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I'm creating a thread for this to separate it from the other Star Trek projects I do, because this is a project I feel should stand alone. For those who don't know, I've built a lot of TOS Constitution class ships over the years. I don't know how many, I've done them in Truespace and Lightwave. But, I'm using Blender now and I need a Constitution class. But, I don't want to try to recreate the filming models. Not because it's difficult, at this point I can say with no real ego that I can get pretty close to accurate with little effort. That's mainly due to the amount of references available. There are great blueprint sets and lots of photos. So, doing the ship as it appeared on the show is a good thing, but just kind of mundane. Boring, if you will.
But, back before there were great references, before the internet age, there was basically only a couple references for this ship as far as schematics go. Those were the blueprints and technical manual drawn and written by a man named Franz Joseph.
For those who don't know, Franz Joseph was a German technical artist. In WW2, he devised a way to create pretty accurate schematics of enemy planes based on photos. If the photos had a size reference in them, he could even calculate the size. Franz wasn't a Star Trek fan. But, his daughter Karen was. In the early 1970s, she was a member of a local Star Trek fan club. Eventually, the fan club got big enough that they started having meetings. Franz went with her for the first meeting and saw where people in the club had made reproductions of props from the show that were very crude. He told them they could do better, so they said "show us." At home, Karen grabbed some slides from the show and Franz went to work creating schematics of props from the show, starting with the communicator. A week later, he had a few schematics drawn and they invited some members of the fan club over and they went crazy over the schematics. Then they started giving him requests for stuff to draw. He quickly realized they wanted a technical manual, so he set about making one. Using slides, pictures, the show in syndication and any other references he could get, Franz made schematic drawings from Star Trek, the first work of its kind being done by someone not connected to the show. He sent some work to Gene Roddenberry, and Gene loved it and encouraged him to continue. The Star Fleet Technical manual was published in 1975, as were a complete set of Constitution class blueprints that Franz had drawn.
For the longest time, these were the best references we had. To remind people, the actual ship was in the basement of the Smithsonian and had some inaccurate parts on it. So, he couldn't even look at the actual model. He had to get by with the series, photos and slides. Over the years, people have criticized his work as being inaccurate, but I dare any of them to do better with what he had available. I'm sure they couldn't. The more accurate sets of blueprints were done by people with access to the 11' model who could take measurements from it.
Franz's work was even used in the films. In TMP, during the establishing shot of Epsilon IX, you can hear the USS Columbia being ordered to rendevous with the USS Revere. They're both identified a "scout" ships. Both "scout" and those two ship names are straight out of the tech manual. Also, the Dreadnought Entente was calling the station. Both "dreadnought" and the ship name were from the manual. For TWOK, they actually did a series of animated displays for the bridge of the ships and they used pages from the tech manual, so the scout, transport and an outline of the dreadnought all appear on screen and are technically canon. And finally, in TSFS, when Checkov says there's an energy reading from inside Spock's quarters, there are blueprints of the inside of the ship displayed, they're from Franz's blueprint sheets. More recently, a ship obviously based on the scout/destroyer design from the tech manual appeared in Strange New Worlds.
So, I decided to build the Constitution class, but based on Franz Joseph's work. I have both his technical manual and blueprints and I love them, even if they are inaccurate. I started this a few days ago and this is where I am:
And, some screenshots:
This has been a fun one so far. The secondary hull on the filming models was done on a lathe. However, this version seems to be more based on Matt Jefferies' drawings. The sides and bottom are more bulgy than the top, especially the bottom. So, needless to say, there was some Sub D involved.
As for the rest of the thread, after I do the Connie, I plan to do the other ships from the technical manual, as well as the Starfleet Command space station. I'm only going to use the blueprints available that are based on Franz's work, and the technical manual as my references. I'm not using any other blueprints, photos or screenshots. If anyone says anything is inaccurate based on the filming model, I'm simply going to refer them back to the post. Also, accuracy is in the eye of the beholder. I can say that a ship that looks more like Franz's work appeared at least once in TOS, and that was the USS Constellation, which was built using an AMT model kit:
The AMT models of the day weren't highly accurate, but they were based on Matt Jefferies' drawings, not the filming model. It looks a lot like Franz's drawings. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if franz used the kits as a reference.