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Alliance Belknap-class Starship Conversion Preview


By Jim Layfield - images & text © 2004

Scale: 1/537 - in scale with the ERTL Enterprise-A
Parts: 17 resin
Instructions: 1 page, mostly decal placement guide
Decals: ALPS-printed waterslide
Molding Quality: 9
Detail: 8
Accuracy: See review
MSRP: $75.00 USD (~$96.19 CAN/ 61.13 EUR) available from Federeation Models
Overall Rating: 8+ - beautiful kit of lovely ship, but hangar door section fit stops it getting 10.


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^What you get

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^ Test fit

Image: Rear view, test-fit

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^ Compared to the ERTL -A secondary hull

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^Hull profiles
Image: Front view, comparison with ERTL -A secondary hull

Let's begin with a little sacrilege -I always thought the Movie Enterprise was a little .pot-bellied. And as well as the bulging secondary hull, even the new swept back warp pylons didn't get around the fact that the warp engines pointed well away from the ship's centre of gravity. Of course, that may be irrelevant with how warp engines function, but when I saw in various publications the USS Belknap design I was impressed with a leaner, meaner looking ship. I always wanted one of these, and some years ago Federation Models began to build a master, and McDaniels Models did decals,but nothing came of it.

A few weeks ago, I saw announced a decal sheet from JT Graphics for a conversion for an Alliance conversion kit. Federation had nothing on their site,but a quick mail proved he had exactly 1 kit in stock.

What You Get

What you get are 17 well molded tan resin parts for the secondary and dorsal hulls, warp pylons, replacement primary hull window inserts, shuttle bay and doors, and photon torpedo tubes, and a simple stand. You'll need the saucer parts from the ERTL kit to complete the model. There is also a decal sheet, which by comparison with the add-on JTGraphics sheet strongly suggests JTGraphics did them. In fact, a minor niggle, more with the add-on JT sheet- you only get one more pennant for the secondary hull underside, and some more docking ports, and name choice. The kit sheet has therefore almost everything you need.

Fit and Finish

The parts fit mostly very well: the warp pylons are a very snug fit and some sanding is necessary to get them well seated. The books suggest the Belknap class came in 2 versions- the original with the warp engines reaching up to the level of the photorp tubes, and the Decatur, where the pylons swing up less just to the level of the main sensor. This conversion possibility isn't mentioned in the kit, and would probably require embedding a brass strip in the secondary hull to support the weight of the warp engines,but should otherwise be feasible. There is also a 3-warp engine dreadnought variant in the books-this would be easy to scratch-convert, and if you had access to the old Sci Fi Miniatures Vacform Dreadnought conversion - well it's already done as the dreadnought and Belknap have identical dorsal hulls.

One item that doesn't fit too well is the shuttle bay-it's a little too wide at the join.It seems to have been measured off a stock 1701A. In fact,given that the internal detail of the bay is so neat (sharper than the Lunar Models bay, the only alternative I know of) you might be better using this on a fully lit 1701 and using the spare closed-door bay on the Belknap, with sanding to fit. The bay doors are thin and cleanly molded, hence fragile-mine broke on handling it. There is a set of closed doors as an option.

The window inserts for the primary hull are better fitting than stock, but not as good a fit as the new DLM ones .They are opaque with drilled window patterns , so the long windows have rounded ends. The instructions are just a graphic of the completed ship with decal placements, no actual assembly at all. However,if you've gotten as far as buying this conversion, you probably know where everything goes.

Conclusion

So, there you go.My own conversion is to be done as the USS Fleetwing-a non-canon named from an old Poul Anderson story, and its 1 less Starfleet design I have to worry about scratchbuilding.

Many thanks to Jim's wallet for providing the review samples. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2004 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 22 September 2004.