher
is located at the stern of the ship / the dorsal's "extension" the TMP Enterprise's
dorsal "extension" does not feature a structure that could suggest an aft launcher there, IMHO:
In addition, Section 4 has two deck levels, too, the staging area below and the balcony above. Besides, I think Mr. Yamada portrayed the area at the stern of the ship above the landing bay doors so well, that I wouldn't believe it to look anything else, unless really necessary: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fesariu...n/photostream/
(however, like with the TOS Enterprise
, I don't think we are looking at a landing bay control room but rather at the control room for both aft phasers. Notice the two top windows that would allow a quick evaluation of a phaser beam emanating from either the port or starboard aft phaser)