Original Enterprise Model Turns 49!

L-R: Richard C. Datin, Jr. Mel Keys, Vernon Sion

49 years ago today, on December 29th, 1964,  the original filming model of the U.S.S. Enterprise was delivered to the Howard Anderson Company. There, it would be used as the centerpiece for optical effects scenes to be included in the pilot episode of what was hoped to be a new television series, Star Trek.

Model maker Richard C. Datin, Jr. oversaw the efforts of model makers Mel Keys, Vernon Sion, and Volmer Jensen in constructing the 11-foot model from a 1-foot prototype Datin himself built. 

The prototype and the larger model were based on the design created by legendary Star Trek production artist Walter M. “Matt” Jefferies.

Datin would later modify the model prior to its use during the filming of the original series’ first pilot, “The Cage”, alter it again for the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and then again once the show sold to NBC and filming began on the series’ first season.

The model was donated to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in 1974.  Originally, it hung in one of the first-level galleries, where it remained until the mid-late 1980s. 

The Starship Enterprise during its third Smithsonian restoration, December, 1991. 

After the restoration, the Enterprise was displayed as part of a Star Trek exhibit in the mid 1990’s. It is currently on display in the lower level of the museum’s main gift store.

The museum also maintains a blog, with two articles detailing the museum’s restoration of the model.  They are both short and worth a read.

The also Smithsonian maintains an information page about the model’s history.

Much thanks to Dayton Ward, writer of Star Trek: That Which Divides and Star Trek: From History’s Shadow for posting this information on his blog.  Please check out his books, which are throw backs to the Star Trek novels of the 80’s/early 90’s.



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