“You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.”
Star Wars is full of iconic starship and vehicle design. From the dagger-shapped Imperial Star Destroyer that rumbled across the screen in the opening scene of A New Hope, to the lumbering AT-ATs marching across the snowy tundra of Hoth, to the organic-looking Mon Calamari Star Cruisers which led the Rebel Alliance to victory at the Battle of Endor. Star Wars popularized the “used future” feel for starship and vehicle designs, introducing vessels that were old and battered, and in some cases barely holding together. This aesthetic gave viewers the feeling that the universe they were watching had a history to it – the vehicles were worn and carbon scorched, testament to a long operational history and in some cases bearing the scars of close brushes with the law or direct combat. The beat-up, dirty, and patched vehicles used by the Rebel Alliance contrasted sharply with the stark, utilitarian designs of the Galactic Empire.
With The Force Awakens now available on DVD and Blu-ray, we take a look at the new ships and vehicles and compare them to their counterparts from the Original Trilogy.
Luke Skywalker’s X-34 landspeeder vs Rey’s speeder
In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker owned a nondescript X-34 landspeeder which appears to primarily have been used to pick up power converters from Tosche Station while allowing Luke to waste time with his friends while ignoring his chores. It had two seats, which was perfect for transporting fussy protocol droids or crazy old wizards and tracking down runaway astromechs, three turbine engines, and a windscreen that appeared to be useless because Luke could see over the top of it. Luke’s X-34 was sold for 2,000 credits to help pay for the trip to Alderaan for himself, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO. Luke whined about the price he got for the speeder since their popularity had waned with the release of the XP-38.
In The Force Awakens, Rey rides a custom built speeder constructed from civilian and military salvage that she collected from the battlefield wreckage that littered her homeworld of Jakku. Combining the best parts of speeders and swoop bikes, Rey’s speeder is extremely fast and was capable of carrying heavy loads, allowing her to haul salvage back to Niima Outpost. She customized the vehicle with anti-theft devices like a fingerprint scanner and a system that electrified would-be thieves. None of these did her any good, however, as she was forced to abandon the speeder when the First Order attacked Niima Outpost looking for BB-8.
T-65B X-wing starfighter vs T-70 X-wing starfighter
Incom Corporation’s T-65B X-wing starfighter was the Rebel Alliance‘s premier frontline starfighter responsible for the destruction of two Death Stars. Incorporating S-foils that split in combat, each wingtip was mounted with a single laser cannon for a total of four. Two proton torpedo launchers gave the ship offensive punch and the ship was capable of entering hyperspace for quick strikes against the enemy. An astromech droid assisted in flight procedures, in-craft repairs, and general snarking. X-wings could survive close combat with Imperial starfighters, winding through narrow corridors inside gargantuan Imperial battlestations, and being submerged in fetid swamps teeming with wildlife for several days.
Thirty years after the Battle of Endor, the latest incarnation of the X-wing fighter used by the Resistance was the T-70 produced by Incom-FreiTek. Visually similar to its predecessor (because, lets face it, the X-wing is the coolest starfighter design ever to roll off a drawing board), the T-70 mounted four laser cannons on its wingtips and dual projectile launchers that could be outfitted with a variety of armaments depending on the mission profile. It also came with an underslung blaster cannon for deterring pesky First Order stormtroopers interrupting totally secret meetings on backwater planets. Due to technological advancements, the T-70 was faster and better armed than the T-65. Despite this, the T-70 had been replaced in New Republic service by the T-85.
TIE/LN starfighter vs TIE/fo and TIE/sf starfighter
The Sienar Fleet Systems TIE/LN starfighter was, after hydrogen and stupidity, a commodity that was plentiful throughout the galaxy. Unshielded and armed with only two laser cannons,the starfighter’s name came from its propulsion system – the Twin Ion Engine. Pilots and craft were considered to be expendable assets; TIE fighters relied on maneuverability and sheer numbers to overwhelm the enemy. Considering that multiple TIE fighters failed to stop a single light freighter on several occasions, one has to wonder about the effectiveness of Imperial battle tactics concerning the TIE fighter.
The TIE/fo was the First Order’s primary starfighter, inspired by the classic TIE fighter design utilized by the Galactic Empire since new starfighter designs are apparently hard to come by. Built by Sienar-Jaemus Fleet Systems, the TIE/fo incorporated deflector shields unlike its predecessor which gave the ship a better chance of surviving combat. Not that this appeared to do any good since they blew up just as well as their ancestors.
