Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought back many familiar elements to go along with its intentionally overly familiar story. In its effort to recreate A New Hope’s climactic battle with an even bigger Death Star, the Resistance (the new Rebel Alliance) used iconic X-Wing starfighters and the Millennium Falcon to attack the First Order’s (the new Empire) weapon of mass destruction which was defended by only a solo Star Destroyer and its TIE Fighters.
Since Episode VII takes place over 30 years after the events of the original Star Wars trilogy however, tech has evolved slightly so these were new models of TIEs, X-Wings, and Star Destroyers. But something was missing. What about the other Rebel and Imperial ships used in the final battle of Return of the Jedi, the staple spacecraft of their fleets as seen in countless other forms of Star Wars media (games, animated TV shows, books, toys, etc.)?
How can the Resistance plan a bombing on on the Starkiller base without… bombers? Are there not new Y-Wings to go along with the new X-Wings? Even those (the Y-Wings) were featured in A New Hope! And what about its successor, the B-Wing, as featured in Star Wars: Rebels and Return of the Jedi? The easy answer is that there was enough already in The Force Awakens to sell an entirely new line of toys and merchandise, and just like the original trilogy, new characters, locations and vehicles will be introduced (or in this case, re-introduced) in each new movie. That’s why Rian Johnson’s still-untitled Star Wars: Episode VIII brings back the A-Wing.
Here are some new revealing photos from the set that surfaced on Twitter thanks to The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry visiting the production at Pinewood Studios, obviously not having to sign any NDAs…
A-WINGS CONFIRMED! pic.twitter.com/uttIBQgNVh— Ali Arikan (@aliarikan) April 19, 2016
Just like the Incom-FreiTek T-70 X-wing starfighter was a newer variant of the original Star Wars trilogy T-65 starfighters, so to is this A-Wing a new model of its predecessors. Notice the roundness of the main hull, and the coloring of lower part of the vertical wings, as well as the cannons on each side. It’s slightly different but pleasantly similar.
The A-Wing was the fastest of the light Rebel vessels, and in-canon, is introduced in Star Wars Rebels. It’s been a popular ship in Star Wars video games as far back as the early ’90s where it was a playable craft in the X-Wing, X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter and X-Wing Alliance games before it was made even more popular in the Rogue Squadron series and even the new Star Wars Battlefront released last year. The original design of the A-Wing was pitched as a blue-painted vehicle but its coloring didn’t work with blue screen photography in Return of the Jedi so its colors were changed to red. Below is early concept art from the legendary Ralph McQuarrie which prove that just like Abrams did with The Force Awakens, Johnson is taking design elements from McQuarrie’s original art for his movie (specifically the cannon designs and ports by the cockpit).
Get ready for that LEGO and Habsro toy reveal during next year’s Force Friday event!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16th, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode 8 on December 15th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.