New Fleet Addition- WIP

“Bash” inspired Lancer class- light frigate.


Impala_test_004dbPrimary hull extensions: hallmark of some of the best “kitbash” designs ever.


This design originated in Eric Kristiansen’s Jackill’s Starfleet Reference Manual: Ships of the Fleet Vol I. However, it was only my recent visualization of a fully realized scale model, that sparked my insistence to build a CGI version of my own, and add her to the growing fleet of ships that call Starstation India their home port.

A short time ago, I came across online photos of a kitbash starship model, labeled USS Argo. Being presented at a modelers’ exposition a while back, it was beautifully crafted, and I believe it was built by a hobbyist modeler named Eric Longstreet. It was a slim graceful design and yet remarkably… familiar. Nevertheless, I was smitten with this model’s particular demonstration of a somewhat generic feature shared by several Starfleet designs.  One of those is a major canon design, persisting from that 23rd century era depicted in the early films well into the 24th century settings of the TV series to follow.  The other examples are typically fan designs which would borrow and elaborate on the motif introduced by that canon design. I’ve admired many of them for years, and the design feature in question is what I tend to categorize as the “hull extension” format.

Our touchstone for Star Trek ships will always be the USS Enterprise, which was brilliantly portrayed as a well-proportioned, yet non compacted structure. Featuring entirely separate bodies, often referred to as the “primary” and “secondary” hulls respectively, each was formed to its own unique shape and purpose, yet remained bound to one another while hosting even more large extremities of indispensable function. Ultimately, all came together as a unified composure that had us longing even more to travel the depths of space, exploring distant stars and the worlds they held in their grasp.

Rather than bridging what would, at first glance, appear to be completely separate vessels, hull extension ships manage to integrate Starfleet’s standard round “primary hull” (or what we more commonly refer to as the “saucer section”) with that of a “boxier” hull component. This structure appears raised directly out of the upper (dorsal) portion of said primary hull, in a typically symmetric format, at varying complimentary angles, and with a generally sternward orientation. This is where things get interesting to me! While the first precedent of this ship style debuted in Trek’s early film days as the USS Reliant, many fans have created their own variations of extended hull forms since then, increasing or decreasing the overall length of the extension or significantly altering the angles at which they intersect with the upper primary hull. Some have split the extension into two units or carved the stern end to match the curved boundaries of the saucer upon which it rests. This creativity has yielded a delightful number of “same-yet-different” starship designs, helping a bit to satisfy that yearning for visual diversity, while still maintaining the totally recognizable Starfleet aesthetic which helps communicate that “Spirit of the Fleet” many of us adore. It probably also helps reduce the overall sensor profile of a ship’s design. Kitbashing done right! 🙂
With all that said, I present, The Lancer class– light frigate, USS Impala.

Impala_test_002cThe Lancer class- USS Impala.


While I was forced to base my CGI construct on the photographic information I’d collected of the physical model, I began searching the internet for anything that could help me classify this ship more effectively. Clearly smaller than a Miranda, but not nearly as stripped down to the basics as those single nacelle scout ships of Franz Joseph’s day, I was even less sure what classification this ship should have. She seemed to be in that prime median, capable of being designated “heavy” or “light” depending on what baseline category you assigned her: this could make her any of a number of variations of destroyer, frigate, or even the most nimble form of cruiser. I wouldn’t have ruled out heavy versions of scout or corvette if I thought either had any valid precedent (probably does). Even in the truest ocean navies of Earth, naval classification can be a very broad ranged, highly overlapping system of classification. It could be a veritable dream come true for a typical Venn diagram enthusiast, but I wasn’t particularly looking forward to making those choices as if I was some authority. I couldn’t get that “familiar” quality out of my mind…

Impala_test_003dDesignated a “light frigate,” her extended hull section is shorter and considerably less bulky than her larger cousins.


Impala_test_006dHer warp nacelles intersect directly with the primary hull, and a single shuttle bay results in a less symmetrical stern.


One day when not even browsing for anything related to this ship, I came across some schematics online that immediately made me realize, this design actually originated in one of the Jackill’s Starfleet Reference Manuals! Turns out, this ship had been sitting under my nose the entire time, probably even listed on one of my many “future-to-do” lists of starships I was desperate to build. How I never made the mental connection I don’t know, but once I pulled out my copy of the book the Lancer was listed in, I was able to get much needed info on the vessel (turns out I had two versions of the manual published years apart: the most recent with some great updates and entirely new materials added).

Impala_test_009aCompact hull extension: In addition to a reduction in sheer length, the angles where a Lancer class’s extended section intersects its primary hull are far more acute than similar yet heavier frigates, ultimately reducing the extension’s overall width as well.


