Monthly Archives: July 2019

For Battle Born

Qor-class Battlecruiser of the Imperial Klingon Fleet

The Qor (“Battle”)-class Battlecruiser is an intermediate capital ship design used by the Klingon Empire. In service beginning in the early 2300s, the Qor-class built on the success of the long-serving K’t’inga-class, but at a scale more comparable to contemporary Federation and Romulan ships.

With a length of 342.9m, the Qor-class was still smaller than the Federation’s large explorer ships, but this mostly reflects a difference in role and design philosophy. Whereas the Federation tend to favour very large, luxuriously-appointed vessels with a more generalised role – explorers that can be pressed into service as capital ships – the Klingons favour a more directly military approach to their ship design, and their ships are built expressly for combat and generally more powerful on a ton-for-ton basis. In addition, Klingon military tactics tend to favour smaller ships for highly mobile, slashing attacks using the spatial equivalent of light cavalry squadron tactics.

The Qor-class was designed by the House of Martok as a new battlecruiser design intended to supplement and replace the aging K’t’ingas and D7s of the Imperial Fleet. Due to the aforementioned steady increase in the average size of Federation vessels, the basic K’t’inga hull plan was scaled up to make the incorporation of new technologies easier. This necessitated a thorough redesign, however, and the class is its own design rather than just a scaled-up D7.

The initial run of Qor-class ships offered the Klingon commander vast increases in effective combat power, but the early ships were troubled by a poorly-designed new warp system that never produced the higher warp velocities it promised. The House of Martok lost some standing over this, and the Qor gained a reputation as having “disappointing” performance, even though it was an increase over the K’t’inga in almost every respect.

Following the strengthening of the Federation alliance and new technology-sharing agreements, the Qor-class were upgraded with improved warp reactors and control suites, which allowed the ships to finally achieve the Warp 9.4 that the original engines had so confidently promised.

Specifications:

