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Schematics of the Nova-Class Battlestar "Galactica"
Friday, 13 June 2008

Over ten years ago Battlestar Galactica fan Jim Stevenson started drawing the 6-view schematics of the battlestar Galactica of the original 1978 series. Last year he saw that his schematics were used on the CIC of the new series and it hit him how inaccurate they actually were. With new knowledge and input he now finalized the schematics and shares his story on how they came about.

After almost a year away from writing any articles on Battlestar Galactica, I once again put fingers to the keyboard regarding a project I've worked on for almost as long.

Over 10 years ago, I spent a few weeks putting together 6-view schematics of what is quite possibly my all-time favorite ship design in the pantheon of science fiction - the Galactica. At the time, there was very little knowledge of this thing called the internet and information was not quite so easily available as it has become today. Source material on the filming miniature was restricted to the occasional grainy photographs in vintage Starlog magazines and well-scrubbed VHS tapes of the show. The only overall framework I had to go on back then was this old Revell/Monogram model kit, which has been universally accepted in the Battlestar Galactica Community as woefully under-detailed and inaccurate. I remember painstakingly going through every episode, hitting pause and frame-advance on the remote to try to get some glimpse of detail on the massive ship to add to the schematics, in a somewhat feeble effort at accuracy. The result was one of the only existing schematics of the ship for about 10 years (that I am aware of):


Battlestar Galactica Schematics

Battlestar Galactica Schematics


Not long ago (March 2007, if I recall correctly), pictures emerged on the internet of someone who took a tour of the CIC set from the new show. The name of the person eludes me, as the pictures seem to have disappeared since that time. The photos were pretty technically interesting; then one picture appeared that could have knocked me over with a feather. There they were -- my schematics -- errors and all -- on the CIC of the new Galactica -- albeit really distorted! This was probably done before Zoic (the CG design house responsible for the visual effects for the pilot) settled on a final design for the new Galactica.


Battlestar Galactica Schematics on the CIC computer

Battlestar Galactica Schematics on the CIC computer


I recognized my work anywhere, and then it hit me: these things were so horribly inaccurate, and I was convinced that nobody had taken the time to research the original filming model. I was positive of this, because if anyone had access to the complete source material and blueprints from the Apogee team who worked on the original series, it was these folks. I decided it was time for an update.

The first thing I had to do was track down new source material. The "Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series" DVD box set had been out for some time and served as a good bounce-off point, but really wasn't too much better than my old VHS tapes. An extensive web search found a few additional resources, including some original Apogee photos from Cloudster and photos from one of the first studio-scale replicas1 of the original filming model from Jim Creveling.

Using Jim's fairly detailed photos, I created a framework in which to fill the details, but I also continued the search for photos of the original. Eventually, while trolling through the various forums I frequent and posting my progress on this project, I was contacted by several people who were involved with the restoration of the filming model who were agreeable to volunteering some photographs that were taken when it was in their care. They recognized my serious interest in the subject and that I wasn't just some leech looking for a hand-out and offered these photos in exchange for my promise not to reveal them to the general public, an agreement to which I adhere to this day. I jumped on the chance to finally have access to photographs that only a handful of people had access to - and they answered a TON of questions I had about the model.

Several problems I had to overcome:

* General perspective distortion (called "foreshortening" in the art world). The model was so big (over 6 feet long, if I recall correctly), and lens/perspective distortion really played havoc with orthographically reconciling all 6 profiles.

* The asymmetrical nature of the hand-made original miniature made it literally impossible to perfectly reproduce in a digital medium.

* Conflicting reports and photographs from multiple sources having had access to the model.

* Thickness, position and dimensions of connecting pylons for the landing bays.

* Steepness of angle of the top of the "neck" and sides of the "head".

* Did the bottom of the "head", or "chin", hang below the hangar bays, was it at the same level or slightly above?

* Detailing of the underside was not well documented, particularly the "cap" that covered the ventral mounting point for the filming support armature.

* Detailing of the top of the "neck" was also quite sparse.

Almost all of these issues had been addressed by this new source material, supplemented by the purchase and release of 300 additional restoration photographs by Kurt Kuhn from Resin Illuminati. After some reworks and enhancements, the project was complete the weekend of March 8, 2008 and the schematics were available for download from my trusty old Starship Schematics Database. As far as I know, this is the first time that full 6-view schematics with this level of detailing have been done...ever. I'm not claiming 100% accuracy, due to the fore-mentioned issues I had to contend with, but I'm pretty proud of the end product, as it's pretty close to the real deal -- as close as I can get it without seeing the miniature with my own eyes. After over 200 hours of research and development, spread out over 9 months, the final product follows -- a definite step-up from my original effort, I think. Click the image below for a larger view:


Battlestar Galactica Schematics

Battlestar Galactica Schematics (click image to open bigger file)


I'd like to thank the following people for their contributions and inspiration to this project:

* Glen Larson - The Creator. ‘Nuff Said!

* Richard Hatch - "Captain Apollo" in the original show and "Tom Zarek" in the new show; for keeping the dream alive all these years when nobody else would listen.

* Ralph McQuarrie - Conceptual Artist responsible for the original Galactica design.

* John Dykstra - The model master who, with his team of former ILM wizards, brought the "Big G" to life 30 years ago in the Apogee studios.

* Jim Creveling - Builder of one of the first studio-scale Galactica's.

* Ed Miarecki, Mark Bradley & Mark Dickson – Individuals responsible for restoring the studio model for Universal Studios and archiving their progress.

* Kurt Kuhn - Provider of fantastic photographic source information as archived by the two Mark's.

* Charles Adams - Administrator/moderator of the late "Starship Builder" forums, who shared my passion for this design. I never used your stuff Charles - promise!

* Gary Cannavo - Current owner of the Galactica and several other original filming miniatures. Thank you for giving them a good home, Gary!

* Ron Moore and David Eick - For creating the new show and, in doing so, bringing Battlestar Galactica back into the collective pop culture consciousness, providing a means by which my humble little pencil scribblings from so many years ago made it to the airwaves and inspiring me to upgrade them for the Battlestar Galactica Community.

Until next time, enjoy!

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