Loose Ends

Nothing’s pefect in this world, and it’s rare for everyone–or even anyone, ofttimes–to agree on something.

The original Starship Enterprise models have been a topic of heated debate for decades, the 11-footer in particular. Many fans have been consumed with a desire to perfectly replicate it down to the last detail, if they can’t have the real thing. This sort of passion has brought out both the very best and the very worst in fandom.

The best, because many great people (too many to name here) have worked dilligently over the decades to study this artifact, and unravel its mysteries so as to spread knowledge to all who seek it. At their best, fans of this model have shared, discussed, and fabricated their own models in a pleasant, friendly atmosphere which has encouraged fun and growth–which is what hobbies like this are all about.

The worst, because some have needlessly gotten into bitter arguments and feuds (both online and perhaps even in person) over ridiculously minor details. Others hoard information carefully, so as to dole it out to hungry fans for their own self-aggrandization–these egocentric individuals want to be hailed as the self-procalimed “experts” they think they are. Its sad–but not surprising–that passion for this fictional subject would occasionally lead to more negative and destructive emotions.

I am not infallible. The purpose of this blog is to share–to provide a resource for those who seek information on this subject. But I would not be so bold as to claim that this is the end-all, be-all on the subject. There are surely still things to learn about the original Enterprise.

However, I do think that my research–and my models, if I can be so bold–are just about as up-to-date and accurate as possible, given the publically available resources.

That said, I’m perfectly willing to admit that I could easily be wrong about some things, and openly invite discussion and outside research from you, the fans.

There are still a number of details I’M not even sure about. Here are a few of those details.


First, the simple bit–

There appears in some reference materials to be a round, unlit window (indicated in the photo below) on the second pilot version, which was not there in the first pilot or the series. This may also be a mere smudge, or an optical illusion. The quality of available reference materials is not the best, and this makes it hard to tell. I saw this smudge/window in enough different reference images to commit to depicting it as a window on my model. But I’m still unsure. Pretty much all the other window patterns I’m very sure about.

REVISION–This was indeed a window.

Now, the not-so-simple one–

I’m quite sure that the connecting dorsal (and the “linear accelerator” on top of the saucer, which served as a cover for the dorsal’s mounting bolts) were a blue-ish color in the first pilot. Sort of a pastel blue color, perhaps with a glossy sheen. The color clearly appears on both models, 3- and 11-foot, in the first pilot.

The second pilot is a different matter.

Although I can still perceive a distinctly blue-ish tonal difference between the dorsal and the rest of the hull, it seems less obvious than the first pilot’s bright blue-ish color. Was it dulled down to remove the glossy effect? Misted with the hull color (or completely repainted)? Was it touched at all, save to cut in the holes for the illuminated windows?

This matter–and my choice to paint my models with a blue-ish dorsal and bolt cover–has proven highly controversial among modelers. Some have supported my decision and agree with my research. Others have vehemently argued against it, saying that the tonal difference is the result of shadows or uneven lighting schemes or bluescreen “spill” (which wouldn’t apply to the first pilot, since the model was shot against a BLACK background).

Multiple shots in multiple episodes/photos, with both the big and small models, all show a distinctly blue-ish tone on both the dorsal and the bolt cover “linear accelerator” on the upper saucer.  References for these versions are spotty, however, and many of these reference images are color-corrected and restored films clips–and the color-correction could easily have eliminated a blue dorsal if the person doing the correcting didn’t know it was there.

Still, this blue-ish color can be seen in still photos, film clips, onscreen, and even in broad daylight, as in the now-famous “delivery” photo.

As my primary resource, I’ve used the original STAR TREK episodes themselves, in several formats. Although film stocks, compositing quality, remastering/color-correction, and other factors vary, I still maintain that the tonal difference of the dorsal (which more often than not looks blue or blue-gray) is consistently there across a wide range of shots and angles, both on DVD and Blu-Ray, from the first model shot in the first pilot to the very last shot of the last episode of the series. It’s not always visible, but it’s visible enough to have convinced me.

And, interestingly, the unaired version of “Where No Man Has Gone Before” seen in the third season’s Blu-Ray release reveals a distinct difference in the tone of the dorsal from the rest of the model. In fact, the 35mm print used for that version’s BD incarnation shows a number of interesting color differences–the uniform shirts look greener, for instance (which makes them closer to their real-life avocado green hue). The weathering is also more apparent in the unaired BD version of the episode than the aired version, due to the different transfer’s color timing, apparently.

