Saturday, February 14, 2015

Chaffee-- The "Cigarette Boat" Shuttle

The Chaffee shuttlecraft was designed for the 6th Season episode of "Deep Space Nine" titled "The Sound of Her Voice", where in the crew of the starship Defiant used the small vessel in attempting to rescue a sole-survivor from a hostile planet.  When it came time to film the episode, the production staff had originally planned to use the physical model of the Type-18 shuttlecraft which had been used earlier in the series, but a problem arose when that shooting model came up missing, either stolen of lost from storage.  With time of the essence, Doug Drexler, an Academy-Award winning make-up artist who had transitioned into the DS9 Art Department was tasked with designing an completely new shuttlecraft for the episode.  Part of Doug's approach to his design, was to integrate the shielded warp engine design of the Defiant into the new shuttle, just as Matt Jefferies had done with the Galileo shuttle on the original Star Trek series.  The name of the vessel came about when Doug had added it to one of his early sketches, and someone made a snarky comment to the effect of "What did you do, name it after your girlfriend?"  Executive Producer, Rick Berman heard the remark, and said "Roger Chaffee was an Apollo 1 astronaut who died for his country.  Approved!"

Image Copyright- Doug Drexler  Used with permisson
Image Copyright- Doug Drexler  Used with permission
Once the design had been OK'd by the producers, Doug fleshed it out and sent it to Brandon MacDougal at Foundation Imaging for final CGI rendering and compositing into the final effects shots for the episode. Sadly, the Chaffee, later assigned the designation "Type-10 Shuttle", was only ever seen in the one episode, but she has since become a fan favorite through her appearances in the Ships of the Line calendar series, and Doug Drexler has used her on a number of cover art illustrations for the Penguin Books Trek-based novels.

Being such a limited subject, it's no real surprise that the Chaffee was never offered in model kit form, aside from a couple of garage resin kits, which is why I was so excited to find a paper model version offered by a Dutch designer called "Ninjatoes".  'Toes version was really more art than a true model, though, as it wasn't entirely accurate in shape, and the surface details were all hand-drawn and tinted with watercolors.  While it was a beautiful thing, I was looking for something a bit more detailed, but nothing else existed, so I set out to convert Ninjatoes' model into more accurate, prototypical version, and I soon found out why no one else had tackled it before.

At that time, there weren't many images of the Chaffee available online.  In fact, Ninjatoes had done his model with just two references, neither of which showed any detail at all of the aft end of the thing.  Even the Star Trek fan sites had only a couple of photos to choose from. So I fairly quickly reached a point where I couldn't move forward without a better reference to the complete subject.

Image Copyright- Doug Drexler  Used with permission
Fortunately, I found Doug's blog, The Drex Files, (sadly, now off-line).  Doug had several photos of the Chaffee, including illustrations of what it looked like in its shuttlebay, and that most holy of grails, a rear view. 
Image Copyright- Doug Drexler  Used with permission

 Based on these photos, I was finally able to complete the model at a decent level of detail, but again, being an fairly new to the idea of paper model design at the time, I was still not working to the same degree that I'm at now, five years later, and I'm looking forward to eventually updating it as a possible companion ship to my Danube-class Runabout, as I seem to tinker with it every year or so.  Among the changes I've made since releasing the original, are three different versions of the "Type-10".  A "Borg Assimilated" version, named Grissom, bears the registry of the U.S.S. Kyushu, one of the ships seen destroyed at the Battle of Wolf 359 in the TNG episode "Best of Both Worlds, Pt 2", and a second variation includes Med-Evac markings inspired by John Eaves' concept sketches for the 2009 film, "Star Trek".  The third variation is named McCool, not for myself, but rather for William F. McCool, of the ill-fated final mission of space shuttle Columbia.  The McCool carries the registry of the U.S.S. Sao Paolo, which was the original name of the second U.S.S. Defiant.  I've also added a small scale version of the Chaffee, as well...

You can download the models by following these links:

Chaffee Shuttlecraft

Chaffee Shuttlecraft- Small Scale

Grissom - Borg Assimilated

Type-10 Med-Evac Shuttle

McCool Shuttlecraft

A lot of the credit for the finished product belongs to Ninjatoes, whose original design is still an obvious part of my work, and without which, I would never have started this project.

Completed model and related photos are by Joshua Hughes.  Thanks, Josh, for a great test-build!

Ninjatoes original model can be found at his site:

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