Last week’s piece on X-Wing Miniatures inspired me to do some more articles about starfighters. In that piece, I talked about a few different versions of the TIE Fighter, all from sources other than the movies. The thing is, though, that I barely began to scratch the surface of all the different TIEs out there. You can spot a bunch of varieties in the films, but when all is said and done there are an awful lot more to keep track of. I thought I would go through the movies and EU and put together a list of the various TIEs out there. Here’s the thing: a lot of these variants only ever had one or two appearances. Some had so few appearances that they never even got an official designation. A few don’t even have actual appearances; rather, they’re described in reference guides. I decided to include every variant used by the Galactic Empire (which means no Chiss Clawcraft) that had been visually portrayed, which means that a few variants only ever mentioned in passing don’t show up. There’s a lot of ships to go through, so let’s get started.
The TIE/LN is the most common variety of TIE. Though the TIE Fighter was named in real life due to its resemblance to a bow-tie, in the Star Wars galaxy they’re named for their Twin Ion Engine propulsion system. Compared to the X-Wing, and most other variants on this list, the TIE/LN is not a good starfighter. It lacks life-support, a hyperdrive, and shields. However, the lack of those systems makes it both more maneuverable and incredibly cheap to produce. As such, TIE Fighters often won through sheer force of numbers, using swarm tactics to their advantage.
TIE Light Duty
If the TIE Light Duty looks pretty much identical to the TIE Fighter to you, well, that’s intentional. They were usually reconditioned TIE Fighters, having lighter armor and armaments to have them serve better as training ships for novice pilots. The Light Duty has only appeared in Star Wars: Galaxies.
TIE/rc reconnaissance fighter
The TIE/rc was designed to specialize in reconnaissance. At the cost of a laser cannon, it gained enhanced sensors and communications equipment. While it lacked a hyperdrive, it could be sent ahead of a fleet to relay information back while remaining undetected by the enemy. The TIE/rc has a few EU appearances, one of the more notable being Before the Storm. That said, the TIE/rc was not the only TIE designed for reconnaissance. Another, upgraded version was…
The TIE Vanguard was specifically designed to serve as an upgraded version of the TIE/rc. Its sensor suite and communications array are further improved (those antennae on the cockpit attach to them) and has rudimentary shields. It’s top solar panels are splayed out and shortened to reduce interference with its sensors. The Vanguard has no official appearances, instead being mentioned in an issue of Star Wars Adventure Journal and being featured in Decipher’s Star Wars Customizable Card Game.
TIE/fc (fire control) starfighter
Much like the TIE/rc, the TIE/fc sacrificed a laser to gain a sensor suite. As opposed to doing general recon, however, the TIE/fc’s specific purpose was to scan enemy bases and transmit the information back to the fleet. While this information was important for the fleet as a whole, it also provided precise targeting info for the next ship on the list. The TIE/fc is another ship with no actual appearances, referenced only in various sourcebooks.
TIE/gt (ground-targeting) starfighter
The TIE/gt was a bomber that relied on the TIE/fc to help it aim its ordnance. While something like a capital ship or buildings could be hit without assistance, precision aiming required the help of the TIE/fc. Featuring an elongated hull to help store all of its extra weapons, the ship was eventually phased out in favor of the later TIE Bomber.
Special Forces TIE Fighter
Though the Special Forces TIE can be seen in trailers for The Force Awakens, it’s Hasbro’s Black Series version of the ship that gives us our best look at it. It… it’s got more guns! And white wings! To be honest, I know as much about this one as you do. In a few short months, we should all know a whole lot more.
UPDATE: Now that all the ancillary material surrounding TFA has been released, we know an awful lot more about the Special Forces TIE, not the least of which is that its official designation is the TIE/sf space superiority fighter. Reserved for members of the First Order’s Special Forces (duh), the Special Forces TIE was featured a two seat cockpit, shields, a top of the line sensor array, a hyperdrive, and a far superior weapons loadout compared to a standard TIE, including warheads and a heavy turret.
TIE/fo space superiority fighter
While the Special Forces TIE got a stronger early marketing push, the main starfighter of the First Order was, who’d thunk, the First Order TIE Fighter. A modern update to the TIE/ln, the TIE/fo featured improved solar cells, high capacity converters, and deflector shields, all resulting from the First Order’s policy of seeing pilots as assets rather than expendable as the Empire did.
TIE/sk x1 experimental air superiority fighter
Rogue One introduced several new TIE Fighter variants, the most notable being the TIE Striker. Designed for atmospheric combat, the TIE Striker’s flat wings were better suited to atmospheric engagements than the TIE/ln’s, making it the preferred starfighter for the garrison on Scarif. Featuring extra lasers and a proton bomb launcher that allowed it to function well against ground units, the TIE Striker’s large central pod also allowed it to ferry supplies and personnel from orbit to surface.
Present in Rogue One but first getting named in EA’s mobile game Galaxy of Heroes, the TIE Reaper served as a dropship for Orson Krennic’s Death Troopers during the Battle of Scarif, though it was also present during Cassian Andor’s mission to the Ring of Kafrene and at least one wound up being used by Agent Terex’s Ranc criminal gang in the events of the Poe Dameron comic. Interestingly, despite being a new TIE variant the TIE Reaper was conspicuously absent from the Rogue One Visual Guide, as it wasn’t actually named until after the book went to print.
TIE Advance v1
The TIE Advance v1’s claim to fame is that the Inquistor used it as his personal starship in Rebels. It’s a prototype design for later TIE Advanceds, and though it was meant to enter mass production on Lothal it doesn’t look like it ever did. Of note is the fact that only the insides of its wings have the solar panels characteristic of TIE Fighters, meaning that it’s dependent on the use of fuel.
TIE Advanced x1
Best known as the personal starfighter of Darth Vader, the TIE Advanced was designed as a potential replacement for the standard TIE Fighter. Featuring both a hyperdrive and shields, the x1 wound up being too expensive to serve as a wide replacement for the TIE Fighter. It never entered wide production, but enough sample were made to allow some of the Empire’s more elite pilots access to them. Some of its elements were used in the TIE Bomber and TIE Interceptor, and the project that produced the x1 went on to produce the TIE Avenger and TIE Defender. A modified version of the x1 was present in Star Wars Galaxies.
While the TIE Advanced x1 never was the replacement for the TIE Fighter its designers wanted it to be, the TIE Interceptor was poised to succeed where the x1 failed. Designed in response to the TIE Fighter’s numerous shortcomings against better starfighters such as the X-Wing, the Interceptor was faster, more maneuverable, and better armed than the standard TIE, while still managing to be relatively inexpensive to produce. This meant that it could receive a wider roll-out than other, more elite and costly TIE variants.
Royal Guard TIE Interceptor
Introduced in Star Wars Galaxies, the Royal Guard Interceptor was used almost exclusively by, unsurprisingly, Palpatine’s Royal Guards. Featuring extra flaps on the wings, the Royal Guard Interceptor also featured a built-in hyperdrive and shield generator.
The TIE Avenger first appeared in Star Wars: TIE Fighter, and went on to appear in several other games in that series. Spawned from the same program as the x1, the Avenger was an excellent starfighter. Fast, heavily armed, and equipped with both shields and a hyperdrive, the Avenger was expensive to produce and used by the most skilled Imperial pilots. Despite being almost as good in every regard, the Avenger wound up getting overshadowed (both in the EU and in terms of popular perception in the real world) by the next ship on the list.
The TIE Defender is probably the most well known EU TIE Fighter. After first showing up in “TIE Fighter,” it went on to appear in numerous other video games and novels. Based on the TIE Advanced x7, the Defender featured all of the features present on the Avenger, while improving in several other regards. It never saw as wide usage as the Interceptor, but nor was it meant to. Rather, it was intended to be a ship used by the Empire’s most talented pilots. In that regard, it’s similar to a lot of the other ships present on the list, but the Defender saw wider use in that role than any of them. To drive the point home, I’ll use the blurb on the Defender found in The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels. In the EU, it was spoken by Defender pilot Rexler Brath:
“Imperial High Command decided that Defender pilots would only be selected from TIE Interceptor pilots who had flown at least twenty combat missions and survived. We’re either the best pilots in the Imperial fleet or the luckiest.“
UPDATE: The TIE Defender is still canon, baby! It was recently revealed in Star Wars Rebels that Grand Admiral Thrawn was championing the development of the TIE Defender to even the odds against the Rebellion’s superior starfighters. While its specific technical improvements aren’t yet known (other than it has shields), the Rebels who discovered the plans were still very trepidatious at the thought of the Empire constructing the Defender on a large scale.
TIE/sa (surface assault) Bomber
The TIE Bomber supplanted the TIE/gt as the primary bomber in the Imperial Navy. Its distinctive second pod was used to carry ordnance, though on several variants it served a different purpose. While the Bomber was slow, not very maneuverable, and lacked shields, it was cheap to produce, which allowed it to curry favor among the brass (even though ships such as the Avenger or Defender could do just as good, if not better, a job at delivering payload). Though the TIE Bomber was never replaced as the primary heavy fighter of the Imperials, it was improved upon with the Scimitar assault bomber.
TIE Heavy Bomber
The TIE Heavy Bomber showed up in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds and its expansion pack, Clone Campaigns. It’s made no other appearances since then. One can assume that it can carry twice the payload of the Bomber, thanks to its extra weapons pod, but there isn’t much info beyond that.
TIE/IT Interdictor Starfighter
The TIE/IT is perhaps better known as the TIE Punisher, thanks to that being its name in X-Wing Miniatures. Equipped with quadruple the ordnance pods of a regular bomber, along with a shield generator, the Punisher only ever appeared in Galactic Battlegrounds as well. However, perhaps thanks to its more over-the-top nature compared to the Heavy Bomber, it’s received more coverage in reference guides, and holds a brighter spot in the public’s eye.
“Shadow Squadron TIE starfighter”
You know how I mentioned that one of the TIE variants in the article never even got a real name? This is it. Only appearing in the comic accompanying The Force Unleashed II, it was hyperspace capable and fired special pods that contained Terror Troopers, used to board a Rebel frigate. I can’t decide if I think this is really cool looking or really dumb looking, so I think I’m just gonna move on.
Scimitar assault bomber
The Scimitar was developed during the Thrawn Crisis as a replacement for the aging TIE Bomber. Faster, shielded, and just as well armed, the Scimitar lacked a second ion engine, disqualifying it from “TIE” designation. First appearing in Dark Force Rising, the Scimitar went on to appear in Crimson Empire and several other novels.
TIE/sh VIP Shuttle
The TIE Shuttle was essentially a TIE Bomber with a converted ordnance pod. As opposed to carrying weapons, the pod was redesigned to carry several passengers (as such, the bomb chute seen on the Bomber is absent on the Shuttle). Given that the Imperials had the Lambda-class shuttle available, the TIE Shuttle was generally disliked by Imperials, and their usage was primarily reserved for junior officers. A TIE Shuttle can be briefly seen in The Empire Strikes Back, as Captain Needa takes one to the Executor to give his fatal apology to Darth Vader. Unlike the TIE Bomber, the Shuttle was equipped with shields.
TIE/br Boarding Shuttle
The TIE/br featured an enlarged secondary pod, equipped with clamps and a cutter that could be used to break through an enemy’s hull. Originally designed for A New Hope, the TIE/br didn’t make it in to the final cut of the film (according to EU sources, however, Vader and his troops used one to enter the Tantive IV). Unlike many types of TIE Fighters, the Lander was actually equipped with landing gear, and didn’t require the use of a gantry.
The TIE Lander only ever appeared in one issue of the original Marvel comics run, and even then its existence could be questioned, as it appeared in a fabricated story told by Shira Brie. Either way, it’s a TIE Bomber with an extra big pod down beneath it to carry Stormtroopers. That’s about all there is to it.
The TIE Scout first appeared in a short story about Grand Admiral Thrawn, but it’s probably most remembered for appearing in Empire at War. Longer than most TIE variants at 24 meters, the TIE Scout was also equipped with the best hyperdrive of any of the TIE variants. This let it go out on its own, and use its impressive sensor suite to do advance recon in a manner that the TIE/rc or TIE Vanguard couldn’t.
