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The Nebula Project 
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One of the things I played around with in recent weeks is my old pet, the "Nebula Project." I mentioned some time ago in my Skeletons thread that I started work on it years back as an effort to give the Nebula-class from TNG a design history stretching back into the TOS era in order to make her seem less of the obvious Galaxy rework that she was. Since I've decided to dive into this project a bit more heavily, I thought it would be easier to give it a topic of its own, rather than force everyone to page through the Skeletons thread to try to find the original postings (also, since I'm not sure which of the old image links is working, putting up the new folder links in one place seems like a good idea).

I started off with Andromeda. Back when I first drew her, I was firmly entrenched in the "all ships have a full-size saucer" mindset. Since Andromeda and her uprated version, Discovery were meant to be medium cruisers, saddling them with a large saucer forced me to make some radical alterations to the secondary hulls to squeeze them down into the cruiser tonnage range. I've never been fully satisfied with this compromise, and when I started to redo them on the computer, I chose to work the guidelines of the Modular Fleet Chart into the mix. Most of the ships I'd done for this were cruisers, so to inject a little variety I converted her into a light cruiser; it was fun trying to come up with a saucer layout for something that small. I also shifted her backwards in terms of her design era, moving her from Bonhomme Richard to original Constitution tech. Here is Andromeda, as she is now (the original version is housed in a sub-folder):


http://s87.photobucket.com/user/MLJames ... romeda%201


Shifting Andromeda to the Connie era opened up a slot in the Achernar timeframe. Since Discovery was originally supposed to be an uprated version of the earlier ship, I've elected to keep her as such. However, that left me with a medium cruiser in the Endeavor design period without a name, and after a bit of thinking I rechristened her Oersted. I had to do a fair amount of tinkering with her layout, for a couple of reasons. The first was her engines; linear engines in the FRS world have to have line-of-sight clearance, so I had to drop her nacelles below the keel. Also, for some silly reason I can't remember, I had her lower hull jammed so close to the saucer that the lower decks partially blocked the lower navigational dome, even after I recessed it. Correcting these issues gives her a deeper draft than before, and I've included some comparison shots in the folder for the original layout to showcase the differences.

http://s87.photobucket.com/user/MLJames ... ry/Oersted

Next up, after I finish Menkaure, I'm going to do the "Original" version of Oersted. It's going to use Bonhomme Richard tech, and I'm going to keep the altered secondary hull configuration from the linear version. It's not really necessary to do so with the circumferential engine design, but it will make her visually distinct from Andromeda. After that, I've got a fully linear version that I'd originally named Ishtasse. I'll have to come up with a new name for her, of course.

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17 Mar 2015 03:18
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Jim, can you put together a comparison chart showing the various designs from the three threads you've created, and labeling/identifying the types for the various classes? I think it would help people wrap their head around where this fits in fleet purpose, strategy and subsequent organization.

I am very impressed with the work. Particularly the new nacelles on Khafre and Khufu. While I might quibble on how you classify these designs -I've come to see layout and nacelle placement relative to the major gravity plane of the saucer as vital to determining ship capabilities and therefore function - I really like the designs themselves. They are interesting ways of approaching the challenges posed by that Modular Fleet Chart.

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Mr. Spock is dead. Live long, Mr. Spock.


17 Mar 2015 14:47
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Well, as far as the ships in this thread go, I didn't really intend for them to be part of the actual FRS universe when I first drew them on paper back in the mid to late '90s. They were a design exercise, trying to find a way to fit the Nebula body style in other technology eras. Due to the limitations I had when doing them pen and ink, along with the fact that I didn't have as good a grasp on spatial relationships as I've acquired in the years that followed, I've found them less and less satisfying as time has passed. Using the saucer and nacelle sizing ideas from the Modular Fleet Chart, I've been able to dispense with some of the compromises I had to make in the old days. In many ways, the revised versions of Andromeda and Oersted are closer to what I originally had in mind; now I actually have a way to do them properly.

It's pretty obvious that Andromeda and Oersted fall in the cruiser category, given their general layout. Going simply by size, the revised versions are based on the light and medium cruiser, respectively. However, I don't have a do-or-die attachment to these classifications. If we want to put these ships into the FRS timeline, and if the layout of their spaceframes turn out to be better suited for some other Fleet role, that's perfectly all right with me. I'd actually love it if I could get some more detailed information about your thoughts on layout and nacelle placement vis a vis function and classification; it would be a lot of help on some other projects I have under way or on the back burner.

As I stated in the Menkaure thread, the three ships of the Giza group were authorized and constructed as dedicated test vessels; I cited the Navy's stealth test ship Sea Shadow as part of the inspiration. While their hulls are similar to those the FJ destroyer/scout and the extended hull frigate, they were never intended to fill a permanent role in the Fleet force structure. I certainly see them being pressed into service if the need arose during times of war (the backstory I wrote for the first configuration of Menkaure has her seeing action during the Four Years War, for example), but for most of their service they would either be testing new armament and technology or undergoing refits for the next series of evaluations.

