Thursday, April 9, 2015

Federation Class and Federation Class Refit

NOTE:  You can click on most pictures to get a larger view of them.

[Editor's Note (April 2016): This will mark my second re-write of this article.  Consider this the REFIT version of the original article.]

Ever since I became a Treckie, I have always been fascinated with the mighty Federation Class Dreadnought.  Once I started collecting small scale Star Trek ships, I have always wanted a Federation Class dreadnought in my collection.  Let's face it,they just look bad-ass.

As I built the various renditions of this ship classification, I wrote the "story background" for them from the point of view that is based in MY Star Trek "alternate" universe.  Although my universe bears a lot of striking resemblances to the cannon universe, there WILL of course be a few items that differ.


The Federation Class Dreadnought was a much bigger ship than it's Constitution class counterparts of the time.  As such, they were also more powerful and wielded much more firepower.

You can read more about the Federation Class at the Memory Alpha website by clicking on THIS LINK.

You will find that with any classification of starship design, you always go through the prototype phase...

TOS Era Prototype
USS Star System (NCC-2107)
Federation Class Prototype
1:2500 AMT Kitbash

 
 
 
 

In Universe Notes:
With any dream for a new starship classification, first comes the prototype stage.  Starfleet envisioned a more powerful version of it's already successful Constitution class and decided to start with those ships in mind.  The prototype featured a more powerful warp core which gave the weapons and defensive systems more power.  Additional phaser banks and torpedo launchers were installed on this ship.  As the design changed, this prototype became outdated and was eventually returned to the shipyards to be rebuilt into that newer design that we are all familiar with.

Real World Notes
I wanted to have a Federation class in my collection so badly, that I eventually decided to try my hand at kitbashing my own.  Unfortunately, my kitbashing skills were still in their infancy at this point.  In fact, this model was one of my first attempts at kitbashing.  I didn't like my third nacelle coming out of the saucer section so on my version, I moved the support pylon.

The saucer section and engineering hull were standard Constitution class parts.

Eventually, I ended up buying an official resin kit of a Federation Class ship so that is why I opted to calling this one a prototype.

TOS Era Ship
USS Federation (NCC-2100)
Federation Class Prototype

 
 
 
 

In Universe Notes:
Having finalized the designs for what a standard Federation Class would be, Starfleet set out to build these mighty starships.  20 ships in total were built.

Real World Notes
I finally found someone (Cozmo Heavy Industries) who actually produced a 1:2500 scale version of this ship and I ended up in a biding war on eBay to procure this vessel.  Needless to say, I won her.

I actually did a review of this kit and if you would like to read more about it, CLICK HERE.

This model is what a true Federation Class ship looks like.  It has the larger sized saucer section and engineering hull than her Constitution class sister.  The saucer also has the official recessed bridge module that was designed into the ship to protect the bridge from a standard Klingon attack tactic.

TMP Era Prototype
USS Star Union (NCC-2112)
Federation Class Refit Prototype
1:2500 AMT Kitbash

 
 
 
 

In Universe Notes:
In the 2270's, it was realized that the Federation class ships were now being outclassed by other races' dreadnoughts.  In fact, the new Constitution class refits, could hold thier own in a fire fight against the aging Federation classes.  So Starfleet engineers began to look at ways of refitting this older ships to bring them up to modern day specifications.  The USS Star Union was one of the prototype ideas that was eventually scrapped.  She was sent back to the shipyards and underwent a second overhaul to bring her in line with the final design.



Real World Notes
I built this ship at the same time that I built my TOS style prototype.  What is interesting, depending on what sources you look at, other than my third nacelle placement, this could actually count as one of the variants of that class of ship.

Certain sources claim that they simply modified existing Constitution class ships to beef up their power.

To me, a dreadnought should be bigger than other ships in it's current fleet.  Since I hadn't gotten into resin kit building yet, this model filled the gap for me for a while.

TMP Era Ship
USS Star League (NCC-2101)
Federation Class Refit
1:2500 Cozmo Heavy Industries and AMT Kitbash

 
 
 
 

In Universe Notes:
By the 2280's, all the remaining Federation classes had been refitted into this style of ship.  Sadly though, most of them were relegated to sitting at spacedocks and starbases as the newly built Excelsior class was found to be just as formidable a vessel in combat situations.

Real World Notes
Thanks to Cozmo Heavy Industries, I was eventually able to add the TOS version of this ship to my fleet.  Then, after about two years of dead end searches to find the perfect TMP era Federation Class, I decided to scratchbuild and kitbash my own.

Although my first attempt at building one of these ships was technically correct depending on what resources you looked at, I was never happy with my model.  I felt that it veered too far away from actually looking like a TMP era refitted Federation class.  I had been having discussions with Jay over at C.H.I. off and on again for over a year about him doing, a Federation Class Refit. We ended up having some serious sit down talks and after putting our heads together.

After much research, it turns out the the Federation class refit's saucer was actually the same size as the Constitution class saucer.  The warp nacelles and struts were also the same as her Connie sister.  With that being established, I realized that I might be able to do this project on my own.