  • Length: 342.9m
  • Beam: 281m
  • Height: 109.5m
  • Mass: ~1,980,000 metric tons
  • Decks: 36
  • Complement: 620 (plus up to 600 ground troops)
  • Speed: Warp 8.7 (original engines) / Warp 9.4 (2250 refit)
  • Armament: 8 disruptor cannons, 2 pylon-mounted heavy disruptors, 2 torpedo tubes (1 forward, 1 rear-firing; upgrading to 2 forward, 1 rear in refit)

~~~

The obvious solution to the problem of Star Trek’s ridiculous paucity of Klingon ship designs (and consequent insanely long service lives for the ones they do have) is to build some of my own designs.

This one’s supposed to be an intermediate step between the TMP-era K’t’inga and the TNG Vor’cha, obviously borrowing heavily from the D7/K’t’inga design but evolving it in a sort of TNG-esque direction. Sort of the Klingon version of the Ambassador-class.

The “poor warp system” of the writeup is supposed to be a kind of nod to onscreen Trek canon, even though I’ve been forced into the opinion that at least some of the visuals are lying to us (the Bird-of-Prey size paradox, for instance, makes no objective sense at all and I discount the visuals of the ~330m BoP of TNG).

Anyway, my thinking is that if the ships got a reputation for disappointing performance, it might explain why we’ve never seen any until now.

Still, this ship would make far more sense than the ~330m Bird of Prey that TNG blessed us with, and way more sense than still using TMP-era K’t’ingas in the Battle of Deep Space Nine. That’s about a hundred and fifty years of service life for the same hull design, and as I’ve said, there really does come a point at which “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” no longer holds water.

Today Is A Good Day For Blatant Stupidity To Die

One of the most irritating things about Star Trek canon is its diktat that the Klingons are just fundamentally conservative when it comes to ship design, using the same designs (with incremental updates) for decades if not centuries.

Gilso’s Klingon fleet chart from daftworks.co.uk, using DS9 Technical Manual specifications which may or may not be accurate (there are issues). This is it for canon Klingon ships in the entire century and a half between the TOS series and the TNG movies. Five ship classes 😛

Respect to them for endeavouring to explain the nonsense that we only ever see 5 Klingon ship designs in the entire TOS/TNG/DS9/Voyager period (plus another two or three in Enterprise, and discounting J.J. Abrams’ reboot and the supposed “Klingon” designs from Discovery), equating to 6-8 ship classes because stupid modelling decisions (see last time for my rant on the B’rel/K’vort inanity). But “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” only goes so far. There comes a point at which an old hull and layout simply can’t accommodate the new and improved technologies that have been developed since its inception, leaving your fleet at a serious tactical and strategic disadvantage.

Besides all that, between all the incremental advances in technology crammed into the same hull (even if it’s a new hull on the same basic design), over time standardisation in your fleet is going to suck, as newer builds theoretically in the same class will end up with vastly different capabilities than older construction. When this involves engines, it means your “same class” of ships are going to have different sustained speeds, making fleet manoeuvres artificially laggy because you have to move at the speed of your slowest vessel.

That the Warrior Race would be okay with this beggars belief, even if Imperial science is a bit lacking compared to the Federation or the Romulans. They’re warriors, not morons. They like to operate their ships in squadrons (we see formations of three ships a lot), so this is not something their typical tactics can work well with. And I’m really not convinced that the Klingons are as primitive as it’s claimed. They did discover the warp drive considerably before humans, after all.

My preferred take on this apparent lunacy is that the Klingons “really” have numerous other ship classes that we never see. Maybe since the Federation are a bunch of nonaggressive pansies (and allied in the TNG period), they feel okay about dumping all of their older, obsolescent ships (like aging B’rel and K’vort classes) along the Federation border. Maybe those classes are all that were in range to muster for the Dominion War; that plus injudicious camera angles would explain the absence of anything else from the Klingon attack fleet there.

Anyway, I firmly believe there are numerous Klingon ship classes we’ve never seen, including any number of more experimental-looking designs.

Tik’leth-class experimental fast battlecruiser

Like this one.

I’m calling it the Tik’leth-class, after the Klingon longsword mentioned in beta canon, (probably a far better aggressive weapon than the almost solely defensive bat’leth). Four warp nacelles because I liked that feature of Picard’s old Stargazer, but in a much more typically Klingon configuration. Armed to the teeth because Klingons, I’m figuring this as representing a semi-experimental class, a little shorter than a Vor’cha-class but much wider and beefier.

Aft aspect. Lots of impulse power there, and presumably at least a couple of banks of disruptors and torpedo tubes for when you’re fighting someone that can manoeuvre.
Top view. The nacelles are definitely TNG sort of era, but that heavily rigged neck looks a little crude or unfinished. Ergo, experimental ship.

Since it has four warp nacelles, it should have power to spare and be at least as fast as anything the Federation can muster prior to a Sovereign-class, and that power ought to let it incorporate some massively powerful disruptors. Hopefully ones with all-around firing arcs, since canon Klingon ships exhibit a major deficiency in rear-firing weapons. I reckon they’d beg, trade or steal the specs for the quantum torpedo from their Federation allies, so the IKS Tik’leth would probably get refitted to use those, too.

Top-front view.
