Arrow Kit for Sale!

Alfred Wong's Arrow model is here! The promised plastic model kit that allows you to build your own 1/48 scale Terran Confederation Arrow fighter is now shipping. The unfinished kit costs $165 Canadian plus shipping and measures 9.5" L by 7" W when constructed. As you can see below, the finished product looks truly astounding. Convinced? You can purchase the model here.

Countdown To Party Time!

An important date is fast approaching, and as we're just about a month away, it's time to firm up details for the CIC's 19th Birthday Party! The milestone technically arrives on August 10, but this year we'll be observing the event on Saturday, August 19. Everything gets going at 7:00 pm EDT (4:00 pm PDT and 11:00 pm GMT) in #Wingnut on irc.wcnews.com or our easy web chat interface. The CIC Staff is now plotting out what goodies we'll have in store, but the best part will be celebrating online with all of you. There will be trivia to dazzle even the most knowledgable fans, lots of great memories and some thoughtful discussion on the future. Mark it on your calendars and don't miss it!

Greetings, Starfighter

Did you know that Lockheed Martin build a real starfighter to play Wing Commander? Well, kind of. Today we have an interesting oddity in Wing Commander history: the packaging for a Real3D Starfighter AGP graphics card. The Starfighter was an Intel i740-based graphics card created in coopration with the Real3D division of Lockheed Martin (really!) The first AGP version was released in early 1998, shipping alongside a special 'cut down' version of Wing Commander Prophecy (specifically, the first CD of the game, with a card at the end suggesting you purchase the rest from Origin.) A PCI version was released later, but it's not clear whether or not it included the Prophecy OEM demo. Want to play the odd version of the game itself? You can grab a copy here.

Lost Tank Found

What secret lurk in the heart of Wing Commander III's TRE files? Well, this Kilrathi missile tank, for one! The general design of this tank should be familiar to WC veterans… but you haven't seen it with a missile turret before! That's because while it's stored in the game files it is never used in a mission. Since a similar 'finished but unseen' model has been discovered of a Wing Commander IV-style frigate, it stands to reason that the missile turrets were either not functioning properly or causing balance problems… leading to multiple missile-turreted objects' removal late in development!

Super Wing Commander Trailer Hints at Lost Ship

Yesterday, we reported on footage of an early build of Wing Commander II digitized by the University of Texas. Today, we have a second treasure from a VHS provided by Origin producer Warren Spector: early footage of Super Wing Commander in action! The video clearly shows an early, unfinished build that has a more elaborate 'loading' screen for the VDUs (and is still using some Wing Commander I art as placeholders!) But look carefully, there's another surprise: during the course of the mission being demoed, the player faces several Salthi… and then starts to fire on a capital ship. But it's not a capital ship available in the final game!

But wait, you think, I've seen that silhouette before. You have: the ship in question was found in a file dump of 3D source assets from Origin alongside the other models from Super Wing Commander. The file labels it the Fralthi, but it is not the Fralthi which appears in the finished game. The model itself is an edited and retextured version of Wing Commander II's Sabre mesh, which may sound odd but was not an uncommon practice during the creation of Super WIng Commander's menagerie.

Adding to the mystery, no mission in Super Wing Commander has you fly a Hornet with Spirit as a wingman against Salthi and a Fralthi together. In fact, the only time Spirit, a Hornet and Salthi are present with a capital ship it's a Confederation Drayman in Enyo 2. Was this ship intended to be a Drayman or a Fralthi? Or something else entirely? (Interestingly, the Super Wing Commander intro incorrectly identifies a Snakeir as a "Fralthi target"... so there may have been quite a bit of confusion about Kilrah's cruiser.)

Early Wing Commander II Footage

The University of Texas at Austin's Briscoe Center for American History has digitized several VHS tapes donated by famed Origin producer Warren Spector including a VERY interesting tape previewing Origin's 1991 lineup. The tape, likely created for a trade show or as a preview for distributors, walks through all of Origin's current releases. It includes a lengthy trailer of the already-released Wing Commander I, The Secret Missions and The Secret Missions 2: Crusade… and then a VERY exciting preview of Wing Commander II.

Why is it so exciting? Because it shows an early build of the game that includes a number of different graphics, features and cutscenes! Pay special attention to the more complex turret interface, the 'profile' view of Blair in the comm room and a whole host of landing and takeoff scenes which do not appear in the final game… even a sequence showing the player landing their Epee on the TCS Agincourt! This is a video that's not to be missed.

Cheat Sheet: WC4 Turrets

This is a followup to our article on Wing Commander III capship turrets. Wing Commander IV did not include a printed manual with detailed ship specifications, so this is not so much a correction as it is an addition! These counts are most interesting where they differ from those in Wing Commander III; in several cases, the same ship model is used with a different turret setup.

The Concordia-class carrier is the strangest of the group, featuring nine laser turrets and a clearly visible 'space' for a tenth. In flight, this tenth turret always shows as destroyed (on both the Lexington and the Princeton) though it is visible in cutscenes. Another interesting change to call out is that the Border Worlds version of the Tallahassee-class cruiser lacks the 'twin' turrets on the center/top that are still included on the Confederation model. The yellow turrets found on the Vesuvius are often mistaken for antimatter guns; they are heavy photons.

CapShip Missiles are used sparingly in Wing Commander IV, though the disclaimer from the WC3 article applies. THe Caernaven frigate fires up to three during Orestes 1. All stats are 'in game,' so while it's likely the destroyer and cruiser can carry the missiles (as the same designs mounted them in WC3) they are not mentioned below. Both warships are 'nerfed' from their WC3 state, replacing all previous anti-matter guns with lasers (presumably because the player must fight them regularly instead of defend them.)

Transport (Clarkson-class)
  • (2) Dual-Mount Laser Turret

    Transport (Evansville-class)
  • (4) Dual-Mount Laser Turret

    Destroyer (Southampton-class)
  • (9) Dual-Mount Laser Turret

    Cruiser (Tallahassee-class, Border Worlds Version)
  • (10) Dual-Mount Laser Turret

    Cruiser (Tallahassee-class, Terran Confederation Version)
  • (12) Dual-Mount Laser Turret

    Frigate (Caernaven-class)
  • (4) Dual-Mount Laser Turret
  • (3) CapShip Missile Launchers

    Light Carrier (Durango-class Conversion)
  • (8) Dual-Mount Laser Turret

    Carrier (Concordia-class)
  • (9) Dual-Mount Laser Turret

    Heavy Carrier (Vesuvius-class)
  • (14) Dual-Mount Heavy Photon Turret
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