The Excelsior - uncovering the design

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by yotsuya, Mar 28, 2021.

  1. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The three main uses of the Reliant studio model in TNG and DS9 were the Lantree, the Brattain, and the Saratoga. For the first ship, it was quite clear that it was an old ship relegated to transport duty. However, the Brattain was a science vessel and the Saratoga was a ship-of-the-line, both clearly on active duty. All three uses of the model were predicated on them not wanting to spend money building a new transport ship, science vessel, or other new ship of the line. And because the filming model lasted long enough to be scanned into a CGI model, it then appeared a multitude of times in DS9 and VOY as generic Starfleet vessels.

    But I don't think they outlived their potential replacements. As I mentioned above, they were just generic ships that we happened to see a lot of during wartime because, well, that's what we happened to see at the time. We would have to imagine that other battles we didn't see contained other classes of ships that were not composed predominantly of Excelsiors and Mirandas.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021
  2. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    I think the wartime theory has a lot of merit.

    In TOS, the Klingons and Romulans are both causing trouble. The Klingons pose an immediate threat, though the Organians have forced a peace, no one in the top brass at Starfleet is going to trust that such a forced peace will last. This would explain the large orders in FJ's tech manual. But those older designs aren't up to the task. So new designs come about. The Miranda class is sometimes referred to as a frigate. That is a warship and was the backbone of the sailing navies of the world. It is essentially the Ptolemy class tug with increased armaments and replacing the tow pad with a large hanger and other facilities that the secondary hull of the Constitution Class offered. I also feel that the Miranda class was built after the Constitution refit and was not a refit itself.

    I think Starfleet found itself in a position where they were scared of the Klingons. As we know, the Constitution Class were the queens of the fleet and were limited in number. So we get the Federation Class, Miranda Class, Excelsior Class, Constellation Class. In the FASA game we get a slew of other movie era ships capable of going to war. I would guess that out of all of these, the Miranda and Excelsior was the easiest to build and offered the most robust platform. Both have more hanger space than the Constitution Class (so does the Constellation Class, but it also has 4 nacelles, which did not offer substantial enough benefits for it to be turned out in greater numbers). Both have more weapons (the Miranda Class has the other phasers which we only see on the Ingram and the aft end of the Excelsior).

    I think design-wise the choice of which ships makes sense. An interesting turn of events for two models that were built for one off appearances and were then found to be very useful. Excelsior got a second life with a second filming model and both carried on as CG models.
     
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  3. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Miranda class has never been canonically referred to as a frigate.
     
  4. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Admiral Premium Member

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    There was a stretch there where there was an ongoing low-simmering battle amongst a subset of the fandom whether or not the Mirandas were Heavy Frigates (I'm in this camp) or Light Cruisers, the latter of which I recall popped up sometime in the 90's, maybe from one of the Okuda encyclopedias or something. If that is true, then that's what the Light Cruiser camp uses as evidence that this is what the Miranda's are. At the end of the day, though, neither are canon. :)
     
  5. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    True, but when you look at the design, it is heavier armed than the Constitution Class. It has two aft torpedoes and it has the fore/aft mega phasers (used on Enterprise in TWOK). It has two hangers that go deeper so it has at least 4 times then hanger space of the Constitution Class. And probably larger cargo areas as well. There is a lot of ship in that aft section. So it is not a light scout like Hermes or Oberth. It is not a destroyer like Saladin. It is not a heavy cruiser like Constitution. It feels like it was built for a multi-role mission. We see it acting as a scout in TWOK, but for a highly top secret project. And it isn't as heavily armed as Excelsior. So I think Frigate is a fair designation. Especially when we get to TNG and DS9 and their further variations. Most ship types are not canon. Scout and cruiser are about all we've heard referenced.
     
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  6. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Admiral Premium Member

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    ^^^ All these reasons is why I consider it a heavy frigate, as opposed to any kind of cruiser. :)
     
  7. Norsehound

    Norsehound Captain Captain

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    Hmm... The light cruiser designation may come from the Starfleet command games? To replace the TOS style ships used in the original, all fed light cruisers were represented with Miranda class ships. Im sure at least that's what formed my association.
     
