Friday, January 17, 2014

Danube Class Runabout

Here are some images of AMT's 1/72 scale Danube Class Runabout in Vulcan markings.

From Wikipedia" 
Runabouts are a class of small, multi-purpose starships in the Star Trek science-fiction franchise, primarily the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Danube class vessels are larger than shuttlecraft seen in previous series of Star Trek, but significantly smaller than previously depicted starships. They operate with a crew of two to four, and are equipped with warp drive, transporters, and accommodation for long-duration missions. Runabouts are usually named after various rivers on Earth.
Although primarily seen in DS9, a Danube class runabout appeared in a single episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation ("Timescape"); this was the only episode of Star Trek that showed an interior section of the runabout other than the cockpit. An updated runabout design, the Yellowstone class, is shown in a single episode of Star Trek: Voyager ("Non Sequitur"); inconsistent stock footage from DS9 was used to portray the new design.
The idea for the runabout came from the need to provide a way for characters to move away from Deep Space Nine, and also allowed the show to explore Star Trek's themes of exploration and discovery despite DS9 being set on an immobile space station. In order to help the new show establish its own identity separate from The Next Generation, the decision was made to have something larger and more capable than the shuttlecraft seen in previous series of Star Trek. The series bible describes the Danube class vessels as "the symbol of the Federation presence in [Deep Space Nine's] sector". The Starfleet design elements were intended as a touch of familiarity for the characters (and in turn, the viewers) in environments dominated by alien designs and structures, specifically the Cardassians and Bajorans.
The hull of the Danube class runabout is shaped roughly like a long, rectangular box. A downward-curving 'wing' is located on each side of the vessel; these start near the top of the hull, and curve down to the warp nacelles. The runabout's impulse drives are located between the wings and the vessel's body. The Deep Space Nine Technical Manual gives the runabout's dimensions as 23.1 metres (76 ft) long, 13.7 metres (45 ft) wide, and 5.4 metres (18 ft) high. The runabouts have a two-person flight crew, and can carry two other crew. They are fitted with a two-person transporter and accommodation bunks for long missions. According to the first season episode "Dax", they were capable of speeds up to Warp 5. Although not explored in the series, background materials indicate the runabout had a modular mission payload system, where the middle section of the runabout could be swapped out for modules carrying different equipment.
From the third season of DS9 onwards, much of the exploration aspect of the series was facilitated by the starship USS Defiant, which took over much of the runabouts' previous role in allowing characters to move off the station. Defiant was introduced because the producers wanted the series to have a better connection with the themes of exploration and discovery shown in previous Star Trek works and needed a way to have more than two or three characters at the same place 'off-station', while the introduction of the Dominion as an antagonist during season two created the in-universe requirement for a more powerful and combat-capable starship based at Deep Space Nine.
In The Star Trek Encyclopedia, Michael and Denise Okuda speculate the Sydney-class transport Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) is rescued from in The Next Generation episode "Relics" may have been, in-universe, an early runabout design. Although the name "Danube class" appeared in supplementary materials like The Star Trek Encyclopedia, it was not spoken onscreen until season four episode "Hippocratic Oath".
 Overall design of the runabout was supervised by Herman Zimmerman, with Rick Sternbach and Jim Martin responsible for the design work. According to Sternbach, initial designs for the Danube class were based on the 'Spacedock Ferry' that appeared in the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

The cockpit set was designed by Joseph Hodges, and constructed over a nine-week period.
The set was laid out with the two flight crew facing forward and out the windows, while consoles for the two other crew have them facing the sides of the runabout. The runabout's transporter was located in the centre rear of the compartment. The set was overhauled between the second and third seasons, with the primary change being new computer consoles around the cockpit. Another major overhaul occurred between seasons four and five, with the transporter bay moved aft behind a large door (which was usually kept open), and a free-standing console added in its place. The set was redressed on four occasions to serve as the control areas of other vessels: a Maquis raider during "Caretaker", the pilot episode of Star Trek: Voyager, mirror universe ships in DS9 season three episode "Through the Looking Glass" and season four episode "Shattered Mirror", and a shuttlecraft from USS Enterprise-E in the film Star Trek: Insurrection.
A set for the runabout's aft living quarters was built for "Timescape", an episode in the sixth season of The Next Generation (running concurrently with DS9's first season). The set was designed by Richard James, and was funded from The Next Generation's budget, in order to take pressure off DS9's finances. Unlike the cockpit construction, design and fabrication of the aft set had to be completed in nine days. This was the only appearance of the Danube class outside of DS9, and although the set was intended for use on DS9, it was never used again to depict a runabout's interior.

The filming model was built by Tony Meininger. Filming of the runabout was done by Image G, along with all other miniature effect work for the series.
One runabout, USS Ganges, appeared in season one episode "Past Prologue" with a 'roll-bar' mounted over the top of the ship. This roll-bar, described as containing sensor equipment, was added to the model to help viewers distinguish between Ganges and the runabout USS Yangtzee Kiang during a chase sequence.
Eight subsequent episodes of DS9 show Danube class ships with roll-bars, including second season episode "The Maquis, Part II", where two runabouts with roll-bars are depicted flying alongside a third, without the roll-bar. A prototype for an updated runabout design, the Yellowstone class, appears in an alternate timeline depicted in the Voyager episode "Non Sequitur". This episode used stock footage from various DS9 episodes; incongruously, the runabout's destruction depicts the vessel with a roll-bar, while all previous scenes show the vessel without one.
Season six episode "One Little Ship" had a runabout carrying Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell), Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig), and Miles O'Brien (Colm Meaney) shrunk down to tiny size, then having to rescue the rest of the cast when Defiant is captured by the Dominion. Screenwriter René Echevarria conceived the 'little ship show' idea as a comedic filler episode early in The Next Generation's run, but despite suggesting it multiple times, did not receive the chance to go ahead until late in DS9's run. Meiniger built a new, 6-inch (150 mm)-long runabout model: dialogue in the episode specified that the runabout had shrunk to 4 inches (100 mm), but a model that small would have had problems with lighting and detail. The model was mounted on a specially built three-axis head, which allowed for easier miniature effect work than with the original filming model.
 Season six episode "Change of Heart" depicts a runabout traversing an asteroid field, then landing on a planet. This was the first episode in which runabout sequences were done completely with computer-generated imagery: complex scenes where the ship weaved through the dense asteroid field were achieved without weeks of miniature effect work, and camera movements during the landing sequence allowed the runabout to be shown from multiple angles in the same scene, as there was no need to conceal a 'mounting point' for the miniature. The CGI model for the Danube class was developed by Digital Muse.

No comments: