Designing the U.S.S. Defiant - By Jim Martin.
Deep Space Nine's resident warship was originally going to be based on a runabout-style design, but eventually took the shape of a vessel that had been intended for a completely different episode.

Concept artist Jim Martin was given the job of designing the USS Defiant NX-74205 when the producers of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine decided to introduce a new warship that could take on the Dominion. When designing the Defiant at the end of the second season, the original plan was to make it a 'beefed up' runabout. Martin describes designing the Defiant saying, "I started with the cockpit windows, and worked my way out, adding things on top of the runabout, making it look like they were adding systems and weapons to an existing ship." The runabout design was abandoned after the producers saw Martin's finished drawings and decided they needed to go a different direction. "After the idea for the runabout was shot down, it was replaced with the writers' idea that it was going to be a full-fledged fighting starship called the USS Valiant.

"Under the supervision of Herman Zimmerman, I did a first batch of ships. The writers requested a small starship which was designed by the Federation to battle the Borg. I drew some familiar looking Starfleet designs, but also included a drawing of a small, compact ship that I had done for an entirely different episode of DS9. This is the direction that they chose, I think it was because it was so unique." A second pass at the Defiant refined it further and helped bring it into the design realm of Starfleet, but it remains in the spirit of the initial drawing. Model maker Tony Meininger worked with Gary Hutzel to create the model as we know it.

Looking back, the Defiant is probably Martin's biggest contribution to Star Trek. The Defiant was first major starship that didn't have external warp nacelles. Martin recalls, "When you're in the art department and you're doing the job from episode to episode, you don't really think, 'Boy, this is really going to revolutionize Federation design.' You're getting a design out of the way. It's only after the fact that you think, 'Wow, that was a different idea.' I'm glad we took the chance to take a little bit of a departure. "The whole idea of having twin nacalles on outriggers originated in the very first season of Star Trek; they are away from the ship because they are creating the warp bubble that the ship that the ship is inside. We were trapped in the nacelle thought and I remember turning in some things that were a little off the mark; they were runabout-ish, but they were also nacelle-ish. The final design was based on something that Zimmerman had seen tacked about my desk that I had done for a totally different episode. It was originally Sisko's raider [in 'Crossover'], if I remember rightly.

"I think it's a unique shape; it's very different to what they were doing, and I can't take sole credit on that because a lot of people worked on the Defiant."