(covers information from several alternate timelines)
This type of craft, initially descended from its counterpart from a century earlier, was one of the most versatile warships employed by the Empire, serving a variety of mission roles, including that of a scout, raider, patrol ship, and cruiser.
The Klingons applied several class designations to the different types of their Bird-of-Prey design, including the K'vort-class, B'rel-class and D12-class.
By the 2360s, it was not uncommon to find a B'rel-class Bird-of-Prey stripped and relegated to a surplus yard. Ferengi DaiMon Lurin acquired two of these vessels, complete with cloaking devices, and managed to make them space worthy once again, after a few repairs and the addition of some weapons. (TNG: "Rascals")
In an alternate timeline, the K'Vort-class was referred to as a battle cruiser, and was larger than its "prime universe" counterpart. While slower than the Galaxy-class battleships of the era, in a three-to-one confrontation, a Galaxy-class was not able to last long. (TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise")
Starfleet continued to possess knowledge of the Bird-of-Prey during the 2280s. Hikaru Sulu was among those familiar with the class at that time, since he was capable of visually identifying a Bird-of-Prey, as well as being familiar with its crew complement. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
A well-publicized encounter with a Bird-of-Prey occurred in 2285, when a Bird-of-Prey commanded by Kruge conducted a mission to uncover the secrets of Project Genesis. After acquiring the information, the ship destroyed the Merchantman, and later the USS Grissom, before facing off against the USS Enterprise in orbit of the Genesis Planet.
This event was well documented in the events leading up to the court martial of Admiral Kirk, and the ship was thereafter utilized for time traveling back to Earth's 20th century. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
In 2293 at least one prototype Bird-of-Prey was known to exist which had the unique ability to fire torpedoes when the cloaking device was engaged. This vessel was commanded by General Chang and used to assassinate Chancellor Gorkon of the Klingon Empire while implicating the Enterprise crew of the crime. This Bird-of-prey was destroyed at the first Khitomer conference by the USS Enterprise and USS Excelsior. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
For nearly a century, the Bird-of-Prey proved to be a rugged, sturdy design that saw continuous use, in that they were much like their Federation counterparts the Excelsior- and Miranda-class starships, whose usefulness out-lived contemporaries such as the Constitution-class cruiser. (TNG; DS9)
Despite the age of the Bird-of-Prey design by the 2370s, the ships fought valiantly during the Dominion War and featured in every battle of the conflict. Though the Bird-of-Prey design had been in service for nearly one hundred years, constant upgrades ensured that the ships were still a powerful and capable front-line warship.
In the hands of a seasoned and aggressive commander, a Bird-of-Prey could engage multiple Dominion fighters and expect to come out victorious. They were considered much more agile than K't'inga-class cruisers, allowing them to be better suited for some tasks. (DS9: "Call to Arms", "Once More Unto the Breach")
Comparable in design to its 22nd century predecessor, the exterior design of the Bird-of-Prey utilized the same basic avian design, including vaguely feather-like hull plating on its wings.
The bulk of the ship's overall mass was incorporated in the aft section of the ship. The bridge module was located on a bulbous forward section, which was separated from the aft section by a relatively thin connective section that attached to and flared into the aft portion, which swept from the main body, forming wings. The wing-design was characterized by its multi-positioning for various flight modes.
Located on the caudal section of the ship were the ship's cargo bay, impulse engine and warp nacelle. The nacelle was positioned diagonally along the aft section of the ship, above the cargo bay, and perpendicular to the impulse engine. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, etc.)
The Bird-of-Prey of the mid-24th century was said to be equipped with the Klingon Empire's "best weapons" and "finest warriors". While typically designated for peaceful missions, they were always "prepared to go into battle instantly." (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor")
The typical offensive arsenal of the Bird-of-Prey included twin forward-firing wing-mounted disruptor cannons, dual photon torpedo launchers – positioned fore and aft – and deflector shields. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; DS9: "Blood Oath", "The Way of the Warrior") By the 24th century, at least one type was armed with phasers, rather than disruptors, and possessed a weapons range that exceeded 40,000 kilometers. (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor")
In general, the firepower of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey varied by ship and era. During the 2280s, a Bird-of-Prey was said to be "out-gunned, ten to one" by a Constitution-class battle cruiser. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
The Bird-of-Prey was considered to be "no match" for the Federation's Galaxy-class during the latter 24th century; the Bird-of-Prey was also significantly inferior to the Federation's Defiant-class as well. (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor"; Star Trek Generations; DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")
Despite this, the Bird-of-Prey proved more than a match for several other contemporary vessels, including the Empire's very own Vor'cha-class cruiser, as was demonstrated at the outbreak of the Klingon Civil War, when two Birds-of-Prey were nearly successful in defeating a Vor'cha-class in an ambush attack, before being repelled by a third Bird-of-Prey. All three of these ships had their wings fixed in the upward position, which would indicate that these were probably the larger K'vort class.(TNG: "Redemption")
The Bird-of-Prey also proved to be very successful against the Dominion's Jem'Hadar fighters. On more than one occasion during the Klingon-Cardassian War and Dominion War, Bird-of-Prey commanders successfully engaged and defeated Jem'Hadar fighters. (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire", "Call to Arms", "Sons and Daughters", "Favor the Bold", etc.) However, during one Klingon-Cardassian War encounter, a Bird-of-Prey was ambushed by three Jem'Hadar ships – this three-to-one engagement was considered to be "long odds," and the fact that the ship was able to successfully escape in one piece was good fortune. (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire") It was also during this conflict that a single Bird-of-Prey was successfully able to overwhelm the Cardassian outpost on Korma, disabling the planetary defense systems and destroying every building. (DS9: "Return to Grace")
