Arena Concept Art Inspires New Models

After recently refining his slick Excalibur model, DefianceIndustries took a crack at turning it into the futuristic variant proposed in the Wing Commander Arena concept art. Its main vertical stabilizers have been moved inwards over the engine housings, and extended downswept winglets have also been added. The redesign really makes you think what new missions it might be called upon that would warrant these tweaks. And while this is a relatively obscure design for someone to mock up, it's actually not the first time a fan has done it! You can also find JasonRocZ's attempt here.
I've been on something of an Arena kick lately. I was finishing up my Excalibur and ran across the concept art from Arena for their version of the F-103. I found the concept intriguing (if a bit too Aerotech) so I did a rework of my other F-103 in the same vein. I always considered the Excal something of the WC equivalent of an F-15, so it would seem appropriate that it might evolve along similar lines. In the late/post Nephilim war era, I imagine the Excal filling a role similar to an F-15 E, a good space superiority platform enhanced with light strike capability, packing along 4 or so Valiant light torpedoes in addition to its normal missile compliment. If it were to go into Vision, it would have thrust-vectoring engines enhancing its pitch (ala Vampire - no not the whole nacelle, that would be silly). And I made it a tandem cockpit for a RIO.
And since one good ship deserves another, and while Defiance was in an Arena mood, the Super Wing Commander/Arena Rapier II also got some love!
I enjoyed making this one, I don't often spend so much time doing subsurface modeling so this was a nice challenge.

Waterloo Once Again

Here's a new look at Klavs' groovy Waterloo class cruiser. Some of the most obvious detail is the addition of new windows and lighting, but there are also hull improvements throughout that give the ship a much more realistic facade. Additional gun emplacements are also present throughout that both fill in some of the blank spaces and give the ship some teeth. Other fan projects are already starting to take notice, so we can look forward to the model popping up here and there once it's complete!

GalCiv 3 Mod Adds Tons Of WC Ships

Hellakazoo has been working on a neat ship expansion to Galactic Civilizations 3. He's already added dozens of fighters and larger capships, and he's nowhere near stopping. WC1/2 are where he began, but work is moving into the later games with plans to even include designs from Privateer, Armada and the Movie. There were a couple of really neat WC mods in the past for GalCiv 2, so it's nice to see part 3 getting a similar treatment. You can try out these new ships via the Steam Workshop. Give them a look and let Mr. Kazoo know what you think!
I've been working on creating all the Confed ships since early in the year in GalCiv3's ship builder. At this point I have around 35 Confed ships (and a lone Kilrathi fighter) on steam workshop. Interested to see this community's take on my work so far.

Initially I started out with the goal to just complete the first two games' ship sets since I prefer the look and feel of those designs to the later games' sharp angles, but I've recently consigned myself to finish the series and added WC3 and WC4 to the list (as well as Armada and Privateer I).

Thanks in advance! :)
-HK

Super Wing Commander Cameo In '90s Computer Documentary

"Synthetic Pleasures" is a stylish documentary from 1995 on the nature of VR, robotics, AI and the future. It also has an inexplicable cameo from the Super Wing Commander suit-up and launch sequence. They clearly just liked the visual look, and the game isn't really related in context at all. You can watch the entire documentary on Vimeo, but skip ahead to 44:15 if you just want to see the WC bits. Visit the film's site for more info. It's an interesting perspective to see how they expected things to evolve over the last 20+ years.

Pilgrim Legacy Mod Assets Released

Wojo has spent a lot of time and effort over the last few years crafting a Pilgrim-themed mod for the WC Saga engine. Although he's had some great successes, the overall scope of the project isn't looking achievable given his resources and time. However, rather than just give up on what he's done, he's wrapped up what he's made so far and made it available for other fans to take advantage. He's even offering to help hand over the reigns if someone else is willing to take over, but in the mean time, he's simply releasing what he's done. You can grab his asset pack here (175 meg zipped .vp file). Visit the CIC Forums if you have any questions or comments to follow up with!
A ship pack & mods for Wing Commander Saga, based of the Wing Commander Movie canon.

I'm as done as I ever will be. There were so many grand plans. A custom UI (at one point half completed). Voice acting. Cinematics. A multi-campaign story leading to the Siege of Peron. As it is, the mod is incomplete. There are many bugs with weapons & AI behaviors, and features missing from capital ships (docking & fighterbays). But I have to admit defeat. I just don't have the time and energy to continue, so I thought I'd just release it to the world to play with!

If anyone would like to OFFICIALLY pick up the project, feel free to contact me. I'd like to thank the Hard Light community for many technical solutions, the WCSaga team for their great work as well as the bits & pieces I've borrowed, and of course the WCNews community for keeping me going this far...

