“The Empire, because of its unwieldy size and corrupt bureaucracy, relies on a single model of starfighter to fulfill nearly all its needs. Their single-mindedness is their weakness. We will exploit that weakness with our strength, which is versatility.”
Those words, from Admiral Ackbar’s The Pilot and the Rebellion, are quoted in the Rebel Starfighters Owners’ Workshop Manual, the latest in Haynes’ series of manuals examining the various small fighters of the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire and their successor organisations, the Resistance and the First Order.
Matching the format of their recently published investigations into the TIE Fighters and the Millennium Falcon, the history of the many ships within the Rebel starfighter fleet, the X-wings of Red, the Y-wings of Gold squadron and the A-wings of Green squadron, alongside the heavily armed attack and escort B-wings and the troop carrier U-wings, shows a coherent lineage stretching across the eras.
The Rebel ships less modular than Corellian freighters or Imperial ships, as indicated by Admiral Ackbar each is more specialised than their opposing counterparts, meaning that while the vast swarms of TIE Fighters may outnumber them they are a more effective fighting force, either in a dedicated squadron or a mixed group, each different class of ship offering a different strength while complementing the others.
The speed of the A-wings allows for hit-and-run tactics while the stronger shielding of the Y-wings sees them used in more prolonged engagements, offensive or defensive, while the impressive firepower of the B-wings allows them to take on capital ships such as Star Destroyers, all of them supported by the backbone of the Rebel fleet, the X-wings.
The classic design, Ackbar’s statement of versatility given swift and deadly form, it is not just star systems the Rebels liberated but decommissioned starfighters, too, the X-wings having originally been designed for the Empire but rejected for reasons of cost; “Stealing is for the desperate, building is for the hopeful”, as Leia Organa communicated to Mon Mothma as she urged an expansion of the Rebel fleet.
Slower than a TIE Fighters, X-wings have more powerful quad laser cannons and crucially are shielded and carry onboard astromech droids, meaning damaged systems can be repaired while in action, whereas a single hit can disable or completely destroy a TIE Fighter.
The A-wing one of the most challenging starfighters to fly, the versatility of the Rebel fleet also reflects the diversity of the Alliance, different species having different abilities and aptitudes, again a stark contrast to the Empire’s singular recruiting policy.
As with Haynes’ other works, while the research and effort made by Ryder Wyndham, Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas to compile the Rebel Starfighters Owners’ Workshop Manual, it is sometimes repetitive and wordy, and principally dependent on the eras depicted in the original and sequel trilogies, as well as the Rogue One mission, there is a distinct jump between the Rebel and Resistance eras bridged only by the T-85 X-Wing of the animated Star Wars Resistance adventures.
Other than the frustratingly brief references to the complexity of hyperspace navigation and “hypermatter” particles, the manual is a thorough overview of the evolution of the Rebel and Resistance starfighter fleets, leaving only the capital ships to be examined, leaving no fragment of the technology of a galaxy far, far away unexplored.
The Rebel Starfighters Owners’ Workshop Manual is available now from Haynes