The most vulnerable spot on a Klingon Bird-of-Prey was located the underside of the ship's hull. While weak, this section was able to withstand sustained phaser fire from a Cardassian Groumall-type freighter with the shields down. This area was, however, unable to withstand a shot from a system-5 disruptor, which was capable of breaching the hull within two shots. (DS9: "Return to Grace") The Bird-of-Prey's neck was one of the more resistant sections of the ship, capable of withstanding the change in pressure caused by a hull breach. (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor")
The Bird-of-Prey was additionally utilized by the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance in the mirror universe, where they were described by Intendant Kira Nerys as being "quick and powerful". These vessels, however, were not without their weaknesses; specifically, their targeting systems could be easily fooled. (DS9: "Shattered Mirror")
Birds-of-Prey were typically outfitted with a cloaking device – the key to the ship's success in battle. The first 23rd-century models' cloak could permit the use of communications and/or the ship's transporters, but its operation could not be maintained while the ship used its weapons systems. Also, the cloak left an "energy surge" that could be picked up on close-range sensor scans as a "distortion", tipping off an observant opponent to the vessel's presence. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) There was approximately two seconds of vulnerability from the time a Bird-of-Prey's cloak began to engage or disengage and the raising or dropping of the ship's shields. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek Generations)
In the mid 2290s, an advanced Bird-of-Prey prototype was developed that could fire weapons while cloaked and did not display the characteristic "energy surge". However, that model's cloak could not mask "neutron radiation" or high-energy plasma, such as the exhaust from the ship's impulse engines. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
The defective cloaking device used on D12-class Birds-of-Prey was susceptible when exposed to a low-level ionic pulse, which caused the vessel's cloak to engage and its shields to drop. (Star Trek Generations)
Under normal conditions, a Bird-of-Prey was capable of making at least warp 7. (DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach") Under ideal circumstances, a Bird-of-Prey could reach warp 9.8 while initiating the slingshot effect. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
At least two tractor beam emitters were located on the ventral sections of the Bird-of-Prey, specifically on the "head", behind and below the torpedo launcher, and between the wings, below and in front of the impulse engines. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior", "Return to Grace") In 2375, the IKS Rotarran emitted an EM pulse from a location near the latter tractor emitter. (DS9: "Shadows and Symbols")
On average, a Bird-of-Prey had a crew complement that varied from "about a dozen officers and men," up to a crew of thirty-six. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; DS9: "Return to Grace") A skeleton crew of a half-dozen could adequately operate a Bird-of-Prey, and even take it successfully into battle. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach")
The interior design of the Bird-of-Prey had limited space available for the very fact that it was designed as "a military ship, not a pleasure craft," according to Klingon captain K'Vada. (TNG: "Unification I") Jadzia Dax described life on board a Bird-of-Prey as "cramped and uncomfortable," even when compared to the spartan Defiant-class starship. (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire")
Due to their age and variety of configurations, the main bridge design for Birds-of-Prey included numerous variations. Most bridges incorporated a viewscreen that was octagonal and was built into the room's forward bulkhead. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, et al.)
23rd century designs
The Bird-of-Prey encountered by the USS Enterprise in 2285 over the Genesis Planet had a bridge that was of a mostly light blue and pink color scheme. The room featured the captain's chair on a raised, circular platform, providing the commanding officer with visual access to the main viewscreen on eye level. This screen was considerably smaller and more rectangular than the majority of its later counterparts.
From his position, the captain could visually monitor all stations located in front of him, including the helm, navigation and gunner's consoles, located in a recessed "pit" in a half-circle to the fore of the command chair. Although this series of connected stations was typically manned by five officers, it included only three monitors. A set of steps was located on either side of the raised platform, allowing access between the platform and the lower pit, and a pair of metallic handrails could be found above each of the two sets of steps.
Two more stations were located aft of the command chair, to either side of the commanding officer's regular position. Each of these two stations had a small data port, for recording incoming transmissions, and a lower monitor that could not only display such transmissions, including playback of data that had been recorded upon reception, but could also detect, track and identify vessels in proximity of the Bird-of-Prey. The command chair could swivel to face either of the aft stations and each of its arms bore a thin panel of controls.
An oval access point at the rear of the bridge allowed ingress and egress from the room and had a pair of curved double-doors that slid open or closed. These doors led to the rest of the ship and opened directly into a red-lit, smoky area. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
From 2286 onward, most bridges of Klingon Birds-of-Prey were of a primarily bronze color scheme with red highlights - such as red-lit screens, consoles and small lights in the bulkheads - and had a floor level that was relatively flat. Three months after the Enterprise encountered a Bird-of-Prey in proximity of Genesis, the same Klingon ship featured an all-different bridge, with no variations in the floor level and now sporting the new color scheme, as Admiral Kirk and his crew steered the vessel to Earth.
As before, the command chair was positioned in the center of the bridge and a pair of double-doors could be found at the aft of the room. In front of the command chair was now located only two stations, however, and both functioned for the ship's course control. Both of these stations included a single console, connected to the other via a central instrumented pedestal. To the right of this pair of stations, a circular hatch was built into the ceiling; this could be used as a means of evacuation in emergency circumstances, although it was normally closed, and a short ladder could be found under the hatch.
