Nacelle "Line of Sight": Canon or Not?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by t_smitts, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. t_smitts

    t_smitts Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's never been stated in any episode or movie, but the concept behind nacelles is that they work in concert with each other to generate a warp field (hence why there's always more than one) and supposedly require line of sight to work with each other.

    Andy Probert is a firm believer in this premise. When someone showed him an Eaglemoss model of the Nebula class, he pointed out that the nacelles should stick out lower, since the secondary hull is in the way. (We can only imagine what he thinks of the Defiant). I suppose you could argue that Voyager's pivoting nacelles, allowing them line of sight, is consistent with this.

    As I said, this has never been stated on screen and a few other ship designs do break that "rule". (The Jenolan, the Buran, and possibly some of the "First Contact" ships, the runabout, and possibly some other shuttles, for example). Do you consider it canon or not?

    Sidenote: Probert hated the future Enterprise-D from "All Good Things", partyl because it had three nacelles, but I can't see any reason why three of them couldn't work in concert with each other.
     
  2. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Containing Multitudes Moderator

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    Wasn't this just one of the "rules" made up to discredit the FJ tech manual? As you point out, there are numerous on-screen counter examples, so no, I don't consider it "canon".
     
  3. Longinus

    Longinus Commodore Commodore

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    Not canon, but there probably is some in-universe reason why the engines are so often separated from the main body of the vessel. Maybe the warp field is easier to generate that way or something. Defiant was relatively slow for such a new ship, so perhaps they sacrificed speed for better structural integrity.
     
  4. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Not canon. See: USS Kelvin. One nacelle.
     
  5. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That is exactly the case. Roddenberry didn't give a shit about "line-of-sight nacelles." He just pulled something out of his ass to discredit Franz Joseph.
     
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  6. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    I would say it was more of a creative decision ('cos I said so!) than anything remotely canon. "In-universe" it could be that some designs work better with line-of-sight nacelles while other designs can work just as well without them. It could be an issue of a particular design's warp field geometry, internal power distribution, or a simple matter of design aesthetics or balance.
     
  7. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    I seem to recall Gene early on wanted there to be only even numbers of nacelles, on the principle that it was like rotors on a helicopter. A single engine was more prone to imbalance. He wasn't an engineer by training, though, so there was never any elaboration for why this was presumably a necessity. :D I think IIRC Andrew Probert had mentioned the LOS aspect around the time of TMP, because originally it was hoped to have SFX going between the nacelles.
     
  8. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    Probert's reasoning was the the nacelles had to interact with each other in order to generate the warp field. You can see this in one of the preproduction design sketches, in a view out of the officers' lounge windows.

    As for what Probert thinks of the Defiant - the answer's in this interview:



    But in short, he didn't like it
     
  9. Santaman

    Santaman Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There are single nacelle ships and ships which have the warp drive build into the aft hull and so on and for example the Sydney class's nacelles have no line of sight either.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    None of the rules have held true against the deluge of new starship types, but the "line of sight" bit was the first to bite dust, with Oberth. Single-nacellers have only played bit parts on screen, but the TOS movies already had those FJ ships in evidence. Bridge atop was finally debunked by DSC, although they made fun of it in ENT already. Nacelle bows visible from front has always been iffy, especially with the Excelsior.

    Fundamentally, though, the rules are nonsense to begin with because all sorts of alien designs make do completely without the familiar bits... If you can put your warp coils inside the ship or in big flapping wings, then rules about nacelles aren't gonna convince.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Captain Captain

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    To be fair, all the early TNG alien ships had line of sight.
     
  12. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    I think the idea of "codependent" nacelles is interesting on paper, but I admit on a personal level I'm not sure how well it would have translated. It would depend on the context. Same with having energy going between the nacelles, as I've come to feel that might be more distracting than functional. * shrugs * :) It you can have a design with an odd number of nacelles or no LOS, and it looks good aesthetically, then I'd say it's fine. I like the fanon idea that having a third nacelle would offer increased speed and power, along with the possibility of a warp capable primary hull in the event of an emergency.
     
  13. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm fairly sure the line of sight rule is something Andy Probert came up with. There are loads of ships which go against it, even in the Federation, and especially with shuttles.

    It's a good rule to follow for TOS ships, though.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Uhh... What ships?

    The Batris in its many evidently warp-capable variants didn't have nacelles at all. The Tarellian plague ship didn't have nacelles at all. The Ferengi ship's glowing bits didn't enjoy line-of-sight. The Montague and Capulet ships Okona angered didn't enjoy line-of-sight. The Borg didn't have nacelles. So what am I missing?

    Oh, right, the Romulan Warbird. But their scout didn't have line-of-sight. And thereafter no alien ship had line-of-sight; it actually seemed as if the designer were making sure that they wouldn't.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Captain Captain

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    In the script, the ship is traveling at sublight, and it's presumed that they have a damaged warp drive, but one could also conclude the the ship doesn't have warp drive at all, and that the assumption is simply wrong.

