Starfighter Week: _-wings

In contrast to the Imperial TIE Fighters’ unified look, the ships of the Rebellion are far more disparate.  That said, the ships of the Rebellion have a very unified naming system: _-wing.  A-wing, B-wing, X-wing, you get the idea.  As it happens, this naming convention existed far before the Rebels, and after talking about the E-wing and K-wing in my X-Wing Miniatures write-up, I got to wondering just how many letters of the alphabet had been covered.  I did some research on Wookieepedia, and I’ve compiled this list.  Way I figured, there couldn’t be more than 26, so there’s no way this’d take longer than that TIE Fighter post.  Right?

Awing-sag

RZ-1 A-wing interceptor

Starting the alphabet is the A-wing, first featured in Return of the Jedi.  Used by the Rebellion and manufactured by Alliance Underground Engineering and Incom Corporation, the A-Wing was a blisteringly fast and maneuverable ship.  Developed by Jan Dodonna and Walex Blissex after the Battle of Yavin, after Dodanna recognized the need for a dedicated interceptor, the pair based their design off of the existing R-22 Spearhead (in real life, the Spearhead was created after what appeared to be A-Wings showed up in media before the events of A New Hope).  Requiring an incredibly skilled pilot, the A-Wing’s closest Imperial counterpart was the TIE Interceptor.  That said, despite being as fast and manueverable as its less expensive Imperial equivalent, the A-wing had both shields and a hyperdrive.  Now, all of this being said, the A-wing seen in the films is without a doubt the most famous A-wing out there.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only one.  The later ETA-5 interceptor was also occasionally referred to as an A-wing, but one existed far before that as well.

AurekFighter

Aurek-class tactical starfighter

First off, in the Star Wars alphabet, aurebesh, Aurek is equivalent to “A,” so this is already essentially an “a-class.”  First appearing in Knights of the Old Republic, and going on to appear in other media set in that far-flung era, the Aurek was identified as an “A-wing” in the KOTOR 2 strategy guide, so there you have it.  Featuring two heavy laser cannons and two proton torpedo launchers, the Aurek‘s first and last appearances in the timeline are 3000 (!) years apart.  Clearly, this was a well designed ship.

B-wing_infly

A/SF-01 B-Wing starfighter

I’ll come out and say it now, the B-wing has always been my favorite starfighter from the movies.  Something about it just seemed so cool to me.  In the Legends continuity, it was designed by Admiral Ackbar along with Slayn & Korpil engineers to serve as a potential replacement for the aging Y-wing, meant to see use in a heavy assault role.  The B-wing was heavily armed and very well shielded, with modular hardpoints designed to allow for easy switching of weapons to better suit mission requirements (this actually is reflected in several Hasbro versions of the B-wing, featuring switch-out cannons).  Not very fast, the B-wing wasn’t a great dogfighter but excelled in combating capital ships.  The B-Wing’s most notable feature was its unique gyrostabalic system: the ship could rotate around the cockpit, and the pilot would always be upright.  That’s why the B-wing could fly just as well when oriented in the picture below as in the picture above.

Bwing_negvv

Due to that system, the B-Wing was a difficult ship to master.  It was also a rather difficult ship to film, apparently.  The B-Wing shows up in Return of the Jedi, but due to its slim profile numerous sequences meant to feature the B-wing were cut from the film.  Indeed, it is near impossible to see once the Battle of Endor begins in earnest.  That said, the B-wing did eventually get its time in the sun.  A variant of the B-Wing, the B-Wing/E2 (a version with an expanded cockpit that could be used as a transport) featured importantly in Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy.  More impressively was the fact that the first new piece of media following the canon reboot featured B-wings in a starring role.  “Blade Squadron” starred, as you might have gathered, a squadron of B-wings and was released right around the same time as the canon announcement.  Cool stuff, huh?

