the Uss Enterprise B and the PBY Catalina

Today’s sketch is of the final design of the Enterprise B, The B came to be because of budgets reasons on the production and there was just not enough cash available to make a new ship and shooting miniature for Generations so the USS Excelsior model from previous films was recruited to be the B. Story line called for some hull changes so that the Nexus ribbon could whip off a chunk of the ship without destroying the whole ship. This was my first art assignment on Trek and what a fun one to say the least.. I was one huge fan of Bill George’s Excelsior and despite all the changes we were asked to do it was important to maintain the overall design as much as possible. To seek out inspiration theΒ  PBY Catalina came to mind with it’s built in boat like belly detail which made for the perfect reference to re translate into the Starship’s new hull lines. As for the big wing top props the same is seen on the top of the saucer with twin impulse engines located on the back of the dish. After Herman Zimmerman and the producers were happy with the design the sketch and some rough plans went to ILM and the reboot was underway headed by famed model maker John Goodson. The end result looked beautiful on film and the folks up in Marin County again made movie magic. Stay tuned for more on the B and lots of art n pics to come.





the uss enterprise b

plans for the bridge graphic by Mike Okuda

an old pin up pby

37 Responses to “the Uss Enterprise B and the PBY Catalina”

  1. October 4, 2011 at 5:51 am

    I though the Excelsior was always going to be used for the Ent-B given it was on the back wall of the Confrance Room on the Ent-D, along with the other ships to bare the name Enterprise.

    Even so, I always wondered where the idea came from for those add-on on the secondary hull.

    Now that you have told us, I can see the plane in the ship and vise vursa.

    • 2 johneaves
      October 4, 2011 at 6:30 am

      I knew so little of TNG so when I was brought on for Generations I had a lot of studying to do and went by what was thrown my way!!!! Primarily budget was the call for the B-Excelsior and I had no idea about what you were talking about as far as the conference room drawing,, How fun to hear your POV on this one and always an education on what was going on in the Trek universe…

      • October 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

        The conference room back wall changed a little each season. But I found a pic of all the Ent models on the back wall in the middle. Going by the hair of the woman sitting on the left handside it has to be one of the early season.

        As you can see under the Gal model is the rear end of the Excelsior.

        I guess even though they done this in the serise, if the PTB had the budget they would gone with a new model and ignored those models.

  2. 4 Richard Knapp
    October 4, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Hey John – its great seeing how you inspiration flows in to a new design. I’ve always thought that the Catalina was a beautiful plan and it’s really cool to see how you incorporated design elements from it in to the E-B. Thanks for posting!


  3. 7 the bluesman
    October 4, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Again with the classics! Very nice. As much as I love the faster and sexier p-51s, Spits, and Mossies the ol cat is also a fave.

    When I was a wee lad my dad built and absolutely gorgeous 1/48 scale model of the cat and I used to gaze on that thing all the time. I was thrilled to see alot of cat action in the film Always with Richard Dreyfus and John Goodman using the cat as a water bomber to put out forest fires.

    oh, and the E-B drawing is cool too!

    • 8 johneaves
      October 5, 2011 at 5:55 am

      “Always” is defiantly the PBY’s best film,,,, huge models were built at ILM in whole and sections,,,, What happened to your dads model,, did you manage to save it???

      • 9 the bluesman
        October 5, 2011 at 11:22 am

        John, I don’t know what happened to the cat model. He had a habit of giving models away to other pilots or it may have gotten broken up in one of our many many moves across the country

  4. October 4, 2011 at 8:42 am

    You picked a great source of inspiration. I’ve always loved the Cat for her graceful lines…

    • 11 johneaves
      October 5, 2011 at 5:53 am

      that is the coolest plane ever!!!! There used to be one parked at the Van Nuys airport in CA for about a year,,, looked like the one used in the 1990-91 film “Always”, but could never get on the tarmac to see it up close.

  5. 12 Robert Minnes
    October 4, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Ah goody, a new Star Trek Starship being tackled, I’ll be following closely to see if new tidbits of secrets will be revealed that might be added to the “Excelsior”-class page I’ve written over at Memory Alpha


    Speaking, of which, I was meaning to ask you, how do you stand on the use of pictures on your blog…I’ve become somewhat of the resident expert on the subject in writing about the studio models (for which your blog has been invaluable) and some of the sections and articles would benefit from picture additions (fully credited of course, MA is quite strict on that), especially the ones from the last 3 seasons of ENT (there is virtually nothing of that in print)….