    As for line of sight, if we assume they have warp drive, perhaps the inside of the sphere provides line of sight, and the light inside is the result of damage to the drive system. Either that or they're using a type of warp drive that operates on a fundamentally different set of principles, or is a completely different form of FTL and they're simply using the term "warp" for their own convenience.
    Wrong. The ship has a mild curve that provides line of sight between the engines.
    Okana's ship itself is sublight, and there's nothing in the script that says the two other ships are warp capable either.
    In "Q Who", the script never explicitly states that the Borg are pursuing them using warp drive, only that the cube is keeping up with the Enterprise. Although it may have been confirmed as warp later, at the time there was nothing to contradict the theory that they were simply using a different form of FTL technology.

    That said, does the line of sight rule even apply if the ship has no nacelles?
    The scout ship didn't show up until "The Defector", which is the 58th episode, well into the third season. That's hardly early TNG. My argument was never that line of sight was always the rule, only that it was generally adhered to in the first two seasons.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But the argument isn't valid if you cannot point to a case where it was adhered to. And this cannot be done by pointing to a total absence of cases that could have contradicted the claim.

    Beyond the Warbird, no nacelles enjoyed line-of-sight in early TNG, except for the Starfleet nacelles of the hero ship, the Starfleet nacelles of the Stargazer, and two out of the three TOS movie era ships seen. One out of those three lacked line-of-sight, and so did the shuttles. So nacelles were a Starfleet thing, and line-of-sight was at least 33% optional for them.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Captain Captain

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    Did you proof read this message? Because you just provided a case where it's adhered to. (Nevermind the fact that the first Ferengi ship also had line of sight.)
    That would make more sense if we didn't already know of examples that had line of sight (Enterprise-D, Stargazer, Enterprise-C, Excelsior Class, Romulan Warbird, Ferengi Cruiser, et cetera). Besides, in science, you don't try to prove a hypothesis, you try to disprove it, which in this case can be done by citing a single example that breaks the rule.
    My original statement was within the context of early TNG ships, not all ships in Star Trek. As for the shuttles, the first TNG warp-capable shuttle had line of sight.
     
  18. Tallguy

    Tallguy Commodore Commodore

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    It's an interesting idea, but as said not very well followed. I thought a more interesting idea was Matt Jefferies that these things were potentially hazardous and should be kept far away from the ship.

    I always thought the visible energy field between the nacelles was a terrible idea. But then Roddenberry's TMP novel and then later authors such as Diane Duane suggested that space in warp didn't look like the moving starfield we saw in TOS and TNG. Possibly more like the JJ warp effect. In that context maybe the nacelle effect might be more appropriate. Something really crazy emanating from the nacelles enveloping the ship. (Sounds expensive.)

    The way it is shown in the TMP concept art just looks like a Tesla coil between the nacelles.
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, yes: "all early TNG alien ships adhered to line-of-sight". Which in practice reads "the Romulan Warbird did".

    Nonsense. Neither Type 7 (by Probert) nor Type 6 (by Sternbach) managed that feat; the belly of both shuttles blocks 100% of the "field window" at the side of the nacelle in both cases. Especially in the full-sized props that rest on their bellies, but there we can wiggle and claim that the hideous Type 7 prop never actually represented the Type 7, but was merely some other shuttle being readied in the bay while the heroes boarded a proper Type 7 hiding behind that one...

    Neither of those was established to be warp-capable in TNG, either - it took until VOY to establish that Type 6 was, although of course there's no reason to disbelieve in all shuttles being warp-capable until otherwise told. But many early TNG alien designs were established to be warp-capable (including ones looking identical to ships declared warp-incapable), and only the Romulan Warbird ever adhered to the "rule". Amusingly enough, even when one expands the scope from your "early TNG" to "all of TNG"!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Matthew Raymond

    Matthew Raymond Captain Captain

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    The Ferengi Marauder has line of sight due to a deliberate curve in the shape of the underside of the ship. If what you're saying is that there isn't a massive number of ships introduced in the first two seasons, touche, but that doesn't invalidate my statement.
    With regard to the Type 7, there are obvious continuity problems between the on-set version and the one used in space shots. All representations of the Type 7 other than the live set mock-up show clear line of sight under the belly.

    Similarly, the Type 6 also has at least partial line of sight between the engines, and the on set model usually rests on a block between the two nacelles, so the belly rests on the block rather than the ground. Basically they solved the problem of the on-set shuttle not matching the prop used for visual effects.
    Oh please! The Type 7 actually has mini versions of the Enterprise-D warp nacelles. The Type 6 shuttle isn't quite that blatant, but it still has Enterprise-style glowy bits on the sides of the nacelles. What did they have to do to convince you they were warp nacelles, attach neon signs that say "These are the Warp Engines"? It's not like it was ambiguous, like a big aurora borealis crystal ball in the center of the shuttle.