By DJ Forrest
UNIT’s greatest weapon designed by an evil genius!
I wanted to be able to lift the lid on the Valiant and peer into the various rooms and corridors, right down to the engine room, weapons rooms, open the casings and peer inside, twiddle a few levers and get a feel for the entire ship as a whole. Alas, there isn’t a Haynes manual for the Valiant, as there is for the TARDIS, Millennium Falcon and Death Star. So I had to come up with an alternative.
Searching for data on the Valiant is extremely difficult as little is known about this warship of the skies, aside from a few small paragraphs in various encyclopaedias and DVD files along with a few photographs.
When you look at the concept art for the Valiant designed by Peter McKinstry, you get to imagine just how big this ship is. This is far larger than the standard warship we’ve seen crossing the Atlantic; it even appears larger than the super carrier, the USS Nimitz. But the Nimitz itself does give us something to work with.
The USS Nimitz, a modern day super carrier is the heaviest warship of its class beating that of the USS Enterprise (not Captain Kirk’s ship) and comes in with a surface displacement of 100,000 tonnes.
In the 1990’s a concept was considered by the American Navy for a mobile offshore floating base (MOB) as large as 10 standard aircraft carriers. It would mean that planes could land anywhere throughout the world’s oceans, avoiding all requirements to seek permission to put down on land. But it was going to cost a considerable amount of money and so in 2001 the idea was scrapped.
In ‘The Sound of Drums’ President Winters of the United States, had instructed that the meeting with the Toclafane would not be held on sovereign territory, this led me to believe that he meant on land. This was not the case. Sovereign territory is the term used to relate to warships or aircraft carriers in the oceans, which are bases in their own rights; it’s only when they come close to land that they have to seek permission to enter that region.
This is where the Valiant avoids all such permission. Who owns the skies above the Earth?
The Valiant could be considered to be the future of mobile offshore bases; it’s off shore in all manners of the word. It’s almost off planet!!!
So what makes it different to a super carrier warship?
First we have to look at the USS Nimitz to get a broader idea.
The USS Nimitz stands 20 stories above the water and reaches the colossal length of 1,092 feet which is 333metres from bow to stern. Or to get another perspective, is the height of the 77 story Chrysler Building if it were laid lengthways across the super carrier. It’s also 77metres wide from port to starboard.
The Valiant looks as if it would more than quadruple the size of the USS Nimitz going by the artwork of Peter McKinstry.
The USS Nimitz super carrier caters for a lot of people; up to 6,000 live and work aboard the ship. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Not to mention the pilots and the passengers aboard the aeroplanes. The USS Nimitz can carry 90 aircraft. So you can imagine that the Valiant, in its vastness could cater for a lot more staff, even if we didn’t see many of them aboard the ship during both episodes involving the Master, inside or on the flight deck.
Protection of the ship’s hull is vitally important especially in battle. The hull of the USS Nimitz is made up of extremely strong steel plates measuring several inches thick. This can protect it against fire and damage during battle. The hull portion below the water line is narrow and rounded; the lower section has a double bottom, which is double plated. The reason for this is if it is torpedoed, through the outer layer, the inner layer will prevent massive leakage.
Although we cannot say for certain what the Valiant is made from, it is possible to assume it could have been created from something similar to that of alien technology and alien metals, as the fierce attack upon it during the Dalek invasion in ‘Stolen Earth’, would have destroyed a normal warship, but it took many hits before the Valiant finally went down.
There are various viewpoints regarding what happened to the Valiant during the dogfight in ‘Stolen Earth.’ One suggests it gave the order to abandon ship after receiving heavy enemy fire, another suggests that after suffering damage, the ship was destroyed and all hands on deck were lost, but another says it landed over abandoned farmland but was still heavily fired upon.
As we’ve already seen, the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz is the largest aircraft super carrier of its class. Given its weight, it would require one hell of a lot of power to move it gracefully through the water at speeds in excess of 56kph.
The USS Nimitz is one of a handful of nuclear powered warships currently owned by the American Navy.
The Valiant’s firepower comes from a Jathaa Sunglider – an alien space craft that flew over the Shetland Islands 10 years before the Battle of Canary Wharf. Shot down by Torchwood, it was later stripped of its resources, and the weaponry salvaged was used against the Sycorax space ship on Christmas Day, just as it was leaving Earth’s airspace.
