Viper Design

The evolution of the Viper Mk II design we see in the MiniSeries pays homage to the Original Battlestar Galactica Viper from 1978.  Credit must be given to Ralph McQuarrie for creating the original Viper design. This is one of McQuarries Battlestar Galactica concept paintings illustrating the Viper design.

Ralph McQuarrie Viper concept painting,

MiniSeries Concepts

Some of the first concepts for the re-imagined Mk II were quickly sketched out by Eric Chu.

Viper concept drawn by Eric Chu,

The caption on the sketch reads:

This is a modern version of the Viper (50 Years Advanced). It should be sleek and stealthy. After the Cylon attack it will be modified with mechanical actuators much like the old style Viper. 24 foot in length.

Eric Chu’s sketch harks back to one of the Viper concepts first drawn by McQuarrie back in 1978.

McQuarrie Viper sketch 1978,

When the concept designs were given over to Zoic to flesh out, Charles Ratteray made a pass at the design but Visual Effects Supervisor Gary Hutzel wasn’t yet happy with the concept. This concept looks to be a hybrid design taking elements of Eric Chu’s Viper sketch and of Nathan Schroder’s “Scorpion” (Mk VII) design.

Charles Ratteray Viper Concept Sketch 2003,

About the same time Hutzel’s team was designing Viper concepts, the Warthog Games VFX team in the UK had already fleshed out striking in-game Viper designs for the upcoming Battlestar Galactica video game being published by Vivendi/Universal Games for PS2 and XBox.

In early January 2003 Gary Hutzel was introduced to a Viper design created by Eden FX artist Pierre Drolet for the upcoming Warthog BSG video game cinematics. Pierre’s redesign of the classic Viper was so well received by Hutzel that it was adopted as the basis of the new Viper Mk II.

Pierre recounts his fathering of the Mk II design…

Sometime in 2002 EdenFx got the contract to do the animation cut scenes for the upcoming Battlestar Galactica video game. I used to watch the original series when I was young and it was a big deal for me when they asked me to build the Viper Mark II. [Warthog Games] gave us a very boxy low-res polygon as reference.

Warthog Games in game Viper,

The game was obviously in a very early design stage and that played in my favor to come up with a new design. I wanted to be respectful for the great Ralph McQuarrie original design by not going to far out. I had only one week to design, build and texture the new Viper Mark II. Fortunately for me the client liked it and they ended up using a low res version of it also for the game play.

Viper cinematics for video game,

About a year later I received a phone call from the Visual Effects Supervisor Gary Hutzel of the upcoming Battlestar Galactica TV series. If I remember well, he was not happy with the concept his art department came up with for the new look of the Viper Mark II. He heard about the model I did for the video game, and he asked me if I can send him some images of it.

Pierre Drolet Viper design for Eden FX,

He liked it and bought it from EdenFX. So, from my CG model, they built two real full size Viper Mark II. My CG model was pretty big and when they built the real full size model, they sized down about twenty five percent and rounded up the front engine intake. This is why the cockpit canopy looks too big for the mainframe. Those were the most noticeable changes compared from the Viper of the video game. 


†. Drolet, P. Viper Mark II, Backstory. Retreived March 6th 2013, from