Some technical info:

- LODs: I've used them to essentially 'black out' models once you get far away. This was to accompany a feature in the mission design that reduced the radar range, to give an experience much like WC1, where you'll see enemy fighters & ship engine glows before they pop up on radar. This was to avoid using autopilot & build suspense.
- There are still many bugs with capital ship weapons, notably the sloship beam cannon which should only fire along the axis of the craft, and torpedo launchers going all sorts of ways.
- Cargo pod daisy-chaining & docking is extremely sketchy. I never quite got the hang of the docking points so you'll see spinning pods, weird approaches & some really strange behaviour if you destroy docked containers.

A Little Birdie Reveals Upcoming WCSO MUP Plans

There's good news coming out of the Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack project this week. All of the planned capships for the game's upcoming iteration have been completed, so work is proceeding now on wrapping up everything for the next launch. For those interested in the ship-by-ship progress, DefianceIndustries has posted an update here. About 60% of the models have already been upgraded, and much of what remains are starbases, some of the bigger Nephilim ships and a few smaller artifacts. There's also a cool peek at a potential Shrike upgrade. Even though DI made a pretty snazzy one himself a while back, he's put together an even more enhanced update with Howard Day's impressive model below.
...because he was nice and shared his model with me way back, and he's been modeling WC before I knew what a spline was, I replaced my Shrike with Howard Day's version. pics below. Look for it as well as Stingrays and Plunketts and Orcas (Oh my!) in your next upgrade pack release coming soon.

Papercraft Shipyard Upgrades To Polystyrene

Adm_Maverick is taking a break from his Excalibur model to give the Vampire "Class A" space superiority fighter a shot. He's already made a paper version of Pericles' awesome model, so this time he's scaled up the sizes a bit. Cardboard and styrofoam are being used for a larger and heftier result this time around. Some of the details are washed out at the larger size, so it's possible the printed textures will be upscaled later on. As you can clearly see, the fighter's distinctive rotating engine pods are first out of the gate. The plan is for them to move like the real thing, which has taken some redesigning to function, but development remains on track!
So not exactly an update on the Excalibur, but kind of a sister project update to it. Putting the Excalibur on hold for the time due to school demands, but I can't just not work on stuff. So I took Pericles' paper-craft model of the Vampire, upscaled it in photoshop and got to work on it as a styrene model. Basically the same thing I'm working toward as an end result for the Excalibur.

Wing Commander Movie Clip With A Side Of WC3

AD recently recut one of the Wing Commander Movie's featurettes clips with a sampling of George Oldziey's Wing Commander 3/4 music. Although the film's actual soundtrack is pretty great, this is still a neat trick to see how it changes the tone. Since the game music is so ingrained in people's minds, I could see how this might create something of a subconscious linkage to players' cockpit experiences. And whether it does or not, this is a pretty cool behind-the-scenes video that you might not have seen before, so it's definitely worth checking out!
This is the movie's making-of featurette re-edited from the EPK. The visuals aren't too different. Mostly I've changed to music to music from wc3 + 4 thanks to George Oldziey's lovely orchestrations and I've replaced the name title cards with WC1 style font. I really love the movies score but this is just a fun experiment to see how it feels with the game music.

Homeworld Mod Adds WC1/2 Ships

L.I.F. has released the first 'expansion' to his Wing Commander mod for Homeworld Remastered. Since the core game, largely based around WC3/4, has gotten so large, it made sense to build the WC1/2-oriented assets into a separate module. He's affectionately dubbed this new package The Secret Missions. It requires the core Flag Commander mod and the actual Homeworld Remastered game to function. Find more instructions and grab the expansion here. Give it a try and let everyone know what you think!
And after two days of work, it's finally operational again. I had to split up the mod new content in a new additional content pack. So, without further ado, I am glad to present you...

Waterloo Prepares For Battle

Klavs has taken a well earned break from designing real space ships to further expand his Wing Commander fleet. Today's addition is the powerful Waterloo cruiser. We don't get to admire this ship as much as we'd like in WC2, so it's nice to see how fans have taken a liking to it. The detail on the model helps convey the sense of scale, and its twin landing strips look like a lot of fun. Escort carriers get a lot of credit for being the lightweight alternative to the large fleet carriers, but cruisers like the Waterloo did their part too!
The destroyer had taken position above us, in clear space above the gas giant's outer atmosphere.

He had estimated our position within a couple million cubic kilometers. We couldn't manuver without being detected, and he couldn't waste his entire warload on an area that large.