This firepower was used again onboard the Valiant in the destruction of the ATMOS factory during the Sontaran invasion (Poison Sky).
The UNIT vessel was the creation and design of one man, Harold Saxon. When gaining power he became involved in the Ministry of Defence, thus having the power to control the decisions of UNIT, not for the safety of the human race, but for his own means, by using the aircraft carrier for his own Time Lord Empire that he was building on Earth.
Because they’re nuclear powered, steam turbines help to power these aircraft carriers such as the USS Nimitz through the water at speeds up to 35 knots, or 40mph (64kph). This means they could arrive at their destination across the ocean in just a few weeks.
The Valiant is just as fast, powering through the sky with limitless ease and even engaging in dogfights (Stolen Earth).
Lifting the Lid
Taking the outer cover off the aircraft super carriers, the Nimitz and the Valiant, we can take a look at what dwells beneath the flight deck. Note that the only part we could locate any real indication of what was inside the Valiant is that of the flight deck command station left of the flight deck. We can only surmise that what goes on above and below the flight deck is standard for all aircraft carriers.
Onboard a super carrier such as the USS Nimitz, weaponry is housed all around the ship, at the bows and sterns, below deck and on the flight deck itself. Onboard the Valiant, things are slightly different, and the firepower is extremely different too. Aboard the Valiant your targets don’t often come from below, more often they come from above and from paradox worlds and the Medusa Cascade where the Earth was transported to during ‘Stolen Earth’.
If you look at the inside of an aircraft super carrier you will notice it covers the entire ship in detail. We would therefore assume that the lights and station at the other side of the Valiant were for storage and for cabins for the 6000 plus crew. If we are to assume also that the Valiant is much larger than the USS Nimitz, then we’re looking at more than triple the amount of people working and living aboard the UNIT ship.
So let’s look at the interior of the Valiant.
(A) Operations Deck
The nerve centre and attack station, is located on the second floor of the flight deck command station, and situated beneath the Control Deck. It is manned by UNIT, Royal Navy and Department C-19 personnel.
(B) The Bridge
As with any ship, this is where the Captain is in control of the vessel. It’s also where the Master and Lucy saw the arrival of the Toclafane and where Martha and Tish saw the Toclafane hurtle back in order to protect the Paradox Machine.
(C) The Control Room
This is where President Winters was assassinated, where Captain Jack Harkness was killed by laser screwdriver (The Sound of Drums), where the Doctor was reduced to an old man (The Sound of Drums) before being punished after attempting an escape plan and reduced to a small goblin like figure and kept in a cage just for show (Last of the Time Lords) and where the Master was shot and killed by Lucy Saxon when the illusion was broken.
(D) Multifunction Masts
The masts contain the antennae that link to the worldwide defence grid, the Archangel Network and the Guinevere Space Program.
(E) Sonar Array
This is the most enhanced sonar suite combat system on the planet.
(F) Sonar Hub
This stores over 10,000 hydrophones for long range sonic detection.
(G) Executive Lounge
This would host functions for VIP’s such as the US President and other dignitaries. It comes complete with a bar.
(H) Level 4 Prison hold
This is the area of the ship that held Captain Jack Harkness chained and tortured for a year.
(I) Reactor Feed
This channels energy from the Valiant’s own onboard nuclear power plant.
(J) Galley and Mess
The kitchen and dining hall are for the Valiant’s crew. The logos adorning the uniforms and the walls are Gallifreyan, a symbol of the new Time Lord Empire.
(K) Recessed Cannon
Concealed aboard the Valiant are the weapons including powerful and flexible battery guns.
Housed beneath the Valiant are the laser cannons taken from the crashed Jathaa sunglider. This was used against the Sontaran’s ATMOS factory on Earth, using the same principal as that of the Torchwood attack on the Sycorax. The laser cannons blast consists of several beams of green light focused on a single column for the maximum impact.
I hope this gives you more of an insight into how the Valiant operates.
Peter McKinstry artwork
©BBC Doctor Who 1963
Doctor Who Encyclopedia BBC 2009
Doctor Who A Definitive Guide to Time and Space