This is probably the view you don’t want. Klingon ships typically have really huge frontal armament.

tlhIngan maH!

“We are Klingons!” K’t’inga-class Battlecruiser

Probably my favourite of the extremely limited number of Klingon ship designs in the primary canon, the venerable K’t’inga-class was the larger Klingon battlecruiser type seen in movies such as Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (as opposed to the small Klingon Bird of Prey seen in movies like The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home).

A victim of the same conceptual nonsense that produced the B’rel and K’vort classes, the K’t’inga was basically a rescaling of the D7 used in the original series, with added detailing.

The B’rel/K’vort idiocy is one of the more irritating bits of canon developed to explain lazy model selection in the TNG television series. When the Klingon fleet was reintroduced onscreen to TNG, it was with a brand-new ship model: the Vor’cha-class Attack Cruiser. The B’rel Bird of Prey model from the TOS movies was still seen alongside this one, though; evidently still in service just like the antique Federation Miranda-class from the same era. Except with one difference. Evidently figuring that fans wouldn’t care about the Klingon fleet (wrong), they used the same Bird of Prey model to represent at least two vastly different sizes of ship.

This is just lazy model selection pure and simple (especially since they already had K’t’inga and Vor’cha models available), but is “explained” in Trek lore by the creation of the visually identical but much larger K’vort-class (I hope it means “mistake” in tlhIngan Hol).

The D7 upscaling that produced the K’t’inga is marginally less annoying, because the design was already intended as a relatively large ship. The original Constitution-class’ opposite number, the D7 was the standard “Klingon ship” in the TOS era, unlike the B’rel, which represented a relatively tiny “Scout-class” vessel and makes no visual sense as a ship of comparable size to the Galaxy-class Enterrprise-D.

Anyway, catching up on all the movies I missed when I was working stupid hours at my previous job, I have now come to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. And may I say what a little tit the J.J.verse’s Kirk is. The prime timeline’s Kirk could be an annoying pillock at times, but he’s got nothing on the rebel-with-a-spaceship Kirk of the Kelvin timeline. Still, it inspired me to build a Trek ship: my favourite vessel class from the Klingon Empire, (primary timeline).

Later I may have a go at the Kelvin timeline’s D4-class Bird of Prey from Star Trek: Into Darkness, but their D4 isn’t an especially Klingon-looking ship. A bit too Romulan-looking in overall configuration, though it does manage to have an “ancestral-to-the-B’rel” look about it despite that. At this time, I have other build priorities.

Technically the D7/K’t’inga should have a more nearly spherical lower forward hull section rather than the hemisphere I’ve built, but this is as close as it gets in bricks. So here she is, ready to kick some Federation and/or Romulan butt for the greater glory of the Empire.

Horsell Common and the Heat-Ray

Ulla!

This isn’t my first Martian Fighting Machine build, but inspired by GunnBuilding’s latest series of Martians, I decided to give it another go.

Normally when I build, I’ll get something basically complete and then tweak it a little over the next several days as it sits on my display shelf. It’ll generally only be minor tweaks, though; I tend to build all in one go even with large SHIP-class builds.

This time, I did quite a bit more tweaking than usual, reworking the legs once and completely rebuilding the head twice. The final result might be my best tripod yet, and it’s certainly the most book-accurate one, to the extent of incorporating the carrying basket on the back (which isn’t something you commonly see).

Now with ulta-accurate prisoner carrying basket!

It’s not the most completely stable of builds with all those joints in the legs, but the multijointedness would give the Fighting Machine a more flowing, cephalopoid kind of a gait that seems in keeping with the Martians’ squidlike physiology. And it does stand up, even on surfaces with little to no “give” or friction, like my display shelf. A real-life Martian Fighting Machine walking on spikes like that would drive its feet into even cobblestone roads with every step.

Heat-Ray on the left of the cockpit (operator’s POV), Black Smoke dispenser on the right

I’ve tried to incorporate all the details H. G. Wells described in the original work, though he’s frustratingly vague about certain fundamental design aspects (like the shape of the vehicle’s main body, the nature of the “hood” under which the Martian operator sits, how the legs actually attach and so on). This version has several previous media tripod designs in its ancestry, but neither the 1953 manta saucer nor the 2005 tripod included the basket (well, the 2005 version kind of did, but not with any prominence), and even Jeff Wayne relegated the carrying basket to the Handling Machine in the art from his musical version. For a long while I considered his tripod the definitive version, but these days I prefer something a little more sinister. The Jeff Wayne tripod was plenty sinister enough when I was a kid, but these days I can’t help but see a fat, long-legged tick or wingless cartoon mosquito when I look at it.

What I’m using as my Martian pilot isn’t big enough for the book’s description of the Martian being “the size of a bear, perhaps”, but this weird mould (apparently of some unknown Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thing called The Kraang) looks nearly perfect for the cephalopoid, brain-dominated Martians. Easier to fit into a workable Fighting Machine build than an octopus, too.

The Kraang: A near-perfect WotW Martian.

Anyway, this is my latest take on the epic alien walker that is probably the ultimate ancestor of them all: the Martian Fighting Machine.