Pushing my personal “largest LEGO creation” boundaries in my ongoing quest for SHIP status, I present the Argonaut-class Explorer Cruiser.
Argonaut-class: after aspect
My previous largest ship, my 6929 Starfleet Voyager update, was exactly 50 studs in length, which is a respectable size but hardly a breakthrough into the world of Seriously Huge Investments in Pieces. Likewise my previous largest microscale, the Diomedes, which was again 50 studs long.
The Argonaut is half again that size, at a few millimeters over 74 studs in length. It uses practically all of my dark grey and a good 3/4 of my dark red, and I already have a third highlight colour in the shape of the light grey, so there’s no simple way I could expand this any further. I might be able to add more light grey, I suppose, giving a slightly more patchwork look to the main spine, but probably not enough to matter. This is about as long as is reasonable to build while maintaining this width and height. Assuming an 8-stud average visual width (4 to 6 studs real hull width plus additions), that’s a little over a 1:9 ratio of width to length. To maintain that same ratio or less, a 100-stud creation needs to average at least 12 studs wide, probably 8+ studs real hull width with additions. And I generally prefer squatter, less elongated designs, in the 1:5 – 1:6 range.
Translation: Building a SHIP really does take a butt-ton of bricks.
That’s an official SI unit for LEGO bricks, by the way 😛 (Truly monstrous creations like this awesome Blacktron space carrier or this immense Classic Space explorer ship are measured in the kilobutt-tons, while my own more modest starships merely in the centibutt-tons).
I’ll get there, though. I’m going to build a SHIP. Sooner or later. I’ve been working my way up to it for a while, and while I’m not there yet, the gap is closing.
And I managed to build this while I still had my first reasonable-sized (ie bigger than my palm) AT-AT built, but more on that next time.
Argonaut-class: Forward aspect
The Argonaut-class Explorer Cruiser is a relatively generic starship type built by the Interstellar Commonwealth as a long-range exploration ship.
Part military cruiser but with substantial cargo pod space, the Argonaut is less suited to combat than most dreadnought battleships and less adapted to heavy cargo haulage than, for example, the Commonwealth’s Trader-class Bulk Carrier.
However, the combination of both cargo capacity and military-grade weaponry and sensors is exactly what the explorer ship class demands, so the Interstellar Commonwealth produces and operates a whole series of these intermediate vessels.
The Argonaut-class is on the small side as explorer ships go; cheaper to deploy than the massive Copernicus-class while still containing enough equipment and supplies to do the job of exploring a new star system.
The forward section contains most of the laboratories and sensor equipment, typically set up for planetological, astrogational and xenobiological research at the very least, and often including cultural xenology, linguistics and comparative technology labs as needed.
What appear to be guns at the wingtips are in fact gravitational sensors and communications antennae, while at the very tip of the nosecone is a sophisticated medium-range probe deployment system. The “wings” are completely useless for manoeuvre in vacuum, of course, but they are composed of thick crystarmour plate sections providing at least a modicum of protection to the vulnerable lab modules.
Argonaut-class: Detail, forward section
Dorsally amidships is the main small craft hangar bay, featuring in-line funnel-shaped entry/exit ports equipped with powerful tractors to guide the various small craft back into the hangars. A dedicated hyperspace communications array sits atop this hangar deck, the triple-pronged bladelike design typical of such.
Argonaut-class: Detail, central spinal section
Along the central spine from the Argonaut-class’ forward section are the main optical observation deck, the central cargo pod handling area and the construction/repair centre. The optical observation deck is a massive windowed area with a transparent glassteel viewport several stories in height. Many optical instruments such as telescopes are set up in this area, which is also popular with the crew as a relaxation area and features one end dedicated to restaurant dining.
Observation deck area
The cargo pod handling area includes space for four of the standard near-cubical bulk haulage pods in standard mode, or up to eight without the extended-range fuel tanks and docking/refueling rails. Proceeding without the tanks or rails is an unusual step, however, and almost never happens.
Cargo pod handling area and main long-range fuel tanks
Detail, aft hangar bay entrance seen over cargo pods
Aft of this is the main construction/repair area, with smaller container pods and dorsal zero-gravity cranes for the construction of hyperjump portals and smaller orbital stations. The cranes can also be used for larger ship-repair tasks.
Argonaut-class: Detail, main construction bay
The rear section contains the primary engine rooms, antimatter reactors and main weapon systems. There are a further two hangar bay ports, these for repair and maintenance drones, plus four medium-calibre laser turrets for defence.
The concentration of weaponry at the rear of the ship strikes many observers as a little strange, but after the loss of the Navigator-class explorer ship CNS Saint Brendan to hostile fire as she attempted to withdraw from the system, the Commonwealth began to follow a pattern of concentrating its explorer cruisers’ firepower aft. These are explorers, it was reasoned, not combat vessels. Their first instinct when under fire ought to be to withdraw.
Argonaut-class: Detail, aft weapons clusters
Finally, the engine itself. A massive Tachiro-Shinsekov-Chimbote metagravitational drive allowing both normal-space cruising and manoeuvre and metagravity hyperjump, the engine features no less than four separate Shinsekov coils and can produce a normal-space acceleration equivalence of three hundred and sixty-seven gravities at eighty percent power.
Main engine showing Shinsekov coils and central Tachiro-Shinsekov-Chimbote metagravity accelerator