Some genius computer programmer in SysFleet had decided the audio tone for a hostile sensor burst in high EM situations ought to sound like an old fashioned sonar ping.

You know, like in those XXth century movies about pre-hypercavitation, pre-lidar, fossil fuel submarines? Sitting in a tin can, listening helplessly to the sensor pulses that are narrowing down your position with nothing to do but wait for death?

The computer, synthesizing millions of pieces of information pertaining to proximity, bearing and intensity, was helpfully making the sonar pings louder. And louder, and louder. Suddenly, they stopped completely.

The relief of tension on the bridge was palpable. The captain thoughtfully caressed the mute button before turning to me and speaking in a blessedly clear tone.

"Xi, lets go to battle stations, and stand by for a magnum launch. Prepare to secure from silent running. Stand by full thrust."

In my century, pings go both ways.

-Xi Collins, XO, TCS Centurion

WC3 Memory Glitch Got A Clever Cover Up

There’s a well known anecdote from the development of WC1 that talks about how an error message when quitting the game was changed to “Thank you for playing Wing Commander.” That story now has a sequel thanks to a tweet by WC3 programmer Robin Todd! In this case, there was a random crash that was changed to resemble a CD-ROM error. Apparently blaming the new-fangled optical technology was an easy solution, and, fortunately, this error was never prolific and didn’t negatively affect the player experience. It makes a great bit of trivia now!
on Wing Commander 3 we had random memory crash. no time to fix. we re-wrote DOS error table so resulting output would be "CD-ROM read error"

Academy Concept Art Shows Off WC3 Roots

Renowned comic and storyboard artist Tim Eldred has posted a couple of neat pictures to his Instagram. They feature concept sketch work that he did for Wing Commander Academy before the show was made. These were done early in his professional life and ended up influencing the rest of his career. The first shot shows several Confed fighters, including the Arrow and Hellcat that only ended up being featured in the first episode. At this point in development, the idea was that the TV series would primarily feature the cast of WC3 during their Academy years. This leads into the second sketch of the team as pilots, and this includes a young Flint instead of Archer! Very cool. Mr. Eldred is also working on a new graphic sci-fi novel series, Pitsberg, that you can find online here.
Presentation piece for the Wing Commander Academy TV pitch (Universal animation studio), 1996. This lead to my first-ever cartoon gig, and opened the path I'm still on today. #animation #scifi #wingcommander See my current SF webcomic at pitsberg.com!

Delve Deeper Into FM Towns Wing Commander

The amazing Pix of Pix's Origin Adventures is back with a second look at Wing Commander for the Japanese FM Towns system. If you missed his first look, it's worth a read so you can get a better understanding of the hardware and software package that goes into this. Now that he's played the game a bit, he's summarized some of the pros and cons inherent in this fairly advanced port. There are some minor but surprising glitches, although the sound is improved and Japanese pilot voices are pretty cool.
Let’s start with the sound which is where the biggest differences lie. The entire soundtrack is played directly from the CD rather than the MT-32 original. The music hasn’t been rearranged as far as I can tell but simply mapped to another fairly similar synthesizer with some more realistic samples for some instruments than were available on the MT-32. Usually I would always prefer the MT-32 in these circumstances but here the new versions are an improvement. Where they do suffer is by taking about 2 seconds to start each track due to that single speed CD-ROM. This is particularly jarring when the music switches up in combat.

I also prefer the digital sound effects for shooting, space debris etc. It would have been nice if they didn’t always play at the same volume but it’s not a big deal. I even like the Japanese voices for the pilots. The language being unintelligible to myself doesn’t really matter given that there are English subtitles. I do wish they had done a Scottish accent for Paladin just to hear what Scottish Japanese sounded like – probably more convincing than the Scottish American in WC2 I expect. On the whole, the FM Towns wins on the sound front.

Origin Heroes Profiled In New Sketches

Denis Loubet has drawn a new pair of images based on some of his early work at Origin. They depict the twin stars of Ultima and Wing Commander reflecting on the struggles they face. Wingnuts at the CIC Forums helped provide reference material and recommendations on Bluehair's look. It's really cool to see them side by side in a similar style like this, and these works of art would look great framed. Check out the links below for more detail, and note that these are only partial resolution versions. The full res originals are available to Denis' Patreon subscribers.
Out of the blue, just because I wanted to do something for my patrons, comes the Avatar and Bluehair! These two pictures depict introspective studies of our favorite heroes.

The Avatar is recalling all the creatures that have fallen before him who must have had complex inner lives he was not privy to, and questioning the simplicity of the virtues he is sworn to uphold.