C-Wing

So the C-Wing is kinda tricky.  It never appeared in any EU media, but was described in the roleplaying guide Starships of the Galaxy.  It was described as a sizable starfighter that could take a beating, which compensated for its lack of maneuverability and speed.  Here’s the thing, though: in that book, it’s given as an example of a ship that someone could create.  Its hypothetical creator was named Cory, hence the name.  So, really, the C-Wing doesn’t exist (I mean, none of these ships do, but that’s besides the point), but it did merit a Wookieepedia article, so here we are.  That said, Wookieepedia also mentions a T-21 C-wing, but it’s described as an airspeeder and doesn’t have any images.  It does exist in the Legends continuity, so that’s something, but since Cory’s C-wing is actually a hypothetical starfighter, it gets top billing.

D-wing_CSCS

D-Wing Space Superiority Fighter

The D-Wing was actually designed for the Empire, as a break from traditional TIE fighter designs.  Heavily armed, the D-Wing required both a pilot and gunner.  Designed by Tay Industries, the sole prototype was stolen by Rebels before the Empire had access to it.  The D-Wing only ever appeared in a roleplaying scenario back in the 1990s.

E-Wing1

E-wing escort starfighter

The E-wing was created after the Battle of Endor, meant to serve as a replacement for the X-wing.  However, despite being an excellent fighter, the ship never caught on like the X-wing did.  Part of this was due to early malfunctions with the laser cannons.  Also contributing was the fact that, at the time of the E-wing’s first deployment, it required a new model astromech droid, the R7.  Developed by FreiTek Inc, the E-wing went on to appear heavily during the events of the New Jedi Order series.  As I believe I mentioned in my earlier article on X-Wing and the EU, the E-wing is probably the most recognizable starfighter of the Rebellion originating in the EU, and certainly the most recognizable EU ship to appear in this list.

G-Wing KOTOR

G-Type light shuttle

There is no F-wing, and though this ship is officially a G-Type, if you search for “G-wing” on Wookieepedia it directs you to this, so that’s good enough for me.  The G-Type doesn’t appear during the Galactic Civil War, rather, it appears in the KOTOR games.  The main version could hold three passengers, but an “escape variant” existed that lowered its passenger count to zero but had additional shielding and provisions.

SWA25-Hwing

BTS-A2 Long-Range Strike Fighter/Bomber

That’s quite a mouthful, but thankfully the Rebellion just calls this one the H-wing.  It’s a big ship, 17.1 meters long and requiring a pilot and two dedicated weapons officers.  The two weapons officers were one of the ship’s advantages, as it allowed the pilot to focus on flying and not have to worry about those other systems.  Well armed but slow, it was suggested that this ship take over the B-wing’s role within the Alliance fleet.  Thanks to its large size and crew requirements, this never happened.  Simply put, the Rebels needed all of the manpower they could, and devoting three men to one ship was ill-advised.  The H-wing has never appeared in any EU media, but is discussed in Fantasy Flight’s sourcebook Stay on Target.

K-Wing_NEGVV

BTL-S8 K-wing assault starfighter

Created by Koensayr Manufacturing, the K-wing was armed to the teeth and meant to carry out precision bombing/attack missions, while maintaining the ability to function in an escort role  It has few appearances in the EU, its first and most notable appearances occurring in the Black Fleet Crisis.  I personally love the design, as I’ve mentioned before.

L-Wing_1

Lethisk-class armed freighter

Appearing only in Knights of the Old Republic, the Lethisk was an expensive ship that was cost-prohibitive to all but the richest citizens of the Republic.  The ship’s name was given in The Old Republic Campaign Guide, another roleplaying tool, but in game files it is referred to as an “L-wing,” hence its inclusion.

Mclassdiving

M-class starfighter

Ok, so the M-class isn’t technically ever called an M-wing, as near as I can tell, which is really just dumb.  It’s used by the Rebellion, and the Rebels love that naming convention!  It even uses parts from a Y-wing, so I’m baffled at the name.  Anyway, the M-class only ever showed up in one Star Wars comic, A Valentine Story.  Later republished under the title Breaking the Ice, the comic stars Han and Leia and was released as a special for Valentine’s Day (duh).

Q-Wing

The Q-Wing is obviously non-canon, but that Robot Chicken special was created with Lucasfilm’s approval, sooooo…  I dunno, just thought its presence would liven up the place a bit.

