Viper Mark VII
- This article discusses the newer Viper-class fighters seen in the Re-imagined Series. For information on the older, generally obsolete Viper Mark II fighter from the same series, see Viper Mark II. For the Viper used in the Original Series and in Galactica 1980, see Viper (TOS).
|Viper Mk. VII|
|Propulsion:||3 x turbo-thrust engines mounted aft, RCS points|
|Crew:||1 pilot in Terrell ES 24C ejection seat. |
|Role:||Space superiority fighter|
|Weapons:||3 Kinetic Energy Weapons, missiles|
|Armaments:||3 x forward-firing kinetic energy weapons (KEW), 2 mounted towards the outboard sections of the wings, 1 x mounted in the vertical stabilizer, Weapon hard-points for mounting missiles / munitions pods, etc. under the wings.|
|Fate:||In current Colonial service|
|Length:||32.3 feet (~9.8 meters)|
|Height:||9.7 feet (~3.0 meters)|
|Wingspan:||18.4 feet (~5.6 meters)|
Capable of atmospheric flight, the Mark VII is the front-line variant of the Viper design, retaining the Mark II's general layout but adding fully integrated avionics that provide superior battle management and flight information for the pilot.
Ironically, it is this incorporation of new integrated systems that prevents the majority of Mark VIIs from being effective during the Cylon attack: as with the majority of Colonial Fleet, the Mark VIIs suffer fatal computer system failures on contact with Cylon forces. Thanks to a Cylon agent's relationship with Dr. Gaius Baltar, scientist and programmer of the navigation software project, the navigational software in use on board most Colonial Fleet vessels contains back-doors that allow the Cylons to infiltrate a vessel's computers by wireless signals and to disable its power systems. Though this problem can be overcome by removing the navigational upgrade compromised by the Cylons, the information is not discovered in time to benefit the surprised and hard-pressed Colonial forces.
Being a single-seat craft, it mounts three forward-facing kinetic energy weapons (KEW). In addition, it possesses hard-points beneath the wings for mounting missiles, munitions pods and other ordnance (The Hand of God).
- Main article: Computers in the Re-imagined Series
The Mark VII cockpit is almost totally computerized. There are far fewer analog gauges and more reliance is placed on a powerful central flight computer. This gives the Mark VII pilot far greater control of the fighter as well as, presumably, greater targeting control in a dogfight.
However, the latest and last software upgrade, the CNP upgrade, introduces a fatal flaw (inserted by a Cylon agent) in the Mark VII that leads to the virtual annihilation of most of these fighters in the opening wave of the Cylon attack.
As of "Scar", Pegasus has begun to use her on board construction facilities to produce replacement Vipers. Materials mined in an asteroid field allow the production of two full squadrons. Additionally, since Pegasus joined the Fleet, Mark IIs have been steadily phased out in favor of retrofitted Mark VIIs.
- Main article: Weapons in the Re-imagined Series
The Mark VII's main weapons are three forward-facing cannons, two in the wings and one in the vertical stabilizer. Typically, it is only the wing-mounted cannons that are used.
Like the Mark II, it can also be armed with missiles.
While the Mark II can rotate 180 degrees vertically in .35 seconds (Act of Contrition), it is presumed that the Mark VII has an equal or better performance ratio. Given that the Mark II is capable of holding its own even against superior numbers of modern Cylon Raiders, the more advanced Mark VII probably also has an equal or superior performance as Raiders in the hands of a capable pilot.
Other design features
The Viper Mark VII has primary and secondary hydraulics, the secondary system presumably acting as a redundant backup for mission-critical prime system. Damage to both systems does not significantly compromise the Viper's performance as a space combat craft, provided the pilot is sufficiently skilled to manage the changed flight characteristics (Scar). The consequences of the loss of both systems in atmospheric flight would undoubtedly be far more dire.
Known Viper Mark VIIs
- See List of Vipers
- Since Galactica had only 40 Viper Mark IIs aboard as part of its museum, they needed as many fighters as possible. The remaining Mark VII's advanced computer systems were refitted to resist Cylon infiltration. However, since this is not how the Mark VII was designed to fly, the craft is increasingly more difficult to handle and can only be flown by the most experienced pilots such as Apollo and Starbuck. Galactica had roughly 6-8 Mark VIIs on board after the Cylon attack ("Scattered", "Flight of the Phoenix") . Since the Vipers aboard Pegasus were predominantly Mark VIIs, these too were presumably retrofitted to less vulnerable avionics.