Bluehair is recovering from the adrenaline charged chaos of a dogfight, wondering if he made the right choice to join the navy to defend the Terran Confederation from the depredations of the Kilrathi Empire.

Or not. I'm just guessing what's going on in their heads. You should decide for yourself what their grey matter is contemplating.

Many thanks to the Wing Commander CIC forums for their expertise regarding Bluehair's insignia. (Note that I decided to leave Bluehair's name plaque off his jacket because his name isn't really Bluehair, and his name should really be whatever you gave him when you played the game.)

Enjoy, and thank you so much for all your help! :D

--Denis

High Quality Orca Pods Make A Splash

The Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack has another fearsome addition. DefianceIndustries has successfully implemented Dark Sentinel's Orca destroyer. It looks great in the Vision Engine with a blend of distinctive details and elements that shimmer into the starry blackness. There are even pinpricks of light that dot the hull to represent windows, and it's got a couple big plasma cannons as well. This particular ship isn't in the public release yet, but you can fly around with many other upgraded craft in the current beta release here.
Fellow wingnuts - I give you a MUPpetized Orca, courtesy of Dark Sentinel! The learning curve on the bugs for converting capships is a bit steeper than Confed, but now that I've ironed out the wrinkles it should be smoother sailing. The bug destroyer is lean and mean - Also sporting destructible plasma guns (they aren't active but they could be with a tweak to the ship file) a destructible launcher, and some very nice damaged/destroyed meshes. It should look quite satisfactory blown up as well as menacing your Pelicans.

WC Solar Empire Game Now Available To Try

The first playable test release of the Wing Commander Mod for Sins of a Solar Empire has been released! Nomada_Firefox cautions that there are likely to be issues that players encounter, but feedback at this stage is quite valuable and it looks like a pretty cool fleet battle game. Obviously the SoaSE base game is required, and fans can download the files after registering here. Further details are below. A new video has also been posted that shows off the game in action! Check it out for a good idea of what to expect.
Well, I have released the first public version from the mod. You can found it only at my site. Just check the downloads section or this link.

The mod works with the last 1.91 ver from the game Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion, just uncompress it into the Mods-Rebellion v1.85 folder. If you are curious after the 1.85, the game developers did not renamed the number from the mods folder. As you will see the mod replaces the original units by units from Wing Commander universe. There are many things new in the universe as several stations and starships created by myself, mostly with great imagination and modifing other units.

This version can be considered a test version, I do not know what you will find wrong inside. Any bugs can be possible. However, by quantity, this mod is very simple and it should work without problems, even, it will work equal or better than the original game because it does not overload the game.

Well enjoy it.

Wing Commander Available Via Movies Anywhere

Five of the biggest movie studios have surprisingly banded together to fix an annoying aspect of the digital age. As we accumulate movies across different platforms, our library gets scattered and we have to utilize a wide variety of services to see what we own. But now, movies that that were produced by 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Universal, Disney and Sony Pictures and are owned within iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu or Google Play can now be interlinked under an umbrella called Movies Anywhere. And Wing Commander is fortunate enough to be part of this new system! Whatever you own on one of the platforms and from one of the studios mentioned above instantly becomes available on all of the others. It all looks a lot more user-friendly and inclusive than the UltraViolet scheme. There's also several decent free movies that they give you if you sign up now. So if you happened to pick up Wing Commander on sale at one storefront but prefer another, now you're in luck! If you don't yet own it digitally, the going rate is $9.99 at iTunes, Amazon, Vudu or YouTube. Occasional sales can bring the price down to around $7, however lately these have been somewhat fewer and farther between.
Based on the best selling video game, Wing Commander is now a full length action-packed movie! Starship Troopers meets Top Gun in this no-holds-battle for the future of mankind. A vicious alien race, the Kilrathi, has discovered the coordinates to Earth and is heading its way! Now it's up to two young hotshot fighter pilots to blast their way through the Kilrathi's defenses and save their planet from this new breed of enemy.

Homeworld Mod Adds Confed Light Cruiser

The Homeworld Remastered mod has been looking at how to fill a gap in the Confed fleet lineup, and L.I.F. found their solution in the Tolmacs light cruiser. It's a fan design that was donated by Deathsnake after its use in another mod fell through, but the origins actually go back much farther than that... NinjaLA actually came up with the concept in a 2007 sketch for a potential comic. And Howard Day ran with it to create an exquisitely detailed ultra quality model the following year, which we never got around to showing in the news. But Wing Commander fans are resourceful and have long memories, so here we are today with the ship finally seeing broader use and getting more visibility today! It's a neat design with many similarities to both the Bengal and Exeter. It has two stacked launch tubes down the central fuselage for a small fighter contingent and a pretty good conventional armament. Check it out in more detail below:

Games Within Games

Mainstream gaming news site Kotaku has an article that promises a hidden, text-based adventure game hidden inside Wing Commander: Privateer. And it's true! The original Privateer shipped with a small file called TABTNE.VDA. Reversing the filename gave you an executable, ADVENT.BAT... and running that let you play a small, unusual text game called Art D's First Batch Adventure! Origin programmer Arthur DiBianca included a second game, Art D's Next Batch Adventure, with Righteous Fire and then both were included on the CD-ROM version of Privateer. A third and final game, Art D's Third Batch Adventure, was hidden inside Wings of Glory. You can play all three games in your browser at Archive.org (though, be warned: they do not have anything to do with Wing Commander!)

Additionally, a copy of the classic 'Animal Gump' computer guessing game is hidden inside Wing Commander IV. Start a new game, access the terminal as though you were about to select your callsign and type 'animal' while it is starting up (BEFORE you enter your name.) The game will start right there in your browser! Can you teach the Lexington's computer what animal you're thinking of?

Scim Milk

Here's one that goes back a bit: DefianceIndustries, master of the Vision Engine visual Upgrade Pack, happened across a Wing Commander-inspired ship design he'd worked on some years ago: a 'movie' version of the CF-105 Scimitar! It's a pretty neat concept, mixing the classic Scimitar with the look of the movie's Rapier. Scimitars were mentioned as precursors to the movie's Rapiers in the Confederation Handbook's Joan's Fighting Ships section... in fact, it's where the CF-105 designation originates from!

Not News: Space Battleship Yamato

Okay, we're going to level with you on this one: our site's CMS has a section called 'skeleton' where we put ideas for future Wing Commander updates. If we don't have time to write up an article or find screenshots, we'll leave notes for other CIC staff members. We update every day, so we work together to make sure there's something interesting.

So way back in 2009, a live action film adapting the classic Battleship Yamato anime was released in Japan. AD watched a trailer and noticed that it was visually similar to the 1999 Wing Commander movie. He grabbed some screenshots from both the trailer and Wing Commander and put them into our skeleton pile.

And there they sat waiting... and waiting... and waiting. In 2014, the film was released in the United States. But no one wanted to write the Battleship Yamato update. So again it waited... and waited. Now, almost nine years after the film itself came out and with a fervent desire to clear out old updates we present you with... this. Enjoy! It's history's problem now!

Submarines in Space

The Bridge

Shipboard UI

Weapons Systems

Lasers and Torpedoes

Battleships in Space

Will it Blender?

Here's a surprise treat for anyone interested in learning to make their own 3D spaceships: a two-part, 24-minute tutorial showing how to build a Union of Border Worlds Banshee using Blender! These excellent videos were created by a user named 백선모 and it's unclear where they were intended to be published.

Aren't You a Little Star Wars to Blow Up a Fralthra?

In addition to being an extremely talented artist, Howard Day is a man who knows his explosions! Wing Commander II has two sets of 'ship killed' sprites, one for fighters and one for capital ships. As it turns out, both of them were taken straight from the Endor battle in the third Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi. The explosions were likely traced from a home video release (at the time, a tape, laserdisc or CED) and then colored in Wing Commander II's pallete. As they say, great artists steal...

The fighter explosion is taken from a scene in which a crippled TIE Fighter crashes into the superstructure of a Star Destroyer:

The capital ship explosion is taken from a sequence in which the Death Star superlaser destroys a Mon Calamari cruiser. The explosion was rotated horizontally for Wing Commander II (the Star Wars screen has been mirrored for comparison purposes):

Grin and Behr It

Well before Alexa and Siri, before even Merlin there was... Dani! One of the selling points of Privateer 2: The Darkening was that your ship's computer was voiced by British actress and presenter Dani Behr. Veterans of the Tri-System will surely remember an endless stream of "nice shot, Lev"... but we've extracted the audio and found that there are actually 31 different ship's computer phrases. We've extracted the complete set as WAV files and have it available for download here. At the very least, "incoming e-mail" file is one you can enjoy with your PADD... err, smartphone. Here's the complete list of lines:

ARMOUR1 - "Armour damaged"
ARMOUR2 - "Port armour critical"
ARMOUR3 - "Starboard armour critical"
ARMOUR4 - "Forward armour critical"
ARMOUR5 - "Aft armour critical"
ARRIS5 - "Nice shooting"
ARRIS6 - "Great shot, Lev"
ARRIS8 - "Good hit"
ARRIS9 - "Beautiful shot"
CRSEL2 - "Destination selected"
GUNS1 - "Guns overheating"
MISC2 - "Incoming e-mail"
MISC8 - "Impact"
MISNS1 - "Mission complete"
MISNS2 - "Mission succesful"
MISNS3 - "Mission failed"
MISNS10 - "Payment received"
MISSILE1 - "Missile locked"
MISSILE5 - "Incoming missile"
MISSILE6 - "Warning, incoming missile"
SHIELD1 - "Shields damaged"
SHIELD2 - "Port shield critical"
SHIELD3 - "Starboard shield critical"
SHIELD4 - "Forward shield critical"
SHIELD5 - "Aft shield critical"
SPEC6 - "Tractor beam activated"
SPEC7 - "Tractor beam deactivated"
SPEC10 - "Auto-repair system activated"
SPEC11 - "Auto-repair system deactivated"
TARGET2 - "Target destroyed"
TARGET4 - "Target stored"

Ranks in Wing Commander IV

Welcome to the third part of our practical Wing Commander ranks guide! The ranks in Wing Commander IV are most familiar to fans owing to the fact that the game's credits clearly identify many characters' full ranks and the DVD quality videos have allowed them to be carefully observed. But our review found some interesting notes - including a Navy rank not called out before and the fact that some of these are quite different from those seen in Wing Commander III!

Wing Commander IV uses the same rank scheme established in Victory Streak, but it shows a different subset of them. The Union of Border Worlds seems to use the same system as the Confederation. We also see the first Marine rank to appear in the games! Let's have a look...

Space Force

Second Lieutenant (O-1): The Space Force Second Lieutenant insignia is a single gold square. Catscratch wears this insignia in Wing Commander IV. It differs from the version used in Wing Commander III.

First Lieutenant (O-2) or Captain (O3): This Space Force insignia is two gold vertical squares. Since it is not worn by any named characters, it is not clear which rank it represents. This was used as the Major insignia in Wing Commander III, which has changed for Wing Commander IV. Many of the pilots aboard the Lexington wear this rank. Whichever rank it is not is not seen in the game.

Major (O-4): The Space Force Major insignia is a gold rectangle with a vertical part on the right side. This is different from Wing Commander III. Maniac wears a Major's pin.

Lieutenant Colonel (O-5): The Lieutenant Colonel insignia is not seen in Wing Commander IV.

Colonel (O-6): The Space Force Colonel insignia is a gold rectangle with a horizontal part below. This is the same as Wing Commander III. Blair, Seether, Panther and Hawk all wear Colonel insignias.

Flag Ranks: No Space Force flag ranks are seen in Wing Commander IV.

Navy

Ensign, Second Class (O-1) & Ensign (O-2): These ranks do not appear on-screen.

Second Lieutenant (O-3): The Navy Second Lieutenant pin is identical to the Space Force Second Lieutenant insignia, though it represents a different grade. Naismith and a variety of background characters wear the Second Lieutenant rank.

First Lieutenant (O-3): The Navy First Lieutenant pin is identical to the Space Force First Lieutenant or Captain insignia, though it represents a different grade. Sosa and the Intrepid's helmswoman wear the First Lieutenant rank.

Lieutenant Commander (O-4) or Commander (O-5): This Navy insignia is visible on one of the Vesuvius' bridge officers. It is the same design as the Space Force Major (O-4) insignia in silver.

Captain (O-6): The Navy Captain insignia is a solid silver retangle. It is the same as the Captain insignia used in Wing Commander III. Eisen and Paulsen both wear this insignia.

Commodore (O-7) or Rear Admiral (O-8): These ranks are not seen on-screen.

Vice Admiral (O-9): Vice Admiral Wilford wears a rank insignia which seems to be identical to the five squares worn by Admiral (O-10) Tolwyn.

Admiral (O-10): Admiral Tolwyn wears the five silver squares of an Admiral. As with Wing Commander III, the game's production seems to have intended him to be a full Admiral (O-10) while the novel does mention that he is a Rear Admiral (O-8.) Note that this rank insignia is different from that used in Wing Commander III, which was a square with four rectangles rather than five squares.

Space Marshal (O-11): When Admiral Tolwyn is promoted to Space Marshal, he is awarded the medal which he wears around his neck.

Marines

Lieutenant Colonel (O-5): Dekker wears the only Marine rank seen in the game, which seems to be identical to the Space Force Colonel insignia.

Unfortunately, Chris Roberts' Black Lance uniform has no rank insignia! But Wing Commander IV has many extras who wear all varieties of rank pins - so you'll be able to enjoy recognizing what they mean… especially when watched on the higher quality DVD version!

Ranks in Wing Commander III

After learning the rank system for the Wing Commander movie, we decided to take a look back at the full motion video games. We were surprised to find that what we thought we knew wasn't accurate: as it turns out, the ranks used in Wing Commander III are different from those seen in the later games! The ranks in WC3 are harder to track because of the lower quality video, but a careful review can determine them for every character.

Wing Commander III is unique in that it included a comprehensive rank chart in the Victory Streak manual. But very few of the ranks included on the chart appear in the game. According to records from the set, six types of pins were purchased for the production and they were used to represent eight different ranks. Two services are represented, the Terran Confederation Navy (capital ship crewmen such as Tolwyn, Eisen and Rollins) and the Terran Confederation Space Force (Blair and his wingmen.) Navy ranks are inspired by the United States Navy, while Space Force ranks are based on those used by the Air Force. Both services uses the same insignias, with Navy ranks in silver and Space Force ranks in gold. Let's take a look…

Space Force

Second Lieutenant (O-1): The Space Force Second Lieutenant insignia is a rectangle followed by a square. Vagabond and Vaquero are both dressed as Second Lieutenants.

First Lieutenant (O-2): The Space Force First Lieutenant insignia is the reverse of the Second Lieutenant pin: a square followed by a rectangle. Flint is a First Lieutenant.

Captain (O-5): This rank does not appear on-screen.

Major (O-4): The Space Force Major insignia is two vertical squares. Maniac and Flash are both Majors, and Cobra incorrectly wears a Major's insignia (she is referred to as Lieutenant in both the manual and the game's cutscenes.)

Lieutenant Colonel (O-5): The Space Force Lieutenant Colonel is two wide, horizontal rectangles, with the smaller of the two at the bottom. Hobbes is the only Lieutenant Colonel seen in Wing Commander III.

Colonel (O-6): The Space Force Colonel insignia is the reverse of the Lieutenant Colonel badge. Blair and Angel both wear Colonel's insignias.

Brigadier General (O-7), Lieutenant General (O-8), Major General (O-9): These ranks do not appear on-screen.

General (O-10?): The Space Force General insignia is a gold square surrounded by smaller rectangles on every side. Paladin wears this insignia in Wing Commander III. Like the movie, the game does not seem to distinguish between flag ranks. According to the novelization, Taggart should be a Brigadier General (O-7.)

Navy

Ensign, Second Class (O-1) & Ensign (O-2): These ranks do not appear on-screen.

Second Lieutenant (O-3) or First Lieutenant (O-3): This unidentified Navy Lieutenant insignia is identical to the Space Forces Second Lieutenant pin, although it represents a different grade (O-3 rather than O-1.) Radio Rollins is a Navy Lieutenant. The version not represented is not visible in the game.

Lieutenant Commander (O-4) & Commander (O-5): These ranks do not appear on-screen.

Captain (O-6): The Navy Captain (equivalent in standing to Colonel Blair) is a solid silver rectangle. Captain Eisen wears this insignia.

Commodore (O-7), Rear Admiral (O-8) & Vice Admiral (O-9): These ranks do not appear on-screen.

Admiral (O-10): The Navy Admiral insignia is a silver version of the Space Force General rank. Tolwyn ears this insignia in Wing Commander III. It's not entirely clear what his specific flag rank should be; he is generally referred to as Admiral (O-10) in Wing Commander III-related material, though he is said to be wearing a Rear Admiral (O-8)'s uniform in the later Wing Commander IV novelization.

Space Marshal (O-11): This rank does not appear on-screen.

So what does THIS knowledge let you know? That Chris Roberts was also a Second Lieutenant in the Space Forces in Wing Commander III!

Ranks in the Wing Commander Movie

I was disappointed in myself recently when I realized I had never bothered to learn the rank insignias used in the Wing Commander movie. Just like the full motion video games, Chris Roberts' team developed an entire system of rank insignias that was never explained… just shown in action! AD was kind enough to grab some screenshots and as a result we have created this guide to identifying officers and enlisted men in the film.

Previous Wing Commander games have used Air Force style ranks for most pilots and Navy style ranks for shipboard officers (like Admiral Tolwyn.) The movie drops this conceit and instead seems to use a variation of the US Navy's rank structure (with some changes; the retired Commodore rank is still used.) You can find the previous Wing Commander rank chart from Victory Streak here. What follows are the officer ranks visible in the film:

Lieutenant (Junior Grade) (O-2/O-3): Blair and Maniac, newly arrived on the Tiger Claw, wear a single stripe. Note that Tolwyn erroneously refers to them as First Lieutenants at one point in the film; Blair correctly identifies himself as a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) when he reports to Commander Gerald.

