If you were as excited about Rogue One as we were, you probably couldn't wait to get back into the rich, storied universe of a Galaxy Far, Far Away. To help that along, we're shamelessly gushing about our Top 3 Star Wars Ships, so come geek out with us as we examine the stats, the history, and the legacy of the most iconic spacecraft of the movies.
You Definitely Recognize These Star Wars Ships
The TIE/LN starfighter, more commonly known as the TIE fighter, served with distinction as the signature starfighter of the Galactic Empire. With the powerful, distinctive roar of their engines, squadrons of TIE fighters have been deployed in countless battles, and never failed to strike fear into the hearts of those foolhardy enough to challenge the might of the Emperor.
Mass-produced by the Empire during its height, the TIE fighter relies on twin ion engines for thrust; and we can't forget the boosters that are capable of adjusting the ship's direction at lightning speeds, adding to the ship's mobility and granting it absolute command in tactical skirmishes where agility was tantamount to victory.
For weapons, the TIE fighter relies on twin low-temperature laser cannons mounted to the 'chin' section of the cockpit module and is also capable of firing a single proton torpedo.
One of the TIE fighter's most distinctive features, however, lies under the hood: the craft was built for efficiency, so much so that in order to reduce power drain, the standard TIE fighter was deliberately built without key features such as a hyperdrive and deflector shields. As a result, TIE fighters have to be docked on carriers to be transported across the galaxy, and the lack of shielding means that the TIE fighter is unlikely to survive impact fire during a dogfight.
The spacecraft is valued highly not only for its prowess in combat but also its ability to operate in space as well as planetary atmospheres. At the Empire's height, TIE fighters were deployed extensively not just during combat missions, but also in scouting and reconnaissance missions, as sentry ships for the Death Star, and also to patrol the skies of worlds controlled by the Empire.
Darth Vader flew in an advanced model of TIE fighter, appropriately named the TIE Advanced, which was reserved for use by elite pilots and high-ranking members of the Imperial hierarchy due to its prohibitive cost and cutting-edge technology. The TIE fighters seen in The Force Awakens are direct successors of the models used in the earlier movies, with the First Order having adopted numerous design improvements over its ancestor model. Among these improvements include a two-seater arrangement, and advanced weapon systems capable of punching through both shields and hull and destroying enemy craft with a single shot.
The term X-Wing represented a series of starfighters bearing the signature X-shape of its four wings, known as strike foils or S-Foils. This happened when they were deployed in combat (out of combat, the wings folded in place flush together).
As the TIE fighter was the signature craft of the Empire, the X-Wing came to symbolize the Rebel Alliance and later the New Republic. Indeed, the X-Wing model of assault starfighter rose to prominence after the Battle of Yavin, and history forever remembers it as the fighter that killed the Death Star.
Specifically, that model was a T-65B X-Wing, developed by Incom Corporation. Armed with four laser cannons placed at the tip of each wing, the S-Foils deployed into their distinctive 'X' positions to allow for more precise targeting. A cryogenic power generator housed in the center of the ship powered the starfighter's engines and many systems.
Compared to its arch nemesis, the TIE fighter, X-Wings boasted superior versatility and power. The X-Wing was capable of housing an astromech droid in a socket near the engines, which helped with spot repairs and navigational calculations. A targeting computer assisted the pilot in landing the shot (though Luke disabled his targeting computer in favor of using the Force), and a sophisticated sensor system was located inside the nose cone.
The X-Wing was highly maneuverable, versatile, and more than just a fighter craft, it was a workhorse. Measuring 12.5 meters in length, the typical X-Wing was equipped with a long-range hyperdrive system, a cargo compartment, and deflector shields. X-Wings served with distinction throughout the rebellion against the evil Galactic Empire. And the T-85 X-Wing, a direct successor of the T-65B, would see use in the New Republic Defense Fleet.
The Millennium Falcon
More than the TIE or X-Wing starfighters, if there's one craft that's immediately recognizable as a defining symbol of the Star Wars brand, it's the Millenium Falcon.
Actually a heavily modified Corellian YT-1300 light freighter, the Millennium Falcon has a long history serving the shadier types of the galaxy. Formerly owned by Lando Calrissian, the charismatic smuggler-turned-gambler and later Baron of Cloud City, the Millennium Falcon was eventually lost to Han Solo in a card game.
Though on the outside the Millennium Falcon looked and played every bit the part of an aging and neglected cargo transport, she was highly advanced on the inside. Indeed, her owners had spared no expense in outfitting her with the latest aftermarket technologies their ill-gotten credits could by.
Modifications to the Millennium Falcon ensured that she was capable of hyperdrive speeds fast enough to outrun Imperial Star Destroyers, sensor-proof smuggling compartments perfect for hiding renegade Princesses of Alderaan, as well as upgraded weapons and shields powerful enough to punch through the bowels of the Death Star II.
Sometime in the years after the Battle of Endor and the downfall of the Galactic Empire, the Falcon was stolen from Han Solo. It was then taken several other times before somehow winding up forgotten for many years on the garbage scow of a desert planet Jakku. Rey, Finn, and BB-8 managed to steal the vessel in their bid to flee the First Order, and so the Falcon flies again as the chariot that drives a new generation of heroes to their fateful adventures amid the stars.