X-Wing Starfighters: From the Grand Army of the Republic to the Resistance

Hello everyone and welcome to The Sarlacc Pit! Last week I discussed origins of the Rebel Alliance, this week I am going to discuss the origins of the most recognizable starfighter in the Rebel Alliance’s fleet: the X-wing starfighter. I will go through similarities and differences of five starfighters seen throughout Star Wars canon, starting with the Clone Wars and ending with “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” As this is mostly just focusing on tech, there will be pretty minimal spoilers, but as always read at your own risk.

Agressuve ReConnaissance-170 Starfighters (ARC-170)

ARC-170
ARC-170’s were piloted by a crew of three and an astromech droid.

Jointly manufactured by Incom/Subpro for the Republic during the Clone Wars, the ARC-170 was a multi-purpose starfighter used for both battle and deep-space missions. They were piloted by three pilots (usually clones during the Clone Wars), a pilot, co-pilot, and a tail gunner, and an astromech droid. The ship was 12.71 meters in length and was equipped with long-range sensors, a hyper drive, two medium laser canons, two aft laser canons, and a proton torpedo launcher. The ARC-170’s laser canons were strong enough to punch through a capital ship’s armor, making it a very useful ship in space battles. An interesting feature of the ARC-170 was its use of S-foils that opened and closed to expose heat sinks and radiators, allowing the ship to cool off during battle (these S-foils were also used by a variety of other ships in the Republic’s fleet, see my earlier post on my top 10 favorite vehicles for more information). While ARC-170’s were originally built for the Republic, they continued to see use in the Imperial fleet until the introduction of TIE-fighters.

Z-95 Headhunter

Z-95 Headhunter
While there were many drawbacks to the Z-95 Headhunters, they remained very common throughout the galaxy well after the fall of the Empire.

Manufactured by Incom/Subpro as a highly modifiable snub-fighter during the Clone Wars, the Headhunters were outdated almost as soon as they hit the market. It had a cramped single-pilot cockpit and lacked an astromech socket, forcing pilots to either pre-program hyperspace routes or feed it routes by datachip. Despite its drawbacks, the Z-95 was very durable and highly modifiable, spawning numerous variations that saw continued use even after the fall of the Empire, the most prevalent being the variation made specifically for clone pilots. Standard Headhunters were equipped with a hyperdrive, two blaster canons, concussion missile launchers, and a center-mounted ion canon. While these ships were designed for use by the Republic, they saw extensive use as close air support for the Rebel Alliance. These ships were the direct forerunner of Incom’s T-65B X-wing starfighter, which had tech that was tested on the Z-95’s.

T-65B X-Wing Starfighter

T-65B X-wing
The T65B X-wing was the fighter that brought down the Death Star.

The ship that put Incom Corporation on the map was the T-65B X-wing Starfighter. Using technology tested by both the ARC-170 and the Z-95 Headhunter, the T-65B X-wing was an extremely adaptable and maneuverable single-pilot starfighter. The T-65B also had an astromech slot behind the cockpit and near the engines, allowing an astromech to make repairs to the ship as well as program hyperspace coordinates to the hyperdrive. The T-65B came standard with four laser canons at the tip of each wing, two proton torpedo launchers mounted on each side of the nose, a long-range hyperdrive, and a deflector shield which could be adjusted around the fighter. This ship was named for its adjustable S-foils, which, when opened to allow for cooling during battle, gave the ship an X-like shape. This model’s controls were very similar to the T-16 Skyhopper, an airspeeder also manufactured by Incom. These ships were the backbone of the Rebel Alliance’s fleet, and after the defeat of the Empire they became extremely popular with civilians.

T-70 X-Wing Starfighter

T-70 X-wing
The T-70 X-wing was the ship of choice for Resistance pilots.

The next in line of the X-wing starfighters manufactured by Incom-FreiTek, the T-70 X-wing was more expensive and complex than the T-65B. Modifications included an astromech slot that could be modified for different astromech models (including the new BB units), updated engines allowing for reduced atmospheric resistance and increased maneuverability, an added dual-projectile launcher with quick-change magazines that allowed the use of alternative payloads such as miniaturized proton torpedoes, mag-pulse warheads, and concussion missiles, and an underslung blaster canon, as well as more advanced gyroscopics (allowing for easier in-atmosphere maneuvering), laser canons, and proton torperdos. These starfighters were originally designed for the New Republic’s starfleet, but once they were retired in favor of the T-80 models, they wound up in the hands of Princess Leia’s Resistance, becoming the only starfighter used by this paramilitary organization (with the only current exception of one A-wing).

T-85 X-Wing Starfighter

T-85 X-wing
The T-85 X-wing has only currently been featured in an anthology novel Star Wars: Before the Awakening.

During the events of “The Force Awakens,” the favored ship of New Republic pilots was the T-85 X-wing, the newest in Incom-FreiTek’s line of X-wings, which replaced the T-70. Unofortunately, all that has been seen of them in canon so far is when the entire New Republic fleet is destroyed by the First Order, so I cannot really go into detail on how the T-85 improved on the design of the T-70. I probably could have left this section out, but it seemed wrong to leave out the newest in the line of X-wing development. However, perhaps we will see the T-80’s make a resurgence in the future movies and get some more information on them then.

Conclusion

There you have it, the history of the X-wing, by far the most recognizable starfighter in Star Wars canon. From the ARC-170 to the T-85, Incom made some great starfighters in the name of keeping the galaxy safe (and probably made a good bit of credits in the process). Next week, I plan to give a little bit of a geography lesson on the galaxy, discussing how the galaxy is divided into the core, inner rim, middle rim, and outer rim. As always, thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you.

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