The TIE Oppressor was designed to fill a role similar to the Rebellion’s Y-Wing (a light bomber capable of dogfighting if the need arose). Shielded, well armored, and capable of carrying a massive payload, the Oppressor traded maneuverability for sheer firepower. Though it was meant to take on capital ships, the Oppressor was well enough armed to make it a potent foe in a dogfight. Never reaching wide production, the Oppressor was only ever fielded as part of a testing program. Though it received mentions in several reference guides, the Oppressor’s only appearance is in Star Wars Galaxies.
Another ship only appearing in Star Wars Galaxies, the Aggressor was designed as a dual purpose bomber and starfighter. In-game, it was designed to counter the Y-Wing (hence the rear turret). It never saw particularly wide use by the Imperials, as it traded cost efficiency for general survivability.
The TIE Hunter was used exclusively by Imperial Storm Commandos. Designed to counter the X-Wing, it was well armed, well shielded, and equipped with a hyperdrive. It featured S-foils that could fold down to increase its speed (much like the X-Wing did), and was considered one of the fastest TIE Variants. Its primary appearance was in Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike.
The TIE Sentinel is mentioned in Star Wars Galaxies, but has no actual appearances. Very little has been described about it, so what you see in that picture is about what you get.
TIE/D automated starfighter
Before The Phantom Menace went and made droid starfighters mainstream, the droid TIE Fighter appeared in Dark Empire. Produced by the Empire’s World Devastators, the TIE/D automated went on to appear in Rogue Squadron and the rest of the Dark Empire comics. It holds the distinction of being the first Expanded Universe Lego set, appearing in a collection of TIE Fighters.
The Phantom’s claim to fame is its cloaking device. It has a relatively unique look compared to other TIE Fighters as well, but it’s the cloaking device that really makes it unique. Heavily armed and first appearing in Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire, the Phantom’s prototype was destroyed before it could truly enter mass production. It did, however, go on to appear in Empire at War: Forces of Corruption as a builable unit for the Empire, so who knows?
Predator-class fighter (TIE Predator)
The TIE Predator is the primary TIE fighter by the time of the Legacy comics. Designed as a replacement for the Interceptor, the Predator featured both a hyperdrive and shield generator. Its wings could fold back in flight, helping its maneuverability. You may notice that the two in the background there have slits in the cockpit, as opposed to the traditional TIE viewscreen. Well, that was originally done by artist Jan Durseema to give them a distinct look from the classic TIE. In universe, however, this change was quickly recognized as a bad idea and ships with the classic design were quickly produced, and given to squad leaders.
Despite having no EU appearances, the Neutralizer-class bomber was described as the primary Imperial bomber in the Legacy era. Using designs from the Predator, it featured a hyperdrive and shields.
The TIE Raptor was never officially used by the Galactic Empire, but saw use by Warlord Zsinj in his campaign against the New Republic. Though not as fast as the Interceptor, it was well armed and rivaled the A-Wing in its ability to maneuver.
Lancet Aerial Artillery
The Lancet isn’t technically a starfighter, instead an air vehicle used against ground targets. Drawing from both the TIE series and the Lambda-class shuttle, the Lancet featured a powerful proton beam cannon that could devastate stationary targets (it was found to be less effective against the quickly moving). It, like it’s space-going counterparts, lacked shields. Though it isn’t a starfighter, the Lancet does still fly, which is more than can be said for…
Century Tank (TIE Crawler)
The TIE Crawler is one of those ideas that feels totally ridiculous and totally natural at the same time. Coming into being after the Battle of Endor, the TIE Crawler was designed to be relatively inexpensive to produce. First appearing in Dark Empire, the TIE Crawler actually has relatively few appearances. However, due to being a fairly interesting concept, it actually was produced as the first stand-alone Expanded Universe Lego set.
TIE ap-1 (TIE Mauler)
The TIE Mauler serves as the predecessor to the TIE Crawler. Showing up in Empire at War, the Mauler was designed to be a fast response ground vehicle for the Empire. Lightly armored, the Mauler featured rapid-fire light laser canons as well as a self-destruct mechanism. It earned its nickname through stories of it running over opposing Rebels.
-Man, are there a lot of TIE fighters out there.
-For the next Starfighter Week article, I’ll go through the alphabet, A-Wing through Z-Wing, and see how many the Rebellion has on hand. Can’t be more than 26, right?