  8. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Admiral Premium Member

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    That may be possible. I always thought it came from Okuda, but my memory may be completely faulty in this case. SFC may be the source of that designation.
     
  9. RichT

    RichT Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    There's nothing in canon to suggest the Miranda's pylon-mounted phasers are "mega-phasers" rather than normal phasers. While the Reliant does significant damage to the unshielded Enterprise's secondary hull with shots fired from its pylon emitters, the Enterprise later cripples the Reliant's impulse engines and blows off a whole warp nacelle using "regular" phaser fire. The Reliant's pylon-mounted phasers seem no more powerful than the Enterprise's saucer-mounted phasers, especially allowing for Reliant firing when fully operational and Enterprise reciprocating when significantly damaged. The question is – if mega-phasers are a thing, why doesn't the Constitution have them as well on, say, its warp nacelle pylons?

    While the Miranda class does have the two extra aft torpedo launchers, the Constitution refit has 18 phaser turrets (six each dorsal and ventral on the saucer, two above the shuttlebay, four ventral on the engineering hull) while the Miranda has only 16 phaser turrets, including the fore and aft emitters on its pylons. They seem to be pretty evenly matched overall in terms of armament, trading photons for phasers. (The original design for the Miranda class had eight photon torpedo launchers, with two separate launcher pods; one of the reasons for changing this is that she did significantly outgun the Constitution with that configuration, making it much less believable that Kirk could win.)

    It's also interesting conjecturing on how the Miranda's photon torpedo launchers could be manned, since there's no room for turbolifts through the roll bar pylon and it'd be a hell of a climb to get there manually. If it's unmanned then it's likely the Constitution refit, which could have an automatic launcher system but doesn't, can sustain higher firing rates, or else what benefit would the manual launch system have aside from ship funerals?

    While it's reasonable to assume that the Miranda's shuttlebays match the "greeblies" on the dorsal hull in general footprint, the only canonical evidence we have for the size of a Miranda shuttlebay is from the Saratoga in "Emissary" and suggests the shuttlebays are much smaller than this, with roughly square footprints. Granted, the Saratoga is far removed from the 23rd century design spec of the Miranda, and it's possible that in her case more extensive shuttlebays were reduced to allow for more crew/civilian facilities, since Saratoga has families aboard.

    It's also worth considering that while the Miranda's aft section is surprisingly large, it still comes in at a lower overall volume than the refit Constitution class (217,770m³ vs 234,928m³, respectively). While the Miranda could have extensive cargo handling facilities in this aft section, you still need to account for a large engineering space in this same region and you're losing part of the saucer footprint at the same time.

    I think here we're in perfect agreement. The Miranda strikes me as a highly configurable alternative to the Constitution – roughly the same volume and capabilities give or take, but the Miranda is easier to adapt for specific mission profiles because of these customisable outboard modules. You can give her a roll bar with a torpedo launcher and phaser turrets, you can give her large sensor pods, you can give her a sort of "AWACS" pod. It's entirely possible the original concept dual-launcher configuration exists somewhere as a destroyer variant and there's even more bizarre or specialised versions we've just never seen. Quite what makes the Soyuz an independent class over just another Miranda variant is a good question, though it's possible it's just a distinct subclass and since Mirandas are everywhere nobody needs to comment on that part, and that this is how Miranda subtypes are identified. (The real reason is, of course, that it was supposed to be a different design altogether and became a quasi-Miranda variant due to budgetary considerations.)
     
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  10. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think the light cruiser designation for the Miranda class came from an old Star Trek PC game.

    The only ships I can think of in Star Trek which were referred to by naval designations were:

    U.S.S. Enterprise (TMP) - Heavy Cruiser
    U.S.S. Horatio, Ambassador class - Heavy Cruiser
    U.S.S. Drake - Light Cruiser
    U.S.S. Thomas Paine, New Orleans class - Frigate
    U.S.S. Renegade, New Orleans class - Frigate
    U.S.S. ibn Majid - Heavy Cruiser
    U.S.S. Hiawatha - Medical Frigate

    Those terms were mostly prominent during TNG season 1, but then were summarily dropped later (most likely to de-emphasize the military aspect.)
     
