Over it’s 40+ years Star Trek has shown us some pretty impressive looking ship designs. What is equally interesting however are all the paper designs that for some reason (usually budget based) didn’t make it on our screens. Some did have nods to them as we shall see but on the whole we never saw them actually there on the screen.
In a parallel dimension this would have been the design that Captain Pike would have began the Star Trek universe in during “The Cage”. Yes; this was the design that was going to be the original USS Enterprise NCC-1701. Fortunately it was dropped for the more elegant saucer shape but that wouldn’t be the end of it. The design was eventually used as the basis of the USS Horizon and in homage to the fact it came first it was placed as being in service during the 2160s. The class very nearly got resurrected when Star Trek: Enterprise was conceived with Doug Drexler wanting to create an earlier version for the show. In the end he was over-ruled and designed the so-called ‘Akira-prise’ instead.
4. Defiant-class Runabout
The Defiant added a whole new dimension to Deep Space Nine and signalled the end of that shows foray into exploring the Gamma Quadrant replacing it with the concept that one station and its crew were all that stood in front of the invading hordes of Dominion forces, itself the near mirror image of the Federation. The Defiant was the first true warship in Star Trek (although its implied there were designated warships during Kirk’s era). Some of the earlier designs looked very different to the armored tank we eventually saw on screen. One design would be resurrected as the Nova-class USS Equinox in Voyager but initially it looked like the Defiant was going to be an uber-Runabout.
3. Original Ambassador-class
One of the most loved episodes of The Next Generation was by far and away “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. We got action, a gripping storyline involving an alternate history but above all we got to see the Enterprise-C. The design of the Enterprise-C we saw on the screen looked like a hybrid of the Constitution-class and Excelsior-class. This was not the original design however. Andrew Probert designed a ship that was to have showed a direct design lineage between the Excelsior-class and the Galaxy-class. Alas it was not to be although if I am honest I do prefer the design they went with. It was more classical.
2. Federation-class Dreadnought
No other design from the original series has had as much debate and interest as the Federation-class Dreadnought. It appeared in one of the first technical manuals and on a display in “Star Trek III:The Search For Spock” so therefore it is established as canon. The purpose behind the design was to have a heavily armed counterpart to the Constitution-class which was more multi-role having scientific and military roles. The third nacelle was adopted to imply it was more powerful than the Enterprise. Gene Roddenberry signed off on the design but then reversed his decision disliking the war role the ship had but by then it was too late.
1. Enterprise NX-01 Refit
I was one of those fans who actually liked the idea of Star Trek:Enterprise. It had gallons of potential for me and I looked forward to the story playing out and seeing the history behind the characters I had come to love. Sadly, until the last season it had very little to do with established canon and at times completely ignored it. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the design of the ship. This 22nd century ship had many design cues from the Akira-class of the 24th century and this was the final straw for a lot of fans (and I don’t blame them even though I stuck with the show and got rewarded with the brilliant but too late 4th season). There was an effort to remedy this with a refit that would have given the NX-01 an engineering hull and main deflector dish. It looks the business but sadly was never to be.