There were two other main stations on the bridge; aft to the captain's right was located the communications console, while aft to the captain's left was located a station that served engineering and scientific monitoring purposes. The aft consoles surrounded their operator on three sides, with the fourth enabling maneuverability to and from the rest of the bridge. Displays were built into the bulkheads at each station, above the surrounding consoles, so that the forward console was the only one without higher displays, allowing the station's operator to view the rest of the room. Control buttons were a common feature of the consoles in this bridge design and the frame of the main viewscreen was slightly more well-defined than those of other Bird-of-Prey viewscreens. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
One year later, the USS Enterprise-A confronted a Bird-of-Prey, under the command of Captain Klaa, whose bridge was of yet another layout. One difference was that this bridge design provided the commanding officer with a direct link to the starship's weapons systems by means of a scope that could be lowered into position or raised for storage, to a position just below the ceiling, as and when required. This method did not replace the main viewscreen, however, and the commanding officer's view of the screen was unobstructed whenever the scope was in its raised storage position, as the bridge included no consoles directly in front of the command chair.
The bridge still featured two aft stations. These each consisted of a forward, physically interlinked pair of consoles that were each surrounded on two sides by other consoles, along the aft and side bulkheads. Both pairs of forward consoles included a pair of hooded monitors, on either side of a thin control pad. The controls on this bridge were touch sensitive, unlike with the preceding bridge design.
Another difference from the past two bridges was that the room's aft doorway was considerably larger and was permanently open, leading into the vessel's neck corridor beyond. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
In 2293, General Chang commanded a prototype Bird-of-Prey that had the ability to fire its weapons while it was cloaked. Its bridge was extremely similar to that of Klaa's Bird-of-Prey, with the same style of aft twin consoles and viewscreen.
This bridge was also lit with a harsh green light that emanated from widely spaced, small squares of light in the bulkheads, near the ceiling. Unlike the similar green glow aboard Klaa's ship, the green illumination on Chang's Bird-of-Prey was constant and did not pulsate.
An unusual style of helm station was positioned behind the command chair, at the entrance of the open doorway. This station incorporated a large wheel for directional control, rather than conventional console-based controls.
Another difference was the absence of a scope, although a small console ahead of the command chair had a display that was reminiscent of equivalent graphics as seen through a scope and served a similar targeting purpose. This console was supplemented by a firing button – amid several raised controls, located elsewhere on the bridge – that could launch photon torpedoes from the Bird-of-Prey and glowed red when pressed.
Another station could be found to the left of the command chair. Unlike at all other stations on the bridge, the operator of this station typically sat on a chair while on duty. Ahead of both this station and the command chair was a slanted support strut on either side of the viewscreen. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
24th century designs
Bridges of the D12-class Birds-of-Prey, in use until about 2350, included a scope that could be raised or lowered and supplemented the main viewscreen, in common with the bridge of Klaa's Bird-of-Prey. The similarities did not end there; two aft stations on the bridge of the D12-class Bird-of-Prey were identical to those on the bridges of both Klaa's ship and Chang's prototype Bird-of-Prey, including two hooded monitors at each aft station.
However, the scope and operator's chair below it were positioned between the two aft stations, with a second, more padded command chair situated ahead of these stations. Two thick support struts could be found on either side of each of the two command chairs, although the struts near the scope operator's chair were located just behind it. Similar to the bridge layout of Chang's Bird-of-Prey, a lower station was located at sitting level, to the fore of one of the forward struts and left of the forward command chair. An open doorway to the right of the aft port station led to a metallic door that was hidden from sight behind the port bulkhead and enabled passage between this bridge and the rest of the ship.
A bridge of this style was used aboard a Bird-of-Prey under the command of the Duras sisters, Lursa and B'Etor, in 2371, even though ships of this class and, by extension, bridges of this layout had officially been retired from service about twenty years beforehand. (Star Trek Generations)
In 2365, the bridge of the IKS Pagh also included a pair of sturdy support struts on either side of the command chair, which was positioned on a slightly elevated platform. On each side of these struts was a station that was located under a red, glowing hexagon and faced towards the bulkhead, away from the rest of the bridge. A third, smaller console was present behind the command site, as were additional displays that lined the aft bulkhead. Two narrow sets of double-doors were located on either side of this aft area.
The main viewscreen was akin to a larger version of the viewscreen aboard Kruge's ship, as they were both more rectangular than the usual octagonal screens of Birds-of-Prey. Additional screens could be found to either side of the Pagh's viewscreen, between this main screen and the two side stations. The room was dark, red-lit and included a large, circular grille in the center of the ceiling. (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor")
The bridge of the IKS Hegh'ta in 2368 was of a more conventional Bird-of-Prey bridge design, featuring the usual two aft stations on either side of the command chair. Two more chairs were positioned near the command chair; relative to the captain, one of the additional chairs was directly to the right while the other was ahead and to the right. A long, thin cylindrical beam could be found at either side of the open doorway at the aft of the room and both of these beams, positioned inside the doorway, were completely vertical. Similar beams were located at various intervals beside the bulkheads. This bridge was notably well lit, in contrast with its darkly illuminated precursors. (TNG: "Redemption II")
In 2370, the bridge of a Bird-of-Prey commanded by Kang had another unusual layout. Kang's command chair, in front of a bulkhead that included a variety of small lighting features, faced a table and vertical wall-mounted display, on both of which could be presented various unmoving schematics. To the left of the command chair were located a console, above which were two animated display screens, and, further in the same direction, a door. A second access point could be found on the opposite side of the room. This bridge apparently featured no viewscreen nor any additional consoles. (DS9: "Blood Oath")
Shortly after in that year, the Duras sisters confronted the USS Enterprise-D aboard their own Bird-of-Prey, which included a bridge of yet another design. This arrangement featured two large wall-mounted red hexagons, similar to those aboard the IKS Pagh, and a pair of display screens below these. A podium was positioned before the screens and a chair sat before the podium, with both items of furniture facing the room's viewscreen. To the right of the podium was a brown wall panel that featured many vertical grooves. The front of the podium was emblazoned with the emblem of the Klingon Empire. (TNG: "Firstborn")
In 2372, the IKS M'Char included a dimly lit bridge that was more featureless than most bridges of its ilk, with a red light shining directly down on the captain's position. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")
Later that year, a Bird-of-Prey that was captured by the Cardassian Dukat included a bridge that was essentially typical of its kind, with the twin aft stations that each had two hooded monitors. However, these stations were situated extremely close together, in tight formation with the command chair, leaving inadequate space for personnel passage at the room's center. Instead, there were wider gaps than usual between the consoles lining the bulkheads and the two aft stations.
