In the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the crew of the USS Enterprise travels into Earth’s past to find extinct humpback whales. (Long story involving an alien probe.) While thrilling, the plot raises a highly technical—and nerdy—question: Could Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk and company really have fit two humpbacks into a Klingon Bird-of-Prey? YouTuber and artist EC Henry gives us an answer to that dire(!) question in a new video.
EC Henry, a mega-nerd of the highest order, posted the above meditation on The Voyage Home to his channel. The YouTuber has offered an astounding collection of glimpses into the highly technical aspects of popular sci-fi universes. EC has, for example, figured out how huge the Enterprise-D really is. As well as how to apply hyperdrive rings to TIE fighters from Star Wars.
To find the answer to this particular nerdy question, EC looked at the Klingon Bird-of-Prey in a number of its appearances, including ones in both The Voyage Home and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. He also used a model of the Klingon warship artist and 3D modeler Chris Khun produced as a reference.
As for the number of whales a Bird-of-Prey could fit? EC thinks two is indeed possible. Using the warship’s appearances on-screen and the model, the YouTuber ultimately pins its length at 65 meters (about 213 feet). With a hull that’s at least 65 feet long and 30 feet wide. This not only makes it large enough for two humpback whales but also roughly the size of the actual set The Voyage Home special effects crew built onto a real aquarium to shoot scenes inside the warship’s hull.
Obviously, if EC found that two humpback whales couldn’t fit in a Star Trek Bird-of-Prey, it wouldn’t matter that much. (Again, only mega nerds will look into this stuff.) But it’s always fantastic to see filmmakers pay attention to the details. Especially when lovers of franchises and physics are out there checking their math.