I know that the registries for the Lancer class ships listed in the Jackill’s manual all range between 7800 and 7843. Eric Longstreet’s Argo is actually one of those ships listed and takes its registry, NCC-7807, as assigned in the book. My rendered registry numbers were special to me however, and chosen before I’d realized the connection to Eric Kristiansen’s work. I did skim through the book Lancer is printed within, searching for any possible instance of Impala listed under another class, but nothing jumped out at me. Even if I just missed it though, I’m pretty set on both the registry and the name at this point. I might still be open to altering the registry to fit better in line with the 78xx crowd, but as time progresses it seems less likely. Mulling it.

I am also toying with precisely how to go about cutting into the bow of the ship in order to provide for the design’s forward torpedo recess. A great deal of this 3D construct is a partial harvest of previously built ship components (the only reason I’ve been able to progress so quickly on building her). The torpedo recess is present on Eric Longstreet’s kitbash model as well as the most recently published depictions of the Lancer in Eric Kristiansen’s Jackill publications (books and datasheets). However, the schematics I recently ran across didn’t include the recess. It had me wondering, it was either doctored by the person posting the image or the design changed radically between the first and second publications of that Ships of the Fleet manual. I’ll have to dig into storage to find the older print publication, but I know the Abbe class was in both the original and updated versions, and she too went through some significant upgrades over that span (Mine is in fact based more on the original). Since this build isn’t from the ground up, I’m not as eager to take such a large chunk out of this particular hull. The Akyazi class ships have a similarly deep recess in the bow, but her entire ventral section is comparatively flat next to the concave regions of her larger “Starfleet standard” counterparts. I’ve considered it might be wiser to remain frugal, only digging into the saucer’s thicker outer rim for that task. I’ve seen some other kitbashes with more modest nooks in the bow, and they seem more appealing to me.

Impala_test_001cWorking on some dorsal texture elements, especially on the flatter areas of the extended section.


Impala_test_005b2With few details worked out, the underside still needs a great deal of work.


Impala_test_010Crafted this new ventral sensor dome below and wasn’t too thrilled, so I grabbed the one from my Ranger class and doctored it to fit.  Still, a likely temporary fill in.


Impala_test_008Closing in. More a test of the interior spaces seen through the extension’s viewports.


Impala_test_011bLanding bay exterior features are coming together.

Impala_test_012Pointless close-up. Maybe a test venue for a possible “viewport – Exterior backdrop” intended for interior perspectives of the space station’s docking areas.

Impala_test_013Many of these camera angles came straight from my previous Abbe class project, as did large portions of the ship’s construction.

Impala_test_014That Ranger class sensor dome replacing my newer custom version.


~ by starstation on June 5, 2015.

9 Responses to “New Fleet Addition- WIP”

  1. Hey Basill :)) Thanks kindly for your email, Mate! Love your work, BTW!

    I recently checked out your fabulous bridge renderings for the Enterprise Refit you did. Just beautiful, Mate, and it has inspired me to contact you further to see if you would be interested in making some 3d renders of my interiors for my re-imagined Enterprise-A. The external mesh of her was made by Raul Mamoru and she is currently being animated by Chris Adams over at HardWire Productions. I have just made the concluding doco in a trilogy dedicated to bringing her to life, which you can watch here…

    You are most welcome to have a look at the plans and external renders of her at my FB albums at… ……. …….

    Anyway, Mate, I really love your work, and if you would like to, it would be totally fab to work with you on my Enterprise, if you like her enough to want to do so.

    Hope to hear from you soon :))) Best from Spence =

  2. I like it. I wasn’t sure about the top of the pylons at first, but they grew on me as I looked at the images. I really like the top/back built up section, especially the asymmetrical back. Given the size of the ship, it makes sense to have only one shuttlebay.

    It’s funny how people love the “different” design of the Reliant, if you know why it was designed the way it was. Originally, the Reliant in the script was the same overall design as the Enterprise, only smaller. However, some people feared that people watching the movie wouldn’t be able to tell the ships apart during the battles, so they redesigned the Reliant to not look anything like the Enterprise. So, the basic reason for the Reliant’s cool “departure” design is because they thought we were too stupid to tell the two ships apart. 😛

    • Thanks. Yeah, those pylons had to grow on me a bit too, but once I started building the phaser parts, I was hooked.

      I think the “different look” approach for TWOK was, over all, a wise call. I certainly don’t take it as an insult, and I’m more than willing to reap the benefits of it. 😀 What I find funny (anecdotally) is how the Reliant’s warp nacelles came to hang under the ships’s hull after Harve Bennett glanced at the concept art displayed upside down and insisted it was perfect “just like that.” Thus the model makers had to implement a slight reversal of their plans to build her. 🙂

      • Yeah, that one is pretty funny too. It’s really interesting reading how some of these designs came to be. Not all of them were necessarily the artists’ first choices, some are even “happy accidents,” like the orientation of the Reliant’s nacelles. 😀

  3. Looks great, Basill!

  4. What a wonderful little ship! These are fantastic images – thanks for sharing them here.

  5. now this is what the Bozeman should have looked like!

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