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Old February 5 2013, 05:01 PM   #1
Warped9
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A parade of spaceships...

A little something non Trek and to keep myself into a different kind of modelling. And, yes, I'm still working on the TOS shuttlecraft.

Awhile ago I picked up the wonderful Spaceship Handbook reference book as well as its companion the Saucer Fleet. My imagination was stirred by quite a few of those ships. In truth I know I will never have actual physical models of all those ships although I believe I will build kits of perhaps a handful of them.

That said there is nothing stopping me from making 3D models of the ones I find most interesting and appealing. Certainly one of them will be the Rocketship Galileo which I can't help but notice looks like it could have inspired Space Ghost's Phantom Cruiser.


Starting off this parade will be the Spaceship Friede (pronounced Freeda) from Fritz Lang's 1929 film Die Frau im Mond (The Woman in the Moon). I find this ship interesting for two reasons. Firstly, of course, I simply like the look of it. It has an elemental look without looking silly. Secondly is learning how much thought actually went into its design. While its depiction onscreen might be charming by today's standards it actually got a lot of basic ideas right. And when the creators make that much effort even if they do take some creative licence (the essence of good SF I think) then you can forgive a lot.

Here's a scan of the model/ship from the Spaceship Handbook and it's from this I'll be working. It's interesting to note that like so many other fictional spacecraft that will follow in ensuing decades that there were differences between the filming miniature and the fullsize mockup used---and we have certainly seen that happen time and time again.



Stay tuned...
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Old February 5 2013, 07:28 PM   #2
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

Here's a beginning.



I've got to add windows and hatches and painting. There is also all those exhaust nozzles on the underside. The box like fins also need to be tweaked where they meet the hull.
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Old February 6 2013, 01:09 AM   #3
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

Fixed the box fins and added the access hatch. Also gave it a touch of colour.



The design is a variant of Hermann Oberth's Modell E Rocket design depicted in one of his books from the 1920s. There might be an explanation for the box style fins in the book but nothing I read in the Spaceship Handbook mentions the thinking behind the them. They do serve as supports for the ship's take-off, but what isn't apparent here is how this all works in the film. In the film the ship is standing in water for take-off, which is supposed to protect the ship from acoustic shock from its own take-off. Apparently it is somewhat similar to what is done with modern rockets prior to take-off (they're hosed down I understand) and that's where all that billowing smoke (actually steam) comes from.

The ship is a multistage rocket just like modern rockets, and Oberth had all this worked out years before the film. Indeed it's why Fritz Lang contracted Oberth to a be the film's technical advisor. In the film, while the ship's crew and passengers lack any specialized flight suits, the film correctly depicts the effects of acceleration and zero gravity. I think a lot of the film silly except for the depiction of the rocket and its flight---those parts are fascinating not only in how it's shown, but in how essentially right so much of it is. And this was at a time when space travel was considered pure fantasy.

Apparently a number of people have built working scale models of the Friede and flown them successfully. I understand it's also available as a resin kit from Fantastic Plastic.
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Old February 6 2013, 05:30 PM   #4
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

Where the second stage meets the first stage is presently just a visible geometry line, but I've just now done that line as an actual seam. As such it could show up in some shots (when rendered) and not in others depending on how the light falls on it. I'll do the same for the separation between the second stage meets the third as well as the access door since otherwise it would be totally invisible given it's the same silver colour as the majority of the hull. The windows will be done as slightly transparent pale yellow and I think I'll add a rudimentary interior. I haven't mastered lighting yet in Sketchup but I can try to add some illumination to the interior to show the windows off more.

The exhaust nozzles shouldn't be too hard since I really only have to make one and then duplicate several times. Colour is largely conjecture since the film was b&w and the only colour reference on the drawings are that most of the hull is silver and we can infer part of it is black or dark grey.

When I'm done I want to do some Photoshops of the ship going into space.
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Old February 6 2013, 06:20 PM   #5
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

Looking good! Are you going to be completely faithful to the original models or are you going to add in any more of your own details?
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Old February 6 2013, 06:30 PM   #6
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

One ship. Not much of a parade...

Nice ship, though...
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Old February 6 2013, 07:07 PM   #7
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

B.J. wrote: View Post
Looking good! Are you going to be completely faithful to the original models or are you going to add in any more of your own details?
I'm going to try to remain faithful, but already I've made a small tweak: I've added small rounded corners to the windows, but you'd only see it up close. The yellow tinted windows are from the drawing because I've no idea what the original windows were. I doubt they were one-way polarized glass or if they were tinted. I'd have to watch the film again, but I suspect they were just normal transparencies.

