Walkers: The Goofy Tanks of Star Wars

Hello everyone and welcome to The Sarlacc Pit! I have numerous times before expressed how I absolutely love the different vehicle designs of the Star Wars universe, from the pizza-slice Star Destroyers to the hammerhead shark design of the Corellian Corvettes. However, none stand out to me as much as the walkers. I mean who would think that a giant tank shaped like a dog would be an effective military vehicle? This week, I am going to give a brief overview of walkers in general, and why I love them so much. This should be relatively spoiler-free, but read at your own risk!

imperial-walker

What are Walkers?

So by “walkers” I’m not talking about the metal wheeled framework some people need to use to walk around, I’m talking about the military vehicles found in Star Wars that have legs. Some readers may ask “why would legged vehicles be preferable to something with wheels, tracks, or repulsors?” Well, in the Star Wars canon, careful viewers will note a distinct lack of wheeled vehicles, and any wheeled vehicles were generally only large enough for a single operator. Far more common are tracked vehicles (similar to real-world tanks) and vehicles that use repulsor technology to hover or fly. However, walkers use legs to allow for better mobility in variable landscapes, much like how animals are able to easily adapt from smooth to rough terrain, or even climb steep hills. Furthermore, the stability and construction of the legs allowed for heavy armor and loads to be carried by these vehicles. These vehicles were often used as either large tanks, transport, or mobile scouting vehicles in regions with unpredictable terrain. Walkers were commonly used by the Galactic Republic, the Empire, and the First Order.

Many naysayers to walkers will point out the obvious weakpoints of walkers: their legs. However, it has been shown numerous times that these legs are heavily armored, and are resistant to many common weapons. The joints in their legs, however, are relatively weak, and vulnerable to heavy barrages of laser fire. This still presents a challenge, as the joints are still armored, and require constant attack, which can be tricky to someone flying around trying to dodge the walker’s extremely strong laser fire. Walkers, like most vehicles, are also vulnerable to ion cannon damage, which is specifically made to take out vehicles by causing electrical damage to the vehicles systems, thus bypassing some of the vehicle’s armor.

Some Common Walkers

All Terrain Armored Transport

AT-AT

As I said in an earlier post, these are my favorite vehicles in Star Wars canon. Heavily armed, heavily armored, and standing tall at 22.5 meters, these vehicles often worked using intimidation alone. Their main purpose was carrying Imperial troops and vehicles through adverse terrain, but as seen in “The Empire Strikes Back,” these walkers could do plenty of damage on their own. A similar model seen in “Rogue One” was the All Terrain Armored Cargo Transport, had large container modules that were used to carry cargo for construction and could be easily removed. However, when the armored cargo module was removed, this made the “torso” of the walker less armored and more vulnerable to attack.

All Terrain Scout Transport

AT-ST.jpeg
The Battle of Endor did not make a good case for the competency of these walkers.

Ok, so these AT-ST’s look goofy, I’ll admit it. AT-ST’s were bipedal walkers used by the Empire to take out smaller groups of enemies. They were less armored and much smalelr than the AT-AT’s (allowing them to be taken out by logs for some reason), but more maneuverable than their quadrupedal compatriots. AT-ST’s were commonly deployed alongside AT-ST’s or used as the main artillery in areas that made maneuvering larger vehicles difficult.

All Terrain Tactical Enforcer

at-te

Used by the Grand Army of the Republic, the AT-TE had six legs and was squatter than the Imperial AT-AT’s. These walkers had six laser cannons, a heavy projectile cannon, and feet that could be magnetized, allowing them to be deployed on the outside of metallic buildings and capital space ships. Furthermore, the squat design of these walkers allowed them to climb up sheer rock walls.

All Terrain Recon Transport

at-rt

AT-RT’s were single-occupancy open-aired scouting walkers, used by the Republic to quickly scout areas of difficult terrain. Two of these could be folded and stored on the back of an AT-TE, and deployed to provide more maneuverable back up.

Conclusion

Ok, so these vehicles seem goofy and impracticable at some times. I mean, why use vehicles with such obvious weak points? You can make arguments against walkers all day long and I would not really care. These vehicles, to me, represent one of the coolest things about Star Wars: the ability to capture the imagination in unexpected ways. Walking vehicles are things you never see in the real world (probably because realistically they are an engineering nightmare), and I’ve never seen anything like them in other fictional series. In addition to their uniqueness, there is also a large variety of walkers, even more than I talked about here and with more information coming out about the First Order, I predict we will see even more types of walkers in the future!

Next week I am going to discuss one of the most enigmatic characters in the Star Wars universe: Jedi Grand Master Yoda! Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you!

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