I have a love/hate relationship with Spock’s warp shuttle, only seen on film in the first Star Trek movie. It’s another undeniably cool Andrew Probert design, but it’s introduction in the film is yet another of those long orgasmic hardware flybys that really slowed the pace of the movie for those people not in love with Treknology. I, of course, loved it, but it made overall for a boring film.
But I have a major gripe with the shuttle, and that is the heat shield in the front of the shuttle that makes absolutely no sense, but I have to admit it’s in keeping with the Trek design ethic for shuttle craft that goes to the original series. To be blunt, you really can’t see where you’re going in a lot of Starfleet shuttles, the warp sled being the most blatant example. That heat shield means there are no forward facing windows, just a few portholes along the side. Even the original shuttles (Galileo, Copernicus, etc.) had forward facing windows, but no peripheral vision, a problem shared with many of its descendants: the Galileo 5 class, Type 5, Type 10, Type 15 and Type 18. Oddly, though, some of the other Probert designs, most notably the “soap bar” shuttles (Type 7), had wraparound windows for excellent vision. The Enterprise series shuttlepods appear to have good peripheral vision, but the pilot would basically have to be standing up.
Oh, sorry, I forgot not everyone knows about the warp sled as seen in the first movie. Let me explain that it’s a standard non-warp shuttle that can rest on a warp capable sled, because back in the days of Kirk and Spock, shuttles were incapable of warp flight on their own, although there’s a lot of debate about that statement. So the really cool looking but somewhat nonsensical warp sled was created.
But to add insult to illogic, the front of the shuttle has a heat shield and you’re not going to put windows in a heat shield, so there are no front facing windows. Presumably there’s just a little heat proof blister somewhere to put in sensors to enable the pilot to see. However, this presumes that the shuttle has some sort of aerodynamic profile and I think it pretty obvious that very few shuttles seen on Star Trek are meant for actual flight (ENT shuttlepods do look a little like lifting bodies, I suppose). I’ve always thought that shuttles depend on shields to project an aerodynamic profile, which makes a heat shield superfluous. And no other shuttle design since has incorporated a heat shield.
But all ranting aside, I’ve always loved the design of the warp sled/shuttle combo and when Round 2 reissued the warp sled, I snagged a copy, alarmed at it $29.95 price tag at Colpar Hobbies. I remember buying models for 49¢ in the ’60s, which confirms that I’ve always been a geek girl with a great dad. And over the next few posts, I’ll try to use this post as a way to flog myself into finishing it.