T-Wing

R-60 T-wing interceptor

The T-wing was meant to replace the A-wing in the Rebellion’s arsenal, but that never really happened.  Put simply, it kinda sucked.  It had only light shielding, was cheaply made, and wasn’t as maneuverable as the A-wing.  Made by Hoersch-Kessel Drive, Inc, the ship actually did see success with several Outer-Rim fringe elements after the Rebels sold them off, in an attempt to make a profit off of them.  The ship first appeared in Star Wars: TIE Fighter, and made a few subsequent video game appearances.

uwings

UT-60D U-wing starfighter/support craft

Making its grand debut in Rogue One, the U-wing is, as of February 2017, the newest addition to this article. Filling a different role than many of the other ships on this list, the U-wing serves more as a troop carrier/gunship than a space superiority starfighter.  Capable of carrying two pilots and up to eight passengers, the U-wing emphasized armor and shields to better carry out the its missions while under heavy air and ground fire.  Designed by Incom shortly before being nationalized by the Empire, a short production run led to very few U-wings making it into the Rebellion’s service, though as of the Battle of Jakku there were still some in use.

VWing-NEGVV

V-wing airspeeder

So here’s what’s up: the V-wing airspeeder is not, in fact, a starfighter.  It can only function in atmosphere.  That said, it excelled in its role of planetary defense, and could dogfight quite well.  Designed by the same group behind the B-wing, the V-wing holds a fond place in many people’s hearts thanks to its appearance in the Rogue Squadron game as a pilotable vehicle.  The fact that it’s in there is the main reason I included it.  That said, even if I didn’t include the airspeeder, there would still be a ship for the letter “V.”

V-Wing

Alpha-3 Nimbus-class V-wing starfighter

Used by the Republic during the Clone Wars, the V-wing starfighter was a quick and nimble ship.  Deployed late in the war, both the TIE series of fighters and the A-wing can trace their genesis to the V-wing.  Appearing in Revenge of the Sith, the V-wing featured as a bomber in Battlefront 2 for game balance purposes.  In actuality, the ARC-170 would be better suited to that role.

X-wing_Fathead

T-65 X-wing starfighter

Here it is, the granddady of them all.  The X-wing has a tremendous number of variants, enough to actually warrant their own post.  Manufactured by Incom Corporation, I’ll let General Carlist Rieekan take this one.

The Incom T-65 X-wing is the fighter that killed the Death Star. An almost perfect balance of speed, maneuverability, and defensive shielding make it the fighter of choice for Rogue Squadron.

Ywing

BTL Y-Wing Starfighter

By the time of the Battle of Yavin, the Y-wing was an old ship.  Regarded as the workhorse of the Rebel fleet, Y-wings played a critical role as heavy fighters/bombers within the Rebellion.  The Rebels used two primary variants: the BTL-S3 Y-wing, a two man ship that featured a pilot and a gunner who manned the rotating ion cannon, and the BTL-A4, pictured above.  The BTL-A4 had a one man crew, with the rotating cannon locked in a forward firing position.  The Alliance used several additional variants, including the BTL-A4 LP “Longprobe, which was designed to function better on long range scouting missions, and a courier variant, which lacked the ion cannon but featured a modified cockpit that could hold up to five people.  That version was rare enough to not warrant its own designation.  The Rebellion’s Y-wings can trace their origins to the BTL-B Y-wing, used by the Republic during the Clone Wars.  Featuring a bubble turret and more complete armor, the BTL-B, like all Y-wing designs, was manufactured by Koensayr.

Z-wing

The Z-wing got referenced as a type of “ugly” starfighter in the X-Wing Rogue Squadron Handbook (ugly meaning that it was cobbled together from various sources).  It wasn’t described and never showed up anywhere, making a rather ignominious end to our list.

Tidbits

 -The next post will be an Artist Spotlight, but I’ll try to do something to continue the Starfighter Week theme.  After that, I’ll try to do a post on the X-wing before my week runs out.

-Earlier today, I recorded a guest appearance on a podcast with Shiloh Kamrath and Matt White of fasterandmoreintense.com.  It was a lot of fun, and they have a great site.  The podcast should hopefully be up in the next couple of days, and I’ll let everyone here know when it is.

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