I am wondering about the combat effectiveness of the saucer section of a Galaxy class starship is compared to the stardrive section.

I know that the saucer section can sustain a warp field but not generate one. I don't know if it can change direction. I also do not know how crucial warp drive is in combat, I think they combat generally happens at impulse.

So, what I would like to know is:

  1. what the distribution of phasers and torpedo launchers is and if know what their angle of fire is(do either of the sections have blind spots they cannot fire in).
  2. Do both sections have comparable shielding?
  3. Is the stardrive section more or less manoeuvrable on its own?

Additionally, I see basically three reasonable situations where you would separate the ship: 1) To have multiple vectors of attack, 2) To leave non-essential personal behind and 3) You need to do a crash landing.

I have seen 2 and 3, but I am not sure I have seen a combat situation using both sections on a Galaxy class before. Is multivectored attack viable in a Galaxy class or is that the just domain of the Prometheus class?


2 Answers 2


Torpedo and Phaser distribution


As can be seen in the below image from 'The Best of Both Worlds Pt I', we see the Enterprise-D firing phasers from both the saucer and stardrive section:

Enterprise-D firing multiple weapons.



The above image demonstrates that torpedoes can be fired from the stardrive section (it's clearly coming from below the saucer section). This is showing a front torpedo-launcher. This image shows that the stardrive section also has an aft torpedo launcher.

Looking at the below schematic, it seems that the saucer section may also be capable of launching torpedoes:

Diagram of Saucer Section, Aft Torpedo Launcher Highlighted

However, this is an aft-torpedo launcher, so in terms of weak spots, the saucer-section wouldn't be able to fire torpedoes from the front. However, it does have phasers there!


Memory Alpha tells us that:

Shield energies could be emitted from a localized antenna or "dish", such as a ship's navigational deflector, or from a network of "grid" emitters laid out on the object's surface, such as a starship's hull.

As the saucer section obviously lacks the main navigational deflector, I would postulate that it uses the latter i.e. a network of grid emitters. It also doesn't make much sense to use saucer separation next to a Borg Cube if the saucer lacks shielding! So, I would say they both have shielding.

In terms of power, as the saucer section lacks the matter/antimatter reactor, it wouldn't be capable of producing the same amount of energy, therefore I would expect the saucer section's shielding to not be as strong as the stardrive section's shields.


I have found no information to suggest that there is any particular advantage in terms of the stardrive section's maneuverability following saucer-separation. It stands to reason that it would be somewhat more maneuverable, considering that it doesn't have the saucer section to interfere with operations.

The Saucer section has the impulse engines ('The Best of Both Worlds Pt I'), so that would be a very maneuverable sub-light craft in its own right.

Mult-vectored attack

Yes, multi-vectored attack is both possible and seen. In 'The Best of Both Worlds Part 2', the Enterprise-D engages the Borg cube in such an attack with the saucer section firing antimatter streams and the stardrive section engaging it simultaneously.

  • 1
    From that image it looks like the aft torpedo launcher is underneath where the stardrive section connects. Like it can't be used unless they are seperated.
    – HighInBC
    Dec 8, 2015 at 3:46
  • 1
    @HighInBC exactly; there wouldn't be much point in having an aft torpedo launcher if it's just going to fire right into the ship! It looks like it was designed specifically for saucer-separation. It's important to note that this torpedo launcher wasn't incorporated into the final model, however it's theoretically possible that it was out of order during the series... :) Dec 8, 2015 at 3:48
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    It is interesting to note that the saucer separation in Best of Both Worlds Part II was only useful because of cunning. It was not an effective brute force combat ship, the Borg ignored it to defend against the more dangerous stardrive section. However the advanced technology carried by the saucer was able to deliver an effective distraction right when it was needed. If used as a simple combat ship it probably would have been less effective than staying intact.
    – HighInBC
    Dec 8, 2015 at 4:49
  • This answer makes it sound like the battle capabilities of the saucer section is comparable to the stardrive and thus evenly distributed. But there's just no logical way that can be. The stardrive has the energy generation of a warp core, not to mention tons of phaser arrays, several photon launchers, and the main deflector. The saucer section has 2 phaser arrays, perhaps 1 photon launcher, and less powerful energy generation systems. The offensive distribution is clearly more predominant in the stardrive, and that's ignoring propulsion.
    – Ellesedil
    Sep 22, 2017 at 17:36
  • @OftenRight There's a reference in one of the TNG episodes, "Heart of Glory," the one with the Klingon pirates, to the effect of "The Enterprise becomes a formidable weapon when relieved of her bulk."
    – T.J.L.
    Sep 22, 2017 at 18:14

In terms of distribution the Galaxy class can fire when detached but with only it's fusion reactors as the sole power source, it's firepower islimited. Galaxy has three torpedo launchers, one aft one foreward and one forward. Galaxy-class ships typically carried about 250 photon torpedoes. The torpedo launchers were also capable of launching probes. Since the stardrive section contains the warpcore, the primary power supply; weapons were mostly integrated on the the stardrive section. Despite the ships supposedly carrying 250-275 torpedoes in some apocrypha the ship in truth should be able to carry much more. With a ceiling height of 2.5 meters and the torpedo thickness of half a meter by 2 meters long even room the size of a basketball court could carry litterally hundreds of rounds

  • Can you explain where you're getting these facts and how they relate to the question asked by OP - "In some apocrypha" - Which?
    – Valorum
    Apr 6, 2020 at 7:37

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