    • 13 johneaves
      October 5, 2011 at 5:51 am

      AWESOME article on the ship Robert!!!! what a way with words and facts you have there!!! Give me ago anytime about using stuff from here through my email.



      • 14 Robert Minnes
        October 6, 2011 at 4:41 am

        Thank you so much for your kind words, John…If you like that check out my user page


        and through there take a peek at the connie, galaxy (just completed), cgi and (especially for your sake) sovereign pages (that page could benefit with additional pics.)

      • 15 Robert Minnes
        October 6, 2011 at 4:49 am

        Oh, I forgot to ask, as you were working on DS9 at the time, do you have any incling why your design wasn’t translated to CGI, as the Galaxy was? It’s been a bit of a mystery to me…

  6. 16 evil_genius_180
    October 4, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Great story, you know I always love seeing where your inspiration comes from. I also love Bill’s Excelsior, it’s an awesome ship and the Enterprise-B is a worthy ship in that line. I’m just bummed that it came so late and we never got to see more of it on Star Trek. I thought this was your first Trek assignment, great way to start. The Enterprise-B was also a first for me. It was the first Star Trek model I ever built. 8)

    • 17 johneaves
      October 5, 2011 at 5:44 am

      How cool,, sure was a little model kit though!!!! When we were making the models to be gold plated for the E-E observation lounge set, the B was one that was going to have to be built from scratch because the kit hadn’t come out yet,,,,, just before starting on the model though the Playmates toy came out and that is what wound up being used in the film,,,,

      • 18 evil_genius_180
        October 5, 2011 at 8:35 am

        That’s interesting. I was 15 when the movie came out, I could swear that I built the Ent-B shortly thereafter, but it must have been a while later if the kit hadn’t come out yet when you were working on FC. I built so many plastic models in the mid-late nineties that it’s so hard to keep track of them. πŸ˜‰

        It’s cool that you were able to use the playmates toy. Those aren’t always the most accurate models, but at least you had something. (their Ent-E toy was pretty bad as far as accuracy) That’s yet another cool story. 8)

  7. October 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I have to say, the Enterprise-A is my Fav, but the Enterprise-B right there too. I felt that everything came together. The Bridge, the graphics and the ship felt like the final result of the evolution of the ships and graphics from that era. I am not sure what it is, but the way the model was filmed, it felt like a real ship with mass. The ship leaving drydock with the music and the light reflecting off the hull is one of my favorite shots, that and the shots with the front tilting up before it was hit by the nexus and the last shot of of the crew looking into space.

    I wish that part of the movie was longer and we got to see more of the ship. Thanks for the post! OhI think that 3D sketch would more a cool readyroom painting. Thanks again!

    • 20 johneaves
      October 5, 2011 at 5:40 am

      For it’s short life the B did all come together as a total package,,, Herman Z did an awesome job with designing it all and the combination of ILM’s work along with The graphics, construction, set dec, lighting, it all turned out spectacular. Beautiful angles on the shots too,, One of my all time fav shots of the B when she was the Excelsior was in ST6 when the praxis wave blows through the frame and the Excelsior emerges in center screen… Love the A too, Still my fav of all of the ships

  8. 21 MickRC
    October 4, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Flying boats and amphibs have been my favorite aircraft since I put together a Short Sunderland kit back in the 60’s. This confirms my hunch that the strakes on the hull were inspired by a flying boat. I really like it. That part of the film could have been longer, the B had a good solid feel to it.

    • 22 johneaves
      October 5, 2011 at 5:34 am

      And how, the B section of the film was way to short!!! Good eye with catching the flying boat lines too,, I have never seen the sugarland kit,, I’ll have to find that one…

  9. 23 Razorgeist
    October 4, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Cool the excelsior is one of my favorites. Cant wait to see more.

  10. October 5, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Love the story, and those flying boats are some of my favorite aircraft. But it’s a shame the E-B was what it was… Everything looked tacked on (no matter how well). It was just a souped up Excelsior Class…

  11. 26 JNG
    October 5, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I really like to learn the inspirations behind design work, especially when it’s something from aviation I already found inspiring myself.

    One thing that’s always interested me about Enterprise-B is her unusual color scheme for a Federation starship. More green in the blue for the trim…any particular knowledge of or commentary on that or where it came from?

