This update concerns the iconic Klingon Bird-of-Prey, perhaps the most recognizable Klingon vessel in all of Trek.
For the longest time throughout the fandom community, there were two generally accepted sizes/classes of the prolific Bird-of-Prey. The B’Rel class represented the smaller of the two types, first seen in ST: III, then throughout the various movies and two subsequent TV series (TNG and DS9). The K’vort class was the larger of the two, first seen in the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and then throughout various TNG episodes (one could make a distinction by suggesting that BOP’s that traveled with their wings down were of the former class and those that traveled with their wings raised/horizontal were of the latter).
However, extensive screencap analysis by reknowned Trek sites Ex Astris Scientia and the Daystrom Institute Technical Library later came to break that long held assumption. DITL in particular seperates the Bird of Prey into 4 distinct size classes:
-A 35m long version, seen in misc. DS9 episodes starting with “The Way of the Warrior”. This version is scaled rediculously small compared to larger ships such as the Vor’Cha and Negh’Var. *(can be seen on DITL as the K’Pak class)
-A 109m long version. This is the version presented in the movies (III, IV, V, VI, Generations) and the majority of DS9 episodes
-A 327m long version. We’re led to believe that the BOP which made appearances early on through TNG (beginning with “A Matter of Honor”) and later through a few misc. DS9 episodes are supposed to be of the smaller 109m class, however screencap analysis by EAS and DITL easily dispel that assumption.
-A 654m version. Seen in TNG episodes “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, “The Defector” and “Rascals”. Dialogue in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” establishes this as “……a K’Vort class Battlecruiser”. The scaling certainly supports such a designation, but the issue of nomenclature is thrown up in the air–footage from “Yesterday’s Enterprise” where the ships are identified as K’Vorts is reused for “Rascals” where they are identified as B’Rels.
So what’s my take on all this? Well for my purposes here, I’m choosing to include all but the 327m version (which could be lumped in with the larger class and explained away as VFX mistakes). Mine are as follows……….
35m version–K’Pak class Corvette (seen in “Way of the Warrior”; class name taken from DITL)
109m version–D-11/D-12 (B’Rel) class Scout
654m version–K’Vort class Battlecruiser
Nomenclature, in my opinion, is a matter of personal preference. D-11 in this case refers to the B’rel itself, with the D-12 being a sort of improved variant (sort of like the Galaxy/Galaxy II-Venture), that didn’t really pan out (according to Worf in Generations). My use of K’Vort comes from the fact that I completely disreguard “Rascals” in its entirity (sloppy/lazy VFX, poor scripting and general unbelievability–Ferengi using Klingon warships?!)
Here are the ships themselves……
Now here are the articles by DITL & EAS for your reference……
Also, the Bird of Prey article at Memory Alpha (all things canon), might be worth reading as it explains why in the world, a 35m version appeared in the “Way of the Warrior” (To pump up the episode’s battle sequences without destroying/damaging filming models, DS9’s effects department used Bird of Prey Christmas Ornaments from Hallmark)
Oh and one thing I haven’t spoken about yet is a point in my B’rel class article/publication. The whole point about the ship design being Romulan in origin? That comes from the Klingon supplement to the Federation Spaceflight Chronology by Richard Mandel (check it out here), which itself, is derived from either FASA or SFB (Star Fleet Battles) role playing material.