A large opening, allowing access to and from the bridge, was located on either side of the room and both of these access points were separated from the outer consoles by vertical partitions that also placed the forward outer consoles in small alcoves adjacent to the main viewscreen. Similar partitions could be found at various other points between the outer consoles. Thick, slanted support struts could be found on either side of the command chair and just before the aft doorway, which featured a set of double-doors.
A bridge that was extremely similar to that of Dukat's Bird-of-Prey could be found on board the IKS Rotarran in 2373, although the latter bridge had a dustier environment. (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire") In addition, the pair of thick support beams had been moved from beside the command chair, where a small console on a pedestal had replaced the starboard beam, to a position just aft of both of the foremost outer stations but forward of the side access points, on both sides of the room. (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire") These support struts had again been moved by 2374, at which time they were situated slightly aft of the side access points and slanted up to the ceiling above the command chair, which was relocated to a place slightly further ahead of the pair of aft stations even though the two stations remained compacted together. (DS9: "Sons and Daughters") By 2375, the structural beams had been changed back to the same position they had been in aboard Dukat's Bird-of-Prey, sloping down toward the command chair. (DS9: "Shadows and Symbols")
Later that same year, the IKS Ch'Tang featured a virtually identical bridge. The pair of forward support beams on this bridge sloped up to the ceiling, much like in the 2374 configuration of the IKS Rotarran's bridge, and the command chair was again situated in front of a sizable gap between the chair and the aft stations. (DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach")
When compared to Starfleet standards, the sickbay of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey was extremely small and cramped. The room was dully illuminated and featured a dark bed beside a wall that included a red-lit screen, among several small decorative motifs. The Bird-of-Prey that was under the command of Kruge in 2285 featured this type of sickbay. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
A Klingon Bird-of-Prey had a cargo bay that was approximately sixty feet in length. This room featured a long walkway between two wider storage areas, one situated on each side of the ship. A short horizontal barrier separated the walkway from the storage areas and many structural supports extended vertically from this barrier, placed between the barrier and the room's overhead.
The room's foremost bulkhead included an open doorway, on the port side, and led into a recessed corridor on the starboard side. The doorway opened straight ahead, into the vessel's engine room, while the corridor was entirely angled straight starboard, leading to a small transporter bay nearby.
The cargo bay had an automated set of large double-doors that allowed exit of the Bird-of-Prey and, if the door was powerless, an explosive override in the room could force it open. This override system was essentially a lever on a bulkhead and was pulled down to open the door. At least one of the bulkheads in the cargo bay, located adjacent to the opening of the recessed corridor, could also be opened to allow large-scale passage into the craft from above its hull.
A cargo bay of this type could be found aboard the HMS Bounty and was, in that particular case, converted into an enclosed whale tank. Incorporating sheets of plexiglass as walls, the tank withstood the weight of about forty tons per each whale and four hundred tons in total. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
Aboard a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, the engine room was located fore of the cargo bay and included an open doorway that enabled passage between these two adjacent areas. Another door, on the opposite side of the engine room from the open doorway, led towards the bridge. A third door was built into a bulkhead that was between the two other access points, next to a small trapezoidal slot, in the bulkhead, through which a sub-room - the dilithium chamber, containing the ship's dilithium crystals - could be seen.
Two monitors could be found in this engine room; one was positioned above the trapezoidal slot and another could be found on a bulkhead to the right, on the same side of the room that featured the open doorway. The second of the two screens was built into a raised portion of the bulkhead and a red-lit panel was positioned below this monitor, on the lower section. The raised part of the bulkhead also featured several controls for the monitor and an intercom, with the latter positioned on the side of the raised portion of the bulkhead and adjacent to the frame of the open doorway. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
This style of engine room could be found aboard the Bird-of-Prey christened the HMS Bounty in 2286. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) In 2365, Engineering of the IKS Pagh, another Bird-of-Prey, monitored the growth of a subatomic bacteria on that ship's hull. (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor")
Various forms of transporter areas were included aboard Klingon Birds-of-Prey.
The craft that was christened the HMS Bounty in 2286 had a small transporter bay, at the end of the short, recessed corridor that extended from the cargo bay. The ship's transporter had four lower pads and a single upper pad, and was capable of beaming a mass of four hundred tons. A transporter console was positioned on a small, cylindrical pedestal at the opening of the recessed corridor and an intercom could be found on the bulkhead next to it. Unlike most other stations of the same purpose, the transporter console aboard the HMS Bounty faced away from the transporter itself, although the console was also able to be rotated, at least slightly. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
The Klingon Bird-of-Prey that was under the command of Captain Klaa had a larger, dedicated transporter room. This room included a console that was fixed in place, situated so that the console's operator would be facing the transporter to the right. Located on an elevated platform, the transporter had two large upper and lower pads, in front of a row of circuited wall panels. At least two monitors, with screens close to the deck, were positioned beside the transporter, on the opposite side from the transporter console. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
Kruge's Bird-of-Prey also included a transporter room. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) Transporters were utilized by Klingon Birds-of-Prey of the D12-class. (DS9: "Past Prologue", Star Trek Generations)
The mess hall aboard the IKS Pagh included adequate seating for about nine officers, at two long, zigzagging tables that were positioned parallel to each other. The seating arrangement in this relatively spacious room was such that some of the officers would be facing at different angles from each other, while others sat facing the same direction as one another.
Like most of the other areas aboard the Pagh, this large mess hall was dully illuminated with red-tinged light; deep red glow shone from a double set of metallic lighting grilles, shaped as hexagonal rectangles, on one of the bulkheads, which were otherwise dull metallic, as well as from two rectangular wall panels on an adjacent bulkhead. Both of these two wall panels were each intersected by an angled metallic strut in the bulkhead, the two struts forming the shape of an arrow with a third, similar strut running vertically through the same bulkhead, up to the ceiling.
The mess hall had only one door, which was located on the opposite side of the room from the lighting grilles. The room's ceiling was lined with rows of small, circular, white lights. (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor")
The HMS Bounty carried Klingon food packs aboard but these were removed by Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, upon finding that they were giving him an irritable stomach. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
Captain's ready room
On the opposite side of the room from the door was a metallic desk, on which could be found two ribbed, ceramic chalices, a smooth-sided jug that looked as if it had been crafted from similar material and a broad but shallow silver bowl. On the back wall, up from the desk, was a selection of Klingon blade weapons, including a crossed pair of swords arranged above a pair of small weapons that each looked similar to a bat'leth.
The side of the room to the left of this weapons display also included an array of weapons against the back wall, as a pair of crossed gin-tak spears could be found there. Ahead of these, on the same side of the room as the spears, was a padded chair.
An alcove, in the approximate direction of the room's other side, contained a wall-mounted metallic shield, shaped like a half-globe and with a center that was embellished with a tiny, red rendition of the Klingon Empire emblem. This shield was exhibited on the side of the alcove and another small desk was below it, against the recess' middle bulkhead. Another metallic bowl sat on this desk.
Each of the weapons in this room, as well as the shield, was presented in a pool of light. The room's bulkheads were mostly gray, elaborated by a variety of straight lines, and both bowls contained a small white mound of undetermined substance. (TNG: "Redemption")
The ready room of Dukat's Bird-of-Prey included two vertical, rectangular, red lighting panels, one above the other. These were to the right of a group of vertical lines – one thin red strand, surrounded by thicker black ones – that ran up the bulkhead. A viewscreen was situated before this bulkhead. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light")
In the ready room of the Rotarran, consoles ran along three sides of the room, with the fourth featuring personal effects of the captain, which included a chair for the ship's commanding officer, and the opposite side of the room including space between the consoles for a wide set of double-doors. The consoles were arranged in a straight line at typical approximate hand level, on a level control board that jutted out of the bulkheads on which they were arranged, on a downwards slant. Two consoles were on either side of the door, while an additional three were on each of the other bulkheads. The bulkheads to the side of the door were not angled at a straight ninety degrees from the two main console bulkheads but instead were centrally angled away from the opposite side of the room. A partition was at both corners that included the control board and both of these corners turned sharply, rather than curved.
Grilles filled with yellow light were located above the consoles. On each of the two opposite sides of the room that were both entirely lined with consoles, the grilles were consecutively arranged in the shape of a small trapezoid (near the room's corner) and two, long rectangular octagons. No yellow grilles were featured beside the double-door but, in their place, two more display screens were situated to either side of the door. Similar red grilles, each shaped as a parallelogram, were below the consoles, near the deck. Two of these were on each of the two bulkheads that featured the rows of consoles and another red grille could be found below the consoles at each side of the door.
Two additional display screens were at both sides of the commanding officer's chair, at raised positions within the bulkhead. On both sides of the chair, examples of pottery were on display, exhibited on two small tables that were at either side of the chair and below both pairs of the display screens. (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire", "Sons and Daughters")
In 2373, the commanding officer's chair was essentially a highly maneuverable, high-backed throne that sat behind a desk. A decorative brown wall panel, adorned with vertical Klingonese lettering, was directly behind the chair. (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire") By the following year, the room's occupant, General Martok, had installed a more conventional, padded chair and removed the ornamented wall panel, instead adding a Klingonese tapestry to the bulkhead. The room was darkened and prepared for a ceremony that used many candles and signified Alexander Rozhenko's induction into the House of Martok. (DS9: "Sons and Daughters") The room was returned to its former appearance (prior to the ceremony taking place), shortly thereafter. (DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited")
The IKS Ch'Tang, later under the command of Martok, had an extremely similar ready room, containing an identical tapestry and padded chair. However, there was only one table in the room: the desk in front of Martok's chair. (DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach")
Although the crew quarters aboard most Klingon Birds-of-Prey were considerably shoddy, typical quarters of a D12-class Bird-of-Prey were particularly dreary. In 2371, the quarters of the Duras sisters' outdated D12-class Bird-of-Prey was a dilapidated, dark and damp part of the ship, including numerous vertical pipes at various places and chains hung from the ceiling.
The room featured the openings of two very similar corridors that both led in the same direction, with these corridors opening at opposite ends of the same bulkhead. Only one of these was smoky and included a bulkhead that led straight from the room, the latter due to the fact that this passageway's opening was located essentially at one of the room's corners, whereas the other corridor opened only near the bulkhead on the room's opposite side and did not include it. The latter passageway led into a small sub-room, adjacent to the main room but partitioned off behind a grille.
A shelving unit was opposite the sub-room partition and another could be found between these two opposing sides of the room, next to the other unit; the top of each side of both units culminated in a bottle-shaped feature and both units were situated in front of a low portal through which, while the ship was in space, a starfield could be seen. A small console directly faced the opening of the smoky corridor, and a physical support - such as a chair or bed - was positioned roughly in the room's center, facing the side of the room that featured the two corridor openings and the sub-room partition. This item of furniture had a thick, brown harness with a metal buckle. (Star Trek Generations)
The captain's quarters of a Bird-of-Prey in 2367 were luxurious by comparison. This area included an open doorway, below a triangular light that glowed pinkish red and between a pair of shields that were each adorned with a tiny, red rendition of the emblem of the Klingon Empire. On the bulkhead to the right of this doorway, a wider access point, featuring a pair of functioning double-doors, was located at a right angle to the other door and faced a thick, vertical structural beam. A thin, horizontal strip of Klingonese lettering was on either side of each of the two doorways and a white-lit area of the ship was outside both access points. A cluster of tiny, circular, yellow lights was arranged on at least part of the ceiling opposite the wider doorway and a cream-colored lighting panel was built into the ceiling near the same doorway.
This room could be altered between two variations, with the first containing several furnishings and the second being an emptier but more functional space. In the furnished version of this area, a sheathed sword was affixed to the structural beam but could easily be removed when required. The furnishings included several fabric chairs and – approximately at the center of the room but also near the seatings – a low table, over which was draped a tasseled cloth beneath a metallic bowl. Although these furnishings were absent from the area's alternative layout, two vertical stands were still present in the second arrangement. (TNG: "Reunion")
In typical Bird-of-Prey quarters meant for a single crewman, virtually every surface of the room was bronze-colored and hard, including a shelf that served as the room's only sleeping space (although red light was cast down on the shelf, from behind a grille above). This rest area was farthest from and opposite the room's only access point, a narrow pair of double-doors. A work area was situated between these doors and the sleeping area, with an arch separating the latter compartment and the work space. In addition to the optional inclusion of a desk with two seats and two desktop monitors in this area, the space also featured a static display touchscreen computer, showing Klingonese graphics and text. Above this screen was an illuminated hexagon, mostly glowing white but regularly spotted with many tiny, black circles. On the opposite bulkhead of this work area, a black shield, surrounded by a pool of red light, was located at an elevated position. The room also had an intercom system, which could receive audio transmissions from the ship's bridge.
In 2368, a set of quarters of this style was allocated to visiting Enterprise officers Jean-Luc Picard and Data. The Bird-of-Prey's commander, Captain K'Vada, at first described the area as possibly not matching the quality of accommodations that the Starfleet officers were used to, aboard their own vessel, but Picard reacted pleased with the Klingon quarters, describing them as "nice" and even thanking Captain K'Vada in return. The Klingon commander subsequently implied that the reason this small area was assigned to both his visitors was due to the limited availability of space aboard his Bird-of-Prey. Data later privately admitted to Picard, however, that the quarters were obviously intended to be for merely one crewman, supporting his deduction by noting that there was only one sleeping area. Implying that he agreed with Data's conclusion, Picard assumed with supposed certainty that the allocation of the small area to both himself and Data had constituted a private practical joke to the Klingons. The room was later visited by Ambassador Spock, during Data's and Picard's stay there. (TNG: "Unification I", "Unification II")
A room of the HMS Bounty Bird-of-Prey contained several computer banks. Two interlinked monitors lined each of two opposite sides of the room while, in a corner between these two bulkheads, smaller readouts were displayed on a wall panel, whose two main surfaces formed a reflex angle. An access point was situated on the fourth side of the room.
The monitors were built into pronounced sections of the bulkheads and slanted downwards, towards the viewer. The readouts on the wall panel were on level surfaces but the top of both sides of the panel were also slanted and numerous small, circular, white lights were arranged above the flat displays. More white lights were fixed to the base of both bulkheads that bore the higher monitors and each of these lights were rectangular, situated in indented grooves along each of the two bulkheads. A long console was positioned at or near the center of the room and a wall panel of white light could be found to the side of the room's access point.
A passageway located in the "neck" area of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey allowed maneuverability between the ship's bridge and the rest of the ship. This corridor, aboard the HMS Bounty, led directly to the engine room while the equivalent corridor on the Bird-of-Prey that was commanded by Captain Klaa led to the vessel's transporter room. The latter was longer and wider than the neck corridor of the HMS Bounty. Both corridors included a metallic pipe running horizontally along the length of the port bulkhead and at least two sets of double-doors, including one between this corridor and the bridge. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
- TNG: "A Matter Of Honor"
- DS9: :
Ships of the class
- IKS Buruk
- IKS Ch'Tang
- IKS Hegh'ta
- IKS Ki'tang
- IKS Koraga
- IKS Korinar
- IKS M'Char
- IKS Malpara
- IKS Ning'tao
- IKS Orantho
- IKS Pagh
- IKS Rotarran
- IKS Slivin
- IKS Vorn
- IKS Y'tem
- TOS films:
- TNG films:
- Star Trek Generations (D12-class)
- "Past Prologue"
- "Blood Oath"
- "The Way of the Warrior"
- "Return to Grace"
- "Sons of Mogh"
- "Rules of Engagement"
- "Shattered Mirror" (mirror universe)
- "Apocalypse Rising"
- "In Purgatory's Shadow"
- "By Inferno's Light"
- "Soldiers of the Empire"
- "Call to Arms"
- "A Time to Stand"
- "Sons and Daughters"
- "Favor the Bold"
- "Sacrifice of Angels"
- "You Are Cordially Invited"
- "Tears of the Prophets"
- "Image in the Sand"
- "Shadows and Symbols"
- "Once More Unto the Breach"
- "The Emperor's New Cloak"
- "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"
- "Penumbra" (sensor image; K'Vort-class)
- "Strange Bedfellows"
- "The Changing Face of Evil"
- "When It Rains..."
- "Tacking Into the Wind"
- "What You Leave Behind"
As originally conceived, the Klingon variant of the Bird-of-Prey was actually a Romulan ship; the script of Star Trek III at first called for the film's main villains to be Romulans using a Romulan Bird-of-Prey, as had been typical of Bird-of-Prey use in Star Trek: The Original Series. In other early drafts of the movie's script, the Bird-of-Prey was suggested as having been stolen, by the ship's Klingon commander, from the Romulans. Later script revisions dropped the ship's connection to the Romulans but the craft's designation as a Bird-of-Prey remained unchanged.
Concerning the use of the Bird-of-Prey designation, Harve Bennett (Star Trek III's writer and producer) once stated, "The Bird-of-Prey was a homeless bird there, in a sense, being used by multi-cultures. But I think what we wanted to do was establish it clearly as a Klingon, because of its evil-looking nature and its name: the Bird-of-Prey." (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition)) The red "feather design" of the wings' underside was nevertheless designed with the original Romulan Bird-of-Prey in mind.
As TOS: "The Enterprise Incident" had established that the Romulans and Klingons were briefly allied and exchanged technologies, it was frequently speculated that the Klingon Bird-of-Prey that first appeared in Star Trek III could be a result of this alliance, which no longer existed at the time of the film's setting. This possibility was finally disproved with the introduction of an earlier but similar style of Klingon Bird-of-Prey in Star Trek: Enterprise, set before the Romulan-Klingon Alliance.
The Klingon Bird-of-Prey studio model was designed by Nilo Rodis and David Carson, visual effects art directors from Industrial Light & Magic. Leonard Nimoy was involved in selecting the design concepts of the class and Bill George built the prototype studio model for this vessel.
In coming up with the ship's exterior design for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, director Leonard Nimoy suggested to the ILM effects team that the ship should generally look swooping and frightening, like a bird on attack, and was also interested in the idea of the ship having an extended "neck", like a bird flying to attack a creature or swooping down towards water before diving to catch a fish in its beak. To demonstrate to the ILM team how he wanted the ship's wings to look, Nimoy gestured with his arms outstretched.
Many sketches of the Klingon ship were drawn. In an early version of Star Trek III's script, a simple shuttle – rather than the Bird-of-Prey itself – carried only Kirk and McCoy to Vulcan at the end of the film. The design of the Bird-of-Prey was still to be finalized when it replaced the shuttle as the landing vehicle in this scene. One of the earliest designs that figured into this scene had an even more bulbous command section than its ultimate equivalent and a single, central aft hull, absent the two large bulks that would later help characterize the final design. The craft's wings were also in a more level landing position than they would become and were not adorned with the feather design of the later model. Aft of these was a yellow-shaded trapezoidal vent that was angled at a lower degree than the component's equivalent on the ship's eventual exterior.
Ultimately, aspects of different designs were mixed to create a hybrid of the various looks. One of the sketches that Nilo Rodis gave Bill George, to help George in constructing the first prototype studio model of the ship, featured the image of a muscleman. Despite being somewhat surprised by Rodis' guideline of using this sketch as an influence, George was nevertheless inspired by the appearance of the pictured man while building the original prototype model. The muscular man's down-turned arms influenced the look of the ship's wings in their attack position and his large, distinctive shoulders and trapezius muscles inspired George to add the wiry meshes on the ship's aft hull. George also thought that the sketched male looked somewhat like a football player so he added the twin bulks below the meshes, believing they resembled shoulder pads, and a thin, tiny, brown pipe around the command bulb, as the protective-looking pipe's appearance was similar to a footballer's chin guard.
It seems that the Bird-of-Prey underwent a few more modifications following these changes; one design of the ship in the Vulcan landing scene shared many characteristics with the vessel's ultimate appearance, but had a weapons turret extending from the hole that would later become its forward torpedo launcher and the ramp from the craft's underside led forward rather than aft. (The Art of Star Trek)
Regarding the creation of the ship's external design and effectiveness of its coloration, Harve Bennett once commented, "They had a lot of fun designing that one! And I think the color selection – a kind of serpentine kind of green – went on to help us, not only there but later. We utilized it in Star Trek IV, because it is so dramatic a look."
Designing the interior
In regards to the design process of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey's interior and how he wanted the ship to differ from the Enterprise, actor and director Leonard Nimoy recalled, "The interior of the Klingon ship was to be the opposite of what the Enterprise always was; the Enterprise was always rather clean and pristine. The idea for the Klingon ship was that it should be grungy, it should be oily, it should be greasy, dirty. Very mechanical, very clunky. Big metal parts, that you had to work around and could hurt you if you bumped into them.... It should make different noises; the ship should groan and creak, in a way that the Enterprise would not. The Enterprise would be more sleek and silent, with a nice hum. The ambient noise of the Klingon ship should be... like almost the rumbling of a steam engine."
Blueprints were drawn and approved for each of the areas within the Bird-of-Prey, as seen in Star Trek IV, before production on that film began. Referring to the use of the Klingon interior by Starfleet personnel in both that movie and near the end of Star Trek III, Leonard Nimoy discussed the merits of the ship's interior and recalled, "What I enjoyed about using the Klingon ship was the fact there would be certain elements of it that we wouldn't quite understand. And there was a certain amount or level of discomfort at times, trying to figure it out. And particularly the character of this ship was clunky; it was mechanical as opposed to sleek and futuristic." Both Nimoy and William Shatner were of the opinion that the Klingon vessel was "ominous" and "smoky", and Nimoy added, "The way it was lit; the colors on the graphics are not necessarily pleasing; the angles are all sharp angles. It was well designed." (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Special Edition) DVD; audio commentary)
The script for "A Matter Of Honor" described the Bird-of-Prey interior as appearing "utilitarian", while lacking "the smooth free-flowing lines and coloring of the Enterprise-D."
