It has been a long, long time since I've made one of these. Nobody much cares for Sketchup anymore. The last good free version is quickly receding into obscurity. But, Captain Julian Locksley
still makes excellent renders with my ships, so I'll make more ships.
Long ago, I made an experiment of a ship with the saucer sweeping smoothly into the nacelle struts called the USS Gamgee
. It was primarily intended as an experiment in simplicity of design and spreading out components for appearance's sake. Prior to that ship, everything I had made was crumpled up and dense. They were unpleasant in the way of the Nebula class. The Gamgee wasn't particularly pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly. But, it did what I wanted.
The base idea stuck in my mind like a tiny sliver in my toe. It bothered me and itched that I hadn't made the thing look good. So, I'll try again.
The Gamgee had a number of design aspects which I really liked, but usually paired with something I didn't. The general layout was good, but the proportions were wrong, especially in that it was too thin for it's length. The bow-facing shuttle bay was my favorite part of the design, but it was awkwardly implemented and unevenly detailed. The engineering hull met the saucer in the right place, but completely disregarded the actual intersection of those things.
The only unambiguously good part of the design was that the top of the aft part of the swept single-hull design is at the same level as the bottom of the edge of the saucer. It is completely unnoticeable except in orthographics, but it makes me happy knowing its there.
I wanted to do something more directional than the whimsical experimentation of that ship. I wasn't going to pull over any of the stranger design elements like the bridge, exposed longitudinal warp core, or massive turrets. I wanted this ship to fit nicely into the TMP through TUC movie era. I also wanted it to have a intention and direction for the design starting out, unlike most of my designs which I draw first and then retcon with a plausible story to explain my design choices.
I have already done a deep space exploration ship, cargo ships, and a bunch of science ships. I refuse to make warships. So, diplomatic and humanitarian cruiser. This new ship will be in the style of the Excelsior, which is my second-favorite Enterprise (after the 330). It is a design style which I have not made before. I need to brush up on my art deco.
The Gamgee's large shuttle bay will be made even larger with a three-deck high through-hull design, occupying most of the saucer section. This alternatively facilitates the transport of dignitaries and their cargo, allows a huge cargo area for disaster relief supplies, or can be outfitted as emergency berthing for refugees. A deck directly beneath the shuttle bay will be outfitted with diplomatic suites, each with large window bays for views of the planet below. The ship will be fitted with extensive communication arrays and some moderate defensive capabilities.
This ship does not have a "neck," so it can't have the ribbed bit which echoes the ribs in the nacelles. Instead, I carried that detail into the shuttle bay doors. I have tried to pull details from some designs which would be "cutting edge technology" for a ship of the era. The impulse engine is similar in appearance to the pair on the Enterprise D saucer. The nacelles have a similar design to the Probert Enterprise C. But, the saucer is somewhat antiquated with it's echoes of shape from the 1701-A. I wanted the top of the saucer to be curved like the Excelsior, but the bottom has to be a mirror image per the Gamgee.
I'm still not sure I got the intersection of the engineering hull to the saucer quite right, but it is definitely better than the previous one. And I like the deflector much better.