- According to David Weddle during the "Scar" podcast the Mark VII cockpit design "was actually laid out based on, I think it's either the F-16 or the F-18." The side-mounted control stick more closely resembles that of the F-16, which is appropriate given the "Viper" nickname of the jet (that was initially the General Dynamics codename for the project, which was in turn named for the TOS Viper).
- Also revealed in the podcast for "Scar" is that the full cockpit interior for the Viper Mark VII was built for this episode. "Flight of the Phoenix" had paved the way for the construction of the full cockpit when "the line producers and the production designers figure[d] out ways to move money around that basically bought us this cockpit because we had built the stealth fighter." The cockpit interior may have been constructed at the same time the Blackbird was being built.
- Like the Original Series' Viper, the weapons fire of Vipers on the Re-Imagined Series is red, however, the button is on the center of the joystick for the Mark VII, and the left for the Mark II (33).
- According to Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion, when creating the design of the Viper Mark VII, Gary Hutzel took a pre-existing design from the 2003 video game loosely based on a mix of the Original Series and upcoming Miniseries, then "did some modifications, and that became the Viper Mark VII".
- As of "Maelstrom", a new exterior design for the Viper Mk VII is being used. It is characterized by angular air intakes - with three intakes on the ventral side as opposed to the original's single intake - and a compressed forward fuselage with chines extending only partway to the nose. Additionally, the new version possesses a drab gray hue that differs from the original's gunmetal-gray coloration. Due to the fact that all Mark VII fighters seen since "Maelstrom" display the later appearance, it was surmised that this was a retroactive update rather than a variant of an existing ship.
- However, this shot taken from "Razor" displays both variants in action. Starbuck's Viper (in the foreground) is of the redesigned variant, while Showboat's Viper (in the back) is the original version - characterized by gunmetal-gray armoring and the sleek forward fuselage. Taking this visual into account, it may be alternatively concluded that these are two versions of Viper (with the newer design perhaps being a product of Pegasus's Viper production facilities). Accepting this conclusion would partly explain why the Mk VIIs present on Galactica's hangar deck bear the original appearance while those seen in action do not - there would no longer be a design conflict between the physical model and the CGI version of the craft. However, for sequences where an actor climbs into the physical model but is subsequently seen flying the new version (as it happens in "Crossroads, Part II" and "He That Believeth In Me" for example) the discrepancy is still present, although these shots show only the cockpit of the Vipers making this less obvious. In Razor and Season 4 both designs do appear onscreen although seldom together. However much of the confusion stems from all of the close up shots being of the Maelstorm design with the original design appearing in many the far out shots.
- According to Doug Drexler, "The model was rebuilt by master modeler Pierre Drollet (sic) at Gary’s request. After all the episodes we had done, we learned all of the original models weaknesses, and built it to withstand greater scrutiny, and render more efficiently. Changes were fairly superficial, but improved the lines of the bird." 
- Overall, between the new engine, cannon, and wing detailing, it can be surmised the update was intended to bring the plane closer to the details of the full-scale prop, which it resembles much more then the detailing in the original CGI model. Only the nose of the full-scale prop was built for the Miniseries, the rest of the plane was built later and very simplified in comparison to the CGI one.
- Although nearly all Viper Mark VIIs seen, including those on Caprica before the war, have the same ####NC serial number pattern, in addition to his 48 kill markings, enough of Captain Cole "Stinger" Taylor's can be seen to show that it is marked with one ending in P, possibly intended to be for Pegasus.
- Very segmented exhaust nozzle design suggest possible thrust-vectoring.
- Ammunition used was same as older Viper models; the Mark VII guns appear to have a higher rate of fire. Armaments listings and ejector seat details from David Bassom's Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion.
- Dimensions provided by Lee Stringer, one of the VFX Animators of the miniseries. These are for the CGI models, which are based on but not identical to the full size props. Source: Starshipbuilder.com forums
- In flight, without landing gear. Landing gear adds approximately 0.5m.
- Information previously available on the SciFi website.