This category discusses the controls, displays and general systems layout found in the Viper Mk II cockpit.
This image is from the CGI texture map which was created from photos taken by the VFX crew of the Hero Viper mock-up.
Blueprints drawn up by Neville Conway in 2003 were the back bone for creating the cockpit section of the Hero filming version of the Viper Mk II.
Evolution of Forward Console and Helm Controls
The lower half of the Forward Console and the Helm Control pedestal changed during the series. The following image from the Miniseries shows the first iteration of the lower half of the Forward Console and pedestal. This version of the cockpit is known for the large static Artificial Horizon Indicator, Flight Board (a.k.a. pilot check lists) and three Thruster Pressure Gauges for the main engines just forward of the thruster control stick.
Starting about halfway through Season 3 the Forward Console was modified. This version shows that the large static Artificial Horizon Indicator is now replaced with an actual artificial horizon and the Flight Board (a.k.a. pilot check lists) are now replaced with a smaller Multisystem Auxiliary Display screen. The three Thruster Pressure Gauges for the main engines are still present at this time.
In Season 4 the Helm Control pedestal was shortened — essentially removing the three Thruster Pressure Gauges for the main engines – and the whole assembly was moved forward in the cockpit.
Long Range Navigational Display (a.k.a. HUD – Head-Up Display)
Long Range Navigational Display is a basic instrument in the modern Viper fighter which lets the pilot monitor important flight and targeting information without having to regularly glance down at the Forward Console Displays, thus losing visual contact with important objects in front of the aircraft.
The following photo shows the Long Range Navigational Display as it was sold during the BSG auction. This display was replaced with a dedicated housing for the Gravity Meter, which is discussed later. As you can see in the following photo the Gravity Meter’s wiring is routed through the bottom plate of the display Housing. The static Long Range Navigational graphic is illuminated from the back side by a small fluorescent light fixture (not seen).
The following image is the static graphic used in the Long Range Navigational Display from the Miniseries till late Season 3.
In Season 3 Episode 16 “Dirty Hands” the Viper’s Long Range Navigational Display was redesigned to more closely match the Forward Console set-up from the stand-alone cockpit set.
The following blueprint shows the redesigned console with one main Gravity Meter analog gauge and two Hydraulic pressure gauges instead of the static video screen from the previous version.
The Thruster Control Stick forms part of the Helm Control system, which enables the pilot to operate the Viper Mk II in high-pressure situations that require lighting-quick reflexes. The Central Stick manages the thrust of the main engines. Pushing forward increases thrust and pulling back decreases thrust. In addition to controlling the Mk II’s engine thrust, the stick contains many of the switches that allow the pilot to control weapons and sensors.
This photo from the BSG Auction clearly shows the Thruster Control Stick is a computer flight simulator joystick. Note that the Auto Acquisition Switch — middle thumb button on left of grip — is missing. This button broke off sometime in Season 4.
The Viper Mk II mock-up uses a PC video game joystick modeled after the Control Column from an F-15 Eagle Fighter Jet. The exact model used is the Suncom F-15E Talon™ PC Joystick with 12 buttons. The photo below shows a pristine model with original box.
An earlier version of the same joystick made by Suncom, the F-15E Hawk™ Tactical Control Stick model#96-6615, is essentially identical in shape and layout of the Talon stick but does not have a red LED above the middle “castle switch.” These joysticks are no longer being made and were highly coveted by combat flight-sim gamers at one time.
The base of the joystick was enclosed in a hardboard box with decorative groove which mimics the base of the Talon joystick. There are actually two versions of this enclosure. In the Miniseries and Season 1 the base had three analog dial gauges just in front of the control stick. Sometime in Season 2 or 3 the gauges were removed and the entire base was moved forward several inches closer to the instrument panel.
RCS (Reaction Control System) Control Stick
Pitch (nose-up or nose-down), roll (tilting left or right), yaw (nose-left or nose-right), and other Reaction Control Systems (RCS) are managed by the Port side stick. Reaction Control System, most commonly referred to as RCS, is a set of small propellant-fueled thrusters used for orienting vessels in the vacuum of space.
The Viper’s RCS Control Stick is a PC video game joy-stick made by InterAct Game Products. This particular joy-stick is the “PC Commander Plus” model. This same style joy-stick was also produced for the European market under license by Saitek as the X7-34 model.
Weapons System Panel
The port side Weapons System Panel is a horizontal panel placed on the left side of the pilot cockpit at thigh level, between the pilot’s ejection seat and the cockpit wall. Fire control is managed by the port side panel. Weapons cycling and settings are here.
The following photo shows the port side Weapons System Panel just forward of the RCS Control Stick.
The Weapons System Panel is sourced from a real world “C” Format video tape editor from the early 1980′s called the AMPEX VPR-80. The front control panel is the only part used from the VPR-80 editor.
Unlike other electronic GAK used by the Production Department, this panel did not have any of the text or buttons covered with stickers to Galactiquise the piece. Although, the edge panels were painted flat black to better blend in with the cockpit color scheme.
Terrell ES 24C Ejection Seat
Tough and supportive, the Terrell ES 24C Ejection Seat seat is rotationally molded from a high-density polyethylene plastic for rugged durability and light weight construction. This combat proven seat features full back and double-wall construction giving you the back, side, and lumbar support you need. Seat covers are made from heavy vinyl with thick foam padding. Providing durability and comfort for those long patrol missions or while in the heat of combat against the Cylons.
The seat used in the Viper Mk II is an after market racing seat. The particular model is the “Poly Baja High Back Seat” model number RCI8000S made by Racers Choice Inc. (RCI). The head rest of the seat was cut off and the cover folded over to fit in the cockpit.
The corresponding seat cover is made by RCI as well — model number RCI8001S.
Ejection Seat Harness
All Terrell ES 24C Ejection Seats are provided with an integrated pilot restraint harness. Belts are secured by a latch-style buckle. Strong, compact, and allows you to tell at a glance if the belts are locked before you are launched out of a Battlestar launch tube.
The pilot restraint harness used in the “hero Viper” is made by RCI. It is a standard 5 Point 3″ (three inch) dual shoulder latch release harness — model number RCI9210D — with black webbing.
Benjamin Moore - philipsburg blue HC 159 base coat in semi-gloss with 423 Stays Clear low lustre waterbased polyurethane overcoat with fine silver powder. This colour is used on the instrument panel, HUD, and control stick pedestal.
Benjamin Moore – Dark ballgown 2120-30 base coat in matte finish with 422 Stays Clear high gloss waterbased polyurethane overcoat with fine silver powder. This colour is used on the side control panels of the cockpit — starting at the canopy sill and extending down to the floor.
(Note: Although the paint department labeled the colour “Dark Ballgown” in 2003, this particular paint name is no longer used by Benjamin Moore and is now called “witching hour”.)