  11. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Admiral Premium Member

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    Re. mega-phasers, I cannot remember where the nomenclature came from, but due to the roll-bar weapons pod having fore AND aft torpedoes, plus the same saucer-mounted phasers between Miranda and Connie, plus additional phaser emplacements underneath and in the rear of the Miranda, matching the Connie's phasers at the bottom of the secondary hull, the Miranda effectively outguns Connie, with or without the "mega" prefix. If it weren't for Kirk's presence on Enterprise in TWOK, the Reliant would likely have destroyed them in the first strike. Connies always seem to have been long-range exploration vessels - ostensibly vessels of peace. "Errand of Mercy" seemed to make them a little more combat-capable, but that wasn't ever the focus of Enterprise's 5YM. The Miranda, on the other hand, with its superior weapons package, seems to have been born of a more tumultuous time, geared for border defense against a growing Klingon/Romulan threat, without going too over-the-top fanboyish on the pew-pew factor. Its compact and arguably more sturdy construction made it easier and more cost/resource-effective to build. In essence, more bang for the buck in every measurable way. And yes, the rollbar package could easily be changed out for exploration missions (akin to MDC's Endurance configuration) if its orders required it.

    Although I do think we're drifting a tad-bit from the thread's original intention. :D
     
  12. RichT

    RichT Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    No such phaser emitters exist on the filming model.
     
  13. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Admiral Premium Member

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    Aww cripes... You’re going to make me look for it, aren’t you? Alright... in the car waiting on a cheeseburger. Will track it down and post here later tonight.
     
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  14. Norsehound

    Norsehound Captain Captain

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    The utter absence of Ambassador-era starships from most fleet shots leads me to believe this theory that the Excelsior and Miranda outlived their replacements. Surely Starfleet would have attempted to iterate on the fleet with newer and better designs since, after all, the TOS fleet evidently went practically extinct in the 2280s. There's around seventy years between TMP and TNG- surely starfleet at least tried ONCE to come up with replacements. The Ambassador was likely an attempt to oust the Excelsior as the new mainline cruiser, but it wasn't fully successful.

    I also like to believe the California-class is a 2340s contemporary of the Galaxy fleet that was yet another genuine attempt to replace the Mirandas with a low cost cruiser/frigate. That too failed, because Mirandas were so ubiquitous and so widely used across the fleet (with the variants mentioned previously) that the attempt was, in the end, futile. The Miranda class is too prolific for one class to simply replace it. Also, the technology possible in successive Miranda upgrades kept the ships serviceable and cheap compared to every other replacement. Assuming it's not a flashback, their apparance in Lower Decks is a testament to how long lived the class was, pushing 100 years.

    On this line of thought there may be a struggle in starfleet to cease production of the Miranda to allow some better upgraded ship design (like the California) to finally replace that relic. However, there are proponents of the Miranda that keep the production lines open so the class is essentially eternal.

    My headcannon likes to think of Cruisers as catch-all workhorses of the fleet, so I keep believing the Miranda started life as a light cruiser (since it's interior space and capability is reduced compared to the "heavy cruiser" Constituion). As time went on and ships got bigger it got degraded to a Frigate (A light combat ship, again my sense is informed by SFC). The Excelsiors though slipped into the light cruiser role.
     
  15. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The problem with that theory is that if this were the case, then the Enterprise-D should have been another Excelsior class ship, if the design was so successful that it outlasted more advanced designs like the Ambassador. This problem also crops up with the Oberth class still being in production while other more advanced ship designs were being built. It simply makes no sense to continue production on an Oberth when vessels like the BoBW kitbashes were clearly where Starfleet was headed design-wise, culminating in the Galaxy class. This is what happens when the real-world production utilizes movie models representing ships from 70 years before rather than commission a bunch of new studio models that look more contemporary to the current production.

