While Glen A. Larson’s original Battlestar Galactica may seem a little cheesy when viewed through cynical 21st-century eyes, it still had a helluva lot going for it. That incredible theme composed by Larson and Stu Phillips. There was the effects work by John Dykstra. And there was a foundation built by, among others, concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. With a per-episode budget of a then-unthinkable $1 million or more, Battlestar Galactica hoped to right the wave of excitement kicked up by Star Wars, and so Larson and company had the canny idea to hire McQuarrie to help imagine what the world of BSG would look like. He helped create the look of the ragtag fleet and the Viper starfighters that defended it, but they almost looked very different.
Below is a McQuarrie image showing the Viper BSG fans know and love, a design that was changed very little when it came time for Ronald D. Moore to reboot the series for The Sci-Fi Channel a few years back. It’s sleek shape is perfectly suited for those unforgettable sequences where the Vipers rocket down the Galactica’s launch tubes.