I’ve been a Trekker/Trekkie (delete as applicable) for years, and in particular I’m a big fan of the starships from the various Trek TV series and movies. I’ve been collecting Star Trek blueprints and technical manuals since the late ‘80s, but though there have been a plethora of great official and fan-produced documents for the original Star Trek and the movies over that time, there have been far less for The Next Generation and its spin-offs.
With the advent of the Internet, a lot of very talented fans have created schematics of the newer vessels, and posted them online. I was keen to print some of these off at home, but wanted to really do them justice and present them in a consistent format. So in 2004, as part of an effort to learn how to use Serif PagePlus for work, I started putting together an ebook featuring the best schematics I could find for nineteen of the most famous and frequently seen Starfleet ship classes. I collected specs, canon ship listings and registries and combined them with some supporting text to create a concise, printable guide. A few months later I created a second volume with nineteen more vessels. I’ve now completed seven individual volumes, and a combined version.
No – and I’m not trying to take credit for them! I designed the PDFs and the format, and researched and edited the text, but the images and schematics are from other sources (all credited where possible). They’ve been created by some incredibly talented fellow fans and posted on the Internet.
The PDFs began purely as a personal project so I could print off the schematics in a nice, consistent format. But in 2006 a couple of fellow fans suggested that I put them on the Net for others to enjoy too. Since then I’ve endeavoured to contact and obtain permission from the creators and owners of each schematic and image to use them, and I’m immensely grateful to the people who’ve kindly granted that permission.
All the sources used are credited on the final page(s) of each PDF document (along with the names of the designers of the models and CGI meshes used in the shows themselves). In many cases I’ve been unable to contact the creators, due to out-of-date email addresses or lack of contact details (some of the schematics and images have been around on the Net for years). If I’ve used your work and I’ve not managed to get in touch with you, my apologies, please email me.
Several reasons: Firstly I like the handy smaller format – at 40 pages (before I added the Bibliography page to each document), with two pages per ship, the PDFs printed off nicely to fit into an A5 document folder - great to keep on the shelf! Secondly, many of the schematics are relatively low resolution for printing (though they look great on screen), so stretching them to A4 size would reduce print quality still further. At A5 they look pretty good though, and I’ve tried to pick a compression rate for the rest of the images that means the zips are an acceptable download size while still looking good when printed. Finally at A5 the PDFs are readable in full-page, or better, two-page view (in Adobe Reader click on: View > Page Display > Two-up and also Show Cover Page During Two-Up for the most authentic results).
As noted above I wanted to print the PDFs and keep them in A5 document folders. The ones I’ve got have twenty pockets, which double-sided is forty pages. So with a combined title and introduction page, plus a size comparison chart at the back (adapted from Bernd Schneider’s excellent charts at Ex Astris Scientia, with his kind permission), and two pages per ship, there’s room for nineteen vessels. Since then I’ve added a Bibliography with a list of credits and sources used for each volume, plus a front page, and a blank page after the front cover and at the end (for ease of printing) so they are now forty-four pages each.
The lists have changed several times since I made the first PDF. I finally settled on the following criteria for Volume One: only Starfleet vessels which have appeared more than once in episodes or movies; and only ones which had four quality schematic views available.
For the second volume I included more of the ‘kitbashes’ and other seldom seen designs, but all the vessel designs included are canon, and have been seen at some point in Trek episodes or movies.
Volume Three covers the major alien vessels of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants (Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Ferengi, Tholians and Breen). Volume Four covers the major alien vessels of the Gamma and Delta Quadrants (Dominion, Borg, Kazon, Species 8472 etc.). Volume Five covers vessels from the 22nd Century.
Volumes Three and Four covered what I felt were the major alien powers. Given the number of different species encountered on Star Trek: Voyager I could only include a representative selection of Delta Quadrant vessels for now. I may add more in a further volume.
Well I originally only created the format to showcase the schematics I’d found and wanted to print. I just wanted a clear yet concise guide to the different vessels. The style was inspired by an old World War II fighter planes book I used to have, with drawn side views, specs, lists and some supporting info and images; along with a nod to Adam Lebowitz and Rob Bonchune’s excellent Starship Spotter, which is one of my favourite Trek ‘tech manuals’.
There are many superb websites out there with much more detail on each vessel (check out the links page for my favourites), but I wanted to try stick to canon data where possible, or where not enough canon data existed, the most commonly accepted information in fandom (or very occasionally my own preference!). Other webmasters have done a tremendous job of creating and adding detailed speculative data themselves, and have done it far better than I would, so I’ll leave that extra depth to them.
Personally I think I’ve got the compromise between data, key facts and detail about right.
Essentially, in Star Trek, something is only considered to be canon (part of the continuity of the show) if it appeared in one of the series or movies. If it only appeared in another source, e.g. a book or roleplaying game, it is usually considered non-canon (with occasional exceptions) and thus may be ignored or contradicted by the show’s writers. You can find a full explanation here courtesy of Bernd Schneider.
In the ebooks I have tried to stick to canon data and information as far as possible, but where no canon information exists I have used data from other official sources, generally accepted figures, or estimates to fill in the gaps.
There are many non-canon listings of vessels from books, RPGs, websites etc. around, and there wasn’t space to include them all here (plus many contradict each other). As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to focus on canon data as far as possible. That having been said, as an avid reader of the Pocket Books novels, I felt it appropriate to include the principal vessels from the New Frontier stories (U.S.S. Excalibur and U.S.S. Trident), the Starfleet Corp of Engineers ebooks (U.S.S. da Vinci), and the Vanguard series (U.S.S. Lovell). Additionally, where a known registry number has a generally accepted name from another official source (or likewise for a significant vessel with no canon name), I’ve included it (e.g. the IRW Praetor Pontilus and NX-03 Challenger mentioned in Pocket Books novels). In all these cases I’ve marked the vessels with a ¢.
The plan was for Volume Eight to cover space stations, and Volume Nine to feature vessels from the Kelvin Timeline of the JJ Abrams movies, but with the plethora of new starship designs that have appeared in Star Trek Discovery I might prioritise that first. I’ve got no target date in mind at the moment. Check the Volume Eight progress page for updates.
With family, teaching and broadcasting my time’s often at a premium. The site is a fun pastime for me, and of late my spare time’s been taken up with other projects. I also have another ongoing Trek project which I’m contributing to which I’ve neglected (apologies Rob!).
I’d quite like to make a Star Wars Starship Handbook, but have had trouble locating suitable images on white backgrounds, and don’t have the software to take suitable screenshots of the many 3D meshes out there unfortunately. (If you are able to help in this regard I’d love to hear from you).
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