I must confess, I was one of those who argued against the Akira being some sort of super-warship, but it seems that I was totally in the wrong on that one. Since it first appeared, everything we learn about this ship just makes it better and better! The recent Star Trek Magazine article on the ship stated that she had no less than fifteen torpedo tubes, and confirmed the speculation that she was indeed intended to carry and handle large numbers of shuttles with hangar doors both forward and aft on the saucer.
The location of the tubes was given in the article, and is as follows :
Pod: 7 total, 4 in upper section of pod, 3 in lower section, all face
Saucer: 7 total, 3 forward below the front shuttle bay doors, 4 in dorsal surface, 2 port, 2 starboard. The latter four face out to port and starboard, respectively - so far as I know these are the only torpedo tubes we've ever seen which don't fire parallel to the direction of motion. Finally there is 1 in the lower hull section, just below the deflector dish.
There are only three phaser arrays visible on the model, one long one on the dorsal saucer and two on the ventral saucer. The DS9 TM calls them type 10, and much of the data on the specs page comes from here.
The age of the Akira is still slightly controversial; she has the same general look as the Sovereign, and many assumed that the Akira was a new design for Starfleet as well as for us. But according to the Encyclopedia 2nd edition the registry number of the Akira class USS Thunderchild is NCC 63594. Since the Galaxy class ships have numbers around the 70000 - 72000 range (with the exception of the Enterprise of course!), this indicates a commissioning date earlier than 2364. The fact that we see quite a few Akiras around also indicates that this is not a brand new design; hence I've given a commissioning date for the first ship of 2363, to make the ships as modern as possible while still pre-dating the Galaxies.
The conclusion seems to be that Starfleet has had the Akira throughout TNG, but we haven't seen it. My way to get around this is to suggest that the Akira has mostly served out on the edge of the Federation, and has only recently been brought in to the centre as part of Starfleets response to the new threats it has been facing since the start of TNG.
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