Re: My homebrew kitbashes
Ok, I'd promised myself that I was taking an extended break, but this wouldn't leave me alone. I AM taking one after this for at least a week, so don't expect anything new after this until at least then...
By rights, the Constitution II-class starship should be referred to as the Republic class, just as the original Constitution class rightly should be known as the Enterprise class, after the first hulls flown in those configurations.
By late 2264, the ASDB had completed the design specifications for what was informally being referred to in Yard circles as the "Phase II" SLEP of the venerable Constitutions. New technologies, including major advancements in warp drive design, phasers, sensors and shields promised to make the heavy cruisers even more capable and reliable than they already were, and to ensure the dominance of the design for another two decades at a minimum.
This was considered highly desirable due to continuing difficulties with the Great Experiment, also known as the Excelsior class, which had originally been intended to succeed the Constitutions as the premiere Class I starship starting in the last half of the 2260s. Those intentions were quashed by ongoing problems with the cutting-edge FTW-1 transwarp drive system, which simply refused to perform in actuality in the manner the math indicated it should in theory.
Thus it was that nearly twenty years after the commissioning of Enterprise, the starship Republic (NCC-1371) was ordered to report to Utopia Planetia Starfleet Yards to undergo a partial refit to serve as testbed for the new systems. She put into Dock 47 in early April, 2263, and spent the next eleven months undergoing significant structural changes to allow the placement of the hardware test articles for the new design. Returning to service in mid-May of the following year, Republic would spend the next three years undergoing extensive testing.
The new configuration was a mixed success. While the new systems never truly failed, each had it's own unique "quirks" that prevented the total package from functioning as smoothly as the design team had hoped. The Vickers FWG/LN-60 warp drive proved particularly troublesome in operation, with a tendency to destabilize the warp field at inopportune moments which on two different occasions nearly resulted in the formation of a wormhole which could have destroyed the ship.
By May, 2268, it was becoming clear that there would have to be significant changes made to the design if the original goals were to be met. By fortuitous happenstance, the starship Enterprise (NCC-1701) was just finishing a five-year tour of duty. The ASDB immediately put in for the services of Lt Commander Montgomery Scott, Enterprise's Chief Engineer. "Scotty", as he preferred to be known informally was widely considered the foremost expert on the Constitution class in operation, and it was felt that he, if anyone, could tell them where they had gone wrong.
Convincing Scott to join the program took some doing, as he expressed a definite preference to remain attached to Enterprise to oversee her post-mission analysis and overhaul. His cooperation was eventually obtained by scheduling Enterprise as the next ship to be upgraded to the new configuration, provided the design problems could be worked out.
With Scotty now on the team, work resumed and for the next eleven months every effort was made to tweak the existing plans into a form that would be operationally sound. However, as that time passed, Scotty became convinced that significant parts of the design would have to be majorly reworked if they were to have any chance of success at all.
It took many hours of arguing with the heads of the ASDB, but Scotty prevailed in the end and threw himself into the work. For eighteen months he labored to perfect the configuration and to refit Enterprise to the new standard.
The end result saw further changes to the warp engines, including an entirely new impulse configuration that saw main impulse power being drawn directly from the M/AMRC in the secondary hull, an entirely new photon torpedo complex being installed, and significant changes to the entire outer hull of the ship.
In 2271, the Enterprise, still weeks away from being ready for her trials, was pressed into service to resolve the V'ger Crisis. Despite a recurrence of the warp field imbalance issue despite the upgrade to the LN-64 nacelle configuration, the ship proved to be very sound structurally and in terms of systems integrity.
Plans for any additional refits to the P2 configuration were therefore abandoned, and all remaining ships would instead be upgraded to the Enterprise standard.
By mid 2276, it was clear that the majority of the remaining issues with the design had been addressed, aside from a weakness in the phaser systems (which drew their primary power straight from the warp engine, and would be cut off in the event it went off line). With the Excelsior still obstinately refusing to perform, it became clear that the Constitutions would remain the primary Class I starship for the foreseeable future.*
As a result, it was decided to partially upgrade the Republic with systems from the Enterprise program for use as a training vessel. A half-year of upgrading, including replacing both warp and impulse engines, the entire A-C deck saucer superstructure, phaser upgrades and the installation of a single torpedo launcher at the new secondary hull location saw Republic ready to fly.
* Excelsior would continue to cause ulcers for the ASDB until 2288, when Starfleet finally shelved the transwarp concept and installed conventional warp systems. Surprisingly, this seemed to solve most of the issues that had plagued the project for over 2 decades, and ships of that class have become the new "Queens of the Fleet" with the general retirement of the Constitution class...
---Commodore Alan Donovan, Starfleet Corps of Engineers/ASDB 2296