  12. October 5, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I’ve not seen that type of plane before, so thanks for introducing me to it. Very unusual and I can see the similarities with the B straight away. It doesn’t seem like there’s that kind of creativity in aerospace anymore, but I guess they’ve figured out enough about how a plane needs to be designed that there’s not much call for weird and wonderful experimental configurations anymore (aside from planes like the V-22 Osprey and a few others).

    As for the Trek universe, a brand new design is always something to be grateful for, but I’m glad we ended up seeing the B how you (re)designed it. I love the original Excelsior for its graceful, yet powerful look, but the B is in some ways even cooler. It looks so powerful and the shape of the secondary hull actually leads quite well into how the D’s looks, if you think about it. Looking forward to whatever else you have on the ship. Take care. πŸ™‚

  13. 28 Matt Boardman
    October 6, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Always loved the changes to the Excelsior that helped distinguish the Enterprise-B from the Excelsior! I thought that it gave the ship a nice flavor, if you will. Always love learning what your source of inspiration was when you draw these things! πŸ˜€ Love the lines and those impulse engines on the back of the saucer! They just scream power!

  14. 29 Z3R0B4NG
    October 6, 2011 at 6:16 am


    we had a bit of a discussion at the Star Trek Online Forums about the Excelsior’s Nacelles, some time ago when this bad boy here was introduced to the Game:

    Specifically about which part of the Nacelles is supposed to glow blue!

    In the TMP Movies + Generations there was never a glow visible (but you painted one!), it seems pretty clear to me from multiple sources that the top part is supposed to glow,
    for example the AMT/ERTL model and now i also see it in your Artwork.

    Years later in DS9 on the CGI model the black center piece did glow blue, instead of the top piece.

    Do you have any background infos to share on that?
    Is one correct and the other wrong (did the DS9 guys screw it up?!)?
    Is it supposed to be one way on the Excelsior and the other on the Enterprise-B?

    Because of that discussion we now have 4 options in the game…
    blue glowing center piece or no glow at all, and both original and refit versions.

    I hope you can *shed some light* on this topic πŸ™‚

  15. 30 greenlight
    October 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

    “Story line called for some hull changes so that the Nexus ribbon could whip off a chunk of the ship without destroying the whole ship.” But then I see this:

    and it looked like the damage would’ve been on an area of the original hull anyway. Can you address that?

    • 31 Dwayne Day
      October 6, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      Look at this pretty extensive discussion:


      • 32 greenlight
        October 7, 2011 at 8:00 am

        Thanks! From the article:

        “As a result, Eaves, who originally imaged the damage higher up near the neck of the ship, built a section of decks that extended out from the hull,…”

        I’m still confused. I assume that the ‘section of decks’ refers to the flanges that stick out around the deflector dish. If they were intended to be the damaged section, why sketch the damaged section above them and leave them untouched? If the hull above and around them is also part of the addition that was capped onto the original model (as it appears to be in one of the photos), were the flanges themselves never meant to be the damaged area?

        Also, the article makes it sound like ‘the producers originally wanted a new design’ meant a whole new class of ship, despite continuity. If they’d had the time and money, would they really have come up with a whole new design and in effect said “We’re not going to be limited by what’s been shown on the back wall of the 1701-D observation lounge”?

  16. October 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    On beauty inspires another. πŸ™‚

  17. 34 Scott D
    October 9, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I had the feeling you had inspriation from the PBY, just love how inspriation comes from the past like that.

    BTW, STO’s adding the D-4 to the roster. But instead of retro, its going to be a “K’T’inga Refit”.

  18. 35 Don
    October 22, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I always love your stuff, John, but the whole Ent-B thing was lipstick on a pig to me.

  19. 36 Maphisto86
    January 5, 2012 at 9:03 am

    To be honest I found the Enterprise B design to be less then ideal. I actually don’t mind the secondary hull extension of the Enterprise B that was inspired by the PBY Catalina. Yet the other changes I found questionable, especially the new set of engines on the saucer section. To me they look tacked on and don’t make much sense. Overall the design seemed to interrupt Bill George’s elegant design. Still I understand the production had little funding left for the E-B’s model design and had to make due but at the same time . . . well Don said it best above.

    Here’s a rather novel take by a fan on the Enterprise B had the budgetary problems not existed – http://goodstavo2.blogspot.com/.

  20. January 26, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Reblogged this on Lens Cap and commented:
    The Catalina PBY is pretty much my favorite airplane.

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October 2011

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