Admiral2 wrote: View Post
One ship. Not much of a parade...

Nice ship, though...
Well, it's the first one, but I intend to do more. Given the nature of these ships they're generally not that complicated overall. I'll post a list of what I'm looking at when I get the chance.
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Old February 6 2013, 07:25 PM   #8
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

Okay, I'm not done yet, but here is a little f/x fun.



Note that the one thing definitely missing is the exhaust flame.

For those who have never seen this film there is one shot in it that I think is awesome. It's a shot of the ship going upwards into the distance and it's very quick where all you see is essentially the exhaust flame as the ship rises like a bat outta hell. Pretty damn cool for a silent film.
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Old February 6 2013, 08:58 PM   #9
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

While I might not be able to get through all of them these are the vehicles on my radar for this parade.

Spaceship Friede - Die Frau im Mond (1929)
Buck Rogers' Rocket Ship - Buck Rogers serials (1930-1940)
Rocketship Galileo - Rocketship Galileo (1947)*
Chesley Bonestell's Moonship - Conquest Of Space (1949)*
Spaceship Luna - Destination: Moon (1951)
Space Ark - When Worlds Collide (1951)
Klaatu's Saucer - The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
Mars Spaceship - Conquest Of Space (1955)
Alien Saucer - Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956)
C57-D Cruiser - Forbidden Planet (1956)
Cosmostrator - First Spaceship On Venus (1959)
Jupiter II - Lost In Space (1965)
Phantom Cruiser - Space Ghost (1966)
Voyager - Fantastic Voyage (1966)

*denotes these are books.
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Old February 6 2013, 09:22 PM   #10
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

^^ Hey, you forget Captain Future's "Comet"
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Old February 6 2013, 10:22 PM   #11
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

Getting the exhaust nozzles into place.

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Old February 7 2013, 12:27 AM   #12
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

Warped9 wrote: View Post
While I might not be able to get through all of them these are the vehicles on my radar for this parade.

Spaceship Friede - Die Frau im Mond (1929)
Buck Rogers' Rocket Ship - Buck Rogers serials (1930-1940)
Rocketship Galileo - Rocketship Galileo (1947)*
Chesley Bonestell's Moonship - Conquest Of Space (1949)*
Spaceship Luna - Destination: Moon (1951)
Space Ark - When Worlds Collide (1951)
Klaatu's Saucer - The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
Mars Spaceship - Conquest Of Space (1955)
Alien Saucer - Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956)
C57-D Cruiser - Forbidden Planet (1956)
Cosmostrator - First Spaceship On Venus (1959)
Jupiter II - Lost In Space (1965)
Phantom Cruiser - Space Ghost (1966)
Voyager - Fantastic Voyage (1966)

*denotes these are books.
Dying to see your Phantom Cruiser (hopefully from the original series and not the eighties version). As for Fantastic Voyage, I would rather see the Proteus from the movie rather than the Voyager (from the cartoon).*

*P.S.: Neither one is technically a spaceship...
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Old February 7 2013, 12:42 AM   #13
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

The Phantom Cruiser should be fun. There's also the fact that there is room for interpretation in its design given that it's only been seen in animation. Mind you the Voyager from Fantastic Voyage was also only a one season wonder and yet it somehow merited a model kit while the Phantom Cruiser didn't (to the best of my knowledge).
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Old February 7 2013, 12:37 PM   #14
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

A lot of these ships are from before my time, when fans had visions of these huge single stage interplanetary rockets powered by atomic motors. As I little kid in the '60s I caught the tail end of the sensibility.

It's somewhat ironic that a real starship traveling at a significant percentage of light, maybe even 90% or better, would likely have a shape reminiscent of those classic rocketships, to better pierce the interstellar medium (which isn't a true vacuum) and assuming it was made of truly advanced materials.

It's been argued that maybe science fiction has been too successful and popular. The reality seen on the nightly news can't match the excitement of the cinematic visions played out for what has become a rather cynical audience overall. I hope that's not true, that we still have souls dreaming and aspiring to go "where no man has gone before." That aspiration got us into the air and onward to the Moon. I hope it can be regained someday.
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Old February 7 2013, 05:22 PM   #15
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Re: A parade of spaceships...

Warped9 wrote: View Post
It's somewhat ironic that a real starship traveling at a significant percentage of light, maybe even 90% or better, would likely have a shape reminiscent of those classic rocketships, to better pierce the interstellar medium (which isn't a true vacuum) and assuming it was made of truly advanced materials.
You're assuming here that such a ship wouldn't have a warp field and deflector array to spread the interstellar medium before it came in contact with the ship.
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