There's a little error in the intro to Super Wing Commander. Paladin reports that his wing is "approaching Fralthi target" when what they're actually attacking what immediately turns out to be a Snakeir carrier.
You can watch the full intro here. An even dorkier continuity error is that the intro can't happen BEFORE WC1 because the Rapiers, Fralthi and Snakeir are the (only) specific ships that are introduced as being brand new during the game.
So wondering if there was a story here, I went back to access the 3D models used to render Super Wing Commander's ships. SNAKEIR.OBJ is the carrier (later reused by Armada as the Shiraak) but FRALTHI.OBJ is... this:
I forgive you if you don't know the Super Wing Commander Fralthi redesign by heart, so here it is from the manual:
Is it just a case of giving up on one concept and switching to another for the actual game? Well, I found another piece of the puzzle: here's a gameplay shot from the Super Wing Commander trailer. A Rapier attacking the mystery ship!
Here's that trailer:
So I kept looking through the original models until I found where the 'new' Fralthi originated. It's saved the same date (so it's not a later substitution) as the others... and it's named SPIKERI.OBJ.
The unused/cut Fralthi is a pretty detailed model as far as SWC objects go, complete with textured interior bays that would never have been visible when rendered for the game.
It also has another ridiculous secret: it's a Sabre! Whoever built this cruiser started with Wing Commander II's Sabre 3D model, clipped the wings and went to town. The intakes became launch tubes!
So stepping back: what's a Spikeri? It actually comes from the original Wing Commander where it was concepted as the Kilrathi corvette. It even has stats in the published wc.exe, there just isn't a ship file with graphics included for it (and no mission spawns it).
For Wing Commander I, Glen Johnson concepted 22 ships and an outsource company in New York turned his 2D artwork (as seen in Claw Marks) into 3D objects (which were then rendered at different angles for the finished game). But to save space, five of these designs were cut! Four of these immediately appeared in the first mission disk: the human corvette and tanker and the Kilrathi freighter and dreadnaught. But the Spikeri did not! The Kilrathi wouldn't get a proper corvette until the Kamekh in Wing Commander II.
So what happened to the Spikeri art? We come full circle, because it was reused in The Secret Missions 2... as the first appearance of the Snakeir, the ship from the Super Wing Commander intro! Look closely, it's not a huge carrier, it has a large visible cockpit...
Wait a minute, then the Kamekh corvette model from Wing Commander II is retextured for Privateer... and then just like the Sabre it had it's wings cut off for Super Wing Commander where it became... THE SNAKEIR! We're through the looking glass here, people.