Form up, Wing Commander fans! Tonight we're taking a look at some spaceships that never were: the ones that were being built for Privateer 3 when it was cancelled in 1998. Thanks to years of game archaeology, we know quite a bit about them!
The CRUSADER (sometimes called FURY) was shaping up to be the big hero ship, equivalent to the Centurion:
Here's a shot of the Crusader in the game engine (a development of Prophecy's Vision technology):
The Crusader is actually 'canon' since EA reused its artwork for a recruiting ad in Star*Soldier. The concept artist, Ruben Garza, also submitted it to an art book called Spectrum 6 where it was printed as "Privateer--Black Star". (Available on Amazon!)
I should also mention the origin of the name! Privateer 3 was being developed by Origin's Loose Cannon team which had previously develoed the Crusader series of games.
Next up we have the VAKTOTH which is slotted here as a Kilrathi light fighter. This ship was by Art Wong and the final render with the planets is called "Space Odyssey".
It's certainly different from the Vaktoth heavy fighter from Wing Commander III, though! Part of that is the fact that the playable ships were intended to visibly change as you customized their equipment (something the first two Privateers did not do).
Here are a pair of concepts for a modular Border Worlds fighter by Ruben Garza. You can see how different sections could be easily changed out.
Speaking of the Border Worlds, here's their ALTAIR class light fighter. You know I love the twin cockpits and you can really see the Banshee influence.
This bulk freighter is alternatively called the DRAYMAN or the SARTHORI in different drafts.
It wouldn't be the first time Wing Commander redesigned the Drayman, though!
Here's the NEMESIS heavy fighter which would've been roughly equivalent to the Crusader seen earlier.
Some of the potential customization options for the Nemesis, including different liveries!
And what were those Nemeses attacking? The mighty Confederation MANOWAR battle carrier! (Fans would have absolutely been obsessing over whether or not this was 'Omega' from Fleet Action...)
Here's HYPERION, one of the game's space stations. That's the last ship we have lore for but we have surviving concept art of several others...
Here's the Kilrathi DEMON fighter along with livery and weapon customization options.
And here's how the mesh would change based on what type of engines you have installed (ion, pulsar and SD pulsar in these examples).
A single render survives of the DRALTHI V, which would've joined probably the most storied series of ships in Wing Commander history. We don't have space for every previous Dralthi here but you can find them all in this post.
Rounding out the Kilrathi fighter force, this is the TRAKET heavy fighter:
The furballs also get a carrier/battleship called HADES which would've been part of the game's story missions.
This Kilrathi science station, KRONOS, would've been central to the game's plot as it was (sigh) where a Kilrathi warlord was trying to use a Steltek time machine to resurrect Kilrah.
You can spot this one in the background of several of the other renders. It's called the AURORA and it seems to be a light freighter similar to the Galaxy from the original game.
Finally, the ships here under attack by Trakets in this in--engine shot remain unidentified. Some sort of nimble light fighter, by the looks of things!
I lied! The smaller transorts in this composition (two astride the center Drayman) also haven't been identified. You can see they were also reusing the Piranha mesh from Wing Commander Prophecy.
That's the post! If I could leave you with one closing thought it would be: Privateer 3 looked amazing and I hope the jerks that cancelled it get eaten by birds. I leave you with one crazy Drayman render: