Following the disaster that was the Ferengi's introduction as the big new baddies in the "The Last Outpost", the producers of Star Trek: The Next Generation turned to The Original Series for their next shot at giving Picard and the crew of the Enteprirse-D a real foe.
While the Romulans had been rejected as adversaries in the relatively recent Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, they finally managed to return as threats to the Federation in "The Neutral Zone". Along with a revamped makeup application by Michael Westmore, some big shoulders by costume designer William Ware Theiss, and a menacing portrayal by future Gul Dukat Marc Alaimo, the Romulans were also granted a distinctive and imposing new vessel, the D'deridex-class Romulan warbird.
Loosely based on the Romulan Bird-of-Prey from TOS, the Romulan warbird was designed by Andrew Probert and was instantly one of Star Trek: The Next Generation's most recognizable ships. This double-hulled, stately yet predatory new vessel would serve as the Romulans' primary mode of transportation (and intimidation) throughout the fictional 24th century, showing up in both Deep Space Nine and Voyager, and making two surprise appearances in Star Trek: Lower Decks.
Fitting the enigmatic and suspicious nature of the Romulans, not much detail is given about their ships on screen, but we're here to scan through the cloaking device to bring you ten secrets of the Romulan warbird the Romulans definitely don't want you to know.
10. Axis Of Evil
His last assignment on Star Trek: The Next Generation after spearheading the designs of the Enterprise-D, the Tarellian ship (from "Haven"), and the Ferengi Marauder, Andrew Probert sought to rethink starship configurations in the Star Trek Universe with the Romulan warbird.
According to Probert, Gene Roddenberry had dictated that all starships in the franchise have two warp engines working in tandem, but never specified whether or not those engines had to be situated on the horizontal axis. Keeping the basic shape of the new ship rooted in the appropriately bird-like configuration of TOS' Romulan Bird-of-Prey, Probert opted to place the warbird's engines at the top and bottom of its primary hull.
The proposed design was a radical departure from previous Star Trek vessels and, as Probert saw it, a nice contrast to the very wide USS Enterprise-D:
I didn't have any information except that the Romulans were coming back and that we had never seen their ship before. Since the Enterprise is so horizontal, I wanted to contrast it with a vertical ship.
To Probert's disappointment, however, the producers requested the ship's alignment be corrected and a more traditional, horizontal configuration was further developed.
Probert ultimately left TNG following season one and his work on the Romulan warbird, but later returned to the franchise to provide illustrations for the Ships of the Line Calendars, reworking and fleshing out his vertical Romulan warbird for the 2011 edition.