Galactica had various numbers of Vipers, some the old mark II that was also used in the first Cylon war, and some the newest mark VII designed for advanced avionics that was vulnerable to cyberattack. From watching the battles, it's not immediately clear what qualitative differences existed between the two models, and any differences in performance had more to do with the pilots than anything.

Still, there had to be some differences, even if it's hard to say whether one was better than the other. Certain pilots had a strong preference for one model over the other; Apollo was eager to transfer to a mark VII in the miniseries, whereas Starbuck flew the mark II (almost) exclusively, and Galactica had more than a few of each model so the aces could always pick.

Apart from the obvious cosmetic differences and avionics, are there any other differences? The BSG wiki is quite unclear, as the stats are virtually identical.

  • Interesting question. On one hand, fighter pilots always want the fastest, quickest planes available. On the other hand, as technology matures the improvements from one model to the next get smaller. There are probably practical fewer differences between the F-15 and the F-35 than between a Sopwith Camel and a Spitfire. – Joe L. Apr 28 '15 at 12:12
  • > Apollo was eager to transfer to a mark VII in the miniseries, whereas Starbuck flew the mark II (almost) exclusively Ironically enough in the board game, it's better the other way around... to put Starbuck in the mkVII, while Apollo in the mkII – ackmondual Oct 17 '17 at 18:00

The single largest difference between the Mark VII Viper and its Mark II predecessor was the onboard AI. Whereas the Mark II had completely analog controls, the Mark VII represented the latest designs in computer-controlled flight, targeting, and landing systems.

The Mark VII on-board computer assisted the pilot with most tasks:

  • Automated take-off procedures
  • Automated target tracking & analysis
  • Automated system management
  • Automated navigation
  • Automated landing procedures

As you can see, with the Mark VII the pilot basically has to move the stick a little and pull the trigger, otherwise the computer handles most of the flying. With a Mark II, however, all of these tasks are performed by the pilot themselves - thus requiring far more of the pilot's concentration, while also allowing a large margin for human error.

The Mark VII, if nothing else, leveled the playing field between great pilots and average pilots. The Mark II, however, required pilots to be at the top of their game and would quickly weed out the lesser pilots unlike the newer craft.

The Mark VII Viper also sported a slightly more aggressive profile & armament package:

enter image description here

  • I believe what you described is called the CNP (Computer Navigation Program). However, as the Cylons hacked this to render the Mk VII's unusable, the Colonial Fleet had to remove the CNPs to protect against that. They're still superior fighters, but only expert pilots like Starbuck and Apollo could make full use of them – ackmondual Oct 17 '17 at 17:58
  • @ackmondual - yep, the hack occurred in the pilot episode, which rendered the Mark VII's practically useless. IIRC, the only reason Apollo was able to save the Secretary was because he was flying the Mark II that his dad used in the original war. I assume the OP was referring to the differences originally, as the Mark VII models weren't refitted and available until later in the series. – Omegacron Oct 18 '17 at 1:17

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