The TIE/sf was a variant model, reserved for use by First Order special forces. It was a two-seat craft incorporating an underslung turret with laser cannons and a warhead launcher. These craft were most effective in aiding in the escape of a recently tortured Resistance pilot capable of flying anything and his traitor stormtrooper friend.
Millennium Falcon vs Eravana
The classic YT-1300 light freighter Millennium Falcon was produced by Corellian Engineering Corporation and was the ship that made the Kessel Run in
fourteen TWELVE! parsecs. It was Han Solo and Chewbacca‘s sweet ride that assisted in blowing up two Death Stars and generally being the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. Despite being awesomely cool, the Falcon suffered from a temperamental hyperdrive and a shockingly poor design decision to place the cockpit on the starboard side of the ship, effectively blocking portside visibility. Despite once surviving being in the belly of a space slug, the Millennium Falcon was stolen from Han by Gannis Ducain.
The Eravana was a Corellian Engineering Corporation Baleen-class heavy freighter that Han and Chewie flew around in following the theft of the Millennium Falcon. Topping over four hundred meters, the smugglers plied the space lanes for several years in the vessel and turned a decent profit. However, Han and Chewie were always on the look out for the Falcon, a search that ended through a seemingly convenient set of circumstances involving Rey and Finn, Han’s creditors Kanjiklub and the Guavian Death Gang, and some angry rathtars. Long story short, Han ended up with the Falcon again. At least for a while.
Imperial-class Star Destroyer vs Resurgent-class Star Destroyer
The mile-long Imperial-class Star Destroyer manufactured by Kuat Drive Yards was the staple warship of the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War. The distinctive dagger shaped vessel was the symbol of Imperial might and power throughout the galaxy. Despite this, they had a shockingly bad track record at apprehending the Millennium Falcon, and sported a massive command tower targetable by out of control starfighters and tumbling asteroids. A high turnover rate of commanding officers that “mysteriously” choked to death after displeasing Lord Vader and being summarily executed should have been referred to in Imperial circles as “dying of natural causes.”
Kuat-Entralla Engineering’s Resurgent-class Star Destroyer is the primary capital ship of the First Order. Inspired by the Imperial-class design, it was almost twice the length of its predecessor at around three thousand meters. The First Order took the lessons learned by the Empire at the Battle of Endor to heart and the design featured a command tower that was not as exposed as the previous model. Despite the advantage in terms of size and weaponry, the security was shockingly lax aboard the Finalizer as a stormtrooper could apparently waltz out with a high-level prisoner, steal a ship and escape.
Lambda-class shuttle vs Upsilon-class shuttle
Sienar Fleet Systems’ Lambda-class shuttle was a tri-wing shuttle capable of independent hyperspace travel. The Lambda-class was endorsed by both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader as their short range transport of choice. The shuttle Tyderium was nonetheless easily stolen and capable of sneaking a team of Rebel commandos onto Endor in striking distance of the Empire’s new secret weapon. Which, of course, begs the deeper question – why didn’t they just land at the landing pad and surprise attack from there without trekking through the jungle? And did the outpost not notice that a shuttle requesting clearance failed to land at the facility?
The Upsilon-class command shuttle was Kylo Ren‘s transport of choice for galactic transport. Built by Sienar-Jaemus Fleet Systems, the bat-like wings extended in flight and folded up for landing. It lacked the traditional central fin which appears to be a design oversight for atmospheric travel. Designed to evoke birds of prey, the wings were crammed full of goodies to protect their important passengers such as sensor suits, jammers, and shield projectors.
Death Star vs Starkiller Base
The Death Star, the ultimate weapon in the universe, was designed by the Geonosians and built by the Galactic Empire. 120 kilometers in diameter, it was a mobile battlestation with an immensely powerful superlaser capable of destroying an entire planet. It bristled with weaponry and was crewed by over a quarter million Imperial personnel. The Death Star was nonetheless a shocking health and safety nightmare, with easy access to the reactor core via a thermal exhaust port, open chasms with no railings, and stormtroopers who were exceptionally bad shots. It was destroyed by the Alliance at the Battle of Yavin only for a new one to reappear about four years later.
Not learning the lessons imparted by the Empire – that battlestations become targets and can be destroyed by starfighters – the First Order created Starkiller Base, a converted ice planet with a superweapon capable of destroying planets from across the galaxy. So nothing like the Galaxy Gun then. Using wibbly-wobbly sciencey mumbo-jumbo, the weapon drained stars to fire a concentrated burst of energy at a target in another system. Like the Death Star, Starkiller Base employed deep chasms with absurdly narrow walkways with no safety railings. It was destroyed because bad guys never learn their history lessons.