Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Colonial Viper Mark I Reference

Here's a fighter craft with a design that has lasted through the ages, even making a cameo in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica Mini Series. It is designated as the Mark I or 1 Colonial Viper, a single seater fighter that is the mainstream of the fighter group for the twelve colonies.

The original Battlestar Galactica TV series came about to ride on the success of Star Wars in 1978. I was a kid then and I was very fascinated with Star Wars, but it took Battlestar Galactica to make me go Sci Fi crazy.

The story takes place in a galaxy far far away (where else?) when the Cylons broke a "Memorandum of Understanding" of non aggression and attacked the convoy of Battlestars that was enroute to the Cylon homeworld to seal the treaty. The Galactica was the only Battlestar that managed to escape, only to discover their colonies had been attacked by the Cylons. Collecting anyone else that was left and using whatever ships they could muster, the Galactica leads a pack of rag tag fleet in search of Earth and a new beginning.

The famous poster that made it to the paperback book
The original cast

And not forgetting those lovely ladies then making up the some of the cast

The design of the Mark I Viper (at that time, it was only known as the Colonial Viper) went through several evolution. Here's a little trivia some may not know about. The craft you see was not the original intended Viper design. It was one done up earlier, got rejected and was reused later in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, as the Starfighter. You can see why she was called a "Viper" - those two pointy tips for the thruster assembly represented a Viper's fangs.

And just as in Star Wars, the scene I loved about the original Battlestar series was the vast number of Vipers sent out to destroy the Cylon fighter group. Of course then the special effects aren't as great as what we see today. Here are some images of the studio model Viper.

Some screen caps and fantastic fan art to joggle your memory. Remember some of these scenes?

Some behind the scene set. The advantage of Science Fiction of yester-years was that actual studio model kits were created, filmed behind a blue screen for added effects. This allowed scale modelers the advantage of referring to an actual studio model for accuracy, unlike today where a lot of models and effects are created by the VFX software.

They were actually two models built for the TV series, a 1.1 scale mock up and a smaller scale Colonial Mark I Viper model. The problem then was that nobody thought about standardizing what the Viper actually should look like. They were vast differences between the two. Hence as argued by many, there are actually no correct way of building a highly accurate Mark I Viper. Best guess and if it looks good rules the norm.

Here's the smaller scale model for your reference.


  1. Such a great reference. Gonna be a big help when I start on my Viper Mk1 model next week. Thanks for your hard work!

  2. Thanks for this. I also still have to build mine some time in the future.