The Shuttlecraft Galileo
By Steve Thomas
September 8, 1966…or “Stardate: 6609.8” if you will. A date that marks the television premiere of what would become an American icon in science fiction: “Star Trek”. So much of what came from that show is such a part of our society and of our planet, that’s it’s hard to imagine what things would be like if “Star Trek” had never been.
The iconic starship “USS Enterprise” was the ship that took our imaginations on a great ride. And aboard each version of the Enterprise there have been shuttlecrafts; and of them, the equally iconic “Galileo NCC-1701/7”.
In episode #13 “The Conscience of the King”, Kirk takes Lenore Karidian to the observation corridor that overlooks the hangar deck and refers to the shuttles there.
Though mentioned, the production couldn’t afford to build a shuttlecraft, which is why the transporter was so prominent. Transporter effects were inexpensive versus shuttle effects. In “The Enemy Within” (#5), Sulu and his landing party could’ve been easily saved by shuttle when the transporter (and apparently all transporters) was damaged.
Episode #14 “The Galileo Seven”, finally revealed this previously unseen aspect of the Enterprise. Production designer Walter “Matt” Jefferies, who designed the Enterprise, was asked to design a shuttlecraft. What he came up with was craft that was sleek, smooth and curved.
Its curvilinear lines were evocative of her mothership, but such lines also made it too costly to construct. Jefferies also sketched ideas for other vehicles like this “Space Dock Utility Craft” (look familiar?):
WHO DESIGNED HER?
At this point, things get interesting. The model company “AMT” offered to build the full-scale mock-up of the shuttle in trade for the model kit rights (AMT had the license for the Enterprise and Klingon ship models). They turned to custom car designer Gene Winfield, who was head of their “Speed & Custom Shop”.
“We built the [Star Trek] shuttlecraft, full-size shuttlecraft that was two separate units,” Winfield said. “One would be a complete exterior, full size. Then we built the complete interior. This interior had what we called ‘wild’ walls. What you do is you make the walls in four-foot sections on wheels so you can put up one wall and they could film the actors sitting on the seats and whatnot.
Note that he says “built” the shuttle, not “designed” and built. There apparently was some connection with AMT and/or Gene Winfield with industrial designer Thomas Kellogg. He is known for designing the Studebaker “Avanti” – its front end styling similar to the Galileo’s front end). Here is his shuttle design:
It should be noted that in an interview, Matt Jefferies says that Winfield designed the shuttle, but Thomas Kellogg’s obituary also states the he designed the shuttle. I believe it was a collaborative effort, with Jefferies “utility vehicle” selected as a base design by Kellogg, who was working under Winfield; and Jefferies putting the finishing touches on that design. Winfield’s department constructed the finished design.
Were Jefferies original design built, the Galileo would’ve looked mostly like this 3-D model by Vance Bergstrom:
AMT’s offer to build the shuttle allowed the production to go ahead with “The Galileo Seven” episode. Here are pics of the Galileo under construction at AMT Phoenix.
Part II Tomorrow!