The Ships of First Contact

 

The Akira class starship made its debut in the movie Star Trek: First Contact. It was subsequently seen in numerous Dominion War fleet scenes in Deep Space Nine, along with a couple cameos in Voyager. This is unsurprising, considering the design may be considered one of the most popular "non-hero" starships ever created. The Akira was designed by Alex Jaeger as a CGI model only. Since this was to be seen in a few closeups during the movie, it was rendered in far greater detail than the other ships for that film. The design was originally meant to be a sort of heavy gunboat, with multiple torpedo tubes in the rollbar and a through-the-hull shuttle bay. The shuttle bay option was never seen on screen, and we can (hopefully!) discount the original design's total of fifteen torpedo tubes as mere overkill. Nevertheless, the model pictured here remains faithful to the original design, and there are indeed 15 launch tubes in the rollbar!

The model is built from the largest kit available at this time, and naturally my favorite scale: the 1/1400 scale Starcrafts resin kit. This model uses only the kit-supplied decals, although I understand the JT Graphics decal sheet has a lot of added detail available. The base is my standard stained pine plaque, with a fantastic "pool table" style MSD designed by Jose Ralat. I simply printed this out and applied it with decoupage to the stained wood.


 

The Norway class is the ugly duckling of the First Contact movie fleet. The ship resembles nothing more than a old style camp shovel, with a spadelike primary hull and few discernible equipment points to break up the otherwise smooth hull. This was another Jaeger design, and one of the least documented - it was rumored that the cgi file was misplaced or erased soon after the movie. As this was one of the least-detailed models in the movie, it was used only for long distance shots of exploding starships.

I mastered this kit because there weren't any good copies of the Norway available in any scale. The overall shape of the hull is spot on, but the underside of the main hull is conjecture. In the years that followed, it has been discovered that the bottom of the Norway class was simply a chop-job of the Defiant's CGI texture map. Given the quick and dirty measures taken for the "real" model, I chose to keep my conjectural panel design for the bottom of this kit. The decals for this model are a combination of standard kit decals, plus a few home brew panels and warning stripes.


The Steamrunner class is another First Contact CGI design. It was more detailed than the Norway or the Saber, but still relatively low-res compared to the Akira class. Very little is known about this class of ship, and the overall function of the design remains unknown. Ships of this class have shown up in various Dominion War fleets as well.

The Steamrunner model is another 1/1400 scale Starcrafts kit. I built mine from an early copy that had opaque engine tips; I understand the bussard collectors are now cast in bubble-free clear red resin. I never glued the warp engine assembly to the main hull for fear of eventual warp engine sag, but thankfully this never became a problem.

 

 

The Saber class was the last of the ships designed for First Contact that actually made it in to the film. This is supposed to be a smaller scout style starship, and again sports the forward shuttle bay openings that Alex Jaeger seems to prefer. The model is the resin 1/1400 scale kit that took all of 10 minutes to assemble. I had some bubble issues in the front lip of the kit, along with some warpage in the...ahem.... warp engines. Both problems were simple fixes, with superglue and with hot water. This kit had a pair of beautiful gemlike red bussard collectors included. These were terrific parts, but they required a little planning before they went on -- if you put them on wrong, they point in opposite directions and wind up looking cross-eyed! This kit was painted in my standard TNG paint scheme: Light Ghost Grey base coat, Dark Ghost Grey panels, and deeper warm grey for the phasers. The decals on this kit are simply the kit-provided decals.

 


 

The Enterprise E made its debut on the big screen in Star Trek: First Contact. Her swept back lines and sleek curves evoke "speed standing still," to borrow a phrase from our auto enthusiasts. It is not known if the Sovereign class starships were meant to replace the Galaxy class, or merely augment it, but the ship is definitely smaller overall than their gigantic Galaxy class cousins.

Once again, I must admit a certain degree of shame here: these are the only two shots I have of my Ertl 1/1400 scale model because I never got around to really doing this kit justice. Although I'm grateful to the people over at AMT/Ertl for releasing the model in the same scale as the Enterprise-D, I have to admit that this makes for a somewhat small kit! At some point I plan to strip this kit, open her up, and do a full lighting job on her. The tight space in the hulls will make this difficult, but not impossible.

   

 

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