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STAR TREK Modeling: A Brief History of the Shuttlecraft Galileo Pt.2

posted by JamieH 2:00 PM
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

In part 2 of Gary Kerr’s article on the background of the Galileo shuttle, he explores the construction of the miniature and set mockups. Let’s dig in…

A Brief History of the Shuttlecraft Galileo Pt.2 By Gary Kerr

The 22-Footer Takes Shape

Once the Galileo’s final design had been hashed out, construction began in earnest at Gene Winfield’s shop in Phoenix.  The target date for completion of the interior set was September 6, 1966, with a target date of September 12 for the exterior prop. 

The Galileo mock-up was essentially a sturdy metal skeleton sheathed in wood.  The lower half of the prop’s skeleton was made from welded 2” square steel tubing, while the upper half was framed in wood.

 A Masonite skin was applied over the skeleton, and fiberglass cloth covered the Masonite.  The internal floor was made from a sheet of plywood.  To avoid unwelcome reflections in the front windows, they had no glass.  Instead, simulated window shutters, consisting of a sheet of Masonite backed by a wooden frame, were inset into the window openings.  Curved fins along the upper and lower edges of the hull were made from sheet metal.  A bulky metal framework inside the shuttle allowed a technician to operate the 3-piece side door.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

The warp nacelle/wing assemblies were designed so they could be removed for transportation or storage.  The nacelles, themselves, were made from 18” diameter steel casings made for oil wells, with square steel tubing providing internal strength for the pylons, wings, and connectors that plugged into the hull.

The aft landing strut was salvaged from the landing gear of a scrapped aircraft.  The identity of this aircraft has remained a mystery for years.  We have the serial number that’s stamped on the landing gear, but this is of limited help since most of the aircraft companies’ old records have been disposed of.  The leading contender for the mystery aircraft thus far is the F-106 Delta Dart.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Details, Details…

The intended purpose of a pair of 5.75” by 13”openings, located at the shuttlecraft’s bow, just under the chine, has been a mystery for years.  They’ve usually been portrayed as vents in toys and in blueprints drawn by fans, but in every hi-res photo from the 1960s that I examined, they appeared to be nothing more than open holes in the bow.  While I was designing Polar Lights’ Galileo kit in 2013, I decided to get the answer straight from the horse’s mouth, so I telephoned Gene Winfield at his shop in Mojave, in the desert north of Los Angeles.  Gene explained that the openings were intended for the shuttlecraft’s landing lights, and that the openings would be covered by a pane of glass to make the lights more aerodynamic.  He further explained that he had wired the nacelle domes for lighting.  The actual lighting would have been installed by union workers at the studio, per the agreement regarding outside vendors, but it appears that budgetary concerns nixed that plan. 

Similarly, the impulse deck consisted of a pair of Plexiglas grilles, with the mock-up’s interior being visible through the vents in the grille.  During filming, one or more sheets of white material was propped up inside the mock-up to block the view.

Over a series of phone calls and emails, Mr Winfield explained that most of his papers were still boxed up, following the move to his current location in Mojave.  He still had the molds for the Galileo’s fiberglass chairs somewhere, but wasn’t sure where they were stored.  He did say that he had a couple old rolls of blueprints laying around, and asked if I’d like to see them.  Of course, I said “YES”, and within a week or two, they arrived at my house.

The original plans were extremely yellowed and fragile, and they showed something unexpected: details that Matt Jefferies had designed for the interior set, but which, like the exterior lighting, had never been installed.  Included were instrument panels for the swing arms of the two globe-shaped viewers, a Galileo logo for the chairs, and instrument panels for the arms of the chairs (presumably the pilot’s and co-pilot’s).  

Next time Gary explores the interior set.

All images courtesy of CBS, except where noted.

TM & (C) 2020 CBS Studios Inc.  ARR.



2 Responses to “STAR TREK Modeling: A Brief History of the Shuttlecraft Galileo Pt.2”

  1. Mark Alterio says:

    Very interesting read!

    Thanks for all the info!

    All the information you have picked up on Star Trek would make a great book!

Leave a Reply to Mark Alterio

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