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18 Mar 2015 01:41
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I'm sure there is a pinned thread about this that goes into greater detail, but I'll synopsize the most important points. The idea of explaining why Starfleet ships are configured in various ways, with nacelles above or below (or sometimes even with) the saucer, originated in the early 1990s. There was a guy that expressed interest in developing a gaming system based on the Ships of the Star Fleet/FRS description of the TOS/TMP/TWoK universe, and I did some work fleshing things out to answer the kinds of questions we hadn't dealt with but that would need to be dealt with in order to have a functional game. How do the ships work? What can they do to each other to influence how they work? How does their architecture influence how they work? And finally, how do they fit into fleet organizations?

The question you mention raises the accounting system I developed to score ship capabilities. Shields, Speed, Weapons+ Stealth. SSW+S.

Fundamentally, I was building upon the logic used to describe the perimeter action ship, which had been derived from observing the Orion vessel in Journey to Babel (and to a lesser extent, the Tholian webspinner). If a ship produces 100% of its power, how can it allocate that power? Design, components and intended mission would all play into that. The most advanced warships like the perimeter action ships would be able to quickly switch between allocating full power to each of those needs as the circumstances dictated. But that would come at the cost of functional flexibility -those ships would be purely tactical warships. A strategic vessel like the Enterprise, sent on a presumably political (as well as military and scientific) mission like the 5YM, would be the opposite- multimission but tactically rather one dimensional at any one time, devoting space that a PA or strike cruiser would devote to huge capacitors and the like instead to multipurpose spaces used for labs, accomodations, consumibles etc.

Underlying all this was the assumption that a starship is a great big gravitational tug of war with nacelles pulling, inflating, deflating and restoring spacetime, but in an extremely focused way. Meanwhile the gravitational hull plating, structural integrity fields, and shields snd screen generators, are deforming spacetime in more diffuse ways. The two would create conflicts with each other that would need to be resolved and presumably, the organization of the big hulls would be that particular type of starship's answer to the question. In simplest terms, nacelles above the major gravity plane of the saucer yield a design that favors speed (nacelle function) while nacelles below the plane favor defensive capability (shields, screens etc). Nacelles even with the gravity plane would be optimal except for the fact they yield somewhat unpredictable results - switching between improving and detracting from one or the other feature without notice. Such designs are necessary for the tactical warships like the PAs but require extraordinary care in their navigation and handling.

Does that brief primer help? If you need more, try searching the forum for SSW+S or for terms like stealth, both under posts made by me. That should be productive.

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"After a time, you may find that having is not so
pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical,
but it is often true."

Mr. Spock is dead. Live long, Mr. Spock.


19 Mar 2015 15:55
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I'd read or remembered pretty much everything you just mentioned, but it's nice to have a cogent summary in one place for quick and easy reference. Thanks for that. When I read your post, it gave me the impression that there was something major in that vein that I was missing; probably my misreading between the lines counts for that.

The Nebula variants are, due to the basic inspiration, all going to have engines below the gravity plane, so it's likely that, if any of them were to be adopted into the FRS timeline, they would all be much more tactically oriented than the more general-purpose hulls. Whether that alone would justify a classification other than that of the basic light or medium cruiser is something worth discussing.

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19 Mar 2015 20:52
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Corvettes, attack auxilliaries, pickets, and frigates, per the Modular Fleet Chart.

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"After a time, you may find that having is not so
pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical,
but it is often true."

Mr. Spock is dead. Live long, Mr. Spock.


19 Mar 2015 21:30
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I've done a little bit of reorganizing, plus added some images I completed before I put my computer into storage, so I wanted to post some updated links to what I've done with this project.

http://s87.photobucket.com/user/MLJames ... romeda%201

This is the Constitution-era, light cruiser version. It now also has a sub-album recreating the pen-and-ink Bonhomme Richard-tech version I originally did years ago.


http://s87.photobucket.com/user/MLJames ... /Discovery

This is its refit, Achernar-era version. The folder also contains a 4-view of the side views of the ships I've completed so far (2 versions of Andromeda, 2 of Oersted).


http://s87.photobucket.com/user/MLJames ... ry/Oersted

This final set has three sub-albums. The first, Discovery1, shows the design as I first drew her; she was intended to be the uprated version of Andromeda back then. It also includes top and side comparisons of this layout with the final, uprated Oersted. The other two albums show Oersted in her revised, medium cruiser layout: Bonhomme Richard in her first configuration, later uprated to Endeavor.

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20 Sep 2016 21:11
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