Lieutenant (O-3): Two stripes denote a Lieutenant. Many of the Tiger's Claw pilots, including Hunter and Rosie, wear this insignia… as do several members of the crew, including Lieutenant Obutu (pictured.)

Lieutenant Commander (O-4): Angel, intended to be the Tiger's Claw's Wing Commander in the film, wears three bars. (She would later be retconned to be one of several squadron commanders aboard the ship.)

Commander (O-5): Commander Gerald, XO of the Tiger Claw, wears the same three bar insignia as Lieutenant Commander Devereaux.

Captain (O-6): Captain Sansky of the Tiger Claw wears four bars.

Commodore (O-7): Commodore is an unusual rank which does not exist in the current United States Navy schema (it was replaced by Rear Admiral (Lower Half) and is now used as an honorary title for Captain who commands multiple other Captains.) In previous Wing Commander games, Commodore is treated as a standard rank. While we see two Commodores in the film, Taggart does not wear a uniform; Tolwyn's adjutant Bellegarde has the same four bars as Captain Sansky.

Admiral (O-10): Two Admirals appear in the film: Tolwyn and Wilson, the commander of Pegasus. Both wear five bars. In reality and in previous Wing Commanders there are several different types of Admirals including Rear, Vice and full. (Tolwyn is first referred to as a Vice Admiral in Secret Missions 2, though historically he should be only a Commodore around the time of the movie.)

Enlisted Ranks

Wing Commander does not introduce many enlisted characters and previous productions did not devise rank insignias for them (Rachel Coriolis holds the rank of Chief Petty Officer in Wing Commander Prophecy, but has no apparent rank insignia.) The movie changes this for the better, with square sets of bars to denote enlisted ranks. Servicemen with one, two, three and four bars are visible at various times and we know that three bars refers to "Spaceman Second Class" as it is worn by Miguel Rodriguez who is named in the script.

Victory Streak did establish both Naval and Space Forces enlisted ranks for Wing Commander III, but the chart does not include a Spaceman Second Class. Similarly, the 'real world' US Navy ranks do not have an apparent direct equivalent (there's both a Seaman and a Petty Officer Second Class, but no Seaman Second Class.)

So what power does this new-found knowledge give you? You can now read the ranks of background characters in the movie! For example, Chris Roberts chose a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) badge for his cameo:

Wing Commander Academy in Arabic

Some time ago we reported that Wing Commander Academy had been translated and broadcast on TV in Arabic. Now streaming service Star Dima has the episodes available for viewing online! You can access the series here. Recreation (Episode 8) is not included for some reason, but it is available on YouTube here. We have added copies to the WCNews archive for preservation.

This version of the show is fascinating; the voice work seems to be on point, it has new Arabic language graphics in places and the content has been edited slightly in places; On Both Your Houses, for instance, is noticeably shorter becauses the scene of Archer in her nightgown has been shortened and the scene of Dr. Sing in her bikini is removed entirely. Most interesting of all, however, is the music. It is apparently an original song created for the show! The intro footage is even extended so the entire song can play. An anonymous benefactor was kind enough to translate the lyrics:

Fly Soar
Like an eagle
Growl Roar.. Decimate evil
Fly Soar
You are the toughest
Quenched your thirst from the fountain of courage
The enemy of virtue ..a bully
Tyrannical catastrophic malicious unjustly
Clear sky is now bloody
Maneuver aim
Incinerate the enemy
Roar Growl
So our sky is clear again
Fly

You can listen to the song isolated here:

Back to the Shack

RadioShackCatalogs is an excellent resource for nostalgia-craving tech fans! The site offers high quality scans of 66 years worth of Radio Shack catalog. We've done the hard work for you, though, and have located the one listing for a Wing Commander game: Wing Commander III in the 1996 catalog! Chris Roberts' Strike Commander appears in the 1993 catalog, which was at the time an especially important new distribution deal for Origin.

Happy Hour Museum: Wing Commander IV

I was once again recently lucky enough to spend an hour in the Wing Commander universe at my day job! Last week's RSI Happy Hour Museum segment covered the development of Wing Commander IV. Enjoy!

Playboy on Wing Commander

Playboy Magazine was in the news last week following the death of founder Hugh Hefner. In his honor, we've dug up scans from the magazine referencing Wing Commander. (Sorry, no naked ladies!) The first, a review of Wing Commander III comes from the May 1995 issue. This review was actually somewhat feted by Origin, who referenced it in marketing material for the sequel! The second is a blink-and-you-miss-it mention of the upcoming Wing Commander film from the August 1998 issue (which we actually reported on the day the site opened!)

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