The intricate, final practical model of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey's exterior measured 15" × 36" and incorporated built-in motors that allowed the wings to sweep up or down. The same model was used to represent the Klingon Bird-of-Prey in Star Trek: The Next Generation and some episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The motors that allowed the wings to be adjusted became tricky, however, and the wings consequently seldom moved, from a slightly elevated position, in episodes of the spin-off series. It was not until the switch to computer-generated models that the alternating wing modes came back into use, as can be seen when the Klingon ship appears in later episodes of DS9.
The ILM effects team struggled to create a certain shot of the Bird-of-Prey in which it flies under the Golden Gate Bridge, near the end of Star Trek IV. At first, the team repeatedly tried to achieve this shot practically, flying the model Bird-of-Prey – on a wire rig – through the space between a model of the bridge and a miniature version of the San Francisco Bay. They found difficulty with this method for a variety of reasons, however, particularly the timing of the shot and the appearance of it, especially with fog and smoke that they had decided to use. As a result of the complications, the effects team ultimately opted to create the shot as a composite shot, layering footage of the bridge (with the smoke elements) and the Bird-of-Prey together. The footage of the Bird-of-Prey was shot as a motion-control element, by Pat Sweeney (a visual effects director of photography at ILM). (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray); "Industrial Light & Magic: The Visual Effects of Star Trek")
Two full-scale mock-ups of sections of the Bird-of-Prey were created for Star Trek IV. The first was the underside of the ship, including a landing strut, and appeared near the start of the movie. The second was the command bulb and can be seen toward the end of the film. Both of these enlarged sections of the ship were filmed in a parking lot of Paramount Pictures, in Los Angeles. For the filming of the scene that features the ship's command section, however, the parking lot – having been a tank for underwater work, many years earlier – was converted back into a tank that was about four feet deep (except for a deep spot at its center) and was referred to as "B Tank", wherein the enlarged Bird-of-Prey section was positioned between and parallel to a skyline backdrop and a set of underwater tracks for a full-size humpback whale prop. To simulate stormy weather in this scene, the enlarged Bird-of-Prey mock-up was pelted with wind machines and water machines, to such an extreme degree that at least some of the actors in this scene, including both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, found performing it – while hanging onto the mock-up, as the majority of the scene required – to be painful. The Bird-of-Prey component and the surrounding set were also covered with a tent of translucent fabric, simulating overcast lighting, but this was later removed to allow natural sunlight to illuminate the set.
For Star Trek V, a separate, enlarged model of one of the Klingon ship's wings (including one of the craft's wing-mounted disruptor cannons) was built, so that the wing could be shown in close-up. This miniature measured 36" × 40" and was rigged so that, when the disruptor cannon fired, the weapon's firing mechanism would move. This was shown in the first scene that features the Bird-of-Prey, wherein the craft destroys the Pioneer 10 probe, and in the film's climactic moments, when the Klingon vessel annihilates the God of Sha Ka Ree.
The script of DS9: "The Way of the Warrior" called for fleets of Klingon ships to be engaged in battle. Klingon Bird-of-Prey Christmas ornaments, released by Hallmark, were among the examples of licensed paraphernalia that the series' Effects Department requested from Paramount's licensing department, so that the episode's action sequences could be enhanced and spectacular explosions could be created without the destruction of valuable ship models.
The Klingon Bird-of-Prey model was listed in the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction with an estimated sale price of US$8,000 to US$12,000; it sold for US$260,000 (US$307,200 with premium).  The enlarged Bird-of-Prey wing shown in Star Trek V was also sold in the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction, with an estimated sale price of US$3,000 to US$5,000; it sold for US$7,000 (US$8,400 with premium). 
In Star Trek IV, the positioning of the Bird-of-Prey hovering between a whaling boat and two submerged humpback whales to prevent a harpoon reaching the whales, was an homage to Greenpeace activists who would position their rafts between a whaling ship and its quarry, in occasionally successful attempts to protect whales. A close-up shot of the Bird-of-Prey's nose section, as the craft uncloaks and first reveals its presence in this scene, was not originally budgeted, so Nimoy had to appeal for adequate funds so that the shot could be created.
A shot of the Bird-of-Prey rising over the edge of a cliff, in the climatic moments of Star Trek V, was originally suggested by Nilo Rodis.
One of numerous pre-visualization tests for the various visual effects of that film was for the shimmering cloaking effect, using a tiny hand-held miniature of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, propped up by a thin black stick and set against a moving starfield background.
Of the five Star Trek movies in which Klingon Birds-of-Prey appear, the ship features on the theatrical posters for Star Treks III, IV and VI, but not the posters for Star Trek V and Star Trek Generations.
The following information of specifications and defenses comes exclusively from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual:
- Production Base: Qo'noS Orbital Factory Base
- Type: Scout (B'rel); Cruiser (K'Vort). Common planform, scaled up 4.3 times for cruiser
- Accommodation: 12 plus flight crew and troops (B'rel); 1500+ flight crew and troops (K'Vort)
- Power Plant: One M/A warp system; two impulse systems
- Dimensions: Length, 157.76 meters; beam, 181.54 meters; height, 98.54 meters (B'rel). Length, 678.36 meters; beam, 780.62 meters; height, 423.72 meters (K'Vort)
- Mass: 236,000 metric tonnes (B'rel), 1,890,000 metric tonnes (K'Vort)
- Performance: Warp 9.6 (B'rel and K'Vort)
- Armament: Two ship-mounted disruptor cannons; one torpedo launcher (B'rel). Four ship-mounted disruptor cannons; two torpedo launcher (K'Vort)
- Klingon Bird of Prey Owners' Workshop Manual
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual
- Star Trek: Starship Spotter