    As for the Excelsior class, the reason why we saw so many of them in the DS9 CGI fleet shots was because they scanned the smaller filming model built by Greg Jein for VOY's "Flashback" into a CGI model. Had that filming model not existed, they would either have had to scan the original larger model with the Enterprise-B upgrades attached, or just not scan anything and we would not have seen the class in DS9.

    However, analyzing the registries of the Excelsior class, and assuming that registries are (somewhat) chronological, its possible that the theory that the Excelsior and Miranda classes outlived their replacements has merit. It's just not something I think would happen in reality.
     
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  16. RichT

    RichT Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Related to this, I've read that the DS9 production team were aware that they should have likely had Ambassador class ships during the big fleet shots in the Dominion War, but the filming model was deemed too low-quality to scan and they didn't have the time or resources to build one from scratch.
     
  17. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    Regular phasers are in pairs or banks. Mega phasers are single, more powerful weapons that can do the damage of a pair/bank of phasers. The refit Constitution Class has 7 pairs and one quad. Excelsior has 10 pairs and one quad (and whatever you want the weapons pod on lower stern to be). Reliant has 6 pairs and 4 mega phasers. They were first called mega phasers on the Ingram plans, but the are identical in design to the Reliant weapons. Reliant sliced up Enterprise with a single mega phaser. Enterprise struck back with several phaser banks. Both had 2 torpedo tubes facing forward. Kirk wins by being smarter and more skilled at space combat.

    And on a silly note, if you watch the episode the Lakota is in, they have phasers coming out of places where there aren't even any surface details to come from.
     
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  18. Mres_was_framed!

    Mres_was_framed! Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't like the idea of Star Trek having fighter drones, but modifying this theory to the ships a tiny crew of even 10 or something would work for me.

    This makes a lot of sense to me, and would explain why there are several TNG-era episodes dealing with prototypes that are designs that are very different from other ships, and yet we still keep seeing mostly the same two classes.

    For a long time I liked the idea of the Miranda being a "destroyer" as distinct form a cruiser, but if Starfleet avoid wartime names for ships classes, then "frigate" sounds more peaceful without really changing much. This is the organization that called the Defiant-class an "escort."

    Somewhere if I can find it, I took Sternbach's 6 large classes from the TNG tech manual (Explorer, Cruiser, Cargo Carrier, Tanker, Surveyor and Scout) and aligned them with military ship classes like Battleship, Destroyer, etc. It is interesting that the Miranda looks like the Ptolmeny (a cargo carrier), and yet seems to have a role that is "next to cruiser," if you will, just as Sternbach's list would seem to have it be.
     
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  19. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually what happened was the Ambassador class filming model was damaged (one of the warp engine nacelle pylons broke) and the model was crated up and never used again after "Emissary" until it was uncrated and sold at auction. The three ILM First Contact ships which were remapped and used later were actually of lower quality than if they had scanned the Ambassador class into a CGI model.
     
  20. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Admiral Premium Member

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    Well color me incensed. I remember multiple sites out there that had tons of photos of the filming miniature as it appeared in the Christie’s auction and they're all gone! :mad: So, I did it the old fashioned way and took one of the HD screen captures from TrekCore of the original movie and enhanced the image to show what I'm talking about:
    reliant_enhanced.png
    There are two little nubs painted yellow w/ red piping under the impulse engine housing, ventral aft. These are aft-facing phaser banks. They are not RCS units, as those are recessed, not sticking out. These phaser banks match the other saucer banks exactly.

    Hopefully someone out there has better photos of the model as it appeared at Christie's in one of their archives. I would love to see some of those photos again and the Wayback Machine doesn't have all the comprehensive collections that sites like mutara.net and bilder-st.de had.

    And here's a close-up that I was able to find of the damaged rollbar that was also made for TWOK, showing each "mega-phaser" emplacement actually has four emitters on each side. One fore, one aft, and two on swivels (marked by the same yellow/red warning livery that all the other phaser banks have):
    img7.jpg
    So yeah, the Mirandas definitely got some teeth.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021
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