Truth OR Myth – The Klingon Bird of Prey

Hello and welcome to Truth OR Myth, in today’s episode we’re taking a look at the Klingon Bird of Prey, it’s statistics and history to better understand it’s role in Star Trek.

Elegant in form and function, The Klingon Bird of Prey would be one of the longest utilized starship designs in Klingon History…

The first Starfleet vessel to encounter a Klingon Bird of Prey was the NX-01 Enterprise early in its exploration mission in 2151.

Though this earlier design would retain many of the elements seen in the standard design that would come into existence a century later there were some obvious differences.

But by the launch of the final external design of the Bird of Prey in the 2280s. The Klingon Empire had clearly crossed a threshold of scientific advancement and aesthetics.

So versatile was this design that many variants were created. The smallest being approximately 110 meters in length and 3 decks tall, while the largest would be just over 350 meters long.

(Paramount) The Bird of Prey – “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock”

These size discrepancies came down to 2 basic factors. 1, how easy it was for the Bird of Prey to be constructed as intended by the ship’s designers and 2, the different houses of the empire requiring different sized ships for various mission profiles. This was also considered by the Klingon Ship Designers when they commissioned this class. As a result, all components of this design could simply be upscaled with no loss of function or redesign required.

In the 24th Century when this class was the backbone of the Klingon Fleet, the ship itself could reach speeds up to warp 9.8, using external means such as the gravitational pull of a star, but it’s standard cruising speed was that of warp 8.

This class also did not include any warp nacelles instead having a rear warp field initiator used to achieve warp speeds.

Most of these ships included 2 disrupter canons, on each wing and photon launcher on the forward bulb of the primary hull. Some classes even included more conventional weapons systems such as phaser emitters along its hull.

One of the most innovated technologies included in ALL bird of Prey was that of a cloaking device. This cloaking device was one of the most sophisticated seen in the milky way galaxy. A ship was able to cloak rendering itself invisible, sneaking up on its prey and shortly after de-cloaking was able to launch a full assault against that target.

(CBS) The USS Enterprise-D under attack by two Klingon Bird-of-Prey – “Yesterdays Enterprise” – TNG 3X15

Defensive systems aboard the Klingon Bird of Prey were pretty standard of that which was available at the time the vessel was constructed but could also easily be upgraded for new technological breakthroughs of the time.

Just as variable was this Klingon Ships Size so were its interiors. the main bridge was located on deck 1 but had no standard bridge configuration that most Starfleet Starship Classes would retain.

The only things familiar from 1 bird of prey to another was the colour palette used. This consisted of Muted Greens and browns accented by Reds, Oranges and Yellows.

These ships were not known for their comfort, however. Having most crewmen bunking up with others to save space.

And the medical facilities aboard a Bird of Prey were also very basic as the Empire believed more in honourable death rather than recovering in a sickbay bed.

One interesting note about Bird of Preys, however, is the fact that most included a galley where live food would be prepared for the crew as most Klingons did not prefer dead replicated food though replicators were available through mostly utilized for beverages such as Racktajino which was the Klingon Version of Coffee.

Like most Klingon Vessels, any officer not on duty was encouraged to drink and celebrate victories of the past through stories and song. this fostered a sense of comradery among the Klingon crew and in between battles allowed for a release of some of the Klingon Aggression inherent in the species.

(Paramount) Commander Kruge with his pet Targ – “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock”

Senior officers could also get special permission for their pets from the homeworld to accompany them aboard ship.

Because of the close quarters nature of most of the birds of prey, the starships tended to have a very ripe distinctive odour. Cleanliness was not a normal trait of Klingon officer.

Most free space aboard a ship was dedicated to cargo bays and training centres. On board ship, an officer could practice with various Klingon weapons alone or with others in order to keep their battle skills sharp and ready in an event they were needed.

Cargo could be picked up and stored in relatively huge amounts. In 2286, in a captured Bird of Prey, James T Kirk and the senior officers of the USS Enterprise were even able to transport 2 humpback whales from Earths past and save humanity.

And for missions that require troop transport, the cargo bays could be easily converted to living facilities to allow for greater numbers of warriors to be transported.

All birds of prey also included at least 1 transporter system but also had the ability to land to allow troops to exit more quickly in any environment especially those where transporters may not be available.

In an effort to make sure the class stayed relevant the Bird of Prey was continually updated by designers to include the latest technological advances available and were often used as a testbed for said new technologies.

(Paramount) Chang’s Bird-of-Prey – “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”

In 2293 a new prototype Bird of Prey was launched that had the ability to fire it’s torpedoes while cloaked. And in an effort to stop the peace talks between the Federation and the Klingon Empire this Bird of Prey was used to make it appear that the Federation Starship Enterprise had fired on the Klingon Battlecruiser carrying the Chancellor of the Klingon Empire.

Though successful at first in destabilizing the peace talks, Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise-A was able to prove it’s innocence and stop the Bird of Prey by modifying a torpedo with a sensor that would track Klingon Ship Plasma emission to its source rendering this advantage moot.

And during the Dominion War, the Klingon Bird of Prey would serve the Federation-Klingon-Romulan alliance with honour.

In 2375, while attempting to hold on to the Chintoka system, the newest allies of the Dominion, the Breen, used an energy dampening weapon which disabled the Entire Federation- Klingon and Romulan fleet, 311 vessels, except for a lone Bird of Prey the IKS K’Tang.

This Bird of Prey had made modifications to it tritium intermix shortly before the battle. As a result, General Martok ordered the same modifications to every Klingon ship in the fleet and they became the only vessels standing between freedom and the entire subjugation of the alpha and beta quadrants.

During this time many Birds of Prey initiated hit and run manoeuvres in order to keep the Dominion off balance and allow time for the Federation and Romulan Fleets to develop a countermeasure to this weapon.

The versatility and robust nature of the Bird of Prey even allowed it in 2371 to be a contributing factor in the destruction of the Federation Flagship the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D.

(Paramount) “D12 class” Bird of Prey – “Star Trek: Generations”

A 20-year-old Bird of Prey that had been retired from service due to defective plasma coils, being used by the Duras Sisters Lursa and Betor was able to infiltrate the Enterprise D through a well-placed camera inside the visor worn by its chief engineer Geordi LaForge who they had kidnapped earlier.

By constantly adjusting their torpedo frequencies to match the Enterprise’s shield modulations this Bird of Prey was able to circumvent the Enterprise Shield attacking it hull directly.

And although the Enterprise would be victorious by using the Bird of Preys defective plasma coils to its advantage, the sheer amount of damage created by the Bird of Prey cause the Enterprises engine system to go critical and cause a warp core breach. The Enterprise in response separated its saucer section but was forced to crash land on the planet Veridan 3. As a result, none of the Enterprise hull structure was salvageable to be used again.

Designed to strike fear into their enemies and ultimately succeeding, the Klingon Bird of prey would be the most sought out, well-utilized ship design in the entire Klingon fleet. And this ship design would continue to serve the Empire with honour and distinction well into the latter half of the 24th Century…


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