I came up with this idea for what I thought the TMP era refit would eventually look like.   Besides the standard new saucer section and TMP style nacelles and struts, here are the changes that I added or subtracted to Jay's TOS style dreadnought:

1) I got rid of the rear deflector dish. It seemed silly to have one there.
2) I replaced that area of the ship with a more traditional rear end, thus adding a second hanger bay for additional shuttle/fighter storage.
3) I thickened the engineering hull a bit to even it up with the rear end of the ship. This gave the ship the appearance of being bulked up more since her TOS days.  This goes in line with most TMP era refits.  If you compared the Constitution TOS to a TMP era ships, the TMP era ship is a bit larger.
4) The third nacelle placement over the impulse engine seemed a bit odd and quite frankly gave me the impression of an under-powered vessel. I ground off the original engine and mounted dual engines to either side of the nacelle.
5) Most drawings only show her having a total of six phaser banks on the saucer. This is supposed to be more powerful than your standard ships so I upped that number to ten.
6) The ship is supposed to be over powering in other ways too, so I made the forward torpedo launcher area larger to house 4 forward facing and extended this weapon system to the back of the neck to where there are two rear facing launchers.
7) After seeing Thomas Sontag's idea of mounting phaser cannons onto a Federation class Refit on the Star Trek Modelers Group page, I decided to use some greebles and fashion my own. There was some push back on his being mounted on top of the saucer so I mounted mine to the side of the engineering hull. According to Gavin Rees in the STMG page, "per the FASA gaming system the mega phasers more powerful output was explained by having them feed directly off the intermix shaft as a warp nacelle does, therefore they have to be mounted on or very close to that shafting. Thus, your location off the secondary hull adjacent to the engineering spaces works."

The Build

At this point in my building career, I had started documenting my builds with Work In Progress pictures.  This particular model received a lot of WIP attention from me.

I purchased another of Jay's TOS style Federation Dreanought kits and set to work by upgrading his current kit with TMP era parts.


I kept the original neck from Jay's kit but made it longer by adding the newer photon torpedo launcher to the main hull.


Jay and I also came to the agreement that the single impulse engine right behind the center nacelle pylon didn't look right, hence my reasoning of installing two, one on either side of the pylon. The following picture was taken after just an hour of playing around with parts. I had a migraine that night and this was the best I could come up with in that condition.


It still made for a great start that got me wanting to continue with this extensive project.


I trimmed down a 1:2500 Connie deflector dish and it fit in under the hanger bay very well. At this point, I would need to do a tiny bit of putty work for it.


At this point in the build, I was still on the fence about the rear end of the ship. I don't like the deflector dish back there.  I was thinking of adding a second hanger bay but was still open to ideas.


Not thinking ahead to when I would need to paint the nooks and crannies of the saucer section, I mounted the third nacelle onto the hull.  I really liked the look of the saucer section with the one engine. It looks like it could serve as a stand alone fast attack craft.  I might have to do another kitbash with just that arrangement.


And so this brought an end to me second day of working on this ship.


When I started the project back up, I was still very unsure of my decision to do a hanger bay on the rear of the ship.  I used sculpting putty to even out the hull with the new rear end and did some touch up filling around the torpedo launchers and deflector dish. This became a waiting game as I needed to wait for the putty to harden later in the day.  At that point, I would be able to scrape away the excess easier.

The next day I started working on it saw more putty being added to the engineering hull and then rolling it on a flat surface to even it off.  I remember thinking that it looked much better this time around.



I started doing the smaller detail painting of different parts.  It was at this point that I realized that in hindsight I should have not mounted the nacelle to the saucer yet, so I snapped it off to make my life easier.


My next day of work saw some major moves forward on the project.  I filled out the engineering hull and sanded her down and at this point, I was much happier with her. I finished up my first round of detail painting and did all the white painting. At this point, it is always wise to let everything dry overnight as some paint takes longer than others to cure.

 
 

I got her put together the next day. Sometimes, doing these resin and kitbash jobs can be a real pain.  They require a lot of patience while the super glue sets, and patience is something I do not have.  I must have been getting better on these sorts of builds though as I only wanted to smash it once. Once again, she needed to sit overnight to let the glue set before clean up painting.

 
 

My last day of this build saw a slight modification to the design that in my opinion added something cool to the ship that was not thought of before.  After seeing Thomas Sontag's idea of mounting phaser cannons onto a Federation class Refit on the Star Trek Modelers Group FaceBook page, I decided to use some greebles and fashion my own. There was some push back in the discussion on his phaser cannons being mounted on top of the saucer so I mounted mine to the side of the engineering hull. Apparently, my idea was well received because Gavin Rees wrote the following in the STMG page, "per the FASA gaming system the mega phasers more powerful output was explained by having them feed directly off the intermix shaft as a warp nacelle does, therefore they have to be mounted on or very close to that shafting. Thus, you location off the secondary hull adjacent to the engineering spaces works.".

I finished up the touchup painting and after she set for a while gave her a nice clearcoat to protect the paint job.

 

The Comparisons

Since I now essentially have a mini fleet of Federation Class starships, I decided to do some side by side comparisons of all of them.  Remember, they are all 1:2500 scale ships.

TOS Era Protype vs TOS Era vs. TMP Era Prototype vs. TMP Era 

TOS Era Protype vs TOS Era vs. TMP Era Prototype vs. TMP Era 

TOS Era Protype vs TOS Era vs. TMP Era Prototype vs. TMP Era 

And that brings this nice long article to a close as that is all I have to share about this ship and my collection of it.  I hope you found this article as useful and informative as I did while writing it.  Please feel free to leave any comments, questions or suggestions below.

And as always, "Live Long And Prosper!"

Additional Links To Photos Of My Collection:
TOS ERA Prototype (The Ship     NO WIP Pictures)
TOS ERA (The Ship     NO WIP Pictures)
TMP ERA Prototype (The Ship     NO WIP Pictures)
TMP ERA (The Ship     WIP Pictures)

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