So, I stand by my assertion that the second pilot dorsal was, at the very least, painted a different color from the rest of the hull. It appears to be a blue-gray-green-ish color. This is more prominent in composites that are more washed-out and/or don’t skew toward blue tones.

(some of the following links will have to be cut-‘n-pasted into your browser)

The delivery:


11-footer, first pilot:



3-footer, first pilot:


11-footer, second pilot:






There’s also the distinctly blue-ish (gray-ish? green-ish?) leading edge on the production Enterprise, which makes sense if the dorsal was already blue, and they decided to repaint all but that edge, as an aesthetic choice.

The tone of that stripe on the production dorsal looks suspiciously similar to the tone of the overall dorsal in the pilots.


And an interesting discussion about all this can be seen here:


So, to sum up, I’m not 100% about all this, but I am sure enough to assert that the dorsal and bolt cover were indeed a blue-ish color in both pilots.

That said, I’m always open to discussion and suggestion, and if better information and/or references come to light, I’ll be happy to amend the relevant portions of this blog to reflect the updated information.

But feel free to paint your models however you want! I get the feeling that many people who argue against the blue dorsal do so because they simply don’t WANT it to be blue. Fine! Paint it however you like! This is supposed to be a FUN hobby!

REVISION–I seem to have been mostly correct. Metallic blue for the first pilot dorsal, a more muted (and flat) pale blue-gray for the second, and green-gray for the stripe on the production dorsal.


The production version of the Enterprise features features a faux navigation light on the top of each engine nacelle–green on the starboard engine, red on the port. There were clearly similar faux lights on the saucer during both pilots.

There may also have been a clear/white faux light on the bottommost “deflector fork” on the ventral secondary hull during the series’ production, but its existence is still unclear.

The question is…were these nacelle/ventral lights ALSO there in the pilots? Or were they added for the production version?

My research doesn’t indicate that they were there during the pilots, but you never do know. Reference materials–especially for the angles needed to see if those lights were there–are few and far between. It’s also hard to tell if these non-functional lights were on the 33-inch model in its original, first-pilot configuration–but that model has the faux saucer lights, like its big sister.

REVISION–The faux lights were there in the pilots, and the one on the bottom secondary hull was actually a rounded bolt head that was painted the main hull color.


One Response to “Loose Ends”

  1. Hello.

    First of all I want to say THANK YOU and THANK YOU again and again and again for having that daring and conviction in your decision to make these models with blue necks because you did your research and you know that you’re right! While I approach my models from a slightly different angle, I relate to that builder who risks creating something that looks a little “different” from what one would expect.

    I’m currently building two of these 1/1000 constitution classes. Also a D-7, and the 1/1400 NCC-1701-D all at the same time (nightmare!) and was looking at other people’s builds just for curiosity, inspiration, etc…and found your pages. I have to say your models are extremely satisfying. Because I’m a sucker for double-checking and researching minute details, especially coloring, I had to double-check some photos I found of the 11 foot filming model and saw that the blue neck is definitely there! I even found clearer pics of “the neck” when I found scans from issue 35 (July 2011) of ‘Star Trek’ magazine from Britain I think. If you can find that magazine, its got TWO crystal-clear pics with the blue, one shot from starboard, the other from astern.

    In my case, I’m painting them as they might “appear” to be colored on-screen and not as they actually were painted. And in some cases, I might use colors from popular promotional photos among other sources, all the while trying to keep the details as accurate as possible.

    For example, the Next Generation Enterprise-D is actually two shades of ‘duck egg blue’ blue (more or less) and has bright sand-yellow lifeboats all over its hull. However it ‘appears’ at times as pure grey, other times as a metallic silver color and in some promotional images (including the box for my 1988 AMT model) as violet-grey. The bright sand-yellow life boats nearly vanish on the hull and appear to be just a slight warmer shade of whatever color it has on-screen. One reason I enjoy this method is because I’m not great at lighting these things with LED’s so I paint the lights on them. Beyond that, I really do love that barely lavender-blue soft grey the Enterprise has in STIII for example.

    I have a tiny blog for them, Regula1.blogspot.com if you’re curious to see my “blue” Enterprise and “purple” D-7 (it’s not really purple actually).

    I’ve never put my models at a show but I just can’t make that same exact model everyone else is making. And I respect what everyone else is making mind you. I think your models would be show-stoppers and definitely long conversation pieces. Keep it up!


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