I was going to do a side by side of the Akira and the NX-01, but Alex sent me so much great stuff on his ship that we will concentrate on it, and get back to a side by side at a later date. As everyone knows, the NX was based on the Akira, in fact the Enterprise producers had decided that they were going to use the Akira as is for the NX Enterprise! Herman Zimerman, the Enterprise production designer talked them in to letting us come up with a version that was across between the TOS ship, and the Akira class.
Alex is an incredible artist, evidenced by this jaw droppingly original design. Not only that, but he is a great guy to boot, as evidenced by his sending me a wonderful commentary on the ship’s creation, including his stunningly beautiful sketches. So let’s get on with it, here now, Alex Jaeger in his own words -
I love the stance of the bird of Prey, so that was my main influence, to make a ship with an aggressive stance. I also wanted to make a carrier of sorts, more akin to the Galactica with fly-through shuttle hangers and I also loved the ‘roll bar’ weapons pod of the Excelsior. Therefore the bay doors are both front and rear and the weapons pod on the boom. There was considerable thought put into the placement of elements. Since we were going to flesh out one of these background ships for a close up I knew it would be scrutinized….and it has For more than 13 years!
Now First Contact was my very first Art Directing job, before that I was a model maker in the ILM model shop. I was also only 22 years old at the time and was jumping head first into an already rich world deep in traditions fine artists and some hard science, so I was fully aware there were many eyes watching me very close. Waiting for me to fail…
Thankfully I said my prayers and just focused on the task. So the design started with the overall shape layout. Then in order to start the details I needed to set the scale, so I started with the bridge and worked out from there. Set nestled between the catamaran split secondary hulls the bridge is nicely protected. Just on either side of the bridge in a notch on top of the secondary hulls are the shield generators. This further protects the command unit of the ship since one of it’s duties is launching smaller craft, communication protection is a must.
At the back of the bridge there are emissary docking hatches and just below that the circular hatch is the captains lifeboat. The rear view at the back of the saucer is the main shuttle bay and shuttle control center. This area is also well protected tucked down between the hulls and below the weapons pod flanked by the Nacelles. This serves as a safe haven for the smaller craft in a fire fight and a calm entry point. Also in this protected center region are most of the sensor arrays fro the transporters and communications with theremainder of the sensors atop the weapons pod.
Moving forward the notch in the front of the saucer is the forward launch bay doors(3). This is for the fast exit of small craft into battle. There are extra shield generators on either side of this notch as this would be a target for enemy ships. Surrounding most of the saucer section is the phaser array strip. Also on the saucer there are flanking torpedo launchers. At the rear of the saucer are the impulse engines. Underneath is the deflector dish, 2 flanking phaser arrays and a forward facing torpedo launcher. You’ll also notice that the
Akira class utilizes the escape pods from the Sovereign Class, but the panel details more like the Galaxy class. That’s because I imagined this ship was commissioned right before the “E” and served as a testbed for the new escape pods.
At the rear is the weapon’s pod with spreads of both photon and quantum torpedo launchers. And of course the warp nacelles. This overall design makes for a much more narrow side profile and a more friendly crew environment as the engineering folks are no longer in ‘the bowels’ of the ship Also the crew get a better view of their own ship as the split hull allows for more windows and a view of the bridge, somethingthat’s not very common in the previous ship designs. I’m sure there are flaws (like I’ve heard there are too many torpedo launchers etc…) as the time frame to do this plus all the other work I had to do was very short, so some of these details evolved during that process.
The overall design didn’t change much during the approval process, in fact I believe the note was “excellent shape! must see detailed!”. So here you go! The name Thunderchild was given to me by production and is named after the ship in H. G Wells ‘War of the Worlds’. And Akira of course is for the awesome anime of the same name. – Alex
Thank you Alex! that was superb!
(Below) Elevations of the Akira, taken from the Lightwave imported model used for the television shows.
Akira in Action