Spaceships that became other Spaceships #2: The Colonial Viper

If you're like me, you'll like spaceships and that means you'll like this. An original 1980's era Colonial Viper courtesy of the Battlestar Gallactica.

As a kid I used to love seeing swarms of these things taking on even bigger swarms of cylons. The creators of the show really got the sense of big dogfights in space spot-on and when the show was rebooted I was so glad they'd kept this important ingredient.

It's been about a million years since the original Gallactica left the screen and although I enjoyed the reboot immensley, there was one important ingredient that was missing from it. Ralph McQuarrie.

The original Battlestar TV show was designed to cash in on the sucess of Star Wars and at the time was some of the most expensive TV ever produced. Typical episode budgets ran to around two million dollars. That's 1980s dollars. Given that the shows producers were keen to keep the production up as high as they could they did an incredibly savvy thing and hired Ralph McQuarrie to come in and conceptualize. I was quite suprised at this when I first found out about it and was thrilled to discover his work on this beloved old show. And then I found this.

If you're a fan of 80s sci-fi shows you'll likely recognise the ship in this painting. Even though it appears here as an early concept for the Colonial Viper, it is more familiar as this:

Another 80s icon: The Buck Rogers Starfighter (sometimes refered to as the Thunderfighter). Upon looking into this I discovered that the Thunderfighter was the original viper design which was why it appeared in early Gallactica concept art. Further investigating uncovered these images of the initial concept sketches for the viper.

I like how through these sketches you can also see elements of Y-Wing and A-Wing fighters from the original Star Wars trilogy in there as the designs were worked out. Turns out Ralph McQuarrie had even more influence on my young mind that I relaized. Both these ships are beautiful and iconic within sci-fi and obviously the shows producers were saving money by re-using designs from one show to another but the real lesson here is that if you've got Ralph McQuarrie on board you just don't throw any of his stuff away becasue it's all gold. So there you have it: The Buck Rogers Starfighter was originally the Colonial Viper from Battlestar Gallactica.